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DEBATES IN CONGRESS.

PART II. OF VOL. IV

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FEB. 7, 1828.)

Case of Marigny D'Auterive.

(H. OF R.

slave into such involuntary service by contract? I have said ing to lose. Yes, I confess, one thing he has to lose, and that he cannot do it-I mean that he cannot, but in viola- only one-his life--but that a public enemy would dis. tion of the law of Nature, and of God. You cannot take dain to have, if it could avoid the taking of it. And shall his lite, or wantonly injure his person ; and what you can he be called upon to peril his life and members—which not do yourself, even by indirection, you cannot employ are all the law assumes to protect for him; the security of another to do. If you cannot shoot him yourself, you can. which alone form, in law, ihe characteristic difference be. not force him into a situation to be shot, even by a public tween him and the lower animals ; and which nature enemy. And though, from personal attachment, I doubt would leave him free to defend in the absence of all posi. not, he might voluntarily spill his own blood in defence tive law-shall he be called upon, I ask, to peril his life and of his master, yet you cannot compel him to put his life members in the defence of a country, to which he owes in jeopardy either in your defence, or in defence of neither allegiance nor gratitude ! your country. And, if tempted by the wages of his Ja. Sir, I know of no circumstances of necessity which bor, or even by patriotism, to put him into the public could ever induce me to sanction, by way of indemnity, service, against his will, by your own voluntary contract, the conduct of a military officer of this Government, in the and harm happen to him, with what justice can you ask impressment of a free while citizen into the public serindemnity for the loss you may sustain ?

vice : for, in my judgment, the preservation of the first And when I speak of the slave going into such service city in the Union might be dearly purchased, at the exagainst his will, i do not mean that he is forced into such pense of the sacrifice of the meanest individual in it, if service by stripes and chains. The slave, I believe, is the blow which effected that sacrifice was struck also at generally a passive being, and in the habit of passive obe. the Constitution and the law. And yel, I would soonerdience lle goes where he is directed to go, and does aye, much sooner-sanction the impressment of a free what he is directed to do. And, it is fair to presume, white citizen, who is under common obligations with oth. that, in the present instance, the inclination of the slave ers to defend the country that protects him, than I would was never consulted, and he was, therefore, in the service the impressment of a slave, who has no interest in by compulsion.

your country in common with the citizen, and who has But the question has been asked, and in the form of nothing to detend, but that, in the defence of which naimpassioned exclamation, shall the Government, in the face ture armed him, before Government and the law had exisof the Constitution, take private property for public use, tence. and refuse to make just compensation ? I answer, no. What, then, are we called upon to do? To pay for proAnd you ask, was not this slave the property of D’Aute. perty taken for the public use? No ; but to sanction the rive? I answer, yes; but he was also a man, whom nei- conduct of an officer of this Government in the impressther his master, nor any military commander, nor even ment of a slave into the public service ; which, consider. the Government itself, in the exercise of “ transcenden-ing the character and condition of such slave, no circum. tal power," hal the least right to force into a place of ex. stances of necessity can ever justify; and which, for one, posure, in the face of a public enemy. And this having I will never consent to adopt and sanction as the act of this been done, no matter how, by impressment, if you please, Government. since that is insisted on-not of the Government, for that Can it, then, vary the question of indemnity, whether cannot be pretended—but of an officer of the Go the loss of the master, by the injuries to the person of yernment, the pecuniary loss of the master is swal- his slave, was partial or total ? Whether amounting to lowed up in the outrage offered to the slave, in the whole value of his interest in the life of the slave, or the wound inflicted on the Constitution and the law, only part of it! I think not : for I think the principle is which guarantee to every man security of life and limb. the same in both cases. The hazard to which the mas

And you ask, will you refuse to make compensation ter's interest in his slave was put, was exposure of the per. for property taken for your use, because the act of the of- son of the slave to a public enemy. This exposure was il. ficer in taking it was illegal? I answer, no ; not merely legal, in any point of view, if effected compulsorily as because the act was illegal. For, believing as I do, that to the slave, whether by impressment or by contract all impressment of property is illegal, there are yet, pro with his master. And I cannot, for the life of me, therebably, many losses arising from such acts, for which I fore, see any difference in principle between indemnity woull make ample compensation for the relief of the offi. for a partial loss of interest in the slave, occasioned cer-but of one thing I would always first be satisfied, by the destruction of an eye, and indemnity for a total and that is, of the necessity which existed for the illegal loss of interest, had the same shot which put out the eye, act. And of the necessity of impressing a slave into the passed through the brain, and ended his existence. public service, I never could be satisfied-I never would It is, then, because the slave, though property, is a hu. be satisfied.

