Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

H. OF R.)

Case of Marigny D'Auterire.

(Feb. 7, 1828.

slaves is holden in this country. I would not, if I could, its full meaning, and without any qualification, as much alarm one bonest fear for the security of this species of so as any other species of property whatsoever. property. Least of all would l-Oh no, no, I would not I think the gentleman (Mr. Mixen; has been pecu. without 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 tear that bond might be direct contrary to the position taken by him. He says, weakened by it.

“ that the laws of nations declare that slaves form part Mr. BRENT rose, and said, that he felt bimself forced of a Government, and, as such, the Government can into the discussion, from the situa:ion 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 inanner 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. Minan) 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 lan- tleman 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 ern 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"to 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 before him—that “the Government of the U. this floor would resort to such reasoning or can sup. States bas a right to enlist our slaves, and to make sol. pose that this enlightened body, or the American Na. diers of them, the same as if they were free white ci- tion, 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 detect. this, and then calls upon us not to be excited, and de. ed. 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 nu part of our Govern. rights 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 more. 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 individuo consent to debate this argument of the gentleman. I do al 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? entertained in this House. If, unfortunately for the coun. is 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 here : says surely persons are not property. Ah, sir! where their seats would not be worth retaining—as the only means does lie find this distinction ? Had he shown us that by which they could serve their constituents would be to persone 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 liave made. the Constitution or laws, which forbids the making of the cases referred to by gentlemen some days ago in 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 deciares 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 definitively 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 suc 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 FEB. 7, 1828.)

Case of Marigny D'Auterive.

(H. or R.

nor

ed themselves with the facts in the case, and examined and such property, too, as comes within the meaning of it alone upon its merits, without going aside for the pur that amendment in the Constitution, which sees, pose of asserting to the world that our slaves could be shall private property be taken for public use, wifiqut taken from us by the Government, and employed in the just compensation," they ought nut to be paid for, 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 admis. How is it possible for the honorable gentleman (Mr. Misions 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. Brent 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 al. endanger every thing we hold dear under our happy ways property, and always men, and that they were emGovernment. 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 floor from the non-slave holding States, any respect. I think he goes further than I thought he when I declare, that I consider the gentleman (Mr. Mi. did. He now says, and admits, that slaves are always XER) 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 i 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 to 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 admis. 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 froin other kind of personal still " a man,” and as such, the word “property in the property." These, and similar arguments, have been constitution must be 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 ihat "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 bis 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 he stands alone the advocate of such principles.

any thing else. There is no distinction, no qualifications 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 time, 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 tbe gentleman (Mr. Miner) frono 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, he 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 familiar 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 iwo 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 so 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

H. OF R.)

Case of Marigny D’Auterive.

(Feb. 7, 1828.

State, the answer would be very different. The first and been changed by the Legislature, and punishments are most early impression, as to property, made upon the inflicted in certain events, for injuries done to a slaveming of a Southern child, is, that the nurse with whom but this is altogether a state business, and has nothing plays, and who follows his little footsteps, and teaches to do with the general principle as laid down by the him to walk and to talk, is his property'; and, ask the gentleman. They are entirely and most grossly mistaker. child of a Southern Planter what property he owns, his The gentleman (Mr. BARNARD) in his concluding reanswer, nine times out of ten, would be, the name of his marks, observed, that “the law, like the grave, is a lev: nurse-so that this remark of the gentleman is as appli- eller, and makes no distinction between the master and cable to slave property as to any other.

the slave as to life, and that the property of the master But, says the gentleman, (Mr. BARNARD) slaves are in his slave, is subject to the laws of humanity.” Mr. not property, like an ox or horse, because they are rea- Speaker, if the gentleman means to say by this, that, in sonable beings, and if yon injure their persons you are the slave holding States, the municipal or State regulamade to answer for it. "This is most extraordinary doctions protect the life of the slave ai the present time trine and it is not the first time, in this debate, i have against the unjustifiable taking of it by the master, he is heard it urged ; and, what astonishes me most, is, that correct; but such internal regulations of each State it should have been urged by gentlemen whose legal ac. have nothing to do with the general question as connect. quirements ought to inform them better. It was but ed with the Federal Government. But, even by the State the other day, that an honorable gentleman from Rhode laws, the slave is not placed upon an equaliiy with his Island, (Mr. Burges) stated the same thing, and now it master, as to life ; for, if the slave resists or raise's his hand is reiterated by the gentleman from New York. I can. to his master, or a free white person, in some of the not believe that these gentlemen liave examined the law States, they have the right to take his life ; nor has the upon these subjects; if they had, they must have form. slave the right to defend himself against his master ; but, ed a very different opinion. Is it possible that gentle should the master

