more to be attended to. I have no doubt, myself, that if the Territories
should undertake to control slave property as other property — that is, control it in such a way that it would be the most valuable as property, and make it bear its just proportion in the way of burdens as property-really deal with it as property — the Supreme Court of the United States
will say, “God speed you and amen.”
But I undertake to give the opinion, at least, that if the Territories
attempt by any direct legislation to drive the man with his slave out of the Territory
, or to decide that his slave is free because of his being taken in there, or to tax him to such an-extent that he cannot keep him there, the Supreme Court will unhesitatingly decide all such legislation unconstitutional, as long as that Supreme Court is constructed as the Dred Scott
Supreme Court is. The first two things they have already decided, except that there is a little quibble among lawyers between the words dicta
They have already decided a negro cannot be made free by territorial legislation.
What is that Dred Scott
labors to show that it is one thing, while I think it is altogether different.
It is a long opinion, but it is all embodied in this short statement: “The Constitution of the United States
forbids Congress to deprive a man of his property, without due process of law; the right of property in slaves is distinctly and expressly affirmed in that Constitution ; therefore if Congress shall undertake to say that a man's slave is no longer his slave, when he crosses a certain line into a Territory, that is depriving him of his property without due process of law, and is unconstitutional.”
There is the whole Dred Scott
They add that if Congress cannot do so itself, Congress cannot confer any power to do so, and hence any effort by the Territorial Legislature to do either of these things is absolutely decided against.
It is a foregone conclusion by that court.
Now, as to this indirect mode by “unfriendly legislation,” all lawyers here will readily understand that such a proposition cannot be tolerated for a moment, because a legislature cannot indirectly do that which it cannot accomplish directly.
Then I say any legislation to control this property, as property, for its benefit as property, would be hailed by this Dred Scott
Supreme Court, and fully sustained; but any legislation driving slave property out, or destroying it as property, directly or indirectly, will most assuredly, by that court, be held unconstitutional.
says if the Constitution
carries slavery into the Territories
, beyond the power of the people of the Territories
to control it as other property, then it follows logically that every one who swears to support the Constitution of the United States
, must give that support to that property which it needs.
And if the Constitution
carries slavery into the Territories
, beyond the power of the people to control it as other property, then it also carries it into the States, because the Constitution
is the supreme law of the land.
Now, gentlemen, if it were not for my excessive modesty I would say that I told that very thing to Judge Douglas
quite a year ago. This argument is here in print, and if it were not for my modesty, as I said, I might call your attention to it. If you read it, you will find that I not only made that argument, but made it better than he has made it since.
There is, however, this difference.
I say now, and said then, there is no sort of question that the Supreme Court has
decided that it is the right of the slaveholder to take his slave and hold him in the Territory
; and saying this, Judge Douglas
himself admits the conclusion.
He says if that is so, this consequence will follow ; and because this consequence would follow, his argument is, the decision cannot, therefore, be that way-“that would spoil my Popular Sovereignty, and it cannot be possible that this great principle has been squelched out in this extraordinary way. It might be, if it were not for the extraordinary consequences of spoiling my humbug.”
Another feature of the Judge
's argument about the Dred Scott
case is, an effort to show that that decision deals altogether in declarations of negatives ; that the Constitution
does not affirm any thing as expounded by the Dred Scott
decision, but it only declares a want of power — a total absence of power, in reference to the Territories
It seems to be his purpose to make the whole of that decision to result in a mere negative declaration of a want of power in Congress to do any thing in relation to this