SECTION XII.-On the Application of these Principles to the Governments, where Reformed Presbyterians reside, in the form of a Practical Testimony.
Q. Under the government of what nations do Reformed Presbyterians reside?
A. They reside within the jurisdiction of the governments of the United States and Great Britain.
Q. Is the government of the United States, a government to which they yield allegiance, being in its constitution and administration the ordinance of God?
A. They do not yield allegiance to the government of the United States, but claim and exercise the right of dissent from its constitution, as an instrument of government having no claims to the dignity of being the Ordinance of God; but as immoral, and hostile to the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Q. Upon what grounds do they state their dissent from the constitution of the United States?
A. In their testimony entitled “Reformation Principles” they declare, “There are moral evils essential to the constitution of the United States, which render it necessary to refuse allegiance to the whole system. In this remarkable instrument there is contained no acknowledgment of the being or authority of God. There is no acknowledgment of the Christian religion, or professed submission to the kingdom of the Messiah. It gives support to the enemies of the Redeemer, and admits to its honours and emoluments, Jews, Mohametans, Deists, and Atheists. It establishes the system of robbery, by which men are held in slavery, despoiled of liberty, and property, and protection. It violates the principles of representation, by bestowing upon the domestic tyrant who holds hundreds of his fellow creatures in bondage all influence in making laws for freemen proportioned to the number of his own slaves. This constitution is, notwithstanding its numerous excellences, in many instances inconsistent, oppressive, and impious.” Part I. p. 152.
Q. Is it indeed true, that this famous Constitution does not recognise the being or authority of God, or the regal authority of Jesus Christ, “the prince of the kings of the earth?”
A. It does not. If it did, the acknowledgment would be found in the PREAMBLE, which is as follows:—“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the Common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”
Q. Is there any recognition of the being and authority of God and his Christ in this part of this important instrument!
A. There is evidently not. The supreme authority is evidently that only of WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES; God and his Christ are not mentioned, nor the mediatorial supremacy recognised.
Q. But is not the being and authority of God recognised in the oath of office required of the President of the United States, in the words, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,” &c?
A. Not necessarily of the TRUE GOD. Because, 1. We learn from a member of the convention that framed the constitution, LUTHER MARTIN, delegate from Maryland, that the subject was debated in the convention, and the recognition refused. “The part of the system which requires that ‘no religious test’ shall ever be required as a qualification of any office or public trust under the United States, was adopted by a great majority of the convention, and without much debate. However, there were some members so unfashionable as to think that a belief of the existence of a Deity, and of a state of future rewards and punishments, would be some security for the good conduct of our rulers, and that, in a Christian country it would be, at least, decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity, and downright infidelity and Paganism.”—Genuine Information, p. 87. From this information it appears that the president may be all Atheist, according to the constitution, and the oath of office is, therefore, not a recognition of the being of a God, as his name is not mentioned in the form of the oath, and it contains no appeal to Him. 2. The Heathen swore by their Gods, but this was not a recognition OF GOD; nor is he pleased with such service. Jer. v. 7. “How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods.” 3. As it was evidently intended that Atheists might hold office, by what God would they swear, who deny the existence of a Deity, and a future state of rewards and punishments?
Q. Does not the constitution recognise the Christian religion, and express its subjection to the kingdom of the Messiah?
A. It evidently does not. 1. From the above testimony of Luther Martin, that it was designed to hold out “no distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity and Paganism.” 2. From the 2d Sec. of Art. 6 in which it is declared, “This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all TREATIES made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, SHALL BE THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND.” In the treaty with “TRIPOLI, Mahometanism [i.e., Islam] is declared to be as much the religion of this nation as Christianity. “The Government,” says this “supreme law,” “of the United States IS NOT IN ANY SENSE FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. It has in itself no character of enmity against the laws or religion of Musselmen [i.e., Muslims].”—U. S. Laws, Vol. 4, Trip. Treat. Art. 2. Christianity—the laws of the Bible, are in no sense an element of the constitution. The supreme law is, THE WILL of WE THE PEOPLE, expressed in the constitution, laws, and treaties with foreign powers. The nation, as such, is INFIDEL. Yea, it is a nation without a God. Is. lx. 12. And the “justice” which they would “establish,” is not that which is founded upon that attribute of God, but that only which the will of “we the people” shall determine to be justice.
Q. Does the constitution give support to the enemies of the Redeemer, and admit to its honours and emoluments those who are adverse to his authority, religion, and laws, even Mahometans [i.e., Muslims], Deists and Atheists?
A. This is manifestly so; as a supreme law declares it is not in any sense founded on the religion of the Bible, and refuses, as a qualification for office, that the office-bearer should believe in the existence of a Deity, or a future state of rewards and punishments; as a consequence, infidels have occupied, and Atheists may occupy the highest seat in the gift of we the people. In contrast, the scriptures require, He that ruleth over men must be just RULING IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD.
Q. Is the Constitution of the United States a pro-slavery instrument?
A. Yes. It establishes that system of ROBBERY by which men are held in slavery, and despoiled of liberty and property.
Q. Is not this view of that instrument zealously disputed, and is it not attempted to be proved a strongly Anti-slavery document?
A. Yes. By a false and sophistical scheme of interpretation, an attempt is made to free the constitution from the guilt of being, in its true import, a slave-holding instrument.
Q. What are the legitimate rules of interpretation, by the application of which, the true import of a disputed document may be correctly ascertained?
