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Suppose, instead of the conclusion that Louisiana was admitted by an act of sovereign power, it should be conceded that she was admitted, not without constitutional warrant, but by virtue of a construction of the third section of the fourth article. That is shown not to have been the original meaning nor the original construction, and therefore not the true construction; and such new construction of that article does not enlarge the compromise provision in relation to the representation. The States thus admitted are admitted on such terms as Congress shall prescribe under the new construction, so those terms do not violate the equal rights of others; and especially the equal right of representation, to which the other States of the Union are entitled, except so far as equality has been surrendered by the true construction of the clause respecting representation.— In other words, the enlargement of the clause respecting admission, by construction, and not by the act of the people, does not enlarge the compromise in the clause of representation, nor the application of that clause to cases for which it was not intended.
But it may be said that Louisiana and other new States are entitled to the advantage of this slave representation by virtue of their acts of admission, (that of Louisiana providing, that the State « shall be one, and is hereby declared to be one of the United States of America, and admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever.") In fact a doctrine has recently been broadly asserted which goes still farther, and denies that Congress has a right to attach an exclusion of slavery to the admission of a State; alleging that if Congress admits a State, it must be admitted on an equal footing with other States, and that the whole question of slavery, so far as the States are
concerned, is a local question and the subject of purely local law. It was said in the Convention at Boston :
“The government of the United States has no power either to make or to unmake State Constitutions. Gentlemen seem to forget that the government of the United States is a government with limited and defined powers —and that this whole question of slavery is, so far as the States are concerned, a local question and the subject of purely local law. If Congress admit a State at all, it must admit it on an equal footing with the other States. The power of Congress to admit a State is the power to admit just such States as the existing States are. The power to admit at all is acquired from an explicit provision of the Constitution, and the word State in that provision means, and can only mean, just what the word State means wherever it occurs in the same instrument.
“To admit a community which should not possess the same degree of sovereignty as is possessed by the people of the existing States, would not be to admit a State — it would be the admission of something else than a State. But Congress may refuse to admit. Of course she may. And these logicians without logic say if she may refuse to admit she may surely admit with conditions. Now, sir, certainly with some conditions—but those conditions must be in regard to subjects concerning which the Constitution shall
have conferred upon Congress power in reference to the existing States of the Union.”
Upon this I remark, first, that the opinion of Mr. Webster, to whose opinions the speaker has been supposed heretofore to have paid some deference, is distinctly shown to have been the other way in his speech on the admission of Texas, in 1845; in that on the exclusion of slavery, in 1848; and in other speeches. He could have had no doubt that a condition annexed, that slavery should be excluded, would be valid.
But I will not rely upon authority alone to controvert this proposition.
The deed of cession by Virginia of the territory northwest of the Ohio, required that the territory ceded should be laid out and formed into States containing a suitable extent of territory, &c., “and that the States so formed should be distinct republican States, and admitted members of the Federal Union, having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence as the other States.” It was completed, I think, in March, 1784. It is stated in a paper read by Governor Coles before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in June last, that a few days after the deed of cession, at the instance of Mr. Jefferson a committee was raised, consisting of Thomas Jefferson of Va., Samuel Chase of Maryland, and David Howell of Rhode Island, for the purpose of organizing and providing for the government of the territory. Mr. Jefferson, as chairman of the committee, made a report, now to be seen in the archives of Congress, in the Department of State at Washington. It provided, “that the territory ceded, or to be ceded by individual States to the United States, “shall be formed into distinct States,’ the names of which were given and the boundaries defined; and the divisions thus made contemplated and embraced all the western territory lying between the Florida and Canada lines. That is, it included the territory which had been ‘ ceded ' to the northwest of the Ohio River, and that “to be ceded' to the southwest of that river, or elsewhere, by individual States to the United States.” There was a proviso, that both the Territorial and State Governments should be established on a basis, the fifth article of which was, that after 1800 there should be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of said States, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, &c. On the 19th of April, on motion of Mr. Spaight of North Carolina, this article was struck out. There were six States in favor of the article, three against it, and one divided; but it required two thirds of the ten States voting to adopt it. This plan of government, as thus amended, was adopted April 2d, 1784, but no organization appears to have been had under it. In March, 1785, Mr. King of Massachusetts moved a similar provision, which was committed to a committee, but what further action was taken upon it does not appear. In July, 1786, Congress recommended to Virginia, to revise her act of cession so as to empower Congress to divide the territories into not more than five, nor less than three “distinct republican States,” which should thereafter “ become members of the Federal Union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the original States.” Before this was done by Virginia, Congress adopted the immortal Ordinance of July 13th, 1787, and in anticipation of the consent of Virginia, inserted in the 5th article, a provision that there should'be formed in the Territory, not less than three, nor more than five States, the boundaries of which should become fixed and established as soon as Virginia should alter her act of cession. And the 6th article prohibited slavery, with a proviso by which a fugitive slave might be reclaimed. This Ordinance passed unanimously. On the 30th of December, 1788, Virginia passed an act, which, after stating, by way of preamble, the recommendation of Congress; and setting forth the passage of the Ordinance of 1787; recited, ratified, and confirmed the fifth article of the Ordinance;— thus complying with the recommendation. Now, it seems quite clear, that neither Virginia nor Congress supposed that the prohibition of slavery rendered the States to be formed under the restriction, inferior to the other States; or in any way deprived them of “the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the other States,” which they were to have by the deed of cession, and by the act of Congress requesting an alteration of it. The only change was in limiting the number of States and establishing certain boundaries. The several acts admitting the States northwest of the Ohio, like the act respecting Louisiana, admit them “into the Union upon an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatsoever.” And yet slavery is for ever prohibited there. A prohibition of slavery, then, does not deprive a State of its equality with the other States. The six free States in the Northwest, will learn with some surprise probably, that they hold any degraded rank in the Union. Until the shining of the light which has recently burst forth from the darkness of slavery, no one had a surmise that they were not in the Union upon “an equal footing with the original States.” " Again;– the admission of Louisiana was clogged with divers “fundamental conditions.” It is admitted that Congress may annex “some conditions.” Why not a condition restricting slavery 2 What is there in this condition that renders it improper above all others? Nothing! Nothing whatever. On the contrary, it seems to be just the thing respecting which, a condition should be imposed because of the difference of situation of the different States in that respect, and the inequality of the representation. As some of them are already prohibited from having slaves, they may well insist that if others are admitted it shall be with the same prohibition which rests on them. And what they may insist on, other States are at equal liberty to contend and vote for. But still further. The article authorizing Congress to admit new States, does not prescribe the terms on which they