« AnteriorContinua »
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
(March 2, 1836.
pose of? Each of us must suggest such mode as we never intended that we should have any local legislation, Think most correct, and none can justly be liable to any except such as would meet the wants and wishes of the such charge. If there is any wrong, it is found in those people residing within the ten miles square. We should who, in such a state of public feeling, will press their never permit this place to be converted into a political petitions upon us. The petitions are forwarded to mem- workshop, where plans would be devised, or carried bers who feel it their duty to present them; when pre. into operation, that will have the effect of destroying the sented, others think it their duty to demand the question interest of any of the States. whether they shall be received. Is it true thal, on this Members of Congress, executive and judicial officers, delicate subject, every officer of the federal or State were to come from any and every section of the Union, Governments can express his opinion as to what it is best from the slaveholding and the non-slave holding States, to do, and that a Senator dare not express his opinion and their property was to be as secure here, in this ten without being liable to censure? I hope not.
miles square, as it was in the States from which they reThis is a delicate subject; would to God it had not spectively came. They would bring their habits and been pressed upon us; but, as it is placed hero by the their domestic servants with them; those from the nonpetitioners, we must dispose of it. To enable us to do slaveholding States their hired servants, and those from so, we must think upon it, and we may tell each other the slaveholding States their slaves. And who can what we think, and our reasons for so thinking. It is believe it was intended to vest the power in Congress to not by speaking upon it we will be likely to do mischief. liberate them if brought within the District? Every thing depends upon the temper with which we Again: The right of property in slaves in the States is express our opinions, and the sentiments we advance. sacred, and beyond the power of Congress to interfere My wish and aim is, if I can do no good, to do no harm; with, in any respect; yet, if it be conceded that we have and if I believed in what I propose lo say I would utter the power to liberate them in the District, we can as a sentiment from which mischief would be produced, I effectually ruin the owners as if we had the power to would close my lips, take my seat, and content myself liberate slaves in the States. By abolishing slavery here, with yea or nay to every question proposed by others, we not only make a place of refuge for runaways, but leaving every person at liberty to conjecture the reasons we produce a spirit of discontent and rebellion in the for my votes; but entertaining no fear of that kind, I minds of slaves in the neighboring States, which will must ask permission 10 state, as briefly as I can, some of soon spread over all, and which cannot fail to compel the reasons for the course I shall pursue. In doing this, owners to destroy their own slaves, to preserve their I shall not address myself to Senators coming from either own lives and those of their wives and children. I the East or the West, the North or the South, in par- beseech gentlemen to look at this matter as it is. Take, ticular, but to the Senate, the whole Senate, because, for illustration, the case of a small planter in Mississippi, if it is desired, as I believe it is, that we should remain living on his own land, with thirty slaves to cultivate it. together as one people, secure, prosperous, happy, and Suddenly it is discovered that one half of them are concontented, the whole country, every section of it, having cerned in a plot to destroy the lives of their master, his a deep interest in this matter, this agitation and excite. family, and neighbors, with a view to produce their free. ment must cease.
dom, and immediately, with or without law, they are What, then, ought we to do, as most likely to put an tucked up and hanged. The man is thus deprived of end to those angry feelings which now prevail?
his property without any chance for an indemnity, In my opinion, we should refuse to receive these peti. besides the disquiet and anxiety of mind occasioned by tions. It is a mere question of espediency what dispo- a loss of confidence in his remaining slaves. It cannot sition we shall make of them. All who have yet spoken have been intended that Congress, by acting on this admit that Congress has no power whatever over slavery subject, should have a power ibus to occasion a destrucin the respective States. It is settled. Whether tion of slave property. slavery is right or wrong, we have now no power to To me it seems that we ought to treat those petitions consider or discuss it.
Suppose, then, a petition were precisely as we would do if they prayed us to abolish presented to abolish slavery in the States, would we slavery in one of the States. We have no more power receive it? Assuredly we ought not, because it would to abolish it here than we have there. I think, in either be asking us to act upon a subject over which we have case, we ought to refuse to receive them. I hold that, no power.
if the petitioners ask us to do that which we bave no But these are petitions asking Congress to abolish power iv do, or to do that which will be productive of a slavery in this District. Have we the power? I think great and lasting mischief, we not only have the right, not. I consider the argument of the honorable Senator but that it is our duty, to refuse to receive them. from Virginia, (Mr. Leigu,) upon that point, conclusive. By the constitution, no man can be held to answer for It has not been answered, and I do not believe it can be. a criminal charge but by presentment or indictment. Slaves are property in this District-Congress cannot Suppose a petition presented here, alleging that some take private property, even for public use, without ma- cilizen in the District had been guilty of a crime, and king just compensation to the owner.
No fund is pro
that he was so influential that he could not be reached vided by the constitution to pay for slaves which may be by the ordinary forms of law in court, and therefore we liberated, and the constitution never gives Congress the are asked to pass a bill of attainder, ought we to receive power to act upon any subject, without, at the same the petition Suppose a petition to ask us to pass a time, furnishing the means for its accomplishment. To law to prohibit any member of this body from making a Jiberate slaves is not taking them for public use. It is speech against the prayer of the petitioners, would we declaring that neither individuals nor the public shall receive it? Suppose a petition to be offered asking us use them. I will not weaken the honorable member's to establish a particular religion in this District, or to argument by going over it.
prohibit any publication in a newspaper on the subject This District was intended as the place where the of abolishing slavery, unless it was previously approved great business of the nation should be transacted for the of by a committee, would we, ought we, to receive any good of the whole. Congress, under the constitution, such petition? I think, most certainly, we ought not. is placed here to legislate upon those subjects enumera- But suppose we have the power, is there any Senator ted and specified in the constitution, that we might be who believes we ought to exercise it? I trust not. able to protect ourselves, and the officers residing here, Those who urge the reception of tbis petition, which is and be out of the reach of the laws of any State. It was from the Society of Friends, have spoken most highly
MARCH 2, 1836.j
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
of the petitioners and the class of citizens to which they why it should not be received. This rule establishes no belong. In all this I cheerfully concur. These partic- new doctrine; it is founded in good sense, is perfectly ular persons are strangers to me. I doubt not the consistent with the right of petition, and is laid down as purity of their motives; the sect to which they belong is the correct practice by Mr. Jefferson in his Manual, at worthy of all the encomiums passed upon it. I respect | page 140. What is the right of the petitioner? It con. and esteem them most highly, and do not feel that in my sists in his having free permission to make known to composition there is a particle of unkindness towards Congress what he esteems a grievance, and to ask them; but I think they would have us do that which we them to provide a remedy. When bis petition is prehave no power to do, and if we had the power, by exer. sented, the duty of Congress commences. That concising it, we should do infinite mischief. This these sists in the members making themselves acquainted with petitioners do not desire. They hare discharged what the contents of the petition, and granting its prayer, if they think is their duty by having their petitions present it be just and consistent with the public interest, or in ed; I only discharge mine, when I say, consistently with refusing to receive the petition, or making some other what I feel to be my duty, I cannot receive them. disposition of it which, in their judgment, will more
But it is further insisted that the right of petition is a conduce to the good of the community. When we re. sacred one that belongs to the nature of free govern- fuse to receive a petition we no more destroy or impair ment, and existed before the formation of our constitu- the right of petition than we do when we receive the tion; and that instrument did not give the right to peti: petition and lay it upon the table, or reject the prayer tion, but intended only to secure it. This is sound of it, or refer it to a committee, who reports that it is undoctrine, and has my hearty assent. The people are reasonable, and ought not to be granted. In each of sovereign; members are their agents or servants; they these cases the complaint of the petitioner has been have a right to make known their grievances, real or beard, considered, and decided on. In neither instance imaginary. We can pass no law, we can make no rule, has he obtained a redress for what he supposed a griev. to abridge or destroy that right. But what do gentle ance, but each leaves him equally at liberty to renew his men mean when they speak of the right of petition? petition at any subsequent period. Do they mean that, when the petition is presented, we Four modes have been suggested by which to dispose must receive it, and do that which is prayed for? No. of this and all others on the same subject. Not one member contended for this; so far from it, they The first we have been considering, and is to refuse say that, if the language of the petitioner is disrespect to receive it. ful to the body, or to any member of it, we may and The second is to receive them, lay them on the table, ought to refuse to receive it.
and there let them lie. How is this? I beg that we may reflect seriously The third is to receive them, and then instantly reject upon this matter. We are about to establish a doctrine the prayer of the petitioners. to which I can never yield my assent. Are we to be The fourth is to receive them, refer them to a comexalted above our employers? Is our dignity to be of mittee, and let that committee make a report upon higher consideration than the property and lives of those them. who send us here? If a petition contains matter charg- I prefer the first, because, when we refuse to receive ing disgraceful conduct on the Senate, or any of its the petitions, they are returned to those who sent them, members, we may not receive it; but if it contains matter and it will most strongly discountenance all hope that which is to destroy the slave property in this District, Congress ever can, or ever ought to, pass any law upon and in eleven States of this Union, and also to endanger the subject to which they refer. In each of the other the lives and dwellings of every citizen within their three, we retain the petitions, place them on our files, limits, we are bound to receive it. This is the doctrine in the custody of our officer, and at any subsequent contained in the arguments. I deny that there is any session they are here, and it will be competent for any such distinction to be found in a single feature of our member to move their reference to a committee; wherepolitical institutions. The truth is, we have the power as, if returned to the petitioners, if they ever again in both instances to refuse to receive the petitions, but make their appearance, it must be by their being rein exercising it, when we ourselves only are assailed, we sent and re-presented. I think that plan is the most ought always to act most liberally in receiving; but advisable, and will be most likely to calm the disturbwhere the safety, the lives, and the property of our ance in the slave States, which will most strongly mani. masters are concerned, we have no right to exercise the fest to all, in every quarter, that Congress will not insame liberality.
terfere with slavery as it exists in the States and in this With great deference for the opinions of others, I District. think the force of their whole argument rests on a plain If these petitions are received, I then think the dispomistake. They argue as if we never became acquiaint- sition of them proposed by the Senator from Pennsyl. ed with the contents of a petition, or could consider and vania the next best--that is, immediately to reject their decide upon its merits, until after it is received. This is prayer. This would be far preferable to laying them most clearly not correct. What we have been doing silently on the table, without expressing any opinion for the last few weeks is full proof of it. These peti. whatever. tions have been publicly read, their merits and tenden- There is another aspect in which this question may cy, and our powers to abolish slavery, have been long be viewed that has had great influence on my own mind. under discussion; has any man denied our right to do Congress sits here as the Legislature of the whole 90! Not one; the only doubt suggested is, whether it Union, and also as the only Legislature for the local was prudent to adopt this course.
concerns of the District of Columbia.
These petitions By the twenty-fourth rule, when a petition is present do not ask us to make a general law, operating through. ed, the member must briefly state its contents, and what out the whole Union, but a law, the operations of wbich the petitioners wish should be done. He then asks that are to be spent entirely upon property within the ten the petition may be received, and specifies what he miles square. Now, if we were in form, as well as in wishes to be done with it after it is received. If no substance, a local Legislature when acting on this quesmember objects, for the purpose of saving time, it is tion, which gentlemen say is to affect slavery in the received and disposed of without formally propounding District, and nowhere else, would we be bound to rethe question of reception; but if any member objects, ceive these petitions? No more than we are bound to he may call for the reading, and then urge his reasons receive petitions from France or Germany. Would
Florida Railroad, &c.—Slavery in the District of Columbia.
(March 3, 1836.
gentlemen, sitting as members of the Legislature of Ala.
THURSDAY, Mancu 3. bama, feel bound to receive petitions from citizens of
FLORIDA RAILROAD, &c. Maine or Pennsylvania to emancipate slaves within their own State? Assuredly not. If that be so, is it not
On motion of Mr. KING, of Alabama, the Senate promost reasonable, when we are called upon to pass an
ceeded to consider the bill to authorize the East Florida act confined exclusively to this District, that we should
Railroad Company to make a road through the public conduct towards the people here as if in this matter
land«, now lying on the table. they were our constituents? Will it not be time enough
Various amendments, proposed by Mr. Davis, having to receive petitions on this subject when they are pre been adopted, the bill was ordered to be engrossed. sented on behalf of those upon whose property alone it
On motion of Mr. KING, of Alabama, the Senate prois said the law would operate?
ceeded to consider the bill to authorize the Pensacola Honorable Senators have told us there are two classes and Perdido Canal Company to make a canal througla of abolitionists, and that public opinion will soon put
the public lands, now lying on the table. down the mischievous class, which is small in numbers.
