Imatges de pÓgina

sident therein, shall, in any port or place whatsoever, build, or in any respect fit, equip, man, load, or otherwise prepare, or cause to be prepared, or in any respect fitted, equipped, manned, or otherwise prepared, or be in any respect concerned in equipping, manning, or preparing, any ship or vessel, for the purpose of being employed in the slave trade, or in the transportation of slaves from any foreign port or place to any other foreign port or place whatsoever, for the purpose aforesaid, every such citizen, or other person so offending, shall, on conviction, be punished by fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding seven years; and such ship or vessel, her tackle, apparel, furniture, provisions, and cargo, on board thereof, shall be forfeited. And any citizen, or other

person, resident as aforesaid, who shall voluntarily serve on board of such ship or vessel, or shall sail on board thereof, knowing the same to be intended to be employed in the slave trade, or in the transportation of slaves as aforesaid, shall, on conviction, be liable to be punished by fine not exceeding three thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding five years.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to affect, or in any wise repeal, any acts hitherto passed for the prohibition or suppression of the slave trade; but the same acts, and every clause thereof, shall remain in full force, in the same manner as this act had not been made.

Note. --This bill was never acted upon by the House.

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FEBRUARY 16, 1825.

Report of the committee consisting of Mr. Govan, Mr. Herrick, Mr.

Test, Mr. Wayne, Mr. Spaight, Mr. Eaton, and Mr. Herkimer, to whom was referred so much of the President's Message of the 7th of

December last, as relates to the suppression of the Slave Trade. The Committee on the Suppression of the Slave Trade, to whom was refer

red so much of the President's message of the 7th December last, as relates to that subject, have, according to order, had the same under consideration, and respectfully report:

That, pursuant to the almost unanimous request of the House of Representatives, expressed by their resolution of the 28th February, 1823, the President of the United States concluded a convention with Great Britain, on the 13th of March, in the following year, by which the African slave trade was denounced to be piracy under the laws of both countries; the United States having so declared it by their antecedent act of the 15th May, 1820, and it being understood between the contracting parties, as a preliminary to the ratification of the convention by the United States, that Great Britain should, by an act of Parliament, concur in a similar declaration.

With great promptitude, and in accordance with this agreement, such an act was passed, 'declaring the African slave trade to be piracy, and annexing to it the penalty denounced against this crime by the common law of nations. A copy of this act was transmitted by the British Gorernment to the Execu

tive of the United States, and the convention submitted by the President to the Senate, for their advice and consent.

The convention was approved by the Senate, with certain qualifications, to all of which, except one, Great Britain, sub modo, acceded; her Govern ment having instructed its minister in Washington to tender to the acceptance of the United States a treaty agreeing, in every particular, except one, with the terms approved by the Senate. This exception the message of the President to the House of Representatives presumes “not to be of suffi. cient magnitude to defeat an object so near to the heart of both nations” as the abolition of the African slave trade, “and so desirable to the friends of humanity throughout the world.” But the President further adds, “that, as objections to the principle recommended by the House of Representatives, or, at least, to the consequences inseparable from it, and which are understood to apply to the law, have been raised, which may deserve a reconsideration of the whole subject, he has thought proper to suspend the conclusion of a new convention, until the definitive sentiments of Congress can be ascertained.”

Your committee are therefore required to review the grounds of the law of 1820 and the resolution of 1823, to which the rejected, or, as they rather hope, the suspended convention, referred. The former was the joint act of both branches of Congress, approved by the President; the latter, although adopted with extraordinary unanimity, was the single act of the House of Representatives.

Upon the principle or intention of the act of Congress of 1820, making the slave trade punishable as piracy, the history of the act may reflect some light.

A bill from the Senate, entitled “ An act to continue in force the act to protect the commerce of the United States, and punish the crime of piracy, and, also, to make further provision to punish the crime of piracy," came to the House of Representatives on the 27th of April, 1820, and was, on the same day, referred to a committee of the whole, to which had been referred a bill of similar purport and title, that had originated in the House of Representatives.

Upon the 8th of May following, the Committee on the Suppression of the Slave Trade reported an amendment of two additional sections to the Senate's bill; also, a bill to incorporate the American Society for colonizing the free people of color of the United States, and three joint resolutions, two of which related to the objects of that society; but the first of which, in behalf of both Houses of Congress, requested the President "to consult and negotiate with all the governments where ministers of the United States are or shall be accredited, on the means of effecting an entire and immediate abolition of the African slave trade." The amendatory sections denounced the guilt and penalty of piracy against any citizen of the United States, of the crew or company of any foreign vessel, and any person whatever of the crew or company of any American vessel, who should be engaged in this traffic. *

The amendments, bill, and resolutions, along with the explanatory report, which accompanied them, were referred to the committee of the whole abovementioned; and, on the 11th of the same month, the House proceeded to consider them. After a discussion in the committee, the piracy bill and

* See preceding part of this appendix for these amendments, bill, and resolutions.

its amendments, having been adopted, were reported, and both were concur. red in by the House The following day, the bill, as amended, being then on its passage, a motion was debated,

and negatived, to recommit the bill to a select committee, with an instruction to strike out the last section of the amendment. The bill then passed, and was ordered to be returned, as amended, to the Senate.

On the same day, a motion prevailed to discharge the Committee of the Whole from the further consideration of the bill, and the resolutions which accompanied the report; and the particular resolution already recited being under consideration, to try the sense of the House on its merits, it was moved to lay it on the table. The yeas and nays having been ordered on this motion, it was rejected by a majority of 78 to 35 members. It having been again proposed to postpone the resolution till the ensuing or second session of the same Congress, and this proposal being also determined in the negative, the resolution was engrossed, read the third time, passed, and ordered to be transmitted to the Senate on the same day with the piracy bill.

The amendments of this bill underwent like scrutiny and debate in the Senate, and were finally concurred in, the day after they were received from the House of Representatives, without any division apparent on the journal of that House.

The resolution, which had been received by the Senate at a different hour of the same day, was read a second time on the 15th of May, was further taken up, and considered as in Committee of the Whole, reported to the House without amendment, and ordered, after debate, to pass to a third reading; but this being the last day of the session of Congress, and a single member objecting " that it was against one of the rules of the Senate to read it the third time on the same day without unanimous consent," it remained on the table of that body, on its final adjournment, after an ineffectual effort to suspend one of their rules, against which many of the friends of the resolution felt them. selves compelled, by their invariable usage, to vote in union with its enemies.

One of the objections to the resolution, in the Senate, was founded upon the peculiar relation of that branch of the National Legislature to the Executive, in the ratification of treaties; which seemed, in the opinion of those who urged this argument, to interdict their concurrence in a request of the President to institute any negotiations whatever.

A cotemporary exposition of the object of the amendments of the piracy Lill, and the resolution which the House of Representatives adopted by so large a majority, will be found in the report, which accompanied them, from the Committee on the Suppression of the Slave Trade. * Those objects, it will be seen, were in perfect accordance with each other. They were designed to introduce, by treaty, into the code of international law, a principle, deemed by the committee essential to the abolition of the African slave trade, that it should be denounced and treated as piracy by the civilized world.

The resolution being joint, and having failed in the Senate, for the reason already stated, the subject of it was revived in the House of Representatives, at a very carly period of the succeeding session of Congress, by a call for information from the Executive; which, being received, was referred to a committee of the same title with the last. Their report, after reviewing all the antecedent measures of the United States for the suppression of the slave

*See Report made 8th May, 1820.

trade, urgently recommended the co-operation of the American and British navies against this traffic, under the guarded provisions of a common treaty, authorizing the practice of a qualified and reciprocal right of search.

This report closed with a resolution, requesting the President of the United States to enter into such arrangements as he may deem suitable and proper with one or more of the maritime powers of Europe, for the effectual abolition of the African slave trade."*

The United States had, by the treaty of Ghent, entered into a formal stipulation with Great Britain, “that both the contracting parties shall use their best endeavors to accomplish the entire abolition of this traffic.”

The failure of the only joint attempt which had been made by England and America at the date of this report, to give effect to this provision, being ascribed, in part, to a jealousy of the views of the former, corroborated by the language and conduct of one of the principal maritime powers of Europe, in relation to the same topic, the committee referred to the decision of Sir William Scott, in the case of the French ship Le Louis, to demonstrate that Great Britain claimed no right of search, în peace, but such as the consent of other nations should accord to her by treaty; and sought it by a fair exchange, in this tranquil mode, only for the beneficent purpose of an enlarged humanity.

