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lowed under the authority of that act; that the proceedIngs thereon in the Supreme Court were coram non judice in relation to this court; and that obedience to its mandate be declined by this court.
In times of violent party excitement, agitating the whole nation, to expect that judges will be entirely exempt from its influence, argues a profound ignorance of mankind. Although clothed with the ermine, they are still men, and carry into the judgment seat the passions and motives common to their kind. Their decisions on party questions reflect their individual opinions, which frequently betray them unconsciously into error. balance the judgment of a whole people by that of two or three men, no matter what may be their official elevation, is to exalt the creature of the Constitution above its creator, and to assail the foundation of our political fabric; which is, that the decision of the people is infallible, from which there is no appeal but to Heaven.-See Benton's Abridgment, vol. 6, pages 660, 661.
Mahlon Dickerson, of New-Jersey, said: But I must beg leave to differ from the honorable gentleman (Mr. Walker, of Georgia) when he informs us that our independent Judiciary is the bulwark of the liberties of the people. By which he must mean, defenders of the people against the oppressions of the Government. From what I witnessed in the years 1798, 1799, and 1800, I never shall, I never can, consider our Judiciary as the bulwark of the liberties of the people. The people must look out for other bulwarks for their liberties.-See ib., page 701.
the Queen of Scots, the judges were instructed to condemn her, and by their sentence she cane to the block. This horrid deed was covered by the cloak of judicial proceedings. When Charles I., determined to change the religion of Scotland, he made use of the Court of High Commission to effect the object. By the same judi cial power, the advocates for the doctrines of the Re formation have so often been divested of their religious privileges, and doomed to seal with their blood that religion which bore them triumphantly through the vale of death.
The short, though splendid history of this Government furnishes nothing that can induce us to look with a very favorable eye to the Federal Judiciary as a safe deposi tory of our liberties. When a law was enacted in viola tion of a vital principle of the Constitution, that which I was designed to secure the freedom of speech and of the press, the victims of its operation looked in vain to the judges to arrest the progress of usurpation. If this power could ever be exercised to any good purpose, it would be, on such occcasions, to declare the law unconstitutional which aims a deadly blow at the vital principles of freedom; but, so far as the transactions of that day are detailed in our public records, it appears that the Judiciary was a willing instrument of Federal usurpation. That law was executed in all the rigor of the spirit which dictated it. The turbulence of faction found no moderation there; and the people found relief only in their own power. The exercise of their elective franchise removed the evil, and this is their only safe dependence.
The following is an extract from Gen. Jackson's message vetoing the bill for rechartering the Bank of the United States. It may be
RICHARD M. JOHNSON, OF KENTUCKY. Mr. Johnson, who was elected Vice-President of the United States by the Democratic party, represented Kentucky in the United States Senate in 1822. I find in Benton's Abridg-found on page 438 of the Senate Journal for ment of the Debates of Congress, vol. 7, page the first session of the Twenty-second Congress, 145, an elaborate speech of Mr. Johnson upon a and is in these words: resolution offered by him, proposing an amendment of the Constitution. His proposition was to amend the Constitution by referring all cases in which a State may be a party to the final adjudication of the Senate. In the course of his remarks, he says:
At this time there is, unfortunately, a want of confidence in the Federal Judiciary, in cases that involve political power; and this distrust my be carried to other cases, such as the lawyers call meum et tuum.
Courts also, like cities and villages, or like legislative bodies, will sometimes have their leaders; and it may happen, that a single individual will be the prime cause of a decision to overturn the deliberate act of a whole State, or of the United States; yet, we are admonished to receive their opinions as the ancients did the responses of the Delphic oracle, or the Jews, with more propriety, the communications from Heaven, delivered by Urim and Thummim, to the High Priest of God's chosen people, from the sanctum sanctorum. Other causes of difference might be multiplied to a tedious extent; but enough has been said to show that judges, who, like other men, are subject to the frailties, the passions, the partialities, and antipathies, incident to human nature, should not be exempted from responsibility on account of their superior integrity, learning, and capacity; or that their decisions should be subject to revision by some competent tribunal, responsible to the people. It is believed that this is the opinion of that great and good man who penned the Declaration of Independence, and who now enjoys, in the shades of Monticello, the blessings of the principles which it contains.
If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the whole ground of this act, it ought not to control the coordinate authorities of this Government. The Congress, the Executive, and the Court, must each for itself be public officer, who takes an oath to support the Constiguided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each tution, swears that he will support it as he understands the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, it, and not as it is understood by others. It is as much and of the President, to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or resolution which may be presented to them for passage or approval, as it is of the supreme judges, when it may be brought before them for judicial decision. The opinion of the judges has no more authority over Congress than the opinion of Congress over the judges; and, on that point, the President is independent of both. The authority of the Supreme Court must not, therefore, be permitted to control the Congress or the Executive when acting in their legislative capacities, but to have only such influence as the force of their reasoning may deserve.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION.
MR. WEBSTER'S VIEWS.
The other side of this question was lucidly and ably stated by the late Daniel Webster, in a speech delivered before the U. S. Senate, on the 27th of January, 1830, in the famous debate between Mr. W. and Mr. Hayne, of South Car
It was the judgment of a court that doomed the im-olina, on Foot's Resolution, as follows: mortal Soc ates to drink the hemlock. When the Roman Mr. Hayne having rejoined to Mr. Webster, tyrant could no longer use a hired soldiery to immolate especially on the constitutional question, Mr. Webster rose, and, in conclusion, said:
the victims of his jealousy, he resorted to courts of law. When Henry VIII, of England, would exercise cruel despotism under the forms of a free Constitution, the A few words, Mr. President, on this constitutional arguarmy, the court, and the Parliament, were the potentment, which the honorable gentleman has labored to reengines that sustained him. When Mary, his daughter, construct.
2d. That a compact between two, with authority reserved to one to interpret its terms, would be a surrender to that one of all power whatever.
compelled the Protestants to seal their testimony at the His argument consists of two propositions and an inferstake, the court gave sanction to the murderous deeds.ence. His propositions are: Her sister and successor, Elizabeth, created the Court of 1st. That the Constitution is a compact between the High Commission, and formally invested it with inquisi-States. torial power. She also supported the arbitrary edicts of the Star Chamber. The Puritans, because obnoxious to the free exercise of the prerogatives of the Crown, were imp: isoned and dispersed by process of law, and the judges were the supporters of her despotic power. When she would destroy her unfortunate kinswoman,
3d. Therefore, (such is his inference,) the General Government does not possess the authority to construe its own powers.
Now, sir, who does not see, without the aid of exposition or detection, the utter confusion of ideas involved in this so elaborate and systematic argument.
that they should agree. One alone could not interpret it conclusively; one alone could not construe it; one alone could not modify it. Yet the gentleman's doctrine is, that | Carolina alone may construe and interpret that compact which equally binds all, and gives equal rights to all. So, then, sir, even supposing the Constitution to be a compact between the States, the gentleman's doctrine, nevertheless, is not maintainable; because, first, the General Government is not a party to that compact, but a government established by it, and vested by it with the powers of trying and deciding doubtful questions; and secondly, because, if the Constitution be regarded as a compact, not one State only, but all the States, are parties to that compact, and one can have no right to fix upon it her own peculiar construction.
The Constitution, it is said, is a compact between States; the States, then, and the States only, are parties to the compact. How comes the General Government itself a party? Upon the honorable gentleman's hypothesis, the General Government is the result of the compact, the crea ture of the compact, not one of the parties to it. Yet the argument, as the gentleman has now stated it, makes the Government itself one of its own creators. It makes it a party to that compact to which it owes its own existence. For the purpose of erecting the Constitution on the basis of a compact, the gentleman considers the States as parties to that compact; but as soon as his compact is made, then he chooses to consider the General Govern- So much, sir, for the argument, even if the premises of ment, which is the offspring of that compact, not its off the gentleman were granted, or could be proved, But, spring, but one of its parties; and so being a party, with-sir, the gentleman has failed to maintain his leading proout the power of judging on the terms of compact. Pray, position. He has not shown, it cannot be shown, that the sir, in what school is such reasoning as this taught? Constitution is a compact between State Governments. If the whole of the gentleman's main proposition were The Constitution itself, in its very front, refutes that idea; conceded to him, that is to say, if I admit for the sake of it declares that it is ordained and established by the peothe argument, that the Constitution is a compact between ple of the United States. So far from saying that it is States, the inferences which he draws from that proposi- established by the governments of the several States, it tion are warranted by no just reasoning. If the Constitu- does not even say that it is established by the people of the tion be a compact between States, still that Constitution, several States; but it pronounces that it is established by or that compact, has established a government, with cer- the people of the United States, in the aggregate. The tain powers; and whether it be one of those powers, that gentleman says, it must mean no more than the people of it shall construe and interpret for itself the terms of the the several States. Doubtless, the people of the several compact, in doubtful cases, is a question which can only States, taken collectively, constitute the people of the be decided by looking to the compact, and inquiring what United States; but it is in this, their collective capacity, it provisions it contains on this point. Without any inconsist- is as all the people of the United States, that they establish ency with natural reason, the Government even thus crea- the Constitution. So they declare; and words cannot be ted might be trusted with this power of construction. The plainer than the words used. extent of its powers, therefore, must still be sought for in the instrument itself.
If the Old Confederation had contained a clause, declaring that Resolutions of the Congress should be the supreme law of the land, any State law or Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, and that a Committee of Congress, or any other body created by it, should possess judicial powers extending to all cases arising under resolutions of Congress, then the power of ultimate decision would have been vested in Congress under the Confederation, although that Confederation was a compact between States; and for this plain reason, that it would have been competent to the States, who alone were parties to the compact, to agree who should decide in cases of dispute arising on the construction of the compact.
For the same reason, sir, if I were now to concede to the gentleman his principal proposition, namely, that the Constitution is a compact between States, the question would still be, what provision is made, in this compact, to settle points of disputed construction, or contested power, that shall come into controversy? And this question would still be answered, and conclusively answered, by the Constitution itself.
While the gentleman is contending against construction, he himself is setting up the most loose and dangerous construction. The Constitution declares, that the laws of Congress passed in pursuance of the Constitution shall bǝ the supreme law of the land. No construction is necessary here. It declares, also, with equal plainness and precision, that the judicial power of the United States shall extend to every case arising under the laws of Congress. This needs no construction. Here is a law, then, which is declared to be supreme; and here is a power established, which is to interpret that law. Now, sir, how has the gentleman met this? Suppose the Constitution to be a compact, yet here are its terms; and how does the gentleman get rid of them? He cannot argue the seal off the bond, nor the word out of the instrument. Here they are; what answer does he give to them? None in the world, sir, except that the effect of this would be to place the States in a condition of inferiority; and that it results from the very nature of things, there being no superior, that the parties must be their own judges! Thus closely and cogently does the honorable gentleman reason on the words of the Constitution. The gentleman says, if there be such a power of final decision in the General Government, he asks for the grant of that power. Well, sir, I show him the grant. I turn him to the very words. I show him that the laws of Congress are made supreme; and that the judicial power extends, by express words, to the interpretation of these laws. Instead of answering this, he retreats into the general reflection, that it must result from the nature of things, that the States, being parties, must judge for themselves.
I have admitted, that, if the Constitution were to be considered as the creature of the State Governments, it might be modified, interpreted, or construed according to their pleasure. But, even in that case, it would be necessary
When the gentleman says the Constitution is a compact between the States, he uses language exactly applicable to the old Confederation. He speaks as if he were in Congress before 1789. He describes fully that old state of things then existing. The Confederation was, in strictness, a compact; the States, as States, were parties to it. We had no other general government. But that was found insufficient, and inadequate to the public exigencies. The people were not satisfied with it, and undertook to establish a better. They undertook to form a General Government, which should stand on a new basis; not a confederacy, not a league, not a compact between States, but a Constitution; a popular government, founded in popular election, directly responsible to the people themselves, and divided into branches with prescribed limits of power, and prescribed duties. They ordained such a government, they gave the name of a Constitution, and therein established & distribution of power between this, their General Government, and their several State governments. When they shall become dissatisfied with this distribution, they can alter it. Their own power over their own instrument remains. But until they shall alter it, it must stand as their will, and is equally binding on the General Government and on the States.
