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“ [48] the right of property in man.” 1 It has been argued that this provision does not contemplate the rendition of fugitives from Slavery, but rather of runaway apprentices, persons who, having entered into contracts for their own labor, have repudiated their engagements, and other such Jonahs. The records and reminiscences of the Convention, however, utterly refute and dissipate these vain and idle pretenses. It is sheer absurdity to contend that South Carolina in the Convention was absorbingly intent on engrafting upon the Federal Constitution a provision for the recapture of runaway apprentices, or any thing of the sort. What she meant was, to extort from the apprehensions of a majority, anxious for a more perfect Union, a concession of authority to hunt fugitive slaves in any part of our broad national area, and legally to drag them thence back into perpetual bondage. If the Convention did not mean to grant exactly that, it trifled with a very grave subject, and stooped to an unworthy deception. How much better to meet the issue broadly and manfully, saying frankly to the slaveholders: “This provision is contrary to equity and good conscience; hence we can not obey it. To seize our fellow-man and thrust him into an abhorred bondage may in your eyes be innocent, in ours it would be crime. If, then, you are aggrieved in any case, by our refusal or neglect to return your fugitives, make out your bill for their fair market value and call upon us for its payment. If we refuse it, you will then have a real grievance to allege — this, namely: that we have deprived you of what the Constitution recognizes as your property, and have failed to make recompense therefor. But you surely can not blame us, that, having been enlightened as to the immoral nature of acts consented to, or stipulated for, by our fathers, we are unable longer to commit them. Take our property, if you think yourselves entitled to it; but allow us to be faithful to our convictions of duty and the promptings of humanity.” 2

General Charles C. Pinckney, in laying the Federal Constitution before the Convention of South Carolina, which assembled January 15, 1788, to pass upon it, made a speech,

1 In the debate of Tuesday, July 29, 1788, in the North Carolina ratification convention, which was organized at Hillsborough, July 21, 1788:

Mr. Iredell begged leave to explain the reason of this clause (last clause, Section 2, Article IV.). In some of the Northern States, they have emancipated all their slaves. If any of our slaves, said he, go there and remain there a certain time, they would, by the present laws, be entitled to their freedom, so that their masters could not get them again. This would be extremely prejudicial to the inhabitants of the Southern States; and to prevent it, this clause is inserted in the Constitution. Though the word slave is not mentioned, this is the meaning of it. The Northern delegates, owing to their peculiar scruples on the subject of Slavery, did not choose the word slave to be mentioned. --Elliot's Debates, vol. IV., p. 176.

2 Governor Seward, in his speech of March 11, 1850, on Freedom in the Territories, forcibly set forth the true and manly Northern ground on this subject, as follows:

The law of nations disavows such compacts; the law of nature, written on the hearts and consciences of freemen, repudiates them. I know that there are laws, of various sorts, which regulate the conduct of men. There are constitutions and statutes, codes mercantile and codes civil; but when we are legislating for States, especially when we are founding States, all these laws must be brought to the standard of the law of God, must be tried by that standard, and must stand or fall by it. To conclude on this point: We are not slaveholders. We can not, in our judgment, be either true Christians or real freemen, if we impose on another a chain that we defy all human power to fasten on ourselves. --Seward's Works, vol. i., p. 66.

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