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[40] want of a quorum. Had Delaware been then represented, she might, and might not, have voted in the affirmative; but it is not probable that Georgia, had she been present, would have cast an affirmative vote. Humanly speaking, we may say that the accident — a most deplorable and fatal accident — of the absence of a member from New Jersey, prevented the adoption, at that time, of a proposition which would have confined Slavery in our country within the limits of the then existing States, and precluded all reasonable probability of subsequent contentions, collisions, and bloody strife touching its extension.

The Jeffersonian Ordinance, thus shorn of its strength — the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet omitted — after undergoing some further amendments, was finally adopted, four days later: all the delegates but those from South Carolina voting in its favor.

In 1787, the last Continental Congress, sitting in New York, simultaneously with the Convention at Philadelphia which framed our present Constitution, took further action on the subject of the government of the western territory, raising a Select Committee thereon, of which Nathan Dane, of Massachusetts, was Chairman. That committtee reported, July 11, “An Ordinance for the government of the Territories of the United States northwest of the Ohio,” excluding, by its silence, the territories south of that river, which were expressly brought within the purview and operation of Mr. Jefferson's Ordinance — those territories not having, as yet, been ceded by the States claiming them respectively as their peculiar possessions. Mr. Dane's ordinance embodies many provisions originally drafted and reported by Mr. Jefferson in 1784, but with some modifications. The act concludes with six unalterable Articles of Perpetual Compact between the embryo States respectively and the Union: the last of them in these words:

There shall be neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the parties shall be duly convicted.

To this was added, prior to its passage, the stipulation for the rendition of fugitives from labor or service, which either had just been, or was just about to be, embodied in the Federal Constitution, then being framed; and in this shape the entire Ordinance was adopted, July 13, by the unanimous vote of the States then represented in Congress, including Georgia and the Carolinas; no effort having been made to strike out the inhibition of Slavery. Mr. Robert Yates, of New York, voted alone in the negative on the passage of the Ordinance, but was overborne by the vote of his two colleagues, then present.1

1 As the American people of our day evidently presume themselves much wiser than their grandfathers, especially in the science of government, the more essential portion of this celebrated Ordinance of 1787 is hereto appended, as affording a standard of comparison with the latest improvements in the art of Constitution-making. It reads:

And for extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these Republics, their laws and constitutions, are erected; to fix and establish these principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions, and governments, which forever hereafter shall be formed in the said Territory; to provide, also, for the establishment of States and permanent government therein, and for their admission to a share in the Federal councils on an equal footing with the original States at as early periods as may be consistent with the general interest:

It is hereby ordained and declared, by the authority aforesaid, that the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said Territory, and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit:

article 1. No person demeaning himself in a peaceable, orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship, or religious sentiments, in the Territory.

Art. 2. The inhabitants of the said Territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the right of habeas corpus, and to the trial by jury; of a proportionate representation of the people in the Legislature, and of judicial proceedings according to the course of the common law. All persons shall be bailable, unless for capital offenses, where the proof shall be evident or the presumption great. All fines shall be moderate, and no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted. No man shall be deprived of his liberty, or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land; and, should the public exigencies make it necessary for the common preservation to take any person's property, or to demand his particular services, full compensation shall be made for the same. And in the just preservation of rights and property, it is understood and declared, that no law ought ever to be made, or have force, in the said Territory, that shall, in any manner whatever, interfere with, or affect, private contracts or engagements, bona fide, and without fraud, previously formed.

Art. 3. General morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them, without their consent; and in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars, authorized by Congress; and laws, founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.

Art. 4. The said Territory, and the States which may be formed therein, shall forever remain a part of this confederacy of the United States of America, subject to the Articles of Confederation, and to such alterations therein as shall be constitutionally made, and to all acts and ordinances of the United States, in Congress assembled, conformable thereto. The inhabitants and settlers in the said Territory shall be subject to pay a part of the Federal debts, apportioned on them by Congress, according to the same common rule and measure by which apportionments shall be made on the other States; and the taxes for paying their proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the district, or districts, or new States, as in the original States, within the time agreed upon by the United States, in Congress assembled. The Legislatures of those districts, or States, shall never interfere with the primary disposal of the soil by the United States in Congress assembled, nor with any regulations Congress may find necessary for securing the title in such soil to the bona fide purchasers. No taxes shall be imposed on the lands and property of the United States; and in no case shall nonresident proprietors be taxed higher than residents. The navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and Saint Lawrence, and the conveying-places between the same, shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said Territory as to the citizens of the United States, and those of any other State that may be admitted into the Confederacy, without any tax, impost, or duty, therefor.

Art. 5. There shall be formed in the said Territory no less than three, nor more than five States; and the boundaries of the States, as soon as Virginia shall alter her act of cession and consent to the same, shall be fixed and established as follows, to wit: The western State in the said Territory shall be bounded by the Mississippi, the Ohio, and Wabash rivers; a direct line drawn from the Wabash and Post Vincent's due north to the territorial line between the United States and Canada; and by the said territorial line to the Lake of the Woods and Mississippi. The middle State shall be bounded by the said direct line, the Wabash, from Post Vincent's to the Ohio; by the Ohio; by a direct line, drawn due north, from the mouth of the Great Miami to the said territorial line; and by the said national line. The eastern State shall be bounded by the last mentioned direct line, the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the said territorial line. Provided, however, and it is further understood and declared, that the boundaries of these three States shall be subject so far to be altered, that, if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States in that part of the said Territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extremity of Lake Michigan. And whenever any of the said States shall have 60,000 free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and State government; provided the constitution and government so to be formed shall be republican, and in conformity to tile principles contained in these articles. And so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than 60,000.

Art. 6. There shall be neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; provided always, that any person escaping into the same from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor, or service, as aforesaid.

On passing the above Ordinance, the Yeas and Nays being required by Mr. Yates, they were taken, with the following result:

Massachusetts Mr. Holton ay, Ay.
  Mr. Dane ay,
New York Mr. Smith ay, Ay.
  Mr. Haring ay,
  Mr. Yates no,
New Jersey Mr. Clarke ay, Ay.
  Mr. Sherman ay,
Delaware Mr. Kearney ay, Ay.
  Mr. Mitchell ay,
Virginia Mr. Grayson ay, Ay.
  Mr. R. H. Lee ay,
  Mr. Carrington ay,
North Carolina Mr. Blount ay, Ay.
  Mr. Hawkins ay,
South Carolina Mr. Kean ay, Ay.
  Mr. Huger ay,
Georgia Mr. Few ay, Ay.
  Mr. Pierce ay,
Journal of Congress, vol. IV., 1787.

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