A. The following are laid down by logicians and legitimate rules of interpretation. 1. “Whatever is obscure or doubtful in a covenant should be interpreted by the intention of the parties. If the intention of the parties does not appear from the words of the covenant, it should be inferred from the existing customs and usages of the place, in which it was made. If the words of the covenant contradict the well known intention of the parties, this intention must be regarded rather than the words.” 2. “When former interpreters are appealed to, in order to establish the sense of an ancient writing, those, caeteris paribus, should he preferred, who were nearest the author, in time or place, as his children, pupils, correspondents, or countrymen; and who had, therefore, better advantages for knowing his mind than more distant commentators.”—Hedge’s Logic, p. 167. By the application of these established rules of interpretation to the constitution, we will be able to ascertain its real character.
Q. Does not the preamble to the constitution, in which it is stated that the object of the instrument is to establish justice and secure the blessings of liberty to “we the people” and their “posterity,” prove the anti-slavery character of ‘the instrument?
A. By no means. The import of the preamble depends upon the just meaning to be attached to the phrase “We the people,” which cannot be justly interpreted as signifying any other than the free inhabitants of the land at the time the constitution was penned.
Q. Have you any proof that the slaves were not included in the phrase “We the people?”
A. Yes. Conclusive proof. 1. The people who ordained and established the constitution to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and posterity, were the same who were bound together by the feeble bonds of the old “articles of confederation,” which expressly declare, Art. iv., Sec. 1, “That the FREE INHABITANTS shall be entitled to the immunities of free citizens in the several states.” The free citizens of the several states were united by the ties of the confederation and these, finding those articles but “a rope of sand” to hold them together—and these only constitute WE THE PEOPLE, who ordained and established the constitution, to form a more perfect union, not with the slaves, but among themselves, as the free citizens; and to secure, not for the slaves, whom they then and afterwards held in bondage, but for themselves and their posterity, as then free, the blessings of liberty. 2. Not a slave had A VOTE (the prerogative of freemen), or cast a vote in the election of delegates to the convention which framed the constitution. That they so voted must be proved before they can be embraced in the phrase we the people. 3. Not a slave had the privilege of voting, or cast a vote in the election of delegates to the thirteen state conventions that adopted the constitution as the expression of the sovereign will of WE THE PEOPLE. This also must be proved in the affirmative, before the slaves can be included in the pompous phrase. 4. The inference is irresistible. THE FREE INHABITANTS of the land are WE THE PEOPLE; and it is not a constitution to secure the liberties of the slave, but of the already free, whilst it rivets the chains of the bondman. 5. When the constitution was ordained, and started on its career in the inauguration of Washington as the first president, the president himself was, at the time, A SLAVEHOLDER! and the groans and clanking of the chains of half a million of slaves mingled with the notes of the trumpet, the roar of artillery, and the shouts of “We the people” on that stupendous occasion! What a splendid mockery of justice and liberty!
Q. Have you any further proof of the pro-slavery character of this celebrated instrument?
A. Yes. Abundant. The first I adduce is Art. i. Sec 2. “Representatives and direct taxation Shall he apportioned among the Several states, which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.”
Q. Upon what in this passage does the argument hinge?
A. It hinges upon the just construction of the phrase, “three fifths of all other persons.”
Q. Is it not a just construction of this clause to represent it as signifying women, aliens, paupers, the tenants of almshouses, vagrants, &c.; for those who would evade its true import are not agreed upon a specific meaning?
A. All these constructions are illegitimate. 1. Women, aliens, and paupers are free persons, and are embraced in the census of population. 2. The phrase is not in the least ambiguous. It is as plain as any circumlocution call be. Take it in connexion with its context, and the laws of philological construction compel us to adopt the term slaves, as the only logical interpretation, and the true synonym of the phrase “all other persons:” for who are the opposite of “the whole number of free persons,” but those who are not free, namely, SLAVES? This stands nearest in the opposition to free persons, and legitimate construction constrains us to adopt the term. 3. This has been the uniform construction since the constitution went into operation, and sustained by this clause the slave-holding states have twenty-five representatives in Congress, based upon their slave population, more than they would be entitled to upon the basis of their free population!
Q. Have you any respectable authority in proof of this interpretation of the disputed clause?
A. Yes; highly respectable. BAYARD in his “Exposition of the Constitution” confirms this interpretation as the original intention of the clause. “In settling the ratio of representation, another difficulty arose, respecting the slaves who form so large a portion of the inhabitants of some of the states. To compute them among the numbers represented would be giving them an importance to which their character did not entitle them; or, rather, would be introducing a representation of property, contrary to the general tenor of the constitution; to omit them altogether in the computation would be to reduce the influence of the Southern States in a manner to which they would never consent. As a medium between these, it is agreed that five slaves should be accounted as three citizens, in arranging the representation, and the apportionment computed accordingly.”—P. 50.
Q. Have you any additional proof that this was the design of the clause when enacted and adopted as the supreme law of the land?
A. Yes. LUTHER MARTIN, a member of the convention that framed the constitution, and who therefore was fully possessed of its design, fully confirms the interpretation. “With respect to that part of the first article which relates to the apportionment of representation and direct taxation, there were considerable objections made to it, besides the great objection of inequality. It was urged that no principle could justify taking slaves into computation in apportioning the number of representatives a state should have in the government. That it involved the absurdity of increasing the power of a state in making laws for freemen in proportion as that state violated the rights of freedom.” Slaves, then, were the persons designed by the phrase “three-fifths of all other persons.” Thus the constitution “violates the principle of representation, by bestowing upon the domestic tyrant who holds hundreds of his fellow creatures in bondage, an influence in making laws for freemen proportioned to the number of his own slaves.”
