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contained in that of Mr. Jefferson. It concludes with six unalterable articles of perpetual compact, of which the following is one :
“There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the parties shall be duly convicted.”
To this was added a stipulation for the rendition of fugitives from labor or service. Thus amended, the bill passed and became a law, qualifying the relation of the States and territories at the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution.
The utter inability of Congress to protect the interests of the country and to promote its general welfare became daily more apparent. To provide for the emergency, a Convention was called to revise the Articles of Confederatiọn. The delegates met in Philadelphia in May, and entered upon the discharge of their duties on the 25th of the same month. Gen. Washington was chosen President. The Articles of Confederation being considered by the majority radically defective, they were laid aside, and it was resolved to form a National Government, consisting of supreme, judicial, legislative, and executive departments.
The conflicting interests which were represented in the Constitutional Convention rendered the work before it not less difficult in its accomplishment than it was important in its results. “ States Rights ” drew the distinctive line of party. Earnest and enthusiastic advocates were met by as resolute and determined opponents. This diversity of opinion, then first manifested, has, to some extent, characterized political action down to the present
SLAVERY IN THE CONSTITUTION.
day. Commerce was not without disturbing force, while, • over-reaching all others in magnitude and importance, stood that interest which has been the topic of so much legislation since-African slavery. The sentiment of the Convention will be best drawn from the expressions of its members. The subjects of " Equalization of Representation” and the continuance of the “ slave trade” being under consideration, Mr. Martin, of Maryland, said : “ As five slaves in the apportionment of representatives were reckoned as equal to three freemen, such a permission amounted to an encouragement of the slave trade. Slaves weakened the union which the other parts were bound to protect; the privilege of importing them was, therefore, unreasonable. Such a feature in the Constitution was inconsistent with the principles of the Revolution, and dishonorable to the American character."
Mr. Rutledge “ did not see how this section would encourage
the importation of slaves. He was not apprehensive of insurrection, and would readily exempt the other States from every obligation to protect the South. Religion and humanity had nothing to do with this question. Interest alone is the governing principle with nations."
Mr. Ellsworth said: “Let every State import what it pleases. The morality or wisdom of slavery is a consideration belonging to the States. What enriches a part enriches the whole, and the States are the best judges of their particular interests.”
Mr. Mason said: “Slavery discourages art and manufactures. The poor despise labor when performed by slaves. They prevent the immigration of whites, who really enrich and strengthen a country. They produce a pernicious effect on manners. Every master of slaves is
born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of Heaven on a country.”
Mr. Williamson declared himself, both in opinion and practice, against slavery ; but he thought it more in favor of humanity, from a view of all the circumstances, to let in South Carolina and Georgia on their terms, than to exclude them from the Union. Mr. Sherman objected to the tax, as acknowledging men to be property. Madison thought it “ wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men;" and the phraseology of one clause was subsequently altered to avoid any such implication.
The disputed points were ultimately compromised by amendments and concession, and the Constitution received the signature of thirty-nine out of the fifty-five members of the Convention. Of the remaining sixteen, some refused their sanction, others, known to be friendly to the Constitution, had left the Convention before its close. There was never, perhaps, another political body in which more varied and opposite views were represented, and where, through so great diversity of opinion, was attained a result so harmonious and beneficent. We have seen the development of colonial power under most disadvantageous circumstances; the consolidation of that power and its triumphal resistance to the aggressions of a great and powerful foreign force. We have seen the assembled wisdom and political sagacity of the young nation, laboring to devise a charter of State ; we have seen the issue of their labor in the Federal Constitution; going forth with this into the great commonalty, we may notice its effect upon the public mind, the rise and progress of parties, and the more prominent features of political action from the adoption of the Constitution down to the present time.
ADMINISTRATION OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1789-1797.
The history of the American Republic stands without a parallel. Its origin is not enshrouded in fable or legendary tale, but stands forth full in its record, distinct in its outlines. It has not passed through the pupilage which has preceded the growth and development of other nations; its infancy blended with its youth, and its youth became merged in its manhood with almost the rapidity that characterizes the maturity of the individual. Unshackled by monarchical restraints, thought, in its development and devotion to the rights of humanity, kept pace with the unequalled growth of the material resources of the country. A nation coming so suddenly into the arena, with antecedents unprecedented in the annals of the world, elicited scrutiny, provoked investigation, and won approbation. And yet, the form of government was not new.
The world had known republics since history began. At least the form of popular government was familiar, but the spirit, which is the soul of the true republic, was unembodied till now.
till now. Faintly conceived in the old democracies, it was invigorated by the free spirit which came down from North Europe and quickened the States General of France, the Confederacies of Germany, the Independencies of Italy, and the Constitution of England, and now coalescing with religious liberty, it was to go forth to receive a fuller recognition in the reconstruction of society on the shores of the New World. It remained for America to make a revelation of the freedom of the individual ; to substitute the natural equality of man for hereditary privilege; and to vest in the people the government hitherto resting on the irresponsible authority of a monarch.
This work the revolution essayed to accomplish. The barriers of caste were broken down. Man was recognized in his rights as man. The unity of the race was not only admitted but indorsed. Reaching outward, it opened a new era, and startled the despotic rulers by elevating the people in the capacity of government to the same level with themselves.
The Federal Constitution was ratified by a sufficient number of States to give it force, and measures were accordingly taken to put it in operation.
The inception and execution of this constitutional movement is one of the grandest events recorded in history. For a people to rise in arms, throw off the yoke of oppression, and assert their nationality, was not a novel event; but for a people, bred under a monarchy and subject to the habits and customs thus engendered, to come forth in the face of the whole world and set up a new theory of government, one not only differing from the old forms in the machinery of its execution, but as radically in its fundamental principles, was an act fraught with the highest elements of moral courage, and executed in the broadest spirit of comprehensive statesmanship.
A general election was held in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution for the choice of President and Vice-President. Gen. Washington was elected the first President of the United States, receiving the entire electoral vote (69.) For Vice-President, John Adams received