Page images

by means of which nearly everything required had them set at liberty. The first Continentby its people but food was to be paid for al Congress which resolved to resist the in England. The slaves, therefore, found usurpations and oppressions of Great Britain ready purchasers at satisfactory prices, and by force, had already declared that our strugthe success of the first venture induced others; gle would be " for the cause of human nauntil not only Virginia but every part of ture,” which the Congress of 1776, under British America was supplied with African the lead of Thomas Jefferson, expanded into slaves.

the noble affirmation of the right of “all men This traffic, with the bondage it involved, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" had no justification in British nor in the early contained in the immortal preamble to the colonial laws; but it proceeded nevertheless, Declaration of Independence. A like avermuch as an importation of dromedaries to re- ment that all men are born free and equal, place with presumed economy our horses was in 1780 inserted in the Massachusetts Bill and oxen might now do. Georgia was the of Rights; and the Supreme Court of that first among the colonies to resist and remand State, in 1783, on an indictment of a master it in her original charter under the lead of for assault and battery, held this declaration her noble founder-Governor, General Ogle- a bar to slaveholding henceforth in the state. thorpe; but the evil was too formidable and A similar clause in the second Constitution inveterate for local extirpation, and a few of New Hampshire, was held by the courts years saw it established, even in Georgia ; of that State to secure freedom to every child, first evading or defying, and at length mold- born therein after its adoption. Pennsylvania, ing and transforming the law.

in 1780, passed an act prohibiting the further It is very common at this day to speak of introduction of slaves and securing freedom our revolutionary struggle as commenced and to all persons born in that State thereafter. hurried forward by a union of free and slave Connecticut and Rhode Island passed similar colonies ; but such is not the fact. However acts in 1784. Virginia, 1778, on motion slender and dubious its legal basis, Slavery ex- of Mr. Jefferson, prohibited the further isted in each and all of the colonies that unit- importation of slaves; and in 1782, reed to declare and maintain their independ- moved all legal restrictions on emancipaence. Slaves were proportionately more nu- tion : Maryland adopted both of these in 1783. merous in certain portions of the South; but North Carolina, in 1786, declared the introthey were held with impunity throughout duction of Slaves into that state“ of evil conthe North, advertised like dogs or horses, and sequences and highly impolitic,” and imposed sold at auction, or otherwise, as chattels. Ver- a duty of £5 per head thereon. New-York mont, then a territory in dispute between New- and New-Jersey followed the example of Hampshire and New-York, and with very Virginia and Maryland, including the domesfew civilized inhabitants, mainly on its south-tic in the same interdict with the foreign slave ern and eastern borders, is probably the only trade. Neither of these States, however, deportion of the revolutionary confederation clared a general emancipation until many never polluted by the tread of a slave. years thereafter, and Slavery did not wholly

The spirit of liberty, aroused or intensi- cease in New-York until about 1830, nor in, fied by the protracted struggle of the colo- New-Jersey till a much later date. The nists against usurped and abused power in distinction of free and slave States, with the the mother country, soon found itself engaged kindred assumption of a natural antagonism in natural antagonism against the current between the North and South, was utterly form of domestic despotism. “How shall unknown to the men of the Revolution. we complain of arbitrary or unlimited power Before the Declaration of Independence, exerted over us, while we exert a still more but during the intense ferment which preceddespotic and inexcusable power over a de- ed it, and distracted public attention from pendent and benighted race ?" was very fair- everything else, Lord Mansfield

had rendered ly asked. Several suits were brought in his judgment from the King's Bench, which Massachusetts—where the fires of liberty expelled Slavery from England, and ought to burnt earliest and brightest—to test the legal have destroyed it in the colonies as well. right of slaveholding; and the leading Whigs The plaintiff in this famous case gave their money and their legal services to James Somerset, a native of Africa, carsupport these actions, which were generally, ried to Virginia as a slave, taken thence on one ground or another, successful. Efforts by his master to England, and there infor an express law of emancipation, however, cited to resist the claim of his master to failed even in Massachusetts; the Legislature, his services, and assert his right to liberty. doubtless, apprehending that such a measure, In the first recorded case, involving the by alienating the slaveholders, would increase legality of modern slavery in England, it the number and power of the Tories ; but in was held (1697) that negroes, " being usual1777, a privateer having brought a lot of ly bought and sold among merchants as mercaptured slaves into Jamaica, and advertised chandise, and also being infidels, there might them for sale, the General Court, as the leg- be a property in them sufficient to maintain islative assembly was called, interfered and trover.” But this was overruled by Chief Jus


[ocr errors]

tice Holt from the King's Bench (1697,) rul- claim to spacious dominions outside of their ing that “ 80 soon as a negro lands in England proper boundaries; while New-Hampshire be is free;" and again, (1702) that “there is no (save in Vermont), Rhode Island, New-Jersuch thing as a slave by the law of England.” sey, Maryland, Delaware, and South Caro This judgment proving exceedingly trouble- lina, possessed no such boasted resources to some to planters and merchants from slave- meet the war-debts constantly augmenting. holding colonies visiting the mother country They urged, therefore, with obvious justice, with their servants, the merchants concerned that these unequal advantages ought to be in the American trade, in 1729, procured from surrendered, and all the lands included within Yorke and Talbot, the Attorney General and the territorial limits of the Union, but outSolicitor General of the Crown, a written side of the proper and natural boundaries of opinion that negroes, legally enslaved else- the several States, respectively, should be where, might be held as slaves in England, ceded to, and held by, Congress, in trust for and that even baptism was no bar to the mas- the common benefit of all the States, and ter's claim. This opinion was, in 1749, held their proceeds employed in satisfaction of the to be sound law by Yorke (now Lord Hard- debts and liabilities of the Confederation. This wicke), sitting as Judge, on the ground that, reasonable requisition was ultimately, but if the contrary ruling of Lord Holt were up with some reservations, responded to. Vir. held, it would abolish slavery in Jamaica or ginia reserved a sufficiency beyond the Ohio Virginia as well as in England ; British law to furnish the bounties promised to her rebeing paramount in each. Thus the law volutionary officers and soldiers. Connectistood until Lord Mansfield, in Somerset's cut, a western reserve, since largely settled case, reversed it with evident reluctance, and from the parent State. Massachusetts reafter having vainly endeavored to bring about served five millions of acres, located in Westan accommodation between the parties. ern New York, which she claimed to be When delay would serve no longer, and a entitled by her charter to own. In either of judgment must be rendered, Mansfield declar- these cases, the fee only was reserved, the ed it in these memorable words :

sovereignty being surrendered. “ We cannot direct the law; the law must di

The cessions were severally made during, rect us. ***. The state of Slavery is

such a or directly after, the close of the Revolutionnature that it is incapable of being introduced on ary War. And one of the most obvious duany reasons, moral or political, but only by posi- ties devolved on the Continental Congress, tive law, which preserves its force long after the which held its sessions in Philadelphia direasons, occasion, and time itself whence it was created, is erased from the memory. It is so vdi. rectly after the close of that exhausting strugous that nothing can be sufficient to support it gle, was the framing of an act or ordinance but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, for the government of the vast domain thus therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law committed to its care and

disposal. of England, and therefore the black must be dis- The responsible duty of framing this ordicharged."

nance was devolved by Congress on a Select The natural, if not necessary, effect of this Committee, consisting of Mr. Jefferson of decision on Slavery in these colonies, had their Va. (Chairman), Chase of Md., and Howell connection with the mother country been of R. I. ; who in due time reported a plan for continued, is sufficiently obvious.

the government of the Western Territory, con

templating the whole region included within II.

our boundaries west of the old thirteen States, and as far south as our 31st degree of North

latitude; territory as yet partially ceded to the The disposition or management of un- Confederation, but which was expected to be peopled territories, pertaining to the thirteen so, and embracing several of our present Slave recent colonies now confederated as inde States. This plan contemplated the ultimate pendent States, early became a subject of division of this territory into seventeen States, solicitude and of bickering among those eight of them situated below the parallel of States, and in Congress. By the terms of the Falls of the Ohio (now Louisville), and their charters, some of the colonies had an in- nine above it. Among other rules reported definite extension westwardly, and were only from this Committee by Mr. Jefferson, for limited by the power of the grantor. Many the government of this vast region, was the of these charters conflicted with each other following : the same territory being included within the

" That after the year 1800, of the Christian era, limits of two or more totally distinct colonies. there shall be neither Slavery nor involuntary As the expenses of the Revolutionary struggle servitude in any of the said States, otherwise began to bear heavily on the resources of the than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party States, it was keenly felt by some that their shall have been convicted to be personally

guilty.” share in the advantages of the expected triumph, would be less than that of others. April 19th, 1784.-Congress having the Massachusetts, Connecticut, New-York, Vir- aforesaid Report under consideration, Mr. ginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, laid Spaight, of N. C., moved the striking out of





“ Gerry,


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


“ Hand

« Stone

no .no

ay No.

