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may wish to migrate to it. Sundry citizens of the State of Ohio, and others of Minot, in the county of Cumberland, in the State of Maine, have also presented memorials containing similar applications, and praying that the asylum so to be provided may be opened to such slaves as the humanity of individuals and the laws of the different States may permit to emigrate thither. In connection with this measure these latter memorialists also suggest the importance of setting apart, from the annual revenue of the Government of the United States, a suitable fund for furnishing not only the means of transportation to such free people of color as may be desirous of emigrating, but also the necessary aids to such humane individuals as may think proper to liberate their slaves with a view to their colonization on the coast of Africa.
It would appear, therefore, from all these different applications, that the applicants wish, generally, that the United States should exert their power and their means: First, to acquire a territory somewhere on the coast of Africa, which when acquired should be opened as an asylum for the reception of free persons of color and liberated slaves; secondly, that the United States should set apart a portion of their annual revenue in order to constitute a fund for the transportation of such persons to the asylum so to be provided; and, lastly, that to effect these objects the better, the United States should extend their aid and protection to the existing society of individuals known and distinguished as the American Colonization Society.
Against the adoption of any of these measures the legislature of the State of Georgia, by a resolution of that body, have preferred a most solemn protest. In this they explicitly deny the right of Congress to grant any such applications, and plainly intimate the strongest objections to the expediency of doing so, even if the right was conceded. The legislature of the State of South Carolina have also adopted similar resolutions in relation to this matter, containing the like solemn negation of the right of the Government of the United States in this respect; and all these resolutions have been referred by the Senate to this committee.
Under such circumstances the committee, while investigating the subjects to them referred, have felt themselves constrained by no ordinary considerations to examine most attentively the various questions which they present. And that the reasons from which are deduced the conclusions—of whose correctness they themselves are well satisfied—may be subject to the same tests in the Senate to which they have been submitted in the committee, they will now state them.
The first question which arises is: Does the Constitution of the United States grant to this Government any right to acquire new territory for the purpose and in the quarter where these applicants propose such territory should be acquired?
The acquisition of new territory, no matter where such territory may be situated, or in what mode or for what purpose such acquisition may be made, is an exercise of one of the highest powers which any Government can ever exert. Such a power necessarily includes the right of governing and disposing of the territory so acquired, either according to the will of the acquiring sovereign or according to the terms and conditions which may be annexed to the acquisition at the time it is made. Comprehending these high functions, it also implies the power of acting upon and altering materially most of the political and many of the civil relations that preexisted in the nation by which the acquisition is made, because all these relations must have been established in reference to a condition of things very different from that which will exist after the empire is enlarged by the addition of the newly acquired domain.
Such being the character of the power which it is proposed the United States should now exert, and the possession of such a power being solemnly denied to them by several of the sovereign States, from whom they derive all their authority, it is due, not less to the high character of those who deny the grant of this power than to the effects which may result from its exercise, that all the sources from whence it may legitimately flow should be carefully examined. It is only by such an examination that a correct opinion can be formed as to the right of the United States to employ such a power upon this occasion.
All the examples which history furnishes of new territory acquired by any nation in past time exhibit but three modes in which such acquisition hath ever been made. These are by discovery, conquest, or negotiation, and this committee can not conceive any other means by which new territory can ever be acquired by any sovereign. If this be so, then a government which is not endowed with the power of prosecuting discoveries, of making conquests, or of conducting negotiations can not enjoy the legitimate right of acquiring new territory; for it can not be overlooked that, high and important as is this power of acquiring new territory, yet, from its very nature, it can not be a substantive power, but must always exist in connection with and as a mere consequence of some one or more of the other great powers that afford the only means by which it can ever be exerted. Instead, therefore, of inquiring whether the United States possess the
specific right of acquiring new territory, the inquiry should rather be, Do they enjoy fully the general powers before mentioned, the exercise of which necessarily and properly includes this as an incidental right?
Every government charged with the exclusive direction of the exterior relations of the nation for which it was designed, and specially endowed with the general powers of regulating its commerce, of waging war, and of conducting negotiations, must enjoy, as incident to these powers, the right of prosecuting discoveries, of achieving conquests, and of concluding treaties, and, consequently, must enjoy the right of acquiring new territory by any of these means, unless this natural incident of the powers granted is expressly denied to such government by those who created and so endowed it. The Federal Constitution specially grants to the Government of the United States all these general powers, and contains no direct inhibition of the right of acquiring new territory, which, as has been said, necessarily and naturally flows from each of them. The committee therefore can not doubt that the Government of the United States does possess the right of acquiring new territory by some of the modes before referred to whenever the case may occur to which any of these modes of acquiring new territory is properly applicable. They see, moreover, that the past practice of this Government has conformed to this opinion in the memorable examples of the acquisition of the territory of Louisiana from France and of Florida from Spain.
But while the committee can readily discern the source of the right asserted by the Government of the United States in the cases referred to, and can as distinctly perceive that such a right may at any time hereafter be legitimately asserted as an incident and consequence of some of the high powers to which they have referred it whenever the case may arise to which these powers properly apply, they can not discover what support this opinion can afford to the legitimate acquisition of the new territory which is proposed upon the present occasion.
The whole coast of the great peninsula of Africa was discovered a very long time since by many different civilized nations, even before America itself was visited by any inhabitant of the Old World, and if more of the discovered countries there situated have not been occupied by those civilized nations who have so long known, by so frequently visiting them, the causes that have restrained others from such occupation merit at least as much consideration from the United States as they have received from the elder members of the family of civilized man. At all events, these notorious facts suffice to show that at this day the United States are as much precluded by the usages of nations from advancing any claim to new territory there situated, upon the ground of first discovery and prime occupancy, as they would be precluded from asserting such a title to any new territory they might wish to acquire upon the coasts of Patagonia or of Japan. Any nation may possibly support a right to acquire new territory upon the known coasts of Africa in virtue of either of the other great sources of such right, but none can found any pretension to acquire territory there now upon the ground of first discovery.
Doubtless the United States possess the power of declaring war, and, as a consequence of this power, the right to push hostilities through victory to conquest and so to acquire the dominions of their enemies; but this power of waging war, like all the other discretionary powers conferred by the Constitution, is necessarily limited by the ends and objects for which alone it may be rightfully exerted. Now, as war itself is never to be justified except as a means necessary to the preservation of permanent peace and greater security, and can never be rightfully declared for the single and naked purpose of acquiring territory, therefore the right of acquiring territory in the proposed case by any such means can not be conceded to belong to the Government of the United States. The remote position, the ignorance, the poverty, and the imbecility in which all the savage hordes occupying the coast of Africa have ever existed, and must continue to exist for a long period yet to come, place it beyond credulity that any or all of them can now threaten the peace or disturb the security of any—the most weak and exposed spot in this hemisphere. Defensive war on our part with any of these tribes is at present impossible, and offensive war against such a people in order to strip them of their possessions can never be justified. The mere capacity to wage war for such a purpose with these or any other people the United States unquestionably possess, but until all distinction between power and right shall be forgotten; until the limits of the one shall be supposed to be found only in the ineasure of the other, the constitutional power of the United States to wage any war can never be admitted to bestow upon their Government the constitutional right to acquire new territory by means of an unjustifiable war waged upon the unoffending inhabitants of the coast of Africa. The right of the United States to acquire new territory there at this time can not, therefore, be derived from their general power to declare war more than it can be deduced from their right to prosecute discoveries in virtue of their general power to regulate commerce.
The only remaining source of this right to acquire new territory is in the power to make treaties. This, too, is a discretionary power granted to the United States by the Constitution; but, like all the other powers of this kind thereby conveyed, it has its limits, limits
to be found not less in the specified ends and objects for which the Government itself was created, but in the nature and character of the power itself. Without attempting to define what these limits are, the committee will merely remark that from the very nature of this power it is one which can only be exercised by two or more sovereigns acting together for the attainment of the same object by means of a compact which, when concluded, is to be obligatory upon the whole people governed by such sovereigns. None but sovereigns can enter into such an agreement, and the parties, being all sovereign, are, of course, equal in that respect.
Many and important are the consequences, not only to the contracting parties themselves but to the whole civilized world, which result from the mere fact of concluding a treaty. It is a recognition of the sovereignty and independence of the parties by each other. From this many results flow and obligations attach to either in all their future intercourse. Such being the effects of the exertion of this power of making treaties, civilized nations have rarely believed themselves at liberty to conclude them with any savage people until many events had combined to prove that such people were capable and sincerely disposed to maintain the rights and to conform to the usages which, for the wisest reasons, have been acknowledged and adopted to regulate the relations and intercourse between the different members of the family of nations. Therefore it is that no civilized nation in modern times hath ever entered into a treaty with any of the savage tribes who wander over the deserts or dwell upon the coast of Africa; and numerous circumstances exist (which need not be here repeated) that, in the opinion of this committee, are sufficient to restrain the United States from being the first to enter into such a compact with any such people, especially for the purpose of enlarging the limits of our present wide-spread empire. Some of these circumstances have hitherto been considered as sufficient to prevent this from being done by the United States, for very different purposes, with another people whose situation in all respects is certainly much more elevated in the scale of civilization than that which any of the savage tribes of Africa have yet attained.
In the pursuit of their private avocations enterprising individuals have often attained from some of these tribes the privilege of making establishments for various purposes within the limits of their supposed possessions. When these establishments in after time had acquired a growth and consequence sufficient to require the attention and protection of the nations to which the individuals engaged in them were subject, such nations have granted to these their subjects the aid of their power to guard them from lawless violence and to protect their honest acquisitions. But this committee are not aware that any civilized nation hath ever yet concluded a solemn treaty with any of the people of Africa, the direct object of which was to extend its dominions by the surrender of their possessions, or has ever regarded any of these tribes as a moral being, capable of entering into and disposed to conform to the obligations of such compacts. This right of acquiring new territory, which it is proposed the United States should exert in order to make such acquisition upon the the coast of Africa, can therefore derive as little support at this time from the treaty making as it has been shown to derive from the other great powers of the Government of the United States.
Should it be supposed that the example of the nominal treaties concluded between the United States and the various savage tribes
inhabiting within their acknowledged dominions, by some of which nominal treaties the Indian title to territory there situated has been extinguished, constitutes any exception to the position here asserted, a very slight notice of the peculiar character of these instruments and of the situation of the parties will furnish a sufficient answer to this supposition. The Indian title so extinguished is but a mere usufructuary interest enjoyed by the courtesy and under the permission of the United States, who long since acquired the acknowledged sovereignty and dominion over the territory so possessed. In extinguishing such an interest the United States do not acquire any new territory; they merely exempt that territory which they before held from an incumbrance to which their humanity had previously subjected it. By concluding such compacts the United States do not recognize the independent sovereignty of the people whose rights of possession are so extinguished, and the Senate require not to be informed by their committee of the particular local considerations which, at the very commencement of this Government, made it highly desirable, if not indispensably necessary, that the form and manner of effecting the extinction of this possessory right, which was not prescribed by the Constitution, should be by a nominal treaty rather than by statute, as under other circumstances would probably have been the case.
But if it was even conceded that the treaty-making power of the United States was equal to the legitimate acquisition of new territory either within or contiguous to their original dominions (as it certainly is), this committee do not see in such a concession any foundation for the opinion that this power would extend to the acquisition of a distant territory in another quarter of the globe, separated from the United States by a wide ocean. These circumstances of themselves, if none other existed, would necessarily convert such a territory, when acquired, either into a sovereignty independent of the United States or into a colony absolutely dependent upon them. A country so situated could never be admitted into this Union as an integral part of the confederation, because, in the nature of things, it could never contribute its just proportion of the blessings or bear its proper share of the responsibilities of our representative democracy. Our established system of uniform laws, too, must necessarily work its speedy ruin or cripple and greatly impair the beneficial effects of that system upon the other parts of the Empire. The new territory, when acquired, must therefore ever continue in a state of colonial bondage, deprived of all hope of being ever admitted into the Union, or it must be endowed with the character and attributes of a sovereign State, entirely independent of the parent country. To suppose, however, that our free Constitution was ever designed to vest in the United States a power of establishing and holding distant colonies, to be always retained in a state of colonial bondage to the mother country, or of creating new empires absolutely independent of it, is an opinion which this committee believe to be opposed to the whole theory of that Constitution and to the genius and spirit of all our institutions.
In all the cases in which the United States have ever yet acquired new territory, this has been done upon the expressed condition that the territory so acquired, and its inhabitants, should thereafter be admitted into the Union as a part and equal member of this confederation. This practice, in the opinion of this committee, is in strict conformity with that provision of the Constitution which authorizes the admission