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iace of Europe and the world, that the African slave-trade had been regarded by just and enlightened men in all ages as repugnant to the principles of humanity and of universal morality; that the public voice in all civilized countries demanded that it should be suppressed ; and that the universal abolition of it was conformable to the spirit of the age and the generous principles of the allied powers. In March, 1815, the Emperor Napoleon decreed that the slave-trade should be abolished; and in July of the same year, after Napoleon's downfall, Louis XVIII. gave directions tha’ this odious and wicked traffic should from that time cease.
§ 12. Denmark, in 1792, abolished the foreign slave-trade, and the importation of slaves into her colonies, to take effect in 1804. In December, 1817, Spain prohibited the purchase of slaves on any part of the coast of Africa after May 31, 1820. In Jaruary, i818, Portugal made the like probibition as to the purchase of slaves on any part of the coast of Africa north of the equator.
§ 13. In 1821, there was not a flag of any European State which could legally cover this traffic to the north of the equator; anc yet, in 1825, the importation of slaves covertly continued, if it was not openly countenanced, from the Rio de la Plata to the Amazon, aud through the whole American archipelago.
§ 14. By a convention between England and Brazil in 1826, it was made piratical for the subjects of Brazil to be engaged in the slave-trade after the year 1830. In the treaty of Sept. 10, 1822, between Great Britain and the Imaun of Muscat, the latter agreed to abolish the slave-trade for ever in his dominions. By the treaty of the 23d of October, 1817, between Great Britain and the King of Madagascar, it was agreed that there should be throughout the dominions of the latter an entire cessation of the sale or transfer of slaves.
§ 15. These treaty stipulations have not, in all instances, been faithfully kept ; nor have the laws passed by the nations of Eu. rope and America, interdicting this traffic, in all cases been successfully enforced : but they demonstrate the moral sense of the nations of Christendom on the subject.
$ 16. The provision prohibiting any amendment to the Constitu
tion of the United States, which should forbid the importation of slaves before 1808, was one of the results of a compromise of this whole matter of slavery. It was feared by those States that bad a large commercial interest in the foreign slave-trade, that, although Congress was forbidden to intermeddle with the subject before 1808, some amendment to the Constitution might be adopted to their prejudice unless forbidden. To allay that fear, this prohibition was in serted.
ART. IX.- REPUDIATION. 1. Nothing in the Constitution shall be construed so as to
prejudice any claim,
1st. Of the United States ; nor,
2d. Of any particular States. 76. 2. All debts contracted, and engagements entered into, before
the adoption of the Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under the Constitution as
under the Confederation. 79. § 1. Although these two clauses refer each to a different class of subjects, the spirit of them is the same. They are intended to give an assurance to the people who are asked to adopt the new Constj. tution, that good faith shall be observed on the part of the proposed new government in all matters relating to the vested rights of States as well as of individuals, and also of the United States. As the government was about to undergo a great change, it was proper to incorporate these provisions into the fundamental law of the land, so as to quiet all fear that repudiation in some form might be attempted.
§ 2. The first of these provisions relates to conflicting claims and unsettled titles to some parts of the Western territory. That subject has been considered in Art. X., Chap. IV., Part II., in treating of the powers of Congress over territory, and more particularly with reference to new States, and their admission into the Union. The intention of this clause is to give assurance that the adoption of the Constitution shall in no way affect the validity of any
claims to these lands, but that the rights of parties interested shall be the same as they were under the Confederation.
§ 3. The second clause, referring to debts,
engagements made by the United States under the Confederation, is intended to give assurance to the creditors of the proposed new government that all just claims against the Confederation will be recognized and liquidated under the Constitution. Judge Story says that this can scarcely be deemed more than a solemn declaration of what the public law of nations recognizes as a moral obliga tion, binding on all nations, notwithstanding any changes in their forms of government. (See appendix to Analysis E, page 107.)
ART. X. - FREEDOM.
