« PreviousContinue »
territory, although not specially granted to the United States by the Constitution, may yet be inferred from the power of appropriating the public revenue, which seems to be considered as a discretionary power, limited by nothing but the judgment of the body to which it is confided. The committee do not concur in these opinions. The power of collecting revenue is a power specially granted by the Constitution, limited, however, in the grant which concedes it by the enumerated objects for which revenue may be collected and by the prescribed modes in which it must be levied, even for these objects. The United States have no power to raise revenue in any other than according to these prescribed modes or for any other than these declared objects. From this expressed power of collecting revenue the subsidiary power of appropriating the revenue when collected is certainly fairly to be deduced. The power of appropriating the revenue is not, however, a substantive power, an original end, the attainment of which is specially authorized by the Constitution, but it is a mere incident, resulting from the grant of other powers as being necessary and proper to be exerted in orderto give to them effect. Thus Congress, having the power to wage war, may undoubtedly collect and appropriate revenue for that purpose. The acquisition of territory being a consequence that may result from waging war, by appropriating revenue to the prosecution of war, the revenue so appropriated may happen to be applied to the acquisition of territory. But as the acquisition of territory is not one of the objects enumerated in the Constitution for which revenue may be collected, it seems hardly necessary to say that revenue can not be appropriated for any such substantive purpose, although it may chance to be applied in that way, whenever the acquisition of territory becomes a necessary and proper means, to give full effect to any of the general powers which are specially granted. To carry this doctrine further would be to assert that revenue might be appropriated to a purpose for which it could not be collected; and so to make the resulting and mere accessorial power greater than the original and principal power from which alone it is derived, a proposition which seems to this committee as erroneous in argument as it would be dangerous in practice.
The committee having thus shown that the United States have no right at this time to acquire new territory upon the coast of Africa for any purpose, might perhaps excuse themselves from examining this subject under any other aspect. But the subject is one by inuch too important in itself not to be investigated in every shape under which it has been presented by any of those who have brought it before the Senate. The committee will, therefore, examine it in another view.
If it was permissible to the United States to acquire territory upon the coast of Africa, do they possess the right of transporting thither at the public expense any part of our own population? And here the committee will observe that although in this particular instance it is proposed to transport none but a portion of the colored population to the coast of Africa, yet the power proposed to be exerted is the same that would be employed if the object was to transport at the public expense any portion of the white population to any other spot. It is true that the power in question is now proposed to be exerted for the transportation of voluntary emigrants only. But if the United States enjoy this power and may employ it for such a purpose, none can deny to them the right of acting upon the will of the people by holding out inducements to them to emigrate. Of the extent of such inducements the United States must necessarily be the sole judges; and being the judges, it is obvious they may offer bounties of such a character as to overcome all reluctance, and so convert any into willing emigrants, when the power in question, if it be legitimate, would rightfully apply to them. Nay, bounties and rewards are not the only means by which the United States might act upon the citizen to overcome his reluctance to emigrate. In the exercise of other powers which belong to them, while they do not exceed the constitutional limits, and are not, therefore, guilty of usurpation, they may, nevertheless, so oppress him by unintentionally misdirecting his labor and capital as to inspire him with the wish of flying from the land of his birth and of accepting their proffered aid to bear the expense of his transportation. It is a question, therefore, well deserving the serious consideration of every State in this Union, whether the United States may rightfully intrude within the confines of any of the States for the purpose of withdrawing from thence any portion of its inhabitants in order to locate them permanently elsewhere.
Upon this subject the committee have no doubt. They believe that for all mere external purposes which bring the United States into contact with any foreign State the powers vested in them by the Constitution are full and complete. All powers useful and fit for the attainment of any of these objects are not only vested in the United States, but expressly denied to each of the States. For all purposes merely internal, however, whether connected with either the territory or population of a State, where the reserved powers of the States are plenary to their accomplishment, those of the United States are limited, especially enumerated in the Constitution, and circumscribed, not less by the enumeration than by the objects for which these powers were granted. The United States, therefore, can not act directly in any way, either upon the territory or the population of a State (whether it be white or colored), except for the objects defined and in the modes prescribed by the Constitution. The revenue of the United States can no more be appropriated to the defraying of the expenses of transporting any portion of the inhabitants of the States, not being in the service of the United States, from one part of the world to another than it can be appropriated to the support and comfort of such inhabitants while within the United States, either to feed, to cloth«, or to educate them there. These latter powers, however, it has ever been conceded, the United States do not enjoy under the Constitution; and yet that which it is now proposed to exert is a power not only similar in its nature, but may be infinitely more prejudicial to the States in its effects. For it must be obvious to all that the effect of the exercise of such a power by the United States, if carried to any extent, would be to impair the political weight of the State from which the subtraction of population was made, and so to derange that equilibrium of political power which it was the purpose of the Constitution to establish and to preserve. It is obvious, too, that in the proposed case this power must of necessity be partially exerted, because the colored population which it is proposed to transport is not scattered generally or equally over the whole surface of the United States, but exists in very unequal proportions and in particular districts only. The expense of their transportation, however, must be defrayed by the appropriation of revenue derived from the contributions of all.
A power of such doubtful origin, of such partial operation, of such broad and dangerous extent, and to the attainment of all the beneficial effects of which the powers of every State are fully equal, this committee can not think is possessed by the United States. As one of the powers not granted to the United States, it is reserved to the States, each of which possesses the clear right of controlling and governing its own people and territory in all cases where the exercise of such a power does not conflict with any of the powers granted to the United States, who on their part could not possibly exert this power of taking away any part of the population of a State in order to locate it permanently elsewhere beyond the confines of such State, without impairing and destroying the rights of the States over such a subject.
Doubtless the United States may invite, perhaps coerce, the free population of all the States to fill the ranks of their armies, to navigate their fleets, and to execute their laws. All these are objects which the Constitution expressly authorizes the United States to accomplish; and which may not be attainable without the use of such means. But the people thus taken into the service of the United States continue the subjects of the States from which they may have been originally drawn. Their numbers will still add to its political weight, while they remain in it; and even when, in the discharge of their duties, they may be withdrawn from it, this withdrawal is not necessarily permanent, nor is this the purpose for which the power is given or exerted, although such may be the accidental effect resulting from it.
Before they leave this part of the subject the committee will observe that the framers of the Constitution most wisely abstained from bestowing upon the Government thereby created any power whatever over the colored population of the United States, as such, whether this population was bond or free. Any attempt to endow it with such a power, we know, as an historical fact, would have frustrated all the labors and defeated the great objects of the patriot statesmen assembled for the purpose of framing this plan of government. The condition of the persons inhabiting the several States was therefore left to the control of the States respectively, who retained the exclusive power of defining and regulating this condition as they might severally think best; and any power to prohibit the migration or importation of such persons as the States might think proper to admit was specially denied to Congress for a term of twenty years. It is true that this term has expired, but in the opinion of this committee it would be a departure from the spirit of the Constitution, as well as an exertion of power not granted by it, if Congress were now, by any special legislative act on their part, to invite and encourage the emigration or transportation of that particular class of persons whose introduction into the States they were at first expressly prohibited from preventing.
Indeed, this committee can not perceive in what mode the power which it is proposed should be exerted by the United States upon this occasion could ever be practically exercised without a violation of that great principle which lies at the very foundation of this Government, that the States respectively should retain the exclusive right of severally determining the condition of their own inhabitants. For if the United States possess the right to intrude into any State for the purpose of withdrawing from thence its free colored population, they undoubtedly must exert practically the power of previously deciding what persons are embraced within this description. They must have the right of determining finally, not only who are colored, but who are free persons. This committee believe, however, that
any attempt by the United States to exercise such a power would not only
be a direct violation of the Constitution, but must be productive of the worst effects.
It has been said by an eminent statesman, that even if the Constitution had not contained any express inhibition of the exercise by this Government of the powers not granted to it, yet the consequences which must unavoidably result from the exertion of any such powers would be found in practice so inconvenient, inexpedient, and impolitic that no wise men would ever voluntarily attempt to use them. The case now before the committee furnishes a good illustration, if not a proof, of the truth of this opinion. This committee will not state all the facts and arguments which may suggest themselves to the minds of those who shall examine this subject to prove that even if the power it is desired should be employed by the United States upon this occasion was enjoyed by them without question or doubt, yet it is a power that ought not to be exerted by this Government. They will confine themselves to the statement of a few only of these facts and arguments.
