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[129] party? And is it not palpable that after vacating their seats at Charleston, they went to Baltimore for the mere purpose of more effectually completing the work of destruction by drawing off another detachment? I, sir, entertain no doubt that the secession was the result most desired by the disunionists; that the object of the new issue then gotten up was merely to form a pretext for secession, and its adoption was the last thing they desired or designed.

Glance a moment at a few facts: Alabama, led by an open disunionist, went to Cincinnati, in 1856, under instructions to secede unless the equal rights of all States and Territories should be conceded and incorporated into the platform of the democratic party. The concession was made and they had no opportunity to secede.

They came to Charleston under the same leader, again instructed to secede unless the convention would put into the platform a new plank, the effect of which, if adopted, would be further to disgust and alienate the Northern democracy. In this instance the sine qua non was not complied with, and the disunionists floated off on the rejected plank into an unknown sea, unfortunately carrying with them a large number of good and true Union men.

And what is this principle, the non-recognition of which has riven asunder the democratic party, and apparently threatens the dissolution of the Union? It is, that it is the right and, duty of Congress to legislate for the protection of slave property in the Territories.

Now, I take it upon me to say that a more latitudinarian and dangerous claim of power in Congress never was advanced by federalists of the Hamilton school. Look at it in a constitutional and practical light. If Congress have the right to legislate for the protection of slave property in the territories, they have a right to legislate for the protection of all other property; and, if they have a right to legislate for the protection of property, they have a right to legislate for the protection of persons. The assumption that they can legislate for the protection of slave property leads, logically and inevitably, to the conclusion that they have power to legislate for the territories in all cases whatsoever. If you can put your linger on the grant of this power in the Constitution, please put it also on its limitations, if any can be found. Upon this principle, Congress may acquire an empire outside of the organized States, over which it may exercise unlimited power, governing it as the Roman Senate did their conquered provinces. And this under a constitution, which jealously restricts the exclusive power of legislation by Congress to a few spots of land purchased, with the consent of the States, for specified objects, and grants no power of general legislation over a territory whatsoever.

To verify these positions we need only advert to the Constitution. Among the grants of power to Congress is the following, viz.:

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of Government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings.

Mark the jealousy with which this power is restricted. For the protection of the Government even, it is limited to a territory not exceeding ten miles square, and it cannot be exercised over “the forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings,” situated within the States, unless the land on which they may be located shall be first purchased with “the consent of the legislatures” of those States. Is it conceivable that the wise men who restricted the exclusive power of legislation in Congress to a territory not exceeding ten miles square, did, by any indirection, grant that power broadly enough to cover the whole continent outside of the organized States should it be annexed by purchase or conquest?

The following provision is the only one in the Constitution which has been chiefly, if not exclusively relied upon to sustain the position that Congress has any power whatsoever to legislate over the territories, viz.:

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.

The word “territory,” used in this provision, obviously means land, and nothing else. The United States, at the time when the Constitution was adopted, owned an immense amount of land north of the Ohio River, and these lands Congress was authorized to “dispose of.” That the word “territory” means property, is conclusively shown by its connection with the words “and other property” --“territory and other property.” The territory spoken of, therefore, is property in lands.

“ Rules and regulations” are a grade of legislation somewhat below the dignity of laws; but admitting them in this case to have the same effect, on what are they to operate? Simply on the property of the United States, not on any other property, nor on persons, except so far as they may be connected with the public property. To this extent, and no further, is the power of Congress to legislate over a territory granted to Congress, and whenever all the lands and other property are disposed of, the “rules and regulations” become obsolete, and the power of legislation granted in this clause, is thenceforth in abeyance.

Moreover, this grant of power extends as well to property within a State as within a territory. In a State the general power of legislation is in the State Legislature; yet the power of Congress to make “rules and regulations” respecting the public property, is the same in a State as in a territory. The scope of


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