« 前へ次へ »
him to the direction of a hostile agent, who used it, as he could not but be sure he would, hostilely; in the other case, there was no original force; and that which was used was the personal force of the enemy master, and not that of the vessel. In our case, the force was exerted in direct opposition to the neutral's obligation of submission with reference, to the cargo; and in the other, the neutral had already submitted, and his goods were in the quiet possession of the captors. In our case, a general capacity, legal and actual, of annoyance, as well as of resistance, had been given, by or for the neutral, to the vessel as a belligerent vessel, (a capacity which she preserved during her voyage.) for which alone, independently of resistance in fact, the neutral is, as I confidently contend, liable to the penalty of confiscation; in the other, the vessel was an ordinary, unarmed, commercial vehicle, which the neutral might hire and employ with perfect innocence and safety. :k :k x + *k The little strength, with which I set out, is at last exhausted, and I must hasten to a conclusion. I commit to you, therefore, without further discussion, the cause of my clients, identified with the rights of the American people, and with those wholesome rules which give to public law simplicity and system, and tend to the quiet of the world.
We are now, thank God, once more at peace. Our belligerent rights may, therefore, sleep for a season. May their repose be long and profound ! But the time must arrive, when the interests and honor of this great nation will command them to awake, and when it does arrive, I feel undoubting confidence that they will rise from their slumber in the fulness of their strength and majesty, unenfeebled and unimpaired by the judgment of this high court.
The skill and valor of our infant navy, which has illuminated every sea, and dazzled the master states of Europe by the splendor of its triumphs, have given us a pledge, which, I trust, will continue to be dear to every American heart, and influence the future course of our policy, that the ocean is destined to acknowledge the youthful dominion of the West. I am not likely to live to see it, and, therefore, the more do I seize upon the enjoyment presented by the glorious anticipation. That this dominion, when God shall suffer us to wrest it from those who have abused it, will be exercised with such justice and moderation as will put to shame the maritime tyranny of recent times, and fix upon our power the affections of mankind, it is the duty of us all to hope; but it is equally our duty to hope that we shall not be so inordinately just to others as to be unjust to ourselves.
SPEECH ON THE MISSOURI QUESTION.
This speech on a bill for the admission of Missouri into the Union, with a clause prohibiting the introduction of slaves into the new State, was delivered by Mr. Pinkney in the United States Senate on the fifteenth of February, 1820.*
As I am not a very frequent speaker in this assembly, and have shown a desire, I trust, rather to listen to the wisdom of others than to lay claim to superior knowledge by undertaking to advise, even when advice, by being seasonable in point of time, might have some chance of being profitable, you will, perhaps, bear with me if I venture to trouble you once more on that eternal subject which has lingered here until all its natural interest is exhausted, and every topic connected with it is literally worn to tatters. I shall, I assure you, sir, speak with laudable brevity—not merely on account of the feeble state of my health, and from some reverence for the laws of good taste which forbid me to speak otherwise, but also from a sense of justice to those who honor me with their
* See the speech of Rufus King, on the same subject, at page 44, preceding.
attention. My single purpose, as I suggested yesterday, is to subject to a friendly, yet close examination, some portions of a speech, imposing, certainly, on account of the distinguished quarter from whence it came—not very imposing (if I may so say, without departing from that respect which I sincerely feel and intend to manifest for eminent abilities and long experience) for any other reason. I believe, Mr. President, that I am about as likely to retract an opinion which I have formed, as any member of this body, who, being a lover of truth, inquires after it with diligence before he imagines that he has found it; but I suspect that we are all of us so constituted as that neither argument nor declamation, levelled against recorded and published decision, can easily discover a practicable avenue through which it may hope to reach either our heads or our hearts. I mention this, lest it may excite surprise, when I take the liberty to add, that the speech of the honorable gentleman from * New York, upon the great subject with which * it was principally occupied, has left me as great an infideias it found me, it is possible, indeed, that if I had had the good fortune to hear that speech at an earlier stage of this debate, when all was fresh and new, although I feel confident
that the analysis which it contained of the constitution, illustrated as it was by historial anecdote rather than by reasoning, would have been just as unsatisfactory to me then as it is now, I might not have been altogether unmoved by those warnings of approaching evil which it seemed to intimate, especially when taken in connection with the observations of the same honorable gentleman on a preceding day, “that delays in disposing of this subject, in the manner he desires, are dangerous, and that we stand on slippery ground.” I must be permitted, however, (speaking only for myself) to say, that the hour of dismay is passed. I have heard the tones of the larum bell on all sides, until they have become familiar to my ear, and have lost their power to appal, if, indeed, they ever possessed it. Notwithstanding occasional appearances of rather an unfavorable description, I have long since persuaded myself that the Missouri question, as it is called, might be laid to rest, with innocence and safety, by some conciliatory compromise at least, by which, as is our duty, we might reconcile the extremes of conflicting views and feelings, without any sacrifice of constitutional principle ; and in any event, that the Union would easily and triumphantly emerge from those portentous clouds with which this controversy is supposed to have environed it. I confess to you, nevertheless, that some of the principles announced by the honorable gentleman from New York,” with an explicitness that reflected the highest credit on his candor, did, when they were first presented, startle me not a little. They were not perhaps entirely new. Perhaps I had seen them before in some shadowy and doubtful shape,
“If shape it might be called, that shape had none, Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb.”
But in the honorable gentleman's speech they were shadowy and doubtful no longer. He exhibited them in forms so boldly and accurately defined—with contours so distinctly traced— with features so pronounced and striking, that I was unconscious for a moment that they might be old acquaintances. I received them as “novi hospites” within these walls, and azed upon them with astonishment and alarm. f have recovered, however, thank God, from this paroxysm of terror, although not from that of astonishment. I have sought and found tranquillity and courage in my former consolatory faith. My reliance is that these principles will obtain no general currency; for, if they should, it requires no gloomy imagination to sadden the perspective of the future. My reliance is upon the unsophisticated good sense and noble spirit of the American people. I have what I may be allowed to call a proud and patriotic trust, that they will give countenance to no principles, which, if followed out to their obvious consequences, will not only shake
* Mr. King.
the goodly fabric of the Union to its foundations, but reduce it to a melancholy ruin. The people of this country, if I do not wholly mistake their character, are wise as well as virtuous. They know the value of that federal association which is to them the single pledge and guar: antee of power and peace. Their warm and F. affections will cling to it as to their only ope of prosperity and happiness, in defiance of pernicious abstractions, by whomsoever inculcated, or howsoever seductive or alluring in their aspect. Sir, it is not an occasion like this, although connected, as contrary to all reasonable expectation it has been, with fearful and disorganizing theories, which would make our estimates, whether fanciful or sound, of natural law, the measure of civil rights and political sovereignty in the social state, that can harm the Union. It must, indeed, be a mighty storm that can push from its moorings this sacred ark of the common safety. It is not every trifling breeze, however it may be made to sob and howl in imitation of the tempest, by the auxiliary breath of the ambitious, the timid, or the discontented, that can drive this gallant vessel, freighted with every thing that is dear to an American bosom, upon the rocks, or lay it a sheer hulk upon the ocean. I may perhaps mistake the flattering suggestions of hope, (the greatest of all flatterers, as we are told,) for the conclusions of sober reason. Yet it is a pleasing error, if it be an error, and no man shall take it from me. I will continue to cherish the belief, in defiance of the public patronage given by the honorable gentleman from New York, with more than his ordinary zeal and solemnity, to deadly speculations, which, invoking the name of God to aid their faculties for mischief, strike at all establishments, that the union of these States is formed to bear up against far greater shocks than, through all vicissitudes, it is ever likely to encounter. I will continue to cherish the belief, that, although like all other human institutions it may for a season be disturbed, or suffer momentary eclipse by the transit across its disk of some malignant planet, it possesses a recuperative force, a redeeming energy in the hearts of the people, that will soon restore it to its wonted calm, and give it back its accustomed splendor. On such a subject I will discard all hysterical apprehensions—I will deal in no sinister auguries—I will indulge in no hypochondriacal forebodings. I will look forward to the future with gay and cheerful hope; and will make the prospect smile, in fancy at least, until overwhelming reality shall render it no longer possible. I have said thus much, sir, in order that I may be understood as meeting the constitutional question as a mere question of interpretation, and as disdaining to press into the service of my argument upon it prophetic fears of any sort, however they may be countenanced by an avowal, formidable by reason of the high reputation of the individual by whom it has been hazarded, of sentiments the most destructive, which if not borrowed from, are identical with, the worst visions of the political philosophy of France when all the elements of discord and misrule were let loose upon that devoted nation. I mean “the infinite perfectibility of man and his institutions,” and the resolution of every thing into a state of nature. I have another motive, which, at the risk of being misconstrued, I will declare without reserve. With my convictions, and with my feelings, I never will consent to hold confederated America as bound together by a silken cord, which any instrument of mischief may sever, to the view of monarchical foreigners, who look with a jealous eye upon that glorious experiment which is now in progress amongst us in favor of republican freedom. Let them make such prophecies as they will, and nourish such feelings as they may: I will not contribute to the fulfilment of the former, nor minister to the gratification of the latter. Sir, it was but the other day that we were forbidden, (properly forbidden I am sure, for the prohibition came from you,) to assume that there existed any intention to impose a prosK. restraint on the domestic legislation of ssouri—a restraint to act upon it contemporaneously with its origin as a State, and to continue adhesive to it through all the stages of its political existence. We are now, however, permitted to know that it is determined