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FOR APRIL, 1850.




States to condemn unheard, either a man

or an institution. If the conduct of the Northern and Our own opinions, in regard to the Southern extremes of the two factions in powers of Congress in legislating for the Congress is to be taken as an index of the territory are well known, and have been state of feeling on the subject of slavery in sufficiently explained. In the first of the the country at large, our hopes of a settle- two articles which we submit to our readers ment of this pernicious and destructive it is argued, as it seems to ourselves, concontroversy should be faint indeed. As it clusively, that the State sovereignties not has arisen not so much from contrariety of only have a perfect right, but ought to interest as from opposition of sentiment,- make stringent laws against the importation the interests of the nation, strictly con- of slaves into their territories; and that the sidered, being bound up in the welfare of slave trade in the District of Columbia the South, -the remedy to be applied should may, and ought to be, suppressed by the be sought in the sources of the disease. authority of the General Government. The The disease is a controversy arising from author of that article is a large slaveholder speculative opinion and ambition ; the in the State of Mississippi, and is by birth remedy is in a modification of opinion by a and education a Southern man. We have suitable

array of facts and arguments. the best reason to believe that he speaks These facts and these arguments must the sentiment of the majority in his own be furnished by moderate and discreet State. We are constrained, however, to minded persons on both sides. We here differ from him, in the distinction which he present our readers with two articles ; makes between the propriety of the exerboth of them by gentlemen practically fa- cise of the power of Congress for the premiliar with the institution of slavery; and vention of slavery in the territories. It indeed, educated in the society under which seems to our own view an unnecessary disthat institution is tolerated. We have tinction. Since slavery does not exist in no apology to offer, if any were de- New Mexico, California, and the Great manded by our Northern readers, for the Basin of Deseret, the de facto governintroduction of these articles. For the ments of those regions, whether lodged peace and security of the country it is just, in Congress, or in the people of the terriit is necessary that slaveholders should speak tories, or in territorial organization, have, as for themselves, and should, moreover, be it seems to us, an unquestionable right, heard, and their arguments deliberately as a regulation of police, just as the State weighed. It is not the custom in free sovereignties have that right for States, and




the general government for its District, to government—in a word, 400,000 citizens prohibit the introduction of slaves within in the Southern States, or rather, to speak their limits.

correctly, the minority of that 400,000, The objection of our author to the em- have declared that they must either govern ployment of legislative authority for the or rebel; there is no alternative. It is an emancipation of slaves, is answered by the announcement unparalleled in modern hisfact that precedent is already in favor of tory. Such, if we rightly understand it, such employment; that State legislatures is the position of the extreme Southern in the North have abolished slavery in party. It is an aristocratic position ; it their States, and their acts are held to be does not commend itself to the favor or to salid. Whether the Government in any the respect of the country, State has or has not the power to establish This making the admission of California or abolish, is a question to be settled by the the test question, has betrayed the entire spirit of that government, and by the com- system and method of the opposition. mon understanding.

Theirs is simply a struggle for political preCalifornia is now denied admission to dominance ; that they will govern the the Union because she has incorporated a Union or they will destroy it. Meantime, prohibition of slavery in her Constitution. if we ever for a moment doubted its staTexas was admitted with a clause estab- bility, we now hold the Union to be lishing slavery, so incorporated, and with secure. We have ceased to apprehend a provision for the creation of two or its dissolution. The declaration of the more slave States out of her territory. ultimatum of the faction has destroyed at The faction have chosen to forget this; once its respectability and its power. A their struggle is for power. The ex- republican people who cannot submit themtreme Southern party, under the lead of selves to the ordinary chances and continMr. Calhoun, have made the somewhat gencies—to the common movements of singular announcement, that unless the events in a Republic, have a dreary hismain political power of the country is tory before them. They are no longer fit lodged in their hands, they cannot remain for self-government who cannot abide in the Union. This announcement has, at by its necessities and its laws. It is, inleast, the virtue of directness and simpli- deed, fortunate for them that they are not city ; unless they have an equality or a the sole citizens and masters of an empire, majority in the Senate, they cannot stay in since, among themselves, and in their own the Union; they must be able, at any mo- divisions, the minority would have no alment, to block the wheels of legislation, to ternative but war. With such a desperate cut off the supplies, to create war or peace, resolution to rule or perish, how brief and to elect a President to their mind, to pur- how terrible a page would be theirs in the chase and possess, and divide, new territo- bistory of the decline and fall of great ries, to hold the patronage of the central Republics.



