Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Jan. 7, 1836.]

Abolition of Slavery.

[SENATE.

[ocr errors]

North as cordially as those of the South. He wished commiseration of her sister States. All she asks of the the subject to lie over till Monday, and then to hear the North is, that her Senators will sustain the slaveholding opinions of those gentlemen after they had had time to States by adopting a resolution disclaiming any power consider and to confer together.

in Congress to aid the views of wild and fanatic aboliMr. TYLER rose and stated that he should have some tionists, by interfering with the question of slavery. I what preferred a different course. With the most pro. feel that I am addressing men who are identified with found respect for the Senator from South Carolina, and our system of Government; and I frankly confess that I bis general course, still he did not think that his propo have no fear of this body. I verily believe that the sition on this subject was one which fully met the case. Senate will be true to their oaths, and will be ready to The right to receive or reject a petition is exercised on defend every State of the Union If we shall find, notordinary occasions, (said Mr. T.,) and the grounds on withstanding, that I am mistaken in this belief, we can which motions of this kind are justified are numer then stand on our rights. If I find any movement can

A mere motion to reject is not adapted to a case be made, which may be satisfactory to the Southern like this, and is not such as should come from Senators States, and which will obtain the unanimous sanction of whose State has been so grossly and wantonly libelled. the North, 1 shall not be found to stand on any minor Would the rejection of these petitions be so satisfactory point which may create a division. to the State which the honorable Senator represents, as Mr. BROWN felt himself constrained, by a sense of some other course which may be pointed out? It may duty to the State from which he came, deeply and vibe inferred that they were rejected solely on account of tally interested as she was in every thing connected the disrespectful character of the language employed. with the agitating question which had unexpectedly The motion is one which does not touch the question of been brought into discussion that morning, to present, the competency of Congress. I want to see something in a few words, his views as to the proper direction more emphatic, more pointed; a positive disclaimer, on which should be given to that and all other petitions the part of Congress, of all competence to act on the relating to slavery in the District of Columbia. He felt subject; and I think that, from the spirit which I see himself more especially called on to do so from the asmanifested around me, we may succeed in obtaining a pect which the question had assumed, in consequence positive and actual disclaimer. The Senator from Ohio of the motion of the gentleman from South Carolina, bas referred to the exclusive power of Congress over [Mr. Calhoux,] to refuse to receive the petition. He the District of Columbia. From this doctrine, which I had believed from the first time he had reflected on this now hear the Senator advocate, and for which I have subject, and subsequent events had but strengthened never before heard him contend, I fear he will not be that conviction, that the most proper disposition of all inclined to go the whole length of my proposition. The sucli petitions was to lay them on the table without printobject of the Senator from South Carolina and mine are ing. This course, while it indicated to the fanatics that the same-to put an end to the disquietude and insecu- Congress will yield no countenance to their designs, at rity which prevail in the South; and the only difference the same time marks them with decided reprobation by between us is as to the mode in which this can most ef. a refusal to print. But, in his estimation, another reafectually be done. What is the proposition which is son gave to the motion to lay them on the table a decimade? Does it reach the subject?' I think we ought to ded preference over any other proceedings by which adopt a distinct and positive resolution, disclaiming any they should be met. The peculiar merit of this motion, power in Congress to legislate on this subject. How is as applicable to this question, is, that it precludes all such a resolution to be obtained? In the usual manner debate, and would thus prevent the agitation of a subin which resolutions are brought into this body. I would ject in Congress which all should deprecate as fraught make no war with this petition, but would suffer it to go with mischief to every portion of this happy and flourishto the Committee for the District of Columbia, as others | ing confederacy. before it have gone. Not that, as chairman of that com Mr. B. said that honorable gentlemen who advocated mittee, I couri the labor which it would impose; but this motion had disclaimed all intention to produce agibecause, from the construction of that committee, I be tation on this question. He did not pretend to question lieve a resolution would have been reported, declaring the sincerity of their declarations, and, while willing to that the Senate had not the power to meddle with the do every justice to their motives, he must be allowed to subject. I believe the course we are taking is giving to say that no method could be devised better calculated, these petitions too much consequence. Let them go to in his judgment, to produce such a resuli. the lion's den, and there will be no footprints to show He (Mr. B.) most sincerely believed that the best intheir return. "The committee will meet them with a terests of the Southern States would be most consulted declaration that there is no power in Congress to do by pursuing such a course here as would harmonize the what the petitioners ask. I believe, also, that, with the feelings of every section, and avoid opening for discusexception of the Senator from Ohio, there would be no sion so dangerous and delicate a question. He believed dissonance in the tone of the Senate on this subject. all the Senators who were present a few days since, This, bowever, I only give as an opinion.

