« PreviousContinue »
caring the title in such soil to bona fide purchasers. No tax shall be imposed on lands the property of the United States; and in no case shall non-resident proprietors be taxed higher than residents. The navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said territory as to the citizens of the United States, and those of any other States that may be admitted into the confederacy, withoat any tax, impost, or duty therefor.
ARTICLE 5. There shall be formed in the said territory not less than three, nor more than five States; and the boundaries of the States, as soon as Virginia shall alter her act of cession and [authorize] CONSENT TO the same, shall become fixed and established as follows, to wit: The western State in THE said territory shall be bounded by the Mississippi, the Ohio, and Wabash rivers; a direct line drawn from the Wabash and Post Vincent's, due north to the territorial line between the United States and Canada, and by THE said territorial line to the Lake of the Woods and Mississippi. The middle State shall be bounded by the said direct line, the Wabash from Post Vincent's to the Ohio; by the Ohio, by a direct line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami to THE said territorial line, and by THE said territorial line. The eastern State shall be bounded by the last-mentioned direct line, the Ohio, Pennsylvania and the said territorial line: Provided, however, and it is further understood and declared, that the boundaries of these three States, shall be subject so far to be altered, that if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States in that part of the said territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan; and whenever any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inbabitants therein, such State shall be admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever; and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and State government: Provided the constitution and government so to be formed shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these articles; and, so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty thousand.
ARTICLE 6. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted : Provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.
Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the resolutions of the 23d of April, 1784, relative to the subject of this ordinance, be and the same are hereby repealed, and declared null and void.
Done by the United States in Congress assembled the thirteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord 1787, and of the sovereignty and independence the twelfth.
THE SLAVE TRADE.
In Congress, Friday, Feb. 12, 1790, the following memorial of the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the abolition of slavery, the relief of free negroes unlawfully held in bondage, and the improvement of the condition of the African race, was presented and read.*
This memorial respectfully showeth, that from a regard for the happiness of mankind, an association was formed several years since in this State, by a number of her citizens of various religious denominations, for promoting the abolition of slavery, and for the relief of those unlawfully held in bondage. A just and acute conception of the true principles of liberty as it spread through the land, produced accessions to their numbers, many friends of their cause, and a legislative co-operation with their views, which by the blessing of Divine Providence, have been successfully directed to the relieving from bondage a large number of their fellow-creatures of the African race. They have also the satisfaction to observe, thatm-in consequence of that spirit of philanthropy and genuine liberty which is generally diffusing its beneficial influence,-similar institutions are forming at home and abroad.
That mankind are all formed by the same Almighty Being, alike objects of his care, and equally assigned for the
* It will be noticed that this was the first Congress assembled under the Constitution, and was the first action taken by that body on the subject.
enjoyment of happiness, the Christian religion teaches ug to believe; and the political creed of Americans fully coincides with the position. Your memorialists, particularly engaged in attending to the distresses arising from slavery, believe it their indispensable duty to present this subject to your notice. They have observed, with real satisfaction, that many important and salutary powers are vested in you for “promoting the welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to the people of the United States;" and as they conceive that these blessings ought rightfully to be administered, without distinction of color, to all descriptions of people, 80 they indulge themselves in the pleasing expectation that nothing which can be done for the relief of the unbappy objects of their care will be either omitted or delayed.
From a persuasion that equal liberty was originally the portion, and is still the birthright of all men, and influenced by the strong ties of humanity, and the principles of their institution, your memorialists conceive themselves bound to use all justifiable endeavors to loosen the bands of slavery; and promote a general enjoyment of the blessings of freedom. Under these impressions, they earnestly entreat your serious attention to the subject of slavery. That you will be pleased to countenance the restoration of liberty to those unhappy men who alone in this land of freedom are degraded into perpetual bondage, and who, amidst the general joy of surrounding freemen, are groaning in servilo subjection ; that you will devise means for removing this inconsistency from the character of the American people; that you will promote mercy and justice toward this distressed race, and that you will step to the very verge of the power invested in you for discouraging every species of traffic in the persons of our fellow-men.
The memorial was referred to a special committee.
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE. The Committee to whom were referred sundry memorials from the people called Quakers; and also a memorial from the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, submit the following report :
That, from the nature of the matters contained in these memorials, tbey were induced to examine the powers vested in Congress under the present Constitution, relating to the abolition of Slavery, and are clearly of opinion
Firstly. That the General Government is expressly restrained from prohibiting the importation of such persons “as any of the other States now existing shall think proper to admit until the year one thousand eight hundred and eight.”
Secondly. That Congress, by a fair construction of the Constitution, is equally restrained from interfering in the emancipation of slaves, who already are, or who may, within the period mentioned, be imported into, or born within, any of the said States.
Thirdly. That Congress has no authority to interfere in the internal regulations of particular States, relative to the instruction of slaves in the principles of morality and religion; to their comfortable clothing, accommodations, and subsistence; to the regulation of their marriages, and the violation of the rights thereof, or the separation of children from their parents; to a comfortable provision in case of sickness, age, or infirmity; or to the seizure, transportation, or sale of free negroes; but have the fullest confidence in the wisdom ana humanity of the legislatures of the several States ; that they will revise their laws from time to time, when necessary, and promote the objects mentioned in the memorials, and every other measure that may tend to the happiness of slaves.
Fourthly. That, nevertheless, Congress bave authority,