of the English law on this subject have received the sanction of the Supreme Court of the United States. The American citizen corresponds to the British subject. And you are doubtless aware that the latter term was employed in the Constitution of Massachusetts, as originally adopted in 1780, though the Convention of 1820 did not approve of the language of Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin. Who, then, is the subject under the British laws? Clearly, every one— high or low, peer or peasant—born within the allegiance to the British crown: the old phrase is infra ligeantiam. The accident of birth impresses upon the infant this indelible character. The Rebellion of 1845 presented a case which put this principle to the test. I refer to the case of Macdonald (Foster's Crown Law, 59), who was born in England, but when quite young went over to France, where he was educated and passed his riper years. He joined the French forces, was taken prisoner by the English, was tried and convicted of high treason, on the ground that he was a British subject and had violated his allegiance. But the duty of allegiance carries with it the correlative duty of protection on the part of the crown. This is feudal, at the same time that it finds its support in the principles of natural justice. Who, then, is the citizen of Massachusetts? Clearly, every one born within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, and owing allegiance to its Constitution and laws. Such a person, be he Caucasian or African, would be liable for treason if he should ‘levy war against the Commonwealth, or adhere to the enemies thereof, giving them aid and comfort.’ And shall it be said that this allegiance does not—as in the country from which we have derived the rules which govern it—carry with it the correlative right to protection? It is immaterial to this view of the case that the person of African race is regarded as of a despised caste, that he is not advanced to office, or that he does not find a seat among the jury. It would be immaterial, even if it were true, as it is not, that the negro was not legally entitled under our laws to the privileges of a white man. He becomes a citizen by birth within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth; for then the Commonwealth treats him as one owing allegiance. He is one of her children. He is not a resident, but a citizen. I do not know that his privileges or immunities in other States are enhanced by his enjoyment of political privileges in Massachusetts. It is sufficient that he is a citizen. Being a citizen, he carries with him, wherever he goes, the protection of his State and of the whole country, of which his State forms a part. If he goes to a foreign country, he bears with him, as an humble seaman, the letter of protection,—;which has never been refused within my knowledge on account of color from officers of the United States,—or he takes a passport from the government of his State or of the United States; and in a foreign country the Federal Government assumes the obligations of the Commonwealth. If he goes to another State of the Union, the Constitution of the United States protects him, by declaring that he shall be entitled
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 16 : events at home.—Letters of friends.— December , 1837 , to March , 1839 .—Age 26 - 28 .
Chapter 17 : London again.—characters of judges.—Oxford.—Cambridge— November and December , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 18 : Stratford-on-avon.—Warwick.—London.—Characters of judges and lawyers.—authors.—society.— January , 1839 , to March , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 19 : Paris again.— March to April , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 20 : Italy .— May to September , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 21 : Germany .— October , 1839 , to March , 1840 .—Age, 28 - 29 .
Chapter 22 : England again, and the voyage home.— March 17 to May 3 , 1840 . —Age 29 .
Chapter 23 : return to his profession.— 1840 - 41 .—Age, 29 - 30 .
Chapter 24 : Slavery and the law of nations.— 1842 .—Age, 31 .
Chapter 25 : service for Crawford .—The Somers Mutiny.—The nation's duty as to slavery.— 1843 .—Age, 32 .
Chapter 27 : services for education.—prison discipline.—Correspondence.— January to July , 1845 .—age, 34 .
Chapter 28 : the city Oration,— the true grandeur of nations. —an argument against war.— July 4 , 1845 .—Age 34 .
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