The gentleman, sir, finds analogy where I see none. He likens it to the case of a treaty, in which, there being no common superior, each party must interpret for himself, under its own obligation of good faith. But this is not a treaty, but a constitution of government, with powers to execute itself, and fulfill its duties:
I admit, sir, that this government is a government of checks and balances; that is, the House of Representatives is a check upon the Senate, and the Senate is a check on the House, and the President a check on both. But I cannot comprehend, or, if I do, I totally differ from him, when he applies the notion of checks and balances to the interference of different governments. He argues that if we transgress our constitutional limits, each State, as a State, has a right to check us. Does he admit the converse of the proposition, that we have a right to check the States? The gentleman's doctrines would give us a strange jumble of authorities and powers, instead of governments of separate and defined powers. It is the part of wisdom, I think, to avoid this; and to keep the General Government and the State Government each in its proper sphere, avoiding as carefully as possible every kind of interference.
Finally, sir, the honorable gentleman says, that the States will only interfere, by their power, to preserve the Constitution. They will not destroy it, they will not impair it; they will only save, they will only preserve, they will only strengthen it. Ah! sir, this is but the old story. All re gulated governments, all free governments, have beet broken by similar disinterested and well disposed inter ference. It is the common pretence. But I take leavi of the subject.
GEN. CASS ON POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.
LETTER TO A. O. P. NICHOLSON.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 1847. DEAR SIR: I have received your letter, and shall answer it as frankly as it is written.
You ask me whether I am in favor of the acquisition of Mexican territory, and what are my sentiments with regard to the Wilmot Proviso.
I have so often and so explicitly stated my views of the first question, in th Senate, that it seems almost unnecessary to repeat them here. As you request it, however, I shall briefly give them.
I think, then, that no peace should be granted to Mexico, till a reasonable indemnity is obtained for the injuries which she has done us. The territorial extent of this indemnity is, in the first instance, a subject of Executive consideration. There the Constitution has placed t, and there I am willing to leave it; not only because I ave full confidence in its judicious exercise, but because, n the ever-varying circumstances of a war, it would be ndiscreet, by a public declaration, to commit the counny to any line of indemnity, which might otherwise be enlarged, as the obstinate injustice of the enemy prolongs the contest with its loss of blood and treasure.
It appears to me, that the kind of metaphysical magnanimity which would reject all indemnity at the close of a bloody and expensive war, brought on by a direct attack upon our troops by the enemy, and preceded by a succession of unjust acts for a series of years, is as unworthy of the age in which we live, as it is revolting to the common sense and practice of mankind. It would conduce but little to our future security, or, indeed to our present reputation, to declare that we repudiate all expectation of compensation from the Mexican Government, and are fighting, not for any practical result, but for some vague, perhaps philanthropic object, which escapes my penetration, and must be defined by those who assume this new principle of national intercommunication. All wars are to be deprecated, as well by the statesman as by the philanthropist. They are great evils; but there are greater evils than these, and submission to injustice is among them. The nation which should refuse to defend its rights and its honor when assailed, would soon have neither to defend; and, when driven to war, it is not by professions of disinterestedness and declarations of magnanimity that its rational objects can be best obtained, or other nations taught a lesson of forbearance-the strongest security for permanent peace We are at war with Mexico, and its vigorous prosecution is the surest means of its speedy termination, and ample indemnity the surest guaranty against the recurrence of such injustice as provoked it.
cal institutions, if I may so speak, whether they have reference to Slavery or to any other relations, domestic or public, are left to local authority, either original or derivative. Congress has no right to say there shall be Slavery in New-York, or that there shall be no Slavery in Georgia; nor is there any other human power, but the people of those States, respectively, which can change the relations existing therein; and they can say, if they will, we will have Slavery in the former, and we will abolish it in the latter.
In various respects, the Territories differ from the States. Some of their rights are inchoate, and they do not possess the peculiar attributes of sovereignty. Their relation to the General Government is very imperfectly defined by the Constitution; and it will be found, upon examination, that in that instrument the only grant of power concerning them is conveyed in the phrase, "Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory and other property belonging to the United States." Certainly this phraseology is very loose, if it were designed to include in the grant the whole power of legislation over persons, as well as things. The expression, the "territory and other property," fairly construed, relates to the public lands, as such; to arsenals, dockyards, forts, ships, and all the various kinds of property which the United States may and must possess.
But surely the simple authority to dispose of and regu late these does not extend to the unlimited power of legislation; to the passage of all laws, in the most general acceptation of the word, which, by the by, is carefully excluded from the sentence. And, indeed, if this were so, it would render unnecessary another provision of the Constitution, which grants to Congress the power to legislate, with the consent of the States, respectively, over all places purchased for the "erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards," etc. These being the "property" of the United States, if the power to make "needful rules and regulations concerning" them includes the general power of legislation, then the grant of authority to regulate" the territory and other property of the United States " is unlimited, wherever subjects are found for its operation, and its exercise needed no auxiliary provision. If, on the other hand, it does not include such power of legislation over the "other property" of the United States, then it does not include it over their "territory;" for the same terms which grant the one grant the other. "Territory" is here classed with property, and treated as such; and the object was evidently to enable the General Government, as a property-holder-which, from necessity, it must be-to manage, preserve and "dispose of" such property as it might possess, and which authority is essential almost to its being. But the lives and persons of our citizens, with the vast variety of objects connected with them, cannot be controlled by an authority which is merely called into existence for the purpose of making rules and regu
The Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some time. It has been repeatedly discussed in Congress and by the public press. I am strongly impressed with the opinion, that a great change has been going on in the public mind upon this subject, in my own as well as oth-lations for the disposition and management of proers; and that doubts are resolving themselves into con-perty. victions, that the principle it involves should be kept out of the National Legislature, and left to the people of the confederacy in their respective local governments.
The whole subject is a comprehensive one, and fruitful of important consequences. It would be ill-timed to discuss it here. I shall not assume that responsible task, but shall confine myself to such general views as are necessary to the fair exhibition of my opinion.
We may well regret the existence of Slavery in the Southern States, and wish they had been saved from its introduction. But there it is, not by the act of the present generation; and we must deal with it as a great practical question, involving the most momentous consequences. We have neither the right nor the power to touch it where it exists; and if we had both, their exercise, by any means heretofore suggested, might lead to results which no wise man would willingly encounter, and which no good man could contemplate without anxiety.
Such, it appears to me, would be the construction put upon this provision of the Constitution, were this question now first presented for consideration, and not controlled by imperious circumstances. The original ordinance of the Congress of the Confederation, passed in 1787, and which was the only act upon this subject in force at the adoption of the Constitution, provided a complete frame of government for the country north of the Ohio, while in a territorial condition, and for its eventual admission in separate States into the Union. And the persuasion that this ordinance contained within itself all the necessary means of execution, probably prevented any direct reference to the subject in the Constitution, further than vesting in Congress the right to admit the States formed under it into the Union. However, circumstances arose, which required legislation, as well over the territory north of the Ohio, as over other térritory, both within and without the original Union, ceded to the General Government, The theory of our Government presupposes that its va- and, at various times, a more enlarged power has been rious members have reserved to themselves the regulation exercised over the Territories-meaning thereby the of all subjects relating to what may be termed their inter- different Territorial Governments than is conveyed nal police. They are sovereign within their boundaries, by the limited grant referred to. How far an existing except in those cases where they have surrendered to the necessity may have operated in producing this legislaGeneral Government a portion of their rights, in order to tion, and thus extending, by rather a violent implicagive effect to the objects of the Union, whether these con- tion, powers not directly given, I know not. But cercern foreign nations or the several States themselves. Lo-tain it is that the principle of interference should not be