kill him withoui good cause, he is pun. men will contend in this House, that slaves cannot be ished in some States by death, in others by confinement, property, because they are a reasonable beings,” and, In no State is the law a leveller between the master and in that respect, they differ from a horse or ox? Is there the slave.” God forbid that I should advocate any prin. any law in our country, which declares that “reasonable ciple opposed to the feelings of humanity; but, certainly, beings" cannot be reduced

to a state of slavery, and, as sir, in a Government of laws, like ours, there are no other such, become property! There is not. But, in the laws than those derived from our happy Constitution, and case of the slave of our country, he is not, he cannot, the powers growing out of it. I know of no laws of bu. be regarded as a “reasonable being." In viewing the manity recognized by our Government, like those allud. slave we must speak of him here in a legal, constitutioned to by the gentleman from New York. But, Mr. Speakal, and political point of view:—we have nothing to do er, we have laws implanted in our bosoms, and feelings, with his natural state. I say, without fear of contradic- too, which rule us in our conduct towards that class of tion, that, in the eye of the law and the Constitution, the property. If the gentlemen would give themselves the slave is not a reasonable being. He is, legally and consti- trouble to visit the " slave-holding States," and to see tutionally speaking, no more a "reasonable being,” than our slaves, and compare their condition and comforts with is a horse or the table wbich stands before me.

those of the poorer and laboring classes of free persons The slave is unknown to the law or the constitution, in their own States, I am certain it would remove, in a except as the property of the master. In that respect, great measure, that sympathy which at present so often he stands upon an equality with any other property, and and so glowingly depicts their imaginary sufferings. It so far as the Government of the United States is concern is because they are strangers to us and to our feelings, ed, he has no legal or political protection. The gentle. and conduct towards our slaves, that we are so constantly man says, if we injure the persons of slaves, we are made the theme of their invective. to answer for it. But to whom are we made to answer I ask pardon of the House for baving occupied so much and by what laws ? Not to this nation or to this Federal more time than I intended ; but I could not refrain from Government, nor can they point to any thing in the laws saying what I did in reply to the two gentlemen who pre. or constitution of the United States, to make us responsi- ceded me. I hope this bill will pass. The case is a clear ble. No, Mr. Speaker, as to this Government and its one. It is proven by the testimony accompaying the re. laws, we are not responsible for any injury done to a port of the Committee, that the slave was impressed into slave-so far as regards this Gorernment, we are com- the service of the United States, by the order of the plete masters of their persons and their lives : whenever commanding General, and whilst in that service he was the master is restrained from injuring his slave in any disabled. The extent of the injury is also proven and manner, it is by the statutory provisions of his own State, estimated, and the owner asks you to pay him the dama. and by no other power. As the laws of all nations first ges done to his slave. It is admitted that “slaves are stond, the master could take the life of his slave at his property," and the Constitution declares that a " fair pleasure; such was the law in every part of this country, compensation" shall be given for all property taken for where slavery was recognized, until altered by municipal the public use. Can you refuse to pay D'auterive for regulations. In Louisiana, where the Civil law was in his property? I appeal to the justice and understanding force until altered for the special government of the coun. of all who hear me. try, by a municipal regulation, ihe master could inflict Mr. TAYLOR said he rose with reluctance, at this death or any other injury upon his slave. What rights stage of the debate, to detain the House even for a mohas the slave, and what redress for injury? I say none; ment. At an earlier period, when the bill was in Com. as to rights, he is, as if he were not in existence; and as mittee of the Whole, and the amendment offered by the to redress, where has he any? He can own no properly ; gentleman from Louisiana, (Mr. GURLEY) was under conif he acquire any it belongs to his master, and if he be sideration, he had endeavored to get the floor, for the beaten and ill-treated, he cannot recover damages for the purpose of expressing, somewhat at large, his objections injury any more than a horse can. In both cases the mas- to that amendment. These objections had been confirm. ter must bring his action for damages, and in both cases, ed, rather than impaired, by subsequent reflections. He he recovers by the same process and the same principles saw in the bill some claims of admitted justice, for which of law; such is the case in Louisiana ; no proceeding can all were prepared to vote ; and one item, of a character so be had in the name of the State for an assault and batte. objectionable, that, before he sat down, he should move ry,&c. In some of the slave-holding States, the law has a recommitment of the bill to the Committee of Claims,