when a petition of similar character had been presented This is a question on which I cannot differ with the by an honorable Senator, had, by their votes to lay it on gentleman from South Carolina. I do not mean to rant the table, sanctioned the course which he now sugabout it here, nor to manifest any particular feelings, gested. nor to ask the sympathies of Pennsylvania. The South [Mr. Calhoun, in explanation, said that himself and is stronger than many believe her to be. Ii is true, no his colleague were absent from the Senate on the occaman's dwelling is safe from the midnight incendiary; but sion alluded to.] the incendiary is not to be found when the day breaks; Mr. B. resumed his remarks, and said that he had he finds his only safety in skulking into obscurity, or fly- | made no reference to the votes of any particular meming to some distant spot. The efforts of these incendia. bers of that body, but what he had said was, that a similar ries have a tendency to the destruction of the whole of petition had been laid on the table without objection the black population. The incendiary walks abroad at from any one, and consequently by a unanimous vote of night, and vanishes by day. Virginia fears no servile the Senators present. Here, then, was a most emphatic war; she fears only the midnight assassin. In the face declaration, by gentlemen representing the Northern of the broad day, her strength is sufficient to put down States as well as those from other parts of the Union, every thing like insurrection. She scorns to ask the by this yote, that they will entertain no attempt at legis

SENATE.]

Abolition of Slavery.

(Jan. 7, 1836.

lation on the question of slavery in the District of Co enlist the sympathies of the weak and ignorant in their lumbia. Why, then, asked Mr. B., should we now behalf. Wicked and fanatical inen had done this, in all adopt a mode of proceeding calculated to disturb the ages, and he doubted not but the malignant spirits who harmonious action of the Senate, which had been pro had been laboring in this detestable vocation would duced by the former vote? Why (he would respectfully cunningly seek to avail themselves of any means to furask of honorable gentlemen who press the motion to ther their diabolical designs. Another, and, with him, refuse to receive the petition) and for what beneficial pur- equally decisive reason against any course calculated to pose do they press it? By persisting in such a course it throw the subject open to discussion here, was the would, beyond all doubt, open a wide range of discus almost universal manifestation at the North, during the sion; it would not fail to call forth a great diversity of past summer and fall, of that fraternal and patriotic opinion in relation to the extent of the right to petition feeling towards the South, which he trusted would con. under the constitution. Nor would it be confined to tinue to exert its happy effect in preserving, unimpaired, that question alone, judging from an expression which thie bonds of the union of these States. He rejoiced at bad fallen from an honorable gentleman from Virginia this strong development of feeling, not only because it [Mr. Tylen) in the course of this debate. That gen had contributed to repress the movements of dangerous ileman had declared his preference for a direct negative enemies to the peace and happiness of our country in vote by the Senate, as to the constitutional power of that quarter, but because it had dispelled the insidious Congress to emancipate slaves in the District of Colum- misrepresentations in regard to the sentiments of the bia. He, for one, protested, politically speaking, against great body of the Northern people, which certain opening this Pandora's box in the halls of Congress. presses had, as he believed, both in the North and For all beneficial and practical purposes, an overwhelm South, most industriously used, for the most sinister puring majority of the members representing the Northern poses. What were the facts, as to the public opinion of States were, with the South, in opposition to any inter the North, on this subject? But a short time had passed by ference with slavery in the District of Columbia. If since most of the active leaders of this fanatical band were there was half a dozen in both branches of Congress who contemptible fugitives, in different parts of the North, did not stand in entire opposition to any interference where they had attempted to exhibit, from the insulted with slavery, in this District or elsewhere, he had yet to and generous indignation of a patriotic people, who learn it. Was it wise, was it prudent, was it mangani. wished to preserve the peace of the country and their mous, in gentlemen representing the Southern States, obligations to us as members of the same confederacy. to urge this matter still further, and say to our Northern That an active and daring band of these incendiaries friends in Congress, “Gentlemen, we all agree in the existed none could doubt, but that they formed a very general conclusion, that Congress should not interfere small portion of the great mass of the Northern people, in this question, but we wish to know your reasons for we not only had the assurances of public meetings, arriving at this conclusion; we wish you to declare, by which had assembled almost throughout that quarter, your votes, whether you arrive at this result because attended by the most respectable and distinguished you think it unconstitutional or not?” Mr. B. said that citizens, but we had here, but a short time since, the he would yield to none in zeal in sustaining and support declarations of many of the Senators from the ion-slave. ing, to the extent of his ability, what he believed to be holding States, that this class of individuals was but the true interest of the South; but he should take leave small, and that they were countenanced by no respectato say that, when the almost united will of both branches ble portion of those States. He had been assured, since of Congress, for all practical purposes, was with us, his arrival here, by gentlemen representing the Northern against all interference on this subject, he should not States, that an abolition discourse could not be delivered hazard the peace and quiet of the country by going on among those whom they represented, without endangera Quixotic expedition in pursuit of abstract constitutional ing the safety of the person attempting it. In addition questions. He would not quarrel with gentlemen so to this, he would say, that the action of the federal long as they continued in the determination not to inter. Government, through the Post Office Department, was fere in this question, even if they did not come to that protective of the rights of the South against incendiary determination by precisely the same mode of reasoning publications. If Postmasters to the North and South with himself. Mr. B. said it appeared to him that the did their duty, as sanctioned by the head of that Departtrue course of those representing the South here was to ment, these enemies of our Government and of the huoccupy a defensive position, so long as others were dis man race were cut off from circulating, through that posed not to discuss it, and Congress refused to exert medium, their firebrands of mischief. Under these any legislative authority over the subject. When that circumstances, was this a time for us to throw open the attempt was made, if it ever should be, he should say door to discussion on this subject, and thus assist in the time for discussion had passed, and a period bad exacerbating feelings which had already been enough arrived wbich called for other and more vigorous means excited. He thought it only necessary to contrast the of self.defence.

