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consider only the ills of slavery, instead of regarding the more fundamental issue, that every community is rightfully entitled to regulate its own domestic relations. To withhold this right from a territory by reason that the liberty may be abused, is an argument as old as oppression, and little befitting a nation whose existence depends on the capacity of man for self-government, and whose experience proves that the dependence is ennobling and safe. More. over, if self-government is right; if to do unto others, as we would others should do unto us is our duty; if the em. ployment of evil means is unlawful for the attainment of good ends, we are not justified in putting a strait jacket upon the freeman who may remove to our territories, nor are we responsible to God or man for any consequences that may result from the omission.
But we are told, the North never will permit the acquisition of territory which shall be able to tolerate slavery. Nay, all opposition to this fiat is sought to be silenced, by an assurance of its universal favor among virtuous peoplejust as women are sometimes seduced in France, by being assured that chastity is unfashionable among the polite. But may we not hope something better?---that the North and South united will never permit the acquisition of territory whose inhabitants, flesh of our flesh, shall enjoy less power of self-government than we enjoy; that the North and South united, will demand the neutrality of Congress on the disturbing subject of slavery, and that Congress shall neither establish it nor prohibit it? On this common ground North and South can both stand; and if a tree is known by its fruits, this common ground, which will produce brotherly kindness, tranquillity, and union, is virtuous; while the opposite ground is vicious, that will produce geographical hatred and national debility. Spurious, indeed, is
the virtue which consists in voting self-denials on other people, and denouncing sins that our position disables us from committing. It constitutes the taxation without representation that our fathers pledged their honor to resist ; and it is akin to the religious mortifications that the Pharisees placed on the shoulders of other men, and received therefor the condemnation of the Saviour. . Be ours the better virtue of meliorating each of us his own State or territory, so that our States and territories may provoke each other to good works, by good examples rather than by coercion,—as New-York became the exemplar of railroads and canals, and will become, by her new constitution, the exemplar of general legislation, in place of special privi. leges that withhold the means of wealth from the poor, to make the rich richer. In such ways even slavery may in time disappear from our empire. Nor let us be driven from this only moral and sure process of melioration, by the artifice reprobated by Washington, that the North and South are antagonists, and that one must be made the Ireland of our Confederacy,—which Confederacy,we are vauntingly told, is so advantageous, that fears of its disruption need no longer deter our communities from aggressions on each other :-We may eat the forbidden fruit and shall not surely die,—we may disregard temperance and revel in intoxication, because we can obtain the means gratis. Nor let us be driven into this false position by the sarcasm, that a Northern man is dough-faced who will not be controlled in his votes by geographical location. Happy is he who is not dough-faced merely, but dough-hearted, when good is sought to be accomplished by evil means !
Finally, politicians agitate the most disturbing questions with a recklessness that induces Europeans to predict mo. mentarily a dissolution of our Confederacy, and induces
Mexicans * to expect an insurrectionary pronunciamento in their favor ; for as sportsmen seek game amid dangers, so our politicians will climb to the crater of disunion to catch abolition votes, or descend towards anarchy to catch antirenters'. To lure the weak, they will stigmatize our soldiers as murderers, and weep over the wickedness of war; and to catch the generous, they will shout praises to the military chieftain † who happens to be most successful in his onslaughts. Nor need we suppose that such politicians are necessarily void of patriotism. They know that the virtue and intelligence of our people are sufficient to render harmless such otherwise dangerous experiments, and the truth of such reliance will be illustrated in the geographical agitation which we are considering. It will not dissever our Union—but not because the South will submit to political degradation, but because the people of our Confederacy know that nothing can be permanent which is not just; and they are virtuous, and will not force upon any of our communities an inequality that would be unjust.
THE SLAVERY QUESTION. I
A hatred of slavery cannot be claimed as the peculiar attribute of any party. All men hate it, unless they are slaveholders; and many slaveholders hate it, as witness Jefferson, whose 1787 ordinance on the subject Mr. Van Buren's supporters desire to enforce-forgetting that the ordinance referred to the old Confederation, not to the present Union—a difference we will speak of presently.
+ The United States were then at war with Mexico. + General Taylor.
Mr. Van Buren claims also, “ that Congress is as powerless to make a slave as to make a king; as powerless to establish slavery, as to establish a monarchy":--all points about which no controversy exists with the supporters of Gen. Cass, who insist farther, that when American citizens remove into California, they carry with them, as their birth-right, a power to legislate for themselves in the matter of slavery, as respects its prohibition and its admission ; and that any attempt of Congress to deprive our fellow-citizens of this right of self-legislation is as wrong as the legis. lative control over Ireland by the British Parliament; and still more unprincipled in our Congress than in Parliament, because such legislation by Congress is without constitutional authority. Shall we then make Irelands of our territories ? That is the question between Van Buren and Cass,-lhe only question, dodge it who can, by confounding it with the notion of Mr. Calhoun, (as erroneous as Mr. Van Buren's,) that the inhabitants of a territory cannot prohibit slavery. This question between Van Buren and Cass, our fellow-citizens of Irish extraction must answer with their votes at the coming election. All of us who sympathize with Ireland must answer the same question; and who will stultify himself by approving in Congress what he denounces in the British Parliament ?-who will vote to control the domestic institutions of California, and to prohibit the control thereof by our fellow-citizens after they remove thither with their wives and children ? —who will vote to retain a thorn in the heart of Congress, when it may be plucked thence, and transferred to California, where it properly belongs, and where it can rankle without committing the injury denounced by Washington, “of alienating one portion of our country from the rest ?"
And here we may note why the Confederation ordinance
of 1787 is unfitted to the existing Union. The Confederation was an Association of States; but the existing Union is an association of the people. The Confederacy was formed by delegates who acted as ambassadors, and who formed “Articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, &c., &c.;" and which States ratified subsequently the said articles, as a treaty between independent sovereigns; but the existing Union was established by “ We the People," and it was not to be obligatory till ratified by the people.
The two governments differing thus in their origin are marked with a corresponding difference in their powers. The Confederation mentions the people as incidents only of the States; the Constitution mentions the States as incidents only of the people. The Ordinance of 1787 partook, therefore, of the nature of the Confederation. The ordinance was a species of treaty between the sovereigns that were parties thereto, and as sovereigns they bound to the conditions of the ordinance their respective subjects. But the citizens of our Union possess rights of their own. “We the People,” who made our Constitution, delegated to Congress certain specific powers only; and fearing that these powers might be construed to include others, “ We the People” inserted in the Constitution eight successive articles, enumerating what should be excluded. But even this was not deemed a sufficient security against the known aggressive tendency of power, hence “We the People" inserted Article IX., which says, the rights enumerated in the said eight articles, “shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Still “ We the People" were not quite satisfied. We had recently felt that power will forget right, and we were determined to leave no opening through which Congress might steal more