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U.S. Supreme Court
DRED SCOTT v. SANDFORD
Mr. Justice WAYNE concurring
Concurring as I do entirely in the opinion of the court, as it has been written and read by the Chief Justice-without any qualification of its reasoning or its conclusions-I shall neither read nor file an opinion of my own in this case, which I prepared when I supposed it might be necessary and proper for me to do so.
The opinion of the court meets fully and decides every point which was made in the argument of the case by the counsel on either side of it. Nothing belonging to the case has been left undecided, nor has any point been discussed and decided which was not called for by the record, or which was not necessary for the judicial disposition of it, in the way that it has been done, by more than a majority of the court.
In doing this, the court neither sought nor made the case. It was brought to us in the course of that administration of the laws which Congress has enacted, for the review of cases from the Circuit Courts by the Supreme Court.
In our action upon it, we have only discharged our duty as a distinct and efficient department of the Government, as the framers of the Constitution meant the judiciary to be, and as the States of the Union and the people of those States intended it should be, when they ratified the Constitution of the United States.
The case involves private rights of value, and constitutional principles of the highest importance, about which there had [60 U.S. 393, 455] become such a difference of opinion, that the peace and harmoney of the country required the settlement of them by judicial decision.
It would certainly be a subject of regret, that the conclusions of the court have not been assented to by all of its members, if I did not know from its history and my own experience how rarely it has happened that the judges have been unanimous upon constitutional questions of moment, and if our decision in this case had not been made by as large a majority of them as has been usually had on constitutional questions of importance.
Two of the judges, Mr. Justices McLean and Curtis, dissent from the opinion of the court. A third, Mr. Justice Nelson, gives a separate opinion upon a single point in the case, with which I concur, assuming that the Circuit Court had jurisdiction; but he abstains altogether from expressing any opinion upon the eighth section of the act of 1820, known commonly as the Missouri Compromise law, and six of us declare that it was unconstitutional.
But it has been assumed, that this court has acted extra-judicially in giving an opinion upon the eighth section of the act of 1820, because, as it has decided that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction of the case, this court had no jurisdiction to examine the case upon its merits.
But the error of such an assertion has arisen in part from a misapprehension of what has been heretofore decided by the Supreme Court, in cases of a like kind with that before us; in part, from a misapplication to the Circuit Courts of the United States, of the rules of pleading concerning pleas to the jurisdiction which prevail in common-law courts; and from its having been forgotten that this case was not brought to this court by appeal or writ of error from a State court, but by a writ of error to the Circuit Court of the United States.
The cases cited by the Chief Justice to show that this court has now only done what it has repeatedly done before in other cases, without any question of its correctness, speak for themselves. The differences between the rules concerning pleas to the jurisdiction in the courts of the United States and common-law courts have been stated and sustained by reasoning and adjudged cases; and it has been shown that writs of error to a State court and to the Circuit Courts of the United States are to be determined by different laws and principles. In the first, it is our duty to ascertain if this court has jurisdiction, under the twenty-fifth section of the judiciary act, to review the case from the State court; and if it shall be found that it has not, the case is at end, so far as this court is concerned; for our power [60 U.S. 393, 456] to review the case upon its merits has been made, by the twenty-fifth section, to depend upon its having jurisdiction; when it has not, this court cannot criticise, controvert, or give any opinion upon the merits of a case from a State court.
But in a case brought to this court, by appeal or by writ of error from a Circuit Court of the United States, we begin a review of it, not by inquiring if this court has jurisdiction, but if that court has it. If the case has been decided by that court upon its merits, but the record shows it to be deficient in those averments which by the law of the United States must be made by the plaintiff in the action, to give the court jurisdiction of his case, we send it back to the court from which it was brought, with directions to be dismissed, though it has been decided there upon its merits.
So, in a case containing the averments by the plaintiff which are necessary to give the Circuit Court jurisdiction, if the defendant shall file his plea in abatement denying the truth of them, and the plaintiff shall demur to it, and the court should erroneously sustain the plaintiff's demurrer, or declare the plea to be insufficient, and by doing so require the defendant to answer over by a plea to the merits, and shall decide the case upon such pleading, this court has the same authority to inquire into the jurisdiction of that court to do so, and to correct its error in that regard, that it had in the other case to correct its error, in trying a case in which the plaintiff had not made those averments which were necessary to give the court jurisdiction. In both cases the record is resorted to, be determine the point of jurisdiction; but, as the power of review of cases from a Federal court, by this court, is not limited by the law to a part of the case, this court may correct an error upon the merits; and there is the same reason for correcting an erroneous judgment of the Circuit Court, where the want of jurisdiction appears from any part of the record, that there is for declaring a want of jurisdiction for a want of necessary averments. And attempt to control the court from doing so by the technical common-law rules of pleading in cases of jurisdiction, when a defendant has been denied his plea to it, would tend to enlarge the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, by limiting this court's review of its judgments in that particular. But I will not argue a point already so fully discussed. I have every confidence in the opinion of the court upon the point of jurisdiction, and do not allow myself to doubt that the error of a contrary conclusion will be fully understood by all who shall read the argument of the Chief Justice.
I have already said that the opinion of the court has my unqualified assent. [60 U.S. 393, 457]
Mr. Justice NELSON concurring
I shall proceed to state the grounds upon which I have arrived at the conclusion, that the judgment of the court below should be affirmed. The suit was brought in the court below by the plaintiff, for the purpose of asserting his freedom, and that of Harriet, his wife, and two children.
The defendant plead, in abatement to the suit, that the cause of action, if any, accrued to the plaintiff out of the jurisdiction of the court, and exclusively within the jurisdiction of the courts of the State of Missouri; for, that the said plaintiff is not a citizen of the State of Missouri, as alleged in the declaration, because he is a negro of African descent; his ancestors were of pure African blood, and were brought into this country and sold as negro slaves.
To this plea the plaintiff demurred, and the defendant joined in demurrer. The court below sustained the demurrer, holding that the plea was insufficient in law to abate the suit.
The defendant then plead over in bar of the action:
- The general issue.
- 2. That the plaintiff was a negro slave, the lawful property of the defendant. And
- 3. That Harriet, the wife of said plaintiff, and the two children, were the lawful slaves of the said defendant. Issue was taken upon these pleas, and the cause went down to trial before the court and jury, and an agreed state of facts was presented, upon which the trial proceeded, and resulted in a verdict for the defendant, under the instructions of the court.
The facts agreed upon were substantially as follows:
That in the year 1834, the plaintiff, Scott, was a negro slave of Dr. Emerson, who was a surgeon in the army of the United States; and in that year he took the plaintiff from the State of Missouri to the military post at Rock Island, in the State of Illinois, and held him there as a slave until the month of April or May, 1836. At this date, Dr. Emerson removed, with the plaintiff, from the Rock Island post to the military post at Fort Snelling, situate on the west bank of the Mississippi river, in the Territory of Upper Louisiana, and north of the latitude thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, and north of the State of Missouri. That he held the plaintiff in slavery, at Fort Snelling, from the last-mentioned date until the year 1838.
That in the year 1835, Harriet, mentioned in the declaration, was a negro slave of Major Taliaferro, who belonged to the army of the United States; and in that year he took her to Fort Snelling, already mentioned, and kept her there as a slave until the year 1836, and then sold and delivered her to Dr. Emerson, who held her in slavery, at Fort Snelling, until the year 1838. That in the year 1836, the plaintiff and Harriet [60 U.S. 393, 458] were married, at Fort Snelling, with the consent of their master. The two children, Eliza and Lizzie, are the fruit of this marriage. The first is about fourteen years of age, and was born on board the steamboat Gipsey, north of the State of Missouri, and upon the Mississippi river; the other, about seven years of age, was born in the State of Missouri, at the military post called Jefferson Barracks.
In 1838, Dr. Emerson removed the plaintiff, Harriet, and their daughter Eliza, from Fort Snelling to the State of Missouri, where they have ever since resided. And that, before the commencement of this suit, they were sold by the Doctor to Sandford, the defendant, who has claimed and held them as slaves ever since.
The agreed case also states that the plaintiff brought a suit for his freedom, in the Circuit Court of the State of Missouri, on which a judgment was rendered in his favor; but that, on a writ of error from the Supreme Court of the State, the judgment of the court below was reversed, and the cause remanded to the circuit for a new trial.
On closing the testimony in the court below, the counsel for the plaintiff prayed the court to instruct the jury, upon the agreed state of facts, that they ought to find for the plaintiff; when the court refused, and instructed them that, upon the facts, the law was with the defendant.
With respect to the plea in abatement, which went to the citizenship of the plaintiff, and his competency to bring a suit in the Federal courts, the common-law rule of pleading is, that upon a judgment against the plea on demurrer, and that the defendant answer over, and the defendant submits to the judgment, and pleads over to the merits, the plea in abatement is deemed to be waived, and is not afterwards to be regarded as a part of the record in deciding upon the rights regarded as a part of the record in deciding upon the rights of the parties. There is some question, however, whether this rule of pleading applies to the peculiar system and jurisdiction of the Federal courts. As, in these courts, if the facts appearing on the record show that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction, its judgment will be reversed in the appellate court for that cause, and the case remanded with directions to be dismissed.
In the view we have taken of the case, it will not be necessary to pass upon this question, and we shall therefore proceed at once to an examination of the case upon its merits. The question upon the merits, in general terms, is, whether or not the removal of the plaintiff, who was a slave, with his master, from the State of Missouri to the State of Illinois, with a view to a temporary residence, and after such residence and [60 U.S. 393, 459] return to the slave State, such residence in the free State works an emancipation.
As appears from an agreed statement of facts, this question has been before the highest court of the State of Missouri, and a judgment rendered that this residence in the free State has no such effect; but, on the contrary, that his original condition continued unchanged.
The court below, the Circuit Court of the United States for Missouri, in which this suit was afterwards brought, followed the decision of the State court, and rendered a like judgment against the plaintiff.
The argument against these decisions is, that the laws of Illinois, forbidding slavery within her territory, had the effect to set the slave free while residing in that State, and to impress upon him the condition and status of a freeman; and that, by force of these laws, this status and condition accompanied him on his return to the slave State, and of consequence he could not be there held as a slave.
This question has been examined in the courts of several of the slaveholding States, and different opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at. We shall hereafter refer to some of them, and to the principles upon which they are founded. Our opinion is, that the question is one which belongs to each State to decide for itself, either by its Legislature or courts of justice; and hence, in respect to the case before us, to the State of Missouri-a question exclusively of Missouri law, and which, when determined by that State, it is the duty of the Federal courts to follow it. In other words, except in cases where the power is restrained by the Constitution of the United States, the law of the State is supreme over the subject of slavery within its jurisdiction.
As a practical illustration of the principle, we may refer to the legislation of the free States in abolishing slavery, and prohibiting its introduction into their territories. Confessedly, except as restrained by the Federal Constitution, they exercised, and rightfully, complete and absolute power over the subject. Upon what principle, then, can it be denied to the State of Missouri? The power flows from the sovereign character of the States of the Union; sovereign, not merely as respects the Federal Government-except as they have consented to its limitation-but sovereign as respects each other. Whether, therefore, the State of Missouri will recognise or give effect to the laws of Illinois within her territories on the subject of slavery, is a question for her to determine. Nor is there any constitutional power in this Government that can rightfully control her. [60 U.S. 393, 460] Every State or nation possesses an exclusive sovereignty and jurisdiction within her own territory; and, her laws affect and bind all property and persons residing within it. It may regulate the manner and circumstances under which property is held, and the condition, capacity, and state, of all persons therein; and, also, the remedy and modes of administering justice. And it is equally true, that no State or nation can affect or bind property out of its territory, or persons not residing within it. No State, therefore, can enact laws to operate beyond its own dominions, and, if it attempts to do so, it may be lawfully refused obedience. Such laws can have no inherent authority extra-territorially. This is the necessary result of the independence of distinct and separate sovereignties.
Now, it follows from these principles, that whatever force or effect the laws of one State or nation may have in the territories of another, must depend solely upon the laws and municipal regulations of the latter, upon its own jurisprudence and polity, and upon its own express or tacit consent.
Judge Story observes, in his Conflict of Laws, (p. 24,) 'that a State may prohibit the operation of all foreign laws, and the rights growing out of them, within its territories.' 'And that when its code speaks positively on the subject, it must be obeyed by all persons who are within reach of its sovereignty; when its customary unwritten or common law speaks directly on the subject, it is equally to be obeyed.'
Nations, from convenience and comity, and from mutual interest, and a sort of moral necessity to do justice, recognise and administer the laws of other countries. But, of the nature, extent, and utility, of them, respecting property, or the state and condition of persons within her territories, each nation judges for itself; and is never bound, even upon the ground of comity, to recognise them, if prejudicial to her own interests. The recognition is purely from comity, and not from any absolute or paramount obligation.
Judge Story again observes, (398,) 'that the true foundation and extent of the obligation of the laws of one nation within another is the voluntary consent of the latter, and is inadmissible when they are contrary to its known interests.' And he adds, 'in the silence of any positive rule affirming or denying or restraining the operation of the foreign laws, courts of justice presume the tacit adoption of them by their own Government, unless they are repugnant to its policy or prejudicial to its interests.' (See also 2 Kent Com., p. 457; 13 Peters, 519, 589.)
These principles fully establish, that it belongs to the sovereign [60 U.S. 393, 461] State of Missouri to determine by her laws the question of slavery within her jurisdiction, subject only to such limitations as may be found in the Federal Constitution; and, further, that the laws of other States of the Confederacy, whether enacted by their Legislatures or expounded by their courts, can have no operation within her territory, or affect rights growing out of her own laws on the subject. This is the necessary result of the independent and sovereign character of the State. The principle is not peculiar to the State of Missouri, but is equally applicable to each State belonging to the Confederacy. The laws of each have no extra- territorial operation within the jurisdiction of another, except such as may be voluntarily conceded by her laws or courts of justice. To the extent of such concession upon the rule of comity of nations, the foreign law may operate, as it then becomes a part of the municipal law of the State. When determined that the foreign law shall have effect, the municipal law of the State retires, and gives place to the foreign law.
In view of these principles, let us examine a little more closely the doctrine of those who maintain that the law of Missouri is not to govern the status and condition of the plaintiff. They insist that the removal and temporary residence with his master in Illinois, where slavery is inhibited, had the effect to set him free, and that the same effect is to be given to the law of Illinois, within the State of Missouri, after his return. Why was he set free in Illinois? Because the law of Missouri, under which he was held as a slave, had no operation by its own force extra-territorially; and the State of Illinois refused to recognise its effect within her limits, upon principles of comity, as a state of slavery was inconsistent with her laws, and contrary to her policy. But, how is the case different on the return of the plaintiff to the State of Missouri? Is she bound to recognise and enforce the law of Illinois? For, unless she is, the status and condition of the slave upon his return remains the same as originally existed. Has the law of Illinois any greater force within the jurisdiction of Missouri, than the laws of the latter within that of the former? Certainly not. They stand upon an equal footing. Neither has any force extra-territorially, except what may be voluntarily conceded to them.
It has been supposed, by the counsel for the plaintiff, that a rule laid down by Huberus had some bearing upon this question. Huberus observes that 'personal qualities, impressed by the laws of any place, surround and accompany the person wherever he goes, with this effect: that in every place he enjoys and is subject to the same law which other persons of his [60 U.S. 393, 462] class elsewhere enjoy or are subject to.' (De Confl. Leg., lib. 1, tit. 3, sec. 12; 4 Dallas, 375 n.; 1 Story Con. Laws, pp. 59, 60.)
The application sought to be given to the rule was this: that as Dred Scott was free while residing in the State of Illinois, by the laws of that State, on his return to the State of Missouri he carried with him the personal qualities of freedom, and that the same effect must be given to his status there as in the former State. But the difficulty in the case is in the total misapplication of the rule.
These personal qualities, to which Huberus refers, are those impressed upon the individual by the law of the domicil; it is this that the author claims should be permitted to accompany the person into whatever country he might go, and should supersede the law of the place where he had taken up a temporary residence.
Now, as the domicil of Scott was in the State of Missouri, where he was a slave, and from whence he was taken by his master into Illinois for a temporary residence, according to the doctrine of Huberus, the law of his domicil would have accompanied him, and during his residence there he would remain in the same condition as in the State of Missouri. In order to have given effect to the rule, as claimed in the argument, it should have been first shown that a domicil had been acquired in the free State, which cannot be pretended upon the agreed facts in the case. But the true answer to the doctrine of Huberus is, that the rule, in any aspect in which it may be viewed, has no bearing upon either side of the question before us, even if conceded to the extent laid down by the author; for he admits that foreign Governments give effect to these laws of the domicil no further than they are consistent with their own laws, and not prejudicial to their own subjects; in other words, their force and effect depend upon the law of comity of the foreign Government. We should add, also, that this general rule of Huberus, referred to, has not been admitted in the practice of nations, nor is it sanctioned by the most approved jurists of international law. (Story Con., sec. 91, 96, 103, 104; 2 Kent. Com., p. 457, 458; 1 Burge Con. Laws, pp. 12, 127.)
We come now to the decision of this court in the case of Strader et al. v. Graham, (10 How., p. 2.) The case came up from the Court of Appeals, in the State of Kentucky. The question in the case was, whether certain slaves of Graham, a resident of Kentucky, who had been employed temporarily at several places in the State of Ohio, with their master's consent, and had returned to Kentucky into his service, had thereby [60 U.S. 393, 463] become entitled to their freedom. The Court of Appeals held that they had not. The case was brought to this court under the twenty-fifth section of the judiciary act. This court held that it had no jurisdiction, for the reason, the question was one that belonged exclusively to the State of Kentucky. The Chief Justice, in delivering the opinion of the court, observed that 'every State has an undoubted right to determine the status or domestic and social condition of the persons domiciled within its territory, except in so far as the powers of the States in this respect are restrained, or duties and obligations imposed upon them, by the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States, he observes, that can in any degree control the law of Kentucky upon this subject. And the condition of the negroes, therefore, as to freedom or slavery, after their return, depended altogether upon the laws of that State, and could not be influenced by the laws of Ohio. It was exclusively in the power of Kentucky to determine, for herself, whether their employment in another State should or should not make them free on their return.'