proceedings of the Senate on the petition to which he Another, and not the least weighty, reason had opera had before alluded, and which had been laid on the ted on his mind in bringing it to the conclusion that the table by the unanimous vote of the Senators present, motion to reject the petition was injudicious. If success with the proceedings of to-day, to show the decided ful, nothing would perhaps be more agreeable to the wisdom of taking the same course in relation to the fanatics (lie thought they should be more properly present and all similar petitions. The petition which called fiends in human shape, who would endeavor to had been quietly inurned by the motion to lay on the lay waste the happiness and liberties of this country) table, bad scarcely been thought of or heard of since, than the intelligence that they had received this mark consigned as it had been to the insignificance and conof notice, and to them, of consequence, from the Con tempt of mortifying neglect and want of notice. What gress of the United States. Mr. B. said, in his judg was the fact, in relation to the proposed mode of pro.. ment, that man was but little skilled in the passions of ceeding, as to the present petition? The Senate bad the human breast, who did not know that there was no already found itself engaged in a debate, which no one error, however great, nor any heresy, however abomina. could foresee the direction of, thus producing agitation ble, either in religion or politics, which might not be and dignifying with undeserved, and, no doubt, gratifyaided by the cry of persecution, however unfounded it ing notoriety to the fanatics, a miserable effusion, which, might be in fact. Fanaticism would seize on it, tol but for this proceeding, would have fallen into obscurity

Jan. 7, 1836.]

Abolition of Slavery.

(SENATE.

and contempt. He (Mr. B.) had nothing to ask from Is there nothing peculiar in the aspect of affairs; no exthe North, as one of the representatives of a Southern traordinary efforts making at the North; nothing unuState, more than we were entitled to under the compact sual in public sentiment and feeling to authorize this with our sister States, and from that feeling of fraternal discussion? Sir, why has not North Carolina taken up regard which, for many purposes, made us the same this matter and in this way before? people. He, however, was disposed to act upon this, Every Governor of every slaveholding State has called as upon all other occasions, in that spirit of conciliation the attention of its Legislature to this subject; the whole in which our federal Government had originated, and public mind has been convulsed; all men of all parties without which it could not survive. He would not are shaken and excited; and lo! the Senator from North quarrel with gentlemen, so long as they took decided Carolina exhorts us to be quiet. An enemy, savage, ground against any interference on this question, even remorseless, and indignant, is thundering at our gates, if they should differ as to some abstract questions in re and the gentleman tells us to fold our arms. Our heartlis lation to it. He believed, most sincerely, ihat the almost and altars are running with blood and in flames; be universal sentiment of the intelligent and respectable quiet, says the gentleman. The storm is bursting upon portion of the North was against any interference, either us that is to sweep away the bulwarks of our freedom in the District of Columbia or elsewhere, on this delicate and union, and fill the land with convulsion and anarchy; subject. In this feeling of confidence, he was in favor but sit still, says the honorable Senator. He sees no of clinging to the union of the States, as the great source danger, no cause of alarm; no, not the slightest. Peof our safely, happiness, and liberty. He would not for titioners, the mad instruments for accomplishing this una moment believe that either of the great sections of hallowed work, are thronging here by thousands; incenthis country would so far forget its just obligations to diary pamphlets are circulated; incendiary meetings the other, by such an outrage upon its constitutional | held; insult, threats, and denunciations, are heaped upon rights as would end in the overthrow of a Government us; but we are not to lift a voice or raise a finger. Oh! won by the united valor and patriotism of their ancestors. no, sir; keep quiet; all around is a profound calm. Sir,

Mr. LEIGH. As a motion had been made to post. we whose lives and property are at stake, we who pone this discussion until Monday, I shall not now trou have every motive to move, are we alone to be quiet? ble the Senate with the remarks which I had intended It may be that there is some object in this. It may be to make; but whenever the question shall again come that wicked and designing men have mixed up this matup, I shall consider it my duty to make some observa. ter with others foreign to it. I trust not, sir; I trust tions, that my views of the constitutional question may that all parties will act in harmony with each other on a not be mistaken. I said the other day that I had never point which so immediately affects the public weal. The conversed with a single Northern gentleman whose South, sir, has not produced this excitement. She has opinions on this subject gave me any dissatisfaction. I not sought this discussion. It has been accomplished then thought it my duty to make this declaration. by other men and other means. Bv these selfish and Since I made that remark, a pamphlet has been sent to morose fanatics-these wild disturbers, whose schemes me, being a review of another pamphlet written by a will involve this country and the world in confusion and Northern gentleman, for whose character and piely and calamity. This is the child of agitation-of that agitatalents I bave ever felt the most unbounded respect and tion which drives our very women from the decencies veneration; and there are, in the review which has been and duties of their sex. sent to me, extracts from the pamphlet of this gentle. Do we demand any thing here, sir, that we are not man, which are peculiarly fitted to operate on the feel entitled to? There is not a Senator present, unless it ings of the representatives of the State of Virginia on is the gentleman from Ohio, that so believes. Sir, I this floor. If these extracts be true--but I have not feel, with the Senator from Missouri, the most profound yet seen the original pamphlet--this reverend gentle respect for the talent and integrity, the ability, boldman, who appears to have been for some time in Vir. ness, and zeal, of the leading men of the North during ginia, although now a resident of Massachusetts, re. the last summer. I thank them for checking the exciteceived some impressions as to the moral condition of ment there as far as they were able. I thank the genVirginia, which have poisoned his mind so completely tleman from Pennsylvania also, that he is found side by on this subject, that, if any of the intelligent persons side with us in this crisis. That while the Senator from who compose bis congregation shall imbibe his opinions, a slaveholding State sees no cause of unnecessary agitaI cannot but think we are approaching a very fearful tion-while he would have us be quiet, nor place our crisis.

foot on the torch that is about to consume our dwel. When the gentleman from North Carolina speaks of lings, the Senator from the great and free State of Penncontemptible fanatics, if by contemptible he means in sylvania identifies himself with our feelings and intercapable of mischief, I must dissent from the correctness ests, and sees, as we do, all around, the materials of dis. of the expression. In every sentiment of allegiance to cord, disunion, and destruction. this Government, allegiance of the heart as well as Sir, I invoke him, and all who think with him, to exthe understanding, I concur with that gentleman. Itinguish the fire which will wrap this country in flames. will say nothing more at present. But when the sub The Southern country is filled with alarm and disconject shall again come before the Senate, I shall feel my. tent: let us, by the rejection of this petition, remove self bound to offer my views at large; and if there instead of increasing it. Let us check this wild crusade should be any thing in my language which may appear while yet we may; and, for God's sake, let us meet to have a tendency to cause agitation, or to wound the with no political opposition in so doing. Adopt some feelings of any individual, I must leave it to the result measure by which we can obtain the security we are ento justify the purity of my motives, and to show that titled to. Reject this petition. Public good and abthe tendency of all I shall utter is to conciliation. stract right both call upon you to do so. Prevent this