carried beyond the necessary implication, which produces | 5. But after all, it seems to be generally conceded that it. It should be limited to the creation of proper this restriction, if carried into effect could, not operate governments for new countries, acquired or settled, and upon any State to be formed from newly-acquired territo the necessary provisions for their eventual admission tory. The well-known attributes of Sovereignty, recoginto the Union; leaving, in the meantime, to the people nized by us as belonging to the State Governments, inhabiting them, to regulate their internal concerns in would sweep before them any such barrier, and would their own way. They are just as capable of doing so as leave the people to express and exert their will at pleathe people of the States; and they can do so, at any rate sure. Is the object, then, of temporary exclusion as soon as their political independence is recognized by for so short a period as the duration of the Territorial admission into the Union. During this temporary condi- Governments, worth the price at which it would be tion, it is hardly expedient to call into exercise a doubt- purchased?-worth the discord it would engender, the ful and invidious authority which questions the intelli- trial to which it would expose our Union, and the evils gence of a respectable portion of our citizens, and whose that would be the certain consequence, let the trial re limitation, whatever it may be, will be rapidly approach- sult as it might? As to the course, which has been inti. ing its termination-an authority which would give to mated, rather than proposed, of ingrafting such a restricCongress despotic power, uncontrolled by the Constitution upon any treaty of acquisition, I persuade myself it tion, over most important sections of our common would find but little favor in any portion of this country. country. For, if the relation of master and servant may Such an arrangement would render Mexico a party, be regulated or annihilated by its legislation, so may the having a right to interfere in our internal institutions in regulation of husband and wife, of parent and child, and questions left by the Constitution to the State Governof any other condition which our institutions and the ments, and would inflict a serious blow upon our fundahabits of our society recognize. What would be thought mental principles. Few, indeed, I trust, there are among if Congress should undertake to prescribe the terms of us who would thus grant to a foreign power the right to marriage in New-York, or to regulate the authority of inquire into the constitution and conduct of the soverparents over their children in Pennsylvania? And yet eign States of this Union; and if there are any, I am not it would be as vain to seek one justifying the inter- among them, nor never shall be. To the people of this ference of the national legislature in the cases referred to country, under God, now and hereafter, are its destinies in the original States of the Union. I speak here of the committed; and we want no foreign power to interro inherent power of Congress, and do not touch the ques-gate us, treaty in hand, and to say, Why have you done tion of such contracts as may be formed with new States this, or why have you left that undone? Our own dig when admitted into the confederacy. nity and the principles of national independence unite to repel such a proposition.
Of all the questions which can agitate us, those which are merely sectional in their character are the most But there is another important consideration, which dangerous, and the most to be deprecated. The warning ought not to be lost sight of, in the investigation of this voice of him who from his character and services and subject. The question that presents itself is not a quesvirtue had the best right to warn us, proclaimed to his tion of the increase, but of the diffusion of Slavery. countrymen, in his Farewell Address-that monument of Whether its sphere be stationary or progressive, its wisdom for him, as I hope it will be of safety for them- amount will be the same. The rejection of this restrichow much we had to apprehend from measures peculiarly tion will not add one to the class of servitude, nor will affecting geographical sections of our country. The its adoption give freedom to a single being who is now grave circumstances in which we are now placed make placed therein. The same numbers will be spread over these words words of safety; for I am satisfied, from all greater territory; and, so far as compression, with less I have seen and heard here, that a successful attempt to abundance of the necessaries of life, is an evil, so far ingraft the principles of the Wilmot Proviso upon the le- will that evil be mitigated by transporting slaves to a islation of this Government, and to apply them to new new country, and giving them a larger space to occupy. territory, should new territory be acquired, would seri- I say this in the event of the extension of Slavery over ously affect our tranquillity. I do not suffer myself to any new acquisition. But can it go there? This may well foresee or foretell the consequences that would ensue; be doubted. All the descriptions which reach us of the con for I trust and believe there is good sense and good feel-dition of the Californias and of New-Mexico, to the acquiing enough in the country to avoid them, by avoiding all sition of which our efforts seem to be at present directed, occasions which might lead to them. unite in representing those countries as agricultural regions, similar in their products to our Middle States, and generally unfit for the production of the great staples which can alone render slave labor valuable. If we are not grossly deceived-and it is difficult to conceive how we can bethe inhabitants of those regions, whether they depend up on their plows or their herds, cannot be slaveholders. In voluntary labor, requiring the investment of large capital, can only be profitable when employed in the production of a few favored articles confined by nature to special districts, and paying larger returns than the usual agricultu ral products spread over more considerable portions of the earth.
Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any jurisdiction by Congress over this matter; and I am in favor of leaving to the people of any Territory, which may be hereafter acquired, the right to regulate it for themselves, under the general principles of the Constitution. Because
1. I do not see in the Constitution any grant of the requisite power to Congress; and I am not disposed to extend a doubtful precedent beyond its necessity-the establishment of Territorial Governments when needed -leaving to the inhabitants all the rights compatible with the relations they bear to the confederation.
2. Because I believe this measure, if adopted, would weaken, if not impair, the Union of the States; and would sow the seeds of future discord, which would grow up and ripen into an abundant harvest of cala-guished writer, "the soil, the climate, nor the productions mity.
4. If, however, in this I am under a misapprehension, I am under none in the practical opera ion of this restriction, if adopted by Congress, upon a treaty of peace, making any acquisition of Mexican Territory. Such a treaty would be rejected as certainly as presented to the Senate. More than one-third of that body would vote against it, viewing such a principle as an exclusion of the citizens of the slaveholding States from a participation in the benefits acquired by the treasure and exertions of all, and which should be common to all. I am repeating-neither advancing nor defending these views. That branch of the subject does not lie in my way, and I shall not turn aside to seek it.
In this aspect of the matter, the people of the United States must choose between this restriction and the extension of their territorial limits. They cannot have both; and which they will surrender must depend upon their representatives first, and then, if these fail them, pon themselves.
In the able letter of Mr. Buchanan upon this subject, not long since given to the public, he presents similar considerations with great force. Neither," says the distinof California, south of 36° 80', nor indeed of any portion of it, North or South, is adapted to slave labor; and beside every facility would be there afforded for the slave to escape from his master. Such property would be entirely insecure in any part of California. It is morally impos sible, therefore, that a majority of the emigrants to that portion of the Territory south of 36° 30', which will be chiefly composed of our citizens, will ever reëstablish Slavery within its limits.
"In regard to New-Mexico, east of the Rio Grande, the question has already been settled by the admission of Texas into the Union.
"Should we acquire territory beyond the Rio Grande and east of the Rocky Mountains, it is still more impossi ble that a majority of the people would consent to rees tablish Slavery. They are themselves a colored population, and among them the negro does not belong socially to a degraded race."
With this last remark, Mr. Walker fully coincides in his letter written in 1844, upon the annexation of Texas, and which everywhere produced so favorable an impression upon the public mind, as to have conduced very materially to the accomplishment of that great measure. yond the Del Norte," says Mr. Walker, "Slavery will not pass; not only because it is forbidden by law, but be cause the colored race there preponderates in the ratic
of ten to one over the whites; and holding, as they do, the government and most of the offices in their possession, they will not permit the enslavement of any portion of the colored race, which makes and executes the laws of the country."
The question, it will be therefore seen on examination, does not regard the exclusion of Slavery from a region where it now exists, but a prohibition against its introduction where it does not exist, and where, from the feelings of the inhabitants and the laws of nature, "it is morally impossible," as Mr. Buchanan says, that it can ever reëstablish itself.
It augurs well for the permanence of our confederation that during more than half a century, which has elapsed since the establishment of this government, many serious questions, and some of the highest importance, have agitated the public mind, and more than once threatened the gravest consequences; but that they have all in succession passed away, leaving our institutions unscathed, and our country advancing in numbers, power, and wealth, and in all the other elements of ational prosperity, with a rapidity unknown in ancient
or modern days. In times of political excitement, when
MR. VAN BUREN ON SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES.
THE following letter was addressd to the New York City Delegates to the Utica Free Soil Convention, of 1848, in response to a letter to Martin Van Buren, asking his opinion on the subject herein discussed:
| LINDENWOLD, June 20, 1848. .You desire also my views in regard to the prohibition by Congress of Slavery in territories where it does not now exist, and they shall be given in a few words, and in a manner which will not, I hope, increase, if it does not diminish the existing excitement in the public mind.
trade by the Quakers of Philadelphia and New York, and by Dr. Franklin as President of a society for the promotion of Abolition. These petitions were in the House of Representatives, referred to a Committee of seven, all but one of whom were Northern members, whose report as amended in Committee of the Whole, affirmed "that Congress have no power to interfere in the emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of them within any of the States, it remaining with the several States alone to provide any regulation therein which humanity and true policy might require."
