John A. (John Adams) Dix.

Speeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) online

. (page 40 of 40)
Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) DixSpeeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 40 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Connecticut ^Ir. Cook, ay )

Mr. Jolin?on, ay J ' ^'

New York Mv. W. Livingston, ay \

Mr. Piatt, ay j ^^'

New Jersey Mr. Bcatty, ay ^

Mr. Cadwalader, ay >- ay.

Mr. Stewart, ay )

Pennsylvania ^Ir. Gardner, ay )

Mr. W. Henry, ay \ ^^'

Maryland Mr. McHenry, no )

]\Ir. J. Henry, ay >- ay.

Mr. Hindman, ay )

Virginia ^Ir. Hardy, no ^

Mr. Lee, no >- no.

ISIr. Grayson, ay )

North Carolina Mr. Spaight, no \ ^^^

Mr. Sitgreaves, no \

South Carolina Mr. Bull, no \ ^^

Mr. Pinckney, no )

Georgia Mr. Houston, no *

[Juuriials of Congress, Vol. IV. p. 481.]

The vote was taken on the 16th of March, 1785.


The sixth article of the ordinance of 1787 is inserted here
to show how far it conforms in language to the anti-slavery
proposition of Mr. Jefferson, in 1784, and that of Mr. King
in 1785: —

" That there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the
said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the
party shall have been duly convicted : Provided always, That any per-
son escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully
claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be law-
fully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or
service as aforesaid."

On the 13th July, 1787, the ordinance of which the above
is a part was passed by the following vote : —

Massachusetts Mr. Holten, ay >

Mr. Dane, ay ) ' -^ '

New York Mr. Smith, ay S

Mr. Haring, ay >- ay.

INIr. Yates, no )

New Jersey Mr. Clarke, ay |

Mr. Scheurman, ay j ^'


Delaware ]\Ir. Kearny, ay )

Mr. IMitchell, ay >' ^^'

Virginia jMr. Grayson, ay )

Mr. R. H. Lee, ay I ay,

Mr. Carrington, ay )

North Carolina Mr. Blount, ay }

Mr. Hawkins, ay )" ^'^■

South Carolina Mr. Kean, ay )

Mr. Huger, ay j ^^'

Georgia Mr. Few, ay ]

Mr. Pierce, ay j
{Journals of Congress, Vol. IV. p. 754.]



The answer which Mr. Dix declined making to Mr. Ber-
rien, from an unwillingness to be further interrupted in the
course of his remarks, he now proceeds to give.

The decree of President Guerrero will be found, as indi-
cated below, in the collection of laws and decrees of the
General Congress of Mexico. It is classed among the de-
crees made by the government by virtue of extraordinary
powers, and the original is in the following words : —


El Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mejicanos a los habitantes de la
republica, sabed :

Que deseando seiialar en el ano de 1829, el aniversario de la inde-
pendencia con un acto de justicia y de beneficencia nacional que refluyia
en beneficio y sosten de bien tan apreciable ; que afiance mas y mas la
tranquilidad publica ; que coopere al engrandeciraiento de la republica, y
que reintegre a una parte desgraciado de sus habitantes en los derechos
sagrados que les did naturaleza y proteje la nacion por leyes sabias y
justas, conforme a lo dispuesto por el art. 30, de la acta constitutiva ;
iisando de las facultades extraordinarias que me estan concedidas, he
venido en decretar :

1. Queda abolida la esclavitud en la republica.

2. Son por consiguiente libres los que hasta hoy se habian conside-
rado como esclavos.

3. Cuando las circunstancias del erario lo permitan, se indemnizara
a los proprietarios de esclavos en los terminos que dispusieren las leyes.

Mejico, 15 de Setiembre de 1829. A. D. Jose Maria de Bocanegra.
[Coleccion de Leyes y Decretos, etc., en los anos de 1829 y 1830,
pag. 147.]



The President of the United Mexican States to the inhabitants of
the republic :

Desiring to signalize, in the year 1829, the anniversary of Indepen-
dence by an act of national justice and beneficence, Avhich may tend to
the benefit and support of so important a good ; which may strengthen
more and more the public tranquillity ; which may cooperate in the ag-
gi-andizemeut of the republic ; and which may restore to an unfortunate
portion of its inhabitants the sacred rights which nature gave them, and
protect the nation by wise and just laws, in conformity to the provis-
ion of the 30th article of the constitutive act ; exercising the extraor-
dinary poAvers which are conceded to me, I do decree :

1. Slavery is abolished in the republic.

2. Those who until to-day have been considered slaves, are conse-
quently free.

3. AVhen the condition of the treasury will permit, the owners of the
slaves will be indemnified in the manner which shall be provided for by

Mexico, \hth September, 1829. A. D.

Jose Maria De Bocanegra.
[Collection of Laws and Decrees, &c., in the years 1829 and 1830,
page 147.]

The following addition, not contained in the above collec-
tion, will be found at page 147 of the " American Annual
Register " of 1829-30 : —

And, in order that the present decree may have its full and entire
execution, I order it to be printed, published, and circulated to all those
whose obligation is to have it fulfilled.

Given in the Federal Palace of Mexico, on the loth of September,
1829. Vincente Guerrero.

Lorenzo De Zavala.

The publication of this decree in the general collection of
the Laws and Decrees of Mexico would seem to afford, primd
facie, sufficient evidence of its authority. But there are
higher evidences. In the law of 5th April, 1837, of which
an extract is given below, it is recognized in the following
terms : —

" Los duenos de esclavos manumitidos por la presente ley 6 por el
decretode 15 de Setiembre de 1829, sertin indemnizados," etc. [Colec-
cion de Leyes y Decretos, etc., tomo 8, pag. 201.]


[Translation.] — The masters of slaves manumitted by the present
law or by the decree of the 15th of September, 1829, shall be indem-
nified, &c. [Collection of Laws and Decrees, &c., Vol. VIII. page 201.]

The extraordinary powers, by virtue of which this decree
was made, do not appear to have been conferred, as Mr. Ber-
rien supposes, for the purpose of repelling invasion. The
decree does not show that they had such a purpose at all.
They were vested in the Executive by an act of the Third
Constitutional Congress, in tlie following words : —


Art. 1. Le autoriza al ejecutivo de la Federacion para adoptar
cuantos medidas scan necesarias a la conservacion de la independencia,
del sistema actual de gobierno, y de la tranquilidad.

2. Por el articulo anterior no queda el gobierno autorizado para dis-
poner de hi vida de Mejicanos, ni para espelerlos del territorio de la

3. Esta autorizacion cesani tanluego como el Congreso General se
revuia en sesiones ordinarias.

[Culecciou de las Leyes y Decretos expedidos por el Congreso General,
etc., de 1829 y 1830, pag. 55.]


Art. 1. The Executive of the Confederation is authorized to adopt
whatever measures may be necessary for the preservation of indepen-
dence, of the present system of government, and of tranquillity.

Art. 2. By the ]ireceding article the government is not authorized
to dispose of the lives of Mexicans, or to expel them from the territory
of the republic.

Art. 3. This authority shall cease as soon as the General Congress
shall meet in ordinary sessions.

[Collection of Laws and Decrees made by the General Congress,
&c., of 1829 and 1830, page 55.]

The powers conferred by the first article are only limited
by the provisions of the second and third, excepting so far as
they may be considered restrained by the purposes for which
they were conferred. These purposes are very extensive, —
so much so as to comprehend nearly all the great ends of
government. The decree of President Guerrero, as will be
perceived, has reference to the very purposes for Vvhich the ex-
traordinary powers were delegated, — to support " indepen-


dence " and strengthen the " public tranquillity." The ex-
traordinary powers referred to were conceded on the 2oth
Avigust, 1829, and the government was required to report to
the Congi'ess to assemble in January, 1830, the necessity that
existed in the cases in which it had exercised tlje powers con-
ferred by the first article. The Congress met in January, and
continued in session, ordinary and extraordinary, with brief
intermissions, till the 29th December, 1830. During this pe-
riod, the decree of Guerrero was untouched. But on the
15th February, 1831, a resolution was passed by Congress
declaring that the laws, decrees, rules, orders, and provisions,
which belong to the legislative authority, and which the gov-
ernment had made by virtue of the extraordinary powers re-
ferred to, were subject to the qualification of Congress, and
were to be without effect until revised by the Chambers.
There were, however, exceptions to the rule. How far the
decree of Guerrero was affected by this declaration, — whe-
ther it was an authority executed and not to be revoked, or
whether it was suspended in its operation until 1837, — it is
not necessary to inquire. The subsequent recognition of the
decree by legislative and constitutional enactments disposes
of the question of authority. It is hardly admissible in us
to dispute the validity of an act of the Mexican government
thus recognized in Mexico; or to assert, in the face of that
recognition, that the power of abolishing slavery belonged to
the municipal authorities of the several States.

The act of Congress of 1837, referred to by Mr. Dix, is in
the following words : —

" Queda abolida, sin escepcion alguna, la esclavitud en toda la repii-
blica : Abril 5, de 1837." [Coleccion de Leyes y Decretos, etc., tomo
8,pag. 201.]

[Translation.] — Slavery is forevei- abolished, without any exception,
in the whole republic : April 5, 1837. [Collection of Laws and De-
crees of the General Congress of the United Mexican States, Vol.
Vlir. page 201.]

The constitution of 1844 (of Tacubaya) reiterates the
prohibition of slavery in the following words : —

" Slavery is forever prohibited." — Thonipsoii's Mexico, page 180.

It will be perceived that the constitution of 1844 does not
abolish slavery : it prohibits it. From the difference between


the phraseology of the decree of 1829 and the act of Congress
of 1837 and that of the constitution of 1844, is it not fairly
to be inferred that the latter designed to prohibit in the future
what the two former acts had abolished in the past ?

On the strength of these authorities, Mr. Dix asserted that
Mexico had long since abolished slavery throughout the re-




<t^ , 6^ , -^ ^^f:

'^^jZa^.S^a- 4




/ '



Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) DixSpeeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 40 of 40)