Mr. PRESTON. I was not in my seat, sir, when a swollen and turbid torrent of fanaticism from overpetition similar to this was a few days since laid upon whelming these halls. One pigmy rill has found its way the table. Had I been, it would not have gone there here-let it be the last. I, at least, sir, will not aid in sub silentio. Sir, I musi express my astonishment at undermining our institutions; I will not fan the flame the remarks of the gentleman from North Carolina. of fanaticism, and aid that fanaticism in producing the Has this discussion been brought on by the Southern worst of consequences. Should I do so, I should prove States? No, sir. Is discussion of any kind unnecessary? I recreant to my trust.

SENATE.]

Abolition of Slavery.

[Jan. 7, 1836.

Mr. BROWN begged leave to say one word more change his opinion. He desired the question to be put before the question was taken. The honorable gentle. to the vote; and were there no other reason, there is one, man from South Carolina (Mr. PRESTON] bad asked, in to him imperious, why he should not forego this desirea very emphatic manner, if, when the burning torch was the insolent, the false, and calumnious language which thrown into the House, he, as a Southern man, would the petitions held towards the slaveholding States and not be ready to extinguish it. He would answer that he every slaveholder in the Union. This body (said Mr. was ready, but he would also say that he was not ready C.) presented to him a portentous, an amazing spectacle. to pour oil on the torch and increase the flame into a Here are assembled the representatives of twenty four conflagration which might destroy the Union. The confederated States, to deliberate on their common inhonorable gentleman had said he would not have dis terest and prosperity, seriously discussing the question, charged his duty to the South had he not exposed and whether they shall or shall not receive petitions which proclaimed the danger, and seemed to think him not basely calumniate the institutions of eleven of those vigilant enough because he did not take the same course. States, which denounce their citizens as pirates, kidnapHe was, perhaps, not gifted with the keen perspicacity pers, and dealers in human flesh! That a single inof the gentleman from South Carolina; he admitted that dividual from the States thus slandered should avow a he was unable to discover the benefit that would result determination to vote to receive so base a libel on the to the South, or any other portion of the country, from State he represents, as well as the entire South, was to pursuing a course which would lead to the discussion him truly wonderful; and yet more wonderful, if possiand agitation of this subject here. Sir, the time has ble, were the arguments he advanced in support of bis been when the high-minded members from the Southern intention. But more of this in its proper place. States assumed an attitude highly honorable on this Why, said Mr. C., should there be any hesitation to subject. What was it? Why, they declared that it was reject these petitions in any quarter? Is it from a feeling a subject on which they would not tolerate the slightest of delicacy to the petitioners' if such be the feelings of discussion. That was once the course of honorable gen. regard on the part of the Senators from the non-slavetlemen from the South on that floor. But that time had holding States towards these mischievous agitators, what gone by; it appeared that new lights had sprung up, ought to be our feelings, to behold the entire South, by new discoveries had been made, and gentlemen were whose confidence we have been selected and placed ready to go into the discussion of a subject that once here to guard their interest and honor, basely vilified in was not permitted to be discussed at all. He, as one the face of the world? Is the hesitation because there of the representatives of the Southern States, objected are feelings diffused throughout the non-slaveholding to any discussion which went to call in question the States in relation to the subject of these petitions, so rights of the South. He was ready to go with Southern strong and so general, that, for political reasons, it is not gentlemen in any measure that would prevent such dis. thought desirable to disturb them? Are the two great cussion. He would go further. Whenever, said Mr. B., parties who divide those States afraid to come into conour Northern friends shall attempt in the slightest degree Aict with those opinions? If so, it is a decided reason to interfere, by legislative action, with the rights of the why we of the South should insist on taking the quesSouth, (and he could with pleasure say that they had tion. It is important to our constituents that the fact shown every disposition to repress such interferences,) should be known. He, said Mr. C., wished to be perlet us, said he, depart from them-depart peaceably. | fectly explicit on a point where our interest is so The gentleman had asked, why should they in the deeply concerned. He, with others, felt, as ought to Senate not express their opinions on this subject, when be felt, for the open, manly, and decided course of a the Governors and Legislatures of the Southern States large portion of our Northern brethren during the last had done so? It was true that the Executives of the summer, against the criminal conduct of the fanatics; Southern States had recommended this subject to the but he feared it has not checked the disease. He feared consideration of their respective Legislatures. This it the true reason why there should be the least hesitation was their right and their duty to do; but he denied the in rejecting these vile and libellous attacks on nearly right of Congress to discuss, or in any manner to inter half of the members of this Union was, that both parties fere with, the subject. The gentleman from South are afraid to incur the displeasure of a party so strong Carolina would at once perceive the distinction between as the incendiaries. He could not doubt but all who any action on this subject by the Legislatures of the heard him reprobated the language of these petitions; States specially interested in it, and a discussion by Con and with such feelings he could not discover any other gress which had nothing to do with it. That was his reason that was even plausible, but the one he appreanswer to the gentleman.

