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Mr. WOZENCRAFT said :
Mr. President: We have declared, by a unanimous vote, that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in this State. I desire now to cast my vote in favor of the proposition just submitted, prohibiting the negro race from coming amongst us ; and this I profess to do as a philanthropist, loving my kind, and rejoicing in their rapid march toward perfectability.
If there was just reason why slavery should not exist in this land, there is just reason why that part of the family of man, who are so well adapted for servitude, should be excluded from amongst
It would appear that the all-wise Creator has created the negro to serve the white race. We see evidence of this wherever they are brought in contact; we see the instinctive feeling of the negro is obedience to the white man, and, in all instances, he obeys him, and is ruled by him. If you would wish that all mankind should be free, do not bring the two extremes in the scale of organization together ; do not bring the lowest in contact with the highest, for be assured the one will rule and the other must serve. I wish to cast my vote against the admission of blacks into this country, in order that I
may thereby protect the citizens of California in one of their most inestimable rights—the right to labor. This right is not only valuable, but it is a holy commandment—" by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou earn thy daily bread.” I wish to inculcate this command, and encourage labor. 'I wish, so far as my influence extends, to make labor honorable ; the laboring man is the nobleman in the true acceptation of the word ; and I would make him worthy of his high prerogative, and not degrade him by placing him upon a level with the lowest in the scale of the family of man. I would remove all obstacles to his future greatness, for if there is one part of the world, possessing advantages over another, where the family of Japhet may expect to attain a higher state of perfectability than has ever been attained by man, it is here, in California. All nature proclaims this a favored land. The assertion that we would be unjust in excluding that part of the human race from coming here, has no foundation in reason. We must be just to ourselves by so doing we avoid injustice to others. In claiming the right to labor we do not deny the same to others. The African is well fitted for labor, you would say. Why deny him our field ? Sir, we do not deny him the right to labor ; we are willing that he should have the boundless wastes of his native land for his field—a region where the all-wise Creator, in his wisdom, saw fit to place him; but we are not willing that he should be placed in our field, where, instead of good to either party, evil would come to both. We are not only reasonable but we are just. No one will deny that a free black population is one of the greatest evils that can afflict society. We know it to be so. We have witnessed enough to know it and deplore it. There is not an advocate for the admission of blacks that would be willing to take the negro by the hand in fellowship-that would be willing to extend to him the right of suffrage—that would be willing to admit him on a footing in our political or social confederacy. Is it just, then, to encourage by our silence the emigration of a class of beings who at best are dead weights in society-resting on our social institutions like an incubus of darkness?
I desire to protect the people of California against all monopolies--to encourage labor and protect the labering class. Can this be done by admitting the negro race? Surely not ; for if they are permitted to come, they will do so—nay they will be brought here. Yes, Mr. President, the capitalists will fill the land with these living laboring machines, with all their attendant evils. Their labor will go to enrich the few, and impoverish the many ; it will drive the poor and honest laborer from the field, by degrading him to the level of the negro. The vicious propensities of this class of population will be a heavy tax on the people. Your officers will have to be multiplied ; your prisons will have to be doubled ; your society will be corrupted. Yes, sirs, you will find when it is too late that you have been saddled with an evil that will gall you to the quick, and yet it cannot be thrown off. You can prevent it now, by passing this section. It should be done now. Do not wait for legislative enactment--the Legislature may, and doubtless will, pass laws effectually to prevent blacks from coming, or being brought here, but it will be an extended evil even at that date. When this Constitution goes forth without a prohibitionary clause relative to blacks, you will see a black-tide setting in here and spreading over the land ; you will see a greater curse than the locusts of Egypt. This is no fancy sketch-it is a plain assertion, based on a just knowledge of things, which requires no gift of prophecy to foresee. If you fail to pass this bill you will have cause to revert to my assertions.
The future, to us, is more promising than that of any State that has ever applied for admission into the Union. The golden era is before us in all its glittering splendor ; here civilization may attain its highest altitude ; Art, Science, Literature will here find a fostering parent, and the Caucasian may attain his highest state of perfectibility. This is all before us. It is within our reach; but to attain it we must pursue the path of wisdom. We must throw aside all the weights and clogs that have fettered society elsewhere. We must inculcate moral and industrial habits. We must exclude the low, vicious, and depraved. Every member of society should be on a level with the mass—able to perform his appropriate duty. Having his equal rights, he should be capable of maintaining those rights, and aiding in their equal diffusion to others. There should be that equilibrium in society which pervades all nature, and that equilibrium can only be established by acting in conformity with the laws of nature. There should be no incongruities in the structure ; it should be a harmonious whole, and there should be no discordant particles, if you would have a happy unity. That the negro race is out of his social sphere, and becomes a discordant element when among the Caucasian race, no one can doubt. You have but to take a retrospective view, and you need not extend your vision beyond our own land to be satisfied of this fact. Look at our once happy republic, now a contentious, antagonistical, discordant people. The Northern people see, and feel, and know, that the black population is an evil in the land, and although they have admitted them to many of the rights of citizenship, the admixture has acted in the political economy as a foreign, poisonous substance, producing the same effect as in physical economyderangement, disease, and, if not removed, death. Let us be warned—let us avoid an evil of such magnitude.
I will trespass on the patience of the House no further, Mr. President, than to express the wish that this clause may become an article in the Constitution.
Mr. Gwin said that this was clearly a legislative feature of the Constitution, and should come up in the legislative department,
Mr. McCarver had no objection to letting it come up in another part of the Constitution, but as other provisions of a similar character had been placed in the bill of rights, he thought that was the proper position for it. He would, however, withdraw it, with the understanding that it should come up for consideration in the legislative department.
Mr. Ord had another amendment to offer, providing that no power of suspend. ing the laws shall be exercised, unless by the Legislature or its authority. It was the same in substance as the amendment which he had offered the other day.
Mr. Borts objected to the proposition. He was opposed, in the first instance, to giving either the Executive or the Legislature the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, but he preferred, of the two evils, that this power should not be placed in the hands of a single individual. He hoped he was not forbidden to doubt even the propriety of some of the provisions in the Constitution of the Uni. ted States. What would be the interpretation of this clause, if adopted in this Constitution ? That the laws of this State, which are, in part, the Constitution, may be suspended by the Legislature ; that the Constitution itself may be suspended. Of course, it cannot be the laws passed by the Legislature that are re. ferred to, because the Legislature has a right to suspend or repeal its own laws. It is unnecessary to say that the Legislature has power to suspend its own laws. The right to make laws gives it the right to suspend or repeal them. What other laws of the land are there, which nobody but the Legislature can suspend. There is but one other set of laws—those contained in your Constitution. It is, there. fore, inevitable that the Legislature may suspend the laws of this Constitution.
Mr. PRICE asked if the gentleman (Mr. Ord) would withdraw the amendment, and let it come in as a section at the final passage of the Constitution.
Mr. ORD thereupon withdrew his amendment. Mr. Ord submitted the following as an additional section, which was rejected : Szc. 19. All persons shall, before conviction, be bailable, by sufficient sureties, except for capital offences, where the proof is evident or the presumption great.
Mr. ORD offered the following, which was rejected :
That no free Government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue ; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
The last section of the report being now under consideration, as follows:
20. This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people.
Mr. Gwin moved to amend by striking out and inserting the following, from the bill of rights of Arkansas :
This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people ; and to guard against any encroachments on the rights herein retained, or any transgression of any of the higher powers herein delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of Government, and shall forever remain inviolate ; and that all laws contrary thereto, or to the other provisions herein contained, shall be void.
Mr. Borts proposed to amend the amendment. As his present proposition was the only definite one which he had offered in this bill of rights, he hoped it would be treated with some degree of indulgence. It was not to be found in the bill of rights of New York, or Iowa, or Arkansas ; there was that objection to it, but he believed the spirit of it was broached in them all.
As constitutions are the instruments by which the powers of the people are delegated to their representatives, they ought to be construed strictly, and all powers, not expressly granted, should be taken to be reserved.
He (Mr. Botts) considered the original section picked up by the Committee extremely imperfect. He imagined the Committee had found it somewhere in the Constitution of New York or Iowa.
Mr. HALLECK stated that it was the closing article of the bill of rights of Iowa. Mr. Botts suggested that it was probably the people of Iowa who got it in
He submitted to the House, whether this devotion to the particular States from which gentlemen happened to come, was proper here. No man rev.
erenced the feeling more than himself-attachment to the place of his nativity. · But may not this feeling be carried too far? Should not gentlemen on this floor
remember that they are no longer cititizens of New York, or Missouri, Iowa, or Michigan, but citizens of California. This Convention should not reject the experience of others that had gone before it. It should draw wisdom from the spirit and meaning of all their constitutions, but not servilely copy them. He did not see why this Convention was not as capable of being original as any other that had ever met. He hoped gentlemen would not make a constitution like an old woman's spencer-composed of shreds and patches. If the amendment which he proposed did not meet the views of the House, let them alter the phraseology, but let there be at least one original section in the Constiution.
Mr. SEMPLE said: There is one important principle involved in the amendment, which requires some expression of opinion. It should be borne in mind, that there is a marked difference between the Federal Constitution, and that of a Stale. The Constitution of the United States, is a delegation of power from a confedera. tion of sovereign and independent States. By the consent of the whole, each State is limited to a certain extent; and such powers as are not expressly prescribed in the Constitution, are reserved to the people. As it is impossible for the people, individually, to regulate taxes, organise towns and villages, and make and amend laws, they form a Legislature to conduct these operations for them. That Legislature is amenable to them, for the faithful discharge of its duties, either annually or biennially. No other state sovereignty can interfere with these rights. If the Legislature abuse its powers by passing injurious or objectionable laws, the people form a new Legislature to repeal or amend them. But for the general welfare of all, each State has delegated to the confederacy a portion of its sovereignty. If this were not so, any one of them would have power to levy war. They reserve, however, all rights pertaining to the regulation of their local affairs, as States. The General Government has no power to interfere with them in their individual capacity. Congress is therefore prohibited, by the Constitution, from infringing upon these reserved powers. Its duties are to regulate navigation and commerce with foreign nations, to supervise the affairs of the Republic, to declare war, and impose taxes for the support of the Government. All power which is not express. ly forbidden by the Federal Constitution, is left to the people and their repr n. tatives in their State capacity. He (Mr. Semple) was opposed to all encroachments of the General Government on the rights of the States. And when gentlemen talk about restricting the Legislature from the exercise of any rights reserved to the peo. ple by the Constitution of the United States, it is assuming a power not delegated to this Convention. Are we to say how many sheriffs, and how many coroners are to be in the State ? If so, why have a Legislature at all? It is impossible to direct your State Legislature what it shall do. You can only say what it shall not doyou can only embody certain fundamental principles of government in your Con- .
stitution for the protection of minorities and the well-being of the mass--majorities can protect themselves. All measures not expressly prohibited in the Constitution, are fair subjects of legislative action. He was opposed to the amendment on these grounds.
Mr. Borts wished to know if the gentleman from Sonoma (Mr. Semple) meant to deny the right of the people to maintain their own power? If such a doctrine was maintained on this floor, it should be recorded on the journal. But he (Mr. Botts) thought he knew that gentleman too well in private life, to suppose that upon calm consideration, he would oppose, by his vote, the principle embodied in the last amendment. The gentleman maintains that all power is in the hands of the people, and if they have not parted with it, it is there still: No, sir; all power is in the hands of the people, whether they have delegated it to others or
The government is subservient to the Constitution, and the ministers of that government are the servants of the people. They have no power except what they derive from the people. All the power committed to their hands is delegated to them through the Constitution. If it does not come through the Constitution, it does not come all. The Constitution is the message of the people to their ser. vants, and what they do not grant in that way, they do not grant at all.
Mr. McCarver thought it would be very easy to make a constitution here that would take away one man's property and give it to another. The bill of rights declares what powers the people have, and the Constitution of the State consists of restrictions, not of delegated powers. The difference between the Federal Con. stitution and that of a State, is, that the people of the States in whom all power is inherent, have delegated a certain portion of their State sovereignty to the Ge. neral Government. The Constitution of the United States, therefore, consists of expressed delegated powers. The Constitution of a State is a constituiion of re. strictions. By accepting it, the people agree not to exercise the powers therein expressly prohibited. It is a constitution of restrictions that we should form here. It is not questioned that the people have a right to pass such laws as they please ; but the powers not enumerated here, remain in the hands of the people and their agents. He (Mr. McCarver) could see no necessity for the amendment. The bill of rights, already adopted, declares that all power is inherent in the people, and this covers the whole subject.
Mr. Gwin said if he understood the gentleman from Sonoma, (Mr. Semple,) the doctrine broached by him, that the people in their legislative capacity have a right to violate the Constitution, was such as he could not sanction. He would like to see any man go back to his constituents after recording his vote in favor of such a monstrous doctrine. Mr. SEMPLE claimed to make a few additional remarks.
ditional remarks. Although he had as high a regard for the will of his constituents as any gentleman on this floor, he wished it distinctly understood that he contended for the doctrine that the people have a right to do anything which is not a violation of the Constitution ; and so long as he could record his vote against any declaration to the contrary, he would do so. Whenever he was refused that liberty, he would resign his seat and tell the people he could serve them no longer. He held that whenever the State of Califor. nia is admitted as a State, her right to legislate for herself is beyond the reach of any other power; that it is beyond the reach of Congress; that Congress is infe. rior to the State Legislature, because the Legislature is the direct emanation of the people; that Congress is limited in its powers, while the Legislature is no further limited than by the desire of the people. He would glory in recording his vote upon the principle that the Legislature of California, when formed, is the su. perior power, and not to be dictated to by any other power than that of the people who constituted it. The difference between the Constitution of the United States and that of a State is exemplified in the very article under discussion. The Fede. ral Constitution is a limited Government, granted by certain sovereignties-that is to say by the sovereign people in their sovereign capacity. The State Legis. lature, under the specified restrictions imposed upon it by the people themselves, is a direct emanation from the people, and is annually or biennially responsible to them at the ballot-box. Here is where the powers of the State Government are limited. This Convention is not called upon to tell the people what they shall do, but what they shall not do. By the adoption of the Constitution, formed by their delegates, impcsing certain restrictions upon them, they make it their act. We are sent here to tell them that because they are a majority they are not to infringe upon great general rights and great general principles. What says your bill of rights? It says, in the first place, that the people are the sovereigns. It then goes on to specify certain inalienable rights, and to provide that those rights shall not be infringed upon. The people agree, by adopting the Constitution, that so long as they are members of the community they will not infringe on those special rights; but they reserve the control over all others not restricted by the Constitution. He (Mr. Semple) was always opposed to the exercise of any power by Congress which is not expressly delegated to it by the Constitution of the United States. No member of this body went further than he did for a strict construction of the Constitution. He went for a strict construction of all Consti. tutions. He was willing, in forming this Constitution, that the powers not herein expressly delegated should be withheld. But by whom? By the State, or by the people in their individual capacity. It must be by the people in some capacityeither individual or legislative. He would be proud to record his vote against any restriction upon the people of California, except where they chose to impose re. strictions upon themselves. In every respect, where restrictions are not made, they possess and have a right to exercise all the power. This is the doctrine of State rights. It is the pure doctrine of the right of a sovereign State to enjoy all power which she has not, by her own action, restricted. The will of the sove. reign is the law. The people of the Stale say they will not make certain laws. How do they say it? By this Constitution. Wherever they have not thus re. stricted their own power, they have a right to enact such laws as they please. He (Mr. Semple) was ever ready to maintain this doctrine on this floor or before his constituents.
Mr. GWIN remarked that all the amendment declares is, that the powers not delegated are reserved. If it went beyond that he would be unwilling to vote for it. This is merely to protect the people from the violation of their rights. The Constitution of the United States has no reference to the question under conside. ration. There is nothing in this clause but a great declaration—that all power not specially delegated to the legislature is reserved to the people. It has nothing to do with Congress--no reference either directly or indirectly to it. It is a de. claration embraced in every Constitution in the United States, and he (Mr. Gwin) would be unwilling to vote for a Constitution that did not contain it. Mr. SEMPLE asked what Constitution contained it ? Mr. GWIN said that he believed that it was in all.
Mr. HALLECK, in behalf of the Committee, (the chairman of which was absent) stated that the article from the Constitution of Iowa was selected on account of its brevity. It was to be found in four other Constitutions of the States, nearly in the same words. He thought it could not be improved, and hoped that it would be adopted.
Mr. HASTINGS said it occurred to him that there was no necessity for further discussion on this subject, inasmuch as there appeared to be no necessity for the article at all. Why declare that all rights not herein enumerated are reserved to the people ? Would it not be true without such a declaration? Does the mere assertion make it any more true ? Gentlemen seem to be afraid that if they omit one right the people will loose it altogether. He would not attempt to explain his conclusions, lest they might be misunderstood ; and would therefore vote for any amendment to leave the article out.
The question was then taken on Mr. Botts' amendment, and it was rejected.