Nashville Southern convention.

Resolutions and address, adopted by the Southern convention. Held at Nashville, Tennessee, June 3d to 12th inclusive, in the year 1850 online

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Online LibraryNashville Southern conventionResolutions and address, adopted by the Southern convention. Held at Nashville, Tennessee, June 3d to 12th inclusive, in the year 1850 → online text (page 3 of 3)
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declaring that if any slave is brought info the District [>v sale
he shall be "liberated and five." If a slave is liberated because
he is brought into the District, the next step, to liberate him be-
cause he is in the District, is not difficult. The power to eman-
cipae the slaves in the District of Columbia is thus claimed and
exercised by Congress. Many of the ablest men of the South
have denied that Congress possesses any such power, whilst all
agreed, until lately, that for Congress to interfere with this in-
stitution, wh 1st slavery existed in Maryland and Virginia, would
be a gross breach of faith towards those Sa'es, and an outrage
upon the wh >le South. How long will that facility which yields
to i he prejudice against the buying and selling of slaves be able
to resist the greater prejudice which exists against the holding
of slaves at all in the District of Columbia?

For all these sacrifices to the interests and prejudices of the
people of the Nor.h the South is tendered the last measure of the
compromise — the fugiive slave bill as they propose to amend it.
To understtnd the extent of the concession the South receives
on thi> p )int, we mu-t lo >k to the rights the constitution confers.

The framers of the Constitution were perfectly aware that
the General Government could have but li tie power to secure
to them their fugitive slaves in the non-slaveho'ding States.
The who'e inter ial police of a State must be under the control
of the State, and bv this chiefly could slaves be re-captured. The
Constitu ion therefore, not relying on the legislation of Congress
alone, requires that a fugitive slave, escaping ino a non-slave-
hol ling State, shall be "delivered upon claim of the party" to
whom he b dongs. Fugitive slaves are put on the footing of fu-
gitive criminals, and are to b?, delivered up by the State authori-
ties. If th se authorities do not enforce the requirements of the
Constitution, and ad in the re-capture and recovery of fugitive
slaves, Congress can do but lit le to enforce them. The bill pro-
viding for the co-operation of the few officers of the United States
Government in a State, is prac ically quite insufficient to accom-
plish its aim. What can they do in such a State as Pennsylvania,
to recover fugitive slaves? Yet if Congress does all that it can do,
by legislation, to enforce the Constitution, it only does its duty to
the South. There can be no concession or favor to the South, in
giving her only what she has a right to have under the Constitu-
tion— unless, indeed, the Constiution for her has no existence. The
bill then, is, in the first place, quite inadequate to restore to us our
fugi ive slaves, and in the second place, gives the South nothing
but what she is entitled to. If this was all, there would be no-
thing in the bill for which we should concede any thing to the



20

North. But it is not all. Under the pretext of bestowing on us
a benefit, it perpetrates a usurpation on the reserved rights
of the States. It provides that a slave may arraign his master,
by the authority of laws made by Congress, before the courts of
the States and of the United States, to try his right to his free-
dom. If Congress can legislate at all between the master and
slave in a State, where can its power be stayed? It can abolish
Blavery in the States. Thus a power is assumed in the bill,
which virtually extends thejurisdiction of Congress over slavery
in the States. And this is a benefit to the South ! Under a guise
of a benefit, the bill is useless as a remedy — and worse than use-
less in its usurpations. Such are the various measures which
constitute this compromise.

We do not believe that many of those in the South, who
at an early day, expressed a willingness to support it. had well
considered its import, or ever contcmplati d supporting it
without material amendments. We fully appreciate, and duly
honor the motives of those who would restore tranquility
to the country, nor shall we impugn in any form those who have
assisted to frame or who have yielded a support to the measures.
Why the non-slaveholding States do not support these measures,
we are unable to understand, unless it be, that a haughty fanati-
cism, inflated with success, disdains accomplishing its objects by
indirection. If these measures, however, were really a compro-
mise in which the South had equal gains with the Noith, it would
be of doubtful expediency for the South to propose it. Three
times in Congress, during this controversy, the South has propo-
sed the Missouri compromise, which has been three times reject-
ed by the North. Twice she has proposed a compromise by
which she consented to leave it to the courts of the United States
to determine her rights. Instead of requiring sternly their^t cog-
nition by Congress, fifteen sovereign States have consented to be
carried into the courts of the country. and there to submit
their sovereign rights in aterritoiy belonging to them, to
their final arbitrament. Their humiliation did not win the respect
or confidence of the North and the proposition was twice rejected.

The South, in our opinion, might accept one other compro-
mise, not because it is coextensive with our rights, but because
it has been twice sanctioned by those who have gone before us.
If the North offers the Missouri Compromise, to extend to the
Pacific Ocean, the South cannot reject it, provided, a distinct
recognition of our right to enter the territory south of 30 deg.
:)0 min. north latitude, is expressed in the compromise. We
should take this line, as a partition line between the two sec-
tions of the Union; and beside this, nothing but what the Con-
stitution bestows. Although the Northern States would acquire
by this compromise, three-fourths of our vacant territory, they
will have renounced the insufferable pretension of restricting
and preventing the extension of the South, whilst they should
xatend indefinitely.



21

Having thus, fellow citizens, laid before you a statement o;'
your condition — your rights — and the remedy which, under pres-
ent circumstances, you should accept, we leave you for a brief
space of time. It is proper to state to you, that while we are
unanimous in approving the resolutions accompanying this ad-
dress, the Delegates to this Convention are not entirely unani-
mous in approving all the arguments contained in it, particu-
larly such as relate to the compromise bill pending in the Uni-
ted States Senate, though none are in favor of that bill, unless it
be amended in conformity with our resolutions, or in such man-
ner as shall substantially secure to the Sowth the right asserted
in them. Until Congress adjourns, we cannot know what
it will do, or will fail to do. We must therefore meet again
after its adjournment, to consider the final condition in which
it will leave you. We recommend to you, and exhort you to
send Delegates from every county and district in the Southern
States to meet us when we again assemble, it is no ordinary
occasion which has assembled us together. The Constitution,
and the Union it created, so long dear to your hearts, are to be
preserved, and your liberties and your institutions maintained



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Online LibraryNashville Southern conventionResolutions and address, adopted by the Southern convention. Held at Nashville, Tennessee, June 3d to 12th inclusive, in the year 1850 → online text (page 3 of 3)