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which was ceded by said State to the United States and by them accepted for the permanent seat of Government; and that the laws of the State of Maryland as they then existed, should continue in force in that part of the said District which was ceded to the United States by that State, and by them accepted as aforesaid. By that statute, Congress established all the slave laws of Maryland and Virginia in their respective portions of the District. If Congress had not re-enacted those slave laws of Maryland and Virginia, there could have been no slavery in fact in the District. The laws of Maryland and Virginia having ceased, if Congress had not established a system of slavery there, all the inhabitants must have been free. The question now arises, whether Congress had any power to establish a system of slavery in that District or any where. If Congress had any power it must be given by the Constitution. This is a government of limited powers. It is not for Congress to assume any power which is not granted. According to the Constitution, "the powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The power to abolish slavery in the States, is not granted to Congress. It is one of the rights reserved. Congress cannot abolish slavery in South Carolina. On the other hand, Congress cannot establish slavery in Maine, or any where else. It is not among the powers of Congress. No power short of the people themselves, can establish a system of slavery. The powers of Congress are enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, but the power to establish slavery is not among them. "Congress has power to exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over the District of Columbia." Will it be pretended that Congress can establish slavery, under the power of exclusive legislation? We think not. The legislative power of Congress over the District is exclusive, but not unlimited. This Legislature has the power of exclusive legislation for the State, in all cases, where the power has not been granted to Congress. But that power is limited. Neither the Legislature nor Congress can establish slavery in Maine. The power is not granted in the Constitution. There is no doubt that

the power of legislation over the District of Columbia is subject to many limitations. Congress cannot pass a bill of attainder or ex post facto law to operate within the District. They cannot grant a title of nobility, or establish an aristocracy in the District. These and many other things are expressly prohibited. Congress cannot establish slavery in the District. That power has never been granted. The exercise of it by Congress, would defeat the general design of the Constitution. That instrument was adopted in order to secure the blessings of liberty." And can it be supposed, that in order "to secure the blessings of liberty," Congress was authorized to establish a system of slavery? The idea is absurd.

In order to try the question a little further, we will suppose, that Congress had never attempted to re-enact the slave laws of Maryland and Virginia. Then all the inhabitants of the District would be free. Suppose now Congress, in attempting to establish a system of slavery, should ordain and declare that the white race should become slaves to the black race, or that the former masters and their posterity, should become the property of those who were formerly their slaves, and their posterity respectively; is there a slaveholder in the land, who would admit, that Congress had not exceeded their powers? There is nothing in the Constitution, which makes any distinction in color. There is nothing which authorizes Congress to keep one man in slavery rather than another, always excepting their power over fugitives from service or labor, that escape from any of the States. Can it be possible, that Madison, who would not admit into the Constitution the idea that there could be property in man, signed a Constitution, which authorized Congress to establish a system of domestic slavery at the seat of government? The committee think not. The committee do not find that the Supreme Court have ever directly settled the question, whether Congress had power to enact slave laws for the District of Columbia or not. Believing as they do, that such laws are unconstitutional, they think that Congress ought immediately to repeal them. And as they find that the Supreme Court has decided, that the acts of Congress, when legislating for the District of Columbia, are national laws, they think it is suitable and proper that this Legisla

ture should call upon Congress to repeal the slave laws in said District.

When Florida was ceded to the United States by Spain, Congress acquired the power of exclusive legislation over that Territory. All the foregoing reasoning applies, to show that Congress have no power to continue in force a system of slavery in that country. Your committee think, that Congress should repeal all the slave laws in Florida, forthwith, because they are convinced, that all such laws are in violation of the Constitution. They further think it suitable and proper for this Legislature to ask Congress to repeal the slave laws of Florida; or in other words, to abolish slavery in that Territory, and that it should be done before it is admitted into the Union as a State. There is no other territory belonging to the United States, in which slavery exists, under the authority of Congress.

The committee are aware that at this time there is a strong party in favor of the annexation of Texas, and for that reason, it seems highly proper that this Legislature should express an opinion on that subject.

They do not find that the power to acquire foreign territory, by cession, purchase, or otherwise, is among the powers granted to the national government. It is therefore among the powers reserved to the people. This view of the subject is strengthened by the consideration, that provision was made in the Articles of Confederation, for the annexation of foreign territory. If the framers of the Constitution had intended to grant this power, it would not have been omitted in the enumeration of powers.

If it were quite clear, that the national government could annex foreign territory to the United States without a violation of the Constitution, the committee would feel bound to recommend to this Legislature to protest against the annexation of Texas.

That country is cursed with the "nefarious institution of domestic slavery," which in the before recited language of George Mason, a southern man, "discourages arts and manufactures, and brings the judgment of heaven on a country."

It is evident, that the annexation of Texas is designed as a

means of delaying the approaching day of universal emancipation in the United States. If Texas should be annexed to this country, and carved out into two or three new States, and those States should be admitted into the Union, and slavery with them, the power of slavery would be greatly increased, and the day of universal emancipation in the country, might be delayed a century or more. The slaveholding States have an unequal advantage over the free States by the Constitution, which they do not appear to be willing to yield. While the slaveholding States continue to insist upon representation for their property, the free States ought not to consent to the annexation of any foreign territory in which slavery exists, nor to the admission of any more slaveholding States into the Union.

The system of slavery appears to be gradually crumbling away. The census of 1840, shows a large diminution of slaves in two of the States. Emancipation will be gradual, but certain. The people of the free States can do nothing to abolish slavery in the States, and they ought not to consent to any thing that will have a tendency to increase the power of slavery, or prolong its existence in the country. Your committee believe that the annexation of Texas would increase the power of slavery in this country, delay the day of emancipation, and have a tendency still longer to deprive the free States of their equal right of representation on the basis of the free population of the Union.

In accordance with these views, the committee submit the following Resolves.

JABEZ C. WOODMAN,
SAMUEL B. MORISON,
PHINEHAS BARNES,
CYRUS PIERCE,

ELLIS B. MACKENZIE,
RICHARD MERRILL,
RUFUS BUCK.

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