The Charleston Sequestration case.
of Wednesday, gives the proceedings of Tuesday in the Confederate Court
, in the case as to the privilege of Advocates against the process issued under the Sequestration Act
opened his argument by stating that the demurrer would be sustained by him upon two grounds.
That the proceeding is irregular and unconstitutional.
He took the ground that no man has a right to purge the conscience of another, unless in some suit in which he is called as a witness, or in some proceeding in which as a party he is bound to answer; or in answer to the call of the sovereign by the oath of allegiance or the oath of office.
The oath of office, the oath of allegiance, the obligation of testifying to the truth in a court of justice between parties litigant, are acknowledged.
We were never famous for our opposition to authority.
No person was more ready to render to Cæsar all that Cæsar has the least decency of pretence to demand.
But the obedience to this writ, which requires a general discovery of alien enemies and all the information in the power of the party summoned for the purpose of discovering what property of alien enemies may be come at, I deny to answer and refuse.
And the reason of this refusal is simple, although it seems to surprise some; but, as St. Paul
says, I was born free, and will not forfeit that freedom which I inherit from my free mother.
I will not submit to be commanded where there is no right to command
, after speaking of the irregularities of the writ, and the dangerous usurpations of public right, and of the lawful immunities of a free citizen, said there had been formerly much debate as to the relations of the State
and the Federal Union.
Some held that the authority of each came from the people, that there was a divided sovereignty, and each in its sphere supreme.
But now there could be no pretence of this.
The Confederate States
were limited by a grant jealously phrased.
The old Constitution set forth that it was the work of the people.
The present recites that the deputies of sovereign States had framed it. There was a grant of authority to execute all powers necessary to a General Government in the former chart.
In the present, it read to execute all power expressly
Now, could it be said that the war power included sequestration?
This was untrue, Mr. Petigru
argued, from the language of treaties and the legislative construction given by acts of the revolutionary Congress.
This latter was authority, unless it were claimed that we were wiser than those historical men. The very nature of language forbade the idea of sequestration being a term applicable to captures on land and sea. Debt was an idea.
He had heard the learned counsel for the Confederate States
say that debts could be captured.
That was only poetical license.
Government would scarcely claim to administer law by a metaphor.
Was that strict construction to say that inasmuch as one thing could be done, therefore something like it might also be done?
read from the first volume of South Carolina
Was all this (his quotation,) false?
Had Dr. Cooper
lived in vain, spoken in vain, thought in vain, written in vain?
The Confederacy was but an agent.
The State was sovereign.
All through South Carolina
, from the Santee
to the Pee Dee
, there was but one sovereign.
Sovereigns could do wrong.
It was of the essence of sovereignty to do wrong, otherwise law would be above that power.--Such things as this writ had been tried before.
The Star Chamber
subpœna, the general warrant, but these have all found resistance.
, in the course of his argument, illustrated his positions by reference to the course of English history, the lives of Chief Justice Pratt
, John Wilkes
, and Lord Camden.
The District Attorney
had referred to the authority of Lord Hale. Lord Hale's book was prepared from an uncorrected posthumous work.
, however, the text was pure.
Lord Hale it was who held the famous assizes and burnt three old women.
For this he had no more authority than that debts were confiscable.
He had scripture for his belief in witchcraft.
It was not true that aliens had no rights.
They had the rights of humanity.
War no longer was the savage contest it had been.
The influence of Christianity was spreading, and human governments were approaching the principles of Him "whose power was in righteousness."
illustrated these views in the presentation of his points with a matchless wealth of language and force of logic.
In conclusion, he said he had been compelled to speak in defence of right.
He did it when life had lost much of its energy — since the fire of youth is exhausted — and he would that younger advocates had stood up with youthful energy and more prevailing eloquence.
Such as he had done, however, he had done.
What we have given above is but a meagre abstract of Mr. Petigru
's eloquent argument, which we hope to be able to lay before our readers in full in a later issue of the Courier.
Isaac W. Hayne
, replied on behalf of the Government
, followed by Mr. Mitchell
These arguments we also shall take pleasure in laying before our readers in another issue.