And first, they will endeavor to show that the object which these applicants propose to accomplish can not be attained by any of the means which, in justice to the people of this country, the United States ought ever to apply to any such purpose. This object is to relieve the States of this confederacy from what is supposed to be the evil of their free colored inhabitants by transporting all these to the coast of Africa. Now, by the last census, taken in 1820, the whole number of the free colored people of the United States is shown to have then been 233,530. By comparing this number with that shown by the preceding enumeration, the mean ratio of their annual increase for the ten years preceding 1820 appears to be somewhat more than 24 per cent. Add, then, an annual increase according to this ratio during the term of eight years which has elapsed since the census of 1820 was taken, and we shall find the probable number of free colored population of the United States now to exceed 280,000, and that the annual increase of this population at present is more than 7,000.
The expense of transporting such persons from the United States to the coast of Africa has been variously estimated. By those who compute it at the lowest rate the mere expense of this transportation has been estimated at $20 per head. In this estimate, however, is not comprehended the expense of transporting the persons destined for Africa to the port of their departure from the United States, or the necessary expense of subtaining them, either there or in Africa, for a reasonable time after their first arrival. All these expenses combined the committee think they estimate very low when they compute the amount at $100 per head. It has been estimated by some at double this amount; and if past experience may be relied upon as proving anything, the official documents formerly furnished to the Senate by the Department of the Navy show that the expenses attending the transportation of the few captured slaves who have been returned to Africa by the United States at the expense of this Government far exceeds even the largest estimate. But taking the expense to be only what the committee have estimated it, then the sum requisite to transport the whole number of the free colored population of the United States would exceed $28,000,000, and the expense of transporting a number equal only to the mere annual increase of this population would exceed $700,000 per annum, sums which would impose upon the people of this country an additional burden of taxation greater than this committee believes they could easily bear, and much greater than ought to be imposed upon them for any such purpose.
The views of the present applicants, however, are not confined to the transportation of the existing free colored population of the United States, or of the future natural increase of this population. They also propose that this Government shall furnish the necessary aids to such humane individuals as may think proper to liberate their slaves; and that the slaves so liberated, may, in like manner, be transported to Africa. What augmentation of the number to be transported would be produced by the adoption of such a project would depend very much upon the quantum of the aids which this Government might think proper to tender to humane individuals, in order to induce them to liberate their slaves. Doubtless, the proprietors of the whole slave population in the United States might be tempted to part with their property by the offer of what they might deem a fair equivalent; and as the plan of some of the applicants seems to look even to this event, the committee have thought it necessary to examine into the effects of this measure also.
By the census of 1820, the whole number of slaves in the United States is shown to be 1,538,128. By comparing this number with that shown by the preceding enumeration, the mean ratio of their annnal increase, for the ten years preceding 1820, appears to be somewhat less than 3 per cent; add then an annual increase, according to this ratio, during the term of eight years, which has elapsed since the census of 1820 was taken, and we shall find the probable number of slaves in the United States now to be at least 1,900,000; and that the annual increase of this population, at present, is at least 57,000. Now allow the same sum per head for the transportation of these persons that has been estimated for the transportation in the other similar case, and the sum requisite to defray the expense of the transportation of all the slaves in the United States would be $190,000,000; and that requisite to defray the expense of the transportation of a number only equal to their mere annual increase would be $5,700,000 per annum. But to either of these sums must be added the reasonable equivalent, or necessary aid, to be paid by the United States to humane individuals, in order to induce them voluntarily to part with their property. The committee have no “data” by which they can measure what this might be. But any sum, however small, will make so great an augmentation of the amount as almost to baffle calculation, and to exhibit this project at once as one exceeding very far indeed any revenue which the United States could ever draw from their citizens, even if the object was to increase and to multiply, instead of reducing the numbers of the class of productive labor.
It would not, in any degree, allay the excitement which an imposition so grievous as that necessary to defray the expense of transporting the mere annual increase of our present free colored population only would generate in this country, to know that its effects must necessarily be partial as well as oppressive. The free persons of color now in the United States are collected, for the most part, in the cities, towns, and villages situated on the Atlantic seaboard. From hence, therefore, the exportation of such persons would commence, and would long be confined to the inhabitants of such places. The provisions of such a regulation could not be extended to many of the States of this Union at all; nor would they be felt, directly, in the interior, even, of those States to the seaboard of which they would extend.