The Kansas Constitution – Important Alterations of its Provisions.
From the National Intelligencer.
The attentive reader will observe that the “SCHEDULE” affixed to the Constitution, as now officially published, differs in some material respects from that which appeared in the Government paper of this City on the 18th of last month, and which we published on the following day. We indicate these variations by italicizing the portions which are omitted ion the earlier copy of the Union. Two of these, it will be seen, are of much importance, and should perhaps serve to modify somewhat the terms in which this portion of the Constitution was lately described by the official journal. We allude to the clause found at the close of section 14, which provides that in future revisions of the present Constitution “no alteration shall be made to affect the rights of property in the ownership of slaves,” and to the provisions contained in the 8th section of the Schedule as today published, (for the arrangement of the section differs widely from that of the Union’s copy,) which ordains that even the general election for State officers on the first Monday in January next shall be conducted in the same manner as the election on the single section of the Constitution as submitted, thus investing the President of the Convention with the same power in the one case as the other. The existing authorities of the Territory, as well those holding office immediately from the people as under the Federal Government, are entirely ignored by the authors of the “Schedule.” The effect of the clause inserted in section 14 is to render permanent the status and extent of Slavery, (in so far as it already exists in the Territory,) even if what is called the “Slavery article” should be stricken out by the popular vote.
If we direct our attention to other parts of the Constitution, it will be found that the “Ordinance” contains some stipulations which are made expressly contingent upon the actions of Congress with reference to them. According to these stipulations it is agreed that the State of Kansas will relinquish her “undoubted right to tax the public lands” lying within her limits, provided Congress will make certain grants in return for this valuable consideration. A reference to the several acts of Congress providing for the admission into the Union of Michigan, Arkansas, Iowa and Florida, enables us to say that, with regard to these States at least, (and such, we believe, has been the uniform practice of Congress,) the right of the States to tax the public land has never been conceded by the Federal Legislature. And hence it was that Congress, in passing an act for the admission of the State of Arkansas into the union, took the precaution to provide “that the people of the said State shall never interfere with the primary disposal of the public lands within the said State; nor shall they levy a tax on any lands of the United States within the said state; and nothing in this act shall be construed as an assent by congress to all or to any of the propositions contained in the ‘ordinance’ of the Convention of the people of Arkansas.” The right of Congress to revise this portion of the Constitution of Kansas will, therefore, be conceded by all, as indeed is imported by the very terms of the articles contained under this head.