man being—because the master has no power over his What is a slave ? An animal, born and bound to per life and members, beyond their employment, under cir: petual servitude-legraded indeed, but yet a man with cumstances of probable safety--because neither the Gov. nothing on earth that he can call his own : his very chil. ernment nor its officers have the power to impress any dren are the property of his master ; the dew of Heaven animal baving the quality of man--because human life is never falls on his dwelling; the sun itself never arises on not to be estimated in damages-because this Govern. his home, or his country ; even the hope of a better con- ment should never give its sanction to an illegal impressdition—and happily for him, perhaps, for, like a brief ment, and especially the impressment of a slave ; or to an light, springing up in the boson of the desponding, it illegal contract, and especially one that should touch the sometimes serves only the more effectually to discover life of a human being because this Government cannot the darkness which envelopes it-even the hope of a bet- chatfer in human life or human limbs, without danger of ter condition is buried up and extinguished in his utter staining its hands with human blood—it is for these rea. degradation! What interest has such a being in the stu. sons that I cannot vote for this bill. pendous events that are passing in the world? What in. One word in conclusion, I intended, when I set out, terest has he in your country? None. What cares he for to avoid, as far as possible, every thing which might be a foreign and invading enemy? Nothing. A public en- offensive either in principle or in expression. If I have not emy can take nothing from him-and, if the gentleman done so, I regret it exceedingly. I solemnly appeal to from Louisiana, (Mr. LIVINGSTON} who seems to be tak. God, that I would not knowingly and willingly utter a ing notes, wishes to take it down, I repeat it-a public sentiment or a syllable that I believed would tend to unenemy can take nothing from him, because he has notho settle any one correct principle upon which property in

VOL. IV.-93

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slaves is holden in this country. I would not, if I could, its full meaning, and without any qualification, as much alarm one honest fear for the security of this species of so as any other species of property whatsoever. property. Least of all would )-Oh no, no, I would not I think the gentleman (Mr. Minerj has been pecuwithout necessity, breathe too roughly upon that spirit of liarly unfortunate in his references to authority : for all mutual confidence and affection which I believe to be the those to which he has referred us go to establish the bond of our political union, in the fear that bond might be direct contrary to the position taken by him. He says, weakened by it.

" that the laws of nations declare that slares form part Mr. BRENT rose, and said, that he felt himself forced of a Government, and, as such, the Government can into the discussion, from the situation in which he stood use them as soldiers in their armies." To support as a Representative from a slave holding State. He re- this monstrous principle, he has read Vattel, p. 294 : and gretted that this subject had again been introduced in a what does he say upon this subject? Why, the very manner to call forth a debate. He did hope that, after reverse of the assertion of the gentleman. It is laid the great length of time which it had already occupied, down by that able writer, that the services of "all free the question would have been taken, and no farther citizens" of a Government can be commanded to serve discussion indulged in. But the extraordinary doctrines in the armies of that Government, or for the general advanced by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. good. The principle laid down by Vattel I most wil. MINER) and the reasons given by another gentleman, lingly yield to. But, really, I am at a loss to conjecture [Mr. BARNARD) from New York, compelled him, in the what could have been the train of reasoning in the gen. discharge of his duty, to answer these gentlemen ; and, in tleman's mind, when he referred to this authority, so doing so, he should detain the House but a very short time. conclusive against his assertions. Will he contend that

The gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. MINER) im slaves are " free citizens ?” or does he mean to be un. plored us " not to urge this question," and assured us derstood as saying that slaves, as such, form a part of that it was not “his intention to interfere with the rights our Government, and, in this country, are to be regard. of the slave-holding States.” Who urged this question ? ed as “ free citizens” are in other countries? The gen. Was it any gentleman from the South Sir, this lantleman went on to observe, that in speaking of those guage is calculated to urge the gentlemen from the South- who were to compose the armies of every country or orn States to indulge in that course so much deprecated Government, Vattel used the name of persons, and he by that gentleman. He tells us that he does not intend (no doubt happily to his own mind) contended that, un. sto interfere with the rights of the slave-holding States," der that denomination, (persons,) he included slaves. and, at the same moment, he asserts—what no man has Is it possible, Mr. Speaker, that any gentleman upon ever done bef him—that “the Government of the U. this floor would resort to such reasoning or can sup. States has a right to enlist our slaves, and to make sol. pose that this enlightened body, or the American Nadiers of them, the same as if they were free white cition, could be misled by such a forced construction ? tizens, and without giving the master any compensation I do not think that the gentleman is entitled even to the for their services.” The gentleman (Mr. MINER) asserts claim of ingenuity for this attempt. It is too easily detectthis, and then calls upon us not to be excited, and deed. I will not insult the understanding of this House, by clares that he does not wish “to interfere with our showing to them that slaves form no part of our Governrights to our slaves." I cannot listen to such doctrines ment; and that, when Vattel speaks of persons, he did and such inconsistency in gentlemen, without expressing it, in every case referred to, as persons forming the “free my abhorrence of them, if no mare. I am pleased to citizens" of the government under which they live. He think that the gentleman stands alone in his opinions up. so expressly declares it. But, Mr. Speaker, I will not on this subject. I do not believe that another individu- consent to debate this argument of the gentleman. I do at in the nation would advocate such a doctrine. Is the not believe that such opinions will ever be generally gentleman aware to what such opinions would lead us? I entertained in this House. If, unfortunately for the counis he prepared for the consequences which would result try, they should be, it is not by standing here and coolly from such sentiments ? If he has reflected upon those exposing their fallacy that they will be met. No sir ; consequences, and blindly rushes on, I envy not his feel should that time ever arrive, , (which Heaven avert !) i ings. But how does he form his opinion, and from what would say as the honorable gentleman from South Carolina, source does he derive his reasons! He has referred us [Mr. DRAYTON)--than whom there is not a more virtuous or to the Constitution of the United States and for what? patriotic man in the nation--declared a few days since, To show that, in speaking of slaves, they were called when discussing this very subject : The Representatives persons in some parts of the Constitution; and he then from the Southern States will have no business liere : says surely persons are not property. Ah, sir! where their seats would not be worth retaining-as the only means does he find this distinction ! Had he shown us that by which they could serve their constituents would be to persons could not be property by the words of the Con. return to them, and, by their sides, meet such arguments stitution, he might maintain, with some plausibility, the in the only way they ought to be met. ground he has taken. The very reverse of the gentle. The same gentleman asks, why is it that similar claims man's idea is the fact. Slaves are property because they have been rejected ever since the foundation of the Go. are persons : for no slavery can exist but of persons. 1 vernment ! If such be the case, I have never been able to will ask the gentleman where he can find any thing in meet with such cases in any researches which I have made. the Constitution or laws, wbich forbids the making of the cases referred to by gentlemen some days ago iv persons property. I challenge the production of any such debate, are not similar to the present in any one feature. prohibition, derived from any code of laws in the world, This is the first time that such a case has ever been prewhere slavery ever existed. I will ask what is proper- sented to Congress, and acted upon. At the last session ty! It is what the law declares to be such. The gen. of Congress a similar case was presented in the name of tleman admitted, in the course of his argument, that L'Arche, but not definitive!y acted upon, but so far as it slaves were property, but qualified property. There is was, the expression of an opinion was favorable. When no such distinction made in the laws of this or any other gentlemen refer to precedents they ought to compare country. He cannot point to any such distinction ; it them with the case under consideration, and not to take exists alone in the imagination. 'I beg gentlemen to for granted that which does not exist. read the Constitution and the laws of our country on It has also been observed, that, in rejecting this bill, this subject, and they will find that slaves have always " no national question is settled.” I think differently, as been recognized as property under our Government, in the question is now presented. Had gentlemen content

Fus. 7, 1828.)

Case of Marigny D’Auterive.

(H. OF R.

