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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 660   View pdf image (33K)
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660
bia, Maryland being slaveholding, in violation
of the implied faith arising from the
cession of the District. Time does not per-
mit me to express fully my own views in
maintenance of this proposition. I shall
leave its verity to rest upon what has been
more ably said by Mr. Clay, than I could
hope to) utter, in his great speech on the
compromise measures of 1860, and a refer-
ence to the resolutions of the General As-
sembly of Maryland, 1849, No. 87.
Mr. Clay on this point says: " While 1
admitted the power to exist in Congress.
and exclusively in Congress, to legislate
in all cases whatsoever, and consequently
in the case of the abolition of slavery
within this District, if it deemed it proper
to do so, I admitted upon that occasion
as I contend now, that it was a power
which Congress cannot, in conscience and
good faith, exercise while the institution of
slavery continues within the State of Mary-
land." Again: "This implied faith, this
honorable allegation, this honesty and pro-
priety of keeping in constant view the ob-
ject of the cession, these were the considerations
which in 1838, urged me, as they
now influence me, in the preparation of the
resolution which I have submitted for your
consideration. Now, as then, I do think
that Congress, as an honorable body, acting
in good faith, according to the nature, and
purpose, and objects of the cession at the
time it was made, and looking at the con-
dition of the ceding States at that time—
Congress cannot, without forfeiture of all
those obligations of honor, which men of
honor and nations of honor will respect as
much as if they were found literally, in so
many words, in the bond itself, interfere
with the institution of slavery in this Dis-
trict, without a violation of those obliga-
tions, not, ill my opinion, less sacred or less
binding, than if they had been inserted in
the constitutional instrument itself." Cong.,
Globe, vol. 22, part 1, page 121. And that
the State of Maryland, the party ceding the
District—the grantor—so understood the
grant as involving the plighted faith of the
government not to abolish slavery in the
District without her consent, and to the
overthrow of her institution, I read the
resolutions of the General Assembly passed
February 26th, 1850.
"Resolved unanimously by the General!
Assembly of Maryland, That the State of
Maryland ceded to the United States that
part of the District of Columbia, originally
embraced within her territorial limits, in
good faith, for a permanent seat of govern-
ment of the Union, relying upon the integ-
rity of purpose, on the part of the General
Government, and upon its strict compliance
with the terms of cession, in their letter and
in their spirit,
" Resolved unanimously, That the State
of Maryland never designed, nor did the
General Government at the time of the ces-
sion, contemplate the using of the sove-
reignty over the District of Columbia, to
the detriment of the local instutions of
the State of Maryland.
" Resolved unanimously. That any at-
tempt by Congress to abolish slavery in the
District of Columbia, would be a violation of
the implied conditions of the cession, a just
cause of alarm to the slaveholding States,
and have a direct and inevitable tendency
to disturb and endanger the Union."
The destruction of the value of slave
property in Maryland has been caused, sec-
ondly, by the legislation of Congress, viola-
tive of the Constitution, prohibiting any
military officer in the service of the (Government
from delivering tip or returning
slaves.
8. By practically, through officers of the
Government and orders, refusing to permit
the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law-
in Washington city.
4. By a system of military impressment
carried on by officers of the Government,
and by actually taking away by Federal
authority, large numbers of negroes not fit
for military duty, and by arresting white
men in the State while attempting to pre-
vent their negroes from going to Washing-
ton.
5. By protecting the. slaves on their
arrival in Washington city, in contraband
establishments, and now in the freedmen
village and other negro settlements on the
south side of the Potomac,
To one or the other of these causes may
be traced the present status of the institution
of slavery in this State. It has been pro-
duced in some shape or form by the direct
action of the Federal Government.
The question therefore is not whether be-
forehand—while the institution of slavery
is intact—Congress has a constitutional
power to make appropriations to carry out
general and universal schemes of Emanci-
pation, but whether, where practically, and
by the direct action of the Federal Government,
property has been destroyed, or taken
away, or has been depreciated in value by
insecurity of tenure, resulting from a breach


 
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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 660   View pdf image (33K)
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