« PreviousContinue »
if they shall think it necessary, to lay at any time a tax or daty, not exceeding ten dollars for each person of any description, the importation of whom shall be by any of the States admitted as aforesaid.
Fifthly. That Congress have authority to interdict, or (so far as it is or may be carried on by citizens of the United States for supplying foreigners,) to regulate the African trade, and to make provision for the humane treatment of slaves in all instances while on their passage to the United States, or to foreign ports, so far as it respects the citizens of the United States.
Sixthly. That Congress have also authority to prohibit foreigners from fitting out vessels in any port of the United States, for transporting persons from Africa to any foreign port.
Seventhly. That the memorialists be informed that, in all cases in which the authority of Congress extends, they will exercise it for the humane object of the memorialists, so far as they can be promoted on the principles of justice, humanity, and good policy.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE,
On the Report of the Special Committee preceding. March 25, 1790. The Committee of the whole House, to whom was committed the report of the committee on the memorials of the people called Quakers, and of the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, report the following amendments.
Strike out the first clause, together with the recital thereto, and in lieu thereof, insert, " That the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, cannot be prohibited by Congress, prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight.”
Strike out the second and third clauses, and in lieu thereof, insert "That Congress have no authority to inter
fere in the emancipation of slaves or in the treatment of them within any of the States; it remaining with the several States alone to provide any regulations therein, which humanity and true policy may require."
Strike out the fourth and fifth clauses, and in lieu thereof, insert, “That Congress have authority to restrain the citizens of the United States from carrying on the African trade, for the purpose of supplying foreigners with slaves ; and of providing, by proper regulations, for the humane treatment during their passage, of slaves imported by the said citizens into the States admitting such importation."
Strike out the seventh clause.
VIRGINIA RESOLUTIONS OF 1798,
Pronouncing the Alien and Sedition Laws to be unconstie
tutional, and defining the rights of the States. (Drawn by Mr. Madison.)
Resolved, That the General Assembly of Virginia, doth unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this State, against every aggression, either foreign or domestic, and that they will support the government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.
That this Assembly most solemnly declares a warm attachment to the union of the States, to maintain which it pledges its power; and that for this end, it is their duty to watch over and oppose every infraction of those principles which constitute the only basis of that union, because a faithful observance of them can alone secure its existence and the public happiness.
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government as resulting from the compact to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are authorized by the grant enumerated in that compact; and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the States who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties, appertaining to them.
That the General Assembly doth also express its deepest regret, that a spirit has, in sundry instances, been manifested by the federal government to enlarge its powers by forced constructions of the constitutional charter which defines them : and that indications have appeared of a design to expound certain general phrases (which, having been copied from the very limited grant of powers in the former Articles of Confederation, were the less liable to be misconstrued) so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the particular enumeration which necessarily explains and limits the general phrases, and so as to consolidate the States, by degrees, into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and inevitable result of which would be, to transform the present republican system of the United States into an absolute, or, at best, a mixed monarchy.
That the General Assembly doth particularly protest against the palpable and alarming infractions of the Constitution, in the two late cases of the “ Alien and Sedition Acts,” passed at the late session of Congress : the first of which exercises a power nowhere delegated to the federal government, and which, by uniting legislative and judicial powers to those of executive subverts the general principle of free government, as well as the particular organization and positive provisions of the federal Constitution : and the other of which acts exercises, in like manner, & power not delegated by the Constitution, but, on the contrary, expressly and positively forbidden by one of the amendments thereto—a power, which, more than any other, ought to produce universal alarm, because it is leveled against the right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.
That this State having, by its Convention, which ratified the federal Constitution, expressly declared that, among other essential rights, "the liberty of conscience and the press cannot be concealed, abridged, restrained, or modified by any authority of the United States," and from its extreme anxiety to guard these rights from every possible attack of sophistry and ambition, having, with other States, recommended an amendment for that purpose, which amendment was, in due time, annexed to the Constitution,-it would mark a reproachful inconsistency, and criminal degeneracy, if an indifference were now shown to the most palpable violation of one of the rights thus declared and secured, and to the establishment of a precedent which may be fatal to the other.
That the good people of this commonwealth, having ever felt, and continuing to feel, the most sincere affection for their brethren of the other States; the truest anxiety for establishing and perpetuating the union of all, and the most scrupulous fidelity to that Constitution, which is the pledge of mutual friendship, and the instrument of mutual happiness, the General Assembly doth solemnly appeal to the like dispositions in the other States, in confidence that they will concur with this commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid are unconstitutional, and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each for co-operating with this State in maintaining unimpaired the authorities, rights, and liberties, reserved to the States respectively or to the people.
That the Governor be desired to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolutions to the executive of each of the other States, with a request that the same may be communicated to the legislature thereof, and that a copy be furnished to each of the senators and representatives representing this State in the Congress of the United States.