[blocks in formation]

482 (H. OF

for the purpose of having it expunged. It was not his those memorials, they were induced to examine the intention to enter upon an examination of the rights of powers vested in Congress under the present Constitumaster and slave in those States where that condition of tion, relating to the abolition of slavery, and are clearly society exists. The necessity of doing so was entirely of opinion–First, That the General Government is ex. superseded by the able and conclusive argument of his pressly restrained from prohibiting the importation of honorable friend and colleague (Mr. BARNARD.] The such persons as any of the States now existing shall just and liberal views of that gentleman could not fail to think proper to admit

, until the year 1808. Secondly, recommend him to the distinguished regard of this llouse. That Congress, by a fair construction of the Constitu. However some gentlemen might dissent from the conclu. tion, are equally restrained from interfering in the emansions to which he had arrived, all must approve his high cipation of slaves, who already are, or who may, within and manly tone of feeling towards our brethren of the the period mentioned, be imported into, or born within slave-holding States. He was happy to be assured that any of the said States. Thirdly, That Congress have in this he was not mistaken. 'The assent (said Mr. T.] no authority to interfere in the internal regulations of of more than one honorable member from the South, con particular States, relative to the instruction of slaves in firms my remark. After what my colleague (said Mr. T.] the principles of morality and religion; to their com. has expressed so well, and in a temper so coincident with fortable clothing, accommodation, and subsistence; to my own feelings, I should have foreborne to address you the regulation of their marriages, and tbe prevention of on this subject, were it not to notice a remark made, not the violation of the rights thereof, or to the separation only by one, but by almost every gentleman who has ad- of children from their parents ; to a comfortable provi. Focated this claim. They have informed us that, in the sion in cases of sickness, age, or infirmity; or to the slave-holding States, an opinion very generally is enter- seizure, transportation, or sale, of free negroes; but tained that a fanatical spirit exists in ihe non-slave-holding have the fullest confidence in the wisdom and humaniStates, threatening improper interference between master ty of the Legislatures of the several States, that they and slave. If such an opinion be entertained, I assure will revise their laws, from time to time, when necessary, you, Mr. Speaker, it is most unjust to the North. No and promote the objects mentioned in the memorials, such spirit now exists ; none such ever has existed in the and every other measure that may tend to the happi. non-slave-holding States I do not mean to say that an ness of the slaves." individual could not be found, of whom the remark might This report having been committed to the Committee be made with truth. Particular in:lividuals may be met of the whole House, after many days discussion, was with, in the South as well as in the North, whose opinions finally amended to read as follows: on this subject are of the most absurd and extravagant "That the migration or importation of such persons character. But what I say is, that no man, whose opin. as any of the States now existing shall think proper to ions are entitled to respect, either in this House or out of admit

, cannot be prohibited by Congress, prior to the it, believes it to be within the competency of Congress year 1808 ; that Congress have no authority to interfero to interfere, in the States of this Union, in any manner in the emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of whatever, between master and slave. This subject is them within any of the States, it remaining with the not within our jurisdiction. It belongs to the States, and several States alone to provide any regulations therein to them alone, io regulate this delicate and difficult mat- which humanity and true policy may require.” ter. It was so decided by the first Congress which as- Such, Mr. Speaker, then was, ever since has been, sembled under this Constitution, and their decision, in re. and now is, the judgment of Northern, as well as gard to it, has been, and now is, the established doctrine Southern men in regard to the powers of Congress of all well-informed men in this country. The impor. on this interesting subject.* In a debate in this House, tance that has been given to this subject, not only here, some years since, relating to the country West of the but elsewhere, will plead my justificalion for detaining Mississippi, opinions in opposition to those contained in the House a few moments, in referring to the history of that report, were imputed to me, and those with whom I that decision.