Mr. DAVIS moved various amendments to the bill, Gentlemen, I doubt not, think as they say. All we
which were agreed to, and the bill was ordered to be know is, that our peace has been very much disturbed engrossed. by them, whether few or many. Their newspapers,
DUTIES ON IMPORTS. their pamphlets, and pictorial representations, have been Mr. WEBSTER asked the Senate to consider a bill to plenty. They have come to us through the mail, and repeal certain provisions of the act of 1832 imposing du. by other means, in great abundance; and, if we are to ties on imports. live together as one people, they must stop. It is vain [This bill proposes that the provisos of the tenth and to reason with people about the liberty of speech and of twelfth clauses of the second section of the act to alter the press, when their lives are put at hazard. When the and amend the several acts imposing duties on imports, domestic circle is invaded, when a man is afraid to eat passed July 14, 1832, be, and the same are hereby, rehis provisions, les his cook has been prevailed on to pealed.] mix poison with his food; or dare not go to sleep, lest Mr. W. said it had been the practice annually to sushis servants will cut the throats of himself, his wife, and pend these clauses, but it was thought best by the Com. children, before he awakes, he will not endure it; and, mittee on Finance, on this occasion, to repeal them altowhen he can lay hands upon those who prompt to such gether, rather than have an annual recurrence of the deeds of mischief, he will not wait for the ordinary necessity for legislation on the subject. forms of law to redress liim. He takes the law into his The bill was taken up for consideration, and ordered own hands, and every thing which accustoms us to vio. to be engrossed !or a third reading. late the law is a serious evil in a country as free as ours, Mr. KING, of Alabama, moved that the Senate prowhere the laws should govern.
ceed to appoint a member of the Committee for the The honorable Senator from Mississippi has shown us District of Columbia in the room of Mr. TYLER; which something of the feelings of bis State, which has suf. being agreed to, fered much. In mine, when we first heard of punishing On motion of Mr. KENT, it was ordered that the persons in Mississippi, without legal trial, we thought Chair make the appointment. it all wrong, and some of our leading newspapers cour.
SLAVERY IN THE DISTRICT. teously found fault with it. Their columns were not long dry before one of these distributers of abolition The Senate proceeded to the special order, being the pamphlets was found in our most populous and respect. petition of the Society of Friends in Philadelphia, pray. able city, and an assemblage of our most orderly and ing for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columdiscreet citizens immediately resorted for redress to the b'a. same summary process which had been used in our sis. The question pending being on the motion of Mr. ter State. Public opinion may have done something on
CALioun that the petition be not received, this subject. I know of only one attempt to establish Mr. GOLDSBOROUGH rose and addressed the Chair a press for such publications in any slaveholding State.
as follows: The neighbors of the gentleman informed him that his Mr. President: It was my wish to have declined saypress would be productive of mischief, and he must not ing any thing upon the petitions on your table; but the establish it in their town; he answered that he held it deep interest involved in them forbids that course. The a high duty, which he could not dispense with, to pro. people of Maryland and the people of ten other States ceed, and he would do so. They replied, if he did, in this Union have a great common stake at risk-not of they would consider it their duty to demolish his build. property alone, but of tranquillity, of peace, and of seing, and sow his types, broadcast, in the streets. This curity. Under such circumstances, I should have been manifestation of public opinion he respected. He knew remiss in being silen!, and I should have felt self-reproach that those with whom he had to deal would keep their in not adding my efforts to those of others to arrest the word. He desisted, retired to a neighboring State, general misfortune. where, as I have understood, he is now publishing his It has been charged upon some Senators, here from paper.
