Abbildungen der Seite

once to hear the report of the committee. I move that the resolutions offered be laid upon the table. Mr. ORTH:—I suppose this motion cuts off debate. Ishould much have preferred to discuss the resolutions. I hope the motion will not prevail. The motion to lay on the table passed in the affirmative by a viva voce vote. The PRESIDENT:-Is the General Committee upon Propositions prepared to report? If it is, their report is now in order. Mr. GUTHRIE:—That committee has given earnest and careful consideration to the subjects and propositions which have from time to time been presented to it. It has held numerous and protracted sessions, and the differences of opinion naturally existing between the members have been discussed in a spirit of candor and conciliation. The committee have not been so fortunate as to arrive at an unanimous conclusion. A majority of its members, however, have agreed upon a report which we think ought to be satisfactory to all sections of the Union, one which if adopted will, we believe, accomplish the purpose so much desired by every patriotic citizen. We think it will give peace to the country. In their behalf I have now the honor to submit, for the consideration of the Conference, the following:


ARTICLE 1. In all the territory of the United States not embraced within the limits of the Cherokee treaty grant, north of a line from east to west on the parallel of 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, is prohibited whilst it shall be under a Territorial government; and in all the territory south of said line, the status of persons owing service or labor, as it now exists, shall not be changed by law while such territory shall be under a Territorial government; and neither Congress nor the Territorial government shall have power to hinder or prevent the taking to said territory of persons held to labor or involuntary service, within the United States, according to the laws or usages of the State from which such persons may be taken, nor to impair the rights arising out of said relations, which shall be subject to judicial cognizance in the federal courts, according to the common law ; and when any territory north or south of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population required for a member of Congress, according to the then federal ratio of representation, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing

[ocr errors]

with the original States, with or without involuntary service or labor, as the Constitution of such new State may provide.

ARTICLE 2. Territory shall not be acquired by the United States, unless by treaty; nor, except for naval and commercial stations and depots, unless such treaty shall be ratified by four-fifths of all members of the Senate.

ARTICLE 3. Neither the Constitution, nor any amendment thereof, shall be construed to give Congress power to regulate, abolish, or control within any State or Territory of the United States, the relation established or recognized by the laws thereof touching persons bound to labor or involuntary service therein, nor to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in the District of Columbia without the consent of Maryland and without the consent of the owners, or making the owners who do not consent just compensation; nor the power to interfere with or prohibit representatives and others from bringing with them to the City of Washington, retaining, and taking away, persons so bound to labor; nor the power to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in places under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States within those States and Territories where the same is established or recognized; nor the power to prohibit the removal or transportation, by land, sea, or river, of persons held to labor or involuntary service in any State or Territory of the United States to any other State or Territory thereof where it is established or recognized by law or usage; and the right during transportation of touching at ports, shores, and landings, and of landing in case of distress, shall exist. Nor shall Congress have power to authorize any higher rate of taxation on persons bound to labor than on land.

ARTICLE 4. The third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution shall not be construed to prevent any of the States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the person to whom such service or labor is due.

ARTICLE 5. The foreign slave-trade and the importation of slaves into the United States and their Territories, from places beyond the present limits thereof, are forever prohibited.

ARTICLE 6. The first, second, third, and fifth articles, together with this article of these amendments, and the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution, and the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article thereof, shall not be amended or abolished without the consent of all the States.

ARTICLE 7. Congress shall provide by law that the United States shall pay to the owner the full value of his fugitive from labor, in all cases where the marshal or other officer, whose duty it was to arrest such fugitive, was prevented from so doing by violence or intimidation, or when, after arrest,

[ocr errors]

such fugitive was rescued by force, and the owner thereby prevented and obstructed in the pursuit of his remedy for the recovery of such fugitive.

Mr. BALDWIN:—I have not been able to concur in opinion with those members of the committee who have presented the propositions just submitted. I do not deem them fair or equitable to the Free States, nor do I think they are likely to secure approval in those States. As one member of the minority, I have drawn up a report embodying my own views and perhaps those of some of my colleagues, which I now present for the consideration of the Conference: Mr. BALDWINTS MINORITY report. w The undersigned, one of the minority of the committee of one from each State, to whom was referred the consideration of the resolutions of the State of Virginia, and the other States represented, and all propositions for the adjustment of existing differences between the States, with authority to report what they deem right, necessary, and proper to restore harmony and preserve the Union, and report thereon, entered upon the duties of the committee with an anxious desire that they might be able to unite in the recommendation of some plan which, on due deliberation, should seem best adapted to maintain the dignity and authority of the Government of the United States, and at the same time secure to the people of every section that perfect equality of right to which they are entitled. Convened, as we are, on the invitation of the Governor of Virginia, in pursuance of the resolutions of the General Assembly of that State, with an accompanying expression of the deliberate opinion of that body that, unless the unhappy controversy which now divides the States shall be satisfactorily adjusted, a permanent dissolution of the Union is inevitable; and, being earnestly desirous of an adjustment thereof, in concurrence with Virginia, in the spirit in which the Constitution was originally formed, and consistently with its principles, so as to afford to the people of all the States adequate security for all their rights, the attention of the undersigned was necessarily led to the consideration of the extent and equality of our powers, and to the propriety and expediency, under existing circumstances, of a recommendation by this Conference Convention of any specific action by Congress, whether of ordinary legislation, or in reference to constitutional amendments to be proposed by Congress on its own responsibility to the States. A portion of the members of this Convention are delegated by the Legislatures of their respective States, and are required to act under their supervision and control, while others are the representatives only of the Executives of their States, and, having no opportunity of consulting the immediate representatives of the people, can only act on their individual responsibility. Among the resolutions and propositions suggesting modes of adjustment appropriate to this occasion which were brought to the notice of the committee, were the resolutions of the State of Kentucky recommending to her sister States to unite with her in an application to Congress for the calling of a Convention in the mode prescribed by the Constitution for proposing amendments thereto. The undersigned, for the reasons set forth in the accompanying resolution, and others which have been herein indicated, is of opinion that the mode of adjustment by a General Convention, as proposed by Kentucky, is the one which affords the best assurance of an adjustment acceptable to the people of every section, as it will afford to all the States which may desire amendments, an opportunity of preparing them with care and deliberation, and in such form as they may deem it expedient to prescribe, to be submitted to the consideration and deliberate action of delegates duly chosen and invested with equal powers from all the States. The undersigned did not, therefore, deem it expedient that any of the measures of adjustment proposed by the majority of the committee, should be reported to this body to be discussed or acted upon by them, and he respectfully submits as a substitute for the articles of amendment to the Constitution, reported by the majority of the committee, the following preamble and resolution, and respectfully recommends the adoption thereof. ROGER S. BALDWIN.

Whereas, unhappy differences exist which have alienated from each other portions of the people of the United States to such an extent as seriously to disturb the peace of the nation, and impair the regular and efficient action of the Government within the sphere of its constitutional powers and duties;

And whereas, the Legislature of the State of Kentucky has made application to Congress to call a Convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States;

And whereas, it is believed to be the opinion of the people of other States that amendments to the Constitution are or may become necessary to secure to the people of the United States, of every section, the full and equal enjoyment of their rights and liberties, so far as the same may depend for their security and protection on the powers granted to or withheld from the General Government, in pursuance of the national purposes for which it was ordained and established;

And whereas, it may be expedient that such amendments as any of the States may desire to have proposed, should be presented to the Convention in such form as the respective States desiring the same may deem proper;

This Convention does, therefore, recommend to the several States to unite with Kentucky in her application to Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to be submitted to the Legislatures of the several States, or to conventions therein, for ratification, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by Congress, in accordance with the provision in the fifth article of the Constitution.

[ocr errors]

Mr. FIELD:—I do not concur in the conclusions to which the majority of the committee have arrived. I may say that I wholly dissent from them. I have not deemed it necessary to make a separate report. At a suitable time I shall endeavor to make known to the Conference my views upon the topics which have occupied the attention of the committee.

Mr. CROWNINSHIELD:—I occupy substantially the same position as Mr. FIELD, and shall make my views known at a proper time.

Mr. SEDDON:—The report presented by the majority, I think, is a wide departure from the course we should have adopted. Virginia has prepared and presented a plan, and has invited this Conference to consider it. I think we ought to take up her propositions, amend and perfect them if need be, and then adopt or reject them. To avoid all misconstruction as to my individual opinions or position, I have reduced my views to writing, which, with the leave of the Conference, I will now read.

No objection being made, Mr. SEDDON proceeded to read the following: -


The undersigned, acting on the recommendation of the Commissioners from the State of Virginia, as a member of the committee appointed by this Convention to consider and recommend propositions of adjustment, has not been so happy as to accord with the report submitted by the majority; and as he more widely dissents from the opinions entertained by the other dissenting members, he feels constrained, in vindication of his position and opinions, to present on his part this brief report, recommending, as a substitute for the report of the majority, a proposition subjoined. To this course he feels the more impelled, by deference to the resolutions of the General Assembly of his State, inviting the assemblage of this Convention, and suggesting a basis of adjustment.

These resolutions declare, that “in the opinion of the General Assembly of Virginia the propositions embraced in the resolutions presented to the Senate of the United States by the Hon. John J. CRITTENDEN, so modified as that the first article proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States shall apply to all the territory of the United States now held or hereafter acquired south of latitude 36° 30', and provided that slavery of the African race shall be effectually protected as property therein during the continuance of the territorial government, and the fourth article shall secure to the owners of slaves the right of transit with their slaves between and through the non-slaveholding States or Territories, constitute the basis of such an adjustment of the unhappy controversy which now divides the States

« ZurückWeiter »