If slavery, limited as it yet is, now threatens to subvert the Constitution, how can we as wise and prudent statesmen, enlarge its boundaries and increase its influence, and thus increase already impending dangers?
There is not only no free state which would now establish it, but there is no slave state, which, if it had had the free alternative as we now have, would have founded slavery.
There is a higher law than the Constitution.
Sir, there is no Christian nation, thus free to choose as we are, which would establish slavery.
But you answer, that the Constitution recognizes property in slaves. It would be sufficient, then, to reply, that this constitutional recognition must be void, because it is repugnant to the law of nature and of nations.
It is true, indeed, that the national domain is ours. It is true it was acquired by the valor and with the wealth of the whole nation. But we hold, nevertheless, no arbitrary power over it.
The right to have a slave implies the right in some one to make the slave; that right must be equal and mutual, and this would resolve society into a state of perpetual war.
I submit, on the other hand, most respectfully, that the Constitution not merely does not affirm that principle, but, on the contrary, altogether excludes it.
But assuming the same premises, to wit, that all men are equal by the law of nature and of nations, the right of property in slaves falls to the ground; for one who is equal to another cannot be the owner or property of that other.
But the Constitution was made not only for southern and northern states, but for states neither northern nor southern, namely, the western states, their coming in being foreseen and provided for.
I deem it established, then, that the Constitution does not recognize property in man, but leaves that question, as between the states, to the law of nature and of nations.
I speak on due consideration because Britain, France, and Mexico, have abolished slavery, and all other European states are preparing to abolish it as speedily as they can.
But I deny that the Constitution recognizes property in man.
But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes.
Therefore, states are equal in natural rights.
For un-subscribe please check the mail footer.