It has been supposed, in the argument on the part of the plaintiff, that the eighth section of the act of Congress passed March 6, 1820, (3 St. at Large, p. 544,) which prohibited slavery north of thirty-six degrees thirty miutes, within which the plaintiff and his wife temporarily resided at Fort Snelling, possessed some superior virtue and effect, extra- territorially, and within the State of Missouri, beyond that of the laws of Illinois, or those of Ohio in the case of Strader et al. v. Graham. A similar ground was taken and urged upon the court in the case just mentioned, under the ordinance of 1787, which was enacted during the time of the Confederation, and reenacted by Congress after the adoption of the Constitution, with some amendments adapting it to the new Government. (1 St. at Large, p. 50.)
In answer to this ground, the Chief Justice, in delivering the opinion of the court, observed: 'The argument assumes that the six articles which that ordinance declares to be perpetual, are still in force in the States since formed within the territory, and admitted into the Union. If this proposition could be maintained, it would not alter the question; for the regulations of Congress, under the old Confederation or the present Constitution, for the government of a particular Territory, could have no force beyond its limits. It certainly could not restrict the power of the States, within their respective territories, nor in any manner interfere with their laws and institutions, nor give this court control over them. [60 U.S. 393, 464] 'The ordinance in question, he observes, if still in force, could have no more operation than the laws of Ohio in the State of Kentucky, and could not influence the decision upon the rights of the master or the slaves in that State.'
This view, thus authoritatively declared, furnishes a conclusive answer to the distinction attempted to be set up between the extra- territorial effect of a State law and the act of Congress in question.
It must be admitted that Congress possesses no power to regulate or abolish slavery within the States; and that, if this act had attempted any such legislation, it would have been a nullity. And yet the argument here, if there be any force in it, leads to the result, that effect may be given to such legislation; for it is only by giving the act of Congress operation within the State of Missouri, that it can have any effect upon the question between the parties. Having no such effect directly, it will be difficult to maintain, upon any consistent reasoning, that it can be made to operate indirectly upon the subject.
The argument, we think, in any aspect in which it may be viewed, is utterly destitute of support upon any principles of constitutional law, as, according to that, Congress has no power whatever over the subject of slavery within the State; and is also subversive of the established doctrine of international jurisprudence, as, according to that, it is an axiom that the laws of one Government have no force within the limits of another, or extra-territorially, except from the consent of the latter.
It is perhaps not unfit to notice, in this connection, that many of the most eminent statesmen and jurists of the country entertain the opinion that this provision of the act of Congress, even within the territory to which it relates, was not authorized by any power under the Constitution. The doctrine here contended for, not only upholds its validity in the territory, but claims for it effect beyond and within the limits of a sovereign State-an effect, as insisted, that displaces the laws of the State, and substitutes its own provisions in their place.
The consequences of any such construction are apparent. If Congress possesses the power, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in a Territory, it must necessarily possess the like power to establish it. It cannot be a one-sided power, as may suit the convenience or particular views of the advocates. It is a power, if it exists at all, over the whole subject; and then, upon the process of reasoning which seeks to extend its influence beyond the Territory, and within the limits of a State, if Congress should establish, instead of abolish, slavery, we do [60 U.S. 393, 465] not see but that, if a slave should be removed from the Territory into a free State, his status would accompany him, and continue, notwithstanding its laws against slavery. The laws of the free State, according to the argument, would be displaced, and the act of Congress, in its effect, be substituted in their place. We do not see how this conclusion could be avoided, if the construction against which we are contending should prevail. We are satisfied, however, it is unsound, and that the true answer to it is, that even conceding, for the purposes of the argument, that this provision of the act of Congress is valid within the Territory for which it was enacted, it can have no operation or effect beyond its limits, or within the jurisdiction of a State. It can neither displace its laws, nor change the status or condition of its inhabitants.
Our conclusion, therefore, is, upon this branch of the case, that the question involved is one depending solely upon the law of Missouri, and that the Federal court sitting in the State, and trying the case before us, was bound to follow it.
The remaining question for consideration is, What is the law of the State of Missouri on this subject? And it would be a sufficient answer to refer to the judgment of the highest court of the State in the very case, were it not due to that tribunal to state somewhat at large the course of decision and the principles involved, on account of some diversity of opinion in the cases. As we have already stated, this case was originally brought in the Circuit Court of the State, which resulted in a judgment for the plaintiff. The case was carried up to the Supreme Court for revision. That court reversed the judgment below, and remanded the cause to the circuit, for a new trial. In that state of the proceeding, a new suit was brought by the plaintiff in the Circuit Court of the United States, and tried upon the issues and agreed case before us, and a verdict and judgment for the defendant, that court following the decision of the Supreme Court of the State. The judgment of the Supreme Court is reported in the 15 Misso. R., p. 576. The court placed the decision upon the temporary residence of the master with the slaves in the State and Territory to which they removed, and their return to the slave State; and upon the principles of international law, that foreign laws have no extra- territorial force, except such as the State within which they are sought to be enforced may see fit to extend to them, upon the doctrine of comity of nations.
This is the substance of the grounds of the decision.
The same question has been twice before that court since, and the same judgment given, (15 Misso. R., 595; 17 Ib., 434.) It must be admitted, therefore, as the settled law of the State, [60 U.S. 393, 466] and, according to the decision in the case of Strader et al. v. Graham, is conclusive of the case in this court.
It is said, however, that the previous cases and course of decision in the State of Missouri on this subject were different, and that the courts had held the slave to be free on his return from a temporary residence in the free State. We do not see, were this to be admitted, that the circumstance would show that the settled course of decision, at the time this case was tried in the court below, was not to be considered the law of the State. Certainly, it must be, unless the first decision of a principle of law by a State court is to be permanent and irrevocable. The idea seems to be, that the courts of a State are not to change their opinions, or, if they do, the first decision is to be regarded by this court as the law of the State. It is certain, if this be so, in the case before us, it is an exception to the rule governing this court in all other cases. But what court has not changed its opinions? What judge has not changed his?
Waiving, however, this view, and turning to the decisions of the courts of Missouri, it will be found that there is no discrepancy between the earlier and the present cases upon this subject. There are some eight of them reported previous to the decision in the case before us, which was decided in 1852. The last of the earlier cases was decided in 1836. In each one of these, with two exceptions, the master or mistress removed into the free State with the slave, with a view to a permanent residence- in other words, to make that his or her domicil. And in several of the cases, this removal and permanent residence were relied on, as the ground of the decision in favor of the plaintiff. All these cases, therefore, are not necessarily in conflict with the decision in the case before us, but consistent with it. In one of the two excepted cases, the master had hired the slave in the State of Illinois from 1817 to 1825. In the other, the master was an officer in the army, and removed with his slave to the military post of Fort Snelling, and at Prairie du Chien, in Michigan, temporarily, while acting under the orders of his Government. It is conceded the decision in this case was departed from in the case before us, and in those that have followed it. But it is to be observed that these subsequent cases are in conformity with those in all the slave States bordering on the free-in Kentucky, (2 Marsh., 476; 5 B. Munroe, 176; 9 Ib., 565)-in Virginia, (1 Rand., 15; 1 Leigh, 172; 10 Grattan, 495)-in Maryland , (4 Harris and McHenry, 295, 322, 325.) In conformity, also, with the law of England on this subject, Ex parte Grace, (2 Hagg. Adm., R., 94,) and with the opinions of the [60 U.S. 393, 467] most eminent jurists of the country. (Story's Confl., 396 a; 2 Kent Com., 258 n.; 18 Pick., 193, Chief Justice Shaw. See Corresp. between Lord Stowell and Judge Story, 1 vol. Life of Story, p. 552, 558.)
Lord Stowell, in communicating his opinion in the case of the slave Grace to Judge Story, states, in his letter, what the question was before him, namely: 'Whether the emancipation of a slave brought to England insured a complete emancipation to him on his return to his own country, or whether it only operated as a suspension of slavery in England, and his original character devolved on him again upon his return.' He observed, 'the question had never been examined since an end was put to slavery fifty years ago,' having reference to the decision of Lord Mansfield in the case of Somersett; but the practice, he observed, 'has regularly been, that on his return to his own country, the slave resumed his original character of slave.' And so Lord Stowell held in the case.
Judge Story, in his letter in reply, observes: 'I have read with great attention your judgment in the slave case, &c. Upon the fullest consideration which I have been able to give the subject, I entirely concur in your views. If I had been called upon to pronounce a judgment in a like case, I should have certainly arrived at the same result.' Again he observes: 'In my native State, (Massachusetts,) the state of slavery is not recognised as legal; and yet, if a slave should come hither, and afterwards return to his own home, we should certainly think that the local law attached upon him, and that his servile character would be redintegrated.'
We may remark, in this connection, that the case before the Maryland court, already referred to, and which was decided in 1799, presented the same question as that before Lord Stowell, and received a similar decision. This was nearly thirty years before the decision in that case, which was in 1828. The Court of Appeals observed, in deciding the Maryland case, that 'however the laws of Great Britain in such instances, operating upon such persons there, might interfere so as to prevent the exercise of certain acts by the masters, not permitted, as in the case of Somersett, yet, upon the bringing Ann Joice into this State, (then the province of Maryland,) the relation of master and slave continued in its extent, as authorized by the laws of this State.' And Luther Martin, one of the counsel in that case, stated, on the argument, that the question had been previously decided the same way in the case of slaves returning from a residence in Pennsylvania, where they had become free under her laws.
The State of Louisiana, whose courts had gone further in [60 U.S. 393, 468] holding the slave free on his return from a residence in a free State than the courts of her sister States, has settled the law, by an act of her Legislature, in conformity with the law of the court of Missouri in the case before us. (Sess. Law, 1846).
The case before Lord Stowell presented much stronger features for giving effect to the law of England in the case of the slave Grace than exists in the cases that have arisen in this country, for in that case the slave returned to a colony of England over which the Imperial Government exercised supreme authority. Yet, on the return of the slave to the colony, from a temporary residence in England, he held that the original condition of the slave attached. The question presented in cases arising here is as to the effect and operation to be given to the laws of a foreign State, on the return of the slave within an independent sovereignty.
Upon the whole, it must be admitted that the current of authority, both in England and in this country, is in accordance with the law as declared by the courts of Missouri in the case before us, and we think the court below was not only right, but bound to follow it.
Some question has been made as to the character of the residence in this case in the free State. But we regard the facts as set forth in the agreed case as decisive. The removal of Dr. Emerson from Missouri to the military posts was in the discharge of his duties as surgeon in the army, and under the orders of his Government. He was liable at any moment to be recalled, as he was in 1838, and ordered to another post. The same is also true as it respects Major Taliaferro. In such a case, the officer goes to his post for a temporary purpose, to remain there for an uncertain time, and not for the purpose of fixing his permanent abode. The question we think too plain to require argument. The case of the Attorney General v. Napier, (6 Welsh, Hurtst. and Gordon Exch. Rep., 217,) illustrates and applies the principle in the case of an officer of the English army.
A question has been alluded to, on the argument, namely: the right of the master with his slave of transit into or through a free State, on business or commercial pursuits, or in the exercise of a Federal right, or the discharge of a Federal duty, being a citizen of the United States, which is not before us. This question depends upon different considerations and principles from the one in hand, and turns upon the rights and privileges secured to a common citizen of the republic under the Constitution of the United States. When that question arises, we shall be prepared to decide it. [60 U.S. 393, 469] Our conclusion is, that the judgment of the court below should be affirmed.
Mr. Justice GRIER concurring
I concur in the opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Nelson on the questions discussed by him.
I also concur with the opinion of the court as delivered by the Chief Justice, that the act of Congress of 6th March, 1820, is unconstitutional and void; and that, assuming the facts as stated in the opinion, the plaintiff cannot sue as a citizen of Missouri in the courts of the United States. But, that the record shows a prima facie case of jurisdiction, requiring the court to decide all the questions properly arising in it; and as the decision of the pleas in bar shows that the plaintiff is a slave, and therefore not entitled to sue in a court of the United States, the form of the judgment is of little importance; for, whether the judgment be affirmed or dismissed for want of jurisdiction, it is justified by the decision of the court, and is the same in effect between the parties to the suit.
Mr. Justice DANIEL concurring
It may with truth be affirmed, that since the establishment of the several communities now constituting the States of this Confederacy, there never has been submitted to any tribunal within its limits questions surpassing in importance those now claiming the consideration of this court. Indeed it is difficult to imagine, in connection with the systems of polity peculiar to the United States, a conjuncture of graver import than that must be, within which it is aimed to comprise, and to control, not only the faculties and practical operation appropriate to the American Confederacy as such, but also the rights and powers of its separate and independent members, with reference alike to their internal and domestic authority and interests, and the relations they sustain to their confederates.
To my mind it is evident, that nothing less than the ambitious and far-reaching pretension to compass these objects of vital concern, is either directly essayed or necessarily implied in the positions attempted in the argument for the plaintiff in error.
How far these positions have any foundation in the nature of the rights and relations of separate, equal, and independent Governments, or in the provisions of our own Federal compact, or the laws enacted under and in pursuance of the authority of that compact, will be presently investigated.
In order correctly to comprehend the tendency and force of those positions, it is proper here succinctly to advert to the [60 U.S. 393, 470] facts upon which the questions of law propounded in the argument have arisen.
This was an action of trespass vi et armis, instituted in the Circuit Court of the United States for the district of Missouri, in the name of the plaintiff in error, a negro held as a slave, for the recovery of freedom for himself, his wife, and two children, also negroes.
To the declaration in this case the defendant below, who is also the defendant in error, pleaded in abatement that the court could not take cognizance of the cause, because the plaintiff was not a citizen of the State of Missouri, as averred in the declaration, but was a negro of African descent, and that his ancestors were of pure African blood, and were brought into this country and sold as negro slaves; and hence it followed, from the second section of the third article of the Constitution, which creates the judicial power of the United States, with respect to controversies between citizens of different States, that the Circuit Court could not take cognizance of the action.
To this plea in abatement, a demurrer having been interposed on behalf of the plaintiff, it was sustained by the court. After the decision sustaining the demurrer, the defendant, in pursuance of a previous agreement between counsel, and with the leave of the court, pleaded in bar of the action: 1st, not guilty; 2dly, that the plaintiff was a negro slave, the lawful property of the defendant, and as such the defendant gently laid his hands upon him, and thereby had only restrained him, as the defendant had a right to do; 3dly, that with respect to the wife and daughters of the plaintiff, in the second and third counts of the declaration mentioned, the defendant had, as to them, only acted in the same manner, and in virtue of the same legal right.
Issues having been joined upon the above pleas in bar, the following statement, comprising all the evidence in the cause, was agreed upon and signed by the counsel of the respective parties, viz:
'In the year 1834, the plaintiff was a negro slave belonging to Doctor Emerson, who was a surgeon in the army of the United States. In that year, 1834, said Dr. Emerson took the plaintiff from the State of Missouri to the military post at Rock Island, in the State of Illinois, and held him there as a slave until the month of April or May, 1836. At the time last mentioned, said Dr. Emerson removed the plaintiff from said military post at Rock Island to the military post at Fort Snelling, situate on the west bank of the Mississippi river, in the Territory known as Upper Louisiana, acquired by the United States of France, and situate north of the latitude of thirty-six [60 U.S. 393, 471] degrees thirty minutes north, and north of the State of Missouri. Said Dr. Emerson held the plaintiff in slavery at said Fort Snelling, from said last-mentioned date until the year 1838.
'In the year 1835, Harriet, who is named in the second count of the plaintiff's declaration, was the negro slave of Major Taliaferro, who belonged to the army of the United States. In that year, 1835, said Major Taliaferro took said Harriet to said Fort Snelling, a military post situated as hereinbefore stated, and kept her there as a slave until the year 1836, and then sold and delivered her as a slave at said Fort Snelling unto the said Dr. Emerson, hereinbefore named. Said Dr. Emerson held said Harriet in slavery at said Fort Snelling until the year 1838.
'In the year 1836, the plaintiff and said Harriet, at said Fort Snelling, with the consent of said Dr. Emerson, who then claimed to be their master and owner, intermarried, and took each other for husband and wife. Eliza and Lizzie, named in the third count of the plaintiff's declaration, are the fruit of that marriage. Eliza is about fourteen years old, and was born on board the steamboat Gipsey, north of the north line of the State of Missouri, and upon the river Mississippi. Lizzie is about seven years old, and was born in the State of Missouri, at a military post called Jefferson barracks.
'In the year 1838, said Dr. Emerson removed the plaintiff and said Harriet, and their said daughter Eliza, from said Fort Snelling to the State of Missouri, where they have ever since resided.
'Before the commencement of this suit, said Dr. Emerson sold and conveyed the plaintiff, said Harriet, Eliza, and Lizzie, to the defendant, as slaves, and the defendant has ever since claimed to hold them and each of them as slaves.
'At the times mentioned in the plaintiff's declaration, the defendant, claiming to be owner as aforesaid, laid his hands upon said plaintiff, Harriet, Eliza, and Lizzie, and imprisoned them, doing in this respect, however, no more than what he might lawfully do if they were of right his slaves at such times.
'Further proof may be given on the trial for either party.
'R. M. FIELD, for Plaintiff.
'H. A. GARLAND, for Defendant.
'It is agreed that Dred Scott brought suit for his freedom in the Circuit Court of St. Louis county; that there was a verdict and judgment in his favor; that on a writ of error to the Supreme Court, the judgment below was reversed, and the [60 U.S. 393, 472] cause remanded to the Circuit Court, where it has been continued to await the decision of this case.
'FIELD, for Plaintiff.
'GARLAND, for Defendant.'
Upon the aforegoing agreed facts, the plaintiff prayed the court to instruct the jury that they ought to find for the plaintiff, and upon the refusal of the instruction thus prayed for, the plaintiff excepted to the court's opinion. The court then, upon the prayer of the defendant, instructed the jury, that upon the facts of this case agreed as above, the law was with the defendant. To this opinion, also, the plaintiff's counsel excepted, as he did to the opinion of the court denying to the plaintiff a new trial after the verdict of the jury in favor of the defendant.
The question first in order presented by the record in this cause, is that which arises upon the plea in abatement, and the demurrer to that plea; and upon this question it is my opinion that the demurrer should have been overruled, and the plea sustained.
On behalf of the plaintiff it has been urged, that by the pleas interposed in bar of a recovery in the court below, (which pleas both in fact and in law are essentially the same with the objections averred in abatement,) the defence in abatement has been displaced or waived; that it could therefore no longer be relied on in the Circuit Court, and cannot claim the consideration of this court in reviewing this cause. This position is regarded as wholly untenable. On the contrary, it would seem to follow conclusively from the peculiar character of the courts of the United States, as organized under the Constitution and the statutes, and as defined by numerous and unvarying adjudications from this bench, that there is not one of those courts whose jurisdiction and powers can be deduced from mere custom or tradition; not one, whose jurisdiction and powers must not be traced palpably to, and invested exclusively by, the Constitution and statutes of the United States; not one that is not bound, therefore, at all times, and at all stages of its proceedings, to look to and to regard the special and declared extent and bounds of its commission and authority. There is no such tribunal of the United States as a court of general jurisdiction, in the sense in which that phrase is applied to the superior courts under the common law; and even with respect to the courts existing under that system, it is a well-settled principle, that consent can never give jurisdiction.
The principles above stated, and the consequences regularly deducible from them, have, as already remarked, been repeatedly [60 U.S. 393, 473] and unvaryingly propounded from this bench. Beginning with the earliest decisions of this court, we have the cases of Bingham v. Cabot et al., (3 Dallas, 382;) Turner v. Eurille, (4 Dallas, 7;) Abercrombie v. Dupuis et al., (1 Cranch, 343;) Wood v. Wagnon, (2 Cranch, 9;) The United States v. The brig Union et al., (4 Cranch, 216;) Sullivan v. The Fulton Steamboat Company, (6 Wheaton, 450;) Mollan et al. v. Torrence, (9 Wheaton, 537;) Brown v. Keene, (8 Peters, 112,) and Jackson v. Ashton, (8 Peters, 148;) ruling, in uniform and unbroken current, the doctrine that it is essential to the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States, that the facts upon which it is founded should appear upon the record. Nay, to such an extent and so inflexibly has this requisite to the jurisdiction been enforced, that in the case of Capron v. Van Noorden, (2 Cranch, 126,) it is declared, that the plaintiff in this court may assign for error his own omission in the pleadings in the court below, where they go to the jurisdiction. This doctrine has been, if possible, more strikingly illustrated in a later decision, the case of The State of Rhode Island v. The State of Massachusetts, in the 12th of Peters.
In this case, on page 718 of the volume, this court, with reference to a motion to dismiss the cause for want of jurisdiction, have said: ' However late this objection has been made, or may be made, in any cause in an inferior or appellate court of the United States, it must be considered and decided before any court can move one farther step in the cause, as any movement is necessarily to exercise the jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine the subject-matter in controversy between the parties to a suit; to adjudicate or exercise any judicial power over them. The question is, whether on the case before the court their action is judicial or extra-judicial; with or without the authority of law to render a judgment or decree upon the rights of the litigant parties. A motion to dismiss a cause pending in the courts of the United States, is not analogous to a plea to the jurisdiction of a court of common law or equity in England; there, the superior courts have a general jurisdiction over all persons within the realm, and all causes of action between them. It depends on the subject-matter, whether the jurisdiction shall be exercised by a court of law or equity; but that court to which it appropriately belongs can act judicially upon the party and the subject of the suit, unless it shall be made apparent to the court that the judicial determination of the case has been withdrawn from the court of general jurisdiction to an inferior and limited one. It is a necessary presumption that the court of general jurisdiction can act upon the given case, when nothing to the [60 U.S. 393, 474] contrary appears; hence has arisen the rule that the party claiming an exemption from its process must set out the reason by a special plea in abatement, and show that some inferior court of law or equity has the exclusive cognizance of the case, otherwise the superior court must proceed in virtue of its general jurisdiction. A motion to dismiss, therefore, cannot be entertained, as it does not disclose a case of exception; and if a plea in abatement is put in, it must not only make out the exception, but point to the particular court to which the case belongs. There are other classes of cases where the objection to the jurisdiction is of a different nature, as on a bill in chancery, that the subject- matter is cognizable only by the King in Council, or that the parties defendant cannot be brought before any municipal court on account of their sovereign character or the nature of the controversy; or to the very common cases which present the question, whether the cause belong to a court of law or equity. To such cases, a plea in abatement would not be applicable, because the plaintiff could not sue in an inferior court. The objection goes to a denial of any jurisdiction of a municipal court in the one class of cases, and to the jurisdiction of any court of equity or of law in the other, on which last the court decides according to its discretion.
'An objection to jurisdiction on the ground of exemption from the process of the court in which the suit is brought, or the manner in which a defendant is brought into it, is waived by appearance and pleading to issue; but when the objection goes to the power of the court over the parties or the subject-matter, the defendant need not, for he cannot, give the plaintiff a better writ. Where an inferior court can have no jurisdiction of a case of law or equity, the ground of objection is not taken by plea in abatement, as an exception of the given case from the otherwise general jurisdiction of the court; appearance does not cure the defect of judicial power, and it may be relied on by plea, answer, demurrer, or at the trial or hearing. As a denial of jurisdiction over the subject-matter of a suit between parties within the realm, over which and whom the court has power to act, cannot be successful in an English court of general jurisdiction, a motion like the present could not be sustained consistently with the principles of its constitution. But as this court is one of limited and special original jurisdiction, its action must be confined to the particular cases, controversies, and parties, over which the Constitution and laws have authorized it to act; any proceeding without the limits prescribed is coram non judice, and its action a nullity. And whether the want or excess of power is objected by a party, or is apparent [60 U.S. 393, 475] to the court, it must surcease its action or proceed extra-judicially.'
In the constructing of pleadings either in abatement or in bar, every fact or position constituting a portion of the public law, or of known or general history, is necessarily implied. Such fact or position need not be specially averred and set forth; it is what the world at large and every individual are presumed to know-nay, are bound to know and to be governed by.
If, on the other hand, there exist facts or circumstances by which a particular case would be withdrawn or exempted from the influence of public law or necessary historical knowledge, such facts and circumstances form an exception to the general principle, and these must be specially set forth and established by those who would avail themselves of such exception.
Now, the following are truths which a knowledge of the history of the world, and particularly of that of our own country, compels us to know- that the African negro race never have been acknowledged as belonging to the family of nations; that as amongst them there never has been known or recognised by the inhabitants of other countries anything partaking of the character of nationality, or civil or political polity; that this race has been by all the nations of Europe regarded as subjects of capture or purchase; as subjects of commerce or traffic; and that the introduction of that race into every section of this country was not as members of civil or political society, but as slaves, as property in the strictest sense of the term.
In the plea in abatement, the character or capacity of citizen on the part of the plaintiff is denied; and the causes which show the absence of that character or capacity are set forth by averment. The verity of those causes, according to the settled rules of pleading, being admitted by the demurrer, it only remained for the Circuit Court to decide upon their legal sufficiency to abate the plaintiff's action. And it now becomes the province of this court to determine whether the plaintiff below, (and in error here,) admitted to be a negro of African descent, whose ancestors were of pure African blood, and were brought into this country and sold as negro slaves-such being his status, and such the circumstances surrounding his position-whether he can, by correct legal induction from that status and those circumstances, be clothed with the character and capacities of a citizen of the State of Missouri?
It may be assumed as a postulate, that to a slave, as such, there appertains and can appertain no relation, civil or political, with the State or the Government. He is himself strictly property, to be used in subserviency to the interests, the convenience, [60 U.S. 393, 476] or the will, of his owner; and to suppose, with respect to the former, the existence of any privilege or discretion, or of any obligation to others incompatible with the magisterial rights just defined, would be by implication, if not directly, to deny the relation of master and slave, since none can possess and enjoy, as his own, that which another has a paramount right and power to withhold. Hence it follows, necessarily, that a slave, the peculium or property of a master, and possessing within himself no civil nor political rights or capacities, cannot be a CITIZEN. For who, it may be asked, is a citizen? What do the character and status of citizen import? Without fear of contradiction, it does not import the condition of being private property, the subject of individual power and ownership. Upon a principle of etymology alone, the term citizen, as derived from civitas, conveys the ideas of connection or identification with the State or Government, and a participation of its functions. But beyond this, there is not, it is believed, to be found, in the theories of writers on Government, or in any actual experiment heretofore tried, an exposition of the term citizen, which has not been understood as conferring the actual possession and enjoyment, or the perfect right of acquisition and enjoyment, of an entire equality of privileges, civil and political.
Thus Vattel, in the preliminary chapter to his Treatise on the Law of Nations, says: 'Nations or States are bodies politic; societies of men united together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage, by the joint efforts of their mutual strength. Such a society has her affairs and her interests; she deliberates and takes resolutions in common; thus becoming a moral person, who possesses an understanding and a will peculiar to herself.' Again, in the first chapter of the first book of the Treatise just quoted, the same writer, after repeating his definition of a State, proceeds to remark, that, 'from the very design that induces a number of men to form a society, which has its common interests and which is to act in concert, it is necessary that there should be established a public authority, to order and direct what is to be done by each, in relation to the end of the association. This political authority is the sovereignty.' Again this writer remarks: 'The authority of all over each member essentially belongs to the body politic or the State.'
By this same writer it is also said: 'The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority; they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As society [60 U.S. 393, 477] cannot perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their parents, and succeed to all their rights.' Again: 'I say, to be of the country, it is necessary to be born of a person who is a citizen; for if he be born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country. The inhabitants, as distinguished from citizens, are foreigners who are permitted to settle and stay in the country.' (Vattel, Book 1, cap. 19, p. 101.)
From the views here expressed, and they seem to be unexceptionable, it must follow, that with the slave, with one devoid of rights or capacities, civil or political, there could be no pact; that one thus situated could be no party to, or actor in, the association of those possessing free will, power, discretion. He could form no part of the design, no constituent ingredient or portion of a society based upon common, that is, upon equal interests and powers. He could not at the same time be the sovereign and the slave.
But it has been insisted, in argument, that the emancipation of a slave, effected either by the direct act and assent of the master, or by causes operating in contravention of his will, produces a change in the status or capacities of the slave, such as will transform him from a mere subject of property, into a being possessing a social, civil, and political equality with a citizen. In other words, will make him a citizen of the State within which he was, previously to his emancipation, a slave.
It is difficult to conceive by what magic the mere surcease or renunciation of an interest in a subject of property, by an individual possessing that interest, can alter the essential character of that property with respect to persons or communities unconnected with such renunciation. Can it be pretended that an individual in any State, by his single act, though voluntarily or designedly performed, yet without the co- operation or warrant of the Government, perhaps in opposition to its policy or its guaranties, can create a citizen of that State? Much more emphatically may it be asked, how such a result could be accomplished by means wholly extraneous, and entirely foreign to the Government of the State? The argument thus urged must lead to these extraordinary conclusions. It is regarded at once as wholly untenable, and as unsustained by the direct authority or by the analogies of history.
The institution of slavery, as it exists and has existed from the period of its introduction into the United States, though more humane and mitigated in character than was the same institution, either under the republic or the empire of Rome, bears, both in its tenure and in the simplicity incident to the [60 U.S. 393, 478] mode of its exercise, a closer resemblance to Roman slavery than it does to the condition of villanage, as it formerly existed in England. Connected with the latter, there were peculiarities, from custom or positive regulation, which varied it materially from the slavery of the Romans, or from slavery at any period within the United States.
But with regard to slavery amougst the Romans, it is by no means true that emancipation, either during the republic or the empire, conferred, by the act itself, or implied, the status or the rights of citizenship.
The proud title of Roman citizen, with the immunities and rights incident thereto, and as contradistinguished alike from the condition of conquered subjects or of the lower grades of native domestic residents, was maintained throughout the duration of the republic, and until a late period of the eastern empire, and at last was in effect destroyed less by an elevation of the inferior classes than by the degradation of the free, and the previous possessors of rights and immunities civil and political, to the indiscriminate abasement incident to absolute and simple despotism.
By the learned and elegant historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, we are told that 'In the decline of the Roman empire, the proud distinctions of the republic were gradually abolished; and the reason or instinct of Justinian completed the simple form of an absolute monarchy. The emperor could not eradicate the popular reverence which always waits on the possession of hereditary wealth or the memory of famous ancestors. He delighted to honor with titles and emoluments his generals, magistrates, and senators, and his precarious indulgence communicated some rays of their glory to their wives and children. But in the eye of the law all Roman citizens were equal, and all subjects of the empire were citizens of Rome. That inestimable character was degraded to an obsolete and empty name. The voice of a Roman could no longer enact his laws, or create the annual ministers of his powers; his constitutional rights might have checked the arbitrary will of a master; and the bold adventurer from Germany or Arabia was admitted with equal favor to the civil and military command which the citizen alone had been once entitled to assume over the conquests of his fathers. The first Caesars had scrupulously guarded the distinction of ingenuous and servile birth, which was decided by the condition of the mother. The slaves who were liberated by a generous master immediately entered into the middle class of libertini or freedmen; but they could never be enfranchised from the duties of obedience and gratitude; whatever were the fruits of [60 U.S. 393, 479] their industry, their patron and his family inherited the third part, or even the whole of their fortune, if they died without children and without a testament. Justinian respected the rights of patrons, but his indulgence removed the badge of disgrace from the two inferior orders of freedmen; whoever ceased to be a slave, obtained without reserve or delay the station of a citizen; and at length the dignity of an ingenuous birth was created or supposed by the omnipotence of the emperor.' 
The above account of slavery and its modifications will be found in strictest conformity with the Institutes of Justinian. Thus, book 1st, title 3d, it is said: 'The first general division of persons in respect to their rights is into freemen and slaves.' The same title, sec. 4th: 'Slaves are born such, or become so. They are born such of bondwomen; they become so either by the law of nations, as by capture, or by the civil law. Section 5th: 'In the condition of slaves there is no diversity; but among free persons there are many. Thus some are ingenui or freemen, others libertini or freedmen.'
Tit. 4th. DE INGENUIS.-'A freeman is one who is born free by being born in matrimony, of parents who both are free, or both freed; or of parents one free and the other freed. But one born of a free mother, although the father be a slave or unknown, is free.'
Tit. 5th. DE LIBERTINIS.-'Freedmen are those who have been manumitted from just servitude.'
Section third of the same title states that 'freedmen were formerly distinguished by a threefold division.' But the emperor proceeds to say: 'Our piety leading us to reduce all things into a better state, we have amended our laws, and reestablished the ancient usage; for anciently liberty was simple and undivided-that is, was conferred upon the slave as his manumittor possessed it, admitting this single difference, that the person manumitted became only a freed man, although his manumittor was a free man.' And he further declares: 'We have made all freed men in general become citizens of Rome, regarding neither the age of the manumitted, nor the manumittor, nor the ancient forms of manumission. We have also introduced many new methods by which slaves may become Roman citizens.'
By the references above given it is shown, from the nature and objects of civil and political associations, and upon the direct authority of history, that citizenship was not conferred [60 U.S. 393, 480] by the simple fact of emancipation, but that such a result was deduced therefrom in violation of the fundamental principles of free political association; by the exertion of despotic will to establish, under a false and misapplied denomination, one equal and universal slavery; and to effect this result required the exertions of absolute power-of a power both in theory and practice, being in its most plenary acceptation the SOVEREIGNTY, THE STATE ITSELF-it could not be produced by a less or inferior authority, much less by the will or the act of one who, with reference to civil and political rights, was himself a slave. The master might abdicate or abandon his interest or ownership in his property, but his act would be a mere abandonment. It seems to involve an absurdity to impute to it the investiture of rights which the sovereignty alone had power to impart. There is not perhaps a community in which slavery is recognised, in which the power of emancipation and the modes of its exercise are not regulated by law-that is, by the sovereign authority; and none can fail to comprehend the necessity for such regulation, for the preservation of order, and even of political and social existence.
By the argument for the plaintiff in error, a power equally despotic is vested in every member of the association, and the most obscure or unworthy individual it comprises may arbitrarily invade and derange its most deliberate and solemn ordinances. At assumptions anomalous as these, so fraught with mischief and ruin, the mind at once is revolted, and goes directly to the conclusions, that to change or to abolish a fundamental principle of the society, must be the act of the society itself-of the sovereignty; and that none other can admit to a participation of that high attribute. It may further expose the character of the argument urged for the plaintiff, to point out some of the revolting consequences which it would authorize. If that argument possesses any integrity, it asserts the power in any citizen, or quasi citizen, or a resident foreigner of any one of the States, from a motive either of corruption or caprice, not only to infract the inherent and necessary authority of such State, but also materially to interfere with the organization of the Federal Government, and with the authority of the separate and independent States. He may emancipate his negro slave, by which process he first transforms that slave into a citizen of his own State; he may next, under color of article fourth, section second, of the Constitution of the United States, obtrude him, and on terms of civil and political equality, upon any and every State in this Union, in defiance of all regulations of necessity or policy, ordained by those States for their internal happiness or safety. Nay, more: this manumitted slave [60 U.S. 393, 481] may, by a proceeding springing from the will or act of his master alone, be mixed up with the institutions of the Federal Government, to which he is not a party, and in opposition to the laws of that Government which, in authorizing the extension by naturalization of the rights and immunities of citizens of the United States to those not originally parties to the Federal compact, have restricted that boon to free white aliens alone. If the rights and immunities connected with or practiced under the institutions of the United States can by any indirection be claimed or deduced from sources or modes other than the Constitution and laws of the United States, it follows that the power of naturalization vested in Congress is not exclusive-that it has in effect no existence, but is repealed or abrogated.
But it has been strangely contended that the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court might be maintained upon the ground that the plaintiff was a resident of Missouri, and that, for the purpose of vesting the court with jurisdiction over the parties, residence within the State was sufficient.
The first, and to my mind a conclusive reply to this singular argument is presented in the fact, that the language of the Constitution restricts the jurisdiction of the courts to cases in which the parties shall be citizens, and is entirely silent with respect to residence. A second answer to this strange and latitudinous notion is, that it so far stultifies the sages by whom the Constitution was framed, as to impute to them ignorance of the material distinction existing between citizenship and mere residence or domicil, and of the well-known facts, that a person confessedly an alien may be permitted to reside in a country in which he can possess no civil or political rights, or of which he is neither a citizen nor subject; and that for certain purposes a man may have a domicil in different countries, in no one of which he is an actual personal resident.
The correct conclusions upon the question here considered would seem to be these:
That in the establishment of the several communities now the States of this Union, and in the formation of the Federal Government, the African was not deemed politically a person. He was regarded and owned in every State in the Union as property merely, and as such was not and could not be a party or an actor, much less a peer in any compact or form of government established by the States or the United States. That if, since the adoption of the State Governments, he has been or could have been elevated to the posession of political rights or powers, this result could have been effected by no authority less potent than that of the sovereignty-the State-exerted [60 U.S. 393, 482] to that end, either in the form of legislation, or in some other mode of operation. It could certainly never have been accomplished by the will of an individual operating independently of the sovereign power, and even contravening and controlling that power. That so far as rights and immunities appertaining to citizens have been defined and secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, the African race is not and never was recognised either by the language or purposes of the former; and it has been expressly excluded by every act of Congress providing for the creation of citizens by naturalization, these laws, as has already been remarked, being restricted to free white aliens exclusively.
But it is evident that, after the formation of the Federal Government by the adoption of the Constitution, the highest exertion of State power would be incompetent to bestow a character or status created by the Constitution, or conferred in virtue of its authority only. Upon those, therefore, who were not originally parties to the Federal compact, or who are not admitted and adopted as parties thereto, in the mode prescribed by its paramount authority, no State could have power to bestow the character or the rights and privileges exclusively reserved by the States for the action of the Federal Government by that compact.
The States, in the exercise of their political power, might, with reference to their peculiar Government and jurisdiction, guaranty the rights of person and property, and the enjoyment of civil and political privileges, to those whom they should be disposed to make the objects of their bounty; but they could not reclaim or exert the powers which they had vested exclusively in the Government of the United States. They could not add to or change in any respect the class of persons to whom alone the character of citizen of the United States appertained at the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution. They could not create citizens of the United States by any direct or indirect proceeding.
According to the view taken of the law, as applicable to the demurrer to the plea in abatement in this cause, the questions subsequently raised upon the several pleas in bar might be passed by, as requiring neither a particular examination, nor an adjudication directly upon them. upon them. But as these questions are intrinsically of primary interest and magnitude, and have been elaborately discussed in argument, and as with respect to them the opinions of a majority of the court, including my own, are perfectly coincident, to me it seems proper that they should here be fully considered, and, so far as it is practicable for this court to accomplish such an end, finally put to rest. [60 U.S. 393, 483] The questions then to be considered upon the several pleas in bar, and upon the agreed statement of facts between the counsel, are: 1st. Whether the admitted master and owner of the plaintiff, holding him as his slave in the State of Missouri, and in conformity with his rights guarantied to him by the laws of Missouri then and still in force, by carrying with him for his own benefit and accommodation, and as his own slave, the person of the plaintiff into the State of Illinois, within which State slavery had been prohibited by the Constitution thereof, and by retaining the plaintiff during the commorancy of the master within the State of Illinois, had, upon his return with his slave into the State of Missouri, forfeited his rights as master, by reason of any supposed operation of the prohibitory provision in the Constitution of Illinois, beyond the proper territorial jurisdiction of the latter State? 2d. Whether a similar removal of the plaintiff by his master from the State of Missouri, and his retention in service at a point included within no State, but situated north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes of north latitude, worked a forfeiture of the right of property of the master, and the manumission of the plaintiff?
In considering the first of these questions, the acts or declarations of the master, as expressive of his purpose to emancipate, may be thrown out of view, since none will deny the right of the owner to relinquish his interest in any subject of property, at any time or in any place. The inquiry here bears no relation to acts or declarations of the owner as expressive of his intent or purpose to make such a relinquishment; it is simply a question whether, irrespective of such purpose, and in opposition thereto, that relinquishment can be enforced against the owner of property within his own country, in defiance of every guaranty promised by its laws; and this through the instrumentality of a claim to power entirely foreign and extraneous with reference to himself, to the origin and foundation of his title, and to the independent authority of his country. A conclusive negative answer to such an inquiry is at once supplied, by announcing a few familiar and settled principles and doctrines of public law.
Vattel, in his chapter the the general principles of the laws of nations, section 15th, tells us, that 'nations being free and independent of each other in the same manner that men are naturally free and independent, the second general law of their society is, that each nation should be left in the peaceable enjoyment of that liberty which she inherits from nature.'
'The natural society of nations,' says this writer, 'cannot subsist unless the natural rights of each be respected.' In [60 U.S. 393, 484] section 16th he says, 'as a consequence of that liberty and independence, it exclusively belongs to each nation to form her own judgment of what her conscience prescribes for her-of what it is proper or improper for her to do; and of course it rests solely with her to examine and determine whether she can perform any office for another nation without neglecting the duty she owes to herself. In all cases, therefore, in which a nation has the right of judging what her duty requires, no other nation can compel her to act in such or such a particular manner, for any attempt at such compulsion would be an infringement on the liberty of nations.' Again, in section 18th, of the same chapter, 'nations composed of men, and considered as so many free persons living together in a state of nature, are naturally equal, and inherit from nature the same obligations and rights. Power or weakness does not produce any difference. A small republic is no less a sovereign state than the most powerful kingdom.'
So, in section 20: 'A nation, then, is mistress of her own actions, so long as they do not affect the proper and perfect rights of any other nation-so long as she is only internally bound, and does not lie under any external and perfect obligation. If she makes an ill use of her liberty, she is guilty of a breach of duty; but other nations are bound to acquiesce in her conduct, since they have no right to dictate to her. Since nations are free, independent, and equal, and since each possesses the right of judging, according to the dictates of her conscience, what conduct she is to pursue, in order to fulfil her duties, the effect of the whole is to produce, at least externally, in the eyes of mankind, a perfect equality of rights between nations, in the administration of their affairs, and in the pursuit of their pretensions, without regard to the intrinsic justice of their conduct, of which others have no right to form a definitive judgment.'
Chancellor Kent, in the 1st volume of his Commentaries, lecture 2d, after collating the opinions of Grotius, Heineccius, Vattel, and Rutherford, enunciates the following positions as sanctioned by these and other learned publicists, viz: that 'nations are equal in respect to each other, and entitled to claim equal consideration for their rights, whatever may be their relative dimensions or strength, or however greatly they may differ in government, religion, or manners. This perfect equality and entire independence of all distinct States is a fundamental principle of public law. It is a necessary consequence of this equality, that each nation has a right to govern itself as it may think proper, and no one nation is entitled to dictate a form of government or religion, or a course of internal [60 U.S. 393, 485] policy, to another.' This writer gives some instances of the violation of this great national immunity, and amongst them the constant interference by the ancient Romans, under the pretext of settling disputes between their neighbors, but with the real purpose of reducing those neighbors to bondage; the interference of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, for the dismemberment of Poland; the more recent invasion of Naples by Austria in 1821, and of Spain by the French Government in 1823, under the excuse of suppressing a dangerous spirit of internal revolution and reform.
With reference to this right of self-government in independent sovereign States, an opinion has been expressed, which, whilst it concedes this right as inseparable from and as a necessary attribute of sovereignty and independence, asserts nevertheless some implied and paramount authority of a supposed international law, to which this right of self- government must be regarded and exerted as subordinate; and from which independent and sovereign States can be exempted only by a protest, or by some public and formal rejection of that authority. With all respect for those by whom this opinion has been professed, I am constrained to regard it as utterly untenable, as palpably inconsistent, and as presenting in argument a complete felo de se.
Sovereignty, independence, and a perfect right of self-government, can signify nothing less than a superiority to and an exemption from all claims by any extraneous power, however expressly they may be asserted, and render all attempts to enforce such claims merely attempts at usurpation. Again, could such claims from extraneous sources be regarded as legitimate, the effort to resist or evade them, by protest or denial, would be as irregular and unmeaning as it would be futile. It could in no wise affect the question of superior right. For the position here combatted, no respectable authority has been, and none it is thought can be adduced. It is certainly irreconcilable with the doctrines already cited from the writers upon public law.
Neither the case of Lewis Somersett, (Howell's State Trials, vol. 20,) so often vaunted as the proud evidence of devotion to freedom under a Government which has done as much perhaps to extend the reign of slavery as all the world besides; nor does any decision founded upon the authority of Somersett's case, when correctly expounded, assail or impair the principle of national equality enunciated by each and all of the publicists already referred to. In the case of Somersett, although the applicant for the habeas corpus and the individual claiming property in that applicant were both subjects and residents [60 U.S. 393, 486] within the British empire, yet the decision cannot be correctly understood as ruling absolutely and under all circumstances against the right of property in the claimant. That decision goes no farther than to determine, that within the realm of England there was no authority to justify the detention of an individual in private bondage. If the decision in Somersett's case had gone beyond this point, it would have presented the anomaly of a repeal by laws enacted for and limited in their operation to the realm alone, of other laws and institutions established for places and subjects without the limits of the realm of England; laws and institutions at that very time, and long subsequently, sanctioned and maintained under the authority of the British Government, and which the full and combined action of the King and Parliament was required to abrogate.
But could the decision in Somersett's case be correctly interpreted as ruling the doctrine which it has been attempted to deduce from it, still that doctrine must be considered as having been overruled by the lucid and able opinion of Lord Stowell in the more recent case of the slave Grace, reported in the second volume of Haggard, p. 94; in which opinion, whilst it is conceded by the learned judge that there existed no power to coerce the slave whilst in England, that yet, upon her return to the island of Antigua, her status as a slave was revived, or, rather, that the title of the owner to the slave as property had never been extinguished, but had always existed in that island. If the principle of this decision be applicable as between different portions of one and the same empire, with how much more force does it apply as between nations or Governments entirely separate, and absolutely independent of each other? For in this precise attitude the States of this Union stand with reference to this subject, and with reference to the tenure of every description of property vested under their laws and held within their territorial jurisdiction.
A strong illustration of the principle ruled by Lord Stowell, and of the effect of that principle even in a case of express contract, is seen in the case of Lewis v. Fullerton, decided by the Supreme Court of Virginia, and reported in the first volume of Randolph, p. 15. The case was this: A female slave, the property of a citizen of Virginia, whilst with her master in the State of Ohio, was taken from his possession under a writ of habeas corpus, and set at liberty. Soon, or immediately after, by agreement between this slave and her master, a deed was executed in Ohio by the latter, containing a stipulation that this slave should return to Virginia, and, after a service of two years in that State, should there be free. The law of Virginia [60 U.S. 393, 487] regulating emancipation required that deeds of emancipation should, within a given time from their date, be recorded in the court of the county in which the grantor resided, and declared that deeds with regard to which this requisite was not complied with should be void. Lewis, an infant son of this female, under the rules prescribed in such cases, brought an action, in forma pauperis, in one of the courts of Virginia, for the recovery of his freedom, claimed in virtue of the transactions above mentioned. Upon an appeal to the Supreme Court from a judgment against the plaintiff, Roane, Justice, in delivering the opinion of the court, after disposing of other questions discussed in that case, remarks:
'As to the deed of emancipation contained in the record, that deed, taken in connection with the evidence offered in support of it, shows that it had a reference to the State of Virginia; and the testimony shows that it formed a part of this contract, whereby the slave Milly was to be brought back (as she was brought back) into the State of Virginia. Her object was therefore to secure her freedom by the deed within the State of Virginia, after the time should have expired for which she had indented herself, and when she should be found abiding within the State of Virginia.
'If, then, this contract had an eye to the State of Virginia for its operation and effect, the lex loci ceases to operate. In that case it must, to have its effect, conform to the laws of Virginia. It is insufficient under those laws to effectuate an emancipation, for what of a due recording in the county court, as was decided in the case of Givens v. Mann, in this court. It is also ineffectual within the Commonwealth of Virginia for another reason. The lex loci is also to be taken subject to the exception, that it is not to be enforced in another country, when it violates some moral duty or the policy of that country, or is not consistent with a positive right secured to a third person or party by the laws of that country in which it is sought to be enforced. In such a case we are told, 'magis jus nostrum, quam jus alienum servemus." (Huberus, tom. 2, lib. 1, tit. 3; 2 Fontblanque, p. 444.) 'That third party in this instance is the Commonwealth of Virginia, and her policy and interests are also to be attended to. These turn the scale against the lex loci in the present instance.'
The second or last-mentioned position assumed for the plaintiff under the pleas in bar, as it rests mainly if not solely upon the provision of the act of Congress of March 6, 1820, prohibiting slavery in Upper Louisiana north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, popularly called the Missouri Compromise, that assumption renews the question, formerly so [60 U.S. 393, 488] zealously debated, as to the validity of the provision in the act of Congress, and upon the constitutional competency of Congress to establish it.
Before proceeding, however, to examine the validity of the prohibitory provision of the law, it may, so far as the rights involved in this cause are concerned, be remarked, that conceding to that provision the validity of a legitimate exercise of power, still this concession could by no rational interpretation imply the slightest authority for its operation beyond the territorial limits comprised within its terms; much less could there be inferred from it a power to destroy or in any degree to control rights, either of person or property, entirely within the bounds of a distinct and independent sovereignty-rights invested and fortified by the guaranty of that sovereignty. These surely would remain in all their integrity, whatever effect might be ascribed to the prohibition within the limits defined by its language.
But, beyond and in defiance of this conclusion, inevitable and undeniable as it appears, upon every principle of justice or sound induction, it has been attempted to convert this prohibitory provision of the act of 1820 not only into a weapon with which to assail the inherent- the necessarily inherent-powers of independent sovereign Governments, but into a mean of forfeiting that equality of rights and immunities which are the birthright or the donative from the Constitution of every citizen of the United States within the length and breadth of the nation. In this attempt, there is asserted a power in Congress, whether from incentives of interest, ignorance, faction, partiality, or prejudice, to bestow upon a portion of the citizens of this nation that which is the common property and privilege of all-the power, in fine, of confiscation, in retribution for no offence, or, if for an offence, for that of accidental locality only.
It may be that, with respect to future cases, like the one now before the court, there is felt an assurance of the impotence of such a pretension; still, the fullest conviction of that result can impart to it no claim to forbearance, nor dispenase with the duty of antipathy and disgust at its sinister aspect, whenever it may be seen to scowl upon the justice, the order, the tranquillity, and fraternal feeling, which are the surest, nay, the only means, of promoting or preserving the happiness and prosperity of the nation, and which were the great and efficient incentives to the formation of this Government.
The power of Congress to impose the prohibition in the eighth section of the act of 1820 has been advocated upon an attempted construction of the second clause of the third section [60 U.S. 393, 489] of the fourth article of the Constitution, which declares that 'Congress shall have power to dispose of and to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory and other property belonging to the United States.'
In the discussions in both houses of Congress, at the time of adopting this eighth section of the act of 1820, great weight was given to the peculiar language of this clause, viz: territory and other property belonging to the United States, as going to show that the power of disposing of and regulating, thereby vested in Congress, was restricted to a proprietary interest in the territory or land comprised therein, and did not extend to the personal or political rights of citizens or settlers, inasmuch as this phrase in the Constitution, 'territory or other property,' identified territory with property, and inasmuch as citizens or persons could not be property, and especially were not property belonging to the United States. And upon every principle of reason or necessity, this power to dispose of and to regulate the territory of the nation could be designed to extend no farther than to its preservation and appropriation to the uses of those to whom it belonged, viz: the nation. Scarcely anything more illogical or extravagant can be imagined than the attempt to deduce from this provision in the Constitution a power to destroy or in any wise to impair the civil and political rights of the citizens of the United States, and much more so the power to establish inequalities amongst those citizens by creating privileges in one class of those citizens, and by the disfranchisement of other portions or classes, by degrading them from the position they previously occupied.
There can exist no rational or natural connection or affinity between a pretension like this and the power vested by the Constitution in Congress with regard to the Territories; on the contrary, there is an absolute incongruity between them.
But whatever the power vested in Congress, and whatever the precise subject to which that power extended, it is clear that the power related to a subject appertaining to the United States, and one to be disposed of and regulated for the benefit and under the authority of the United States. Congress was made simply the agent or trustee for the United States, and could not, without a breach of trust and a fraud, appropriate the subject of the trust to any other beneficiary or cestui que trust than the United States, or to the people of the United States, upon equal grounds, legal or equitable. Congress could not appropriate that subject to any one class or portion of the people, to the exclusion of others, politically and constitutionally equals; but every citizen would, if any one [60 U.S. 393, 490] could claim it, have the like rights of purchase, settlement, occupation, or any other right, in the national territory.
Nothing can be more conclusive to show the equality of this with every other right in all the citizens of the United States, and the iniquity and absurdity of the pretension to exclude or to disfranchise a portion of them because they are the owners of slaves, than the fact that the same instrument, which imparts to Congress its very existence and its every function, guaranties to the slaveholder the title to his property, and gives him the right to its reclamation throughout the entire extent of the nation; and, farther, that the only private property which the Constitution has specifically recognised, and has imposed it as a direct obligation both on the States and the Federal Government to protect and enforce, is the property of the master in his slave; no other right of property is placed by the Constitution upon the same high ground, nor shielded by a similar guaranty.
Can there be imputed to the sages and patriots by whom the Constitution was framed, or can there be detected in the text of that Constitution, or in any rational construction or implication deducible therefrom, a contradiction so palpable as would exist between a pledge to the slaveholder of an equality with his fellow-citizens, and of the formal and solemn assurance for the security and enjoyment of his property, and a warrant given, as it were uno flatu, to another, to rob him of that property, or to subject him to proscription and disfranchisement for possessing or for endeavoring to retain it? The injustice and extravagance necessarily implied in a supposition like this, cannot be rationally imputed to the patriotic or the honest, or to those who were merely sane.
A conclusion in favor of the prohibitory power in Congress, as asserted in the eighth section of the act of 1820, has been attempted, as deducible from the precedent of the ordinance of the convention of 1787, concerning the cession by Virginia of the territory northwest of the Ohio; the provision in which ordinance, relative to slavery, it has been attempted to impose upon other and subsequently-acquired territory.
The first circumstance which, in the consideration of this provision, impresses itself upon my mind, is its utter futility and want of authority. This court has, in repeated instances, ruled, that whatever may have been the force accorded to this ordinance of 1787 at the period of its enactment, its authority and effect ceased, and yielded to the paramount authority of the Constitution, from the period of the adoption of the latter. Such is the principle ruled in the cases of Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan, (3 How., 212,) Parmoli v. The First Municipality of [60 U.S. 393, 491] New Orleans, (3 How., 589,) Strader v. Raham, (16 How., 82.) But apart from the superior control of the Constitution, and anterior to the adoption of that instrument, it is obvious that the inhibition in question never had and never could have any legitimate and binding force. We may seek in vain for any power in the convention, either to require or to accept a condition or restriction upon the cession like that insisted on; a condition inconsistent with, and destructive of, the object of the grant. The cession was, as recommended by the old Congress in 1780, made originally and completed in terms to the United States, and for the benefit of the United States, i. e., for the people, all the people, of the United States. The condition subsequently sought to be annexed in 1787 , (declared, too, to be perpetual and immutable,) being contradictory to the terms and destructive of the purposes of the cession, and after the cession was consummated, and the powers of the ceding party terminated, and the rights of the grantees, the people of the United States, vested, must necessarily, so far, have been ab initio void. With respect to the power of the convention to impose this inhibition, it seems to be pertinent in this place to recur to the opinion of one cotemporary with the establishment of the Government, and whose distinguished services in the formation and adoption of our national charter, point him out as the artifex maximus of our Federal system. James Madison, in the year 1819, speaking with reference to the prohibitory power claimed by Congress, then threatening the very existence of the Union, remarks of the language of the second clause of the third section of article fourth of the Constitution, 'that it cannot be well extended beyond a power over the territory as property, and the power to make provisions really needful or necessary for the government of settlers, until ripe for admission into the Union.'
Again he says, 'with respect to what has taken place in the Northwest territory, it may be observed that the ordinance giving it is distinctive character on the subject of slaveholding proceeded from the old Congress, acting with the best intentions, but under a charter which contains no shadow of the authority exercised; and it remains to be decided how far the States formed within that territory, and admitted into the Union, are on a different footing from its other members as to their legislative sovereignty. As to the power of admitting new States into the Federal compact, the questions offering themselves are, whether Congress can attach conditions, or the new States concur in conditions, which after admission would abridge or enlarge the constitutional rights of legislation common to other States; whether Congress can, by a compact [60 U.S. 393, 492] with a new State, take power either to or from itself, or place the new member above or below the equal rank and rights possessed by the others; whether all such stipulations expressed or implied would not be nullities, and be so pronounced when brought to a practical test. It falls within the scope of your inquiry to state the fact, that there was a proposition in the convention to discriminate between the old and the new States by an article in the Constitution. The proposition, happily, was rejected. The effect of such a discrimination is sufficiently evident.' 
In support of the ordinance of 1787, there may be adduced the semblance at least of obligation deductible from compact, the form of assent or agreement between the grantor and grantee; but this form or similitude, as is justly remarked by Mr. Madison, is rendered null by the absence of power or authority in the contracting parites, and by the more intrinsic and essential defect of incompatibility with the rights and avowed purposes of those parties, and with their relative duties and obligations to others. If, then, with the attendant formalities of assent or compact, the restrictive power claimed was void as to the immediate subject of the ordinance, how much more unfounded must be the pretension to such a power as derived from that source, (viz: the ordinance of 1787,) with respect to territory acquired by purchase or conquest under the supreme authority of the Constitution-territory not the subject of mere donation, but obtained in the name of all, by the combined efforts and resources of all, and with no condition annexed or pretended.
In conclusion, my opinion is, that the decision of the Circuit Court, upon the law arising upon the several pleas in bar, is correct, but that it is erroneous in having sustained the demurrer to the plea in abatement of the jurisdiction; that for this error the decision of the Circuit Court should be reversed, and the cause remanded to that court, with instructions to abate the action, for the reason set forth and pleaded in the plea in abatement.
In the aforegoing examination of this cause, the circumstance that the questions involved therein had been previously adjudged between these parties by the court of the State of Missouri, has not been adverted to; for although it has been ruled by this court, that in instances of concurrent jurisdiction, the court first obtaining possession or cognizance of the controversy should retain and decide it, yet, as in this case there had [60 U.S. 393, 493] been no plea, either of a former judgment or of autre action pendent, it was thought that the fact of a prior decision, however conclusive it might have been if regularly pleaded, could not be incidentally taken into view.
Mr. Justice CAMPBELL concurring
I concur in the judgment pronounced by the Chief Justice, but the importance of the cause, the expectation and interest it has awakened, and the responsibility involved in its determination, induce me to file a separate opinion.
The case shows that the plaintiff, in the year 1834, was a negro slave in Missouri, the property of Dr. Emerson, a surgeon in the army of the United States. In 1834, his master took him to the military station at Rock Island, on the border of Illinois, and in 1836 to Fort Snelling, in the present Minnesota, then Wisconsin, Territory. While at Fort Snelling, the plaintiff married a slave who was there with her master, and two children have been born of this connection; one during the journey of the family in returning to Missouri, and the other after their return to that State.
Since 1838, the plaintiff and the members of his family have been in Missouri in the condition of slaves. The object of this suit is to establish their freedom. The defendant, who claims the plaintiff and his family, under the title of Dr. Emerson, denied the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, by the plea that the plaintiff was a negro of African blood, the descendant of Africans who had been imported and sold in this country as slaves, and thus he had no capacity as a citizen of Missouri to maintain a suit in the Circuit Court. The court sustained a demurrer to this plea, a trial was then had upon the general issue, and special pleas to the effect that the plaintiff and his family were slaves belonging to the defendant.
My opinion in this case is not affected by the plea to the jurisdiction, and I shall not discuss the questions it suggests. The claim of the plaintiff to freedom depends upon the effect to be given to his absence from Missouri, in company with his master, in Illinois and Minnesota, and this effect is to be ascertained by a reference to the laws of Missouri. For the trespass complained of was committed upon one claiming to be a freeman and a citizen, in that State, and who had been living for years under the dominion of its laws. And the rule is, that whatever is a justification where the thing is done, must be a justification in the forum where the case is tried. (20 How. St. Tri., 234; Cowp. S. C., 161.)
The Constitution of Missouri recognises slavery as a legal condition, extends guaranties to the masters of slaves, and invites [60 U.S. 393, 494]
immigrants to introduce them, as property, by a promise of protection. The laws of the State charge the master with the custody of the slave, and provide for the maintenance and security of their relation.
The Federal Constitution and the acts of Congress provide for the return of escaping slaves within the limits of the Union. No removal of the slave beyond the limits of the State, against the consent of the master, nor residence there in another condition, would be regarded as an effective manumission by the courts of Missouri, upon his return to the State. 'Sicut liberis captis status restituitur sic servus domino.' Nor can the master emancipate the slave within the State, except through the agency of a public authority. The inquiry arises, whether the manumission of the slave is effected by his removal, with the consent of the master, to a community where the law of slavery does not exist, in a case where neither the master nor slave discloses a purpose to remain permanently, and where both parties have continued to maintain their existing relations. What is the law of Missouri in such a case? Similar inquiries have arisen in a great number of suits, and the discussions in the State courts have relieved the subject of much of its difficulty. (12 B. M. Ky. R., 545; Foster v. Foster, 10 Gratt. Va. R., 485; 4 Har. and McH. Md. R., 295; Scott v. Emerson, 15 Misso., 576; 4 Rich. S. C. R., 186; 17 Misso., 434; 15 Misso., 596; 5 B. M., 173; 8 B. M., 540, 633; 9 B. M., 565; 5 Leigh, 614; 1 Raud., 15; 18 Pick., 193.)
The result of these discussions is, that in general, the Status, or civil and political capacity of a person, is determined, in the first instance, by the law of the domicil where he is born; that the legal effect on persons, arising from the operation of the law of that domicil, is not indelible, but that a new capacity or status may be acquired by a change of domicil. That questions of status are closely connected with considerations arising out of the social and political organization of the State where they originate, and each sovereign power must deter mine them within its own territories.
A large class of cases has been decided upon the second of the propositions above stated, in the Southern and Western courts-cases in which the law of the actual domicil was adjudged to have altered the native condition and status of the slave, although he had never actually possessed the status of freedom in that domicil. (Rankin v. Lydia, 2 A. K. M.; Herny v. Decker, Walk., 36; 4 Mart., 385; 1 Misso., 472; Hunter v. Fulcher, 1 Leigh.)
I do not impugn the authority of these cases. No evidence is found in the record to establish the existence of a domicil [60 U.S. 393, 495] acquired by the master and slave, either in Illinois or Minnesota. The master is described as an officer of the army, who was transferred from one station to another, along the Western frontier, in the line of his duty, and who, after performing the usual tours of service, returned to Missouri; these slaves returned to Missouri with him, and had been there for near fifteen years, in that condition, when this suit was instituted. But absence, in the performance of military duty, without more, is a fact of no importance in determining a question of a change of domicil. Questions of that kind depend upon acts and intentions, and are ascertained from motives, pursuits, the condition of the family, and fortune of the party, and no change will be inferred, unless evidence shows that one domicil was abandoned, and there was an intention to acquire another. (11 L. and Eq., 6; 6 Exch., 217; 6 M. and W., 511; 2 Curt. Ecc. R., 368.)
The cases first cited deny the authority of a foreign law to dissolve relations which have been legally contracted in the State where the parties are, and have their actual domicil-relations which were never questioned during their absence from that State-relations which are consistent with the native capacity and condition of the respective parties, and with the policy of the State where they reside; but which relations were inconsistent with the policy or laws of the State or Territory within which they had been for a time, and from which they had returned, with these relations undisturbed. It is upon the assumption, that the law of Illinois or Minnesota was indelibly impressed upon the slave, and its consequences carried into Missouri, that the claim of the plaintiff depends. The importance of the case entitles the doctrine on which it rests to a careful examination.
It will be conceded, that in countries where no law or regulation prevails, opposed to the existence and consequences of slavery, persons who are born in that condition in a foreign State would not be liberated by the accident of their introgression. The relation of domestic slavery is recognised in the law of nations, and the interference of the authorities of one State with the rights of a master belonging to another, without a valid cause, is a violation of that law. (Wheat. Law of Na., 724; 5 Stats. at Large, 601; Calh. Sp., 378; Roports of the Com. U. S. and G. B ., 187, 238, 241.)
The public law of Europe formerly permitted a master to reclaim his bondsman, within a limited period, wherever he could find him, and one of the capitularies of Charlemagne abolishes the rule of prescription. He directs, 'that wheresoever, within the bounds of Italy, either the runaway slave of the king, or of [60 U.S. 393, 496] the church, or of any other man, shall be found by his master, he shall be restored without any bar or prescription of years; yet upon the provision that the master be a Frank or German, or of any other nation (foreign;) but if he be a Lombard or a Roman, he shall acquire or receive his slaves by that law which has been established from ancient times among them.' Without referring for precedents abroad, or to the colonial history, for similar instances, the history of the Confederation and Union affords evidence to attest the existence of this ancient law. In 1783, Congress directed General Washington to continue his remonstrances to the commander of the British forces respecting the permitting negroes belonging to the citizens of these States to leave New York, and to insist upon the discontinuance of that measure. In 1788, the resident minister of the United States at Madrid was instructed to obtain from the Spanish Crown orders to its Governors in Louisiana and Florida, 'to permit and facilitate the apprehension of fugitive slaves from the States, promising that the States would observe the like conduct respecting fugitives from Spanish subjects.' The committee that made the report of this resolution consisted of Hamilton, Madison, and Sedgwick, (2 Hamilton's Works, 473;) and the clause in the Federal Constitution providing for the restoration of fugitive slaves is a recognition of this ancient right, and of the principle that a change of place does not effect a change of condition. The diminution of the power of a master to reclaim his escaping bondsman in Europe commenced in the enactment of laws of prescription in favor of privileged communes. Bremen, Spire, Worms, Vienna, and Ratisbon, in Germany; Carcassonne, Beziers, Toulouse, and Paris, in France, acquired privileges on this subject at an early period. The ordinance of William the Conqueror, that a residence of any of the servile population of England, for a year and a day, without being claimed, in any city, burgh, walled town, or castle of the King, should entitle them to perpetual liberty, is a specimen of these laws.
The earliest publicist who has discussed this subject is Bodin, a jurist of the sixteenth century, whose work was quoted in the early discussions of the courts in France and England on this subject. He says: 'In France, although there be some remembrance of old servitude, yet it is not lawful here to make a slave or to buy any one of others, insomuch as the slaves of strangers, so soon as they set their foot within France, become frank and free, as was determined by an old decree of the court of Paris against an ambassador of Spain, who had brought a slave with him into France.' He states another case, which arose in the city of Toulouse, of a Genoese merchant, who had [60 U.S. 393, 497] carried a slave into that city on his voyage from Spain; and when the matter was brought before the magistrates, the 'procureur of the city, out of the records, showed certain ancient privileges given unto them of Tholouse, wherein it was granted that slaves, so soon as they should come into Tholouse, should be free.' These cases were cited with much approbation in the discussion of the claims of the West India slaves of Verdelin for freedom, in 1738, before the judges in admiralty, (15 Causes Celebres, p. 1; 2 Masse Droit Com., sec. 58,) and were reproduced before Lord Mansfield, in the cause of Somersett, in 1772. Of the cases cited by Bodin, it is to be observed that Charles V of France exempted all the inhabitants of Paris from serfdom, or other feudal incapacities, in 1371, and this was confirmed by several of his successors, (3 Dulaire Hist. de Par., 546; Broud. Court. de Par., 21,) and the ordinance of Toulouse is preserved as follows: 'Civitas Tholosana fuit et erit sine fine libera, adeo ut servi et ancillae, sclavi et sclavae, dominos sive dominas habentes, cum rebus vel sine rebus suis, ad Tholosam vel infraa terminos extra urbem terminatos accedentes acquirant libertatem.' (Hist. de Langue, tome 3, p. 69; Ibid. 6, p. 8; Loysel Inst., b. 1, sec. 6.)
The decisions were made upon special ordinances, or charters, which contained positive prohibitions of slavery, and where liberty had been granted as a privilege; and the history of Paris furnishes but little support for the boast that she was a 'sacro sancta civitas,' where liberty always had an asylum, or for the 'self-complacent rhapsodies' of the French advocates in the case of Verdelin, which amused the grave lawyers who argued the case of Somersett. The case of Verdelin was decided upon a special ordinance, which prescribed the conditions on which West India slaves might be introduced into France, and which had been disregarded by the master.
The case of Somersett was that of a Virginia slave carried to England by his master in 1770, and who remained there two years. For some cause, he was confined on a vessel destined to Jamaica, where he was to be sold. Lord Mansfield, upon a return to a habeas corpus, states the question involved. 'Here, the person of the slave himself,' he says, 'is the immediate subject of inquiry, Can any dominion, authority, or coercion, be exercised in this country, according to the American laws?' He answers: 'The difficulty of adopting the relation, without adopting it in all its consequences, is indeed extreme, and yet many of those consequences are absolutely contrary to the municipal law of England.' Again, he says: 'The return states that the slave departed, and refused to serve; whereupon, he was kept to be sold abroad.' 'So high [60 U.S. 393, 498] an act of dominion must be recognised by the law of the country where it is used. The power of the master over his slave has been extremely different in different countries.' 'The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasion, and time itself, from whence it was created, are erased from the memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law.' That there is a difference in the systems of States, which recognise and which do not recognise the institution of slavery, cannot be disguised. Constitutional law, punitive law, police, domestic economy, industrial pursuits, and amusements, the modes of thinking and of belief of the population of the respective communities, all show the profound influence exerted upon society by this single arrangement. This influence was discovered in the Federal Convention, in the deliberations on the plan of the Constitution. Mr. Madison observed, 'that the States were divided into different interests, not by their difference of size, but by other different interests, not by their difference of size, but by other circumstances; the principally from the effects of their having or not having slaves. These two causes concur in forming the great division of interests in the United States.'
The question to be raised with the opinion of Lord Mansfield, therefore, is not in respect to the incongruity of the two systems, but whether slavery was absolutely contrary to the law of England; for if it was so, clearly, the American laws could not operate there. Historical research ascertains that at the date of the Conquest the rural population of England were generally in a servile condition, and under various names, denoting noting slight variances in condition, they were sold with the land like cattle, and were a part of its living money. Traces of the existence of African slaves are to be found in the early chronicles. Parliament in the time of Richard II, and also of Henry VIII, refused to adopt a general law of emancipation. Acts of emancipation by the last- named monarch and by Elizabeth are preserved.
The African slave trade had been carried on, under the unbounded protection of the Crown, for near two centuries, when the case of Somersett was heard, and no motion for its suppression had ever been submitted to Parliament; while it was forced upon and maintained in unwilling colonies by the Parliament and Crown of England at that moment. Fifteen thousand negro slaves were then living in that island, where they had been introduced under the counsel of the most illustrious jurists of the realm, and such slaves had been publicly [60 U.S. 393, 499] sold for near a century in the markets of London. In the northern part of the kingdom of Great Britain there existed a class of from 30,000 to 40, 000 persons, of whom the Parliament said, in 1775, (15 George III, chap. 28,) 'many colliers, coal-heavers, and salters, are in a state of slavery or bondage, bound to the collieries and salt works, where they work for life, transferable with the collieries and salt works when their original masters have no use for them; and whereas the emancipating or setting free the colliers, coal-heavers, and salters, in Scotland, who are now in a state of servitude, gradually and upon reasonable conditions, would be the means of increasing the number of colliers, coal-heavers, and salters, to the great benefit of the public, without doing any injury to the present masters, and would remove the reproach of allowing such a state of servitude to exist in a free country,' &c.; and again, in 1799, 'they declare that many colliers and coal-heavers still continue in a state of bondage,' No statute, from the Conquest till the 15 George III, had been passed upon the subject of personal slavery. These facts have led the most eminent civilian of England to question the accuracy of this judgment, and to insinuate that in this judgment the offence of ampliare jurisdictionem by private authority was committed by the eminent magistrate who pronounced it.
This sentence is distinguishable from those cited from the French courts in this: that there positive prohibitions existed against slavery, and the right to freedom was conferred on the immigrant slave by positive law; whereas here the consequences of slavery merely-that is, the public policy-were found to be contrary to the law of slavery. The case of the slave Grace, (2 Hagg.,) with four others, came before Lord Stowell in 1827, by appeals from the West India vice admiralty courts. They were cases of slaves who had returned to those islands, after a residence in Great Britain, and where the claim to freedom was first presented in the colonial forum. The learned judge in that case said: 'This suit fails in its foundation. She (Grace) was not a free person; no injury is done her by her continuance in slavery, and she has no pretensions to any other station than that which was enjoyed by every slave of a family. If she depends upon such freedom conveyed by a mere residence in England, she complains of a violation of right which she possessed no longer than whilst she resided in England, but which totally expired when that residence ceased, and she was imported into Antigua.'
The decision of Lord Mansfield was, 'that so high an act of dominion' as the master exercises over his slave, in sending him abroad for sale, could not be exercised in England [60 U.S. 393, 500] under the American laws, and contrary to the spirit of their own.
The decision of Lord Stowell is, that the authority of the English laws terminated when the slave departed from England. That the laws of England were not imported into Antigua, with the slave, upon her return, and that the colonial forum had no warrant for applying a foreign code to dissolve relations which had existed between persons belonging to that island, and which were legal according to its own system. There is no distinguishable difference between the case before us and that determined in the admiralty of Great Britain.
The complaint here, in my opinion, amounts to this: that the judicial tribunals of Missouri have not denounced as odious the Constitution and laws under which they are organized, and have not superseded them on their own private authority, for the purpose of applying the laws of Illinois, or those passed by Congress for Minnesota, in their stead. The eighth section of the act of Congress of the 6th of March, 1820, (3 Statutes at Large, 545,) entitled, 'An act to authorize the people of Missouri to form a State Government,' &c., & c., is referred to, as affording the authority to this court to pronounce the sentence which the Supreme Court of Missouri felt themselves constrained to refuse. That section of the act prohibits slavery in the district of country west of the Mississippi, north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, which belonged to the ancient province of Louisiana, not included in Missouri.
It is a settled doctrine of this court, that the Federal Government can exercise no power over the subject of slavery within the States, nor control the intermigration of slaves, other than fugitives, among the States. Nor can that Government affect the duration of slavery within the States, other than by a legislation over the foreign slave trade. The power of Congress to adopt the section of the act above cited must therefore depend upon some condition of the Territories which distinguishes them from States, and subjects them to a control more extended. The third section of the fourth article of the Constitution is referred to as the only and all-sufficient grant to support this claim. It is, that 'new States may be admitted by the Congress to this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State, nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of State, without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress. The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property [60 U.S. 393, 501] belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State.'
It is conceded, in the decisions of this court, that Congress may secure the rights of the United States in the public domain, provide for the sale or lease of any part of it, and establish the validity of the titles of the purchasers, and may organize Territorial Governments, with powers of legislation. (3 How., 212; 12 How., 1; 1 Pet., 511; 13 P., 436; 16 H., 164.)
But the recognition of a plenary power in Congress to dispose of the public domain, or to organize a Government over it, does not imply a corresponding authority to determine the internal polity, or to adjust the domestic relations, or the persons who may lawfully inhabit the territory in which it is situated. A supreme power to make needful rules respecting the public domain, and a similar power of framing laws to operate upon persons and things within the territorial limits where it lies, are distinguished by broad lines of demarcation in American history. This court has assisted us to define them. In Johnson v. McIntosh, (8 Wheat., 595-543,) they say: 'According to the theory of the British Constitution, all vacant lands are vested in the Crown; and the exclusive power to grant them is admitted to reside in the Crown, as a branch of the royal prerogative.
'All the lands we hold were originally granted by the Crown, and the establishment of a royal Government has never been considered as impairing its right to grant lands within the chartered limits of such colony.'
And the British Parliament did claim a supremacy of legislation coextensive with the absoluteness of the dominion of the sovereign over the Crown lands. The American doctrine, to the contrary, is embodied in two brief resolutions of the people of Pennsylvania, in 1774: 1st. 'That the inhabitants of these colonies are entitled to the same rights and liberties, within the colonies, that the subjects born in England are entitled within the realm.' 2d. 'That the power assumed by Parliament to bind the people of these colonies by statutes, in all cases whatever, is unconstitutional, and therefore the source of these unhappy difficulties.' The Congress of 1774, in their statement of rights and grievances, affirm 'a free and exclusive power of legislation' in their several Provincial Legislatures, 'in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed.' (1 Jour. Cong., 32.)
The unanimous consent of the people of the colonies, then, [60 U.S. 393, 502] to the power of their sovereign, 'to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory' of the Crown, in 1774, was deemed by them as entirely consistent with opposition, remonstrance, the renunciation of allegiance, and proclamation of civil war, in preference to submission to his claim of supreme power in the territories.
I pass now to the evidence afforded during the Revolution and Confederation. The American Revolution was not a social revolution. It did not alter the domestic condition or capacity of persons within the colonies, nor was it designed to disturb the domestic relations existing among them. It was a political revolution, by which thirteen dependent colonies became thirteen independent States. 'The Declaration of Independence was not,' says Justice Chase, 'a declaration that the United Colonies jointly, in a collective capacity, were independent States, &c., & c., &c., but that each of them was a sovereign and independent State; that is, that each of them had a right to govern itself by its own authority and its own laws, without any control from any other power on earth.' (3 Dall., 199; 4 Cr., 212.)
These sovereign and independent States, being united as a Confederation, by various public acts of cession, became jointly interested in territory, and concerned to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting it. It is a conclusion not open to discussion in this court, 'that there was no territory within the ( original) United States, that was claimed by them in any other right than that of some of the confederate States.' (Harcourt v. Gaillord, 12 Wh., 523.) 'The question whether the vacant lands within the United States,' says Chief Justice Marshall, 'became joint property, or belonged to the separate States, was a momentous question, which threatened to shake the American Confederacy to its foundations. This important and dangerous question has been compromised, and the compromise is not now to be contested.' (6 C. R., 87.)
The cessions of the States to the Confederation were made on the condition that the territory ceded should be laid out and formed into distinct republican States, which should be admitted as members to the Federal Union, having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the other States. The first effort to fulfil this trust was made in 1785, by the offer of a charter or compact to the inhabitants who might come to occupy the land.
Those inhabitants were to form for themselves temporary State Governments, founded on the Constitutions of any of the States, but to be alterable at the will of their Legislature; and [60 U.S. 393, 503] permanent Governments were to succeed these, whenever the population became sufficiently numerous to authorize the State to enter the Confederacy; and Congress assumed to obtain powers from the States to facilitate this object. Neither in the deeds of cession of the States, nor in this compact, was a sovereign power for Congress to govern the Territories asserted. Congress retained power, by this act, 'to dispose of and to make rules and regulations respecting the public domain,' but submitted to the people to organize a Government harmonious with those of the confederate States.
The next stage in the progress of colonial government was the adoption of the ordinance of 1787, by eight States, in which the plan of a Territorial Government, established by act of Congress, is first seen. This was adopted while the Federal Convention to form the Constitution was sitting. The plan placed the Government in that hands of a Governor, Secretary, and Judges, appointed by Congress, and conferred power on them to select suitable laws from the codes of the States, until the population should equal 5,000. A Legislative Council, elected by the people, was then to be admitted to a share of the legislative authority, under the supervision of Congress; and States were to be formed whenever the number of the population should authorize the measure.
This ordinance was addressed to the inhabitants as a fundamental compact, and six of its articles define the conditions to be observed in their Constitution and laws. These conditions were designed to fulfil the trust in the agreements of cession, that the States to be formed of the ceded Territories should be 'distinct republican States.' This ordinance was submitted to Virginia in 1788, and the 5th article, embodying as it does a summary of the entire act, was specifically ratified and confirmed by that State. This was an incorporation of the ordinance into her act of cession. It was conceded, in the argument, that the authority of Congress was not adequate to the enactment of the ordinance, and that it cannot be supported upon the Articles of Confederation. To a part of the engagements, the assent of nine States was required, and for another portion no provision had been made in those articles. Mr. Madison said, in a writing nearly contemporary, but before the confirmatory act of Virginia, 'Congress have proceeded to form new States, to erect temporary Governments, to appoint officers for them, and to prescribe the conditions on which such States shall be admitted into the Confederacy; all this has been done, and done without the least color of constitutional authority.' ( Federalist, No. 38.) Richard Henry Lee, one of the committee who reported the ordinance to Congress, [60 U.S. 393, 504] transmitted it to General Washington, (15th July, 1787,) saying, 'It seemed necessary, for the security of property among uninformed and perhaps licentious people, as the greater part of those who go there are, that a strong-toned Government should exist, and the rights of property be clearly defined.' The consent of all the States represented in Congress, the consent of the Legislature of Virginia, the consent of the inhabitants of the Territory, all concur to support the authority of this enactment. It is apparent, in the frame of the Constitution, that the Convention recognised its validity, and adjusted parts of their work with reference to it. The authority to admit new States into the Union, the omission to provide distinctly for Territorial Governments, and the clause limiting the foreign slave trade to States then existing, which might not prohibit it, show that they regarded this Territory as provided with Government, and organized permanently with a restriction on the subject of slavery. Justice Chase, in the opinion already cited, says of the Government before, and it is in some measure true during the Confederation, that 'the powers of Congress originated from necessity, and arose out of and were only limited by events, or, in other words, they were revolutionary in their very nature. Their extent depended upon the exigencies and necessities of public affairs;' and there is only one rule of construction, in regard to the acts done, which will fully support them, viz: that the powers actually exercised were rightfully exercised, wherever they were supported by the implied sanction of the State Legislatures, and by the ratifications of the people.
The clauses in the 3d section of the 4th article of the Constitution, relative to the admission of new States, and the disposal and regulation of the territory of the United States, were adopted without debate in the Convention.
There was a warm discussion on the clauses that relate to the subdivision of the States, and the reservation of the claims of the United States and each of the States from any prejudice. The Maryland members revived the controversy in regard to the Crown lands of the Southwest. There was nothing to indicate any reference to a government of Territories not included within the limits of the Union; and the whole discussion demonstrates that the Convention was consciously dealing with a Territory whose condition, as to government, had been arranged by a fundamental and unalterable compact.
An examination of this clause of the Constitution, by the light of the circumstances in which the Convention was placed, will aid us to determine its significance. The first clause is, 'that new States may be admitted by the Congress to this [60 U.S. 393, 505] Union.' The condition of Kentucky, Vermont, Rhode Island, and the new States to be formed in the Northwest, suggested this, as a necessary addition to the powers of Congress. The next clause, providing for the subdivision of States, and the parties to consent to such an alteration, was required, by the plans on foot, for changes in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia. The clause which enables Congress to dispose of and make regulations respecting the public domain, was demanded by the exigencies of an exhausted treasury and a disordered finance, for relief by sales, and the preparation for sales, of the public lands; and the last clause, that nothing in the Constitution should prejudice the claims of the United States or a particular State, was to quiet the jealousy and irritation of those who had claimed for the United States all the unappropriated lands. I look in vain, among the discussions of the time, for the assertion of a supreme sovereignty for Congress over the territory then belonging to the United States, or that they might thereafter acquire. I seek in vain for an annunciation that a consolidated power had been inaugurated, whose subject comprehended an empire, and which had no restriction but the discretion of Congress. This disturbing element of the Union entirely escaped the apprehensive previsions of Samuel Adams, George Clinton, Luther Martin, and Patrick Henry; and, in respect to dangers from power vested in a central Government over distant settlements, colonies, or provinces, their instincts were always alive. Not a word escaped them, to warn their countrymen, that here was a power to threaten the landmarks of this federative Union, and with them the safeguards of popular and constitutional liberty; or that under this article there might be introduced, on our soil, a single Government over a vast extent of country-a Government foreign to the persons over whom it might be exercised, and capable of binding those not represented, by statutes, in all cases whatever. I find nothing to authorize these enormous pretensions, nothing in the expositions of the friends of the Constitution, nothing in the expressions of alarm by its opponents- expressions which have since been developed as prophecies. Every portion of the United States was then provided with a municipal Government, which this Constitution was not designed to supersede, but merely to modify as to its conditions.
The compacts of cession by North Carolina and Georgia are subsequent to the Constitution. They adopt the ordinance of 1787, except the clause respecting slavery. But the precautionary repudiation of that article forms an argument quite as satisfactory to the advocates for Federal power, as its introduction [60 U.S. 393, 506] would have done. The refusal of a power to Congress to legislate in one place, seems to justify the seizure of the same power when another place for its exercise is found.
This proceeds from a radical error, which lies at the foundation of much of this discussion. It is, that the Federal Government may lawfully do whatever is not directly prohibited by the Constitution. This would have been a fundamental error, if no amendments to the Constitution had been made. But the final expression of the will of the people of the States, in the 10th amendment, is, that the powers of the Federal Government are limited to the grants of the Constitution.
Before the cession of Georgia was made, Congress asserted rights, in respect to a part of her territory, which require a passing notice. In 1798 and 1800, acts for the settlement of limits with Georgia, and to establish a Government in the Mississippi Territory, were adopted. A Territorial Government was organized, between the Chattahoochee and Mississippi rivers. This was within the limits of Georgia. These acts dismembered Georgia. They established a separate Government upon her soil, while they rather derisively professed, 'that the establishment of that Government shall in no respects impair the rights of the State of Georgia, either to the jurisdiction or soil of the Territory.' The Constitution provided that the importation of such persons as any of the existing States shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by Congress before 1808. By these enactments, a prohibition was placed upon the importation of salves into Georgia, although her Legislature had made none.
This court have repeatedly affirmed the paramount claim of Georgia to this Territory. They have denied the existence of any title in the United States. (6 C. R., 87; 12 Wh., 523; 3 How., 212; 13 How., 381.) Yet these acts were cited in the argument as precedents to show the power of Congress in the Territories. These statutes were the occasion of earnest expostulation and bitter remonstrance on the part of the authorities of the State, and the memory of their injustice and wrong remained long after the legal settlement of the controversy by the compact of 1802. A reference to these acts terminates what I have to say upon the Constitutions of the Territory within the original limits of the United States. These Constitutions were framed by the concurrence of the States making the cessions, and Congress, and were tendered to immigrants who might be attracted to the vacant territory. The legislative powers of the officers of this Government were limited to the selection of laws from the States; and provision was made for the introduction of popular institutions, and their emancipation [60 U.S. 393, 507] from Federal control, whenever a suitable opportunity occurred. The limited reservation of legislative power to the officers of the Federal Government was excused, on the plea of necessity; and the probability is, that the clauses respecting slavery embody some compromise among the statesmen of that time; beyond these, the distinguishing features of the system which the patriots of the Revolution had claimed as their birthright, from Great Britain, predominated in them. The acquisition of Louisiana, in 1803, introduced another system into the United States. This vast province was ceded or Spain. To establish a Government had always been accustomed to a viceroyal Government, appointed by the Crowns of France or Spain. To estabish a Government constituted on similar principles, and with like conditions, was not an unnatural proceeding. But there was great difficulty in finding constitutional authority for the measure. The third section of the fourth article of the Constitution was introduced into the Constitution, on the motion of Mr. Gouverneur Morris. In 1803, he was appealed to for information in regard to its meaning. He answers: 'I am very certain I had it not in contemplation to insert a decree de coercendo imperio in the Constitution of America. ... I knew then, as well as I do now, that all North America must at length be annexed to us. Happy indeed, if the lust of dominion stop here. It would therefore have been perfectly utopian to oppose a paper restriction to the violence of popular sentiment, in a popular Government.' (3 Mor. Writ., 185.) A few days later, he makes another reply to his correspondent. 'I perceive,' he says, 'I mistook the drift of your inquiry, which substantially is, whether Congress can admit, as a new State, terriroty which did not belong to the United States when the Constitution was made. In my opinion, they cannot. I always thought, when we should acquire Canada and Louisiana, it would be proper to GOVERN THEM AS PROVINCES, AND ALLOW THEM NO VOICE in our councils. In wording the third SECTION OF THE fourth article, I went as far as circumstances would permit, to establish the exclusion. CANDOR OBLIGES ME TO ADD MY BELIEF, THAT HAD IT BEEN MORE POINTEDLY EXPRESSED, A STRONG OPPOSITION WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE.' (3 Mor. Writ., 192.) The first Territorial Government of Louisiana was an Imperial one, founded upon a French or Spanish model. For a time, the Governor, Judges, Legislative Council, Marshal, Secretary, and officers of the militia, were appointed by the President. 
[60 U.S. 393, 508] Besides these anomalous arrangements, the acquisition gave rise to jealous inquiries, as to the influence it would exert in determining the men and States that were to be 'the arbiters and rulers' of the destinies of the Union; and unconstitutional opinions, having for their aim to promote sectional divisions, were announced and developed. 'Something,' said an eminent statesman, 'something has suggested to the members of Congress the policy of acquiring geographical majorities. This is a very direct step towards disunion, for it must foster the geographical enmities by which alone it can be effected. This something must be a contemplation of particular advantages to be derived from such majorities; and is it not notorious that they consist of nothing else but usurpations over persons and property, by which they can regulate the internal wealth and prosperity of States and individuals?'
The most dangerous of the efforts to employ a geographical political power, to perpetuate a geographical preponderance in the Union, is to be found in the deliberations upon the act of the 6th of March, 1820, before cited. The attempt consisted of a proposal to exclude Missouri from a place in the Union, unless her people would adopt a Constitution containing a prohibition upon the subject of slavery, according to a prescription of Congress. The sentiment is now general, if not universal, that Congress had no constitutional power to impose the restriction. This was frankly admitted at the bar, in the course of this argument. The principles which this court have pronounced condemn the pretension then made on behalf of the legislative department. In Groves v. Slaughter, (15 Pet.,) the Chief Justice said: 'The power over this subject is exclusively with the several States, and each of them has a right to decide for itself whether it will or will not allow persons of this description to be brought within its limits.' Justice McLean said: 'The Constitution of the United States operates alike in all the States, and one State has the same power over the subject of slavery as every other State.' In Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan, (3 How., 212,) the court say: 'The United States have no constitutional capacity to exercise municipal [60 U.S. 393, 509] jurisdiction, sovereignty, or eminent domain, within the limits of a State or elsewhere, except in cases where it is delegated, and the court denies the faculty of the Federal Government to add to its powers by treaty or compact.'
This is a necessary consequence, resulting from the nature of the Federal Constitution, which is a federal compact among the States, establishing a limited Government, with powers delegated by the people of distinct and independent communities, who reserved to their State Governments, and to themselves, the powers they did not grant. This claim to impose a restriction upon the people of Missouri involved a denial of the constitutional relations between the people of the States and Congress, and affirmed a concurrent right for the latter, with their people, to constitute the social and political system of the new States. A successful maintenance of this claim would have altered the basis of the Constitution. The new States would have become members of a Union defined in part by the Constitution and in part by Congress. They would not have been admitted to 'this Union.' Their sovereignty would have been restricted by Congress as well as the Constitution. The demand was unconstitutional and subversive, but was prosecuted with an energy, and aroused such animosities among the people, that patriots, whose confidence had not failed during the Revolution, begain to despair for the Constitution. 
Amid the utmost violence of this extraordinary contest, the expedient contained in the eighth section of this act was proposed, to moderate it, and to avert the catastrophe it menaced. It was not seriously debated, nor were its constitutional aspects severely scrutinized by Congress. For the first time, in the history of the country, has its operation been embodied in a case at law, and been presented to this court for their judgment. The inquiry is, whether there are conditions in the Constitutions of the Territories which subject the capacity and status of persons within their limits to the direct action of Congress. Can Congress determine the condition and status of persons who inhabit the Territories?
The Constitution permits Congress to dispose of and to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States. This power applies as well to territory belonging to the United States within the States, as beyond them. It comprehends all the public domain, wherever it may be. The argument is, that [60 U.S. 393, 510] the power to make 'ALL needful rules and regulations' 'is a power of legislation,' 'a full legislative power;' 'that it includes all subjects of legislation in the territory,' and is without any limitations, except the positive prohibitions which affect all the powers of Congress. Congress may then regulate or prohibit slavery upon the public domain within the new States, and such a prohibition would permanently affect the capacity of a slave, whose master might carry him to it. And why not? Because no power has been conferred on Congress. This is a conclusion universally admitted. But the power to 'make rules and regulations respecting the territory' is not restrained by State lines, nor are there any constitutional prohibitions upon its exercise in the domain of the United States within the States; and whatever rules and regulations respecting territory Congress may constitutionally make are supreme, and are not dependent on the situs of 'the territory.'
The author of the Farmer's Letters, so famous in the ante- revolutionary history, thus states the argument made by the American loyalists in favor of the claim of the British Parliament to legislate in all cases whatever over the colonies: 'It has been urged with great vehemence against us,' he says, 'and it seems to be thought their FORT by our adversaries, that a power of regulation is a power of legislation; and a power of legislation, if constitutional, must be universal and supreme, in the utmost sense of the word. It is therefore concluded that the colonies, by acknowledging the power of regulation, acknowledged every other power.'
This sophism imposed upon a portion of the patriots of that day. Chief Justice Marshall, in his life of Washington, says 'that many of the best-informed men in Massachusetts had perhaps adopted the opinion of the parliamentary right of internal government over the colonies;' 'that the English statute book furnishes many instances of its exercise;' 'that in no case recollected, was their authority openly controverted;' and 'that the General Court of Massachusetts, on a late occasion, openly recognised the principle.' (Marsh. Wash., v. 2, p. 75, 76.)
But the more eminent men of Massachusetts rejected it; and another patriot of the time employs the instance to warn us of 'the stealth with which oppression approaches,' and 'the enormities towards which precedents travel.' And the people of the United States, as we have seen, appealed to the last argument, rather than acquiesce in their authority. Could it have been the purpose of Washington and his illustrious associates, by the use of ambiguous, equivocal, and expansive [60 U.S. 393, 511] words, such as 'rules,' 'regulations,' 'territory,' to re-establish in the Constitution of their country that fort which had been prostrated amid the toils and with the sufferings and sacrifices of seven years of war? Are these words to be understood as the Norths, the Grenvilles, Hillsboroughs, Hutchinsons, and Dunmores-in a word, as George III would have understood them-or are we to look for their interpretation to Patrick Henry or Samuel Adams, to Jefferson, and Jay, and Dickinson; to the sage Franklin, or to Hamilton, who from his early manhood was engaged in combating British constructions of such words? We know that the resolution of Congress of 1780 contemplated that the new States to be formed under their recommendation were to have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the old. That every resolution, cession, compact, and ordinance, of the States, observed the same liberal principle. That the Union of the Constitution is a union formed of equal States; and that new States, when admitted, were to enter 'this Union.' Had another union been proposed in 'any pointed manner,' it would have encountered not only 'strong' but successful opposition. The disunion between Great Britain and her colonies originated in the antipathy of the latter to 'rules and regulations' made by a remote power respecting their internal policy. In forming the Constitution, this fact was ever present in the minds of its authors. The people were assured by their most trusted statesmen 'that the jurisdiction of the Federal Government is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all members of the republic,' and 'that the local or municipal authorities form distinct portions of supremacy, no more subject within their respective spheres to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them within its own sphere.' Still, this did not content them. Under the lead of Hancock and Samuel Adams, of Patrick Henry and George Mason, they demanded an explicit declaration that no more power was to be exercised than they had delegated. And the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution were designed to include the reserved rights of the States, and the people, within all the sanctions of that instrument, and to bind the authorities, State and Federal, by the judicial oath it prescribes, to their recognition and observance. Is it probable, therefore, that the supreme and irresponsible power, which is now claimed for Congress over boundless territories, the use of which cannot fail to react upon the political system of the States, to its subversion, was ever within the contemplation of the statesmen who conducted the counsels of the people in the formation of this Constitution? When [60 U.S. 393, 512] the questions that came to the surface upon the acquisition of Louisiana were presented to the mind of Jefferson, he wrote: 'I had rather ask an enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found necessary, than to assume it by a construction which would make our powers boundless. Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it blank paper by construction. I say the same as to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless. If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives. It specifies and delineates the operations permitted to the Federal Government, and gives the powers necessary to carry them into execution.' The publication of the journals of the Federal Convention in 1819, of the debates reported by Mr. Madison in 1840, and the mass of private correspondence of the early statesmen before and since, enable us to approach the discussion of the aims of those who made the Constitution, with some insight and confidence.
I have endeavored, with the assistance of these, to find a solution for the grave and difficult question involved in this inquiry. My opinion is, that the claim for Congress of supreme power in the Territories, under the grant to 'dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting territory,' is not supported by the historical evidence drawn from the Revolution, the Confederation, or the deliberations which preceded the ratification of the Federal Constitution. The ordinance of 1787 depended upon the action of the Congress of the Confederation, the assent of the State of Virginia, and the acquiescence of the people who recognised the validity of that plea of necessity which supported so many of the acts of the Governments of that time; and the Federal Government accepted the ordinance as a recognised and valid engagement of the Confederation.
In referring to the precedents of 1798 and 1800, I find the Constitution was plainly violated by the invasion of the rights of a sovereign State, both of soil and jurisdiction; and in reference to that of 1804, the wisest statesmen protested against it, and the President more than doubted its policy and the power of the Government.
Mr. John Quincy Adams, at a later period, says of the last act, 'that the President found Congress mounted to the pitch of passing those acts, without inquiring where they acquired the authority, and he conquered his own scruples as they had done theirs.' But this court cannot undertake for themselves the same conquest. They acknowledge that our peculiar security [60 U.S. 393, 513] is in the possession of a written Constitution, and they cannot make it blank paper by construction.
They look to its delineation of the operations of the Federal Government, and they must not exceed the limits it marks out, in their administration. The court have said 'that Congress cannot exercise municipal jurisdiction, sovereignty, or eminent domain, within the limits of a State or elsewhere, beyond what has been delegated.' We are then to find the authority for supreme power in the Territories in the Constitution. What are the limits upon the operations of a Government invested with legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, and charged with the power to dispose of and to make all needful rules and regulations respecting a vast public domain? The feudal system would have recognised the claim made on behalf of the Federal Government for supreme power over persons and things in the Territories, as an incident to this title-that is, the title to dispose of and make rules and regulations respecting it.
The Norman lawyers of William the Conqueror would have yielded an implicit assent to the doctrine, that a supreme sovereignty is an inseparable incident to a grant to dispose of and to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the public domain. But an American patriot, in contrasting the European and American systems, may affirm, 'that European sovereigns give lands to their colonists, but reserve to themselves a power to control their property, liberty, and privileges; but the American Government sells the lands belonging to the people of the several States (i. e., United States) to their citizens, who are already in the possession of personal and political rights, which the Government did not give, and cannot take away.' And the advocates for Government sovereignty in the Territories have been compelled to abate a portion of the pretensions originally made in its behalf, and to admit that the constitutional prohibitions upon Congress operate in the Territories. But a constitutional prohibition is not requisite to ascertain a limitation upon the authority of of the several departments of the Federal Government. Nor are the States or people restrained by any enumeration or definition of their rights or liberties.
To impair or diminish either, the department must produce an authority from the people themselves, in their Constitution; and, as we have seen, a power to make rules and regulations respecting the public domain does not confer a municipal sovereignty over persons and things upon it. But as this is 'thought their fort' by our adversaries, I propose a more definite examination of it. We have seen, Congress does not [60 U.S. 393, 514]
dispose of or make rules and regulations respecting domain belonging to themselves, but belonging to the United States.
These conferred on their mandatory, Congress, authority to dispose of the territory which belonged to them in common; and to accomplish that object beneficially and effectually, they gave an authority to make suitable rules and regulations respecting it. When the power of disposition is fulfilled, the authority to make rules and regulations terminates, for it attaches only upon territory 'belonging to the United States.'
Consequently, the power to make rules and regulations, from the nature of the subject, is restricted to such administrative and conservatory acts as are needful for the preservation of the public domain, and its preparation for sale or disposition. The system of land surveys; the reservations for schools, internal improvements, military sites, and public buildings; the preemption claims of settlers; the establishment of land offices, and boards of inquiry, to determine the validity of land titles; the modes of entry, and sale, and of conferring titles; the protection of the lands from trespass and waste; the partition of the public domain into municipal subdivisions, having reference to the erection of Territorial Governments and States; and perhaps the selection, under their authority, of suitable laws for the protection of the settlers, until there may be a sufficient number of them to form a self-sustaining municipal Government-these important rules and regulations will sufficiently illustrate the scope and operation of the 3d section of the 4th article of the Constitution. But this clause in the Constitution does not exhaust the powers of Congress within the territorial subdivisions, or over the persons who inhabit them. Congress may exercise there all the powers of Government which belong to them as the Legislature of the United States, of which these Territories make a part. (Loughborough v. Blake, 5 Wheat., 317.) Thus the laws of taxation, for the regulation of foreign, Federal, and Indian commerce, and so for the abolition of the slave trade, for the protection of copyrights and inventions, for the establishment of postal communication and courts of justice, and for the punishment of crimes, are as operative there as within the States. I admit that to mark the bounds for the jurisdiction of the Government of the United States within the Territory, and of its power in respect to persons and things within the municipal subdivisions it has created, is a work of delicacy and difficulty, and, in a great measure, is beyond the cognizance of the judiciary department of that Government. How much municipal power may be exercised by the people of the Territory, before their admission to the Union, the courts of justice cannot decide. This must depend, for [60 U.S. 393, 515] the most part, on political considerations, which cannot enter into the determination of a case of law or equity. I do not feel called upon to define the jurisdiction of Congress. It is sufficient for the decision of this case to ascertain whether the residuary sovereignty of the States or people has been invaded by the 8th section of the act of 6th March, 1820, I have cited, in so far as it concerns the capacity and status of persons in the condition and circumstances of the plaintiff and his family.
These States, at the adoption of the Federal Constitution, were organized communities, having distinct systems of municipal law, which, though derived from a common source, and recognising in the main similar principles, yet in some respects had become unlike, and on a particular subject promised to be antagonistic.
Their systems provided protection for life, liberty, and property, among their citizens, and for the determination of the condition and capacity of the persons domiciled within their limits. These institutions, for the most part, were placed beyond the control of the Federal Government. The Constitution allows Congress to coin money, and regulate its value; to regulate foreign and Federal commerce; to secure, for a limited period, to authors and inventors, a property in their writings and discoveries; and to make rules concerning captures in war; and, within the limits of these powers, it has exercised, rightly, to a greater or less extent, the power to determine what shall and what shall not be property.
But the great powers of war and negotiation, finance, postal communication, and commerce, in general, when employed in respect to the property of a citizen, refer to, and depend upon, the municipal laws of the States, to ascertain and determine what is property, and the rights of the owner, and the tenure by which it is held.
Whatever these Constitutions and laws validly determine to be property, it is the duty of the Federal Government, through the domain of jurisdiction merely Federal, to recognise to be property.
And this principle follows from the structure of the respective Governments, State and Federal, and their reciprocal relations. They are different agents and trustees of the people of the several States, appointed with different powers and with distinct purposes, but whose acts, within the scope of their respective jurisdictions, are mutually obligatory. They are respectively the depositories of such powers of legislation as the people were willing to surrender, and their duty is to co-operate within their several jurisdictions to maintain the rights of the same citizens under both Governments unimpaired. [60 U.S. 393, 516] A proscription, therefore, of the Constitution and laws of one or more States, determining property, on the part of the Federal Government, by which the stability of its social system may be endangered, is plainly repugnant to the conditions on which the Federal Constitution was adopted, or which that Government was designed to accomplish. Each of the States surrendered its powers of war and negotiation, to raise armies and to support a navy, and all of these powers are sometimes required to preserve a State from disaster and ruin. The Federal Government was constituted to exercise these powers for the preservation of the States, respectively, and to secure to all their citizens the enjoyment of the rights which were not surrendered to the Federal Government. The provident care of the statesmen who projected the Constitution was signalized by such a distribution of the powers of Government as to exclude many of the motives and opportunities for promoting provocations and spreading discord among the States, and for guarding against those partial combinations, so destructive of the community of interest, sentiment, and feeling, which are so essential to the support of the Union. The distinguishing features of their system consist in the exclusion of the Federal Government from the local and internal concerns of, and in the establishment of an independent internal Government within, the States. And it is a significant fact in the history of the United States, that those controversies which have been productive of the greatest animosity, and have occasioned most peril to the peace of the Union, have had their origin in the well-sustained opinion of a minority among the people, that the Federal Government had overstepped its constitutional limits to grant some exclusive privilege, or to disturb the legitimate distribution of property or power among the States or individuals. Nor can a more signal instance of this be found than is furnished by the act before us. No candid or rational man can hesitate to believe, that if the subject of the eighth section of the act of March, 1820, had never been introduced into Congress and made the basis of legislation, no interest common to the Union would have been seriously affected. And, certainly, the creation, within this Union, of large confederacies of unfriendly and frowning States, which has been the tendency, and, to an alarming extent, the result, produced by the agitation arising from it, does not commend it to the patriot or statesman. This court have determined that the intermigration of slaves was not committed to the jurisdiction or control of Congress. Wherever a master is entitled to go within the United States, his slave may accompany him, without any impediment from, or fear of, Congressional [60 U.S. 393, 517] legislation or interference. The question then arises, whether Congress, which can exercise no jurisdiction over the relations of master and slave within the limits of the Union, and is bound to recognise and respect the rights and relations that validly exist under the Constitutions and laws of the States, can deny the exercise of those rights, and prohibit the continuance of those relations, within the Territories.
And the citation of State statutes prohibiting the immigration of slaves, and of the decisions of State courts enforcing the forfeiture of the master's title in accordance with their rule, only darkens the discussion. For the question is, have Congress the municipal sovereignty in the Territories which the State Legislatures have derived from the authority of the people, and exercise in the States?
And this depends upon the construction of the article in the Constitution before referred to.
And, in my opinion, that clause confers no power upon Congress to dissolve the relations of the master and slave on the domain of the United States, either within or without any of the States.
The eighth section of the act of Congress of the 6th of March, 1820, did not, in my opinion, operate to determine the domestic condition and status of the plaintiff and his family during their sojourn in Minnesota Territory, or after their return to Missouri.
The question occurs as to the judgment to be given in this case. It appeared upon the trial that the plaintiff, in 1834, was in a state of slavery in Missouri, and he had been in Missouri for near fifteen years in that condition when this suit was brought. Nor does it appear that he at any time possessed another state or condition, de facto. His claim to freedom depends upon his temporary elocation, from the domicil of his origin, in company with his master, to communities where the law of slavery did not prevail. My examination is confined to the case, as it was submitted upon uncontested evidence, upon appropriate issues to the jury, and upon the instructions given and refused by the court upon that evidence. My opinion is, that the opinion of the Circuit Court was correct upon all the claims involved in those issues, and that the verdict of the jury was justified by the evidence and instructions.
The jury have returned that the plaintiff and his family are slaves.
