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states have no intention nor desire to violate the Constitution in this regard; that their doctrine concerning the powers and duties of the Federal government in relation to the territories (erroneous as it may seem) is honestly entertained, and is fortified by the highest authorities of opinion and of precedent; and that his own theory (with whatever enthusiasm he may hold it) is comparatively a modern doctrine, having had no currency or credit prior to the date of John C. Calhoun's apostasy from the national principles and policy which, in his better days, he had so conspicuously asserted. Yet knowing all this, he declares, from the pulpit, that the "reluctance" of the free states to accept his construction of the Constitution-a reluctance which has never proposed to assert itself otherwise than by constitutional methods-is a breach of faith and a virtual dissolution of the Union. In other words, the Union exists only on condition that nobody shall dare to think otherwise than the South Carolina doctors happen to think on the question whether the Constitution carries slavery into the territories.
But Dr. Thornwell condescends to argue the question. He says, concerning the territories,
"All the States have confessedly an equal right of property in them. They are a joint possession. The citizens of any State may go there and take up their abode, and without express contract to the contrary among the proprietors, they are at liberty to observe the customs of their own States. It is as if the land were distributed and each State had a part. In that case, each State would evidently put its part under the jurisdiction of its own laws. The joint possession, to the extent of the partnership, places the territory in the same relation to the laws of all the States. One has no more right to introduce its peculiarities than another, and without positive contract the peculiarities of none can be excluded.” p. 26.
The very first position of this argument, instead of being "confessedly" true, is a palpable error. No state has any "right of property" in the territories. Instead of being "a joint possession" of the several states, they are simply the property of the Union as represented by the Federal government. The citizens of no state have any "right to go there and take up their abode," till the Federal government opens the territory for settlement on such conditions and under such limitations as the wisdom of Congress shall prescribe. "It is"
not "as if the land were distributed," in which case each state would of course establish its own laws in its own territory. The case with which we have to do, is the case of territory which belongs only to the Union, and over which, therefore, no state has any shadow of jurisdiction. Not the "joint possession" of the territory by all the states, but the sole possession of it by the Union, is what "places it in the same relation to the laws of all the states." No law of any state has any validity in any territory. No citizen of any state, migrating into a territory, can carry with him any shred or particle of law from his own state. In the government of the territories, all the states coöperate not as states, but as constituent portions of the Union-precisely as they coöperate in every other function of their united sovereignty. Therefore not only is it true that "one has no more right to introduce its peculiarities than another;" but it is also true that all the peculiarities of whatever state are to be "excluded," if, in the judgment of the Union, represented by its legislative power, those peculiarities are inconsistent with the welfare of the state to be founded in that territory, or with the general welfare of the Union.
It is a marvelous inadvertence into which Dr. Thornwell is betrayed in that last sentence above quoted. "One [state] has no more right to introduce its peculiarities [into the territories] than another, and without positive contract the peculiarities of none can be excluded." If the first proposition of that sentence is true, then South Carolina has no more right to introduce into a given territory her peculiarity of negro slavery, than Delaware has to introduce her less demoralizing peculiarity of public lotteries, or than Maine has to introduce that peculiarity, so detested by whiskey-drinking patriots, the prohibition of the trade in ardent spirits. That one proposition concedes the point which was to be defended. Slavery is a "peculiar institution" of certain states, "created," as Dr. Thornwell himself says, "by the laws of the slave-holding states," which states have no more right to extend their peculiarities beyond their own limits, than other states have to extend their own peculiar laws about divorces, or about usury, or
about banks and currency. But are the principles of universal justice a "peculiarity" of certain states? Is the principle that every human being has personal rights whereof he may not be divested but by the force of law, a "peculiarity" in the jurisprudence of Illinois or of Vermont, or is it common to the jurisprudence of all Christendom, not excepting our slaveholding states? Nor is that concession really recovered by the other proposition which makes the antithesis of the sentence,"Without positive contract the peculiarities of none can be excluded." What if "the peculiarities" of one state cannot coexist on the same soil with the peculiarities of the other? Where is the "positive contract" that is to determine, in such a case, which of the two incompatible things shall exclude the other? Dr. Thornwell illustrates his position by supposing that a Christian people, and a Pagan people, having entered into an alliance, have acquired a common territory; and he asks, "Would it be competent for the Christian people, in the absence of a positive stipulation, to say to their Pagan neighbors, you shall not bring your idols into this land?" But suppose that the genius of that Paganism is essentially intolerant of Christianity; that its adherents regard the presence not only of Christian worship but of Christian opinion as a nuisance to be abated by the mob; that, in their settled feeling, their religion is not safe, nor can their gods be placated, unless they demolish Christian temples, and tar and feather Christian believers, and hang Christian preachers, and melt the types of Christian printing-offices into canon-balls wherewith to batter down Christian villages;-or suppose that their religion, aside from its fierce intolerance, includes some great outrage against the law of nature-such as human sacrifices, or those horrible pollutions which characterize so many systems of idolatry,will the Christian people in the supposed confederacy consent that "the peculiarities" of that Pagan state, the very laws in which their paganism has entrenched itself at home, shall be recognized as valid in the common territory?
Dr. Thornwell, however, (we say it gladly, to his honor), does not address himself exclusively to the prejudices and blinding passions of his hearers, -as has been done by many
southern preachers of political sermons. The alleged breach of faith, on the part of the free states, is not, in his opinion, the only sin "which attaches to us in our unity as a confederated people." His second specification is much more significant. It relates to "the manner in which the organs of government have been perverted from their real design, and changed in their essential character." Under this particular, the preacher denounces with great force a popular doctrine which the old Federalists rejected, but which became triumphant in the victory of what called itself, in Jefferson's day, the Republican party-namely, the doctrine that the will, or supposed will, of the constituency is the supreme rule of duty to all who are entrusted with the functions of government. He denies that a representative assembly is simply "to give expression to the popular will." He maintains that "representatives are appointed, not to ascertain what the will of the people actually is, but what it ought to be;"-that "representation is a check" which the people impose upon themselves because "their passions and caprices are likely to prove stronger than reason and truth;"-that "calm deliberation and sober thought" are required in order to "realize the idea of justice."
"To provide for this deliberation, to protect themselves from their own prejudices and passions, and to cause the voice of reason to be heard, they retire from the scene, and leave the inquiry and decision of their duty to chosen men in whose wisdom they have confidence. This is the true theory of parliamentary government. Courts are appointed to interpret the law and officers to execute the decrees of courts, in order that justice and not passion may rule in every trial. The supremacy of reason and justice is the supremacy of law and order. Contemplated in this light, parliamentary government is the most perfect under heaven." "It gives rise to a free commonwealth. It aims at the true and right, and truth and rectitude are the safeguards of freedom. Such is the genius of our own institutions. But how has the gold become dim, and the fine gold changed!" p. 28.
From this ideal of what our government should be, the preacher turns to the humiliating reality which has been exhibited in Congress. He speaks of "gold usurping the authority of truth," of "votes bought and sold," and of "the interests of a faction allowed to outweigh the rights and interests of a whole people." All this the men before him might
have heard with equanimity. But surely some ears must have tingled, as he proceeded to ask, "What shall we say, when blows have taken the place of argument, and our halls of legislation have been converted into an arena for the combats of fierce gladiators? What shall we say, when, instead of the language of calm deliberation, the representatives of the people have vied with each other in vituperation and abuse, and when they have exhausted the dialect of Billingsgate, have rushed upon each other with the ferocity of tigers, or with the fury of the bulls of Bashan?" Doubtless the hearers understood all that rebuke of "vituperation and abuse" and "the dialect of Billingsgate," as applicable to free-state representatives and senators, not less than to the Wigfalls, the Tombses, the Singletons, and Barksdales, that come from sunnier climes; but the allusion to "blows taking the place of argument," was too pointed to be mistaken. The thought of every hearer must have turned in that moment to the grave of Preston S. Brooks. Were there, in the congregation, any who had contributed to the testimonials of approbation with which so many citizens of South Carolina attempted to honor the cowardly and barbarous outrage of which Brooks was the hero?
Under the same particular the preacher appropriately and forcibly refers to demonstrations of the popular will in the form of mob violence and lynch-courts. While he admits that "there may be occasions when the established order is unable to check a threatening evil," and that "in such cases the necessities of self-defense may justify society in falling back upon its primordial rights," he maintains that "when society assumes, without necessity, the functions of judges and magistrates, it is guilty of an abuse which, if not arrested, must end in anarchy." He says again, "We have deified the people, making their will, as will, and not as reasonable and right, the supreme law; and they, in turn, have deified themselves, by assuming all the attributes of government, and exercising unlimited dominion. They have become at once legislators, judges, juries, and executioners."
After speaking of other sins, that are national "in the sense that they are widely diffused among the people," he turns to