the South, that they have exbibited a most excited feel. i beg gentlemen to consider that it is of no conse-ing on this occasion, and that they have yielded to it. quence to us whether the abolitionists, in their States, | Sir, I am not surprised at this feeling—it is no dissemare many or sew; their publications are numerous; they bled excitement. ' If they who make ihe criticism could have already produced much mischief, whichi, if per only translate themselves into the position which those sisted in, must end in consequences to be for ever re• gentlemen hold, and feel with them, and all around gretted by us all. For myself, on the subject of the them, the stake and risk which they have depending on disposition we may make of these petitions, I can have the issue, they would not, they could not, feel less; and, no other wish than that it may be such as will most tend if they could extend their views to the various and vast to allay excitement, and restore that harmony which is communities from which those gentlemen come, they so essential to the common interest of our whole country. would witness a thrilling state of anxiety that no tongue When Mr. Wute had concluded,
can describe. At this moment, and from the early part On motion of Mr. GOLDSBOROUGH,
of this session, the whole slaveholding country is, and The Senate adjourned.
has been, moved by a most intense anxiety; it is an anxi.
March 3, 1836.)
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
ety that looks to a desting to be produced by your de- been either formally or informally suggested and pre. cision; and whether that decision is to leave them in the pared, in form of resolution or otherwise, under which peaceful enjoyment of domestic security and comfort, or we could have disposed of them, assigning a reason for to involve them wrongfully in all the horrors of an awful so doing; or, if preferred by others, that the petitions calamity, is the suspense which gives rise to that solici. should have gone to a committee, and that they should tude. Sir, there is not a mail or a messenger arriving have made a brief report of the grounds of rejecting the at this day within their borders--not a door opened in prayer of the petitioners; for I am happy in the belief their domicils--but the ready interrogatories are pro- that there is not a Senator on this floor who is not op. pounded, What is the news from Washington? Is the posed to the object of the petitioners. And I would question of abolition settled, and how? A country, have done this, sir, under a hope and with the design of and the representatives of a country, agitated by such rationally influencing a large portion of the signers to causes, cannot be expected to present an appearance or these petitions, however enthusiastic the other portion tone of much calmness or apathetic contentedness. Abo. of them may be; as I am persuaded they are rational, lition in the District of Columbia would be a greater though mistaken and misguided men; and such men I evil, far greater, than any protracted foreign war that would wish to propitiate by truth and reason. My decould be waged with any nation or country. In the lat. sign would have gone further, too; I wished to have ter case we could trust, and well trust, to the united re. waylaid the ear and the understanding of the rest of the sources of the whole country--mind, sinew, wealth; but, world, who were not influenced by the spirit of propain the former, there would be no peace, no hope, but gating this destroying system into the midst of the slave. a recourse to a state of things at which the mind re. holding country, and I would have appealed to their an. volts, and which would rob both peace and hope of pledged judgments, to their sense of philanthropy for every charm.
us, to have erected them as a mound to prevent a fur. The proposition immediately before the Senate re ther rise of the troubled waters that threaten to overgards the mode of disposal that you are to adopt as to
whelm us. this and other petitions of a like nature which pray for On this, and on all trying occasions, we must appeal the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. The to public opinion; it is the great arbiter at last; it is the source from which this proposition springs (Mr. Cal. only sovereign acknowledged in our land; we cannot noun) always commands my respect; and, if I differ with resist its power if we would. It is true that this mon. him on this occasion, my dissent is founded upon the arch is sometimes maddened with the fervor of the moopinion that the course suggested, under all circum- ment, and it becomes our duty to compose it; if it is substances, is not the best course. My object is to keep ject to delusion, we hope, as we believe, that it is capathe question of abolition insulated and unmixed with every ble of being recalled to reason. other subject. I desire to place it in no situation that it One of the most productive sources of the evil against can gain any extraneous aid; my wish is that it should which we are contending, and the chief impediment to neither impart nor receive force or strength to or from successful resistance, is, I am persuaded, to be found in any thing else. When we see Senators on this floor en. the misapprehensions which are entertained both by the tertaining and animatedly defending their opinions that slaveholding and non-slaveholding States, in relation to "not to receive these petitions" would not only be un. the real state of things existing in each. Under the ex. constitutional, but would be a violation of the birthright citing circumstances in which the people in the slave. privilege of every freeman, the right of petition, how holding States are placed, it is not to be wondered at many may.we justly suppose there are out of the doors that they should regard every man who signs one of of this Capitol who entertain like opinions? And if an these petitions as an enthusiast, or a foe to their peace. impression gets abroad, right or wrong, that this Senate Yet, surely, in life, many of these men are considered bas disposed of these petitions in a way or by means in and known to be of good intelligence and inoffensive which they have disregarded the guarantees of the con habits. So, on the other hand, there are very many in stitution, and robbed the people of a privilege that has the non-slave holding States, who, untaught by any pracbeen the characteristic of freemen in all ages, can we tical views of their own as to the real state and condition conceive of any thing more calculated to produce a state of things generally existing in the slaveholding States, of mind and feeling abroad that would add sympathy have indulged themselves, abstractly, in reflections on and numbers to the abolition cause? Could any thing be slavery, and have thrown around it all the glooms and done here that would enable the friends of abolition to horrors that heated imaginations could depict, or the impress a belief generally that the right of petition had fancies of others could furnish; and thus they find them. been contumaciously denied the people, (it matters not selves led on to a crusade to do that to which wounded whether that impression is attempted to be made either sensibility prompts, without the power or the thought from misapprehension or misconstruction, the effect to calculate the greater miseries that must result from would be the same,) new efforts would be made, with their interference. In no instance, and I have known redoubled ardor, by quadrupled numbers, when the pe many, where an intelligent man from the North has titioners would give strength to their cause by uniting it come to the South, without any other impressions of with a vindication of their supposed violated rights. negro slavery than those formed in his own fancy at a Yes, sir; and the same presses that are now teeming distance, have I ever known him to be otherwise than with every species of publication so deleterious to our completely astonished and gratified at the real condition peace, to aid the cause of abolition, would, in that case, of things. Instead of meeting with his supposed squalid, spread as far and as widely abroad, through their thou trembling, ill-treated set of beings, he finds a cheerful, sands of agents, denunciations against Congress for tram- well-conditioned, laboring people, with a body of lively pling down the great safeguard of popular freedom and kindly-treated domestic servants; in fact, instead of the right of petition.
abject and tyrannically abused slaves, he finds a happy, In å few remarks which I made some weeks ago, well-trained peasantry, who divide with their masters a when this subject was before us in a more transient form, good portion of the products of their labor, and who, I then indicated the course that I should prefer; and unlike other peasantry, are not left to chances and acci, that was a calm and more silent one. My judgment di. dent for their support, but, through all accident and rected me to think that the better course would have chance, are sustained and protected by the means, the been to have received the petitions, and to have laid care, and the favor of their masters. them upon the table, until some proposition could have In this state of things, I desire to address myself par.
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
[March 3, 1836.
ticularly to the honorable Senators upon this floor from of a Congress, irresponsible to them, if subject to be the non-slaveholding States, and, through them, to the directed by the petitions and wishes of others, who had people themselves, if what I say here shall be deemed neither a common residence nor a common interest with worthy to reach their ear, on this all-absorbing question; them? It could not have been expected. They never, and I need not declare how much I crave their pardon never had an idea about external interference to introand their favor for this direct appeal.
duce laws and systems to bind them and their property, Upon the constitutional question involved in this sub foreign to their habits, conflicting with their established ject, it is not my purpose particularly to dwell; but I interests, and inconsistent with the happiness and commay occasionally advert to it in my progress, since the fort of which they felt themselves secure in the enjoy. 'views I entertain on that point have been so ably en- ment; nor did the probability of such a thing ever ocforced and finely illustrated by others, as to render any cur to others. Upon this plain view of the state of thing more unnecessary and superfluous; besides, that things, I turn to the intelligence of the North and of part of the question does not, at this time, enter into the West, and of the whole non-slaveholding country, my views; I mean to appeal to another powerful director and I put it to their generous social feeling, and I ask in matters of this sort-the social tie, as cemented be: them, is it right, is it just, is it friendly in them, merely tween us by mutual interests, sound common sense, and for the indulgence of a feeling upon the abstract ques. love of justice; and with this intent I will refer to the tion of slavery, to try to influence Congress, who have origin and character of the Government over this little the exclusive legislation over this District, to force upon District of Columbia, whose agency is invoked by the their fellow.citizens in this District a system of things petitioners to establish a system that would, if adopted, uncongenial with their habits, inconsistent with their inevitably spread disquiet and destruction in the proxi- wishes and interests, and adverse to their views, which mate neighborhoods, and through them into the whole at the same time spreads alarm, excites dissatisfaction South.
and hostile feeling, through all the neighboring and simi. It is a part of the history of this federal Government larly situated States? When they see that the people of ours, that is familiar to all who hear me, that the of ihe District, whom they desire immediately to affect, clause in the constitution which establishes the seat of are averse to it; and wlien they see hundreds of thouthe general Government in this District of Columbia, sands of their intelligent fellow-citizens, who must be “ten miles square" was not contained in the original | inevitably mediately affected by it, thrown into consterdraught of that instrument, but was inserted afterwards | nation and agitated to desperation at the very demonupon the suggestion of the expediency of the matter, stration of their designs, what motive can they find in founded upon a fact which had taken place in Philadel. charity, in benevolence, or in any of all the Christian phia towards the latter end of the revolutionary war, virtues, to justify a perseverance in a cause that is to be when the old Congress was insulted, and their delibera- a bateful source of strife fed by blood? Let me entreat tions threatened to be overawed, by a turbulent mob; them to pause and to forbear. They have nothing to and the police of Philadelphia, at that time, being either risk or to pledge on the result, whilst we risk every too weak or too timid to afford them the necessary pro- | thing; they desire to gratify a sentiment, whilst we have tection, Congress found it necessary to remove to Tren- all at risk that is dear to the heart of man-our counton, in New Jersey, and afterwards to Annapolis, in Mary. | try, our wives, our children, friends and home, and, land, for security from disturbance. This goes to show what would be insupportable in the loss of these, our that the exclusive object of extending this Government lives; weigh these stakes and risks in the balance, and over the District of Columbia was for the single pur then let their calmed Christian spirit speak. I cannot pose of enabling Congress to protect its members from doubt their intelligence; I will not distrust their generinsult, and to guard their deliberations upon the national ous moral sentiment nor their pious benevolence. concerns from interruption and all overawing influence, Allow me to propound a case to their consideration, and for no other purpose.
as we sometimes are enabled to bring things home to The site for this District was selected by the great our understandings and our hearts more strongly by the founder of the republic, embracing a portion of coun- illustration of a converse proposition. try on either bank of the Potomac, within those por. Suppose the site for the District, in which the seat of tions of the Stales of Virginia and Maryland that were Government was to have been placed, had been selectthen among the most slaveholding parts of those two ed in Pennsylvania, or in some other neighboring nonslaveholding States, and which have since undergone slaveholding State, and, after Congress bad been long no material change. The cession was made by those established there, and the inbabitants of the District had States, and agreed to by the persons holding the terri- become fixed in their habits, with every thing adjusted tory ceded, no doubt from motives of patriotism and to their own taste and wishes, and to those of the proxpride, as well as from the hopes of various future ad. imate and neighboring States, that the people of the vantages. Bringing with them their own laws as a part | South should have taken up the opinion that it would of the compact of cession, subject to such future be much more agreeable to them, much more suitable changes as they might find useful for their local and to their habits and mode of life, if slavery could be inother circumstances, and stipulating for the security of troduced ir to that District; and that they were, in conproperty, they looked to nothing else, they never had a sequence of this sentiment, to send in petitions to Conthought of any thing else, than that all changes that gress, year after year, from all quarters of the South, to might be made by Congress that would affect their do establish slavery in ihat District; would the Senators mestic relations, their property, their habits, would and Representatives from the non-slaveholding States, alone proceed from their own suggestion, dictated by or the people themselves in those States, give ear for a their own wants and their own judgment in relation to moment to such petitions? Certainly not. And why? their own exclusive concerns; they never dreamed that Because their object would be to interfere with the esthey were to be subject to a legislation dictated by tablished system of things already existing, with which others, on whom the effect of that legislation was not to those immediately to be affected, and those around fall. Could it be presumed that the independent citi- them, were content, and which they preferred; and be. zens of independent States would ever have consented cause it would produce a change that they deprecated, to have exchanged a legislation over their personal as unsuited to their views as it would be contrary to rights and property, by representatives chosen by and their wishes. Yet, this is but the converse of the state responsible to themselves, for the exclusive legislation of things that the petitioners desire to bring about,