previous next
[211] that the fugitive slave might be restored to the planter.

Now, from these sentences it is really very hard to extract any meaning whatever, and we would be inclined to throw the blame upon the translator, and suppose that he had, through haste and inadvertence, done his author a grievous wrong, but for the number of similar passages that keep it in countenance in the course of the following pages.

To what “shameful compromises” does the Count of Paris refer? If to those by which slavery was excluded from or admitted into the territories of the Union according to a certain geographical line, whatever he may think of the propriety of such enactments, it is absurd, and self-contradictory from his point of view, to call them unconstitutional. Nothing can be clearer than that if Congress had a right to legislate slavery out of the territories, it had also a right to legislate it into them. If it had power over the subject at all, that power could only have been limited by its own discretion. Or is it the fugitive slave law itself that he considers a shameful compromise violative of the Constitution? If so, this is indeed an instance of being wounded in the house of one's friends. Whatever the sins of the North against the Constitution, she is perfectly clear of this, nor have we ever heard her charged with it before by her bitterest enemies. Has the Count of Paris ever read the Constitution of the United States? Is he aware of the provision contained in article 4, section 2, paragraph 3, of that instrument? Does he recollect the language held, not by Southern leaders, the favorite objects of his denunciation, but by the foremost jurists and statesmen of the North, by Story and Webster, indeed by all men of all parties, whatever their opinions upon the subject of slavery and the propriety of the provision in question, who have undertaken to discuss the point, with the single exception of himself? Is he acquainted with the “higher law” literature? Does he know by whom and upon what grounds the Constitution itself was denounced as “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell” ?

The provision referred to is as plain as language can make it; so plain that it could neither be denied nor explained away. The only resource left was to acknowledge the obligation imposed by it in words, but to evade and nullify it in act; and for this triumph of astute and conscientious statesmanship the leaders of the so-called Republican party were entitled to the meed of the author's discriminating and judicious praise. That he should have lost the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Paris (2)
Webster (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: