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[NOVEMBER, 1797. about. He could not suppose there was a dis- | that they could or would do any thing which position in the House to violate the property of would throw into disorder any part of the any man ; there was certainly as strong a dis- Union. On the contrary, he believed them to position in the Middle States as in the Southern, be good friends of order. Mr. G. said he wished to hold inviolable the right of property; nor to have avoided a discussion of the merits of could he see any reasonable ground for throwing the memorial; but when they were told it was this petition under the table. If these people improper to do any thing on the subject, it bewere wrong in their understanding of this sub-came necessary. He knew it was in their power ject, it would be best to appoint a committee to to do something. They might lay a duty of ten set them right.
dollars a head on the importation of slaves; he Mr. GALLATIN said it was the practice of the knew a memorial had been presented at & House, whenever a memorial was presented, to former session respecting the kidnapping of nehave it read a first and a second time, and then to groes, which had been favorably reported upon. commit it, unless it were expressed in such in- Finally, the present memorial did not apply only decent terms as to induce the House to reject it, to the blacks, but to other objects. With reor upon a subject upon which petitions had been spect to plays, they had a motion last session lately rejected by a large majority of the House. before them for laying a tax upon hem, which In no other case were petitions rejected without had a reference to the subject. By committing examination and without discussion. He said, this memorial, they should give no decision. I without examination and without discussion, the committee reported they could do nothing because it was impossible, upon a single reading in the business, and the House agreed to the of a petition, to be able to form a sound judg- report, the matter would be closed in a much ment upon it. Indeed, seeing the way in which more respectful way than by throwing the petithe gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Rut. tion under the table. LEDGE) had treated the subject, no cool exami- Mr. SEWALL said, the gentleman last up had nation could be expected at present; in the mo- stated two cases in which petitions had been rement of passion it would be best not to decide, but ceived without a commitment. He might have to send the petition to a committee. What was added a third, more applicable to the present the objection to this mode of proceeding? It memorial. This was when a petition was upon was that the subject would shake a certain kind matter over which this House had no cogniof property. How so? A petition that re-zance, especially if it were of such a nature as minds us of the fate of certain blacks in this to excite disagreeable sensations in one part of country, which did not refer to slaves, but to the House, who were concerned in property free men. This petition was to shake property! which was already held under circumstances In the same manner it might be said that the sufficiently disagreeable. In such cases, they law of Pennsylvania for the gradual abolition of ought at once to reject the memorial, as it would slavery had also a tendency to destroy that be misspending time to commit it. If, for inproperty; or that the Legislative decision of the stance, a petition should be presented, comState of Massachusetts that there shall be no plaining that a person had refused to discharge slaves under their Government, would have that an obligation to another, it would be at once effect. But it was said the characters of the acknowledged that the House could not enforce petitioners was such as they ought to brand the obligation; but application must be made to with the mark of disapprobation.
a court of justice. So in this case; the petiIn support of this c'sarge, it was alleged that tioners complain of a law of North Carolina. they were not satisfied with petitioning, but This House, he said, could not change that law they attempted to debauch and seduce servants if any thing was done there contrary to right, -to rob gentlemen of their property. He did the courts of that State, as well as those of the not know to what the gentleman who made this United States, were open to afford redress. It assertion alluded; but he believed, if the matter was their business, and not the business of that was fairly stated, whatever may have been done House. They did not come there to act upon in the State of Pennsylvania, has been no more subjects agreeable to their feelings, but upon than an endeavor to carry into full effect the such as the constitution had placed in their laws of the State, which say, that “all men are hands. free when they set their foot within the State," Mr. Maon said, there was not a gentleman excepting only the servants of Members of Con- | in North Carolina who did not wish there were gress.* As to the moral character of this body no blacks in the country. It was a misfortune of people, though a number of their principles -he considered it as a curse ; but there was no were different from those which he professed, way of getting rid of them. Instead of peacehe believed it could not be said, with truth, that makers, he looked upon the Quakers as warthey were friends to any kind of disorder; and makers, as they were continually endeavoring he was surprised to hear gentlemen suppose in the Southern States to stir up insurrections
amongst the negroes.* It was unconstitutional, * Mr. Gallatin is not accurately reported. The exception
he said, in these men to desire the House to do extended to all the officers of the Federal Government, and for as long a time as their duties required them to remain in * In a subsequent part of this same debate, Mr. Macon rethe States, and to all others for the period of six months. I tracted this censure upon the Quakers, as being too general.
[H. OF R. what they had no power to do; as well might but from the fullest consideration. In some they ask the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES countries they knew persons accused of crimes to come and take the SPEAKER's chair. There were condemned without a hearing; but there was a law in North Carolina, he said, which could be but one sentiment as to the injustice forbade any person from holding either a black | of such a proceeding. There could be no objecor white person as a slave after he had been set tion, therefore, upon general principles, to the at liberty. The one hundred and thirty-four reference of this petition. But it was said it negroes alluded to in the petition, he knew was not to be sent, because of the general nothing of. In the war, he said, the Quakers in habits of this society. He believed there was their State were generally Tories. They began no body of men more respectable; they were to set free their negroes, when the State passed obedient, and contributed cheerfully to the supa law that they should not set them free. If port of Government; and, either politically or these people were dissatisfied with the law, civilly speaking, as few crimes could be imthey had nothing to do but transport their puted to that body as to any other. negroes into Pennsylvania, where, the gentle This memorial, he said, had been treated as man from that State had told them, they would coming from an Abolition Society-it was a be immediately free. This subject had already memorial of the General Meeting of the people been before the House, but they declined doing called Quakers; sond if only out of respect to any thing in it. It was extraordinary that that body, it ought to be referred. But it was these people should come, session after session, said it did not contain matter upon which the with their petitions on this subject. They had House could act. Gentlemen seemed not to put play-houses into their memorial; but they have attended to the subject-matter of the had nothing to do with them. In this State, he petition. He did not believe that the House believed, the Legislature had passed a law au- had the power to manumit slaves, but he bethorizing them. It was altogether a matter of lieved there was not a word in the petition State policy. The whole petition was, indeed, which had a reference to slavery. The petiunnecessary. The only object seemed to be to tioners state, indeed, that a number of negroes, Sow dissension. A petition could not come not slaves, for negroes may be free, had been there touching any subject on which they had taken again into slavery, after they had been power to act, which he should not be in favor freed by their masters. He wished to know of committing; but this thing being wrong in whether the House had not jurisdiction over itself, it was needless to commit it, as no single this matter? He was warranted by the constipurpose could be answered by it.
tution in saying they had, because that instruMr. Isaac PARKER was of opinion with the ment says that no State shall make ex post facto gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. GALLATIN,) laws. It belonged to that House, therefore, to with respect to the disposal of petitions. But see that the constitution was respected, as it it appeared to him that the subject matter of could not be expected from the justice of the all petitions should be within the view and individual States, that they would repeal such authority of the House; if not, to refer them laws. It rested, therefore, with the Governwould certainly be a waste of time. He had ment of the United States to do it. Mr. B. attended to the petition, and he did not think read the clause of the constitution touching this there was a single object upon which it was in matter, and concluded by reminding the House their power to act. Nothing was prayed for. that this was not an ultimate decision, but The petitioners speak of the slave trade, and, in merely a reference. general terms of the immorality of the times, | Mr. Josial PARKER said he was always inas injurious to the state of society; and wish clined to lend a favorable ear to petitioners of some means may be taken to prevent the growth every kind, but when a memorial was presented of them. To refer a petition of this sort, there to the House contrary to the nature of the govfore, to a committee would answer no purpose. ernment, he should consent to its lying on the He did not think they were more obliged to table or under it. No one, he said, could say take up the business than if they had read the they had a right to legislate respecting the proaddress in a newspaper.
ceedings of any individual State; they, thereMr. BAYARD said it might be inferred, from fore, had no power to decide on the conduct of the anxiety and warmth of gentlemen, that the the citizens of North Carolina in the matter question before them was, whether slavery complained of. Petitions had frequently come should or should not be abolished. The present from Quakers and others on the subject; was, however, very remote from such a ques- whereas this Government had nothing to do tion, as it was merely whether a memorial with negro slavery, except that they might lay should be read a second time. The contents a tax upon the importation of slaves. He reof this memorial, he said, were right or wrong, collected, when the subject was brought before reasonable or unreasonable; if right, it was the House in the first Congress held at New proper it should go to a committee; and if York, wishing to put a stop to the slave trade as wrong, if so clearly absurd as it had been re- much as possible, being a friend of liberty, he presented, where would be the evil of a refer- took every step in his power, and brought forence for a report thereon? He did not like ward a proposition for laying a tax of ten dolthings to be decided in the moment of passion, 1 lars upon every slave imported. It was not
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(NOVEMBER, 1797. agreed to; but there was only one State / be committed. As this was not the first time the (Georgia) in which the importation of slaves society of Quakers had come forward with petiwas admitted. Since the establishment of this tions to the House, seemingly with no other Government, Mr. P. said, the situation of slaves view than to fix an ódium on the State of North was much ameliorated, and any interference Carolina, he thought it his duty positively to now might have the effect to make their mas- contradict a fact stated in this memorial. It ters more severe. He knew of no part of the was stated that 134 persons, set free from slavery constitution which gave them power over | in North Carolina, had been since enslaved by horse-racing and cock-fighting, nor could they cruel retrospective, or ex post facto laws; they interfere with respect to play-houses; and alleged that certain members of their society had where they had no right to legislate, they had done what no person was permitted to do. Mr. no right to speak at all. As the session had be- B. read part of a law of North Carolina, stating gun harmoniously, he hoped that harmony " that no negro or mulatto slave shall be set would not be broken in upon by such applica- free, except for meritorious services, acknowtions as the present. Mr. P. produced a pre- ledged by a license of the court; and when any cedent from the journals of 1792, where a person shall be set free contrary to this law, he memorial of Warner Mifflin, a Quaker, after may be seized and sold as a slave," &c. He being read, was ordered to lie on the table, and also read a clause from another law, passed two days afterwards returned to the memo- afterwards, stating that several persons having rialist,
set at liberty their slaves contrary to law, and Mr, NICHOLAS felt as much as other gentlemen persons having taken up and sold them, are from the Southern States on the subject of the doubtful of the validity of the sale, and that this present petition, but his feelings did not produce law is passed to do away all doubts of such the same effect. He was not afraid of an inter- validity. Mr. B. said these extracts proved the ference from the United States with their pro- assertion untrue. perty, nor of any investigations or discussions Mr. Gordon lamented that this discussion had respecting it. He believed it would be to the taken place, as it was certain that wherever inhonor of people holding property in slaves, that terest is concerned, some degree of warmth will the business should be looked into. He thought be produced; and when a petition was brought such an inquiry would rather secure than injure forward which might affect the property of their property. He did not think it was the many gentlemen in this House, and their coninterest of slaveholders to cover improper prac stituents, it could not be expected they would tices. He was satisfied, that in the part of the hear it with the same calmness with persons country where he lived, there was no disposi- wholly unconcerned about it. All that had tion to protect injuries no disposition to reject been advanced in favor of the second reading of an inquiry, or to refuse to understand a com- | the petition was, the respectability of the persons plaint. They had been told that the state of presenting it, the opinion that would be enterthe negroes, whose cases were mentioned in the tained of the petitioners, if their petition was memorial, might be produced by the fugitive not referred, and the merits of the petition itself. law; they had before heard that this law had With respect to the persons of the petitioners, operated mischievously. It ought, therefore, he felt inclined to do them every justice; but to be inquired into. On inquiry, Mr. N. said, it he did not think this any reason for acting upon would not be found the fault of the Southern their memorial, unless some good consequence States that slavery was tolerated, but their mis- could arise from it, any more than if they were fortune; but to liberate their slaves at once, the vilest persons on earth. As to the opinion would be to act like madmen; it would be to that might be entertained out of doors, as the injure all parts of the United States as well as petition was not examined, he was not afraid those who possess slaves. It was their duty, that the citizens of the United States would behowever, to remedy evils; they were unfortu- lieve that the House could be so far lost to its nately placed in a situation which obliged them duty as not to look into a question of this kind, to hold slaves, but they did not wish to extend but that it would be conceived, if rejected, that the mischief. He should, indeed, be sorry if they had nothing to do with it. The other his possessing property of this kind, obliged him reason, the only material one, was to the merits to cover the violation of another man's right; of the petition. The gentleman from Delaware, if this were the case, he should think it neces- (Mr. BAYARD,) who had examined the business sary that his property should be taken from him. with much coolness and ability, had stated that He did not think it necessary, and he doubted a certain ex post facto law of North Carolina not, if a fair investigation took place, that this had occasioned grievances. Admitting there kind of property would be brought into the situ- / was such a law, what could the House do? ation in which every man of sense would place Could they declare a law of North Carolina null it. He was firmly of an opinion, that to ap- and void? There would be no utility in this; pear to be afraid of an inquiry would do more but if there was a law in North Carolina that hario to this property than a fair investigation. violated the constitution, there was a clear He trusted, therefore, the petition would be remedy in the law which organizes the Judical committed.
department of the United States, in which it is Mr. Blount koped this memorial would not said, if any law of an individual State inter
[H. OF R. feres with a law of the United States, a person! This fact called for examination; and a queshas a right to take advantage of the law of the tion arose, if it were established, whether that United States. There was no necessity, there. House could afford redress. A gentleman from fore, to call upon Congress for a remedy against North Carolina (Mr. BLOUNT) had stated that this law. Indeed, he saw nothing in this me- the fact was not true; it was certainly, therefore, morial which called for their interference, and worth while to be inquired into. Another gen he was therefore against a reference, as a further tleman had said, if the fact were as stated, they discussion of it would only produce uneasiness had no power to act; and a third was of opinin certain parts of the United States, without | ion that, by the constitution, redress might be producing any good.
afforded. This diversity of opinion showed the Ir. RUTLEDGE Observed, that notwithstanding necessity of an investigation of the subject, in all that had been said, considering the present order to determine the jurisdiction of the extraordinary state of the West India Islands House. He wished it for another reason. It and of Europe, he should insist that “sufficient had been stated, that if this petition were atfor the day is the evil thereof," and that they tended to, it would open a door to faction and ought to shut their doors against any thing mischief. Can it have this effect? These peowhich had a tendency to produce the like con- ple bring forward a petition stating a number of fusion in this country. If this were not done, | facts; they certainly do not come forward for the confidence of a great part of the Union in the mere design of exciting disorder in any the General Government would be weakened. quarter. If the House say they will throw their In the Southern States, where most of their petition under the table, would not such treatproperty consisted of slaves, and where the rest ment give the factions some ground of clamor was of no value without them, there was al- by which to sow dissension? But if, on the ready a prejudice existing that the Northern and contrary, they coolly looked into the petition, Eastern States were inimical to this kind of and reported thereon, would it not stop the property, though they were bound by the con- mouths of these people? It certainly would ; stitation from an interference with it; but since they could not then say common justice when they heard of the House giving counte- was refused to the petitioners. Again; having nance to a petition like the present, it would once investigated the subject fully, if petitions increase their uneasiness. He referred to what of a similar kind should hereafter come forward, had fallen from the gentleman from Delaware ( it would be reasonably said, this matter has alrespecting ex post facto law, and thought a court ready been taken up and fully decided upon; of justice the proper tribunal to settle that busi- and, therefore, we will not again go into it. ness. Mr. R. said he was indisposed, notwith- Until this was done, the factious would doubtstanding the high panegyrics which had been less have cause of complaint. passed upon the body of Quakers, to withdraw Mr. Blount said, several gentlemen who had the censures he had cast upon them. The gen- spoken on this subject seemed to express themtleman from New York had doubted the char-selves as if they believed there was no punishges which he had produced, and said such things ment for individuals reducing to slavery persons could never be attempted by the body. It was who had been manumitted. He read an extract true, they did not come in a body into his lodg- from a law, passed in 1779, in North Carolina, ing to seduce his servant, but individuals did it. by which the punishment of death is awarded But why, he asked, do these men come here in against such an offence. a body? Because they believe that their pres. Mr. Macon read the proceedings of the House ence will give more weight to their petition; so on the petition respecting the kidnapping of nethat they appeared in bodies, or as individuals, groes, in order to show that the gentleman from to answer their purposes. Gentlemen had char- New York (Mr. LIVINGSTON) had misstated the ged the opposers of the petition with heat; he issue of the business. The last report on the thought there was as much heat on one side as subject was that it would be best to leave the the other.
regulation of the subject to the Legislatures of Mr. EDMOND did not believe there was any the several States. Mr. M. allowed that his rereal ground of irritation in the question; as no flections upon the whole body of Quakers were gentleman could suppose they were about to do too general, and he had no hesitation in retractany thing which was either unconstitutional, oring them ; but he believed a number of them which would affect their property. Whether the were guilty of the charges brought against them persons who presented the memorial are vir- by the gentleman from South Carolina tuous or vicious, was of no consequence, since Mr. THATCHER said, if, when the motion was justice was due to both classes of men. They first made, he had been against it, from what had brought a petition before them, and they had fallen from gentlemen on the subject, he ought to consider it. It was addressed to their should now be in favor of it; for, notwithstandbonesty or justice; if the facts were claims upon ing they opposed the second reading of the petitheir honesty or justice they should be attended tion, they were filing off in squads to read it, to; and not only attended to, but, if possible, and ready to fight for a sight of it. He believed, relief granted. It was stated that there were a therefore, they had some reasons for opposing number of persons held in bondage who were the second reading, which did not appear. He justly entitled to liberty.
| referred to what had been said by the gentleH. OF R.
[DECEMBER, 1797. man from North Carolina, as to the fact stated the SPEAKER was indisposed; so much so that in the petition, and said that, notwithstanding he was not able to communicate his indisposithe laws which he had read, the fact might be tion to the House in writing. true; but that this very doubt about the fact Mr. Dent said, this being the case, he should was an additional reason for going into the move that the orders for this day be further inquiry.
| postponed till Monday; which motion being 1 Gentlemen had said, however good and vir- agreed to, the Clerk, on motion, adjourned the tuous the petitioners might be, it ought to have | House till Monday morning, at 11 o'clock. no effect upon the petition; if this were true, he boped when they were represented as the worst
Monday, December 4. of men, that representation was not meant to influence their decision on the question. Mr. T.
THOMAS SUMTER, from South Carolina, apcould not conceive for what purpose they were peared, and took his seat. carried to Europe, to witness the scenes which had taken place there for the last ten years.
Publication of Debates. Was this, he asked, the state of society? If he Mr. Dwight FOSTER presented the petition of thought so, if it had the faintest resemblance of Thomas Carpenter, stating that he was the edi. what was taking place there, he would fly from tor of the American Senator, published during it to the uttermost parts of the earth, and there the session of Congress ending in March last; make his habitation. Mr. T. wished an inquiry that, at the commencement of that session, he to take place; there was a part of the United presented a memorial to the House, praying its States in which slavery was tolerated some of support of his work; that the House had dethe members from those parts thought it not clined supporting it as a body, but receiving inright; there were other parts of the Union dividual assurances of support from many of the which disclaimed it. These two opposing prin- members, he had been induced to engage in the ciples were like two opposite powers in mechan-work; but the event had proved unfavorable to ism, which produced rest; but, the more fre- him. He hoped now, therefore, that he should quently the subject was looked into, the more be recompensed, by the House engaging to take mitigated would be its effects.
three copies for each member of the work he The question was taken for the second read- proposed to publish this session, (provided he ing of the petition, and carried—53 votes being met with the support he prayed for,) which, in the affirmative.
computing the session at eighteen weeks, he Mr. GALLATIN moved that it be referred to a supposed would not amount to more than select committee.
$2,250, Mr. Coit wished it to be referred to the Com-1 Mr. D. Foster moved that this petition be remittee of the Whole, to whom was referred the ferred to a select committee. petition on the subject of kidnapping negroes, Mr. Coit objected to a reference. The &c.
House, he said, had so often determined to have Mr. RUTLEDGE thought a select committee nothing to do with the publication of the dewould be best, as stage-plays, cock-fighting, bates, that he thought it time to have done with horse-racing, and other evils, would, of course, the subject. He hoped, therefore, the petition be considered.
might lie upon the table. The question for reference to a select commit- Mr. FOSTER and Mr. THATCHER spoke in favor tee was put and carried—59 members being in of the committal; and the motion was put and the affirmative.
carried, and a committee of three members apFive members being agreed upon to form the pointed to report thereon. committee, the SPEAKER named Messrs. SITGREAVES, NICHOLAS, Dana, SCHUREMAN, and s.
THURSDAY, December 7.
Winter, a report had been made by the Commit-
tee of Claims, on the petition of Amy Dardin, A new member, to wit: JOSEPH HEISTER, re- unfavorable to the petitioner, which, after full turned to serve in this House as a member for discussion, had been disagreed to by the House ; the State of Pennsylvania, in the room of George and on the 24th of February a motion for apEge, who has resigned his seat, appeared, pro | pointing a committee to bring in a bill for her duced his credentials, and took his seat in the relief was made and committed to a Committee House.
of the Whole, but for want of time had not been Several other members, to wit: from Penn-acted upon. He now wished to bring the matsylvania, ANDREW GREGG; from Kentucky, l ter before the House, and for that purpose THOMAS T. Davis; and from North Carolina, 1 moved that a committee be appointed to bring NATHAN BRYAN, and DEMPSEY BURGES, appeared in a bill for the relief of Amy Dardin. and took their seats in the House.
This motion met with opposition. It will, The Clerk then informed the House that he perhaps, be recollected that this, though a strong had heard from a member of the Senate that claim, in point of justice, is directly in the face