Digression and irrelevancy in the dis-, taste would warn us to leave to infercussion of political issues are character-ence mainly, fail to afford scope sufficiently istic of American writers and speakers. ample. Matters totally disconnected with In Congress, especially, debate is rarely those at issue, are tortuously introduced to confined to the question under consider- make up the speech. Hence, on a memoration. Collateral points even, which, in able occasion in the Senate, Mr. Webster an assembly collected of wisdom, true found it necessary, in order to be properly understood, to commence his celebrated | North it seems to be an ill-timed and unspeech on Foot's Resolution, in reply to worthy attempt to wreak its prejudices Mr. Haynes, by requesting the Secretary to upon an institution which, to say the least, read the resolution under discussion. | is recognized, if not by name, at least de Everybody recollects the beautiful and ap- facto, and protected from invasion by the propriate figure of the mariner tossed about federal constitution. On the part of the for days in the open seas without chart or South it has been an unwary and hazardcompass, by which he illustrated the digres- ous attempt to make political capital at sion. This happened more than twenty home of a question that embodies elements years ago, when, it may be supposed, de- of the most dangerous nature, as regards magoguic influences were less common than the welfare of the Union, and to feed a at this day. And, indeed, if a speaker fiame, of which the calmest and most mowere to rise in his seat, now-a-days, and derate politician may stand in dread. But deliver a speech of twenty or thirty minutes it has been our pride and pleasure to oblength, confined solely to the topic of de- serve that, in both sections of the Union, bate, without once calling to his aid irrele- the conservative national whig party, as a vant party issues, he would be stigmatized body, has asserted and maintained a course by reporters and lobby members as empty- of conduct unquestionably conservative and headed and stupid. Discursive and inap- national. By moderation and dignity, by propriate discussion has grown so common, wisdom and true patriotism, the party has that it may now be regarded as a settled well sustained its ancient and honorable precedent in Congressional economy. character.

No more cogent illustration of the truth In a like spirit, it is trusted, and with a and justice of the above general remarks mind beset on eliciting and expressing the may be cited, than the history of the debates truth, we now proceed to present, in a conin Congress on the Wilmot Proviso. A densed and summary shape, our views and discussion of the power of Congress to pro- opinions. The true opinion, as we conhibit or regulate slavery in the Territories ceive, may be best arrived at, by first proof the United States has opened, in the pounding, and then endeavoring to answer course of the debate, the entire question of two leading questions ; which, it is believed slavery, in all its points, and placed it in embrace the entire matter of debate : every conceivable attitude. Prominent 1st. Has Congress the right, under the among these irrelevant issues is one of very Constitution of the United States and startling moment, not because of its com- deeds of cession from the States of Maryplexity or obscurity, but because of the land and Virginia, to abolish slavery in petty and contemptible jealousy which per- the District of Columbia ? vades both sections of the Union concern

2d. Has Congress the right or power, ing its permanent adjustment. It will, of under the same instruments, to pass laws of course, be inferred that we allude to that of a Municipal or Police character concernthe powers of Congress over slaves and the ing slaves, and to regulate or prohibit the subject of slavery within the District of slave traffic in said District ? Columbia. On this point, all candid and The first of these questions we do not at discriminating minds must admit that, in all hesitate to answer in the negative, and discussing the question, the South has shall state briefly the reason and grounds claimed more than is just and constitution- on which that answer may be founded. al, and that the North has chosen an ill The abolition of slavery in any State, time and showed an improper and intole- District, or Territory, within the limits of rant spirit in asserting and claiming what the United States, cannot be a matter of is doubtless just and constitutional. We legislation, because it involves rights of cannot think that true patriotism or devo- persons and of property which existed pretion to right and justice, have had any in- viously to the establishment of the governfluence with the majority in the introduc- ment, and which not only constitute a tion or discussion of this subject. The go- principal element in the government of all, verning influences, in both cases, we fear, but are beyond the reach of legislative mahave been of a different and far less meri- jorities. The legislature of a State ought torious character. On the side of the not to decree the abolition of slavery. It

is a body of limited powers, limited and de- concerns the subject of regulating slavery fined, too, by an instrument which is in the District of Columbia, are not at all formed by the Sovereign power in conven- analagous to the powers of the same body tion. This Sovereign power is the people. as applied to the Territories of the United The legislature would have no more right States. Conceding the power in the one or authority, unwarranted or unempowered case does not and cannot necessarily emby any previous form of assent from the brace the other. In the first, the power is people, to pass a law modifying the entire explicitly given and is clearly derivable social system, than it would have to pass a from all the sources where it ever belonged law establishing or abolishing the Christian in law. In the last it is not to be found in or Jewish form of worship, or the tenures any bond, compact, or conveyance of any of land, or the right of self-defence, or the description, and must be left to vague inright to bequeath or to inherit. These are ference, and ever remain an obscure and all inherent properties and elements of go-vexed question. vernment, and belong, under our system, The power to regulate the slave traffic to that class of powers and natural rights in any or in all its branches, (save one which are of none the less force and effect perhaps,) is a matter entirely of police, because partly unwritten and undefined in and belongs properly to legislative bodies the original compact, and which are re- in their capacity of police conservators. moved beyond the reach of Assemblies Even in our State legislatures a wide whose powers are limited and differently discretion is claimed and often exerintended. Slavery, as it exists in the sepa- cised on this subject. But no one who rate States, is equally entitled to be thus takes the trouble to examine the Constituclassed. The power, therefore, abruptly tion of the United States, defining the speto abolish such an institution, cannot cial powers of Congress, or the deeds of belong to a state or national legislature. cession from the States of Maryland and It is essentially a prerogative of the sove- Virginia, can justly or successfully question reignty of the people themselves. It is in the unlimited discretion of Congress conthe province of a convention of that power cerning all police regulations of slavery from which emanates the constitutions within the District of Columbia. The ten both of federal and state governments. A miles square is ceded not to the United contrary action or decision, vesting such States, as are the territories, but to the power either in Congress as regards the 'Congress and Government of the United District of Columbia, or in any of our

States." Where territories have been reState legislatures, would be to create a linquished by any of the States, or acquirruinous instability in property in both in-ed by purchase, the conveyance has ever stances. It would be committing the most been to the United States and for their cherished and sacred of all rights, namely, “ benefit,” and, in the first instance, a that of modifying the fundamental relation- parenthesis has always been made “inship of man to man, to a bare majority in cluding” the State which thus cedes. TerAssemblies notoriously impulsive, and fluc- ritories acquired by conquest are conveyed tuating in opinion, and always affected by by treaty to the Government of the United local prejudices, and educational predilec- States, and thus become the property alike tions. It would be placing individuals and of all the communities which form that entire communities at the mercy of parti- government. In none of these cessions is zans and fanatics, of opposite opinions, look- Congress a specified party. But, on the ing neither to justice or reason or to any other hand, the Congress” is a joint and thing beyond their own ambitious aims and specified party with the “Government of violent purposes.

the United States” in the ownership of the The second question must be regarded District of Columbia. Now, as all must by all candid and dispassionate persons in very well understand, the Government of a widely different sense, inasmuch that it the United States is made up of three coinvolves matters and issues of a very dif- ordinate branches or departments, each seferent character, and which are totally ir- parately defined, and charged with separate relevant to the first.

and distinct functions. Of these, Congress is We hold that the powers of Congress as only the legislative power-subject in its

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