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ever subjecting him, of right, to punishment. She insists further, that the law of South-Carolina in respect to free people of color, is not a law which conflicts with that clause in the Constitution, which confers on Congress the "power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several States, and with the Indian tribes,” but is simply and solely a domestic regulation, to which commerce, and the laws of Congress which control it, are wholly foreign and irrelevant matter. And further and finally she insists, that the recent treatment of the State and of her citizens towards the agent of Massachusetts, of which complaint is made, was rendered justifiable and proper by circumstances; that he was not regarded by South-Carolina as the citizen of a State coming with a friendly purpose, to whom the rites of hospitality were due, but as the agent of a government cherish. ing hostile feelings to the State of South-Carolina, coming invested with powers from that government to interfere unlawfully with her domestic policy, and so interfering, justly to be regarded and to be treated, not as a friend, but an enemy. Such are the grounds assumed by South Carolina in reference to this matter. She takes her position firmly and fearlessly upon the basis of the laws of nature and of nations and of the Constitution of the Union, securing to her her inherent rights,—which rights she is determined to maintain, under all circumstances and at every hazard.
Massachusetts, at the same time, has pursued a similar course of aggression towards Louisiana, which State has a statutory provision in respect to free negroes and persons of color, of the same character with that of South Carolina; and Louisiana, like South-Carolina, has regarded and pronounced this conduct on the part of Massachusetts, an unauthorized interference with her domestic policy, and has treated the agent sent there to question and test the constitutionality of her local legislation accordingly. Other Southern States have enacted similar laws for their own protection,-States, from their position, less actively engaged in commerce, but no cases have arisen in those States which have so far attracted the notice or excited the resentment of Massachusetts, as to induce her to raise the question as to the validity of those laws.
That causes of discontent should arise between the North and South, calculated to weaken the bonds which unite the different sections of the confederacy, is much to be regret
ted. But when a complaint of any serious wrong inflicted by one State upon another, is made under circumstances which demand grave consideration, it is proper to treat the subject seriously, and to inquire coolly and dispassionately into the justice of the charge. The first difficulty in this case, which seems to require explanation, is, why Mr. Hoar was not permitted to pursue the object of his mission without interruption? To some, the conduct of South-Carolina towards this agent of a sister State, may seem harsh, uncalled for and altogether unaccountable. If the aims of truth and justice alone, were sought to be promoted by South-Carolina—if, unconscious of wrong, she was not disposed to shrink from a fair investigation of this matter, why, it may be asked, was not the Massachusett's agent suffered to proceed in the manner he intended? Why was he received with coldness in the first instance, regarded, so long as he remained here, with distrust and suspicion, and finally driven with contempt from the State, as if he were a spy or an incendiary? Was such conduct to have been ex. pected from a State, whose citizens have always been famed for their gallant and chivalrous bearing? Was it courteous towards a respectable stranger ? Was it becoming in a people who have ever professed to entertain a profound respect for the supremacy of law? These are questions of grave import, and they should be promptly met and an. swered, as they certainly may be, in a manner that will fully vindicate the rectitude, the wisdom and the honor of the State of South-Carolina. Whatever views, then, Massachusetts may have entertained in respect to any supposed wrongs she may have sustained, and of the consequent duty devolving on her to obtain redress, South-Carolina asserts, that she committed a very serious blunder, in the out. set, in respect to the steps to be taken by her in order to right herself; inasmuch as the case of wrong complained of was not one of those cases in law and equity, arising under the Constitution, which could properly be referred for adjudication to the Federal tribunals, but was, on the contrary, a case simply of police regulation, arising under the local laws of the State, of whose justice and propriety SouthCarolina, as a sovereign Staie, was the sole arbiter and judge, and accordingly that the Massachusetts agent was properly prevented from making a case and bringing his action in the Federal Court.
We have already stated some of the general grounds assumed by South Carolina in the recent proceedings of her Legislature on the subject, but it may be proper, on account of the interest which ihis case has excited, and the consequences it is likely to involve, that we should go back to an earlier period in ihe legislation of this commonwealth, and review more particularly its history in reference to free negroes and persons of color. The subject has long been regarded by South-Carolina as one of much importance ;-it has repeatedly occupied the attention of the Legislature, and different acts, at different times, have been passed, varying slightly in their provisions, in order to meet a change of circumstances, but by no means altering the settled policy of the State, which, from the first, has been of the most uniform character. Whatever may have been the opinion of other States and foreign nations, in respect to her rights and duties, South-Carolina has never entertained any doubts herself as to the course she ought to pursue in this matter. She has undertaken, and still undertakes, to be the sole and final judge of her own peculiar position-of the circumstances and dangers by which, as a slave-holding community, she is surrounded, -and of the species of local legislation to be adopted and enforced by her as indispensable to the protection of the lives, the persons and the property of her citi
She has, in this respect, acted as a sovereign State, in the exercise of her reserved rights, as amenable to no power whatever, foreign or domestic, and she has always acted in such a manner, she believes, as sovereign States, under the circumstances, ought to do, and, so doing, has reasonably expected that all acts done by her, in that capacity, would be respected by her sister sovereigns, though in this expectation she has sometimes, without fault on her part, been disappointed. In a word, in passing the acts in question, in order to protect her slave population and the lives of her citizens, she has been influenced by a sacred regard to the duty of self-preservation,--a duty to be observed at all hazards, and one that is “paramount to all laws, all treaties, and all constitutions."
In December, 1822, an act was passed by her Legislature, prohibiting the ingress of free negroes and persons of color into the State, under severe penalties. The necessity which existed for the passage of the act, was of the most peremptory character. Up to that period, in the history of the
country, free negroes and persons of color, coming from the North, had been permitted to enter the State, to remain as long as they chose, and to depart when they thought proper. So long as they conducted peaceably, their liberty, in these respects, was not abridged. But they did not behave peaceably. They attempted to corrupt our colored population by instilling into their minds false ideas of their duties and their station, till, by their insidious and exaggerated statements, they succeeded in exciting in the midst of this community a formidable insurrection, whose history is well known throughout the Union. Steps were to be taken of the most energetic character, and that promptly, to prevent the recurrence, in future, of similar scenes. It was then, and not till then, that the law in question was passed, and there is no civilized or Christian people who will not acknowledge that it was a prudent, a humane and necessary enactment, justified and called for by the circumstances, and fully within the powers of the State government.
Under the provisions of that act, and shortly after its passage, a colored seaman, belonging to a British vessel which had arrived in the port of Charleston, was arrested and imprisoned. The British Minister, Mr. Canning, resident at Washington, in a communication addressed to the then Secretary of State, Mr. Adams, of the 15th February, 1823, complained of the passage of that act as adverse to the interests of British commerce, denounced the arrest and detention of the colored seaman as an injury demanding redress, while, at the same time, he urgently insisted, that the general government should interfere to procure a repeal of the obnoxious law, and to prevent the recurrence of similar arrests in future. About the same time, the British Consul at Charleston sued out a writ of habeas corpus for the release of the colored seaman in question, then a prisoner in the Charleston jail, and the case having been brought for a hearing before the late Judge Johnson of the District Circuit Court of the United States for South-Carolina, the constitutionality of the law of the State was drawn in question. The Hon. Mitchell King appeared in behalf of ihe British Consul, and Col. Benjamin F. Hunt, then and still a distinguished member of the SouthCarolina bar, and the Hon. Isaac E. Holmes, now member of Congress from Charleston, were employed on behalf of the State. Mr. King maintained, that inasmuch as the prisoner
was charged with no crime, his confinement was a violation of the commercial convention with Great Britain. Colonel Hunt, besides arguing the question on general grounds, to which we shall shortly advert, called in question the jurisdiction of the Court, maintaining that as the State was a party, the case was not before the proper tribunal. The case proceeded, and the decision of the Judge, which is quoted as authority in the message of the Governor of Massachusetts now before us, was unquestionably against the constitutionality of the law. This decision of the Federal Judge, however, was not acquiesced in by the State of South Carolina, and made no change in her legislation in respect to free negroes and persons of color. In pursuance of the policy she had previously adopted, and with a view to convince the Federal Government, the Federal Courts, and all foreign States and nations, that she was not disposed to recede in the least from the position she had taken,-convinced, as she was, both of its justice and necessity,--she availed herself again of the first opportunity that presented itself to enforce the law, and one occurring about a year afterwards, upon the arrival at Charleston of the British ship Marmion, from Liverpool, four colored seamen, belonging to that ship, were promptly arrested and detained in prison till the departure of the vessel, when they were released, upon the commander's paying, according to the terms of the act, the expenses of their detention. On this occasion, the commander, Petric, addressed a letter to the President of the British Board of Trade, setting forth the circumstances of the case, which he represented as a grievance, and the intelligence having been communicated formally by the British Secretary of State to Mr. Addington at Washington, the latter addressed a communication to Mr. Madison, President of the United States, in which he enters very fully into the details of the case of the Marmion, refers to the previous case, which had been the subject of complaint and remonstrance,asserts that the law of South-Carolina, and the acts done under it, were direct and unqualified violations of the faith of treaties entered into between the United States and Great Britain and other friendly nations, and insists, in very pressing terms, on a repeal of the act
. The constitutionality of the obnoxious law being submitted to Mr. Wirt, the Attorney General of the United States, he gave his opinion against it, on the ground, that it was a regulation of commerce by the State of