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without any violation of state sovereignty, I also conceded that a fugitive charged with an act that was felonious or criminal in the state to which he fled, might be demanded and surrendered. For the purpose of applying these principles to the case before me, I showed that the laws of this state did not admit the principle that one person could be the property of another, and, consequently, that they did not admit the possibility that one man could be stolen from another. I assumed that the laws of this state harmonized in all respects with the universal laws of all civilized countries, and I maintained that the case presented in the requisition was one not included among those in which, by the law of nations, a right to demand, and an obligation to surrender, existed between independent and sovereign states, and consequently, as an inference from these positions, that it was not a case within the meaning of the constitution.
I observe with regret, and certainly not without surprise, that you are at a loss to perceive the force or application of the arguments and inferences from the law of nations, and that you "advert to them only in order to bring our correspondence back to the narrow limits of which the constitutional question is susceptible.”
The lieutenant-governor, in his reply, so far from questioning the force and application of these arguments and inferences, said: “Now, sir, these doctrines are so completely at war with what I understand to be the law of nations, governing the intercourse, the rights, and the obligations of separate and foreign countries, and by consequence yet more inconsistent with the friendly and federal relations of these states, as prescribed by a constitution of government fully considered and freely adopted by each in its sovereign capacity, that I can not agree, by remaining silent, to be considered as acquiescing for a moment in their correctness.” The lieutenant-governor then proceeded to maintain, that by the laws of nature and of nations, one independent and sovereign community would be required to surrender fugitives to another in a case like the present. The authority of Vattel was cited by him, and marked with especial emphasis, as showing that if an offender has escaped and returned to his own country, the injured state ought to apply to his sovereign to have justice done in the case, and that since the latter ought not to suffer his subjects to molest the subjects of other states, or to do them an injury, much less to give open, audacious offence to foreign powers, he ought to compel the transgressor to make reparation for the damages or injury, if possible, or to inflict on him an exemplary punishment, or finally, according to the nature and circumstances of the case, to deliver him up to the offended state, to be there brought to justice. It was insisted by the lieutenant-governor, that, by the law of nations, the right to demand and the obligation to surrender, even in cases of ordinary transgressions, were absolute in all cases whatever; and this position was fortified by extracts from the writings of Chancellor Kent, and by reference to the relations existing between the Swiss cantons. The lieutenant-governor expressly maintained that this principle of international law, in the absence of all positive agreement, applied in full force, and with peculiar fitness, to the relations of the twenty-six states of our confederacy; and he asserted the proposition as essential to his argument, that, in adopting the constitution, the states themselves had long since converted the abstract principle into an express provision of their fundamental law. Thus much, then, seemed settled; and if, as I trust, I was successful in showing, by reference to the authorities adduced by the lieutenant-governor, and by fair argument from the nature and purposes of the right and obligation, that the principle did not apply to the case under consideration, I submit I had a right to suppose the question conclusively settled.
I beg you to observe the remark made in my answer to the lieutenant-governor: “We agree, as I am very happy to perceive, in the position that the object of this (the constitutional) provision, was to recognise and establish between the states, as equal and independent sovereign communities, the mutual right and obligation to demand and surrender fugitives from justice, as they exist between independent nations by the law of nations." I confess it appears singular to me, that the application of the arguments and inferences drawn from the law of nations, should now be questioned, and more especially so, since your respected predecessor closed the discussion without correcting my misapprehension of the admissions of the lieutenant-governor, if they were misapprehended, and submitted the correspondence, in the shape it had then assumed, to the legislature of Virginia and to the world. Nevertheless, if it be now thought expedient on your part to abandon the grounds of national right and obligation on which the lieutenant-governor sought to establish his demand, and to bring the discussion within the narrow limits by which, as your excellency maintains, the constitutional questiou is confined, I shall not object to such a course, because I am satisfied that the more fully the subject is considered in all its bearings, the more firm will be found the positions by which I have been governed in the decision of the case.
Your excellency makes an effort to simplify the question, by supposing that instead of adopting the constitution, the states of Virginia and New York, entered into a treaty with each other in 1787, and by that compact declared that “a person charged in one state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in the other state, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up to the state having jurisdiction of the crime;" and you ask, could I doubt that New York would be bound to comply with her solemn compact, or that her refusal would justify Virginia in resorting to those violent remedies to which alone, under the law of nations, sovereign states can appeal; and you ask, further, whether the constitutional provision can be held less obligatory on New York or less beneficial to Virginia, because, instead of being a compact between two states, it is one, to the faithful observance of which six and twenty states have pledged themselves.
It is not perceived how the hypothesis thus put is calculated to elucidate the point. It is admitted that the provision is in the nature of a compact between sovereign and independent states. It is, however, only a part of the compact. The whole must be examined, and must be construed together, so that all the objects for which it was made may be attained, and effect given to every part.
This rule is recognised in your communication, by your reference to the third clause of the second section of the fourth arti. cle of the constitution, to illustrate the second clause. You do not quite assume the bold ground taken by the committee of the house of delegates, who insist in their report that the second and third clauses have the same object, the protection of slave property; and that the provision for the recapture of slaves would be incomplete, if there was not the right contended to be secured by the second clause, to demand fugitives from justice. Your argument, from the juxtaposition of the provisions in the constitution, and from a similar juxtaposition in the law of Congress, which was enacted to carry them into effect, seeks to prove that the one provision is ancillary to the other. I can not, in any manner, subscribe to this view. The whole of the fourth article relates to what may be called the international rights of the states, and each section and clause of it is distinct and independent of the other. With singular brevity and precision, each provides for its own case fully and separately, without any aid from another clause. One would suppose, that if the power of demanding fugitives from justice was inserted as ancillary to that of recapturing slaves, it would follow the principal power which it was intended to sustain and enforce; but on the contrary, we find it not only in a separate provision, but first in order, and so little dependent on or connected with the clause respecting the delivery of slaves, that the latter might be stricken out without impairing the former. The assumption by the committee in their report, that the provision concerning the delivery of fugitives from justice was intended to cover more than appeared on the face of it; that southern statesmen manifested a wisdom and sagacity almost more than human, in providing not only for the recapture of fugitive slaves, but also an obligation to send back the offender who should steal a slave from his master, can not be conceded, because it is wholly unsupported by any account we have of the deliberations of the convention, and because it reflects unfavorably upon both the magnanimity of the southern statesmen, and the sagacity of others associated with them in that august council. I have carefully examined the debates of the national convention, and the proceedings of the state conventions by which the constitution was ratified: I have also referred to contemporaneous expositions, and more recent authorities, and I have nowhere found any grounds for supposing that the constitutional provision for the surrender of fugitives from justice had any reference whatever to the domestic institutions and interests referred to in your letter, or that those institutions or interests were at all concerned in its adoption.
The true question, then, it appears to me, is, whether the general terms used in the clause requiring the delivery of a person charged with treason, felony, or other crime, do or do not include the case of persons liable to punishment under the statute of Virginia for stealing a human being from another, who by the laws
of the state is the owner of the person stolen; and this turns upon the meaning of the word "crime." I can not admit, as is contended by the committee of the house of delegates, that the provision in question secures to one state the most unlimited right to demand, and imposes on another the most unqualified duty to surrender fugitives from justice. On the contrary, I find in the constitution itself evidence that its framers understood the import of the words used, and that those words were intentionally qualified. The fourth section of the second article provides that all officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The addition of the term “misdemeanors” shows that in the opinion of the convention, offences of that nature were not included in the word " crimes." “ Crimes" and “misdemeanors” have been distinguished by some writers thus: “Misdemeanor is an offence of a less atrocious nature than a crime. Crimes and misdemeanors are mere synonymous terms, but in common usage the word crime is made to denote offences of a deeper and more atrocious dye, while small faults and omissions of less consequence are comprised under the gentler name of misdemeanors." Similar to this is the distinction in regard to classes or grades of crimes, found in the writers upon the law of nations. The distinction made by Grotius is between “offences against the state, or those of a very heinous nature, or which deeply affect the public safety," and those which are called “lesser faults." Vattel divides offences into “crimes of great atrocity, or deeply affecting the public safety," on the one hand; and ordinary transgressions, which are “only the subjects of civil prosecution, either with a view to the recovery of damages, or the infliction of a slight civil punishment," on the other. If it were inquired what standard of definition would most naturally be consulted by the framers of a compact or constitution between twenty-six states which differed in their codes, I think it would be answered that the standard would be, not the code of one nor that of another of the states, but the universal law of civilized men, or at least the general laws which they all recognised.
I think there can be no serious dispute that there are some offences for which a fugitive can not be demanded. I will not further repeat what has been already urged in favor of recurring to what you will certainly admit, the analogous principle sup