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whites, and very naturally betake themselves to their own color, intermarrying with slaves and becoming dangerous by encouraging insubordination and revolt. Disaffected slaves resort to their habitations in the night, when no vigilence of the master can prevent them, where they can secretly plot and devise the means of robbery, murder and insurrection. Several of the States have already excluded them from coming into their borders, and it is understood that others intend shortly to legislate with a view to similar prohibition, so that Tennessee may be regarded as acting defensively only, in thus guarding against a species of population at once degraded, vicious and dangerous. Urgent, however, as is the necessity, and manifest as the policy of such legislation may be, still it is proper carefully to examine the constitutional power and authority of this General Assembly to exclude this class of persons from emigrating to the State. The question seems to have been once raised in South Carolina, but we have had no access to documents showing whether any judicial determination was ever made upon it. In 1822, a conspiracy was entered into by the slaves of Charleston, to destroy the city and massacre its inhabitants. Free persons of color were believed to be the chief instigators of the measure; and although it was discovered beforehand and resulted in the capital punishment of about thirty of the offenders, it gave rise to new legislation by the Assembly of that State in the following December. A law was passed providing that if vessels should enter their ports either from another State or a foreign government, having on board any free persons of color as part of their crew, such persons of color were to be seized and confined until the departure of the vessel, when the Captain was required to take them away and pay the expenses of their detention. On his neglect, he was liable to two months imprisonment and a fine of one thousand dollars, and the persons so left were to be sold for slaves. In the following year, the Marmion, a British vessel, arrived in the port of Charleston, when four of her crew, being persons of the description specified in the act, were taken and imprisoned by virtue of its provisions. These proceedings were the subject of a spirited remonstrance from the British Minister, and it seems to have been the opinion of the then Attorney General of the United States, that the act was incompatible both with the Constitution and existing treaties with Great Britain. See Perkins' Historical Sketches of the U. States, page 300. South Carolina, however, resisted all applications for a repeal or modification of the statute, and it is believed yet to stand unaltered in her statute book. Her Executive and Legislature seemed alike determined to persevere in the measure, and the Senate passed a resolve "that they have carefully considered the documents transmitted to them, relating to the laws regulating the ingress of free persons of color, and can as yet perceive no departure from the duties or rights of this State or of the United States in that law." The unconstitutionality alluded to by the Attorney General in this case, might have been founded on existing treaties between the two countries regulating their commerce; and the right of the State to regulate the crews or description of seamen which Great Britain might employ whilst her vessels were in our ports, would be a question materially different from the one now under consideration. Here the question relates, not to a temporary sojourn, but a permanent settlement and residence, the acquisition of citizenship in the State, which it is perfectly competent for each State to regulate, unless an express provision of the National Constitution can be adduced, inhibiting the exercise of such power. The right of the citizen to remove from one State to another, seems not to be founded on any particular constitutional provision. No clause conferring it in express terms is to be found in the present Constitution or in the Articles of Confederation which preceded it. It is conceived, therefore, to exist on the single principle of national citizenship. As citizens of the Union, we should be regarded as everywhere at home, enjoying all the privileges which such citizenship can confer, derivative from the general Constitution and laws: Still, however, as the local sovereignties continued to exist for all domestic purposes, and as they would have a right to act on a great many rights and immunities of their own citizens, with which the General Government could have no participation, it became necessary to stipulate for the privileges, which should be enjoyed as State citizens, when convenience or necessity might induce us to depart from one State and take up our residence in another. Hence, the first section of the fourth article of the Constitution has provided that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the several States.” It cannot escape notice, that no definition of the nature and rights of citizens, appears in the Constitution. The descriptive term is used, with a plain indication that its meaning is understood by all; and this indeed is the general character of the whole instrument. · Except in one instance it gives no definitions, but it acts in all parts on qualities and rclations supposed to be already known. See Rawle on the Constitution, 85, 61. What then is the meaning of the term citizen, so often used in the Constitution? The President must be a natural born citizen-a Senator must have been nine years a citizen-a Re. presentative a citizen seven years, etc. The term, when com. monly used by political writers, means all those who owe a legiance and receive correspondent protection from the government, and who have an unqualified right to the enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of society, except when those rights are suspended for a time, in consequence of the commission of crimes. Now, if an unqualified right to the enjoyment of all those privileges be the criterion of citizenship, it will be easily perceived that free persons of color, chiefly, residing in the Southern States, were not intended to be included as such by the framers of the Constitution. There are three degrees of slavery-political, civil and domestic. The first existed in America before the revolution, the last now exists in relation to our slaves, whilst civil slavery is the condition of free negroes and mulattoes, whose civil incapacities are almost as numerous as the civil rights of our free citizens. These civil incapacities, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, no doubt varied in the different States, greater and more numerous in some than in others. Still, in no one State whatever, did they enjoy all the privileges of white men: They were forbidden from intermarrying with the whites; they could not preside as judges, nor serve as jurors, nor give evidence against white men. In but few were they entitled to suffrage of any kind, or capable of filling any office whatever. Now, who can believe that the framers of the Constitution intended to exalt persons, subject to so many disabilities in the several States, into Presidents, and Senators, and Representatives. Who can believe, with the slightest knowledge and remembrance of these times, that the convention intended to sweep away all the laws of the several States and impose on the citizens thereof, terms of equality in rights and civil associations, equally forbidden by the difference of color and the confirmed habits of nearly a whole country? Such a construction of the term citizen is forbidden by the fact, that for more than fifty years since the adoption of the Constitution, the same disabilities have been continued, with such alterations only as the State Legislatures from time to time have thought proper to make. The plain and obvious use of the term should therefore, as we conceive, be confined to the free white population of the United States, whose rights and liberties were everywhere the samesubject to no stint or limitation whatsoever. Still, however, it is not intended, nor necessary to assert, that free persons of color are in no respect to be considered as citizens of the General Government. If carried away into captivity by a foreign enemy, or illegally impressed on the high seas, the Government would have a right to demand them. If the scanty rights already secured to them should ever be violated, the judicial tribunals of the States, as well as those of the national government, in a case where it could take jurisdiction, should be bound to give them relief. All that is meant to be asserted on this subject is, that they are not meant by, nor included as citizens, under that clause of the Constitution which secures to each the rights and immunities of the several States. Besides what has been heretofore urged, it may be further added, that the term citizen, in this clause, and many other parts of the Constitution, seems to be used only in opposition to the word alien, and that its only meaning was to prevent the several States from establishing systems of naturalization for themselves different from that of the General Government.
In ordinary cases, the slightest doubt of the constitutionality of our power should withhold our enactments; but in such a one as this, where self-preservation is the supreme and paramount law of nature, nothing short of a direct and manifest infraction of that sacred instrument should induce us to withhold that protection and safety so imperiously demanded by the indications of the times. "It is as much the duty of the State to guard against insubordination and insurrection, and to control and regulate any course which might excite or produce it, as to guard against any other evil, political or physical.
If a generous philanthropy should enquire, where this unfortunate race shall find a home when all the States shall have excluded and driven them out, the American Colonization Society, with the probable co-operation of the government, will point to Sierra Leone and Liberia, as the future residence of this devoted people.
Under a review of the whole subject, your committee beg leave to recommend the passage of the bill, with certain amendments to its provisions, to be designated by their Chairman. All of which is respectsully submitted.
A. V. BROWN, CHAIRMAN.