Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

prey upon the property, against those who seize, torture, and kill, or consign to interminable and hereditary slavery the persons of their enemies.

Your committee are at a loss for the foundation of any such discrimination. It is believed that the most ancient piracies consisted in converting innocent captives into slaves; and those were not attended with the destruction of one third of their victims by loathsome confinement and mortal disease.

While the modern, therefore, accords with the ancient denomination of this crime, its punishment is not disproportionate to its guilt. It has robhery and murder for its mere accessaries, and moistens one continent with blood and tears, in order to ourse another by slow consuming ruin, physical and moral.

One high consolation attends upon the new remedy for this frightful and prolific evil. If once successful, it will forever remain so, until, being unexerted, its very application will be found in history alone.

Can it be doubted, that, if ever legitimate commerce shall supplant the source of this evil in Africa, and a reliance on other supplies of labor its use, elsewhere, a revival of the slave trade will be as impracticable as a reversion to barbarism?—that, after the lapse of a century from its extinction, except where the consequences of the crime shall survive, the stories of the African slave trade will become as improbable among the unlearned as the expeditions of the heroes of Homer?

The principle of the law of 1820, making the slave trade a statutory piracy, and of the resolution of the House of Representatives of May, 1823, which sought to render this denunciation of that offence universal, cannot, therefore, be misunderstood.

It was not misconceived by the House of Representatives when ratified with almost unprecedented unanimity.

An unfounded suggestion has been heard, that the abortive attempt to amend the resolution indicated that it was not considered as involving the right of search. The opposite conclusion is the more rational, if not, indeed, irresistible—that, having, by the denomination of the crime, provided for the detection, trial, and punishment of the criminal, an amendment, designing to add what was already included in the main proposition, would be superfluous, if not absurd. But no such amendment was rejected. The House of Representatives, very near the constitutional close of the session of 1823, desirous of economising time, threatened to be consumed by a protracted debate, entertained the previous question while an amendment, the only one offered to the resolution, was depending. The effect of the previous question was to bring on an immediate decision upon the resolution itself, which was adopted by a vote of 131 members to 9.

It is alike untrue that the resolution was regarded with indifference. The House had been prepared to pass it without debate, by a series of measures, having their origin in 1819, and steadily advancing to maturity.

Before the resolution did pass, motions had been submitted, to lay it on the table, and to postpone it to a future day. The former was resisted by an ascertained majority of 104 to 25; the latter without a division.

Is the House now ready to retrace its steps? The committee believe not. Neither the people of America, nor their representatives, will sully the glory they have earned by their early labor, and steady perseverence, in sustaining, by their Federal and State governments, the case of humanity at home and abroad.

The calamity inflicted upon them by the introduetion of slavery, in a form and to an extent forbidding its hasty alleviation by intemperate zeal, is imputable to a foreign cause, for which the past is responsible to the present age. They will not deny to themselves, and to mankind, a generous co-operation in the only efficient measure of retributive justice, to an insulted and afflicted continent, and to an injured and degraded race.

In the independence of Spanish and Portuguese America, the committee behold a speedy termination of the few remaining obstacles to the extension of the policy of the resolution of May, 1823.

Brazil cannot intend to resist the voice of the residue of the continent of America; and Portugal, deprived of her great market for slaves, will no longer have a motive to resist the common feelings of Europe. And yet, while, from the Rio de la Plata to the Amazon, and through the American Archipelago, the importation of slaves covertly continues, if it be not openly countenanced, the impolicy is obvious, of denying to the American shore the protective vigilance of the only adequate check upon this traffic.

Your committee forbear to enter upon an investigation of the particular provisions of a depending negotiation, nor do they consider the message referred to them as inviting any such inquiry.

They will not regard a negotiation to be dissolved, which has approached so near consummation, nor a convention as absolutely void, which has been executed by one party, and which the United States, having first tendered, should be the last to reject.

EIGHTEENTH CONGRESS-SECOND SESSION.

FEBRUARY 28, 1825.

Mr. Mercer laid the following resolution on the table:

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to enter upon, and prosecute from time to time, such negotiations with the several maritime powers of Europe and America as he may deem expedient, for the effectual abolition of the slave trade, and its ultimate denunciation as piracy under the law of nations, by the consent of the civilized world.

The above resolution was not acted upon during the session.

MARCH 3, 1825.

Mr. Forsyth laid the following resolution on the table:

Resolved, That, while this House anxiously desires that the slave trade should be universally denounced as piracy, and, as such, should be detected and punished under the law of nations, it considers that it would be highly inexpedient to enter into engagements with any foreign power by which all the merchant vessels of the United States would be exposed to the inconvenience of any regulation of search, from which any merchant vessels of that foreign power would be exempted.

The above resolution was not acted upon.

[blocks in formation]

Mr. Tucker, of Virginia, laid the following resolution on the table:

Resolved, That the Secretary of War be required to ascertain the probable expense of extinguishing the Indian title to a portion of the country lying West of the Rocky Mountains, that may be suitable for colonizing the free people of color; the best known routes across the said mountains, and the probable cost of a road and military posts necessary to a safe communication with such colony; and to report the same to this House at the next session of Congress.

On the 3d March, 1825, Mr. Tucker moved the House to consider this resolution. The motion failed,

NINETEENTH CONGRESS-FIRST SESSION.

FEBRUARY 18, 1825. The following resolution was submitted to the Senate of the United States, by Mr. Rufus King, of New York:

Resolved, That, as soon as the portion of the existing funded debt of the United States, for the payment of which the public land of the United States is pledged, shall have been paid off, then, and thenceforth, the whole of the public land of the United States, with the nett proceeds of all future sales thereof, shall constitute or form a fund, which is hereby appropriated; and the faith of the United States is pledged that the said fund shall be inviolably applied to aid the emancipation of such slaves, within any of the United States, and aid the removal of such slaves, and the removal of such free people of color in any of the said States, as, by the laws of the States respectively, may be allowed to be emancipated, or removed to any territory or country without the limits of the United States of America.

NINETEENTH CONGRESS_FIRST SESSION.

DECEMBER 19, 1825.

Mr. Forsyth laid the following resolution on the table:

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to communicate to this House copies of such portions of the correspondence between the United States and Great Britain, on the subject of the convention for suppressing the slave trade, as have not heretofore been, and which can be communicated without detriment to the public interest.

DECEMBER 20, 1825.

The above resolution was adopted by the House.

On the 27th December, 1825, the President transmitted to the House the following message, with its accompanying documents:

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

WASHINGTON, December 27, 1825. In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 20th instant, I transmit, herewith, a report from the Secretary of State. with copies of such portions of the correspondence between the United States and Great Britain, on the subject of the convention for suppressing the slave trade, as have not heretofore been, and which can be communicated without detriment to the public interest.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, December 22, 1825. The Secretary of State, in compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 20th instant, which has been referred to him, requesting the President of the United States to communicate to that House copies of such portions of the correspondence between the United States and Great Britain, on the subject of the convention for suppressing the slave trade, as have not heretofore been, and which can be communicated without detriment to the public interest, has the honor to submit; herewith, to the President, copies of all the correspondence upon that subject which is embraced by the call of the House.

Respectfully submitted,

H. CLAY

PAPERS SENT.

Mr. Addington to Mr. Adams, March 2d, 1825, (Copy)
Mr. Clay to Mr. Addington, April 6th, 1825, (Copy.)
Mr. Addington to Mr. Clay, April 9th, 1825, (Copy)

Mr. Addington to Mr. Adams.

WASHINGTON, March 2, 1825. Sır: On the 6th of November last, I had the honor to inform you that I had received full powers from His Majesty to conclude and sign, with this Government, a convention verbatim the same as that entered into on the 13th of March, last year, beiween Great Britain and the United States, with all the amendments subsequently effected in it by the Senate, the erasure of the words, “and America,” in the first article, excepted.

In reply to that communication, you did me the honor to acquaint me that the President had decided upon referring the whole subject to Congress, whereby it became necessary for you to postpone giving a definite answer to my proposal.

This resolution of the President was, at the commencement of the ses. sion, carried into effect; and I understand that the subject has been under the consideration of Congress. You will, therefore, I trust, sir, allow me now to request to be made acquainted with the definite intention of the President, with respect to the proposition submitted by me on behalf of His Majesty's Government.

I have the honor to be, with distinguished consideration, Sir, your most obedient servant.

H. U. ADDINGTON. Hon. John Quincy ADAMS.

Mr. Clay to Mr. Addington.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, April 6, 1825. Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the delay in the transmission of a definite answer to your note of the 6th of November last, has proceeded from an anxious desire on the part of the late President of the United States to ascertain the practicability of reconciling, if possible, the views of the Government of the United States with those which are entertained by that of His Britannic Majesty, in respect to the convention for more effectually suppressing the slave trade. With that object, the correspondence with your Government, and the convention in which it terminated, together with what has since passed between the two Governments, both here and at London, were submitted to Congress during its late session. Of that reference you were apprized by the note of my predecessor, of the 4th December last. It has so happened, that neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives has expressed, directly, any opinion on the subject. But, on another convention, having the same object, concluded with the Republic of Colombia, on the 10th day of December, 1824, which was formed after the model of that which is pending between the Governments of the United States and Great Britain, the Senate has expressed a very decided opinion. In the Colombian convention, the coasts of America were excepted from its operation; and yet, notwithstanding this conciliating feature, the Senate, after full deliberation, in the exercise of its proper constitutional powers, has, by a large majority, deemed it inexpedient to consent to and advise the ratification of this convention.

The Government of His Britannic Majesty is well acquainted with the provision of the Constitution of the United States, by which the Senate is a component part of the treaty-making power; and that the consent and advice of that branch of Congress are indispensable in the formation of all treaties. According to the practice of this Government, the Senate is not ordinarily consulted in the initiatory state of a negotiation, but its consent and advice are only invoked after a treaty is concluded under the direction of the President, and submitted to its consideration. Each of the two branches of the treaty-making authority is independent of the other, whilst both are responsible to the States and to the People, the common sources of their respective powers. It results from this organization, that, in the progress of the Government, instances may sometimes occur of a difference of opinion between the Senate and the Executive, as to the expediency of a projected treaty, of which the rejection of the Colombian convention affords an example. The people of the United States have justly considered that, if there be any inconveniencies in this arrangement of their execu

« AnteriorContinua »