by a sort of political surgery to amputate one of the limbs of its local sovereignty, and thus mangled and disparaged, and thus only, to receive it into the bosom of the constitution. It is now avowed that, while Maine is to be ushered into the Union with every possible demonstration of studious reverence on our part, and on hers with colors flying, and all the other graceful accompaniments of honorable triumph, this illconditioned upstart of the West, this obscure foundling of a wilderness that was but yesterday the hunting ground of the savage, is to find her way into the American family as she can, with an humiliating badge of remediless inferiority patched upon her garments, with the mark of recent, qualified manumission upon her, or rather with a brand upon her forehead to tell the story of her territorial vassalage, and to perpetuate the memory of her evil propensities. It is now avowed that, while the robust district of Maine is to be seated by the side of her truly respectable parent, co-ordinate in authority and honor, ...] is to be dandled into that power and dignity of which she does not stand in need, but which undoubtedly she deserves, the more infantine and feeble Missouri is to be repelled with harshness, and forbidden to come at all, unless with the iron collar of servitude about her neck, instead of the civic crown of republican freedom upon her brows, and is to be doomed for ever to leading-strings, unless she will exchange those leading-strings for shackles. told that you have the power to establish
this odious and revolting distinction, and I am referred for the proofs of that power to various parts of the constitution, but principally to that part of it which authorizes the admission of new States into the Union. I am myself of opinion that it is in that part only that the advocates for this restriction can, with any hope of success, apply for a license to impose it; and that the efforts which have been made to find it in other portions of that instrument, are too desperate to require to be encountered. I shall, however, examine those other portions before I have done, lest it should be supposed by those who have relied upon them, that what I omit to answer I believe to be unanswerable. The clause of the constitution which relates to the admission of new States is in these words: “The Congress may admit new States into this Union,” &c., and the advocates for restriction maintain that the use of the word “may” imports discretion to admit or to reject; and that in this discretion is wrapped u another—that of prescribing the terms an conditions of admission in case you are willing to admit: “Cujus est dare ejus est disponere.” I will not for the present inquire whether this involved discretion to dictate the terms of admission belongs to you or not. It is fit that I should first look to the nature and extent of it. I think I may assume that if such a power be anything but nominal, it is much more than adequate to the present object—that it is a power of vast expansion, to which human sagacity can assign no reasonable limits—that it is a capacious reservoir of authority, from which you may take, in all time to come, as occasion may serve, the means of oppression as well as of benefaction. I know that it professes at this moment to be the chosen instrument of protecting mercy, and would win upon us by its benignant smiles: but I know too it can frown, and play the tyrant, if it be so disposed. Notwithstanding the softness which it now assumes, and the care with which it conceals its giant proportions beneath the deceitful drapery of sentiment, when it next appears before you it may show itself with a sterner countenance and in more awful dimensions. It is, to speak the truth, sir, a power of colossal size—if indeed it be not an abuse of language to call it by the gentle name of a power. Sir, it is a wilderness of powers, of which fancy in her happiest mood is unable to perceive the far distant and shadowy boundary. Armed with such a power, with religion in one hand and philanthropy in the other, and followed with a goodly train of public and private virtues, you may achieve more conquests over sovereignties not your own, than falls to the common lot of even uncommon ambition. By the aid of such a power, skilfully employed, you may “bridge your way” over the }. that separates State legislation from that of Congress; and you may do so for pretty much the same purpose with which Xerxes once bridged his way across the Hellespont that separates Asia from Europe. He did so, in the language of Milton, “the liberties of Greece to yoke.” You may do so for the analogous purpose of subjugating and reducing the sovereignties of States, as your taste or convenience may suggest, and fashioning them to your imperial will. There are those in this House who appear to think, and I doubt not sincerely, that the particular restraint now under consideration is wise, and benevolent, and good; wise as respects the Union—good as respects Missouri—benevolent as respects the unhappy victims whom with a novel kindness it would incarcerate in the south, and bless by decay and extirpation. Let all such beware, lest in their desire for the effect which they believe the restriction will produce, they are too easily satisfied that they É. the right to impose it. The moral beauty of the present purpose, or even its political recommendations, (whatever they may be,) can do nothing for a power like