hended. There were other reasons which induced him Mr. WEBSTER said it could not have been expected to fear the motive to which he referred was the true one. by the Senate that a question of such deep interest would He had received, a few days since, a printed copy of a come up for discussion to-day. As a motion had been protest, signed by Arthur Tappan and several of his made to postpone the further discussion until Monday, | associates, remonstrating against the language used in and as it was now late, a motion to adjourn would have the President's message against the fanatics, in which it the effect of postponing the subject until Monday, as is stated, boastingly, that, so far from being repressed suming that the Senate would adjourn over to Monday. by the proceedings against them to the North during the He would therefore ask the unanimous consent of the last sunmer, the number of their societies bad increased Senate to make the motion to adjourn.

from (if my memory be accurate) 250 to 350. Mr. CALHOUN said that he could have no objection addition to this, he regarded the fact to which the Senato the motion to postpone, as he was desirous that every tor from Virginia (Mr. LEIGU) referred as proof but too Senator should have ample time to deliberate before he strong that the fanatical spirit at the North was strong was called on to record his vote; but as the opinion of and increasing. He had not seen Dr. Channing's book; some of the Senators might be more or less influenced but that a divine of his eminence, and one of the most by the course which he might think proper to pursue in eloquent and polished writers of the country, should relation to the question, he deemed it proper to declare publish such a book at this time, was a matter for serithat no consideration could induce him to withdraw the ous reflection to those he represented, as well as all demand which he had made for the question on the re who had similar interests. If he might judge of the ception of the petition. He had made it on full delibera- whole from some of its extracts, it might be well comtion, and it was impossible that he could be induced to pared with the incendiary publications of Garrison him.

In

Jan. 7, 1836.]

Abolition of Slavery.

(SENATE.

ment.

self. It is a sad omen of the times, that he should lend words can possibly mean; but when the object is to de. the aid of his talents and character to criminal designs, fend the rights and property of these States, they give the direct tendency of which is to work asunder the the most rigid and narrow construction to the instruUnion and subvert the constitution. But, said Mr. C., though the false and slanderous language of these peti But (said Mr. C.) the Senator from North Carolina tions are to him imperious reasons for their rejection, objects to a refusal to receive these slanderous and abuthere were others of a character not less decisive. The sive petitions, for fear it should cause excitement and parties, as he stated when he was first up, call on Con. | agitation. To avoid this, he recommends that they gress to abolish slavery in this District. He again repeat should be received and laid on the table, there to slumed that Congress had no such power, no more than it has ber quietly. He said Mr. C.) well knew that there to abolish slavery in the States.

were two modes to prevent agitation, which, according The fifth amendment of the constitution offers an in. to the difference of temperament and character, were superable barrier, which provides, among other things, resorted to: the one to receive and quietly pocket the that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or insult, and the other by repelling it promptly and property, without due process of law; nor shall private decisively. Now, he would ask the Senator whether, property be taken for public uses without just compen. if one should petition him, and pronounce him in his sation."

