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Europe. He did so, in the language of Milton, "the liberties of Greece to yoke." You may do so for the analogous purpose of subjugating and reducing the sovereignties of States, your taste or convenience may suggest, and fashioning them to your imperial will. There are those in this House who appear to think, and I doubt not sincerely, that the particular restraint now under consideration is wise, and benevolent, and good; wise as respects the Union-good as respects Missouri-benevolent as respects the unhappy victims whom with a novel kindness it would incarcerate in the south, and bless by decay and extirpation. Let all such beware, lest in their desire for the effect which they believe the restriction will produce, they are too easily satisfied that they have the right to impose it. The moral beauty of the present purpose, or even its political recommendations, (whatever they may be,) can do nothing for a power like this, which claims to prescribe conditions "ad libitum," and to be competent to this purpose, because it is competent to all. This restriction, if it be not smothered in its birth, will be but a small part of the progeny of that prolific power. It teems with a mighty brood, of which this may be entitled to the distinction of comeliness as well as of primogeniture. The rest may want the boasted loveliness of their predecessor, and be even uglier than "Lapland witches."

Perhaps, sir, you will permit me to remind you, that it is almost always in company with those considerations that interest the heart in some way or other, that encroachment steals into the world. A bad purpose throws no veil over the licenses of power. It leaves them to be seen as they are. It affords them no protection from the inquiring eye of jealousy. The danger is when a tremendous discretion like the present is attempted to be assumed, as on this occasion, in the names of pity, of religion, of national honor and national prosperity; when encroachment tricks itself out in the robes of piety, or humanity, or addresses itself to pride of country, with all its kindred passions and motives. It is then that the guardians of the constitution are apt to slumber on their watch, or, if awake, to mistake for lawful rule some pernicious arrogation of power.

memorial, and speech, with which the press has lately groaned, is a foul blot upon our otherwise immaculate reputation. Let this be conceded as-yet you are no nearer than before to the conclusion that you possess power which may deal with other subjects as effectually as with this. Slavery, we are further told, with some pomp of metaphor, is a canker at the root of all that is excellent in this republican empire, a pestilent disease that is snatching the youthful bloom from its cheek, prostrating its honor and withering its strength. Be it so-yet if you have power to medicine to it in the way proposed, and in virtue of the diploma which you claim, you have also power in the distribution of your political alexipharmics to present the deadliest drugs to every territory that would become a State, and bid it drink or remain a colony forever. Slavery, we are also told, is now "rolling onward with a rapid tide towards the boundless regions of the west," threatening to doom them to sterility and sorrow, unless some potent voice can say to it-thus far shalt thou go, and no farther. Slavery engenders pride and indolence in him who commands, and inflicts intellectual and moral degradation on him who serves. Slavery, in fine, is unchristian and abominable. Sir, I shall not stop to deny that slavery is all this and more; but I shall not think myself the less authorized to deny that it is for you to stay the course of this dark torrent, by opposing to it a mound raised up by the labors of this portentous discretion on the domain of others a mound which you cannot erect but through the instrumentality of a trespass of no ordinary kind-not the comparatively innocent trespass that beats down a few blades of grass which the first kind sun or the next refreshing shower may cause to spring again-but that which levels with the ground the lordliest trees of the forest, and claims immortality for the destruction which it inflicts.

I would not discourage authorized legislation upon those kindly, generous, and noble feelings which Providence has given to us for the best of purposes: but when power to act is under discussion, I will not look to the end in view, lest I should become indifferent to the lawfulness of the means. Let us discard from this high constitutional question, all those extrinsic considerations which have been forced into its discussion. Let us endeavor to approach it with a philosophic impartiality of temperwith a sincere desire to ascertain the boundaries of our authority, and a determination to keep our wishes in subjection to our allegiance to the constitution. Slavery, we are told in many a pamphlet,

I shall not, I am sure, be told that I exaggerate this power. It has been admitted here and elsewhere that I do not. But I want no such concession. It is manifest that as a discretionary power it is every thing or nothingthat its head is in the clouds, or that it is a mere figment of enthusiastic speculation-that it has no existence, or that it is an alarming vortex ready to swallow up all such portions of the sovereignty of an infant State as you may think fit to cast into it as preparatory to the introduction into the union of the miserable residue. No man can contradict me when I say, that if you have this power, you may squeeze down a new-born sovereign State to the size of a pigmy, and then taking it between finger and thumb, stick it into some nitch of the Union, and still continue by way of mockery to call it a State in the sense of the constitution. You may waste it to a shadow, and then introduce it into the society of flesh and blood an object of scor and derision. You may sweat and reduce it to a thing of skin and bone, and then place the ominous skeleton beside the

ruddy and healthful members of the Union, |perience is a cheat, and fact a liar." The power that it may have leisure to mourn the lament- which England claimed over the colonies was able difference between itself and its com- such a power, and it was abused-and hence panions, to brood over its disastrous promotion, the Revolution. Such a power is always periland to seek in justifiable discontent an oppor-ous to those who wield it, as well as to those tunity for separation, and insurrection, and re- on whom it is exerted. Oppression is but bellion. What may you not do by dexterity another name for irresponsible power, if history and perseverance with this terrific power? is to be trusted. You may give to a new State, in the form of terms which it cannot refuse, (as I shall show you hereafter,) a statute book of a thousand volumes-providing not for ordinary cases only, but even for possibilities; you may lay the yoke, no matter whether light or heavy, upon the necks of the latest posterity; you may send this searching power into every hamlet for centuries to come, by laws enacted in the spirit of prophecy, and regulating all those dear relations of domestic concern which belong to local legislation, and which even local legislation touches with a delicate and sparing hand. This is the first inroad. But will it be the last? This provision is but a pioneer for others of a more desolating aspect. It is that fatal bridge of which Milton speaks, and when once firmly built, what shall hinder you to pass it when you please for the purpose of plundering power after power at the expense of new States, as you will still continue to call them, and raising up prospective codes irrevocable and immortal, which shall leave to those States the empty shadows of domestic sovereignty, and convert them into petty pageants, in themselves contemptible, but rendered infinitely more so by the contrast of their humble faculties with the proud and admitted pretensions of those who having doomed them to the inferiority of vassals, have condescended to take them into their society and under their protection?

I shall be told, perhaps, that you can have no temptation to do all or any part of this, and, moreover, that you can do nothing of yourselves, or, in other words, without the concurrence of the new State. The last of these suggestions I shall examine by and by. To the first I answer, that it is not incumbent upon me to prove that this discretion will be abused. It is enough for me to prove the vastness of the power as an inducement to make us pause upon it, and to inquire with attention whether there is any apartment in the constitution large enough to give it entertainment. It is more than enough for me to show that vast as is this power, it is with reference to mere territories an irresponsible power. Power is irresponsible when it acts upon those who are defenceless against it-who cannot check it, or contribute to check it, in its exercise-who can resist it only by force. The territory of Missouri has no check upon its power. It has no share in the government of the Union. In this body it has no representative. In the other House it has, by courtesy, an agent, who may remonstrate, but cannot vote. That such an irresponsible power is not likely to be abused, who will undertake to assert? If it is not, "ex-]

The free spirit of our constitution and of our people, is no assurance against the propension of unbridled power to abuse, when it acts upon colonial dependants rather than upon ourselves. Free States, as well as despots, have oppressed those whom they were bound to foster and it is the nature of man that it should be so. The love of power, and the desire to display it when it can be done with impunity, is inherent in the human heart. Turn it out at the door, and it will in again at the window. Power is displayed in its fullest measure, and with a captivating dignity, by restraints and conditions. The "pruritas leges ferendi" is an universal disease; and conditions are laws as far as they go. The vanity of human wisdom, and the presumption of human reason, are proverbial. This vanity and this presumption are often neither reasonable nor wise. Humanity, too, sometimes plays fantastic tricks with power. Time, moreover, is fruitful in temptations to convert discretionary power to all sorts of purposes.

Time, that withers the strength of man and "strews around him like autumnal leaves the rnins of his proudest monuments," produces great vicissitudes in modes of thinking and feeling. It brings along with it, in its progress, new circumstancess-new combinations and modifications of the old-generating new views, motives, and caprices-new fanaticisms of endless variety-in short, new every thing. We ourselves are always changing-and what today we have but a small desire to attempt, tomorrow becomes the object of our passionate aspirations.

