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all thence follow, that the power could be rightfully exercised. The case may be resembled to that of a plenipotentiary invested with a plenary power, but who at the same time has positive instructions from his government as to the kind of treaty which he is to negotiate and conclude. If he violates those instructions, and concludes a different treaty, his government is not bound by it; and if the foreign government is aware of the violation, it acts in bad faith. Or it may be illustrated by an example drawn from private life. I am an endorser for my friend on a note discounted in bank. He applies to me to endorse another, to renew it, which I do, in blank. Now, this gives him power to make any other use of my note which he pleases. But if, instead of applying it to the intended purpose, he goes to a broker and sells it, thereby doubling my responsibility for him, he commits a breach of trust, and a violation of the good faith implied in the whole transaction.
The first impediment is the utter and absolute want of all power on the part of the general government to effect the purpose. The Constitution of the United States creates a limited government, comprising comparatively few powers, and leaving the residuary mass of political power in the possession of the several States. It is well known that the Bubject of slavery interposed one of the greatest difficulties in the formation of the Constitution. It was happily compromised and adjusted in a spirit of harmony and patriotism. According to that compromise, no power whatever was granted to the general government in respect to domestic slavery, but that which relates to taxation and representation, and the power to restore fugitive slaves to their lawful owners. All other power in regard to the institution of slavery was retained exclusively by the States, to be exercised by them severally, according to their respective views of their own peculiar interest. The Constitution of the United States never could have b^en formed upon the principle of investing the general government with authority to abolish the institution at its pleasure. It never can be continued for a single day if the exercise of such a power be assumed or usurped.
But it may be contended by these ultra-abolitionists that their object is not to stimulate the action of the general government, but to operate upon the States themselves in which the institution of domestic slavery exists. If that be their object, why are these abolition societies and movements all confined to the free States? Why are the slave States wantonly and cruelly assailed? Why do the abolition presses teem with publications tending to excite hatred and animositj on the part of the inhabitants of the free States against those of the slave States? Why is Congress petitioned? The free States have no more power or right to interfere with institutions in the slave States, confided to the exclusive jurisdiction of those States, than they would have to interfere with institutions existing in any foreign country. What would be thought of the formation of societies in Great Britain, the issue of numerous inflammatory publications, and the sending out of lecturers throughout the kingdom, denouncing and aiming at the destruction of any of the institutions of France? Would they be regarded as proceedings warranted by a good neighborhood? Or what would be thought of the formation of societies in the slave States, the issue of violent and inflammatory tracts, and the deputation of missionaries, pouring out impassioned denunciations against institutions under the exclusive control of the free States? Is their purpose to appeal to our understandings, and to actuate our humanity? And do they expect to accomplish that purpose by holding us up to the scorn, and contempt, and detestation of the people of the free States and the whole civilized world? The slavery which exists amongst us is our affair, not theirs; and they have no more jnst concern with it than they have with slavery as it exists throughout the world. Why not leave it to us, as the common Constitution of our country has left it, to be dealt with,
under the guidance of Providence, as best we may or can? * * * * * * * *
I know that there is a visionary dogma which holds that negro slaves cannot be the subject of property. I shall not dwell long with this speculative abstraction. That is property which the law declares to be property. Two hundred years of legislation have sanctioned and sanctified negro slaves as property. Under all the forms of government which have existed upon this continent during that long space of time—under the British government—under the colonial government—under all the State constitutions and governments—and under the federal government itself—they have been deliberately and solemnly recognized as the legitimate subjects of property. To the wild speculations of theorists and innovators stands opposed the fact, that in an uninterrupted period of two hundred years' duration, under every form of human legislation, and by all the departments of human government, African negro slaves have been held and respected, have descended and been transferred, as lawful and indisputable property. They were treated as property in the very British example which is so triumphantly appealed to as worthy of our imitation. Although the West India planters had no voice in the united Parliament of the British Isles, an irresistible sense of justice extorted from that legislature the grant of twenty millions of pounds sterling to compensate the colonists for their loss of property. ********
Sir, I am not in the habit of speaking lightly of the possibility of dissolving this happy Union. The Senate knows that I have deprecated allusions on ordinary occasions to that direful event. The country will testify that if there be anything in the history of my public career worthy of re
pleasure in testifying, that nothing was remoter from the intention of the majority of the Senate, from which I dif fered, than to violate the right of petition in any case in which, according to its judgment, that right could be con. stitutionally exercised, or where the object of the petition could be safely or properly granted. Still, it must be owned that the abolitionists have seized hold of the fact of the treatment which their petitions have received in Congress, and made injurious impressions upon the minds of a large portion of the community. This, I think, might have been avoided by the course which I should have been glad to have seen pursued.
And I desire now, Mr. President, to advert to some of those topics which I think might have been usefully embodied in a report by a committee of the Senate, and which, I am persuaded, would have checked the progress, if it had not altogether arrested the efforts of abolition. I am sensible, sir, that this work would have been accomplished with much greater ability, and with much happier effect, under the auspices of a committee, than it can be by me. But, anxious as I always am to contribute whatever is in my power to the barmony, concord, and happiness of this great people, I feel myself irresistibly impelled to do whatever is in my power, incompetent as I feel myself to be, to dissuade the public from continuing to agitate a subject fraught with the most direful consequences.
There are three classes of persons opposed, or apparently opposed, to the continued existence of slavery in the United States. The first are those who, from sentiments of philanthropy and humanity, are conscientiously opposed to the existence of slavery, but who are no less opposed at the same time to any disturbance of the peace and tranquillity of the Union, or the infringement of the powers of the States composing the confederacy. In this class may be comprehended that peaceful and exemplary society of
“Friends," one of whose established maxims is an abhorrence of war in all its forms, and the cultivation of peace and good-will amongst mankind. The next class consists of apparent abolitionists—that is, those who, having been persuaded that the right of petition has been violated by Congress, co-operate with the abolitionist for the sole purpose of asserting and vindicating that right. And the third class are the real ultra-abolitionists, who are resolved to persevere in the pursuit of their object at all bazards, and without regard to any consequences, however calamitous they may be. With them the rights of property are nothing; the deficiency of the powers of the general government is nothing; the acknowledged and incontestable powers of the States are nothing; civil war, a dissolution of the Union, and the overthrow of a government in which are concentrated the fondest hopes of the civilized world, are nothing. A single idea has taken possession of their minds, and onward they pursue it, overlooking all barriers, reckless and regardless of all consequences. With this class, the immediate abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and in the Territory of Florida, the prohibition of the removal of slaves from State to State, and the refusal to admit any new State comprising within its limits the institution of domestic slavery, are but so many means conducing to the accomplishment of the ultimate but perilous end at which they avowedly and boldly aim, are but so many short stages in the long and bloody road to the distant goal at which they would finally arrive. Their purpose is abolition, universal abolition, peaceably if it can, forcibly if it must. Their object is no longer concealed by the thinnest veil; it is avowed and proclaimed. Utterly destitute of constitutional or other rightful power, living in totally distinct communities, as alien to the communities in which the subject on which they would operate resides, so far as concerns political power over that subject, as if they