1st. The freedom of speech ; nor,
and petition the government for a redress
of grievances. 83. 2d. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall
not be infringed. 84. 2. RELIGIOUS. 1st. No religious test shall ever be required as a quali
fication to any public office or trust under the
United States. 81.
1st. Respecting an establishment of religion; or,
2d. Prohibiting the free exercise thereof. 83. $ 1. The subjects of this article are, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of petition, freedom to bear arms, and freedom of religious sentiment. These are among the most sacred rights of human society; and Congress is strictly forbidden to interfere with them. But one of these rights, that relating to a religious test as a qualification to office, is in the Constitution as at first adopted. The others are in the amendments.
§ 2. When the Constitution was before the people, objections were made to it on the ground that it did not contain any
and distinctive bill of rights. Several of the State Conventions that ratified it suggested certain amendments that should make definite acknowledgment of the rights of the people, which were not specified in that document. These proposed amendments were commended to the attention of Congress, and most of them have since been adopted. Among the number are those specified in this article.
§ 3. Some of these amendments are negative in form, and others affirmative. Those under consideration are such as relate to the individual rights of the citizen, civil and religious, with which the government is forbidden to interfere. They are prohibitions on the United States, relating to personal freedom.
§ 4. Freedom of speech, with which Congress is prohibited from interfering, does not mean to shield the citizen from legal responsibility for what he may utter. True, a man may say what he pleases; but he is responsible for the abuse of this liberty. He has no right to slander the reputation of another. Private reputation is a subject of protection by the laws of the land. You may slander a man in various ways, notwithstanding this liberty of speech. If you charge him with the commission of a crime which is indictable, and which would subject him, if true, to infamous punishment, this is slander. Charging a man with a breach of public trust is slander. A man can be slandered in reference to his trade or business by declaring him to be incompetent, or by saying of a merchant, for instance, that he is in failing circumstances, when he is not.
$ 5. A slander becomes a libel when communicated by pictures or signs, or writing, printing, or painting. It is then calculated to make a deeper impression, may have a wider circulation, and is the more aggravating, because it may be presumed to be done with full deliberation. A matter may be libelous if written or printed, which, legally, would not be slanderous if spoken. Expressions which hold a man up to ridicule, or tend to degrade him in the esteem of society, are libelous if written or printed. Freedom of the press, referred to in this article, does not exonerate a man from legal responsibility when he abuses that freedom.
Libel is an indictable offense, and may be punished criminally. Slander is not
indictable ; but the author of it may be prosecuted for private damages by the injured party
$ 6. We are not to infer, because Congress is forbidden to interfere with the freedom of the press, that the press can do no wrong is above the reach of law, and that it is a shield for
abuse. A writer may publish what he pleases; but, if he publishes that which is mischievous or illegal, he is responsible for the publication.
$ 7. The right of the people to meet in peaceable assemblage, anl to petition the government for a redress of grievances, shall not be in ringed. In despotic governments, the people are sometimes denied this right, under the pretense that the assemblies are conspiring against the welfare of the government, and are insurrectionary and riotous in their aims. It is the inestimable birthright of every American citizen to petition the government against the infliation of wrong and injustice.
§ 8. The right of the people to keep and bear arms, with which the General Government is herein prohibited from interfering, refers to an organization of the militia of the States. There have been fears expressed, that the liberty of the people might be destroyed by the perverted power of a formidable standing army. But here is the check to any such danger. The militia, that might be called ou: at any time on a month's notice, would outnumber, twenty to one, any standing army in time of peace that will ever be tolerated in the United States. Large standing armies might indeed be dangerous in a republican government, but for a much stronger force distributed throughout the ranks of the people.
$ 9. A man's religious views are not to be questioned when appointed or elected to any office under the Government of the United States. This, it must be remembered, does not apply to State officers. In some of the States, religious tests have been applied ; but the Constitution of the United States wisely prohibits inquiry into the religious sentiments of any man, preliminary to his induction into office. Were it otherwise, the political would soon be merged in the ecclesiastical questions of the day; and, ultimately, Church and State might become united. This clause probibiting religious tests for office is the only place in which the word “religious"