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They entered into a compact (which is called the Constitution of the United States of America) by which they agreed to unite in a single government as to their relations with each other, and with foreign nations, and as to certain articles particularly specified. They retained, at the same time, each to itself, the other rights of independent government, comprehending mainly their domestic relations.
“For the administration of their Federal branch, they agreed to appoint, in conjunction, a distinct set of functionaries, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the manner settled in that compact; while to each severally, and of course, remained its original right of appointing, each for itself, a separate set of functionaries, legislative, executive, and judiciary, also for administering the domestic branch of their respective governments.
“These two sets of officers, each independent of the other, constitute thus a whole government for each State separately; the powers ascribed to the one, as specifically made Federal, exercised over the whole; the residuary powers retained to the other, exercisable exclusively over its particular State, foreign herein, each to the other, as they were before the original compact."
What is to be thought of Jefferson's final words? The foregoing should be closely read by every
citizen and student of Constitutional law. It is invaluable also to the foreign diplomatist, who is slow to understand the relations of principal and agent as set forth in the simple compact between the States. It is the clearest and most statesmanlike exposition which language can convey. It is like the Kohinoor, which holds within its translucent self the value of a hundred gems of the mineral garden. It embodies more than Kent and Story knew of the Constitution, and exceeds and satisfies the desires of the warmest decentralist. It is the very crystallization of age, experience, and patriotism. That a man of nearly eighty-three should write such a brief but exhaustive commentary is as wonderful as that the same mind at thirty-three should have penned the Declaration.
Did the late war nationalize the Constitution ?
No. In the Slaughterhouse cases (16 Wall. 82) the effect of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments was fully considered by the Supreme Court, and afterwards thus summarized by Justice Miller in an address before the University of Michigan, June, 1887, as follows:
“With the exception of the specific provisions in the three amendments (13, 14, 15) for the protection of the personal rights of the citizens and
people of the United States, and the necessary restrictions upon the power of the States for that purpose, with the additions to the power of the general government to enforce those provisions, no substantial change has been made in the relations of the State governments to the Federal government."
Chief Justice Fuller, for the Supreme Court, held in the New York Electrical Execution case that the Fourteenth Amendment “ did not radically change the whole theory of the relations of the State and Federal governments to each other and of the people to both.” This opinion was reaffirmed in the McElvaine case in December, 1891.
Is the Thirteenth Amendment valid ?
It is. The ratification of the amendment, December 18, 1865, by the united action of Northern and Southern white legislatures was a renewed affirmation of the compact between the States, and a repudiation of the unconstitutional Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, on January 1, 1863, nearly two years before the conclusion of the war between the States.
It will be seen by the certificate of Secretary Seward that the amendment could not have been ratified but by a union of the States that had recently been at war with each other.
What was the history of the Thirteenth Amend. ment?
The war between the States being over, the Southern white people, as the governing class, returned at once to their duties under their several State Constitutions and the Constitution of the United States, and ten of their respective legislatures proceeded to emancipate the negro slaves. Alabama called a convention, and was the first Southern State to emancipate the negroes. The vote stood ninety-eight for, two against. Texas, Mississippi, and Florida followed as soon as possible. Hence the ample vote for the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The Confederate States having failed to bring about a final separation, it was held that in consequence of such failure each of them were in and of the Union. The logic of this position, voiced by the Supreme Court of the United States, met the approval of the Congress at Washington. Both sections acted together in adding the following amendment to the Constitution:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall
exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The following is the certificate of the Secretary of State of the United States, announcing the ratification of the foregoing article:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State of the
United States :
To all to whom these presents may come, Greeting :
Know ye, That whereas, the Congress of the United States, on the first of February last, passed a resolution, which is in the words following, namely: “A resolution submitting to the legislatures of the several States a proposition to amend the Constitution of the United States.
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both houses concurring) that the following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the said Constitution, namely;" (See Art. XIII., above.)