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intended to give up all the rest ? Every thing it speaks of, by way of rights, is comprised in these three things. Your subsequent amendments, only go to these three amendments. I feel myself distressed, because the necessity of securing our personal rights, seems not to have pervaded the minds of men : for many other valuable things are omitted.
For instance: general warrants, by which an officer may search suspected places, without evidence of the commission of a fact, or seize any person without evidence of his crime, ought to be prohibited. As these are admitted, any man may be seized; any property may
be taken, in the most arbitrary manner, without any evidence or reason. Every thing the most sacred, may be searched and ransacked by the strong hand of power. We have infinitely more reason to dread general warrants here, than they have in England; because there, if a person be confined, liberty may be quickly obtained by the writ of habeas corpus. But here, a man living many hundred miles from the judges, may rot in prison before he can get that writ.
Ánother most fatal omission is, with respect to standing armies. In your bill of rights of Virginia, they are said to be dangerous to liberty, and it tells you, that the proper defence of a free state consists in militia; and so I might go on to ten or eleven things of immense consequence secured in your bill of rights, concerning which that proposal is silent. Is that the language of the bill of rights in England ? Is it the language of the American bill of rights, that these three rights, and these only, are valuable ? Is it the language of men going into a new government? Is it not necessary to speak of those things before you go into a compact? How do these three things stand ? As one of the parties, we declare we do not mean to give them up. This is very dictatorial; much more so, than the conduct which proposes alterations as the condition of adoption. In a compact, there are two parties-one accepting, and another proposing. As
a party, we propose that we shall secure these three things; and before we have the assent of the other contracting party, we go into the compact, and leave these things at their mercy.
cy. What will be the consequence? Suppose the other states will call this dictatorial: they will say, Virginia has gone into the government, and carried with her certain propositions, which she says, ought to be concurred in by the other states. They will declare, that she has no right to dictate to other states the conditions on which they shall come into the union. According to the honorable member's proposal, the ratification will cease to be obligatory unless they accede to these amendments. We have ratified it. You have committed a violation, they will say. They have not violated it. We say we will go out of it. You are then reduced to a sad dilemma ; to give up these three rights, or leave the government. This is worse than our present confederation, to which we have hitherto adhered honestly and faithfully. We shall be told we have violated it, because we have left it for the infringement and violation of conditions, which they never agreed to be a part of the ratification. The ratification will be complete. The proposal is made by one party. We, as The other, accede to it, and propose the security of these three great rights; for it is only a proposal. In order to secure them, you are left in that state of fatal hostility, which I shall as much deplore as the honorable gentleman. I exhort gentlemen to think seriously, before they ratify this constitution, and persuade themselves that they will succeed in making a feeble effort to get amendments after adoption. With respect to that part of the proposal, which says, that every power not granted, remains with the people; it must be previous to adoption, or it will involve this country in inevitable destruction. To talk of it, as a thing subsequent, not as one of your unalienable rights, is leaving it to the casual opinion of the Congress who shall take up the consideration of that matter. They will not
reason with you about the effect of this constitution. They will not take the opinion of this committee concerning its operation. They will construe it as they please. If you place it subsequently, let me ask the consequences. Among ten thousand implied powers which they may assume, they may, if we be engaged in war, liberate every one of your slaves, if they please. And this must and will be done by men, a majority of whom have not a common interest with you. Ther will, therefore, have no feeling for your interests.
It has been repeatedly said here, that the great object of a national government, is national defence. That power, which is said to be intended for security and safety, may be rendered detestable and oppressive.
you give power to the general government to provide for the general defence, the means must be commensurate to the end. All the means in the possession of the people, must be given to the government which is entrusted with the public defence. In this state there are two hundred and thirty six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states : but there are few or none in the northern states, and yet, if the northern states shall be of opinion that our numbers are numberless, they may call forth every national resource. May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this in the last war?. We were not so hard pushed, as to make emancipation general: but acts of assembly passed, that every slave who would go to the army should be free. Another thing will contribute to bring this event about; slavery is detested; we feel its fatal effects; we deplore it with all the pity of humanity. Let all these considerations, at some future period, press with full force on the minds of Congress. Let that urbanity, which I trust will distinguish America, and the necessity of national defence-let all these things operate on their minds, and they will search that paper, and see if they have power of manumission. · And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide
for the general defence and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power? There is no ambiguous implication, or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point. They have the power in clear unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it. As much as I deplore slavery, I see that prudence forbids its abolition. I deny that the general government ought to set them free, because a decided majority of the states have not the ties of sympathy and fellow-feeling for those whose interest would be affected by their emancipation. The majority of Congress is to the north, and the slaves are to the south. In this situation, I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquillity gone away. I repeat it again, that it would rejoice my very soul
, that every one of my fellow-beings was emancipated. As we ought with gratitude to admire that decree of heaven, which has numbered us among the free, we ought to lament and deplore the necessity of holding our fellow-men in bondage. But is it practicable, by any human means, to liberate them, without producing the most dreadful and ruinous consequences? We ought to possess them in the manner we have inherited them from our ancestors, as their manumission is incompatible with the felicity of the country. But we ought to soften, as much as possible, the rigor of their unhappy fate. I know that in a variety of particular instances, the legislature, listening to complaints, have admitted their emancipation. Let me not dwell on this subject. I will only add, that this, as well as every other property of the people of Virginia, is in jeopardy, and put in the hands of those who have no similarity of situation with us. This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.
With respect to subsequent amendments, proposed by the worthy member, I am distressed when I hear
the expression. It is a new one altogether, and such an one as stands against every idea of fortitude and manliness, in the states, or any one else. Evils admitted, in order to be removed subsequently, and tyranny submitted to, in order to be excluded by a subsequent alteration, are things totally new to me. But I am sure he meant nothing but to amuse the committee. I know his candor. His proposal is an idea dreadful to
I ask-does experience warrant such a thing from the beginning of the world to this day? Do you enter into a compact of government first, and afterwards settle the terms of the government? It is admitted by every one, that this is a compact. Although the confederation be lost, it is a compact constitution, or something of that nature. I confess I never heard of such an idea before. It is most abhorrent to my mind. You endanger the tranquillity of your country, you stab its repose, if you accept this government unaltered. How are you to allay animosities ?-For such there are, great and fatal. He flatters me and tells me, that I could influence the people, and reconcile them to it. Sir, their sentiments are as firm and steady, as they are patriotic. Were I to ask them to apostatize from their native religion, they would despise me. They are not to be shaken in their opinions with respect to the propriety of preserving their rights. You never can persuade them, that it is necessary to relinquish them. Were I to attempt to persuade them to abandon their patriotic sentiments, I should look on myself as the most infamous of men. I believe it to be a fact, that the great body of yeomanry are in decided opposition to it. I may say with confidence, that for nineteen counties adjacent to each other, nine tenths of the people are conscientiously opposed to it. I may be mistaken, but I give you it as my opinion, and my opinion is founded on personal knowledge in some measure, and other good authority. I have not hunted popularity by declaiming to injure this government. Though public fame