this, which claims to prescribe conditions “ad libitum,” and to be competent to this purpose, because it is competent to all. This restriction, if it be not smothered in its birth, will be but a small part of the progeny of that prolific power. It teems with a mighty brood, of which this may be entitled to the distinction of comeliness as well as of primogeniture. The rest may want the boasted loveliness of their predecessor, and be even uglier than “Lapland witches.” Perhaps, sir, you will permit me to remind you, that it is almost always in company with those considerations that interest the heart in some way or other, that encroachment steals into the world. A bad purpose throws no veil over the licenses of power. It leaves them to be seen as they are. It affords them no protection from the inquiring eye of jealousy. The danger is when a tremendous discretion like the present is attempted to be assumed, as on this occasion, in the names of pity, of religion, of national honor and national prosperity; when encroachment tricks itself out in the robes of piety, or humanity, or addresses itself to pride of country, with all its kindred passions and motives. It is then that the guardians of the constitution are apt to slumber on their watch, or, if awake, to mistake for lawful rule some pernicious arrogation of power. I would not discourage authorized legislation upon those kindly, generous, and noble feelings which Providence has given to us for the best of purposes: but when power to act is under discussion, I will not look to the end in view, lest I should become indifferent to the lawfulness of the means. Let us discard from this high constitutional question, all those extrinsic considerations which have been forced into its discussion. Let us endeavor to approach it with a philosophic impartiality of temper— with a sincere desire to ascertain the boundaries of our authority, and a determination to keep our wishes in subjection to our allegiance to the constitution. Slavery, we are told in many a pamphlet,
memorial, and speech, with which the press has lately groaned, is a foul blot upon our otherwise immaculate reputation. Let this be conceded —yet you are no nearer than before to the conclusion that you possess power which may deal with other subjects as effectually as with this. Slavery, we are further told, with some pomp of metaphor, is a canker at the root of all that is excellent in this republican empire, a pestilent disease that is snatching the youthful bloom from its cheek, prostrating its honor and withering its strength. Be it so—yet if you have power to medicine to it in the way proposed, and in virtue of the diploma which you claim, you have also power in the distribution of your political alexipharmics to present the deadliest drugs to every territory that would become a State, and bid it drink or remain a colony forever. Slavery, we are also told, is now “rolling onward with a rapid tide towards the boundless regions of the west,” threatening to doom them to sterility and sorrow, unless some potent voice can say to it—thus far shalt thou go, and no farther. Slavery engenders pride and indolence in him who commands, and inflicts intellectual and moral degradation on him who serves. Slavery, in fine, is unchristian and abominable. Sir, I shall not stop to deny that slavery is all this and more; but I shall not think myself the less authorized to deny that it is for you to stay the course of this dark torrent, by opposing to it a mound raised up by the labors of this portentous discretion on the domain of others—a mound which you cannot erect but through the instrumentality of a trespass of no ordinary kind—not the comparatively innocent trespass that beats down a few blades of grass which the first kind sun or the next refreshing shower may cause to sprin again—but that which levels with the groun the lordliest trees of the forest, and claims immortality for the destruction which it inflicts. I shall not, I am sure, be told that I exaggerate this power. It has been admitted here and elsewhere that I do not. But I want no such concession. It is manifest that as a discretionary power it is everything or nothing— that its head is in the clouds, or that it is a mere figment of enthusiastic speculation—that it has no existence, or that it is an alarming vortex ready to swallow up all such portions of the sovereignty of an infant State as you may think fit to cast into it as preparatory to the introduction into the union of the miserable residue. No man can contradict me when I say, that if you have this power, you may squeeze down a new-born sovereign State to the size of a pigmy, and then taking it between finger and thumb, stick it into some nitch of the Union, and still continue by way of mockery to call it a State in the sense of the constitution. You may waste it to a shadow, and then introduce it into the society of flesh and blood an object of scorn and derision. You may sweat and reduce it to a thing of skin and bone, and then place the ominous skeleton beside the ruddy and healthful members of the Union, that it may have leisure to mourn the lamentable difference between itself and its companions, to brood over its disastrous promotion, and to seek in justifiable discontent an opportunity for separation, and insurrection, and rebellion. What may you not do by dexterity and perseverance with this terrific power? You may give to a new State, in the form of terms