Q. Was such the understanding of THE STATE CONVENTIONS which adopted the constitution?
A. Yes. ALEXANDER HAMILTON, a delegate from New York to the convention that framed the constitution, and the only member from New York that signed it when completed, thus urges its adoption in the New York Convention: “The first thing objected to is the clause (three-fifths of all other persons) that allows a representation of three fifths of the negroes. Much has been said of the impropriety of representing men who have no will of their own: whether that is reasoning or declamation. (!) I will not presume to say. It is the unfortunate situation of the Southern States to have a great part of their population as well as property in blacks. The regulation complained of was one result of the spirit of accommodation which governed the convention and without this indulgence NO UNION COULD HAVE BEEN FORMED. But sir, considering some of the peculiar advantages which WE derived from them, it is entirely just they should be gratified. (! ! !) The Southern Slates possess certain staples—tobacco, rice, indigo, &c, which must be capital objects in treaties of commerce with foreign nations; and the advantages which they necessarily procure in these treaties will be felt throughout the United States.” Thus the spirit of compromise has erected SLAVERY a column to sustain the union of these states, and this column has for its impediment the United States Constitution! Hamilton certainly understood the meaning and intention of the clause “all other persons.” His interpretation is THREE-FIFTHS OF THE NEGROES! Yes, commercial speculation drowned in the bosom, even of an ALEXANDER HAMILTON, the sense of justice, and he and his compatriots did not hesitate to barter liberty for gold, and to strengthen and cement the union by the bondage and blood of the negro!
Q. Does not the venerable JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, contemporary with the framing, adoption, and administration of the constitution, confirm this interpretation?
A. Yes, fully. In his report, in the House of representatives, on the Massachusetts resolution, he thus comments on this clause: “In outward show it is a representation of PERSONS IN BONDAGE; in fact it is a representation of their masters—the oppressor representing the oppressed.”—“Is it in the compass of human imagination to devise a more perfect exemplification of the act of committing the lamb to the tender custody of the wolf?”—“The representative is thus constituted, not the friend, agent, and trustee of the person whom he represents, but the most inveterate of his foes.”—“If there be a parallel to it in human history, it can only be that of the Roman Emperors, who, from the days when Julius Caesar substituted a military despotism in the place of a republic, among the offices which they always concentrated upon themselves, was that of the tribune of the people. A Roman Emperor, Tribune of the people, is an exact parallel to that feature in the Constitution of the United States which MAKES THE MASTER THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SLAVE.” In the light of these contemporaneous expositions, we cannot in the exercise of sound judgment for one moment hold the clause under consideration as in the least ambiguous, but so well defined, understood, and so fully practised upon, that, a power has been reared legitimately upon it which overtops all other powers, and threatens the enslaving or destruction of the union. “Its reciprocal operation upon the government of the nation is, to establish an artificial majority in the slave representation over that of the free people, in the American Congress, and thereby to make the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery THE VITAL AND ANIMATING SPIRIT OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.”—Adam’s Report.
Q. May we not array one part of the instrument against the other, the good parts, for example, against the bad, for the nullification of the hater?
A. By no means. It must be received as a whole and in all its parts. Neither can we separate the good from the bad—they are so interwoven that they must stand or fall together. We cannot construe it as wholly in favour of liberty; this would be to falsify the instrument. It is a compact in compromise with the slaveholder. He claims his part of the bond, and, if we sustain the instrument, WE MUST YIELD HIM HIS POUND OF FLESH, DRAW BLOOD WHERE IT MAY. It is, moreover, fearfully consistent with itself, liberty for “the whole number of free people,” bondage and degradation for “all other persons”—the WRETCHED NEGRO SLAVES.
Q. What other proof have you of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution of the United States?
A. A conclusive argument is found in Art. i., Sec. ix. “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing may think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to the year 1808, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation not exceeding ten dollars for each person.”
Q. What evidence is there that slaves are intended by the phrase “such persons” in this remarkable clause?
A. There is abundant evidence which cannot be fully gainsaid, because fully exhibiting the original design of this degrading clause.
Q. Are slaves, indeed, viewed as “persons” according to the letter and spirit of this clause?
A. American slavery, it is fully admitted, is all that the laws of the States declare it to be. The slave is “a chattel personal” in the hands of his owner; goods, a merchantable thing; yet, though marketable as a beast, and sold in the shambles as property, all this does not deny him to be a person; not free and independent, yet “an individual human being consisting of soul and body,” yea, “a man, woman, or child, as opposed to things, or distinct from them.” But a man, woman, or child, held as the property of another man, woman, or child, as the case may be. The slaveholder still views the slave as a human being, and will call it his MAN, POMP or CUFFY, his BOY Harry, his WOMAN Diana, or his GIRL Malinda. Take two advertisements as an example: 1. “FOR SALE.—Dick Morgan, a very honest, trusty servant, has acted as a porter in a grocery store for several years, and SPEAKS French and English.” 2. “Robert—possesses a first rate character in every respect.” These slaves are considered as men skilled in various employments requiring intellect, “souls,” so as to understand them; endowed with the gift of speech, and susceptible of moral culture, so as to be honest and to possess character. Now, who ever advertised a horse for sale as honest, a porter in a grocery store, and possessing a first rate character in all respects, and speaking the French and English languages? Negroes are viewed by slaveholders themselves as persons held as property. His personality is not destroyed, but his personal control as a “free person” is wrested and retained from him. He is considered a person as represented in Congress by his master; he is property as sold in the shambles: they are persons in the condition of slavery.
