the Free State of Illinois
, and there retained some two or three years. But this the Chief Justice
disposes of by declaring that his claim was not properly before the court; that the question raised by it was to be adjudged by the tribunals of Missouri
alone; and he concludes as follows:
Upon the whole, therefore, it is the judgment of this Court, that it appears by the record before us that the plaintiff in error is not a citizen of Missouri, in the sense in which that word is used in the Constitution; and that the Circuit Court of the United States, for that reason, had no jurisdiction in the case, and could give no judgment in it. Its judgment for the defendant must, consequently, be reversed, and a mandate issued, directing the suit to be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.
, of Georgia
, concurred “entirely in the opinion of the Court
, as written and read by the Chief Justice
, without any qualification of its reasoning or its conclusions.”
, of New York, concurred also in the conclusion of the Court
, and favored an astonished world with the following sample of judicial logic:
If Congress possesses power, under the Constitution, to abolish Slavery in a territory, it must necessarily possess the like power to establish it. It cannot be a one-sided power, as may suit the convenience or particular views of the advocates.
It is a power, if it exist at all, over the whole subject.
But the power against which Mr. Nelson
is contending is a power to prohibit
by legislation certain forms of injustice and immorality.
If, then, according to his reasoning, Congress should, by law, prohibit adultery, theft, burglary, and murder, in the territories of the Union
, it would thereby affirm and establish its right to reward and encourage those crimes.
Mr. Justice Grier
, of Pennsylvania
, emitted all the additional light he had power to shed on the subject in the following commendably brief, but not otherwise commendable, opinion:
I concur in the opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Nelson on the question discussed by him.
I also concur with the opinion of the Court, as delivered by the Chief Justice, that the act of Congress of 6th of March, 1820, is unconstitutional and void; and that, assuming the facts as stated in the opinion, the plaintiff cannot sue as a citizen of Missouri in the courts of the United States.
But, that the record shows a prima facie case of jurisdiction, requiring the Court to decide all the questions properly arising in it; and as the decision of the pleas in bar shows that the plaintiff is a slave, and therefore not entitled to sue in a court of the United States, the form of the judgment is of little importance; for, whether the judgment be affirmed or dismissed for want of jurisdiction, it is justified by the decision of the Court, and is the same in effect between the parties to the suit.
Mr. Justice Daniel
, of Virginia
, in announcing his opinion, seemed appalled by the magnitude of the issues involved in the question before the Court
The tremor and awe with which he had approached the subject may have blunted his judicial acumen, since his exhibitions of it were mainly confined to such assertions as these:
Now, the following are truths which a knowledge of the history of the world, and particularly of that of our own country, compels us to know — that the African negro race have never been acknowledged as belonging to the family of nations; that as amongst them there never has been known or recognized by the inhabitants of other countries anything partaking of the character of nationality, or civil or political polity; that this race has been, by all the nations of Europe, regarded as subjects of capture or purchase, as subjects of commerce or traffic; and that the introduction of that race into every section of this country was not as members of civil or political society, but as slaves — as property, in the strictest sense of the term.
He proceeded in this vein to deny