« AnteriorContinuar »
FEB. 7, 1828.)
Case of Marigny D’Auterive.
(H. or R.
slave into such involuntary service by contract? I have said ing to lose. Yes, I confess, one thing he has to lose, and that he cannot do it-I mean that he cannot, but in viola only one-his life—but that a public enemz would dis. tion of the law of Nature, and of God. You cannot take dain to have, if it could avoid the taking of it. And shall his life, or wantonly injure his person; and what you can he be called upon to peril his life and members—which not do yourself, even by indirection, you cannot employ are all the law assumes to protect for him; the security of another to do. If you cannot shoot him yourself, you can. which alone form, in law, the characteristic difference be. not force him into a situation to be shot, even by a public tween him and the lower animals ; and which nature enemy. And though, from personal attachment, i doubt would leave him free to defend in the absence of all posi. not, he might voluntarily spill his own blood in defence tive law-shall he be called upon, I ask, to peril his life and of bis master, yet you cannot compel bim to put his life members in the defence of a country, to which he owes in jeopardy either in your defence, or in defence of neither allegiance nor gratitude ! your country. And, if tempted by the wages of his la. Sir, I know of no circumstances of necessity which bor, or even by patriotism, to put him into the public could ever induce me to sanction, by way of indemnity, service, against his will, by your own voluntary contract, the conduct of a military officer of this Government in the and harm happen to him, with what justice can you ask impressment of a free white citizen into the public serindemnity for the loss you may sustain ?
vice : for, in my judgınent, the preservation of the first And when I speak of the slave going into such service city in the Union might be dearly purchased, at the ex against his will, I do not mean that he is forced into such pense of the sacrifice of the meanest individual in it, if service by stripes and chains. The slave, I believe, is the blow which effected that sacrifice was struck also at generally a passive being, and in the habit of passive obe. the Constitution and the law. And yel, I would soonerdience lle goes where he is directed to go, and does aye, much sooner-sanction the impressment of a free what he is directed to do. And, it is fair to presume, white citizen, who is under common obligations with oth. that, in the present instance, the inclination of ihe slave ers to defend the country that protects him, than I would was never consulted, and he was, therefore, in the service the impressment of a slave, who has no interest in by compulsion.
your country in common with the citizen, and who has But the question has been asked, and in the form of nothing to detend, but that, in the defence of which na. impassioned exclamation, shall the Government, in the face ture armed him, before Government and the law had exisof the Constitution, take private property for public use, tence. and refuse to make just compensation? I answer, no. What, then, are we called upon to do? To pay for pro. And you ask, was not this slave the property of D’Aute perty taken for the public use? No ; but to sanction the rive!. I answer, yes ; but he was also a man, whom nei-conduct of an officer of this Government in the impressther his master, nor any military commander, nor even ment of a slave into the public service ; which, considerthe Government itself, in the exercise of transcenden- ing the character and condition of such slave, no circum. tal power,” hal the least right to force into a place of ex. stances of necessity can ever justify; and which, for one, posure, in the face of a public enemy. And this having I will never consent to adopt and sanction as the act of this been done, no matter how, by impressment, if you please, Government. since that is insisted on-not of the Government, for that Can it, then, vary the question of indemnity, whether cannot be pretended-but of an officer of the Go- the loss of the master, by the injuries to the person of perament, the pecuniary loss of the master is swal. his slave, was partial or total ? Whether amounting to lowed up in the outrage offered to the slave, in the whole value of his interest in the life of the slave, or the wound inflicted on the Constitution and the law, only part of it? I think not : for I think the principle is which guarantee to every man security of life and limb the same in both cases. The hazard to which the mas.
And you ask, will you refuse to make compensation ter's interest in his slave was put, was exposure of the per. for property taken for your use, because the act of the of- son of the slave to a public enemy. This exposure was il. ficer in taking it was illegal? I answer, no ; not merely legal, in any point of view, if effected compulsorily as because the act was illegal. For, believing as I do, that to the slave, whether by impressment or by contract all impressment of property is illegal, there are yet, pro- with his master. And I cannot, for the life of me, there. bably, many losses arising from such acts, for which I fore, see any difference in principle between indemnity would make ample compensation for the relief of the offi. for a partial loss of interest in the slave, occasioned ce:--but of one thing I would always first be satisfied, by the destruction of an eye, and indemnity for a total and that is, of the necessity which existed for the illegal loss of interest, had the same shot which put out the eye, act. Arid of the necessity of impressing a slave into the passed through the brain, and ended his existence. public service, I never could be satisfied-I never would It is, then, because the slave, though property, is a hu. be satisfied.
man being—because the master has no power over his What is a slave! An animal, born and bound to per. life and members, beyond their employment, under cir. petual servitude-degraded indeed, but yet a man-with cumstances of probable safety-because neither the Gov. nothing on earth that he can call his own : his very chil. ernment nor its officers have the power to impress any dren are the property of his master ; the dew of Heaven animal having
the quality of man-because human life is never falls on his dwelling; the sun itself
never arises on not to be estimated in damages-because this Govern. his home, or his coundry : even the hope of a better con ment should never give its sanction to an illegal impressdition and happily for him, perhaps, for, like a brief ment, and especially the impressment of a slave ; or to an light, springing up in the boson of the desponding, it illegal contract, and especially one that should touch the sometimes serves only the more effectually to discover life of a human being–because this Government cannot the darkness which envelopes it-even the hope of a bet. chatfer in human life or human limbs, without danger of ter condition is buried up and extinguished in his utter staining its hands with human blood—it is for these readegradation! What interest has such a being in the stu. sons that I cannot vote for this bill. pendous events that are passing in the world? What in. Une word in conclusion, I intended, when I set out, terest has he in your country ? None. What cares he for to avoid, as far as possible, every thing which might be a foreign and invading enemy? Nothing. A public en offensive either in principle or in expression. If I have not emy can take nothing from him-and, if the gentleman done so, I regret it exceedingly. I solemnly, appeal to from Louisiana, (Mr. LIVINGSTON) who seems to be tak. God, that I would not knowingly and willingly utter a ing notes, wishes to take it down, I repeat it-a public sentiment or a syllable that I believed would tend to unenemy can take nothing from him, because he has noth settle any one correct principle upon which property in