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‘ [473] member of the State shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any of his rights or privileges, unless the matter shall be adjudged against him upon trial had according to the course of the Common Law. * * The words “ due process of law,” in this place, cannot mean less than a prosecution or suit instituted and conducted according to the prescribed forms and solemnities for ascertaining guilt, or determining the title to property.’ He thus argues conclusively that, under these guarantees and prohibitions, no person can be held as a slave.

‘Constitutional slavery,’ Mr. Sumner said, ‘has always been an outlaw wherever that provision of the Constitution was applicable. Nothing against slavery can be unconstitutional: it is hesitation that is unconstitutional. And yet, slavery still exists, in defiance of all these requirements,’ and he demands that it shall be forever abolished, by the supreme authority of the Republic. That authority, he claims, does exist in Congress, which is clothed with the supreme power of legislation; and if this shall be called in question, we have that grand recourse still left,—appealing to the authority which made the Constitution. Therefore he argues for that Amendment which was ultimately to follow the law as enacted by Congress, after the hard struggle Liberty had to go through, to achieve its final victory.

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Charles Sumner (2)
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