which it cannot refuse, (as I shall show you hereafter,) a statute book of a thousand volumes—providing not for ordinary cases only, but even for possibilities; you may lay the yoke, no matter whether light or heavy, upon the necks of the latest posterity; you may send this searching power into every hamlet for centuries to come, by laws enacted in the spirit of prophecy, and regulating all those dear relations of domestic concern which belong to local legislation, and which even local legislation touches with a delicate and sparing hand. This is the first inroad. But will it be the last? This provision is but a pioneer for others of a more desolating aspect. It is that fatal bridge of which Milton speaks, and when once firmly built, what shall hinder you to pass it when you please for the purpose of plundering power after power at the expense of new States, as you will still continue to call them, and raising up prospective codes irrevocable and immortal, which shall leave to those States the empty shadows of domestic sovereignty, and convert them into petty pageants, in themselves contemptible, but rendered infinitely more so by the contrast of their humble faculties with the |. and admitted pretensions of those who aving doomed them to the inferiority of vassals, have condescended to take them into their society and under their protection? I shall be told, perhaps, that you can have no temptation to do all or any part of this, and, moreover, that you can do nothing of yourselves, or, in other words, without the concurrence of the new State. The last of these suggestions I shall examine by and by. To the first I answer, that it is not incumbent upon me to prove that this discretion will be abused. It is enough for me to prove the vastness of the ower as an inducement to make us pause upon it, and to inquire with attention whether there is any apartment in the constitution large enough to give it entertainment. It is more than enough for me to show that vast as is this power, it is with reference to mere territories an irresponsible power. Power is irresponsible when it acts upon those who are defenceless against it—who cannot check it, or contribute to check it, in its exercise—who can resist it only by force. The territory of Missouri has no check upon its power. It has no share in the government of the Union. In this body it has no representative. In the other House it has, by courtesy, an agent, who may remonstrate, but cannot vote. That such an irresponsible power is not likely to be abused, who will undertake to assert? If it is not, “ex
perience is a cheat, and fact a liar.” The power which England claimed over the colonies was such a power, and it was abused—and hence the Revolution. Such a power is always perilous to those who wield it, as well as to those on whom it is exerted. Oppression is but another name for irresponsible power, if history is to be trusted. The free spirit of our constitution and of our people, is no assurance against the propension of unbridled power to abuse, when it acts upon colonial dependants rather than upon ourselves. Free States, as well as despots, have oppressed those whom they were bound to foster—and it is the nature of man that it should be so. The love of power, and the desire to display it when it can be done with impunity, is inherent in the human heart. Turn it out at the door, and it will in again at the window. Power is displayed in its fullest measure, and with a captivating dignity, by restraints and conditions. The “pruritas leges ferendi” is an universal disease; and conditions are laws as far as they go. The vanity of human wisdom, and the presumption of human reason, are proverbial. This vanity and this presumption are often neither reasonable nor wise. Humanity, too, sometimes plays fantastic tricks with power. Time, moreover, is fruitful in temptations to convert discretionary power to all sorts of purposes. Time, that withers the strength of man and “strews around him like autumnal leaves the rnins of his proudest monuments,” produces great vicissitudes in modes of thinking and feeling. It brings along with it, in its progress, new circumstances—new combinations and modifications of the old—generating new views, motives, and caprices—new fanaticisms of endless variety—in short, new every thing. We ourselves are always changing—and what today we have but a small desire to attempt, tomorrow becomes the object of our passionate aspirations. There is such a thing as enthusiasm, moral, religious, or political, or a compound of all three;—and it is wonderful what it will attempt, and from what imperceptible beginnings it sometimes rises into a mighty agent. Rising from some obscure or unknown source, it first shows itself a petty rivulet, which scarcely murmurs over the pebbles that obstruct its way—then it swells into a fierce torrent bearing all before it—and then again, like some mountain stream, which occasional rains have precipitated upon the valley, it sinks once more into a rivulet, and finally leaves its channel dry. Such a thing has happened. I do not say that it is now happening. It would not become me to say so. }. if it should occur, woe to the unlucky territory that should be struggling to make its way into the Union at the moment when the opposing inundation was at its height, and at the same instant this wide Mediterranean of discretionary powers, which it seems is ours, should open up all its sluices, and with a con