the Federal Constitution
IV. § 2) provides that “The citizens” of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of “citizens in the several States.”
This is plainly condensed from the corresponding provision of the Articles
of Confederation, adopted in 1778, and thenceforth our bond of Union, until superseded in 1787-8 by the Federal Constitution
That provision is as follows:
Art. 4. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in the Union, the free inhabitants of each State--paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted — shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall have free ingress and egress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions, as the inhabitants thereof respectively.
When this Article was under consideration, the delegates from South Carolina
moved to amend by inserting the word “white
” between “free” and “inhabitants;” which was emphatically negatived — only two
States voting for it: so it was determined that States had, or might have, citizens who were not “white,” and that these should be entitled to all the privileges of citizens in every other State.
We have seen1
that Congress, in 1821, resisted the attempt of Missouri
to prohibit the immigration of free colored persons, deeming it a palpable violation of that requirement of the Federal Constitution
above quoted; and would not admit that State into the Union
until, by a second compromise, she was required to pledge herself that her
Legislature should pass no act “by which any of the citizens of either of the States should be excluded from the enjoyment of the privileges and immunities to which they are entitled under the Constitution of the United States
There was no question pending, no proscription or exclusion meditated, but that affecting colored persons only; and Congress, by the above action, clearly affirmed their right, when citizens of any State, to the privileges and immunities of citizens in all other States.
The assumption that negroes are not, and cannot be, citizens, is abundantly refuted by the action of several of the Slave States
Till within a recent period, free negroes were not merely citizens, but electors, of those States--which all citizens are not, or need not be. John Bell
, when first elected to Congress, in 1827, running out Felix Grundy
, received the votes of several colored electors, and used, long after, to confess his obligation to them.
free negroes, who possessed the requisite qualifications in other respects, to vote, regardless of their color, down to about 1830.
Their habit of voting for the Federal
or Whig candidates, and against the Democratic
, was a subject of frequent and jocular remark — the Whigs
insisting that the instincts of the negro impelled him uniformly to associate, so far as practicable, with the more gentlemanly portion of the white race.
In the year 1835,2
the Legislature of South Carolina saw fit to pass an act, whereby any and every colored person found on board of any vessel entering one of her ports as to be forthwith seized by her municipal officers, and lodged in jail; there to remain until the vessel should be cleared for departure, when said colored person or persons should be restored to said vessel, on payment of the cost and charges of arrest, detention, and subsistence.3
This act necessarily bore with great hardship on the colored seamen,
cooks, etc., of Northern vessels trading to Charleston
, therefore, at length resolved, through the action of her Legislature,4
to test its constitutionality by instituting legal proceedings, which should bring it ultimately to an adjudication by the Supreme Court of the United States
To this end, Gov. Briggs
appointed Hon. Samuel Hoar
--one of her most eminent and venerable citizens, who had served her with honor in many important trusts, including a seat in Congress — to proceed to Charleston
, and there institute the necessary proceedings, in order to bring the matter to judgment.
accepted this new duty, and left home accordingly in November, 1844, for Charleston
; reaching that city on the 28th of that month.
So utterly unsuspecting was he of giving offense, or provoking violence, that his young daughter accompanied him.
On the day of his arrival, Mr. Hoar
addressed a letter to the Governor
of South Carolina
announcing the fact, and stating the purpose of his mission to be, “the collecting and transmission of accurate information respecting the number and the names of citizens of Massachusetts
, who have heretofore been, or may be, during the period of the engagement of the agent, imprisoned without the allegation of any crime.”
He further stated that he was authorized to bring and prosecute one or more suits in behalf of any citizen so imprisoned, for the purpose of having the legality of such imprisonment tried and determined in the Supreme Court of the United States
The next morning, Mr. Hoar
called on Mr. Eggleston
, who had been appointed to the same agency before him, and requested of him an introduction to the Mayor
, his object being to procure access to the records of orders or sentences, under which citizens of Massachusetts
, it was understood, had been imprisoned.
acceded to his request, but said it would be best that he
should first see the
, and explain the matter in advance of the proposed introduction.
assented, and Eggleston
left Mr. H. waiting in his office, while he proceeded to confer with the Mayor
After a considerable absence, he returned, and stated that the Mayor
was at Columbia
, attending the session of the Legislature, and that the gentleman who temporarily discharged the duties of the officer judged it best that all further proceedings should await his return.
This was assented to, and Mr. Hoar
waited through the next three days accordingly.
Meantime, Gov. Hammond
had received Mr. Hoar
's letter, and communicated it to the Legislature, by which it was received in high dudgeon.
That Legislature proceeded to pass, by a substantially unanimous vote, the following resolutions:
Resolved, 1st, That the right to exclude from their territories seditious persons, or others whose presence may be dangerous to their peace, is essential to every independent State.
Resolved, 2d, That free and other persons of color are not citizens of the United States, within the meaning of the Constitution, which confers upon the citizens of one State the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States.
Resolved, 3d, That the emissary sent by the State of Massachusetts to the State of South Carolina, with the avowed purpose of interfering with her institutions, and disturbing her peace, is to be regarded in the character he has assumed, and to be treated accordingly.
Resolved, 4th, That his Excellency the Governor be requested to expel from our territory the said agent, after due notice to depart; and that the Legislature will sustain the Executive authority in any measure it may adopt for the purpose aforesaid.
The Legislature proceeded directly thereafter to pass an act forbidding and punishing such missions as that of Mr. Hoar
, whereof the more material provisions are as follows:
I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, now met and sitting in General Assembly and by authority of the same, That any person or persons who shall on his, her, or their own behalf, or under any color, or in virtue of any commission or authority from any State in this Union, or of any foreign power, come within the limits of this State for the purpose or with the intent to disturb, counteract, or hinder the operation of such laws as have been or shall be made by the public authorities of this State, in relation to slaves or free persons of color, such person or persons shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be committed for trial to the common jail of the district, by any one of the judges of the courts of law or equity, or the recorder of the city of Charleston, unless admitted to bail by the said judge or recorder; and, upon due conviction thereof by any court of competent jurisdiction, shall be sentenced to banishment from the State, and to such fine and imprisonment as may be deemed fitting by the court which shall have tried such offense.
That any person within this State who shall at any time accept any commission or authority from any State, or public authority of any State in this Union, or from any foreign power, in relation to slaves or free persons of color, and who shall commit any overt act with intent to disturb the peace or security of this State, or with intent to disturb, counteract, or hinder the operation of the laws or regulations of the public authorities of this State, made or to be made, in relation to slaves or free persons of color, such person shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, before any competent court, shall be sentenced to pay, for the first offense, a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and to be imprisoned not exceeding one year; for the second offense, lie shall be imprisoned for seven years, and pay a fine not less than one thousand dollars, or be banished from the State, as the court may see fit.
[The act furthermore requires that the Governor
for the time being shall require the aforesaid emissary or emissaries from another State, or from a foreign power, to depart from the limits of the State
in forty-eight hours-such person or persons, neglecting to depart within the specified time, to be committed (unless admitted to bail), and to be tried and punished as before
stated; and provides that the Sheriff
shall see that the sentence of banishment be executed, and imprison such offender if he returns, unless by unavoidable accident.]
On Monday, December 2d, Mr. Hoar
was, for the first time, apprised of the reception accorded at Columbia
to his mission, and of the commotion it had raised.
After discussing the matter freely with those around him, he walked out for some distance, and, returning at dark to his hotel, he encountered three persons standing on the piazza.
One of them stepped forward and asked, “Is your name Hoar
and, being answered in the affirmative, announced himself as follows: “I am the Sheriff
of Charleston District, and I have some business with you, Sir.”
He then introduced his associates as the acting mayor
and another alderman of the city.
invited them to walk up into the parlor of the house.
When seated, the sheriff inquired his business in Charleston
; and was answered that he had already communicated it to the Governor
; but he stated it afresh to the sheriff, who said: “It is suspected that you are an Abolitionist, and have come here to accomplish some of their measures.”
After some hesitation, Mr. Hoar
assured him that he was no Abolitionist, but had been, for many years, a member of the Colonization Society.
The sheriff intimating some suspicion that Mr. Hoar
was not duly accredited, the latter exhibited his commission from the Governor
, and gave permission to copy it, as also the resolves of the Legislature on which it was founded.
continued: “It is considered a great insult on South Carolina
to send an agent here on such business.
The city is highly incensed.
You are in great danger, and you had better leave the city as soon as possible.”
H. replied that he had been sent there by the Governor
on lawful business, and could not leave until he had at least attempted to perform the duty imposed on him. The sheriff then produced a letter purporting to be from the Attorney-General
of South Carolina
, urging the avoidance of a resort to lynching
, as that would disgrace the city, and adding that the person to prevent such a procedure was the sheriff.
That functionary declared that he should endeavor to defend Mr. H., even at the hazard of his own life, but doubted his ability to do it in view of the prevailing excitement, and urged him, as a friend, to leave at the earliest moment.
H. repeated his answer already given, and thereupon his visitors left him.
The next morning, the sheriff returned and repeated his representations and entreaties of the evening.
“What do you expect?”
he asked; “you can never get a verdict; and, if you should, the marshal would need all the troops of the United States
to enforce the judgment.”
remarked that enforcing the judgment was no part of his business, and they thereupon separated.
During the day, several gentlemen called, making representations substantially like the sheriff's, and setting forth the various plans suggested for ridding the city of his presence.
He could only reply that lie should not voluntarily leave until he had fulfilled the duty he had undertaken.
In the evening, a gentleman to whom Mr. Hoar
had a letter of introduction called, and said the sheriff had offered, in case he would leave, to agree on a case to be submitted to the U. S. Circuit Court, and thence carried to the Supreme Court for final decision.
To this, Mr. Hoar
readily assented, observing that such an agreement would very much expedite his departure.
He had prepared himself, in Boston
, with the names of a number of colored seamen who had been taken out of Massachusetts
vessels in Charleston
, and there imprisoned under the law in question, and he felt authorized by his commission to commence a suit in the name of either of two of them.
It was agreed that a meeting should be held at the sheriff's office next morning at nine o'clock, for the purpose of perfecting this arrangement.
At that hour, Mr.
H. duly appeared at the sheriff's office, but found there neither the sheriff nor any other of the gentlemen who were to meet him. Being informed by one of the clerks that the sheriff had just stepped out on business, and would probably soon return, he waited half or three-quarters of an hour to no purpose, and was about to leave, when the clerk said that, if he would name a future hour when he would be there, he would inform the sheriff, so that he might meet him. He named twelve o'clock, and, returning at that time, found the sheriff.
That personage now admitted that the gentleman who had conferred with Mr.
the evening previous had correctly represented his proposal; but said, that, on further reflection and consultation, he must retract the offer; as what he had proposed might thwart the purposes of the State
; that he had not been long in office, and did not know that there was any case which would properly present the question in controversy.
At all events, he could not abide by his agreement.
He added that he had information from Gov. Hammond
which removed all personal objection, but reiterated his former remarks about the insult by Massachusetts
to South Carolina
, and her determination to be rid of Mr. Hoar
by some means.
On leaving the sheriff's office, Mr. Hoar
was proceeding to make a call, when he was stopped by a middle-aged, decently-dressed man, who presented a cane or club, asking, “Is your name Hoar
“Yes,” was the answer.
He then said, “You had better be traveling, and the sooner, the better for you, I can tell you; if you stay here until to-morrow morning, you will feel something you will not like, I am thinking.”
walked on, passing a number of young men assembled on the street-corner, who offered him no molestation.
In the evening, a Dr. Whitredge
, to whom Mr. Hoar
had brought a letter from Boston
, called upon him and urged him to leave the city at the earliest moment.
W. had been around the city, had just come from the Council, and regarded the danger to Mr.
H. as not only great, but imminent.
But a word was needed to bring on the meditated attack.
Yet he thought Mr. Hoar
, should he start at once, might get safely out of the city.
He urged him to procure a carriage, and go to his (W.'s) plantation, about twenty miles distant, where he would
be hospitably treated.
thanked him, but concluded that he could not accept his offer, but must remain, and abide the consequences.
The following night passed without any disturbance.
The next day at noon, three leading citizens of Charleston
, two of them eminent lawyers, and the third a president of one of the city banks, called on Mr.
H. for the first time, and gave their names, saying they had come to see if they could not induce him to leave the city.
After the usual appeals on the one side and replies on the other had consumed half an hour, the bank president gave Mr. H. notice that a number of gentlemen would call on him at two o'clock and conduct him to the boat.
H. responded that he would be found there; that he did not propose to fight a whole city, and was too old to run, so that they could do with him as they thought proper.
He added that he had a daughter with him; on which the bank president observed, “It is that which creates [or created] our embarrassment.”
They left him about one o'clock.
H. and his daughter now prepared for their departure, and waited from two till three o'clock, but no one came.
He afterward learned that an accident had prevented the arrival of the boat at the usual hour.
The next day at noon, Dr. Whitredge
called and informed Mr. H. that the keeper of the hotel had requested the city government to take measures to remove Mr. H. from his house, in order to preserve it from the impending danger.
He had never intimated such a request to Mr. Hoar
, nor anything approaching it. But the fact that his host wished to get rid of him, and that he could find no other lodging without exposing whoever sheltered him to annoyance, if not peril, created a fresh embarrassment.
At this moment, a waiter informed Mr. Hoar
that some gentlemen wished to see him in the hall.
He descended, and found there the bank-president and his associates surrounded by a considerable bevy, with an assemblage about the door, on the piazza, and in the street, where a number of carriages were in waiting.
The president announced that they were there to conduct him to the boat.
now stated that there was a report in circulation that he had consented to leave the city, which was not true.
If he left, it would be not because he would
, but because he must
. The bank-president remarked that there was a misunderstanding; that he had understood that Mr. Hoar
had consented to leave for the sake of preserving [or restoring] the peace of the city; but that, if he refused, they had no power to order him away; all they could do was to warn him of the consequences of remaining.
H. repeated his language at the preceding interview, which the president did not deny to be accurate, but said that he had understood Mr. H. as consenting to leave.
Hereupon, several of the party united in urging his departure at once, saying it was impossible that he should remain, and that the purpose of his mission could not be effected.
Among these, were two to whom he had been specially commended.
Finding that he had but the choice between walking to the carriage and being dragged to it, Mr. Hoar
paid his bill at the hotel, called down his daughter from her room, and entered
with her the carriage pointed out to him, and one of the crowd ordered the coachman to drive on. He was thus taken to the boat, which was very soon bearing him on his homeward way. Mr. Hoar
, in closing the official report of his visit to and expulsion from South Carolina
, asked the following portentous questions:
Has the Constitution of the United States the least practical validity or binding force in South Carolina, except where she thinks its operation favorable to her?
She prohibits the trial of an action in the tribunals established under the Constitution for determining such cases, in which a citizen of Massachusetts complains that a citizen of South Carolina had done him an injury; saying that she has herself already tried that cause, and decided against the plaintiff.
She prohibits, not only by her mobs, but by her Legislature, the residence of a free white citizen of Massachusetts within the limits of South Carolina, whenever she thinks his presence there inconsistent with her policy.
Are the other States of the Union to be regarded as the conquered provinces of South Carolina?
Such was the mannerin which South Carolina
, with the hearty approval of her slaveholding sisters, received and repelled the attempt of Massachusetts
to determine and enforce the rights, while protecting the liberties, of her free citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States
proposed no appeal to her own courts, no reliance on her own views of constitutional right and duty, but an arbitration before, and a judgment by, the tribunals of the Union
, specially clothed by our Federal pact with jurisdiction over “all cases in law and equity arising under this Constitution.”
Here was the precise case meditated — a complaint by one State that the rights and liberties of her citizens were subverted by the legislation of a sister State; here was the tribunal created by the Constitution
for the trial of such issues South Carolina
repudiated its jurisdiction, as she had previously, with regard to the Tariff, repudiated the authority of Congress, or any other that should contravene her own sovereign will.
When we are told that the North
failed, some years later, to evince sufficient alacrity in slave-catching, let these facts be freshly remembered.