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They confirm all for which the South has ever contended, as to the clearness, importance, and fundamental character of this provision, and the disastrous consequences which would inevitably follow from its violation. But in spite of these solemn warnings, the violation then commenced, and which they were intended to rebuke, has been fully and perfectly consummated. The citizens of the South, in their attempt to recover their slaves, now meet, instead of aid and co-operation, resistance in every form; resistance from hostile acts of legislation, intended to baffle and defeat their claims by all sorts of devices, and by interposing every description of impediment-resistance from judges and magistrates-and finally, when all these fail, from mobs, composed of whites and blacks, which, by threats or force, rescue the fugitive slave from the possession of his rightful owner. The attempt to recover a slave, in most of the Northern States cannot now be made without the hazard of insult, heavy pecuniary loss, imprisonment, and even of life itself. Already has a worthy citizen of Maryland* lost his life in making an attempt to enforce his claim to a fugitive slave under this provision.
But a provision of the Constitution may be violated indirectly as well as directly, by doing an act in its nature inconsistent with that which is enjoined to be done. Of this form of violation there is a striking instance connected with the provision under consideration. We allude to secret combinations which are believed to exist in many of the Northern States, whose object is to entice, decoy, entrap, inveigle, and seduce slaves to escape from their owners, and to pass them secretly and rapidly, by means organized for the purpose, into Canada, where they will be beyond the reach of the provision. That to entice a slave, by whatever artifice, to abscond from his owner into a non-slaveholding State, with the intention to place him beyond the reach of the provision or prevent his recovery, by concealment or otherwise, is as completely repugnant to it as its open violation would be, is too clear to admit of doubt or require illustration. And yet, as repugnant as these combinations are to the true intent of the provision, it is believed that, with the above exception, not one of the States within whose limits they exist, has adopted any measures to suppress them, or to punish those by whose agency the object for which they were formed is carried into execution. On the contrary, they have looked on and witnessed with indifference, if not with secret approbation, a great number of slaves enticed from their owners and placed beyond the possibility of recovery, to the great annoyance and heavy pecuniary loss of the bordering Southern States.
When we take into consideration the great importance of this provision, the absence of all uncertainty as to its true meaning and intent, the many guards by which it is surrounded to protect and enforce it, and then reflect how completely the object for which it was inserted into the Constitution is defeated by these two-fold infractions, we doubt, taking all together, whether a more flagrant breach of faith is to be found on record. We know the language we have used is strong, but it is not less true than strong.
There remains to be noticed another class of aggressive acts of a kindred character, but which, instead of striking at an express and specific provision of the Constitution, aims directly at destroying the relation between the two races at the South, by means subversive in their tendency of one of the ends for which the Constitution was established. We refer to the systematic agitation of the question by the Abolitionists; which, commencing about 1835, is still continued in all possible forms. Their avowed intention is to bring about a state of things that will force emancipation on the South. To unite the North in fixed hostility to slavery in the South, and to excite discontent among the slaves with their condition, are among the means employed to effect it. With a view to bring about the former, every means are resorted to in order to render the South, and the relation between the two races there, odious and hateful to the North. For this purpose societies and newspapers are every where established, debat
* Mr. Kennedy, of Hagerstown, Md.
ing clubs opened, lecturers employed, pamphlets and other publications, pictures, and petitions to Congress resorted to, and directed to that single point, regardless of truth or decency; while the circulation of incendiary publications in the South, the agitation of the subject of abolition in Congress, and the employment of emissaries are relied on to excite discontent among the slaves. This agitation, and the use of these means, have been continued, with more or less activity, for a series of years, not without doing much towards effecting the object intended. We regard both object and means to be aggressive and dangerous to the rights of the South, and subversive, as stated, of one of the ends for which the Constitution was established. Slavery is a domestic institution. It belongs to the States, each for itself, to decide whether it shall be established or not; and, if it be established, whether it should be abolished or not. Such being the clear and unquestionable right of the States, it follows necessarily that it would be a flagrant act of aggression on a State, destructive of its rights, and subversive of its independence, for the Federal Government, or one or more States, or their people, to undertake to force on it the emancipation of its slaves.
But it is a sound maxim in politics, as well as in law and morals, that no one has the right to do that indirectly which he cannot do directly, and it may be added, with equal truth, to aid, to abet, or countenance another in doing it. And yet, the Abolitionists of the North, openly avowing the intention, and resorting to the most efficient means for the purpose, have been attempting to bring about a state of things to force the Southern States to emancipate their slaves, without any act on the part of any of the Northern States to arrest or suppress the means by which they propose to accomplish it. They have been permitted to pursue their object, and to use whatever means they please; if without aid or countenance, also without resistance or disapprobation. What gives a deeper shade to the whole affair is the fact, that one of the means to effect their object, that of exciting discontent among our slaves, tends directly to subvert what its preamble declares to be one of the ends for which the Constitution was ordained and established" to ensure domestic tranquillity"-and that is the only way in which domestic tranquillity is likely ever to be disturbed in the South.
