Page images
PDF
EPUB

their posterity for ever, than to establish a test, which we know they cannot comply with, and which we do not require of others.

But, sir, we owe to that innocent and unfortunate race of men, much more than mere emancipation. We owe to them our patient and persevering exertions, to elevate their condition and character, by means of moral and religious instruction. As a republican statesman. I protest against the principle of inequality contained in this proviso. As a man and a father, who expects justice for himself and his children, in this world; and as a christian, who hopes for mercy in the world to come; I can not, I dare not, consent to this unjust proscription.

DAVID BUEL, JUN.

There are, in my judgment, many circumstances which will for ever preserve the people of this state from the vices and degradation of a European population. The provisions made for the establishment of common schools, will in a few years extend the benefit of education to all our citizens. The universal diffusion of information will forever distinguish our population from that of Europe. Virtue and intelligence are the true basis on which every republican government must rest; where these are lost, freedom will no longer exist. The diffusion of education is the only sure means of establishing these pillars of freedom. I feel no apprehension for myself or my posterity, in confining the right of suffrage to the great mass of such a population. The farmers of this country will always out-number all other portions of our population.

And I refer to the general reasoning adopted by the writers of the Federalist, to demonstrate the wisdom of the provisions in our national constitution, in regard to the qualifications of electors and elected. Those illustrious statesmen have most satisfactorily shown it to be a prominent feature in the constitution of the United States, and one of its greatest excellencies, that orders and classes of men would not, and ought not, as such, to be represented; that every citizen, qualified by his talents and virtues, should be eligible to a seat in either branch of the national legislature, without regard to his occupation or class in society. And it was predicted and expected that men of every class and profession, would find their way to the legislature of the union. The framers of the constitution placed their confidence in the virtue and intelligence of the great mass of the American people. It was their triumphant boast to have formed a government without recognizing or creating any odious distinctions, or giving any particular preference to any particular class or order of men.-Debates in the New-York Convention, 1821.

HEZEKIAH NILES.

It is expressly provided (Art. iv. Sec. 2,) by the constitution of the United States, "that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." This is a very simple, plain, and imperative sentence. Free blacks and mulattoes are citizens in all the states, I believe, east of the Delaware, as well as in the states northwest of the river Ohio, and they

cannot be dispossessed of the right to locate themselves where they please.

The constitution of the United States equalizes the privileges of the citizens of the states, without respect to color, or the countries from whence they may be derived. This principle must be maintained. The few free blacks and mulattoes in the United States are not to be considered. It is the disfranchisement of citizens who are citizens, and cannot be disfranchised. Shall we open the door to what may become the foulest proscriptions?-Niles Register, 1820.

Dealing in slaves has become a large business; establishments are made in several places in Maryland and Virginia, at which they are sold like cattle; these places of deposite are strongly built and well supplied with thumb-screws and gags, and ornamented with cow-skins and other whips often times bloody.-Vol. 35.

MYRON HOLLEY.

It has become fashionable with many, of late, to degrade the word political into a signification narrow, sordid, grovelling, selfish, and personal. This is because those, who have chiefly controlled politi. cal action, have betrayed it to services charactized by these epithets. It should have, and may have, a much higher meaning; and must be practically restored to its best significance, or the memory of our fathers and the hopes of their children will perish.

Principles do not take effect without agency. In this life, men have, at least for a time, power to set them up, and power to cast them down. Under neglect, they become useless. Local interest and personal ambition, often unite to set them aside. Hence the maxim, that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. This price we have not paid. We have been devoted to less valuable engagements. The consequence is, our liberties are greatly impaired. The first step, towards their reparation and confirmation, is a thorough survey of the foundation on which they rest. This foundation is composed of the doctrines of '76.--Rochester Freeman.

JOHN C. SPENCER.

The very insertion of the clause (1st, Art. 1st Sect. 9,) showed that without it the power of Congress would have been complete and unlimited; and the restriction of the power being confined to the states then existing, demonstrated that the power of congress over new states was perfect and uncontrolled. He was happy to be able to quote higher authorities for this construction. In the debate in the Pennsylvania Convention, which will be found in 4th Hall's American Law Journal, the venerable Judge Wilson had given a lu cid and satisfactory explanation of this clause: he declares that it is intended to restrict the power of Congress over the old states until 1808; that after that period the migration and importation of slaves could be prohibited altogether, and that in the meanwhile no new state would be admitted without prohibiting the introduction of slavery He states the clause to have been the result of compromise between

the north and the south, and he congratulates his colleagues on hav ing obtained so much. Authority more decided can hardly be expected, especially when it is recollected that it is a contemporaneous exposition of the intention of the framers of the constitution, being made in the year 1787, by one of the most distinguished in that band of illustrious statesmen. In addition to this, we have the testimony of the venerable patriot, John Jay, in a letter lately made public, which is equally explicit. And that exalted statesmen (Rufus King,) whom we have lately, with unexampled unanimity, elected to the senate of the United States, has not only given evidence the most clear and decisive to the same point, but has presented a mass of invaluable facts, which show that there could have been no other intention in the minds of the framers of the constitution, than that which has been ascribed to them. If, then, the plain and obvious meaning of the words themselves required the sanction of authority, we have it from men who were actors in the scene, and who were intimately acquainted with men and the events of the day.

Shall it (the south-western territory,) be doomed to the foul stain of slavery, or shall it be the abode of freedom and independence? It was purchased by the common fund of the nation, to which the state of New-York has contributed more than $100,000.000. Shall we and our children be excluded from its common and equal enjoy. ment? That this will be the inevitable effect of allowing slavery there, is easily shown.

Those who have had any acquaintance with the slave-holding states, know perfectly well that there exists among them but two classes of society, the very wealthy and respectable, and the poor, servile and degraded; that in them, the most useful portion of our citizens which we call the middle class is unknown; labor being confined to the blacks, shares in the contempt and degradation of those who perform it, and the consequence is that personal labor is despised-the immediate effect is that a white man must either be the owner of slaves, or must become degraded to their level, or below it Such is the uniform and constant effect in those states where a large portion of the population consists of slaves. If, therefore, slavery be admitted into this portion of the union, it will be a virtual exclusion of the northern emigrant. The state of Illinois and the territory of Missouri, con. trasted only by the one rejecting slavery and the other practically admiting it, offered a practical proof of the correctness of these remarks. Would it not then be unjust in Congress to pass any law which, by its operation would exclude the northern inhabitants from the common and equal enjoyment of a property purchased by a common fund?

I go further than the gentleman from Delaware, (Erastus Root,) on this subject. He says that the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in this state constitution, renders slavery unconstitutional. I contend that the first act of our nation, being a solemn recognition. of the liberty and equality of all men, and that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were inalienable, was the corner stone of our confederacy, and is above all constitutions, and all laws. -Speech in New-York Legislature, 1820.

HENRY CLAY.

As a mere laborer, the slave feels that he toils for his master, and not for himself; that the laws do not recognise his capacity to acquire and hold property, which depends altogether upon the pleasure of his proprietor, and that all the fruits of his exertions are reaped by others. He knows that, whether sick or well, in times of scarcity or abundance, his master is bound to provide for him by the all-powerful influence of self-interest. He is generally, therefore, indifferent to the adverse or prosperous fortunes of his master, being contented if he can escape his displeasure or chastisement, by a careless and slovenly performance of his duties.

That labor is best, in which the laborer knows that he will derive the profits of his industry, and his employment depends upon his diligence, and his reward upon his assiduity. He then has every motive to excite him to exertion, and to animate him in perseverance. He knows that if he is treated badly, he can exchange his employer for one who will better estimate his service; and that whatever he earns is his, to be distributed by himself as he pleases, among his wife and children, and friends, or enjoyed by himself. In a word, he feels that he is a free agent, with rights, and privileges, and sensibilities.

Wherever the option exists to employ, at an equal hire, free or slave labor, the former will be decidedly preferred, for the reasons already assigned. It is more capable, more diligent, more faithful, and in every respect more worthy of confidence.

It is believed that nowhere in the farming portion of the United States would slave labor be generally employed, if the proprietor were not tempted to raise slaves by the high price of the southern market, which keeps it up in his own.

[Speaking of an attempt more than thirty-five years ago, to adopt gradual emancipation in Kentucky, Mr. Clay says:]

We were overpowered by numbers, and submitted to the decision of the majority with the grace which the minority, in a republic, should ever yield to such a decision. I have nevertheless never ceased, and never shall cease, to regret a decision, the effects of which have been, to place us in the rear of our neighbors, who are exempt from slavery, in the state of agriculture, the progress of manufactures, the advance of improvement, and the general prosperity of society.-Address before the Colonization Society.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

Not three days since, Mr. Clayton, of Georgia, called that species of population (viz. slaves) the machinery of the South. Now that machinery had twenty odd representatives* in that hall,-not elected by the machinery, but by those who owned it. And if he should go back to the history of this government from its foundation, it would be easy to prove that its decisions had been affected, in general by less

There are now twer.ty-five odd representatives-that is, representatives of slaves.]

majorities than that. Nay, he might go further, and insist that that very representation had ever been, in fact, the ruling power of this government.

The history of the Union has afforded a continual proof that this representation of property, which they enjoy, as well in the election of President and Vice President of the United States, as upon the floor of the House of Representatives, ha sened to the slaveholding states the entire control of the national ponry, and, almost without exception, the possession of the highest executive office of the Union. Always united in the purpose of regulating the affairs of the whole Union by the standard of the slaveholding interest, their disproportionate numbers in the electoral colleges have enabled them, in ten out of twelve quadriennial elections, to confer the Chief Magistracy upon one of their own citizens. Their suffrages at every election, withou exception, have been almost exclusively confined to a candidate of their own caste.- -Speech in Congress, Feb. 4, 1833.

GENERAL DUFF GREEN.

We are of those who believe the South has nothing to fear from a servile war. We do not believe that the abolitionists intend, nor could they, if they would, excite the slaves to insurrection. The danger of this is remote. We believe that we have most to fear from the organized action upon the consciences and fears of slaveholders themselves; from the insinuations of their dangerous heresies into our schools, our pulpits, and our domestic circles. It is only by alarming the consciences of the weak and feeble, and diffusing among our own people a morbid sensibility on the question of slavery, that the abolitionists can accomplish their object. Preparatory to this, they are now laboring to saturate the non-slaveholding states with the belief that slavery is a sin against God; that the "national compact" involves the non-slaveholders in that sin; and that it is their duty to toil and suffer, that our country may be delivered from what they term its blackest stain, its foulest reproach, its deadliest curse.- -Southern

Review.

JOSEPH RITNER.

Last, but worst of all, came the base bowing of the knee to the dark spirit of slavery.

For the preservation of this last and most cherished article of our national political creed, the sacrifice of which has not yet been completed, it is our duty to make all possible effort.

To ascertain what have been, nay, what are the doctrines of the people of this state, on the subject of domestic slavery, reference need only be made to the statute book and journals of the legislature. They will be found imprinted in letters of light upon almost every page. In 1, Smith's Laws, 493, is found an "act for the gradual abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania," with a preamble which should be printed in letters of gold. This is the first act of the kind passed in any part of the Union, and was nobly put forth to the world, in the year 1780,

« PreviousContinue »