There is such a thing as enthusiasm, moral, religious, or political, or a compound of all three;-and it is wonderful what it will attempt, and from what imperceptible beginnings it sometimes rises into a mighty agent. Rising from some obscure or unknown source, it first shows itself a petty rivulet, which scarcely murmurs over the pebbles that obstruct its way-then it swells into a fierce torrent bearing all before it-and then again, like some mountain stream, which occasional rains have precipitated upon the valley, it sinks once more into a rivulet, and finally leaves its channel dry. Such a thing has happened. I do not say that it is now happening. It would not become me to say so. But if it should occur, woe to the unlucky territory that should be struggling to make its way into the Union at the moment when the opposing inundation was at its height, and at the same instant this wide Mediterranean of discretionary powers, which it seems is ours, should open up all its sluices, and with a con

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sentaneous rush, mingle with the turbid waters | and agents for the accomplishment of its obof the others! jects. Vary that compact as to a new Stategive new energy to that political power so as to make it act with more force upon a new State than upon the old-make the will of those agents more effectually the arbiter of the fate of a new State than of the old, and it may be confidently said that the new State has not entered into this Union, but into another Union. How far the Union has been varied is another question. But that it has been varied is clear. If I am told that by the bill relative to Missouri, you do not legislate upon a new StateI answer that you do; and I answer further that it is immaterial whether you do or not. But it is upon Missouri, as a State, that your terms and conditions are to act. Until Missouri is a State, the terms and conditions are nothing. You legislate in the shape of terms and conditions, prospectively-and you so legislate upon it that when it comes into the Union it is to be bound by a contract degrading and diminishing its sovereignty, and is to be stripped of rights which the original parties to the Union did not consent to abandon, and which that Union (so far as depends upon it) takes under its protection and guarantee.

What is that Union? A confederation of States equal in sovereignty-capable of every thing which the constitution does not forbid, or authorize Congress to forbid. It is an equal Union, between parties equally sovereign. They were sovereign, independently of the Union. The object of the Union was common protection for the exercise of already existing sovereignty. The parties gave up a portion of that sovereignty to insure the remainder. As far as they gave it up by the common compact they have ceased to be sovereign. The Union provides the means of defending the residue: and it is into that Union that a new State is to come. By acceding to it, the new State is placed on the same footing with the original States. It accedes for the same purpose, i. e. protection for their unsurrendered sovereignty. If it comes in shorn of its beams-crippled and disparaged beyond the original States, it is not into the original Union that it comes. For it is a different sort of Union. The first was Union "inter pares: "This is a Union between "disparates between giants and a dwarf-between power and feebleness-between full proportioned sovereignties and a miserable_image of power-a thing which that very Union has shrunk and shrivelled from its just size, instead of preserving it in its true dimensions.

Is the right to hold slaves a right which Massachusetts enjoys? If it is, Massachusetts is under this Union in a different character from Missouri. The compact of Union for it, is different from the same compact of Union for Missouri. The power of Congress is different-every thing which depends upon the Union is, in that respect, different.

But it is immaterial whether you legislate for Missouri as a State or not. The effect of your legislation is to bring it into the Union with a portion of its sovereignty taken away.

But it is a State which you are to admit. What is a State in the sense of the constitution? It is not a State in the general-but a State as you find it in the constitution. A State, generally, is a body politic or independent political society of men. But the State which you are to admit must be more or less than this political entity. What must it be? Ask the constitution. It shows what it means by a State by reference to the parties to it. It must be such a State as Massachusetts, Virginia, and the other members of the American confederacy-a State with full sovereignty except as the constitution restricts it.

It is into "this Union," i. e. the Union of the Federal Constitution, that you are to admit, or refuse admit. You can admit into no other. You cannot make the Union, as to the new State, what it is not as to the old; for then it is not this Union that you open for the entrance of a new party. If you make it enter into a new and additional compact, is it any longer the same Union?

It is said that the word, "may," necessarily implies the right of prescribing the terms of admission. Those who maintain this are aware that there are no express words (such as 66 upon such terms and conditions as Congress shall We are told that admitting a State into the think fit") words which it was natural to expect Union is a compact. Yes-but what sort of a to find in the constitution, if the effect concompact? A compact that it shall be a mem-tended for were meant. They put it, therefore, ber of the Union, as the constitution has made on the word "may," and on that alone. it. You cannot new fashion it. You may Give to that word all the force you pleasemake a compact to admit, but when admitted what does it import? That Congress is not the original compact prevails. The Union is a bound to admit a new State into this Union. compact, with a provision of political power | Be it so for argument's sake. Does it follow

"New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union." It is objected that the word "may" imports power, not obligation a right to decide a discretion to grant or refuse.

To this it might be answered that power is duty on many occasions. But let it be conceded that it is discretionary. What consequence follows? A power to refuse, in a case like this, does not necessarily involve a power to exact terms. You must look to the result which is the declared object of the power. Whether you will arrive at it, or not, may depend on your will; but you cannot compromise with the result intended and professed.