Certain it is, that an agitation so systematic-having such an object in view, and sought to be carried into execution by such means-would, between independent nations, constitute just cause of remonstrance by the party against which the aggression was directed, and, if not heeded, an appeal to arms for redress. Such being the case where an aggression of the kind takes place among independent nations, how much more aggravated must it be between confederated States, where the Union precludes an appeal to arms, while it affords a medium through which it can operate with vastly increased force and effect? That it would be perverted to such a use, never entered into the imagination of the generation which formed and adopted the Constitution; and, if it had been supposed it would, it is certain that the South never would have adopted it.
We now return to the question of the admission of Missouri into the Union, and shall proceed to give a brief sketch of the occurrences connected with it, and the consequence to which it has directly led. In the latter part of 1819 the then territory of Missouri applied to Congress, in the usual form, for leave to form a State constitution and government, in order to be admitted into the Union. A bill was reported for the purpose, with the usual provisions in such cases. Amendments were offered, having for their object to make it a condition of her admission, that her constitution should have a provision to prohibit slavery. This brought on the agitating debate, which, with the effects that followed, has done so much to alienate the South and North, and endanger our political institutions. Those who objected to the amendments rested their oppostion on the high grounds of the right of self-government. They claimed that a territory, having reached the period when it is proper for it to form a constitution and government for itself, becomes fully vested with all the rights of self-government; and
that even the condition imposed on it by the Federal constitution, relates not to the formation of its constitution and government, but its admission into the Union. For that purpose it provides as a condition, that the government must be republican.
They claimed that Congress has no right to add to this condition, and that to assume it would be tantamount to the assumption of the right to make its entire constitution and government; as no limitation could be imposed, as to the extent of the right, if it be admitted that it exists at all. Those who supported the amendment denied these grounds, and claimed the right of Congress to impose, at discretion, what condition it pleased. In this agitating debate, the two sections stood arrayed against each other; the South in favour of the bill without amendment, and the North opposed to it without it. The debate and agitation continued until the session was well advanced; but it became apparent towards its close, that the people of Missouri were fixed and resolved in their opposition to the proposed condition, and that they would certainly reject it, and adopt a constitution without it, should the bill pass with the condition.
Such being the case, it required no great effort of mind to perceive that Missouri, once in possession of a constitution and government, not simply on paper, but with legislators elected, and officers appointed, to carry them into effect, the grave questions would be presented, whether she was of right a State or Territory; and if the latter, whether Congress had the right, and if the right, the power, to abrogate her constitution, and disperse her legislature, and to remand her back to the territorial condition. These were great, and, under the circumstances, fearful questions-too fearful to be met by those who had raised the agitation. From that time the only question was, how to escape the difficulty. Fortunately, a means was afforded. A compromise (as it was called) was offered, based on the terms, that the North should cease to oppose the admission of Missouri on the grounds for which the South contended, and that the provisions of the ordinance of 1787, for the government of the north-western territory, should be applied to all the territory acquired by the United States from France, under the treaty of Louisiana, lying north of 36° 30' except the portion lying in the State of Missouri. The northern members embraced it; and although not originating with them, adopted it as their own. It was forced through Congress, by the almost united votes of the North, against a minority consisting almost entirely of members from the Southern States.
Such was the termination of this, the first conflict, under the Constitution, between the two sections, in reference to slavery in connexion with the Territories. Many hailed it as a permanent and final adjustment that would prevent the recurrence of similar conflicts; but others, less sanguine, took the opposite and more gloomy view, regarding it as the precursor of a train of events which might rend the Union asunder, and prostrate our political system. One of these was the experienced and sagacious Jefferson. Thus far time would seem to favour his forebodings. May a returning sense of justice, and a protecting Providence, avert their final fulfilment.
For many years the subject of slavery in reference to the Territories ceased to agitate the country. Indications, however, connected with the question of annexing Texas, showed clearly that it was ready to break out again, with redoubled violence, on some future occasion. The difference in the case of Texas was adjusted by extending the Missouri compromise line of 36 30, from its terminus, on the western boundary of the Louisiana purchase, to the western boundary of Texas. The agitation ceased again for a short period.
The war with Mexico soon followed, and that terminated in the acquisition of New Mexico and Upper California, embracing an area equal to about one-half of the entire valley of the Mississippi. If to this we add the portion of Oregon acknowledged to be ours by the recent treaty with England, our whole territory on the Pacific and west of the Rocky Mountains, will be found to be in extent but little less than that vast valley. The near prospect of so great an addition
rekindled the excitement between the North and South in reference to slavery in its connexion with the Territories, which has become, since those on the Pacific were acquired, more universal and intense than ever.
The effects have been to widen the difference between the two sections, and to give a more determined and hostile character to their conflict. The North no fonger respects the Missouri compromise line, although adopted by their almost unanimous vote. Instead of compromise, they avow that their determination is to exclude slavery from all the territories of the United States, acquired, or to be acquired, and of course to prevent the citizens of the Southern States from emigrating with their property in slaves to any of them. Their object, they allege, is to prevent the extension of slavery, and ours to extend it, thus making the issue between them and us to be the naked question, Shall slavery be extended or not? We do not deem it necessary, looking to the objects of this address, to examine the questions so fully discussed at the last Session, whether Congress has the right to exclude the citizens of the South from emigrating with their property into territories belonging to the confederated States of the Union. What we propose in this connexion is, to make a few remarks on what the North alleges, erroneously, to be the issue between us and them.
So far from maintaining the doctrine which the issue implies, we hold that the Federal Government has no right to extend or restrict slavery, no more than to establish or abolish it; nor has it any right whatever to distinguish between the domestic institutions of one State or section and another, in order to favour the one and discourage the other. As the Federal representative of each and all the States, it is bound to deal out, within the sphere of its powers, equal and exact justice and favour to all. To act otherwise, to undertake to discriminate between the domestic institutions of one and another, would be to act in total subversion of the end for which it was established-to be the common protector and guardian of all. Entertaining these opinions, we ask not, as the North alleges we do, for the extension of slavery. That would make a discrimination in our favour as unjust and unconstitutional as the discrimination they ask against us in their favour. It is not for them nor for the Federal Government to determine whether our domestic institution is good or bad, or whether it should be repressed or preserved. It belongs to us, and us only, to decide such questions. What, then, we do insist on, is, not to extend slavery, but that we shall not be prohibited from immigrating, with our property, into the Territories of the United States, because we are slaveholders; or, in other words, that we shall not on that account be disfranchised of a privilege possessed by all others, citizens and foreigners, without discrimination as to character, profession, or colour. All, whether savage, barbarian, or civilized, may freely enter and remain; we only being excluded. We rest our claim not only on the high grounds above stated, but also on the solid foundation of right, justice, and equality. The territories immediately in controversy-New Mexico and California-were acquired by the common sacrifice and efforts of all the States, toward which the South contributed far more than her full share of men,* to say nothing of money, and is, of course, on every
Being nearly two on the part of the South to one on the part of the North. But taking into consideration that the population of the North is two-thirds greater than the South, the latter has furnished more than three times her due proportion of volunteers.
principle of right, justice, fairness, and equality, entitled to participate fully in the benefits to be derived from their acquisition. But impregnable as is this ground, there is another not less so. Ours is a Federal Government-a government in which not individuals but States, as distinct sovereign communities, are the constituents. To them, as members of the Federal Union, the Territories belong; and they are hence declared to be Territories belonging to the United States. The States, then, are the joint owners. Now, it is conceded by all writers on the subject, that in all such governments their members are all equal -equal in rights and equal in dignity. They also concede that this equality constitutes the basis of such government, and that it cannot be destroyed without changing their nature and character. To deprive, then, the Southern States and their citizens of their full share in territories declared to belong to them in common with the other States, would be in derogation of the equality belonging to them as members of a Federal Union, and sink them, from being equals, into a subordinate and dependent condition. Such are the solid and impregnable grounds on which we rest our demand to an equal participation in the territories.
But as solid and impregnable as they are in the eyes of justice and reason, they oppose a feeble resistance to a majority determined to engross the whole. At the last Session of Congress, a bill was passed establishing a Territorial Government for Oregon, excluding slavery therefrom. The President gave his sanction to the bill, and sent a special message to Congress assigning his reasons for doing so. These reasons presupposed that the Missouri compromise was to be, and would be, extended west of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. And the President intimated his intention in his message to veto any future bill that should restrict slavery south of the line of that compromise. Assuming it to have been the purpose and intention of the North to extend the Missouri compromise line as above indicated, the passage of the Oregon bill could only be regarded as evincing the acquiescence of the South in that line. But the developments of the present Session of Congress have made it manifest to all that no such purpose or intention now exists with the North to any considerable extent. Of the truth of this, we have ample evidence in what has occurred already in the House of Representatives, where the popular feelings are soonest and most intensely felt.
Although Congress has been in session but little more than one month, a greater number of measures of an aggressive character has been introduced, and they more aggravated and dangerous than have been for years before. And what clearly discloses from whence they take their origin, is the fact that they all relate to the territorial aspect of the subject of slavery, or some other of a nature and character intimately connected with it.
The first of this series of aggressions is a resolution introduced by a member from Massachusetts, the object of which is to repeal all acts or parts of acts which recognise the existence of slavery, or authorize the selling and disposing of slaves in this District. On question of leave to bring in a bill, the votes stood 69 for and 82 against leave. The next was a resolution offered by a member from Ohio, instructing the Committee on Territories to report forthwith bills for excluding slavery from California and New Mexico.* It passed by a vote of 107 to 80. That was followed by a bill introduced by another member from Ohio, to take the votes of the inhabitants of this District on the question whether slavery within its limits should be abolished.
The bill provided, according to the admission of the mover, that free negroes and slaves should vote. On the question to lay the bill on the table, the votes stood-for, 106; against, 79. To this succeeded the resolution of a member from New York, in the following words:
* Since reported to the House.