Letter from Gov. Letcher--position of Maryland--further from the South, &c,
The Enquirer of yesterday publishes a letter from Gov. Letcher to Lewis D. Vail, Esq., of Philadelphia, upon Pennsylvania's nullification of the fugitive slave law. Gov. Letcher felly demonstrates that the unconstitutional and obnoxious laws of Pennsylvania are still in full effect and force, and that, not withstanding Mr. Vail is ‘"proud that he is a citizen of this good old State, the keystone of the arch, "’yet he is lamentably ignorant of the legislation of his own State.
After thoroughly discussing the legal points of the question, he says: ‘
And, finally, the Constitution of the United States, in the fourth article, and second section, declares: ‘"No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of and late or regulation therein, be discharged from such service of labor, its shall be delivered up, on claim of the party, to them such service or labor may be due."’
Under this provision of the Constitution, what is the duty of Pennsylvania and the order non-slaveholding States!
Is it not plainly and palpably their duty to aid in giving full effect to this requirement When a person, held to service or labor in Virginia, escapes into your State, and is there found, is it not incumbent on your citizens to see that he or she ‘"shall be delivered up, on claim of the party, to whom such service or labor may be due!"’ Ought not your Legislature to require your judges, justices of the peace, aldermen, and other officers, to aid, by all legitimate means, the claimant in recovering the possession of his slave property, that may be found in your State!
It cannot be said that your law of 1847, as it now stands upon your statute book, was intended to effect this object.
In reenacting this law, at your last session, it will not be claimed, I am sure, that the object was to secure a more efficient execution of the fugitive slave laws of 1793 and 1850, and a more faithful performance of the duty imposed upon your citizens by this article and section of the Federal Constitution.
If the Union is to be preserved, it is necessary that all causes of complaint, irritation and dissatisfaction, shall be speedily removed.
In the present condition of affairs, delay ends in destruction.
It the non-slaveholding States desire to save the Constitution from overthrow, and the Confederacy from dissolution, let them ‘"show their faith by their works."’--Let them repeat at once all statutes which are injurious to the rights and interests of their Southern fellow-citizens, and which are in say degree calculated to embarrass them in the recovery of fugitive slaves.
This cannot be done a moment too soon, and I urge you and all other conservative men in your section, to act without delay, and show to the South that you really desire the preservation of the Union.
You can do much to allay the excitement now existing, to restore concord and fraternal feeling, to revive lost confidence between the sections, and you owe it to yourselves, to your country, and to those who are to succeed you, to do your duty and your while duty, promptly and faithfully.
In the same kind and conservative spirit which dictated your letter, I have replied to it. The question discussed is one of great interest and importance at this time, and is attracting much of public attention.
In the earnest hope that the discussion may result in same practical good, I have concluded to publish your letter and my reply. ’
another letter from Gov. Letcher.