Q. What is the testimony of Bayard as an expositor of the constitution, as it respects the fact that slaves are solely intended by this clause of that instrument?
A. Bayard thus expounds the clause. Illustrating the limitation in the constitution of the powers of Congress, he remarks: “The first exception of this kind is that by which Congress is forbidden to prohibit ‘the migration or importation of such persons as any of the existing states should think proper to admit prior to the year 1808.’ The word ‘slaves’ is never mentioned in the constitution; the same sensibility on that subject then, as now, in the southern portion of the Union; but some of the politicians of that day thought the introduction of that unfortunate class, essential to the prosperity, if not to the existence of the southern states; and therefore would not consent to allow Congress to exercise the right they would otherwise possess, under time general power of regulating commerce, to put an immediate end to this inhuman traffic. The result was a compromise by which the power of Congress was restricted for a limited period.”
This is the language of an expositor of the constitution, who I learn from his advertisement to the second edition of his commentary, from which I quote, received by letter approbation “Chief Justice Marshall, Judge Story, chancellor Kent, and other distinguished jurists.” Now, what is the construction ratified by these distinguished jurists? Simply, the clause relating to slaves, and slaves only; and manifestly authorizes and sanctions the inhuman traffic in slaves for 20 years. This is obvious upon the least consideration. Without this clause Congress had and would have exercised the right to put an end to the African slave trade, as far as this country was concerned. But the WILL of WE the SOVEREIGN PEOPLE expressed in the constitution RESTRAINED Congress in the execution of this noble deed for 20 years. Therefore, the will of “we the people” expressed in the constitution SANCTIONED the FOREIGN SLAVE TRADE during that period. If they prevented its destruction by their will, which otherwise could or would have taken place, their will sustained the barbarous traffic.
Q. What is the testimony of LUTHER MARTIN upon this point?
A. His testimony upon this clause, as a member of the convention that framed the constitution, is as follows: "the design of this clause is to PREVENT the General Government FROM PROHIBITING THE IMPORTATION OF SLAVES, but the same reasons which induced them to strike out the word ‘national,’ and not admit the word ‘stamps,’ influenced them here to guard against the word ‘slaves.’ They anxiously sought to avoid the admission of expressions which might seem odious in the ears of Americans; although they were willing to admit into their system THOSE THINGS which the expressions signified.”
Q. What is the history of the celebrated compromise upon the subject of slavery, between the Northern and Southern States, which was adopted in the convention that framed the constitution?
A. LUTHER MARTIN gives the history of that odious transaction in the following words: “This clause,” the one under consideration, “was the subject of great diversity of sentiment in the convention; as the system was reported by the committee of detail the provision was general, that such importation SHOULD NOT BE PROHIBITED without confining it to any particular period. This was rejected by eight states—Georgia, South Carolina, and, I think, North Carolina voting for it.”
“We were then told by the delegates of the two first of those states, that their states would never agree to a system which put it in the power of the general government TO PREVENT THE IMPORTATION OF SLAVES, and that they, as delegates from those states, must withhold their assent from such a system.”
“A committee of one member from each state was chosen by ballot, to take this part of the system under consideration, and to endeavour to agree upon some report, which would RECONCILE those states. This committee, of which I also had the honour to be a member, met and took under their consideration the subject committed to them. I found the Eastern States, notwithstanding their aversion to slavery, were willing to indulge the Southern States, at least with a temporary liberty, to prosecute the slave-trade, provided the Southern States would gratify them in laying no restriction upon Navigation Acts; and after a very little time the committee, by a great majority agreed on a report by which the general government was to BE PROHIBITED FROM PREVENTING THE IMPORTATION OF SLAVES FOR A LIMITED PERIOD, and the restrictive clause to navigation acts was to be omitted. This report was adopted by a majority of the convention.”
Q. What is the point of this testimony of LUTHER MARTIN?
A. The point is this. That most infamous traffic, the slave-trade, was GUARANTEED by the constitution of the general government from 1787 until 1808, a period of more than 20 years. This was the direct and special design of this clause. In vain do men assert “it is a mere prohibitory clause—it authorises nothing.” What, if I by all oral, and especially by a written expression, of my will, prevent the prohibition of an evil practice, do I not thereby SANCTION that evil practice, and doubly so when by so doing I annul a right possessed by my agent to prohibit that practice? No man can rid himself of this conclusion.
The United States, government had the grant of the power to regulate the entire commerce of the Union already conferred upon the Congress, by which Congress would have had the right to abolish the slave-trade. This was torn from the hand of Congress by the nefarious deed, the compromise, enacted, as the will of “we the people” in this clause. Citizens of the United States, look at your own deed recorded in your national Constitution! “WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES ‘ORDAINED’ AND ESTABLISHED AS A CONSTITUTIONAL AND SUPREME LAW, THE PREVENTION OF THE PROHIBITION OR EVEN RESTRICTION OF THE MOST INFAMOUS TRAFFIC THAT EVER DISGRACED THE WORLD, THE AFRICAN SLAVE-TRADE, AND THEREBY GAVE THE SANCTION OF OUR HIGH AUTHORITY TO ROBBERY AND PIRACY FOR 20 YEARS!”