acted.' In behalf of them and myself the opinions im. On the 12th of February, 1790, a memorial from the puted were promptly and indignantly disavowed and Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Sla. disowned, and their monstrous'absurdity and injustice very, was presented to the House, and read, praying that freely admitted. My efforts on that occasion (I fear jus. Congress might take such measures in their wisdom, tice will never be done by my Southern brethren to the as the powers with which they were invested would au- motives which influenced them) were directed to bene. thorize, for promoting the abolition of slavery, and dis. fit the country West of the Mississippi, by applying to couraging every species of traffic in slaves. A ques. it the same glorious doctrines of the ordinance of 1787, tion was made and discussed, whether the meinorial which, by the consent of Virginia, and on motion of a should be referred to the

consideration of a Committee, distinguished Virginian, had been applied to the country and was decided in the affirmative by ayes and noes-43 East of the Mississippi. And, although all for which to 11. Congress considered it a proper occasion to quiet we contended was not obtained, yet, the partial success any alarms which might be entertained by the South, and which crowned our exertions has ever been considered to anounce to the whole country, in regard to this subject, by me the most fortunate event with which my public its construction of the Constitution, then recently estab- life has been associated. Perhaps I owe an apology to lished. The memorial was referred to a Committee, all the House for even this brief reference to that subject. of whom, except Mr. Parker, of Virginia,

' were Northern I should not have made it, had we not been warned, at men. The other members were, År. Foster, of New an early period of the debate, not to make this another Hampshire ; Mr. Huntington, of Connecticut ; Mr. Gerry, Missouri question. of Massachusetts ; Mr. Lawrence, of New York; Mr. Si. Mr. Speaker : Having disclaimed all right, on the part nickson, of New Jersey; and Mr. Hartley, of Pennsylva- of Congress, to interfere in any manner concerning the nia. Other matters, in relation to the foreign slave-trade, condition of slaves in those States where slavery exists, ! hall been referred to the same committee. The report shall proceed, very briefly, to state the relation in which I made the 5th of March, had relation to both subjects. consider them to stand towards this General Government. Permit me to read so much of it as regards the mat. The Constitution every where speaks of them as perter now under consideration. The Committee report. ed

•These reports by a solemn vote of the House, were recorded on “That, from the nature of the ma:ters contained in tensions unjustly attributed to us.- Vote by Mr. T.

its Journal, and will stand in all time as a disclaimer of the pre

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

sons, and not as property ; in taking the census they are aggrieved, as a wrong-doer. I will not sanction a pracenumerated as persons ; three-fifihs of their number tice fraught with sucli fatal consequences to the peace are represented on this floor as persons : for, if there be of the Union, and the security of the Southern Siates. any principle at the foundation of the General Govern. But we have been told this Government has recognisment, it is this : that the representation is of persons, and ed slaves as property, by claiming and receiving com. not of property. Who ever heard of the Aocks which pensation from Great Britain for the benefit of our citiwhiten ihe thousand hills of New England, or the ships zens, whose slaves were illegally carried away by the which crowd the busy port of New York, being repre- naval and military officers during the late war. To the sented in Congress! True, as regards this Government, argument drawn from this fact, I reply, that the Constilu. they are persons without civil or political rights. They tion of the United States declares, "no State shall enter owe to it neither allegiance nor defence. Congress into any treaty:" and again, “no State, without the con. may make a soldier of every free man in the nation- sent of Congress, shall enter into any agreement or but the slave is beyond our jurisdiction. We cannot compact with a Foreign Power.". The power of touch him. And who will contend that a military offi. claiming compensation for these injuries being taken cer of the United States, deriving all his authority from from the States, and confided to the General Govern. Congress, can do that by arbitrary power which the ment, it became its duty to do for their citizens what President and both Houses of Congress cannot do by the States themselves would have done had not the law? The defence of this country rests securely on the power been taken from them. This Government claims stout hearts and strong arms of freemen. They are no benefit to itself from the treaty or the compensation competent to its defence. Let not this honourable office growing out of it. It stands in the relation of trustee be degraded by casting it upon slaves. Sir, the doc. merely for the persons injured, and for whose benefit trine which I maintain is sanctioned no less by consider. alone compensation has been received. ations of safety to the South, than of justice to the The gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. Dorser) and, North. In regard to the latter, we say, gentlemen, you indeed, many others, in the course of the debate, have come to us and claim political power in proportion to founded an argument in support of this claim, on the the number of your slaves, as natural and moral persons ; mistaken hypothesis that slaves are liable to taxation as as human beings : we grant your request; we give to property by the government of the United States. you for them, and on their account, in that character, They may be enumerated, and three fifths of their num. eventy-four votes in this House, and an equal number in ber included as persons in a general capitation tax, be. the election of a President of the United States. It is cause in that proportion they are represented as persons a great boon: it makes war or peace-it changes the on this floor. The same remark may be made in regard policy of the Government, and establishes that as right to direct taxes. These are apportioned aniong the which a majority of the freemen of the United States States, not according to wealth, but population. States have voted to be wrong. We repeat, it is a great boon. are taxed because their People are represented, and in But we admit it is the bargain. The Constitution has the ratio of that representation. The argument that so fixed it, and we seek not its violation. But, ģeatle. leads to the conclusion that slaves are considered pro. men, when with one breath you claim, and have con. perty by the Government of the United States, because ceded to you, these exalted privileges, in right of these three-fifths of their number are estimated in the appor. persons as human beings, as men, do not, we pray you, tionment of direct taxes, will prove yet more conclusive. it, on your own frontiers, and in your own defence, one ly, that all free citizens are considered property, be. of them should happen to be employed in the military cause five-fifths, or the whole of their number, are chus service, without our consent or approbation-do not estimated for the same purpose. To such absurdities come to us to demand money for his life, to claim pay. (lo the arguments of gentlemen lead, when they forsake ment for his blood. You, sir, sit in that chair because the plain common sense interpretation of the Constituhe is considered a man, and is enumerated as such under tion, to indulge in metaphysical speculations. The the Constitution and laws of the country. Do not de- most cursory reader of the Constitution cannot fail to grade him to the condition of a brute. Do not ask mo. observe with what caution its framers avoided the use of ney for him, when we ask none, as parents and masters, the words "slave" and " slavery.” Every form of peri. for the loss of children and apprentices.

phrasis was resorted to for that purpose. Their delica. But, Mr. Speaker, I beg Southern gentlemen to con. cy on this subject is worthy of imitation.

Let not gensider of the security they are surrendering in this thrift. llemen, after a lapse of thirteen years, during all which less contest to squeeze a few dollars from the National time every similar claim has been disallowed and rejectTreasury. They all agree, that, if the slave in question ed ; let them not now press upon us the establishment was in the public service, by virtue of a contract with of new principles, as odious to us as they will prove in his master, this claim is unjust. It is supported only operation injurious to themselves. on the ground that the commanding officer had a right, For the purpose of enabling the Committee of Claims and that the circumstances of the case justified his ex- to amend ihe bill by expunging the clause which was ercising it, to take him from his master, and against his inserted on motion of the gentleman from Louisiana, I will, and apply him to military purposes. If the right move to recommit it to that committee. exist, it must necessarily be exercised at the discre. Mr. BATES, of Mass, said, he did not rise to go into tion of the commanding officer. If he may impress a a discussion of the question before the House, but slave, and put him to fatigue duty in the trenches, he merely to state the principles upon which be gave his also, at his discretion, may put him in the ranks, and vote against the amendment to the bill, and upon which place arms in his hands to defend the fortress. If he he should give his vote against the bill itselt, in its premay impress fifty slaves, for a week, what is there to sent form. And I am desirous of doing this, he remark. prevent him from impressing five thousand for three ed, because my own mind has changed during the promonths? I speak not of the power of States in time of gress of the discussion, and because I differ in opinion war, to use these people for their own defence. That upon this question from some of my colleagues. Withis a matter for their own consideration, of which they out attempting to trace to an impatient House, the proare competent to judge-I am not. But if a military of. cess by which I have arrived at my results, or to state ficer of the United States has so far forgotten bis duiy as the authorities which the records of the House furnish, to impress slaves into the service, so far as my vote goes by which I can support one of them, the most material he shall stand responsible for his own act to the party I to the case in hand, I will barely state the results them.

« EdellinenJatka »