previous next

[142] captives of war, and shall be for ever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves.

section 10. That no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime or some offense against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person, to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due, is his lawful owner, and has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military and naval service of the United States shall, under any pretense whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service.

These above-mentioned proceedings violated all the principles of the law of nations, without a shadow of authority for it under the Constitution of the United States. The armies of the United States were literally authorized to invade the Confederate States, to seize all property as plunder, and to let the negroes go free. Our posterity, reading that history, will blush that such facts are on record. It was estimated on the floor of the House of Representatives that the aggregate amount of property within our limits subject to be acted upon by the provisions of this act would affect upward of six million people, and would deprive them of property of the value of nearly five thousand million dollars.

Said Garrett Davis of Kentucky:

Was there ever, in any country that God's sun ever beamed upon, a legislative measure involving such an amount of property and such numbers of propertyholders?

But this is only one feature of the confiscation act which was applied to persons who were within the Confederate States, in such a position that the ordinary process of the United States courts could not be served upon them. They could be reached only by the armies. There was another feature equally flagrant and criminal. It was extended to all that class of persons giving aid and comfort who could be found within the United States, or in such position that the ordinary process of law could be served on them. It was derived from Article III, section 3, of the Constitution, which says:

The Congress shall have the power to declare the punshment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.

The mode of procedure against persons under this power was determined by other clauses of the Constitution. Article III, section 2, declared that—

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.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (7)
Kentucky (Kentucky, United States) (1)

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.
Garrett Davis (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: