Imagens das páginas

is, and what the penalties be which must certainly attach :o their infraction.

There are but lew matters apart from those which have heretofore been submitted, ibat are necessary to be offered to your consideration. Amongst these, are the amendments and changes then suggested, to your Criminal J:1dicial Code. Your attention is again asked to the allera. tions offered at that time, and to the reasons which were then presented. The jurors of our Courts are mostly composed of plain, common sense, thinking men, who judge of facts and things as they are, and hence should not be forced into a situation, where they may have to decide as to trivolous absurdities, and idle technicalities. When therefore they are called upon, as by your laws is now the case, to deterinine first upon the guilt or innocence of an offender, and next, whether he shall be fined, imprisoned, or corporally punished, the duty imposed is evidently too great, and much too embarresing to their conscience, ard 10 a salutary execution of the law.

The importance of Jury trial," of which so great and frequent boasting has been made, and justly too, is based upon the consideration, that Juries are coinposed of persons, selected froin citizens who are required and sworn, impartially to decide as to the guilt or innorence of those who miny be accused of crime before thein. In this point of view, it becomes a simple duty, in which all and every one of the community, may participate, and fairly and fearlessly perform an important obligation to society. from the ascertaining of a sinple fact-the fact merely of guilt or of innocence, ihe law as it now is, connects in the en. quiry, the kind of punishment to be inflicted and the quantum of the punishment. Thus more is inposed than heieto. fore was conceived to abide, under this boasted privilege. A reference of facts to the Jury, and every thing else lo the law, are the pillars, on which, in relation to the citizen, rest judicial liberty and right. To maintain, not sacritice, this high privilege, should be matter of consideration, as it relates to all those early principles, which are dear to trec. dom, and to those who espouse and venerate her cause. To a previous message I beg to reter, for more detailed reasons, against confiding to one and the same tribunal, the law, and the facts, and the extent of the punishment'lo be imposed in criminal casos. Isolated points of lict, are mallers which should be confided 10 a jury--the law and its penalties and consequences to the Court.

The border war which at present prevails with the Indians in this Territory, is an event which was alt gether unexpected. In the circuinstances which have occasioned it, and which necessarily buvo tukou troua ibuir farmas, 10

But apait

[ocr errors]

the field, many of our patriotic citizens, there is nothing of a character to call in question the justice of the Government of the United States. By compacts and agreements on the part of the Government entered into with these deluded and misguided savages, a removal of them. selves and families was stipulated for-abundant and com. fortable means, and ample subsistance were to be furnishnished—and without expense to be incurred, transports were to be in readiness to bear them-safely to a home of their own selecting-one preferable to that which is now occupied, and where of necessity agricultural-pur. suit and comfort would have relieved them from that mis. erable course of living, which now they are dependant up. on-the uncertain mode of gaining a subsistence by fishing along the shores of the Gulf. Through the earnest entreaty of these Indians, and that all their stock and home affairs might be arranged, the Government forbore for an entire year to enforce the execution of compacts, which had voluntarily been assumed, through a conviction that the terms proposed were advantageous to them ; and that their condition in life would be essentially improved. A fulfilment, at the expiration of the time, was again asked, wbile on their part the response was war; and thus defiance and refusal were offered for their engagements, tothe performance of which, they had twice pledged 'themselves. The destruction of farms and houses—the property of our frontier settlers, who have been guilty of no prarticed wrong towards them, mark their hostilo purpose, and the deep malignity of their designs.

Under ihis aspect of things, they were to be met, and met they have been, ere this, it is to be hoped, in a manner to teach them, that the conceived opinion of their strength is more savage delusion, and that their only security is in a compliance with those just demands of the Government, which are based on voluntary compacts and agreements entered into.-That many pathetic appeals will be made, and clamors: raised through the land, in behalf of the sufferings and the conceived oppressions of the poor Indians, is reasonabler to be expected. It must be for those who have exceed ing mercy to say, wherefore ought these savages to: hold in boundless waste, lands which they cannot, and will not cultivate: and why, too, shall justice demand, that they, more than the rest of mankind, he at liberty to avoid executing their contracts. The best teelings of the buman heart-the loftiest charity, cannot, surely, ask in their behalf, privileges, which are denied to the rest of mankind. No wrong has been done them-no injustice practiced.These people have been peaceably asked to fulfill their own free undertaking; but seduced and encouraged by

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

some counsel, doubtless not their own, hostility, instead of acquiescence, is declared. To such a course, and to such treatment, the government surely cannot yield scbe mission; and until advice is afforded, that this will be done, those patriotic and brave men, who have taken the field to resist aggressions, iuspired still with the feelings: which prompted them from their homes, will no doubt be disposed to persevere in their laudable career. While they may be inclined to pity these people for the delusion which has come over them, and to regret the inevitable fate which hangs around that delusion, they will not forget that every disaster which threatens, has been created by themselves ; and with alacrity will press forward in discharge of the duties confided to them, regardless of privations, of difficulties and dangers.

Mankind often times derive their best instruction from experience; and if it be not always salutary, it is at least enduring. At the close of our last war, all were alive to an active system of maritime defence along our coast, where the commerce of the country might fiud refuge and safety from hostile pursuit. But continued peace bas lulled us to repose, and all that the experience and disas. ter of those times taught us, are forgotten. Nearly twelve months ago, an appeal was made, and orders given, for the Colonels of the Militia to make return of the rank and file of this Territory, that legal application, based upon the act of Congress, might be made for the quota of arms, which under its legislation, we were entitled to receive.-But cotton crops were too abundant-prices too high, and the cupidity of military men too much enlisted, for them to enlist in so unprofitable a business.

All was peace, and hence, war and danger were not dreamed of; peril, at last has come; and in the midst of it, courtesy only

can furnish that which, duty being performed, might have been demanded as matter of right. Is there no remedy for this supineness-00 relief against this negligence? I

answer, that there is; but its coming must abide a change in your laws. It is true, that offenders against duties im. posed and neglected, may be deprived of their commis. sions ; but it is alike true, that others will take their places

who may do no better; and it will turn out to be a mere 'change of men, without any melioration of the evils and mischiefs complained against.

Your Militia system should be revised and amended! I well know how many, and how futile are the attempts, which have been made every where to digest one, that might contain something of order and arrangement. But if previous efforts to secure a well designed object, have failed of completo success, it by no means follows, that

efforts so meritorious and deserving, as the affording safety and protection to a country, are to be yielded in hopeless despair, and be utterly abandoned. While other systems in relation to the Militia may not be entirely perfect, yours is scarcely tolerable.

To render any trust efsectual, a power to enforce the execution of it, must under proper penalties, abide some where—The people are the electors of the Militia officers; so your laws enjoin. But the people are opposed to musters, and to every thing pertaining to military restraint and exercise : they will of course select that applicant for office, who like themselves loathes restraint, and will exercise nothing of authority and of command. Again, the people when called upon, may through agreed concert, refuse to vote. This is no supposed factious case ; it is one which recently has happened in a neighboring county, and as a consequence, the entire Miltia force of that section is paralised. In such a case, and such a one, may again and again happen-there is 'no legal remedy: and yet there should be one. Authority in such cases should be given to the commanding General, or to the Executive, to make the appointments ; and penalties for a refusal to act, should be imposed on the officer, selected. As the law exists, your code of penalties, from the manner in which, neglect of duty is inquired into, and fines imposed, is a mere dead letter. -Laws are useless, which are not, or cannot be enforced; and this happens to be the case with many of your Militia regulations.

It is important for your Militia regulations to be properly arranged in reference to another matter of delicate import to us all. And upon this subject, it is proper to throw off all disguise, and to call things by their right names. We bave slaves !-persons held to bondage ; and to this, exceptions are taken, and objections made by by those who are without a right to complain. Were they left to themselves, uninfluenced, and unacted upon, by mischievous and designing persons, through an offering of officious and vicious council, they would continue, as for years they have been, quiet, orderly, and peaceable. But many a fapatic is to be found, who moved by a spirit of pretended brotherly love, and good seeling towards us, would generously advise, that by retaining those people in service, we are sinning against light, and right, and knowledge; and to relieve against this state of things, a worse evil is advised and encouraged to be brought about. For such kindness, many thanks are due to our generous friends and advocates; but in soliciting the humble privi. ledge, to be let alone, and permitted to manage and control our own affairs, in our own way, it surely cannot be

considered that we are asking too much! Comparisors are never commendable-seldom proper; but if our friends at the North must in their generous kindness weep over the present contented condition of our slaves, who live well, and labour not to excess, may we not ask to weep also, at the condition and hard fate of little labouring white children, who, for wages which afford but a scant subsis. tence, are made to toil beyond any thing that is known to those who are held in bondage at the South.-Each day of sickness arrests their pay, and each hour of abserce curtails it. To all the taunlings which arise out of this subject, and which are constantly thrown upon us, this plain defence is always at hand, that it is a state of things imposed, not voluntarily assumed; and thus defended, whenever we shall be satisfied that the holding them, is against justice and right, and that we shall be better off without their services, our free consent will be given in favour of their full and final discharge. But of this, we claim to be the exclusive judges : and in asserting a right to the tenure which has been cast upon us by inheritance, and which is secured by the Constitution of the country, none has any just cause to complain. If the course pursued and practised at the South be criminal, is it quite certain, that our commiserating friends are not equally culpable with ourselves ? Do the profits of Southern farms belong exclusively to those who plant and gather the cotton, which slave labour produces; or is not the northern ship owner who freights i:- the northern manufacturer, who spins and sells it, and the northern merchant who exchanges his goods, wares, wines, and merchandise, for articles thus produced, equally liable, and culpable in a moral point of view ? For myself, I am unable to perceive the difference between one who owning slaves, causes cotton and other staples to be grown, and thence adduces profit; and another, who not owning them, becomes a dealer and trader, and gainer in the products of their labour, knowing them to be such. It is one and the same thing, so far as good morals, charity, and a spirit for freedom are concerned; and he who manifests indignant feeling towards the owner, who through the labour of his slaves, produces and grows the articles, should also feel for the culpability and consciences of the freighter, the MERCHANT and the MANUFACTURER, who are equally and alike concerned, and who, as they derive profit and advantage, from this same description of bondaged people, are entitled to a full share of whatever opprobrium can attach.

But justice towards our brethren of the North, demands the assertion to be made, and it is offered from a full con

« AnteriorContinuar »