« 前へ次へ »
prosperity will be our portion; but if we yield, quires the highest qualities, moral and inteland permit the stronger interest to concentrate lectual; and should we perform it with a zeal within itself all the powers of the government, and ability proportioned to its magnitude, inthen will our fate be more wretched than that stead of mere planters, our section will become of the aborigines whom we have expelled. In distinguished for its patriots and statesmen. this great struggle between the delegated and But, on the other hand, if we prove unworthy reserved powers, so far from repining that my of the trust—if we yield to the steady enlot, and that of those whom I represent, is cast croachments of power, the severest calamity on the side of the latter, I rejoice that such is and most debasing corruption will overspread the fact; for, though we participate in but few of the land. Every southern man, true to the inthe advantages of the government, we are com- terests of his section, and faithful to the duties pensated, and more than compensated, in not which Providence has allotted him, will be for being so much exposed to its corruptions. Nor ever excluded from the honors and emoluments do I repine that the duty, so difficult to be dis- of this government, which will be reserved for charged, of defending the reserved powers those only who have qualified themselves, by against apparently such fearful odds, has been political prostitution, for admission into the assigned to us. To discharge it successfully re- Magdalen Asylum.
This eminently honorable man, and learned advocate, was the son of Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, a distinguished lawyer, a patriot of the Revolution, and the first Attorney-General of the State of Pennsylvania. He was born at Philadelphia, on the fifth of December, 1779; was educated at the schools attached to the university of his native State, and at Princeton College, from which latter institution he graduated in 1795. From this period, he was engaged in mercantile pursuits until the spring of 1797, when he commenced the study of law, in the office of Jared Ingersoll. “In this position,” says the venerable Horace Binney, who was a fellowstudent with him, “he was a faithful student-addicted to little pleasure-social, cheerful, and gay with the friends whom he preferred, and giving to myself, without stint, all the leisure time that either of us had, by night and by day, for the purpose of refreshment, or of natural benefit, in the course of our studies. He had, at that time, what all have since observed, an extraordinary quickness of thought, and an equally extraordinary grasp or comprehension of the thought or argument that was opposed to him. Whatever he studied, he knew well, and when he left the office, was as accomplished a student as was ever admitted to the bar.” The highest opinion of his talents and ability was held by his preceptor, Mr. Ingersoll-an opinion which can best be estimated from the following remark, that he was accustomed to use to other of his pupils, who went to him for information on difficult points :-"Go to Mr. Sergeant,” he would say, "he has been over that, and he can tell you, if any body can." *
Mr. Sergeant was admitted to the bar in December, 1799, and at once entered upon a large and lucrative practice. In 1800, he was appointed, by Governor McKean, Deputy AttorneyGeneral for the counties of Philadelphia and Chester, and remained in that office several years, at the same time practising in the municipal courts of the city of Philadelphia. In 1802, be was appointed, by Mr. Jefferson, a Commissioner of Bankrupts.
The occasion on which he first became celebrated as a remarkable lawyer, was at the argument of a case in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in the year 1806. The power and learning he displayed at that time, although it did not avail him in gaining all the points of his case, won the applause of his associates at the bar, as well as that of the presiding judge, who intimated that if any argument would have shaken his opinion, it would have been Mr. Sergeant's. From this time he took his station among the foremost in his profession, continually advanced, and ere long attained a position in the first rank, which he held with increasing reputation until the period of his death.
In 1805, Mr. Sergeant was chosen to the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, from the city of Philadelphia. Declining to serve the following year, he was re-elected to the same office in 1807. During the latter session he was prominent and successful in the advocacy of internal improvement; was chairman of the committee on Roads and Inland Navigation, and in hat capacity rendered important services in the establishment of turnpikes and other highways. In many other measures of public utility he manifested the deepest interest.
In 1815, he was chosen to represent the district in which he resided, in the lower House of
Hon. Horace Binney's remarks at the meeting of the Philadelphia Bar, on the life and character of Mr. Sergeant
Congress, and held his seat in that assembly until 1820; when, returning to Philadelphia, he devoted himself to the avocations of his profession. In the various debates which arose during his Congressional career, on the Military Academy Bill, the United States Bank, the Bankrupt Law, and the exciting question of Internal Improvement, he took an active and prominent part. But the most powerful of his parliamentary efforts was made on the occasion of the discussion of the Missouri Question. That speech is spoken of as “one of the best reasoned, and most able speeches, that has ever been heard in the Hall of either House of Congress. It has almost exhausted the argument in favor of the prohibition of slavery in the new States and territories, and it was no small token of the respect and esteem which was then entertained for him (although comparatively but a young member and a young man), that he was selected and pitted as the champion of the North, against the best abilities of the able and experienced members who maintained the opposite doctrines." In 1825, Mr. Sergeant was the President of the Board of Canal Commissioners of Pennsylvania. The following year he was appointed by President Adams, Minister from the United States to the Congress of Panama, and passed the winter in Mexico, waiting the assembling of that body, which was to meet at Tacubaya, in that conntry. Owing to the political disturbances in South America at that time, the plenipotentiaries did not assemble, and in July, 1827, Mr. Sergeant returned to Philadelphia. Soon after he was again elected to Congress; and, in 1832, was the Whig candidate for the Vice Presidency, on the ticket with Mr. Clay. He was a member of the Pennsylvania convention that assembled for the purpose of amending the constitution of the State, and entered earnestly into the debates which arose on the several important measures that sprung up during its session. His speech on the Judicial tenure is referred to by his contemporaries, as embodying a clear and forcible exposition of the doctrines and principles which he held on that question.
· In 1840, he was again elected to Congress, but remained there only one session. On the accession of General Harrison to the Presidency, he was invited to become one of his cabinet, but declined the honor. Soon after the mission to the Court of Great Britain was tendered him. This he also declined. In 1844, he was associated with Horace Binney in the celebrated Girard Will case. In 1847, he was selected by Mr. Marcy, then Secretary of State, as Arbitrator on the part of the United States, to determine the protracted controversy existing between the State of Delaware and the United States, on the question of the title to the Pea Patch Island. That difference was finally settled by his decree. This was the last public office he occupied. His last appearance before the public was at the Union meeting (of which he was the president) that assembled in Philadelphia, on the adoption of the Compromise measures. The last time his voice, then enfeebled by disease, was heard, was in an appeal for the Constitution and the Union. He died at Philadelphia, on the twenty-third of November, 1852.
As a lawyer, Mr. Sergeant was not surpassed, if equalled, by any who have occupied positions at the bar, of which he was a member. During a long life he was a diligent student. He was learned, not only in the different branches of his profession, but in the various subjects of history, ethics and philosophy, and by this multiplicity of knowledge he was enabled to bring to his aid, in the consideration of the greatest constitutional questions, or of the more simple matters of common practice, resources which seldom failed to ensure success. “The range of his mind,” says Mr. Binney, “was just as wide as the whole circle of his professional necessities. He know the bearings of every part of the law, * * * He could draw his resources from every part of it with equal ease when it was necessary. He had acquired an early training in criminal law, swd in that he not only went before his contemporaries, but he stood on one side of them, walking a different line. His honor and integrity in all that regarded the profession or the management of his cause, were not only above impeachment or imputation, but beyond the thought of it. His heart, his mind, his principles, his conscience, his bond to man, and his bond to Heaven, which he had given early, and which to the last he never intentionally violated, would have made it, humanly speaking, impossible for him to swerve from his integrity. It is the best example possible for the rising generation to have before them. He was perfectly fair—there was no evasion, no stratagem, no surprisal, no invocation of prejudice, no appeal to unworthy passions—he was above, far above all this. He had too much strength to make use of such arts,
to say nothing of his virtue. He was charitable in doing work at the bar without pecuniary compensation, though not without reward; he had that which, in his judgment, was the best reward. But he did not do it ostentatiously. He never let his left hand know what his right hand did. Still less did he ever impose upon the left hands of others, by giving those little informed of it what his right hand had not done. He was in every respect, internally, in the heart, a kind man." No extended biography of Mr. Sergeant has yet been written. A small collection of his speeches and addresses was collected and published in 1832, among which are those delivered in the Congress of the United States, the Oration in Commemoration of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, a Discourse delivered at Rutgers College, in July, 1829, and the Argument in the case of the Cherokee Nation vs. the State of Georgia, in the Supreme Court of the United States, on the fifth of March, 1631.*
THE MISSOURI QUESTION.
The following speech, on a bill to enable the , ty,” aiming to re-establish itself in the posses people of the Missouri Territory to form a con- son of power, and
tory to form a consion of power, and has spoken of a "juggler be
hind the scene." He surely has not reflected stitution and State Government, and for the ad
upon the magnitude of the principle contended mission of such State into the Union, was de- for, or he would have perceived at once the utter livered by Mr. Sergeant in the House of Repre-insignificance of all objects of factious and party sentatives of the United States, on the eighth contest, when compared with the mighty inter
ests it involves. It concerns ages to come, and and ninth of February, 1820.1
millions to be born. We, who are here, our
dissensions and conflicts, are nothing, absolutely Mr. CHAIRMAN: The important question now nothing, in the comparison; and I cannot well before the committee, has already engaged the conceive, that any man, who is capable of rais best talents and commanded the deepest atten- ing his view to the elevation of this great question of the nation. What the people strongly tion, could suddenly bring it down to the low feel, it is natural that they should freely express; and paltry consideration of party interests and and whether this is done by pamphlets and es- party motives. says, by the resolutions of meetings or citizens, 1o Another member (Mr. M'Lane), taking indeed or by the votes of State legislatures, it is equally I a more liberal ground, has warned us against legitimate and entitled to respect, as the voice ambitious and designing men, who, he thinks, of the public, upon a great and interesting pub- will always be ready to avail themselves of oclic measure. The free expression of opinion is casions of popular excitement, to mount into one of the rights guaranteed by the constitu- power upon the ruin of our government, and the tion, and, in a government like ours, it is an in- I destruction of our liberties. Sir, I am not afraid valuable right. It has not, therefore, been with of what is called popular excitement-all history out some surprise and concern, that I have heard teaches us, that revolutions are not the work it complained of, and even censured in this de- of men, but of time and circumstances, and a bate. One member suggests to us that, in the long train of preparation. Men do not produce excitement which prevails, he discerns the ef- l them: they are brought on by corruption-thev forts of what he has termed an "expiring par are generated in the quiet and stillness of apathy,
and to my mind nothing could present a more * See the Philadelphia newspapers, published after Mr. frightful indication, than public indifference to Sergeant's death, also the Hon. W. M. Meredith's Eulogium.
such a question as this. It is not by vigorously † The debate commenced on the 26th of January, 1820, on
maintaining great moral and political principles, the following amendments, proposed by Mr. Taylor of New
in their purity, that we incur the danger. If York, to the bill: And shall ordain and establish that there gentlemen are sincerely desirons to perpet shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said
the blessings of that free constitution under State, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof
| which we live, I would advise them to apply the party shall have been duly convicted. Provided always,
their exertions to the preservation of public and that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or
private virtue, upon which its existence, I had service is lawfully claimed in any other State, such fugitive
almost said, entirely depends. As long as this may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claim
is preserved, we have nothing to fear. When ing his or her labor or service as aforesaid. And provided also, that the said provision shall not be construed to alter
this shall be lost, when luxury and vice and corthe condition or civil rights of any person now held to ser
ruption, sball have usurped its place, then, invice or labor in the said territory.
deed, a government resting upon the people for See the speeches of Rufus King and William Pinkney, its support, must totter and decay, or yield to on the same subject, at pages 44 and 114 ante.
I the designs of ambitious and aspiring men.
Another member, the gentleman to whom | dices and partialities we had imbibed, we conthe committee lately listened with so much at-ceive ourselves, at this particular period, called tention, (Mr. Clay,) after depicting forcibly upon, by the blessings we have received, to and eloquently, what he deemed the probable manifest the sincerity of our profession. In consequences of the proposed amendment, ap- justice, therefore, to persons who, having no pealed emphatically to Pennsylvania; “the un- prospect before them, whereon they may rest ambitious Pennsylvania, the keystone of the fed- their sorrows and their hopes, have no reasonaeral arch," whether she would concur in a meas- ble inducement to render that service to society ure calculated to disturb the peace of the Union which otherwise they might; and also, in grateSir, this was a single arch; it is rapidly becom- ful commemoration of our own happy deliverance ing a combination of arches, and where the cen- from that state of unconditional submission to tre now is, whether in Kentucky or Pennsylva- which we were doomed by the tyranny of Britnia, or where at any given time it will be, might ain—Be it enacted, that no child born hereafter be very difficult to tell. Pennsylvania may in- shall be a slave, &c." In this manner did Penndeed be styled “unambitious," for she has not sylvania express her thankfulness for the delivbeen anxious for what are commonly deemed erance that had been wrought for her, and I am honors and distinctions, nor eager to display confident she will never incur the sin and the ker weight and importance in the affairs of the danger of ingratitude. nation. She has, nevertheless, felt, and still Steadfastly as Pennsylvania holds the position does feel, her responsibility to the Union; and here taken, she will not officiously obtrude her under a just sense of her duty, has always been opinions upon her sister States. One of the faithful to its interests, under every vicissitude, grounds of her rejoicing, and one of the causes and in every exigency. But Pennsylvania feels of her gratitude, was, that "she had it in her also a high responsibility to a great moral prin- power to abolish slavery.” She will not, in ciple, which she has long ago adopted with the this respect, presume to judge for others, though most impressive solemnity, for the rule of her she will rejoice if they too should have the powown conduct, and which she stands bound to er and feel the inclination. But, whenever the assert and maintain, wherever her influence and question presents itself, in a case where she has power can be applied, without injury to the a right to judge, I trust she will be true to her just rights of her sister States. It is this princi- own principles, and do her duty. Such I take ple, and this alone, that now governs her con- | to be the case now before the committee. duct. She holds it too sacred to suffer it to be The proposed amendment presents for considdebased by association with any party or fac- eration three questions: that of the constitutious views, and she will pursue it with the sin- tional power of Congress, that which arises out gleness of heart, and with the firm but unof- of the treaty of cession, and, finally, that which fending temper which belong to a conscientious is termed the question of expediency. I beg discharge of duty, and which, I hope I may say, the indulgence of the committee while I enhave characterized her conduct in all her rela- | deavor to examine them in the order stated. tions. If any one desire to know what this First. We are about to lay the foundation of principle is, he shall hear it in the language of a new State, beyond the Mississippi, and to admit Pennsylvania herself, as contained in the pre- that State into the Union. The proposition, conamble to her act of abolition, passed in the year tained in the amendment, is, in substance, to 1780. I read it not without feelings of sincere enter into a compact with the new State, at her satisfaction, as abridged by a foreign writer, formation, which shall establish a fundamental with his introductory remark. (2 Belsham, 23, principle of her government, not to be changed memoirs of Geo, 3.)
without the consent of both parties; and this “It affords a grateful relief from the sensa- principle is, that every human being, born or tions which oppress the mind in listening to the hereafter brought within the State, shall be free. tale of human folly and wretchedness, to revert | The only questions under the constitution, to an act of the most exalted philanthropy, seem to me to be, whether the parties are compassed about this period, by the legislature petent to make a compact, and whether they of Pennsylvania, to the following purport:" can make such a compact ? If they cannot, it " When we contemplate our abhorrence of that must be either for want of power in the parties condition, to which the arms and tyranny of to contract, or from the nature of the subject. Great Britain were exerted to reduce us, when It cannot, at this time of day, be denied, that we look back on the variety of dangers to which the United States have power to contract with we have been exposed, and deliverances wrought, a State, nor that a State has power to contract when even hope and fortitude have become un- | with the United States. It has been the uniform equal to the conflict, we conceive it to be our and undisputed practice, both before and since duty, and rejoice that it is in our power, to ex- | the adoption of the constitution. tend a portion of that freedom to others which There are numerous instances of cessions of hath been extended to us, to add one more step territory or claims to territory. By States, to to universal civilization, by removing, as much the Union. By New York, in 1781 ; by Viras possible, the sorrows of those who have lived ginia, in 1784 and in 1788; by Massachusetts, in in undeserved bondage. Weaned by a long 1785; by Connecticut, in 1786; by South Carocourse of experience from those narrow preju- / lina, in 1787 ; by North Carolina, in 1790; and