Address on the annexation of Texas, and the aspect of slavery in the United States, in connection therewith: delivered in Boston November 14 and 18, 1845 Page: 40 of 56
This book is part of the collection entitled: From Republic to State: Debates and Documents Relating to the Annexation of Texas, 1836-1856 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the UNT Libraries Special Collections.
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Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and the latter
had virtually prohibited it by a capitation tax. It had been
the prevailing expectation that it would be permanently prohibited
by the new Constitution ; but the two former of the
States mentioned had come into the Convention with the determination
to resist any provision for this purpose, and declared
through their delegates that they would refuse to confederate,
unless "their right to import slaves should remain
untouched." Through their influence upon the committee
who prepared the first draft of the Constitution, a clause was
inserted denying to the federal government the power to
prohibit the importation of slaves.
This clause was opposed with great earnestness, and the
discussion upon it, as preserved by Mr. Madison, and as
sketched also by Luther Martin, shows us clearly how slavery
was regarded at that period, and how, as much then as
since, it became, in the words of Gouverneur Morris, the
subject of " a bargain among the Northern and Southern
States." It was resisted for the reason so strongly stated by
Mr. Martin, of Maryland, that it would be "inconsistent
with the principles of the Revolution, and dishonorable to
the American character, to have such a feature in the Constitution."
It was also opposed by Colonel Mason of Virginia
in a spirit most honorable to him, -in kindling language
which showed how warm his heart was on the subject, - on
the ground, that it was " essential, in every point of view, that
the general government should have power to prevent the
increase of 'slavery." Nothing can be more striking than
the contrast between the character and influence of Virginia
and Maryland, as they were exhibited at that period, and as
they may be witnessed now in connection with slavery, - unless
it be the want of contrast, the perfect identity, between
the spirit and action of Georgia and South Carolina then and
now. "Religion and humanity," said Mr. Rutledge, scornfully,
" have nothing to do with the question. Interest alone
is the governing principle with nations. The true question
is, whether the Southern States shall or shall not be parties to
the union." "South Carolina and Georgia," said General
Pinckney, "cannot do without slaves." " Georgia," said
Mr. Baldwin, " is decided on this point." Could the question
have been determined strictly on its merits, could no collateral
influence have been brought to bear on the delegates from
the North, had there not been an opportunity for " a bargain,"
the great issue between liberty and slavery might
have been at once and for ever settled ; but, as the circum
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Phillips, Stephen C. Address on the annexation of Texas, and the aspect of slavery in the United States, in connection therewith: delivered in Boston November 14 and 18, 1845, book, January 1, 1845; Boston. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2361/m1/40/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.