Slavery in our Territories

Source citation

"Slavery in our Territories," Boston (MA) Herald, January 14, 1857, p. 2.

Newspaper: Publication
Boston (MA) Herald
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Slavery in our Territories
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Carrie Roush
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The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
We perceive that many of the Governors of the Northern States of this Union have taken occasion to express their views, in their recent annual messages to their respective State Legislatures, respecting the right and duty of Congress to interpose in behalf of the prohibition of slavery in the Territories of the United States. But it seems to us, that at the present time, all this is supererogatory, inasmuch as the case of Dred Scott versus Sanford, now pending before the Supreme Court of the United States is probably soon to settle, and we hope, forever, the question whether Congress has any power, and if any, to what extent, to mould the ante state institutions of the inhabitants of the Territories of the United States.

Doubts upon this point, have existed among statements, from the formation of our government, but so far as our recollection goes, this is the first time that the point in question has been fairly presented to the Supreme Court of the United States. If that tribunal meets the point fairly, in its coming decision, then we shall all know very soon whether the Missouri Compromise act, was a constitutional exercise of the power of Congress; and if it so turns out, then Congress may be called upon to exercise its power against the planting of slavery in territories which are free.

The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, whatever it may be, will entirely alter the political aspect of the country upon the question of slavery. If Congress had a right to prohibit slavery north of 36 deg., 30 sec, it the territorial domains of the United States, it follows that Congress has a right to prohibit slavery within all the territorial domain of the United States, and that slavery can extend nowhere, unless a State coming into the union shall come in with a constitution legitimating slavery, or, after being admitted, shall so alter its constitution as to make slavery lawful in such State.

Should this be the decision, Congress be importuned to pass laws excluding slavery from all our territories, and then we see but a small chance of any slave State being admitted as such.

But if, on the other hand, the Supreme Court denies the constitutionality of the restriction of slavery in the Missouri Compromise, or, in other words, interprets the clause in the Constitutian of the United States which gives Congress power to make all needful rules respecting the Territory and property of the United States, to mean simply to have reference to territory, as propərty, then the political institutions of these territories will devolve upon the emigrants thereto, and the residents and squatters therein.

In the last mentioned case, we should probably have the Kansas scenes of the last two years, re-enacted ine very territory respecting which there would be a doubt whether slavery would be established therein or not, and the ground would be shifted from word-battles in the primary assemblies of the people, to expeditions of adventurers, who, animated by the views and feelings of their respective sections of the country, would make incursions in order to mould the institutions of the incoming States.

Still, which of these states of things is to prevail hereafter depends, in a great measure upon the forthcoming decision of the highest judicial tribunal in America. That will reach us by the fourth of next March; it will be conclusive and final, for from it there can be no appeal, and nothing can contravene that decision save the subsequent alteration of the Constitution of the United States in reference to the points involved. Those who know the difficulty of such an alternative, will not expect this to be done, and therefore we regard the coming decision to be final. Unless the Supreme Court of the United States shall dodge this vital point in the Dred Scott case, we shall soon have this vexed question settled; and that settled, new political organizations will speedily be made, comfortable to the results of that decision.
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