Certain facts, disclosed by the diplomatic correspondence of France and England, during the pendency of that case, in the British Court of Admiralty, were calculated to guard the sympathies of America from being misguided by the language of the former power.

The painful truth was elicited, that France had evaded the execution of her promise at Vienna to Europe and mankind. That she had, long after the date of that promise, tolerated, if she had not cherished, several branches of a traffic, which she had concurred in denouncing to be the opprobrium of Christendom, and which she had subsequently bound herself, by the higher obligations of a solemn treaty, to abolish, as inconsistent with the laws of God and nature.

Succeeding events in the councils of the French nation have not impaired the force of this testimony. What authority can be accorded to the moral influence of a government which insults the humanity of a generous and gallant people, by pleading, in'apology for the breach of its plighted faith, that its subjects required the indulgence of this guilty traffic!

The Emperor Napoleon, who re-established this commerce on the ruins of the French Republic, also abolished it again when he sought to conciliate the people of France, during that transient reign which immediately preceded his final overthow.

Congress adjourned without acting on this report.

By an instruction to the Committee on the Suppression of the Slave Trade, of the 15th of Jauuary, 1822, the same subject was a third time brought directly before the House of Representatives. The instruction called the attention of the committee to the present condition of the African slave trade; to the defects of any of the existing laws for its suppression, and to their appropriate remedies. In the report made in obedience to this instruction, on the 12th of April, 1822, the committee state, that, after having consulted all the evidence within their reach, they are brought to the mournful conclusion, that the traffic prevailed to a greater extent than ever, and with increased malignity; that its total suppression, or even sensible diminution, cannot be expected from the separate and disunited efforts of one or more States, so long as a single flag remains to cover it from detection and punishment. They renew, therefore, as the only practicable and efficient remedy, the concurrence of the United States with the maritime powers of Europe, in a modified and reciprocal exercise of the right of search.

*See Report made February 9th, 1821.

In closing their report, the commitiee add, in effect, that they cannot doubt that the people of America have the intelligence to distinguish between the right of searching a neutral on the high seas, in time of war, claimed by some belligerents, and that mutual, restricted, and peaceful concession, by treaty, suggested by your committee, and which is demanded in the name of suffering humanity.” The commitee had before intimated that the remedy which they recommended to the House of Representatives presupposed the exercise of the authority of another department of the government; and that objections to the exercise of this authority, in the mode which they had presumed to suggest, had hitherto existed in that department. Their report closed with a resolution differing in no other respect from at of the preceding session, than that it did not require the concurrence of the Senate, for the reason already suggested**

The report and resolution were referred to a Committee of the Whole, and never farther considered.

After a delay till the 20th of the succeeding February, a resolution was submitted to the House, which was evidently a part of the system of measures for the suppression of the slave trade which had been begun by the act of the 3d of March, 1819, and followed up by the connected series of reports and resolutions which the committee have reviewed, and which breathe the same spirit.

This resolution, in proposing to make the slave trade piracy by the con. sent of mankind, sought to supplant, by a measure of greater rigor, the qualitied international exchange of the right of search for the apprehension of the African slave dealer, and the British system of mixed tribunals created for his trial and punishment~a system of which experience and the recent extension of the traffic, what it sought to limit, had disclosed the entire ineffi. eacy.

I'he United States had already established the true denomination and grade of this offence, by a municipal law. The resolution contemplated, as did the report which accompanied and expounded that law, the extension of its principle, by negotiation, to the code of all nations.

It denounced the authors of this stupendous iniquity as the enemies of the human race, and armed all men with authority to detect, pursue, arrest, and punish them.

Such a measure, to succeed to its fullest extent, must have a beginning somewhere. Commencing with the consent of any two States to regard it as binding on themselves only, it would, by the gradual accession of others, enlarge the sphere of its operation, until it embraced, as the resolution contemplated, all the maritime powers of the civilized world.

While it involved of necessity the visit and search of piratical vessels, as belligerent rights against the common enemies of man, it avoided all complexity, difficulty, and delay, in the seizure, condemnation, and punishment of the pirate himself. It made no distinction in favor of those pirates who

* See report made April 121b, 1822.

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