What then is the professed result? To admit a State into this Union.

that when you consent to admit into this Union | bear-without any other extinction of power a new State you can make it less in sovereign than is the work of the constitution acting inpower than the original parties to that Union differently upon all. -that you can make the Union as to it what it is not as to them-that you can fashion it to your liking by compelling it to purchase admission into a Union by sacrificing a portion of that power which it is the sole purpose of the Union to maintain in all the plenitude which the Union itself does not impair? Does it follow that you can force upon it an additional compact not found in the compact of Unionthat you can make it come into the Union less a State, in regard to sovereign power, than its fellows in that Union-that you can cripple its legislative competency, (beyond the constitution which is the pact of Union, to which you make it a party as if it had been originally a party to it,) by what you choose to call a condition, but which, whatever it may be called, brings the new government into the Union under new obligations to it, and with disparaged power to be protected by it?

In a word, the whole amount of the argument on the other side, is-that you may refuse to admit a new State, and that therefore if you admit, you may prescribe the terms.

I may be told perhaps that the restriction, in this case, is the act of Missouri itself; that your law is nothing without its consent, and derives its efficacy from that alone.

I shall have a more suitable occasion to speak on this topic hereafter, when I come to consider the treaty which ceded Louisiana to the United States. But I will say a few words upon it now of a more general application than it will in that branch of the argument be necessary to use.

A territory cannot surrender to Congress by anticipation, the whole, or part, of the sovereign power, which, by the constitution of the Union, will belong to it when it becomes a State and a member of the Union. Its consent is, therefore, nothing. It is in no situation to make this surrender. It is under the government of Congress; if it can barter away a part of its sovereignty, by anticipation, it can do so as to the whole. For where will you stop? If it does not cease to be a State, in the sense of the constitution, with only a certain portion of sovereign power, what other smaller portion will have that effect? If you depart from the standard of the constitution, i. e. the quantity of domestic sovereignty left in the first contracting States, and secured by the original compact of Union, where will you get another standard? Consent is no standard,for consent may be gained to a surrender of all.

No State or Territory, in order to become a State, can alienate or surrender any portion of its sovereignty to the Union, or to a sister State, or to a foreign nation. It is under an incapacity to disqualify itself for all the purposes of government left to it in the constitution, by stripping itself of attributes which arise from the natural equality of States, and which the constitution recognizes, not only because it does not deny them, but presumes them to remain as they exist by the law of nature and nations. Inequality in the sovereignty of States is unnatural, and repugnant to all the principles of that law. Hence we find it laid down by the text-writers on public law, that "Nature has established a perfect equality of rights between independent nations"

I have thus endeavored to show, that even if you have a discretion to refuse to admit--and that "whatever the quality of a free sovyou have no discretion, if you are willing to admit, to insist upon any terms that impair the sovereignty of the admitted State as it would otherwise stand in the Union by the constitution which receives it into its bosom. To admit or not, is for you to decide. Admission once conceded, it follows as a corollary that you must take the new State as an equal companion with its fellows-that you cannot recast or new model the Union pro hac vice-but that you must receive it into the actual Union, and recognize it as a parcener in the common inheritance, without any other shackles than

ereign nation gives to one, it gives to another."* The constitution of the United States proceeds upon the truth of this doctrine. It takes the States as it finds them, free and sovereign alike by nature. It receives from them portions of their power for the general good, and provides for the exercise of it by organized political bodies. It diminishes the individual sovereignty of each, and transfers, what it subtracts, to the government which it creates: it takes from all alike, and leaves them relatively to each other equal in sovereign power.

rest have, by the constitution, submitted to

* Vattel, Droit des Gens, liv. 2, c. 8, s. 86.

The answer to that argument is that even if you can refuse, you can prescribe no terms which are inconsistent with the act you are to do. You can prescribe no conditions which, if carried into effect, would make the new State less a sovereign State than, under the Union as it stands, it would be. You can prescribe no terms which will make the compact of Union between it and the original States essentially different from that compact among the original States. You may admit, or refuse to admit but if you admit, you must admit a State in the sense of the constitution-a State with all such sovereignty as belongs to the original parties: and it must be into this Union that you are to admit it, not into a Union of your own dictating, formed out of the existing Union by qualifications and new compacts, altering its character and effect, and making it fall short of its protecting energy in reference to the new State, whilst it acquires an energy of another sort the energy of restraint and destruction.

The honorable gentleman from New York has put the constitutional argument altogether upon the clause relative to admission of new States into the Union. He does not pretend that you can find the power to restrain, in any extent, elsewhere. It follows that it is not a particular power to impose this restriction, but a power to impose restrictions ad libitum. It is competent to this, because it is competent to every thing. But he denies that there can be any power in man to hold in slavery his fellowcreature, and argues, therefore, that the prohibition is no restraint at all, since it does not interfere with the sovereign powers of Missouri.


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One of the most signal errors with which the argument on the other side has abounded, is this of considering the proposed restriction as if levelled at the introduction or establishment of slavery. And hence the vehement declamation, which, among other things, has informed us that slavery originated in fraud or violence.

(the advocates of this restriction who desire change by unconstitutional means, or its opponents who desire to leave the whole matter to local regulation,) are the only questions worthy of attention.

Sir, if we too closely look to the rise and progress of long sanctioned establishments and unquestioned rights, we may discover other subjects than that of slavery, with which fraud and violence may claim a fearful connection, and over which it may be our interest to throw the mantle of oblivion. What was the settlement of our ancestors in this country but an invasion of the rights of the barbarians who inhabited it? That settlement, with slight exceptions, was effected by the slaughter of those who did no more than defend their native land against the intruders of Europe, or by unequal compacts and purchases, in which feebleness and ignorance had to deal with power and cunning. The savages who once built their huts where this proud Capitol, rising from its recent ashes, exemplifies the soveThe truth is, that the restriction has no rela- reignty of the American people, were swept tion, real or pretended, to the right of making away by the injustice of our fathers, and their slaves of those who are free, or of introducing domain usurped by force, or obtained by artislavery where it does not already exist. It fices yet more criminal. Our continent was applies to those who are admitted to be already full of those aboriginal inhabitants. Where slaves, and who (with their posterity) would | are they or their descendants? Either "with continue to be slaves if they should remain | years beyond the flood," or driven back by the where they are at present; and to a place swelling tide of our population from the borwhere slavery already exists by the local law. ders of the Atlantic to the deserts of the West. Their civil condition will not be altered by You follow still the miserable remnants, and their removal from Virginia, or Carolina, to make contracts with them that seal their ruin. Missouri. They will not be more slaves than You purchase their lands, of which they know they now are. Their abode, indeed, will be not the value, in order that you may sell them different, but their bondage the same. Their to advantage, increase your treasure, and ennumbers may possibly be augmented by the large your empire. Yet further-you pursue diffusion, and I think they will. But this can as they retire; and they must continue to only happen because their hardships will be retire until the Pacific shall stay their retreat, mitigated, and their comforts increased. The and compel them to pass away as a dream. checks to population, which exist in the older Will you recur to those scenes of various States, will be diminished. The restriction, iniquity for any other purpose than to regret therefore, does not prevent the establishment and lament them? Will you pry into them of slavery, either with reference to persons or with a view to shake and impair your rights of place; but simply inhibits the removal from property and dominion? place to place (the law in each being the same) of a slave, or make his emancipation the consequence of that removal. It acts professedly merely on slavery as it exists, and thus acting restrains its present lawful effects. That slavery, like many other human institutions, originated in fraud or violence, may be conceded: but, however it originated, it is established among us, and no man seeks a further establishment of it by new importations of freemen to be converted into slaves. On the contrary, all are anxious to mitigate its evils, by all the means within the reach of the appropriate authority, the domestic legislatures of the different States.

But the broad denial of the sovereign right of Missouri, if it shall become a sovereign State, to recognize slavery by its laws, is rested upon a variety of grounds, all of which I will examine.

It can be nothing to the purpose of this argument, therefore, as the gentlemen themselves have shaped it, to inquire what was the origin of slavery. What is it now, and who are they the endeavor to innovate upon what it now is,




It is an extraordinary fact, that they who urge this denial with such ardent zeal, stop short of it in their conduct. There are now slaves in Missouri whom they do not insist upon delivering from their chains. Yet if it is incompetent to sovereign power to continue slavery in Missouri, in respect of slaves who may yet be carried thither; show me the power that can continue it in respect of slaves who are there already. Missouri is out of the old limits of the Union, and beyond those limits, it is said, we can give no countenance to slavery, if we can countenance or tolerate it any where. It is plain, that there can be no slaves beyond the Mississippi at this

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