no} No.




no No.

the above paragraph. Mr. Read, of S. C., tives from labor or service, soon after emboseconded the motion. The ayes and nays, died in the Federal Constitution; and in being required by Mr. Howell, were ordered, this shape, the entire ordinance was adopted and put in this form—“Shall the words (July 13th) by a unanimous vote, Georgia moved to be stricken out stand ?"--and de and the Carolinas concurring. cided as follows : N. HAMPSHIRE . Mr. Foster ау



Partridge ay )
RHODE ISLAND.. Ellery : ay

The old Articles of Confederation having " Howell ay

proved inadequate to the creation and mainCONNECTICUT ... “Sherman ay “ Wadsworth


tenance of a capable and efficient national or

ay NEW YORK “ De Witt

central authority, a Convention of Delegates ay “ Perine.


from the several States, was legally assemNEW JERSEY “ Dick.


bled in Philadelphia, in 1787-George WashPENNSYLVANIA

“ Mifflin.

ington President; and the result of its labors Montgomery. ay Ay.

was our present Federal Constitution, though


some amendments, mainly of the nature of Divided.

restrictions on Federal power, were proposed VIRGINIA " Jefferson

by the several State Conventions assembled, Hardy. .... no s

to pass upon that Constitution, and adopted. “ Mercer N, CAROLINA ... " Williamson

The following are all the provisions of that ay Spaight

instrument, which are presumed to relate to S. CAROLINA " Read

the subject of Slavery : " Beresford . . .

(Preamble) : “We, the people of the United So the question was lost, and the words States, in order to form a more perfect Union, were struck out.

establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity,

provide for the common defense, promote the ge. Lost-although six States voted aye to neral welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty only three day; and though of the members to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and present, fifteen voted for, to six against, Mr. establish this Constitution for the United States Jefferson's proposition. But the Articles of of America. Confederation required a vote of nine States granted, shall be vested in a Congress of the

“Art. I. $1. All legislative powers herein to carry a proposition; and, failing to re- United States, which shall consist of a Senate and ceive so many, this comprehensive exclusion House of Representatives. of Slavery from the Federal Territories was "& 2. *** Representatives and direct taxes defeated.

shall be apportioned among the several States

which be included within this Union, accord. The Ordinance, thus depleted, after under-ing to their respective numbers, which shall be going some further amendments, was finally determined, by adding to the whole number of approved April 23rd—all the delegates, but free persons, including those bound to servitude those from South Carolina, voting in the for a term of years, and excluding Indians not

taxed, three-fifths of all other persons. affirmative.

“Ø 9. The migration or importation of such In 1787 the last Continental Congress, persons as any of the States now existing, shall sitting in New York simultaneously with think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Convention at Philadelphia which the Congress prior to the year 1808 ; but a tax or framed our Federal Constitution, took up on each person.

duty may be imposed, not exceeding ten dollars the subject of the government of the West- “ The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus ērn Territory, raising a Committee thereon, shall not be suspended, unless when, in cases of of which Nathan Dane, of Massachusetts, rebellion or invasion, the public safety may rewas Chairman. That Committee reported quire it. (July 11th), « An Ordinance for the gov- shall be passed.

“No bill of attainder, or ex post facto laws ernment of the Territory of the United “ Art. III. 0 3. Treason against the United States, Northwest of the Ohio"—the larger States, shall consist only in levying

war against area contemplated by Mr. Jefferson's bill them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving

them aid and comfort. not having been ceded by the Southern

“Art. IV. 0 2. The citizens of each State shall States claiming dominion over it. This bill be entitled to all the privileges of citizens, in the embodied many of the provisions originally several States. drafted and reported by Mr. Jefferson, but “No person held to service or labor in one with some modifications, and concludes with State, under the luws thereof, escaping into

another, shall, in consequence of any law or regusix unalterable articles of perpetual compact, lation therein, be discharged from such service or the last of them as follows :

labor, but shall be delivered up on cluim of the There shall be neither slavery nor involun- party to whom such service or labor may be tary servitude, in the said territory, otherwise

due. than in punishment of crimes, whereof the parties

"§ 3. New States may be admitted by the shall be duly convicted.”

Congress into this Union; but no new State shall

be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of To this was added, prior to its passage, any other State ; nor any State be formed by the the stipulation for the delivery of fugi- | junction of two or more States, or parts of States,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

without the consent of the legislatures of the sary to the security of a free State, the right of States concerned, as well as of the Congress. the people to keep and bear arms shall not be

“ The Congress shall have power to dispose infringed. of, and make all needful rules and regulations re. "Art. V. No person shall be * * * deprived of specting the territory or other property, belonging life, liberty, or property, without due procass of to the United States ; and nothing in this Consti- law ; nor shall private property be taken for pubtution shall be so construed as to prejudice any lic use without just compensation." claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

IV. "§ 4 The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union, a republican form of CESSIONS OF SOUTHERN TERRITORY. government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legis

The State of KENTUCKY was set off from lature, or of the executive when the legislature the State of Virginia in 1790, by mutual cannot be convened, against domestic violence agreement, and admitted into the Union by

Art. VI. This Constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pur

act of Congress, passed February 4th, 1791 ; suance thereof, and all the treaties made, or to take effect June 1st, 1792. It was never which shall be made, under the authority of the a territory of the United States, nor under United States, shall be the supreme law of the Federal jurisdiction, except as a State, and land; and the judges in every State shall be inherited Slavery from the Old Dominion. bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstand

The State of North Carolina, like several ing."

others, claimed, during and after the RevoluThe above are all—and perhaps more than tion, that her territory extended westward to

the Mississippi. The settlers west of the all—the clauses of the Constitution, that have been quoted on one side or the other as of them assumed to establish (1784–5) the

Alleganies resisted this claim, and a portion bearing upon the subject of Slavery.

State of Frankland, in what is now East It will be noted that the word “slave," or


Tennessee; "slavery” does not appear therein.

but North Carolina forcibly re Madison, who was a leading and observant sisted and subverted this, and a considerable member of the Convention, and who took portion of the people of the embryo State denotes of its daily proceedings, affirms that vote as citizens of North Carolina. A dele

rided its authority, and continued to act and this silence was designed—the Convention being unwilling that the Constitution of the gate (William Cocke) was sent from FrankUnited States should recognize property in

land to the Continental Congress, but was

not received by that body. On the 22nd of human beings. In passages where slaves are presumed to be contemplated, they are her ratification of the Federal Constitution

December, 1789, however-one month after uniformly designated as “ persons,” never as North Carolina passed an act, ceding, on property. Contemporary history proves certain conditions, all her territory west of that it was the belief of at least a large por: her present limits to the United States. tion of the delegates that Slavery could not Among the conditions exacted by her, and long survive the final stoppage of the slave trade, which was expected to (and did) occur 2nd, 1790) is the following:

agreed to, by Congress, (Act approved April in 1808. And, were Slavery this day banished forever from the country, there might, indeed, to be made, by Congress shall tend to emancipate

Provided always, that no regulations made, or be some superfluous stipulations in the

slaves." Federal compact or charter ; but there are

Georgia, in like manner, ceded (April 2nd, none which need be repealed, or essentially 1802) the territories lying west of her premodified.

sent limits, now forming the States of AlaA direct provision for the restoration of bama and Mississippi. Among the confugitive slaves to their masters was, at least ditions exacted by her, and accepted by the once, voted down by the Convention. United States, is the following : Finally, the clause respecting persons held Fifthly. That the territory thus ceded shall beat service or labor, was proposed by come a State, and be admitted into the Union as Mr. Butler, of South Carolina, and adopted, ants, or, at an earlier period, if Congress shall

soon as it shall contain sixty thousand free inhabitwith little or no opposition.

think it expedient, on the same conditions and The following, among the amendments restrictions, with the same privileges, and in the to the Constitution proposed by the same manner, as is provided in the ordinance of ratifying conventions of one or more States, Congress of the 13th day of July, 1787, for the and adopted, are supposed by some to bear government of the Western territory of the United

States ; which ordinance shall, in all its parts, exon the questions now agitated relative to tend to the territory contained in the present act Slavery :

of Cession, the article only excepted which forbids

slavery." . Art. I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the free. dom of speech, or of the press; or of the rights of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of griev.

WHEN Ohio (1802–3) made a "Art. II. A well-regulated militia being neces. State, the residue of the vast regions,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]





[ocr errors]

originally conveyed by the ordinance of This Report, having been made at the close '87, was continued under Federal pupilage, of the Session, was referred at the next to a by the name of “ Indiana Territory," whereof new Committee, whereof Cæsar Rodney, a Wm. Henry Harrison (since President) was new Representative from Delaware, was appointed Governor. An earnest though Chairman. Mr. Rodney from this Commitquiet effort was made by the Virginia ele- tee reported (February 17th, 1804), ment, which the location of her military That, taking into their consideration the facts bounty warrants on the soil of Ohio had in- stated in the said memorial and petition, they are fused into that embryo State, to have induced to believe that a qualified suspension, for Slavery for a limited term authorized in her a limited time, of the sixth article of compact be

tween the original States and the people and first constitution ; but it was strenuously re- States west of the river Ohio, might be produc. sisted by the New England element, which tive of benefit and advantage to said Territory.', was far more considerable, and defeated. The Virginians either had or professed to have the topics embraced in the Indiana memorial, and

The Report goes on to discuss the other countenance of President Jefferson, though concludes with eight resolves, of which the his hostility to Slavery, as a permanent social first and only one relative to Slavery) is as state, was undoubted. It was quite commonly follows: argued that, though Slavery was injurious in the long run, yet, as an expedient while dinance of" 1787, which prohibited Slavery

Resolved, That the sixth article of the Orclearing away the heavy forests, opening within the said Territory, be suspended in a settlements in the wilderness, and surmounting qualified manner, for ten years, so as to permit the inevitable hardships and privations of the introduction of slaves, born within the United border life, it might be tolerated, and even States, from any of the individual States; pro

vided, that such individual State does not permit regarded with favor. Accordingly, the new the importation of slaves from foreign countries: Territory of Indiana made repeated efforts to and provided, further, that the descendants of procure a relaxation in her favor of the re- all such slaves shall, if 'males, be free at the age strictive clause of the Ordinance of '87, one of of twenty-five years, and, if females, at the age them through the instrumentality of a Con

of twenty-one years.” vention assembled in 1802-3, and presided

The House took no action on this Report. over by the Territorial Governor; so he,

The original memorial from Indiana, with with the great body of his fellow-delegates, several additional memorials of like purport, memorialized Congress, among other things, was again, in 1805-6, referred by the House to suspend temporarily the operation of the to a select committee, whereof Mr. Garnett sixth article of the Ordinance aforesaid. of Virginia was chairman, who, on the 14th This memorial was referred in the House to of February, 1806, made a report in favor of a select committee of three, two of them the prayer of the petitioners—as follows : from Slave States, with the since celebrated That, having attentively considered the facts John Randolph as chairman. On the 2nd of stated in the said petitions and memorials, they March, 1803, Mr. Randolph made what ap- limited time, of the sixth article of compact be

are of opinion that a qualified suspension, for a pears to have been a unanimous report from tween the original States, and the people and this Committee, of which we give so much as States west of the river Ohio, would be beneficial relates to Slavery—as follows:

to the people of the Indiana Territory. The sus

pension of this article is an object almost univer" The rapid population of the State of Ohio sally desired in that Territory. sufficiently evinces, in the opinion of your com. It

your committee to be a question mittee, that the labor of slaves is not necessary entirely different from that between Slavery and to promote the growth and settlement of colonies Freedom ; inasmuch as it would merely occasion in that region. That this labor-demonstrably the removal of persons, already slaves, from one the dearest of any-can only be employed in the part of the country to another. The good effects cultivation of products more valuable than any of this suspension, in the present instance, would. known to that quarter of the United States ; that be to accelerate the population of that Territory, the Committee deem it highly dangerous and in hitherto retarded by the operation of that article expedient to impair a provision wisely calculated of compact, as slave holders emigrating into the to promote the happiness and prosperity of the Western country might then indulge any prefer. northwestern country, and to give strength and ence which they might feel for a settlement in security to that extensive frontier. In the salutary the Indiana Territory, instead of sceking, as they operation of this sagacious and benevolent re. are now compelled to do, settlements in other straint, it is believed that the inhabitants of In. States or countries permitting the introduction of diana will, at no very distant day, find ample re- slaves. The condition of the slaves themselves muneration for a temporary privation of labor, would be much ameliorated by it, as it is evident, and of emigration."

from experience, that the more they are separated The Committee proceed to discuss other stowed on them by their masters-each proprietor

and diffused, the more care and attention are be subjects set forth in the prayer of the memo- having it in his power to increase their comforts rial, and conclude with eight resolves, whereof and conveniences, in proportion to the smallness the only one relating to Slavery is as fol- of their numbers. The dangers, too, (if any are lows :

to be apprehended) from too large a black popu.

lation existing in any one section of country, “ Resolved, That it is inexpedient to suspend, for would certainly be very much diminished, if not a limited time, the operation of the sixth article of entirely removed. But, whether dangers are to thò compact between the original States and the be feared from this source or not, it is certainly an people and States west of the river Ohio.” obvious dictate of sound policy to guard against

appears to

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »