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[179] 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 themselves. 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.

North Carolina allowed her 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 1835,1 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.2

This act necessarily bore with great hardship on the colored seamen,

1 December 19th.

2 The following is a portion of the act in question:

II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall not be lawful for any free negro, or person of color, to come into this State, on board any vessel, as a cook, steward, or mariner, or in any other employment on board such vessel; and, in case any vessel shall arrive in any port or harbor of this State, from any other State or foreign port, having on board any free negro or person of color, employed on board such vessel as a cook, steward, or mariner, or in any other employment, it shall be the duty of the sheriff of the district in which such port or harbor is situated, immediately on the arrival of such vessel, to apprehend such free negro or person of color, so arriving contrary to this Act, and to confine him or her closely in jail, until such vessel shall be hauled off from the wharf, and ready to proceed to sea. And that, when said vessel is ready to sail, the captain of the said vessel shall be bound to carry away such free negro or person of color, and to pay the expenses of his or her detention. And in every such case it shall be the duty of the sheriff aforesaid, immediately on the apprehension of any free negro or person of color, to cause said captain to enter into a recognizance, with good and sufficient security, in the sum of one thousand dollars, for such free negro or slave so brought into this State, that he will comply with the requisitions of this act; and that, on his neglect, or refusal, or disability to do the same, he shall be compelled by the sheriff aforesaid to haul said vessel into the stream, one hundred yards distant from the shore, and remain until said vessel shall proceed to sea. And if said vessel shall not be hauled off from the shore as aforesaid on the order of the sheriff aforesaid, the captain or commanding officer of said vessel shall be indicted therefor, and, on conviction, forfeit and pay one thousand dollars, and suffer imprisonment not exceeding six months.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That whenever any free negro or person of color shall be apprehended or committed to jail, as having arrived in any vessel in the capacity of cook, steward, mariner, or otherwise, contrary to this Act, it shall be the duty of the sheriff, during the confinement in jail of such free negro or person of color, to call upon some justice of the peace or quorum, to warn such free negro or person of color never to enter the said State after lie shall have departed therefrom, and such justice of the peace, or quorum, shall, at the time of warning such free negro, or person of color, insert his or her name in a book, to be provided for that purpose by the sheriff, and shall therein specify his or her age, occupation, hight, and distinguishing marks; which book shall be good and sufficient evidence to such warning; and said book shall be a public record, and be subject and open to the examination of all persons who may make application to the clerk of the court of general sessions, in whose office it shall be deposited. And such justice shall receive the sum of two dollars, payable by the captain of the vessel in which said free negro or person of color shall be introduced into this State, for the services rendered in making said entry. And every free negro, or person of color, who shall not depart the State, in case of the captain refusing or neglecting to carry him or her away, or, having departed, shall again enter into the limits of this State, by land or by water, after having been warned as aforesaid, shall be dealt with as the first section of this Act directs in regard to persons of color, who shall migrate, or be brought, into this State.

It may be as well to add that the penalty of the first section referred to, is corporal punishment for the first offense: “and if, after said sentence or punishment, such free negro or person of color shall still remain in the State longer than the time allowed, or, having left the State, shall thereafter return to the same, upon proof and conviction thereof before a court, to be constituted as hereinbefore directed, he or she shall be appropriated and applied, one half thereof to the use of the State, and the other half to the use of the informer.”

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