nor

ed themselves with the facts in the case, and examined and such property, 100, us comes within the meaning of it alone upon its merits, without going aside for the pur that amendment in the Constitution, which says, pose of asserting to the world that our slaves could be shall private property be taken for public use, without taken from us by the Government, and employed in the just compensation,” they ought not to be paid for, be army, without compensation to the master, it might cause their slavery does not divest them of the charachave been decided without settling any national ques. ters of men ; and being men, the master cannot ask for tion ; but, as it is, with these declarations to go forth to pay for their services rendered to the Government. This the nation, as reasons for opposing the bill, I say that a really is a refined distinction, and one that I can scarcely national question, of great importance to this Union, is comprehend. It may be creditable to the humane and embraced in the discussion which has taken place—nay, benevolent feelings of the gentleman, but certainly.is one that is of vital existence to the Southern States. contrary to the law and the Constitution, and the admisHow is it possible for the honorable gentleman (Mr. Mi. sions he made. The one is inconsistent and irreconcilea. SER) to say, that "no national question is to be settled ?" ble with the other. Mr. Speaker, it is a question which interests the whole [Here Mr. BARNARD asked and obtained leave of Union ; and whenever it is advocated upon the principles Mr. Baext to explain. He had not said that slaves were of that gentleman, it will be found to be one that will property in an unqualified sense, but that they were als endanger every thing we hold dear under our happy ways property, and always men, and that they were em. Government. I do not believe that we will ever expe. braced in the fifth amendment of the Constitution only rience any injury from such doctrines : for I think I do so far as they were property.). justice, not only to the honorable colleagues of the gen. Mr. Brent continued. I do not see that the explana. tleman from Pennsylvania, but to every honorable gen- tion of my honorable friend corrects what I stated in tleman upon this foor from the non-slave holding States, any respect. I think he goes further than I thought be when I declare, that I consider the gentleman (Mr. Mr. did. He now says, and admits, that slaves are always NER) as the only advocate of such dangerous doctrines. property, and always men. How can we understand All other gentlemen from the Northern or non-slave this admission in any other way than in that which gives holding States have admitted that our slaves were pro- it a meaning: If slaves be always property, and as he perty, and have only contended that they either were admits that they are embraced in the fifth amendment, not such property as ought to be impressed, or that, in so far as they are property, and that amendment declares, this case, the evidence did not support the claim. Some that no “ property shall be taken for public use, without have also contended that the master ought not lo con. just compensation," most certainly, if the slave, in this tract for the service of his slave in the army, so as to re-case, was “taken for public use," the Government is quire compensation, because the slave has life, and no bound, in the words of the Constitution, from the admin master can expose the life of his slave for pecuniary com. sion of the gentleman, to make D'Auterive "just com. pensation, and if he does, he ought not to be paid, for pensation." But, says the gentleman, although the slave the act was cruel and inhuman. In this respect, they was property, in the meaning of the Constitution, he was say, slave property differs from other kind of personal still “a man,” and as such, the word "property in the property. These, and similar arguments, have been constitution must he qualified. Where is such construc. Advanced against the present claim, but not one gentle. tion to the Constitution to be found ? Does the Consti. man has yet asserted that “slaves are not property.” | tution contain any such qualification? It does not ; it All admit it ; and so does the gentleman from Pennsyl- embraces all kinds of property. The words of the Con. vania ; but he qualifies his admission, and concludes by stitution are," nor shall private property be taken," &c. advancing the extraordinary ductrine I have noticed. These words embrace every description of property, Happily for the Southern States-happily for the Union, whether that property consists of men, or of horses, or be stands alone the advocate of such principles. any thing else. There is no distinction, no qualification,

Before I take my seat, I will ask the indulgence of the and in admitting what the gentleman did, that slaves are House for a short lime, to make a few observations in property, he has admitted all we ask ; and his opposition reply to the gentleman from New York (Mr. BARNARV.) to the bill, for the reason assigned, rather partakes of a From the manner in which that gentleman spoke, I feel distinction too refined to weigh down the positive decla. persuaded he delivered the real convictions of his mind rations of the Constitution, and his own admissions as to and although I cannot assent to his reasonings or conclu. its effects, and as to the laws which make property of sions, it is but just to say, that his remarks, and the mild slaves. and eloquent manner in which he expressed them, en I hope my friend from New York (Mr. BARNARD) will tille him to the respect of every member in this House. not apply any remark made by me as intended to wound As to the ability with which he spoke, the great and his feelings. I trust he is satisfied that no gentleman pleasing attention with which he was listened to, is the upon this floor has a higher respect for him than I have. strongest proof. I am glad to find that he does not agree But he must allow me, in the most friendly manner, to with the gentleman (Mr. MINER) fronı Pennsylvania, and remark, that I think he has been very unfortunate in the that he has taken, in the course of his remarks, an op. positions he has taken. He says, "that property is a portunity to express his dissent to the doctrines of that word of familiar import, and when pronounced, it is ge gentleman.

nerally understood what is meant-as, if you ask a child In the beginning of the remarks of the gentleman (Mr. what is property ? his reply would be, My book, or toy, BARNARD) from New York, be admits that “slaves are or such things as are familiar to all ;" and he concludes property, within the meaning of the fifth amendment to from this, that the meaning of property is to be confin. the Constitution of the United States ;" and, also, that ed to such things as are faniliar to our early senses. Mr. “ slaves are property, because the law makes them so." Speaker, I admit the correctness of this as a general re. Having made these i wo admissions, I supposed he would mark; and, according to this definition of property, I yield the question, and admit that, as property, slaves contend that slaves are so to be regarded as much :0 ought to be paid for, inasmuch as the fifth amendment to as the book, toy, &c. The familiar import of a word is the Constitution declares, “nor shall private property understood in different ways in different countries. In be taken for public use, without just compensation. the non-slave holding States, where the child knows no. Such, indeed, appears to me to be the inevitable conse- thing of slavery, or has scarcely heard its name, the an. quence of his admissions ; but it is strangely contended swer to an inquiry, as to what constituted property, would by the gentleman, that, although slaves are property, be as the gentleman has stated ; but, in a slave-holding

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