Q. What is the testimony of the venerable James Madison as to the meaning of this clause?
A. James Madison, Fourth President of the United States, and Member of the Convention that framed the Constitution testifies in the debates in the Virginia Convention but adopted it-thus testifies to its true import. “The Southern States” (says Mr. M. upon this clause) would not have entered into the Union of America without THE TEMPORARY PERMISSION of that trade (the slave-trade). The gentlemen from South Carolina and Georgia argued in this manner: ‘We have now liberty to import this species of property, and much of the property now possessed, has been purchased or otherwise acquired in contemplation of improving it BY THE ASSISTANCE OF IMPORTED SLAVES. What would be, the consequences of hindering us from it? The slaves of Virginia would rise in value and we should be obliged to go to your market.’ Was there ever wickedness like this! To gratify the cupidity of a few Southern planters, a nation stoops to decree the “mischief” of the slave-trade, by a national Constitutional “law.” To grant “the temporary permission of that trade.” In vain will men reiterate the cry that the word “slave” is not in the Constitution, and therefore it is innocent of the guilt of slavery. THE THING IS THERE. The eyes of Omniscience are not blinded by the specious drapery of style with which crafty men may seek to disguise ‘iniquity’ in their recorded deeds. Yea, the veil is too thin to hide this iniquity from the eyes of the righteous man, when he opens his eyes upon it. He sees with the eloquent coloured man, that ‘slavery was in the understanding that framed the Constitution. Slavery is in the will that executes it.’”
Q. Does not the Act of Congress, 1808, enacted for the abolition of the slave trade, according to this clause, prove clearly that slaves only were meant by it?
A. Most conclusively. It was enacted to abolish the slave trade, which had been temporarily permitted by this clause of the constitution, and could not be restrained or prohibited until 1808, and which was, until this date, under the protection of the United States flag, in virtue of this guarantee of the constitution prosecuted with the utmost vigor; and thousands of African slaves were imported, and many of them, with their descendants still groan in bondage, the chains of which have been riveted by the U. S. constitution.
Q. Is there any other proof that the constitution sanctions slavery?
A. Yes. I adduce as another conclusive argument, Art. 4, sec. 2, 3: “No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.”
Q. Are slaves the “persons” here intended?
A. Yes. The slave, it has been already clearly shown, is esteemed both as “a person” and property; a person, when he can advance the dignity and augment the power of is master; property, when he can be subservient to the insatiable cupidity of his owner.
Q. Does the term “service” in this clause cover the office of slaves?
A. Yes.—The first meaning of service is “menial office.” “Menial” signifies “belonging to the train of servants.” Now, the term “servants” is a familiar term by which Southern men designate their slaves. They are sensitive, as Bayard declares, to the word “slave,” and hence avoided the use of the term in the constitution. In proof that “servants,” in Southern states, mean “slaves;” that these are there convertible terms, take the following advertisement:—“Valuable SERVANTS for SALE at auction, by Isaac L. McCoy. This day, Thursday, 27th instant, at 12 o’clock, at the Exchange Coffee House, will be SOLD, 34 valuable SERVANTS.”—(Anti-S. Man., p. 102.) Now, the term service expresses the menial office of a train servants; which whole train, amounting to 34, or any number, may he sold at auction, in the shambles of the South, as valuable servants. The clause contemplates, then, the “service” of Southern servants, or slaves.
Q. In what sense is the term “due” to be taken in this clause?
A. Every person, it is presumed, of the least legal intelligence, is familiar with the distinction between a claim in equity or a just claim, and a claim in law or a legal claim. No slaveholder can have a just claim to his slave, and his service, as his property, in a court of equity; but the law of the Southern states makes men slaves, and the will of the people contemplates in this clause the legal claim of the master, and determines to secure him the service of his, runaway slave, DUE to him in love, by compelling the delivering him up upon the claim of the master, when captured in a free state, to which he had escaped, as he supposed, as to a place of refuge.
Q. Can any person be held to service or labour, but a slave?
A. No. No contract service is compellable of performance. No contract compels a man to perform his promised service. The law holds him only in damages. Nobody is held to service under any contract he can make. If he does not perform what he promises, he is held to pay only; and not to be held then to the creditor. The creditor cannot hold him to pay. He has to ask the law to. He is not “held to service” to anybody. To “hold him to service” would itself make him a slave. The clause, therefore, means “slaves” only.
Q. Does not the phrase, “held under the laws,” prove the same point that slaves only are meant by the clause?
A. Very clearly. The constitution contemplates a class “held to service in a state under the laws thereof,” and says further, what it would not say of any persons but slaves, or any service but slave, service, that escaping from it into another state shall not discharge the person from it by virtue of any laws in that state. There is no service a person is holden to in any state under the laws thereof from which the laws of any other state would discharge him, generally, but slave service. We have slave states and non-slave states, but not pay states and non-pay states, contract states and non-contract states. The obligations of contract in one state are obligations on the debtor in all other states. But the constitution says there is a service under the laws of one state from which the laws of another state will discharge a person if he runs there. This service is no other than slave service; is that or none.
Q. Is any person liable by law to be delivered up to claimant but a slave?
A. No. No person is liable by law to be delivered up to a claimant but a slave; but the constitution speaks of delivering up to the claimant the person who owes the service by the laws of the slave states, but not by the laws of other states. Such a person must then be a slave. This can only be spoken of slaves, and anybody of whom it can be spoken, is a slave. If the constitution means anybody but the negro slaves, then it regards as slaves the white folks of this country. It is an enslaving instrument.
