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they treat the subject somewhat loosely, seem generally to favour the right of the Citizen to emigrate and abandon his native country, unless there be some positive restraint by Law, or he is at the time in possession of some public trust, or his country be in dis: tress or at war, and in need of his services.
648. The principle declared in some of the State Constitutions, that the Citizens have a natural and inherent right to emigrate, amounts to a renunciation by those States, of the English Common Law, as being repugnant to the natural liberty of mankind ; provided emigration is intended in those cases to be used as synonymous with expatriation.
649. But the allegiance of Citizens of the United States, is due not only to the local Governments un. der which they reside, but primarily to the General Government, which alone affords them National protection; and the doctrine of final and absolute expa. triation, although frequently discussed, remains yet to be finally settled in the Courts of the United States,
650. This doctrine, however, is not applied by the British Courts to Americans born before the Revolu. tion, as the Treaty of Peace is deemed a release from their allegiance, of all British subjects, who remained in this country.
651. As the British doctrine is, that Americans born before the Revolution, by remaining in the United States after the Treaty of Peace, lost their character as British subjects; so the American doctrine is, that by withdrawing from the country, and adhering to the British Government after the Declaration of Independence, they lost, or rather never ac. quired, the character of American Citizens.
652. All persons born out of the jurisdiction of the United States, are termed Aliens ; but there are some exceptions to this rule, derived from the ancient English Law; as in the case of children of public Ministers born abroad, whose parents owed not even a local allegiance to the foreign power; and all children born abroad of English parents, were considered as natives of England, if the father went and continued abroad in the character of an English subject.
653. By the existing Law of the United States relative to Naturalization, it is declared, that the children of persons who were, or had been, Citizens of the United States at the time of passing the Act, should, though born out of the United States, be considered.as Citizens; but that the right should not descend to persons whose fathers had never resided within the United States.
654. Aliens coming to the United States, with the intention of permanently residing therein, have many inducements to become Citizens, as they are incapable, until naturalized, of possessing a stable interest in lands in many of the States, or of holding any civil office, or of voting at elections, or taking any active share in the administration of the General or State Governments.
655. A convenient and easy mode has been provided by Congress for removing the disabilities of Aliens; and the terms on which every Alien, being a free white person, can obtain the qualifications and privileges of a natural-born Citizen, are prescribed in the several Acts of Congress relative to the subject.
656. The rights of Aliens to the privilege of Naturalization are, by these Laws, submitted to the deci
sion of Courts of Record; and a person duly naturalized, becomes entitled to all the privileges and immunities of a natural-born Citizen, except that a residence of seven years is requisite to enable him to hold a seat in Congress, and that he is not eligible to the office of President of the United States, or of Governor in several of the States.
657. The Power of Congress“ to establish uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies,” is intimately -connected with the regulation of Commerce; and there are peculiar reasons why the National Government should be entrusted with this power, arising from the importance of preserving uniformity and equality of rights amongst the citizens of all the States, and of maintaining commercial credit and intercourse with foreign Nations. .
658. Under Governments which authorize personal arrests and imprisonments for debts, it has been found necessary to provide for the relief of debtors, in cases of inevitable misfortune ; and especially in the case of insolvent merchants, who, from the habits and nature of trade, are under the necessity of giving and receiving credit, and of encountering extraordinary hazards.
659. Bankrupt and Insolvent Laws, besides relieving the debtor, are intended to secure the application of his effects to the payment of his debts; and the distinction between them is not so clearly marked as to determine with positive precision what belongs exclusively to the one or to the other species of these Laws.
660. Bankruptcy, in the English Law, has by long and settled usage received an appropriate meaning ; and has been considered applicable only to unfortunate traders, who do certain acts which afford evi.
dence of their intention to avoid the payment of their debts ; or of their inability to discharge them.
661. It has been said that Insolvent Laws are such as merely liberate the person of the debtor, whilst Bankrupt Laws discharge him from his contracts; but this distinction is not supported by any uniformity of legislation, and it is the more difficult to discriminate between them, because Bankrupt Laws frequently contain those regulations which are generally found in Insolvent Laws, and Insolvent Laws some that are usual in Bankrupt Laws.
662. Although Bankrupt Laws are generally and properly confined in their operation to the trading classes, who are most exposed to pecuniary vicissitudes, yet, as misfortune and poverty may also overtake those who pursue other occupations, the latter are not excluded from the protection of the State Legislatures.
663. Nor ought traders or their creditors to be left without means of relief, in case Congress do not in their discretion think proper to exercise the power vested in them relative to Bankruptcy; and accordingly this power is held not to exclude the right of the States to legislate on the subject, except when the power has been actually executed by Congress. .664. The power of Congress to establish uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcy, is not granted in such terms, nor are its nature and character such as require that it should be exercised exclusively by Congress; consequently a State has a right to pass either Bankrupt or Insolvent Laws, provided there be no Act of Congress in force establishing a uniform system of Bankruptcy, with which the State Law would conflict.
CHAP. 111. PROOF AND EFFECT OF STATE RECORDS. 171
665. But the power of the States does not extend to passing Bankrupt or Insolvent Laws which discharge the obligation of antecedent contracts ; for, under the restriction contained in the Constitution, a State Law can discharge such contracts only as were made subsequently to its enactment, within the State and between its own citizens, and it does not extend to contracts, although made within the State, if made with a citizen of another State ; nor to any contract, by whomsoever made, if made in other States or foreign countries.
666. The Legislature of the Union possesses the power of enacting Bankrupt Laws, and the State Le. gislatures of enacting Insolvent Laws; and a State has, moreover, authority to pass a Bankrupt Law when no Act of Congress exists on the subject with which the State Law might conflict. But whether Congress legislate on the subject or not, no Bankrupt, Insolvent, or other Law passed by a State, is permitted by the Federal Constitution “ to impair the obligation of Contracts." (667. Although Congress has heretofore exercised the power vested in it relative to the subject, yet its former Bankrupt Laws were suffered to expire by their own limitation; and at present there is no uniform system of Bankruptcy in operation in the United States.
668. The power of Congress “ to prescribe,” in its discretion, “ by general Laws, the manner in which the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of each State shall be proved, and the effect they shall have in other States," has been found, as was intended, a convenient instrument of justice, and particularly beneficial on the borders of contiguous States, where persons and effects liable to judicial process, may be suddenly and clandestinely removed to a foreign jurisdiction.