The illustrious founders of our Government were not Insensible to the apparent inconsistency between the perpetuation of Slavery in the United States, and the principles of the Revolution, as delineated in the Declara-efforts have been very successfully frustrated by the good tion of Independence; and they were too ingenuous in their dispositions to attempt to conceal the impressions by which they were embarrassed. But they knew, also, that its speedy abolition in several of the States, was impossible, and its existence in all, without fault on the part of the present-generation. They were also too upright and the fraternal feelings which had carried them through the struggle for independence were too strong to permit them to deal with such a matter upon any other principles than those of liberality and justice. The policy they adopted was to guarantee to the States in which Slavery existed, an exclusive control over the subject within their respective jurisdictions, but to prevent by united efforts, its extension to territories of the United States in which it did not in fact exist.
On all sides the most expedient means to carry out this policy were adopted with alacrity and good feeling. Their first step was to interdict the introduction of Slavery into the Northwestern Territory, now covered by the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, This may justly be regarded, as being in the main, a Southern measure. The subject was first brought forward in Congress by Mr. Jefferson. Virginia made the cession of territory upon which the ordinance was intended to operate, and the Representatives from all the slaveholding States gave it a unanimous support. Doubts have arisen in the minds of some whether the ordinance of 1787 was authorized by the articles of Confederation. A bill was introduced in the new Constitution, recognizing and adapting it to the new organization, and it has ever since been treated and regarded as a valid act. This bill received the Constitutional approbation of President Washington, whose highest and sworn duty it was to support the Constitution under which it was enacted. Nor was the North backward in doing its part to sustain the policy which had been wisely adopted. They assented to the insertion of provisions in the Constitution necessary and sufficient to protect that interest in the States, and they did more.
The trouble apprehended at the commencement of the Government from this source, began to show itself as early as the year 1790, in the form of Petitions presented to Congress upon the subject of Slavery and the slave
The perseverance and good faith with which both branches of policy thus adopted have, until very recently, been recognized and carried out, are highly honorable to the whole country. The peculiarity of the subject to be converted into an element of political agitation, as well in the slaveholding as in the non-slaveholding States, may have led to occasional attempts so to employ it, but these sense and good feeling of the people in every quarter of the Union. A detailed account of the numerous acts of the Federal Government, sustaining and carrying into full effect the policy of its founders upon the subject of Slavery in the States, and its extension to the Territories, and the steps aken, in the non-slaveholding States, to suppress or neutralize undue agitation in regard to it, would be alike instructive and honorable to the actors in them. But it will be readily perceived that this could not be given within the necessary limits of a communication like the present. It must therefore suffice to say that from 1787, the date of the ordinance for the prevention of Slavery in the Northwestern Territory, down to and including 1838, at least eleven acts of Congress have been passed, organizing Territories which have since become States, in all of which the Constitutional power of Congess to interdict the introduction of Slavery into the Territories of the United States, is either directly exercised, or clearly asserted by enactments which, as matters of authority, are tantamount to its exercise; and that at the only period when the peace of the slaveholding States was supposed to be seriously endangered by Abolition agitation, there was a spontaneous uprising of the people of the North of both parties, by which agitation was paralyzed, and the South reassured of our fidelity to the compromises of the Constitution.
In the laws for the organization of the Territories, which now constitute the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, Slavery was expressly prohibited. The laws for the organization of the Territories of Mississippi, New Orleans, Arkansas, Alabama and Florida, containing enactments fully equivalent in regard to the extent of power in Congress over the subject of Slavery in the Territories to the express exercise of it in other cases. These acts were approved by Presidents Washington, the elder Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson and myself, all bound by our oaths of office to withhold our respective approvals from laws which we believed unconstitutional. If in the passage of these laws during a period of half a century, and under the administration of so many Presidents, there was anything like sectional divisions, or a greater or less participation in their enactment on the part of the Representatives of the