previous next

[147] law. The government had not the right to declare the mode, and arbitrarily fix the limit of price which should be paid. The negro could be taken only as other property, even admitting that he could be taken for emancipation. The due process of law required that the citizen's property be appraised judicially. A court must proceed judicially in every case, summon a jury, appoint commissioners, and, under the supervision and sanction of the court, the valuation of the slave by them must proceed as it does in relation to any other property of the citizen that might be taken by the lawful exercise of the power of Congress or of the United States government. Thus it will be seen that by this usurpation of power the Constitution was violated, not only by taking private property for other purposes than for public use, but in the neglect to observe the due process of law which the Constitution required.

The next step in the usurpation of power for the destruction of the right of citizens to hold property in slaves was the passage by Congress of an act which declared that, after its passage—

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States now existing, or which may at any time hereafter be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes. . . .

The subject has been brought forward at every session of Congress for a number of years, and was uniformly resisted by the advocates of equality among the states. We claimed an equal right with the other states to the occupation and settlement of the territories which were the common property of the Union; any infringement of this right was not only a violation of the spirit of the Constitution, but destructive of that equality of the states so necessary for the maintenance of their Union. We further claimed our right under this express provision of the Constitution:

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States or of any particular States.1

The obstinate resistance of the consolidation school to our views was an evidence of their aggressive purposes, and justified still further our apprehensions of their intention to violate our constitutional rights.

Another step taken to accomplish the emancipation of our slaves was the passage by Congress of an act making an additional article of war for the government of the army of the United States. It was in these words:

1 Constitution of the United States, Article IV, section 3, clause 2.

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) (4)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: