網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

fallen into distress, his neighbors surround him to offer relief. Some, by an attempt at condolence, increase the grief which they would assuage; others, by administering remedies, inflame the disorder; while others, affecting all the solicitude of both, actually wish him dead. It is so with liberty. Always in danger—often in distress—she not only suffers from open and secret foes, but officious and unskillful friends. And among the thousands and millions that throng her temple from curiosity or policy, how few—very few— there are, who are her sincere, faithful, and intelligent worshipers? Among these few, I trust, are to be found all the advocates for restriction in this House. And I readily admit, that most of those out of doors, whose zeal is excited on this occasion, are of the same description.

But is it not probable that there are some jugglers behind the screen who are playing a deeper game—who are combining to rally under this standard, as the last resort, the forlorn hope of an expiring party. But while we admit this in behalf of the respectable gentlemen who advocate the restriction of slavery in Missouri, we ask, may we demand of them the same liberality. We are not the advocates or the abettors of slavery.

For one, sir, I would rejoice if there was not a slave on earth. Liberty is the object of my love—my adoration. I would extend its blessings to every human being. But, though my feelings are strong for the abolition of slavery, they are yet stronger for the Constitution of my country. And, if I am reduced to the sad alternative to tolerate the holding of slaves in Missouri or violate the Constitution of my country, I will not admit a doubt to cloud my choice.

Sir, of what benefit would be abolition, if at a sacrifice of your Constitution? Where would be the guarantee of the liberty which you grant? Liberty has a temple here, and it is the only one which remains. Destroy this, and she must flee—she mnst retire among the brutes of the wilderness to mourn and lament the misery and folly of man.

The proposition for the consideration of the committee is, to abolish slavery in Missouri, as a condition of her admission into the Union.

This Constitution, which I hold in my hand, I am sworn to support, not according to legislative or judicial exposition, but as I shall understand it; not as private interest or public zeal may urge, but as I shall believe; not as I may wish it, but as it is.

I have carefully examined this Constitution, and I can find no such power. I have looked it through, and I am certain it is not in the book.

This power is not express, and if given at all, it must be constructive.

This amplifying power by construction is dangerous, and will, not improbably, effect the eventual destruction of the Constitution.

That there are resulting or implied powers, I am not disposed to deny; but they are only where the powers are subordinate and the implication necessary.

All powers not granted are prohibited, is a maxim to which we cannot too religiously adhere.

0 0 * * * 0

How comes it that Congress can prohibit a transfer of a slave from one State to another, and under this power to regulate commerce, when they are expressly forbidden to compel a vessel bound from one State to enter, clear, nor pay dnties, in that of another? If Congress has this power under this clause in the Constitution, then slaves are to be prohibited as commerce.

And, sir, where is the authority to prohibit the transfer of an article of commerce from State to State? A man leaves a State to go into another with his family, slaves, cattle, and implements of husbandry, to clear up and culti

vate a farm or plantation. His object is exclusively agricultural. He is met at the line by a law of Congress, and his slaves are stopped under the authority to regulate commerce!

When under this power, you shall have succeded in proving the extravagant and untenable position that Congress can prohibit this transfer, how do you arrive at the conclusion, that you can pass this act of abolition which the amendment proposes?

There are two powers grown out of that to regulate commerce. And preserve your gravity while I repeat, one of them is to prohibit a transfer of slaves from State to State, and the other to abolish slavery in Missouri, as a condition of her admission into the Union.

* * * * * *

Sir, I trust enough has been said to prove that this clause gives no authority to prohibit a transfer of slaves from one State to another; and if it did, it has nothing to do with the question. Sir, it is a new doctrine, and allow me to add, it is an alarming doctrine. Let me ask the gentleman from New York a question, and I will do it with that confidence which friendship inspires. With the suggestion thai the Declaration of Independence is an act of general emancipation, and with this doctrine, that Congress may confine the slaves within the limits of the respective States, let the four hundred thousand slaves of Virginia be transferred to New York, and what would be his feelings? [Here Mr. Taylor rose, and disclaimed having advanced that the Declaration of Independence had any effect to emancipate the slaves.]

Sir, I have not said that that gentleman did advance such a doctrine.

I stated that such an opinion had been advanced, and from high authority.

And I again appeal to the candor of that gentleman, and ask him, whether he should feel entirely easy if tie slaves of Virginia were shut up in New York, under this power which he advocates, and if it had come to their ears from any respectable source that they were all free?

Would he not be inclined to doubt the constitutionality or policy of such a law?

Confine the slaves in the old slaveholding States, where they are most numerous; the constant emigration of the whites will soon bring them to an equality with their slaves. Emigration will increase with the danger, and murder and massacre will succeed.

And yet, we can look on and see this storm gathering— hear its thunders, and witness its lightnings, with great composure, with wonderful philosophy!

We are aware, gentlemen, that we are diffusing sentiments which endanger your safety, happiness, and lives; nay, more, the safety, happiness, and lives of those whom you value more than your own.

But it is a constitutional question.

Keep cool. We are conscious that we are inculcating doctrines that will result in spilling the best of your blood, but as this blood will be spilled in the cause of humanity, keep cool.

We have no doubt that the promulgating of these principles will be the means of cutting your throats; but, as it will be done in the most unexceptionable manner possible, by your slaves, who will no doubt perform the task in great style and dexterity, and with much delicacy and humanity, too, therefore keep cool.

Sir, speak to the wind, command the waves, expostulate with the tempest, rebuke the thunder, but never ask an honorable man thus circumstanced to suppress his feelings.

But, sir, I beg pardon for this digression; it is aside from my purpose.

My object is not declamation, but reason. ,

January 28.—Mr. Smyth, of Virginia, addressed the Chair. He said that the constitutionality of the measure proposed was the subject which he intended first to consider. The legislative power of every State is originally co-extensive. Each State, by the Constitution, commits an equal portion of its legislative powers to Congress, and all the residue is reserved to the States, unless prohibited to them or to the people. The only powers of this government are given by the Constitution.

The powers granted are to be exercised over every State; and the powers reserved are retained by every State.

In Pennsylvania and in Virginia, the power to legislate respecting slavery is in the legislature. In Ohio and Indiana that power is in the people, who have denied it to their legislatures. No power has been delegated to Congress to legislate on that subject.

The Constitution provides that, "the powers not delegated to the Uuited States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The powers not delegated being reserved to the States, respectively, are reserved to each of the States, whether new or old.

Has the power to legislate over slavery been delegated to the United States? It has not.

Has it been prohibited to the States? It has not. •

Then it is reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Consequently, it is reserved to the State of Missouri, or to the people of that State. And any attempt by Congress to deprive them of this reserved power, will be unjust, tyrannical, unconstitutional, and void.

The only condition that may constitutionally be annexed to the admission of a new State into this Union is that its constitution shall be republican.

This the Constitution authorizes us to require, and it is the only condition that is necessary. We possess power te

« 上一頁繼續 »