The constitutionality of emancipation in the loyal slave States.
As the slave-holders of the insurrectionary States, now at war with the United States are public enemies, while the slave- holders of the Border or non-insurrectionary slave States are friends entitled to all the rights of citizens, the question touching the right to confiscate and cancel the claims to service and labor held by the former is essentially a different question, based on different principles, from the question whether we have a constitutional right to take and cancel the same class of claims held by the latter.
In the preceding pages it has been shown that slavery was the cause of the present insurrection; that if slavery be suffered to continue its existence, it will remain a constant menace to the integrity of our Government, and an inevitable source of future war; and that, therefore, prudence and foresight require that for the sake of the national unity and national peace, slavery be forever abolished throughout these United States.
Though the military necessity be more urgent in the insurgent States, seeing that every slave taken or escaping from bondage is one laborer less to supply the enemy's commissariat, yet the general propositions is as true of the Border States as of those in rebellion. Indeed, fugitive slave law difficulties,of all others the most likely to bring on a war, would chiefly arise through refugees from Border States.
The slaves of disloyal owners in these States have already been emancipated by act of Congress. There remain in bondage under State laws certainly less than three-quarters of a million, scattered over a long, narrow border strip, bounded on the north by free States, and on the south by States whence slavery has been legally banished, or else dotted in isolated parishes or counties intermixed with enfranchised slaves.
Can we maintain in perpetuity so anomalous a condition of things? Clearly not. At every step embarrassments innumerable obstruct our progress. No industry, no human sagacity would suffice to determine the ten thousand conflicting questions that must arise out of such a chaos. Must the history of each negro be followed back, so as to determine his status, whether slave or free? If negroes emancipated in insurrectionary States are sold as slaves into Border States, or into excepted parishes or counties, can we expect to trace the transaction? If slaves owned in Border States, or in excepted parishes or counties, are sold to loyal men in insurrectionary States, are they still slaves, or do they become free? Are we to admit or to deny the constitutionality of Border State laws, which arrest and imprison as vagrants, sell into slavery to pay expenses of arrest and imprisonment, free negro emigrants from insurrectionary States? a But why multiply instances? The longer this twilight of groping transition lasts, it will be only confusion the worse confounded.
To respect and to protect such a straggling remnant of slavery, would be practically impossible, if it were desirable; and aside from its being an old root of bitterness left in the ground to sprout and bear fruit in the future as it has borne fruit in the past, no freedman can
a If hereafter Attorney-General Bates" decision, that a force negro is a citizen, be sustained by the Supreme Court, then, should be question come up before it, the State laws above referred to will be declared unconstitutional. But meanwhile they have not been so declared and are in force.
The negro-excluding laws of Indiana and Illinois are in the same category.