were aware that persons held to service under the laws of a State are property only to the extent and under the conditions fixed by those laws; and that they must cease to be available as property when their owners voluntarily place them permanently within another jurisdiction, where no municipal laws on the subject of Slavery exist?
Moreover, if the right exists, what are its limits, and what are its conditions?
If citizens of the United States have a right to take their slaves to a Territory, and hold them there as slaves, without regard to the laws of the Territory, I suppose this right is not to be restricted to the citizens of slaveholding States.
A citizen of a State which does not tolerate Slavery can hardly be denied the power of doing the same thing.
And what law of Slavery does either take with him to the Territory?
If it be said to be those laws respecting Slavery which existed in the particular State from which each slave last came, what an anomaly is this!
Where else can we find, under the laws of any civilized country, the power to introduce and permanently continue diverse systems of foreign municipal law, for holding persons in Slavery?
is an ultra conservative of the State-street (Boston) school--a life-long follower of Mr. Webster
, especially in his later and more lamentable days — and yet his opinion delivered in this case evinces considerably more freedom and boldness than that of Judge McLean
Though couched in judicial and respectful language, it constantly, and pretty clearly, intimates not merely that the judgment of the Court
is contrary both to law and to fact, but that its authors well know
such to be the case.
In reply to Chief Justice Taney
's disquisition as to the opinions and views of our Revolutionary statesmen, Mr. Curtis
To determine whether any free persons, descended from Africans held in Slavery, were citizens of the United States under the Confederation, and consequently at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, it is only necessary to know whether such persons were citizens of either of the States under the Confederation, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.
Of this, there can be no doubt.
At the time of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, all free, native-born inhabitants of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, though descended from African slaves, were not only citizens of those States, but such of them as had the other necessary qualifications possessed the franchise of electors, on equal terms with other citizens.
He proceeds to cite, in support of this averment, the judgment of the Supreme Court of North Carolina
in the case of the State
, wherein William Gaston
— by far the most eminent jurist of whom that State could ever boast — pronounced the opinion of the Court
in the following terms;
According to the laws of this State, all human beings within it, who are not slaves, fall within one of two classes.
Whatever distinctions may have existed in the Roman laws between citizens and free inhabitants, they are unknown to our institutions.
Before our Revolution, all free persons born within the dominions of the King of Great Britain, whatever their color or complexion, were native-born British subjects — those born out of his allegiance were aliens.
Slavery did not exist in England, but it did in the British Colonies.
Slaves were not, in legal parlance, persons, but property.
The moment the incapacity, the disqualification of Slavery was removed, they became persons, and were then either British subjects, or not British subjects, according as they were or were not born within the allegiance of the British king.
Upon the Revolution, no other change took place in the laws of North Carolina than was consequent on the transition from a colony dependent on a European king to a free and sovereign State.
Slaves remained slaves.
British subjects in North Carolina became North Carolina freemen.
Foreigners, until made members of the State, remained aliens.
Slaves, manumitted here, became freemen; and therefore, if born within North Carolina, are citizens of North Carolina; and all free persons born within the State are born citizens of the State.
The Constitution extended the elective franchise to every freeman who had arrived at the age of twenty-one, and paid a public tax; and it is a matter of universal notoriety, that, under it, free persons, without regard to color, claimed and exercised