Are not slaves property? and if so, how can petition to be a robber, kidnapper, pirate, with all the Congress any more take away the property of a master other abusive terms used in these petitions, to which of in his slave, in this District, than it could his life and lib. the two modes would he resort? Would he quietly erty? They stand on the same ground. The one, in take the petition and put it in his pocket, (lay it on the the eye of the constitution, is as sacred as the other. He table,) or would he knock the scoundrel down? I am would pass over the latter part of the sentence cited, on sure I need not wait an answer. Will, then, he, reprewhich his colleague had touched, and conclusively senting a sovereign State, whose confidence has placed show that the proviso which it contained also opposed him here to guard her honor and interest, agree to reimpassable barriers to emancipation by Congress in this ceive a paper, and place it, by his vote, on the permaDistrict.

nent records of the Senate, which he would indignantly He, said Mr. C., felt the profoundest gratitude and repel, if offered to himself personally? Is he prepared respect to those watchful and jealous patriots who, at to show himself less jealous of the honor of his State the time of the adoption of the constitution, would not than his own! As vigilant as we may be to guard our agree to its ratification without proposing these amended honor and interest, let us be still more watchful in articles, which were subsequently agreed to, and which guarding the honor and interest of those we represent. contain those great limitations on power, of the impor. To meet these studied attacks, which come here in the tance of which he daily became more sensible. But it shape of petitions, in that spirit, is the mode, and only is said that Congress has, by the constitution, the ex. safe and effectual mode, to put down agitation-the clusive right of legislation in this District. Grant it; and only mode to preserve our peace and security at home, what then? Does the constitution mean that it has ab- and the union and institutions of the country generally. solute power of legislation here? Certainly not. There Show these fanatics, by a decided refusal, by shutting are many important limitations on its powers in the Dis the door in their face, that they have nothing to hope trict as well as in the States. Congress cannot, in the by agitation, and they will soon cease to agitate. District, abridge the liberty of the press; it cannot estab An objection of a different character is made (said lish a religion by law; it cannot abolish jury trial. In Mr. C.) by the Senator from Virginia near me, (Mr. granting exclusive right of legislation, the constitution Tyler.] He objects that, to refuse to receive the peonly intended to exclude all other legislative authority titions is not strong enough; is not, to use his expression, within the District, and not to create an absolute and up to the occasion; and thinks that the proper course despotic power in Congress over the lives and property is to refer them to the Committee for the District of of its citizens. Nor was the opinion less erroneous that Columbia, which, he assures us, would be united in deCongress has the same unlimited power here that the nying to Congress any constitutional power to touch States had within their respective limits. The two the question of emancipation in this District. He also powers are wholly different. The latter was original, expressed his conviction that the Senate would unaniinherent, and sovereign; while the former was a deriva- | mously sustain the committee, with, perhaps, the extive and delegated trust-power, given by the States forception of the Senator who presented these petitions. special purposes, and subject to be altered and rescind He was (said Mr. C.) at a loss to see how the course he ed at their pleasure.

had adopted fell short of the occasion. What was the But it is said that it would be a violation of the con occasion ? Petitions basely slandering the States, which stitution not to receive these petitions. Ile denied that he and all the other Senators from the same section repthere was any provision in that instrument that made it resented, were presented by the Senator from Ohio, their duty to receive them. He had again and again This was the occasion. By the parliamentary rules, read the constitution, and could find none such, nor any the question is, shall they be received? Shall we who thing like it. It is true that there is a provision that represent the States, thus openly and in our own pres“Congress should pass no law to abridge the right of ence insulted, pocket the insult' or shall we indignantthe people peaceably to assemble and to petition the ly repel it? Did he fall short of the occasion in de Government for a redress of grievances. Is a refusal manding the question on the reception, and in calling to receive these slanderous petitions a passage of a law on the Senate to join him in repelling the indignity? for the purpose forbidden in the constitution? Is there But (said Mr. C.) I am rejoiced to learn from the any man of sense, who has for a moment reflected Senator that he is in favor of stronger measures; in on the subject, who can have the assurance to say so? favor of a direct declaration by the Senate, denying the How, then, can the refusal to receive be construed into right to touch the question of emancipation in the Disa violation of the constitution?

trict; doubly rejoiced that the Committee for the DisIle, said Mr. C., could not but be struck with one re trict was unanimous on this important point; and trebly markable fact. When the question is as to the right of

so to hear from the Senator that there were just grounds these fanatics to attack the character and property of to expect almost perfect unanimity in the Senate itself. the slaveholding States, there are Senators on this toor I trust he is not mistaken, and I am happy to inforın who give a latitude to the constitution wider than the him that there is not the slightest incompatibility be

Vol. XI.--7

« AnteriorContinuar »