Q. Does not the law of Congress, 1703, illustrate this clause of the constitution, and prove that slaves only are meant?
A. Yes; conclusively. We quote the third section of the law, that this clause of the constitution and it may be compared: “And be it further enacted that when a person held to service for labour in any of the United States, or in any of the territories on the north-west or south of the river Ohio, under the laws thereof, shall escape into any other of the said states or territories, the person to whom such labour or service may be due, his agent or attorney is hereby empowered to seize or arrest such fugitive from labour, and to take him or her before any judge of the circuit or district courts of the United States, residing or being within the state, or before any magistrate of a county, city or town corporate, wherein such seizure or arrest shall be made and upon proof to the satisfaction of such judge or magistrate, either by oral testimony or affidavit, taken before, certified by a magistrate of any such state or territory, that the person so seized or arrested, doth, under the laws of the state or territory, from which he or she fled, owe service or labour to the person claiming him or her, it shall be the duty of such judge or magistrate to give a certificate thereof to such a claimant, his agent or attorney, which shall be sufficient warrant for removing the said fugitive from labour to the state or territory from which he or she fled.” All admit this law to be a slave-catching law, and nothing else. Yet the word slave is not in it, but its phraseology describing the persons designed in it, is the exact phraseology of the clause in the constitution. If the one is slave-catching, so is the other; for the slave-catching law is the legitimate offspring of the enactment in the constitution; and the only design of the law was to arrest and carry back into bondage the fugitive, and for this purpose only has it been administered ever since its enactment. The constitutionality of this, law has been decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in the late case of Puff vs. Pennsylvania, and from this decision there is no appeal. It must abide THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND.
Q. What proof have you that the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States is final in this and similar matters, and that from its decision there is NO APPEAL?
A. Bayard, in his exposition of the constitution, thus declares the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. “The judicial power of the Union is declared to extend to all cases in law and equity arising under the constitution (Const. Art. iii. sea 2, 1), and to the judicial power it belongs whenever a case is presented before it, to determine what is the supreme law of the land. And this power, in the last resort, is vested by the constitution in the Supreme Court of the United States. And its decision must be final and conclusive; because the constitution gives to that tribunal, power to decide, and has given, no appeal from its decision.”—P. 122.
Q. What is the decision of this ultimate tribunal relative to the import and original design of this clause of the constitution respecting fugitives from service?
A. Its decision demonstrates the pro-slavery character of the clause, and is as follows: In one of the decisions JUDGE STORY said, “Historically it is well known that the object of this clause was to secure to the citizens of the slave-holding states THE COMPLETE RIGHT AND TITLE OF OWNERSHIP IN THEIR SLAVES AS PROPERTY, IN EVERY STATE OF THE UNION into which they might escape from the state wherein they were held in servitude.” “The full recognition of this right and title was indispensable to the security of this species of property, in all the slave-holding states, and, indeed, was so vital to the preservation of their interests and institutions, that it cannot be doubted that it constitutes a fundamental article, without the adoption of which the Union would not have been formed. Its true design was to guard against the doctrines and principles prevalent in the non-slaveholding states, by preventing them from intermeddling with, or restricting, or abolishing the rights of owners of slaves.”
Again. “The clause was therefore of the last importance to the safety and security of the Southern states, and could not be surrendered by them without endangering their whole property in slaves. The clause was therefore adopted in the constitution by the unanimous consent of the framers of it. A proof at once of its intrinsic and practical necessity.”
Again. “The clause manifestly contemplates the existence of a positive unqualified right on, the part of the owner of the slave, which no state law or regulation can in any way regulate, control, or restrain.”
JUDGE BALDWIN, in charging the jury, said, “If there are any rights of property which can be enforced—if one citizen have any rights of property which are inviolable UNDER THE PROTECTION OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE STATE AND THE UNION, they are these which have been set at naught by some of these defendants. As the owner of property which he had a perfect right to possess, protect, and take away, as a citizen of a sister state, entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of any other state—Mr. Johnson stands before you on ground which cannot be taken from under him; it is the same ground upon which the government itself is based. If the defendants can be justified, we have no longer law or government.” Again, after referring more particularly to the provision for delivering up fugitive slaves, he said, “Thus you see that the foundations of the government are laid and rest on the right of property in slaves. THE WHOLE STRUCTURE MUST FALL BY DISTURBING THE CORNERSTONE.” Thus slavery is a CORNER-STONE of the government— a column in the temple of liberty!
Q. How does Bayard interpret this clause?
A. “This provision,” says Bayard, “relates to that class of men who are held in bondage in some of the States, and are sometimes tempted to escape into the non-slaveholding states, in the hope of regaining their freedom by that means. These states might be induced, by views of humanity, or other motives, to shelter the fugitives and throw obstacles in the way of their recovery. This, if allowed, would be a constant source of dissension between the states, and might lead to the most serious consequences. The holding of slaves is a domestic concern with which other states ought not to interfere, and as long as it is permitted in any of the states, the peace of the country requires that the rights of the masters should be respected. This, therefore, is a wise provision. Without it, the Southern states would, probably, not have consented to the union.”
Q. What is the opinion of James Madison, who, of all men, had the best opportunity to know, as to the legitimate construction of this clause?
A. Thus this celebrated man delivered his opinion upon this clause in the Virginia convention for the adoption of the constitution: “Another clause secures us that property which we now possess. At present (under the old confederacy) if any slave elopes to those states where slaves are free, he becomes emancipated by their laws; for the laws of the states are uncharitable to one another in this respect. But in this constitution ‘no person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to which such service or labour may be due.’ THIS CLAUSE WAS EXPRESSLY INSERTED TO ENABLE OWNERS OF SLAVES TO RECLAIM THEM. This is a better security than any that now exists.” Thus plainly speaks a member of the Convention that framed the constitution, and by whose arguments in its illustration, the Virginia convention is influenced to adopt it.
Q. What says General Randolph as to its true meaning?
A. He thus briefly delivers his opinion as a member both of the United States and Virginia conventions. “Every one knows that slaves are held to service or labour; and when authority is given to vindicate their property can they (the owners of slaves) be deprived of it?”
Q. Does not this clause, therefore, sanction, by all the force of the supreme law, the odious sin of slavery?
A. Of this there can be no doubt in the impartial mind. The clause was “EXPRESSLY INSERTED” to give a power not before possessed to owners of slaves TO RECLAIM THEM—to “give them authority to vindicate their property.” This is full sanction of slavery—the strongest ratification of the alleged rights of the master. Ah! I go not to the panders of immoral power and the worshippers of an idol for a just answer to the inquiry—Is not this sanction? But go to the slave—go to yonder weeping one, who thought he had escaped to a city of refuge, but by the authority of this clause of the United States constitution is now seized, reclaimed, rebound, to be dragged back to the land of chains, and whips, and horrid gashes in the flesh, and iron yokes with spikes, applied in the “tender mercy” of that personification of the dignity of human nature, the overseer! Ask this wretched being as he writhes under the torture inflicted because he dared to assert his rights in the attempt to regain his liberty, ask him if this is sanction?—and raising his manacled hands to heaven, in the agony of a bursting heart, he will exclaim—YES, this is sanction, I FEEL IT TO BE SANCTION!
Q. Is not the fugitive slave law of 1850, a further illustration of this pro-slavery clause of the Constitution?
A. Yes. An ample and fearful illustration.
Q. What is its substance?
A. Its Substance is in a principal clause contained in Sec. 4. This clause makes it the duty of the commissioners, appointed by the act to adjudicate in the matter, “to grant certificates to such claimants upon Satisfactory proof being made, with authority to take and remove such fugitive from service or labour, under the restrictions herein contained, to the state or territory from which such persons may have escaped or fled.” It is a fearful restoration of the peremptory injunction of the constitution—the fugitive shall be delivered up upon claim of the party to whom such service or labour is due.
Q. Have you any additional evidence of the sanction of slavery by the constitution of the United States?
A. I have-and adduce Art. iv, sec. 4th; and Art, i. sec. 8 . By the former, “every state in this Union is guaranteed protection by the United States, ‘against domestic violence.’” By the latter, “Congress is empowered ‘to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, to suppress insurrections and repel invasions!” These provisions, however strictly they may apply to cases of disturbance among the white population, were adopted with reference to the slave population, for the purpose of keeping them in subjection by the combined military force of the country; and were these repealed, and the South left to manage her slaves as best she could, a servile insurrection would ere long be the consequence, as general, as it would be unquestionably successful.
Q. What evidence have you of the correctness of this interpretation of these clauses?
A. 1. James Madison. He says, respecting these clauses, “On application of the legislature or executive, as the case may be, the militia of the other states are to be called to suppress domestic insurrections. Does this bar the states from calling forth their own militia? No, but it gives supplementary security to suppress insurrections and domestic violence.” 2. In answer to Patrick Henry’s objection, as urged against the constitution in the Virginian convention that there was no power left to the states to quell an insurrection of slaves, for it was wholly invested in Congress, GEORGE NICHOLAS asked, “Have they it now? If they have, does the constitution take it away? If it does, it must be in one of these clauses which have been mentioned by the worthy member. The first gives the general government power to call them out when necessary. Does this take away from the states? No. But it gives additional security; for besides the power in the state government to use their own militia, it will be the duty of the general government TO AID THEM WITH THE STRENGTH OF THE UNION WHEN CALLED FOR.” 3. LUTHER MARTIN testifies to the same point. “It was further urged (in argument against the pro-slavery features of the constitution), that by this system of government, every state was to be protected both from foreign invasions, and domestic insurrections; that from this consideration it was of the utmost importance it should have a power to restrain the importation of slaves, since in proportion as the number of slaves were increased in any state, in the same proportion the state is weakened, and exposed to foreign invasion and domestic insurrection, and by so much less will it be able to protect itself against either; and therefore will by so much the more be a burden to the union.”
Q. Has not this view of these clauses been exemplified—and is it not demonstrated that they are the stronghold of slavery?
A. Yes. This solemn guarantee of security to the slave system, caps the climax of national barbarity, and stains with human blood the garments of all the people. In consequence of it, that system has multiplied its victims from five hundred thousand to nearly three millions—a vast amount of new territory has been purchased in order to give it extension and perpetuity-several new slave states have been admitted to the union—the slave trade has been made one of the articles of commerce— the slave population, though over worked, starved, lacerated, branded, maimed, and subjected to every form of deprivation, and every species of torture, have been overawed and crushed; or, whenever they have attempted to gain their liberty by revolt, they have been shot down and quelled by the strong arm of the national government; as, for example, in the case of Nat Turner’s insurrection in Virginia, when the naval and military forces of the government were called into active service. Cuban bloodhounds have been purchased with the money of the people, and imported and used to hunt slave fugitives among the everglades of Florida. A merciless warfare has been waged for the extermination and expulsion of the Florida Indians, because they gave succour to these poor hunted fugitives—a warfare which has cost the nation several thousand lives, and forty millions of dollars—and the late war with Mexico was waged, unquestionably, to extend the area of slavery.
Q. Have you any additional argument demonstrating the national sanction of slavery?
A. Yes. I adduce Art. i. sec. 8, clause 8. “Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” Bayard, on the Constitution, says, “The exclusive regulation of commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes, is also confided to Congress. This was obviously proper, as the management of all concerns with foreign nations, and a general superintendence over domestic affairs, constitute the peculiar province of the national government, and were the principal objects of its establishment,” p. 49. Slaves are an article of commerce among different states. The domestic slave trade is therefore under the general superintendence of the national government. It regulates this part of domestic affairs as its “peculiar province.” The domestic slave-trader is protected in this “infamous traffic” by “the stripes and stars.” The stars of freedom shine with a benignant lustre upon the domestic slave-ship, as she ploughs the ocean with her burden of woe; but they emit no ray of gladness to cheer the bosom of the helpless tenants of her hold.
Q. Has not Congress the right to abolish the domestic slave trade?
A. This is exceedingly doubtful. Mr. Madison says, “No power is given to the general government to interfere with respect to the property in slaves now held by the states.” The constitution views the slave as property, as proved above, and authorizes the slaveholder to vindicate his property—in a free state. Now all property may be sold, and therefore become an article of commerce. It would seem a just conclusion, that the slaveholding states have a constitutional right to traffic in slave property among themselves—the inter-state slave trade is constitutional-and Congress, whilst it has a right to regulate, would seem to have no right, without the consent of the slaveholding state, to abolish this nefarious and inhuman traffic.
Q. Does not the amendment to the constitution, which is in these words, “Nor shall any person be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law,” prove the constitution to be an anti-slavery instrument?
A. By no means. The only one of these three possession which the slave can at all be said to possess, is life; yet, his living energies are his master’s. If he forfeits his life—and in the slave states in more than 70 ways he may do so—he has always, until Judge Lynch erected his tribunal, been deprived thereof by “due process of law.” But liberty and property he legally possesses not. “He can possess nothing, nor acquire anything,” says the slave code, “but what must belong to his master.” This was his condition when this amendment was enacted, and has been his condition ever since. It was never enacted for him. How will you undertake to deprive a man of that of which he is not possessed? The slave has neither liberty nor property, and you cannot deprive him of either by “due process of law,” or otherwise. How common sense breaks the meshes of the web of subtleties?
Q. Is not this provision of the constitution, compelling the delivering up of the fugitive slave to his master, from whose tyranny he had escaped, a direct violation of the law of God?
A. Yes. It is a direct violation, Deut. xxiii. 15, 16. “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.”
Q. What action has the Reformed Presbyterian Church taken upon American slavery?
A. She has made it a term of communion. Her decision is, “No slaveholder is admitted into her communion.” Test, part i. p. 155. The resolution of the committee of presbytery sent to the South to purge the church of this evil, is in the following terms: “Resolved, That enslaving these our African brethren is an evil of enormous magnitude; and no one who continues in so gross a departure from humanity and the dictates of our benevolent religion, can have any claim to communion in this church.”
The following note was sent to each individual implicated in this enormous evil.—“Sir: You are hereby informed that none can have communion in this church who hold slaves. You must therefore immediately have it registered legally that your slaves are freed, before the ensuing sacrament. If any difficulty arises to you in the manner of doing it, then you are desired to apply to the committee of Presbytery, who will give directions in any circumstances of a doubtful nature in which you may be involved in carrying this injunction into execution.”
In her Testimony, part ii. pp. 119 and 152, she emphatically denies “That a constitution of government which deprives unoffending men of liberty and property, is a moral institution to be recognised as God’s ordinance;” and declines allegiance to the United States Government, because “It establishes that system of robbery by which men are held in slavery, despoiled of liberty, and property, and protection. It violates the principle of representation, by bestowing upon the domestic tyrant who holds hundreds of his fellow creatures in bondage, an influence in- making laws for freemen proportioned to the number of his own slaves.”
Q. Will not God “judge and avenge” the blood of the slave upon such a nation as this?
A. As God is just he will: what he did to the oppressors of old he will do now. “Thus saith the Lord: even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children, and I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh ; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine, and all flesh shall know that I am the Lord thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob.” “Arise, O Lord, for the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, and set him in safety from him that presseth at him.” “Arise, oh sovereign Judge of the nations, judge the fatherless and the OPPRESSED, THAT THE MEN OF THE EARTH MAY NO MORE OPPRESS.”
Q. Is there not some evidence in the Signs of the times that God is now judging this nation, and will ere long deluge it with blood?
A. Yes. The signs of the times indicate that the prophecy of John Quincy Adams may soon be fulfilled. “The delegates,” said that distinguished man, “of the free states (in the national convention), in their extreme anxiety to conciliate the ascendancy of the Southern slaveholders, did listen to a compromise between right and wrong—between FREEDOM and SLAVERY, of the ultimate fruits of which they had no conception, but which already, even now, is urging the Union to its inevitable ruin and depopulation, by a civil, servile, foreign, and Indian war, all combined in one; a war, the essential issue of which will be between freedom and slavery, and in which the unhallowed standard of slavery will be the desecrated banner of the North American Union—that banner first unfurled to the breeze inscribed with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence.”