Upon this record, it is apparent that this is not a controversy between citizens of different States; and that the plaintiff, at no period of the life which has been submitted to the view of the court, has had a capacity to maintain a suit in the courts [60 U.S. 393, 518] of the United States. And in so far as the argument of the Chief Justice upon the plea in abatement has a reference to the plaintiff or his family, in any of the conditions or circumstances of their lives, as presented in the evidence, I concur in that portion of his opinion. I concur in the judgment which expresses the conclusion that the Circuit Court should not have rendered a general judgment.
The capacity of the plaintiff to sue is involved in the pleas in bar, and the verdict of the jury discloses an incapacity under the Constitution. Under the Constitution of the United States, his is an incapacity to sue in their courts, while, by the laws of Missouri, the operation of the verdict would be more extensive. I think it a safe conclusion to enforce the lesser disability imposed by the Constitution of the United States, and leave to the plaintiff all his rights in Missouri. I think the judgment should be affirmed, on the ground that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction, or that the case should be reversed and remanded, that the suit may be dismissed.
Mr. Justice CATRON concurring
The defendant pleaded to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, that the plaintiff was a negro of African blood; the descendant of Africans, who had been imported and sold in this country as slaves, and thus had no capacity as a citizen of Missouri to maintain a suit in the Circuit Court. The court sustained a demurrer to this plea, and a trial was had upon the pleas, of the general issue, and also that the plaintiff and his family were slaves, belonging to the defendant. In this trial, a verdict was given for the defendant.
The judgment of the Circuit Court upon the plea in abatement is not open, in my opinion, to examination in this court upon the plaintiff's writ.
The judgment was given for him conformably to the prayer of his demurrer. He cannot assign an error in such a judgment. (Tidd's Pr., 1163; 2 Williams's Saund., 46 a; 2 Iredell N. C., 87; 2 W. and S., 391.) Nor does the fact that the judgment was given on a plea to the jurisdiction, avoid the application of this rule. (Capron v. Van Noorden, 2 Cr., 126; 6 Wend., 465; 7 Met., 598; 5 Pike, 1005.)
The declaration discloses a case within the jurisdiction of the court- a controversy between citizens of different States. The plea in abatement, impugning these jurisdictional averments, was waived when the defendant answered to the declaration by pleas to the merits. The proceedings on that plea remain a part of the technical record, to show the history of the case, but are not open to the review of this court by a writ [60 U.S. 393, 519] of error. The authorities are very conclusive on this point. Shepherd v. Graves, 14 How., 505; Bailey v. Dozier, 6 How., 23; 1 Stewart, (Alabama,) 46; 10 Ben. Monroe, (Kentucky,) 555; 2 Stewart, (Alabama,) 370, 443; 2 Scammon, (Illinois,) 78. Nor can the court assume, as admitted facts, the averments of the plea from the confession of the demurrer. That confession was for a single object, and cannot be used for any other purpose than to test the validity of the plea. Tompkins v. Ashley, 1 Moody and Mackin, 32; 33 Maine, 96, 100.
There being nothing in controversy here but the merits, I will proceed to discuss them.
The plaintiff claims to have acquired property in himself, and became free, by being kept in Illinois during two years.
The Constitution, laws, and policy, of Illinois, are somewhat peculiar respecting slavery. Unless the master becomes an inhabitant of that State, the slaves he takes there do not acquire their freedom; and if they return with their master to the slave State of his domicil, they cannot assert their freedom after their return. For the reasons and authorities on this point, I refer to the opinion of my brother Nelson, with which I not only concur, but think his opinion is the most conclusive argument on the subject within my knowledge.
It is next insisted for the plaintiff, that his freedom (and that of his wife and eldest child) was obtained by force of the act of Congress of 1820, usually known as the Missouri compromise act, which declares: 'That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States, which lies north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, slavery and involuntary servitude shall be, and are hereby, forever prohibited.'
From this prohibition, the territory now constituting the State of Missouri was excepted; which exception to the stipulation gave it the designation of a compromise.
The first question presented on this act is, whether Congress had power to make such compromise. For, if power was wanting, then no freedom could be acquired by the defendant under the act. That Congress has no authority to pass laws and bind men's rights beyond the powers conferred by the Constitution, is not open to controversy. But it is insisted that, by the Constitution, Congress has power to legislate for and govern the Territories of the United States, and that by force of the power to govern, laws could be enacted, prohibiting slavery in any portion of the Louisiana Territory; and, of course, to abolish slavery in all parts of it, whilst it was, or is, governed as a Territory. My opinion is, that Congress is vested with power to govern [60 U.S. 393, 520] the Territories of the United States by force of the third section of the fourth article of the Constitution. And I will state my reasons for this opinion.
Amlost every provision in that instrument has a history that must be understood, before the brief and sententious language employed can be comprehended in the relations its authors intended. We must bring before us the state of things presented to the Convention, and in regard to which it acted, when the compound provision was made, declaring: 1st. That 'new States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union.' 2d. 'The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States. And nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or any particular State.'
Having ascertained the historical facts giving rise to these provisions, the difficulty of arriving at the true meaning of the language employed will be greatly lessened.
The history of these facts is substantially as follows:
The King of Great Britain, by his proclamation of 1763, virtually claimed that the country west of the mountains had been conquered from France, and ceded to the Crown of Great Britain by the treaty of Paris of that year, and he says: 'We reserve it under our sovereignty, protection, and dominion, for the use of the Indians.'
This country was conquered from the Crown of Great Britain, and surrendered to the United States by the treaty of peace of 1783. The colonial charters of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, included it. Other States set up pretensions of claim to some portions of the territory north of the Ohio, but they were of no value, as I suppose. (5 Wheat., 375.)
As this vacant country had been won by the blood and treasure of all the States, those whose charters did not reach it, insisted that the country belonged to the States united, and that the lands should be disposed of for the benefit of the whole; and to which end, the western territory should be ceded to the States united. The contest was stringent and angry, long before the Convention convened, and deeply agitated that body. As a matter of justice, and to quiet the controversy, Virginia consented to cede the country north of the Ohio as early as 1783; and in 1784 the deed of cession was executed, by her delegates in the Congress of the Confederation, conveying to the United States in Congress assembled, for the benefit of said States, 'all right, title, and claim, as well of soil as of jurisdiction, which this Commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Virginia [60 U.S. 393, 521] charter, situate, lying, and being to the northwest of the river Ohio.' In 1787, (July 13,) the ordinance was passed by the old Congress to govern the Territory.
Massachusetts had ceded her pretension of claim to western territory in 1785, Connecticut hers in 1786, and New York had ceded hers. In August, 1787, South Carolina ceded to the Confederation her pretension of claim to territory west of that State. And North Carolina was expected to cede hers, which she did do, in April, 1790. And so Georgia was confidently expected to cede her large domain, now constituting the territory of the States of Alabama and Mississippi.
At the time the Constitution was under consideration, there had been ceded to the United States, or was shortly expected to be ceded, all the western country, from the British Canada line to Florida, and from the head of the Mississippi almost to its mounth, except that portion which now constitutes the State of Kentucky.
Although Virginia had conferred on the Congress of the Confederation power to govern the Territory north of the Ohio, still, it cannot be denied, as I think, that power was wanting to admit a new State under the Articles of Confederation.
With these facts prominently before the Convention, they proposed to accomplish these ends:
1st. To give power to admit new States.
2d. To dispose of the public lands in the Territories, and such as might remain undisposed of in the new States after they were admitted.
And, thirdly, to give power to govern the different Territories as incipient States, not of the Union, and fit them for admission. No one in the Convention seems to have doubted that these powers were necessary. As early as the third day of its session, (May 29th,) Edmund Randolph brought forward a set of resolutions containing nearly all the germs of the Constitution, the tenth of which is as follows:
'Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the admission of States lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of government and territory or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the National Legislature less than the whole.' August 18th, Mr. Madison submitted, in order to be referred to the committee of detail, the following powers as proper to be added to those of the General Legislature:
'To dispose of the unappropriated lands of the United States.' 'To institute temporary Governments for new States arising therein.' (3 Madison Papers, 1353.) [60 U.S. 393, 522] These, with the resolution, that a district for the location of the seat of Government should be provided, and some others, were referred, without a dissent, to the committee of detail, to arrange and put them into satisfactory language.
Gouverneur Morris constructed the clauses, and combined the views of a majority on the two provisions, to admit new States; and secondly, to dispose of the public lands, and to govern the Territories, in the mean time, between the cessions of the States and the admission into the Union of new States arising in the ceded territory. (3 Madison Papers, 1456 to 1466.)
It was hardly possible to separate the power 'to make all needful rules and regulations' respecting the government of the territory and the disposition of the public lands.
North of the Ohio, Virginia conveyed the lands, and vested the jurisdiction in the thirteen original States, before the Constitution was formed. She had the sole title and sole sovereignty, and the same power to cede, on any terms she saw proper, that the King of England had to grant the Virginia colonial charter of 1609, or to grant the charter of Pennsylvania to William Penn. The thirteen States, through their representatives and deputed ministers in the old Congress, had the same right to govern that Virginia had before the cession. (Baldwin's Constitutional Views, 90.) And the sixth article of the Constitution adopted all engagements entered into by the Congress of the Confederation, as valid against the United States; and that the laws, made in pursuance of the new Constitution, to carry out this engagement, should be the supreme law of the land, and the judges bound thereby. To give the compact, and the ordinance, which was part of it, full effect under the new Government, the act of August 7th, 1789, was passed, which declares, 'Whereas, in order that the ordinance of the United States in Congress assembled, for the government of the Territory northwest of the river Ohio, may have full effect, it is requisite that certain provisions should be made, so as to adapt the same to the present Constitution of the United States.' It is then provided that the Governor and other officers should be appointed by the President, with the consent of the Senate; and be subject to removal, &c., in like manner that they were by the old Congress, whose functions had ceased.
By the powers to govern, given by the Constitution, those amendments to the ordinance could be made, but Congress guardedly abstained from touching the compact of Virginia, further than to adapt it to the new Constitution.
It is due to myself to say, that it is asking much of a judge, [60 U.S. 393, 523] who has for nearly twenty years been exercising jurisdiction, from the western Missouri line to the Rocky Mountains, and, on this understanding of the Constitution, inflicting the extreme penalty of death for crimes committed where the direct legislation of Congress was the only rule, to agree that he had been all the while acting in mistake, and as an usurper.
More than sixty years have passed away since Congress has exercised power to govern the Territories, by its legislation directly, or by Territorial charters, subject to repeal at all times, and it is now too late to call that power into question, if this court could disregard its own decisions; which it cannot do, as I think. It was held in the case of Cross v. Harrison, (16 How., 193-'4,) that the sovereignty of California was in the United States, in virtue of the Constitution, by which power had been given to Congress to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States, with the power to admit new States into the Union. That decision followed preceding ones, there cited. The question was then presented, how it was possible for the judicial mind to conceive that the United States Government, created solely by the Constitution, could, by a lawful treaty, acquire territory over which the acquiring power had no jurisdiction to hold and govern it, by force of the instrument under whose authority the country was acquired; and the foregoing was the conclusion of this court on the proposition. What was there announced, was most deliberately done, and with a purpose. The only question here is, as I think, how far the power of Congress is limited.
As to the Northwest Territory, Virginia had the right to abolish slavery there; and she did so agree in 1787, with the other States in the Congress of the Confederation, by assenting to and adopting the ordinance of 1787, for the government of the Northwest Territory. She did this also by an act of her Legislature, passed afterwards, which was a treaty in fact.
Before the new Constitution was adopted, she had as much right to treat and agree as any European Government had. And, having excluded slavery, the new Government was bound by that engagement by article six of the new Constitution. This only meant that slavery should not exist whilst the United States exercised the power of government, in the Territorial form; for, when a new State came in, it might do so, with or without slavery.
My opinion is, that Congress had no power, in face of the compact between Virginia and the twelve other States, to force slavery into the Northwest Territory, because there, it was bound to that 'engagement,' and could not break it. [60 U.S. 393, 524] In 1790, North Carolina ceded her western territory, now the State of Tennessee, and stipulated that the inhabitants thereof should enjoy all the privileges and advantages of the ordinance for governing the territory north of the Ohio river, and that Congress should assume the government, and accept the cession, under the express conditions contained in the ordinance: Provided, 'That no regulation made, or to be made, by Congress, shall tend to emancipate slaves.'
In 1802, Georgia ceded her western territory to the United States, with the provision that the ordinance of 1787 should in all its parts extend to the territory ceded, 'that article only excepted which forbids slavery.' Congress had no more power to legislate slavery out from the North Carolina and Georgia cessions, than it had power to legislate slavery in, north of the Ohio. No power existed in Congress to legislate at all, affecting slavery, in either case. The inhabitants, as respected this description of property, stood protected whilst they were governed by Congress, in like manner that they were protected before the cession was made, and when they were, respectively, parts of North Carolina and Georgia.
And how does the power of Congress stand west of the Mississippi river? The country there was acquired from France, by treaty, in 1803. It declares, that the First Consul, in the name of the French Republic, doth hereby cede to the United States, in full sovereignty, the colony or province of Louisiana, with all the rights and appurtenances of the said territory. And, by article third, that 'the inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities, of citizens of the United States; and, in the mean time, they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they profess.'
Louisiana was a province where slavery was not only lawful, but where property in slaves was the most valuable of all personal property. The province was ceded as a unit, with an equal right pertaining to all its inhabitants, in every part thereof, to own slaves. It was, to a great extent, a vacant country, having in it few civilized inhabitants. No one portion of the colony, of a proper size for a State of the Union had a sufficient number of inhabitants to claim admission into the Union. To enable the United States to fulfil the treaty, additional population was indispensable, and obviously desired with anxiety by both sides, so that the whole country should, as soon as possible, become States of the Union. And for this [60 U.S. 393, 525] contemplated future population, the treaty as expressly provided as it did for the inhabitants residing in the province when the treaty was made. All these were to be protected 'in the mean time;' that is to say, at all times, between the date of the treaty and the time when the portion of the Territory where the inhabitants resided was admitted into the Union as a State.
At the date of the treaty, each inhabitant had the right to the free enjoyment of his property, alike with his liberty and his religion, in every part of Louisiana; the province then being one country, he might go everywhere in it, and carry his liberty, property, and religion, with him, and in which he was to be maintained and protected, until he became a citizen of a State of the Union of the United States. This cannot be denied to the original inhabitants and their descendants. And, if it be true that immigrants were equally protected, it must follow that they can also stand on the treaty.
The settled doctrine in the State courts of Louisiana is, that a French subject coming to the Orleans Territory, after the treaty of 1803 was made, and before Louisiana was admitted into the Union, and being an inhabitant at the time of the admission, became a citizen of the United States by that act; that he was one of the inhabitants contemplated by the third article of the treaty, which referred to all the inhabitants embraced within the new State on its admission.
That this is the true construction, I have no doubt.
If power existed to draw a line at thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north, so Congress had equal power to draw the line on the thirtieth degree-that is, due west from the city of New Orleans-and to declare that north of that line slavery should never exist. Suppose this had been done before 1812, when Louisiana came into the Union, and the question of infraction of the treaty had then been presented on the present assumption of power to prohibit slavery, who doubts what the decision of this court would have been on such an act of Congress; yet, the difference between the supposed line, and that on thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north, is only in the degree of grossness presented by the lower line.
The Missouri compomise line of 1820 was very aggressive; it declared that slavery was abolished forever throughout a country reaching from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean, stretching over thirty-two degrees of longitude, and twelve and a half degrees of latitude on its eastern side, sweeping over four-fifths, to say no more, of the original province of Louisiana.
That the United States Government stipulated in favor of [60 U.S. 393, 526] the inhabitants to the extent here contended for, has not been seriously denied, as far as I know; but the argument is, that Congress had authority to repeal the third article of the treaty of 1803, in so far as it secured the right to hold slave property, in a portion of the ceded territory, leaving the right to exist in other parts. In other words, that Congress could repeal the third article entirely, at its pleasure. This I deny.
The compacts with North Carolina and Georgia were treaties also, and stood on the same footing of the Louisiana treaty; on the assumption of power to repeal the one, it must have extended to all, and Congress could have excluded the slaveholder of North Carolina from the enjoyment of his lands in the Territory now the State of Tennessee, where the citizens of the mother State were the principal proprietors.
And so in the case of Georgia. Her citizens could have been refused the right to emigrate to the Mississippi or Alabama Territory, unless they left their most valuable and cherished property behind them.
The Constitution was framed in reference to facts then existing or likely to arise: the instrument looked to no theories of Government. In the vigorous debates in the Convention, as reported by Mr. Madison and others, surrounding facts, and the condition and necessities of the country, gave rise to almost every provision; and among those facts, it was prominently true, that Congress dare not be intrusted with power to provide that, if North Carolina or Georgia ceded her western territory, the citizens of the State (in either case) could be prohibited, at the pleasure of Congress, from removing to their lands, then granted to a large extent, in the country likely to be ceded, unless they left their slaves behind. That such an attempt, in the face of a population fresh from the war of the Revolution, and then engaged in war with the great confederacy of Indians, extending from the mouth of the Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico, would end in open revolt, all intelligent men knew.
In view of these facts, let us inquire how the question stands by the terms of the Constitution, aside from the treaty? How it stood in public opinion when the Georgia cession was made, in 1802, is apparent from the fact that no guaranty was required by Georgia of the United States, for the protection of slave property. The Federal Constitution was relied on, to secure the rights of Georgia and her citizens during the Territorial condition of the country. She relied on the indisputable truths, that the States were by the Constitution made equals in political rights, and equals in the right to participate in the common property of all the States united, and held in trust for [60 U.S. 393, 527] them. The Constitution having provided that 'The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States,' the right to enjoy the territory as equals was reserved to the States, and to the citizens of the States, respectively. The cited clause is not that citizens of the United States shall have equal privileges in the Territories, but the citizen of each State shall come there in right of his State, and enjoy the common property. He secures his equality through the equality of his State, by virtue of that great fundamental condition of the Union-the equality of the States.
Congress cannot do indirectly what the Constitution prohibits directly. If the slaveholder is prohibited from going to the Territory with his slaves, who are parts of his family in name and in fact, it will follow that men owning lawful property in their own States, carrying with them the equality of their State to enjoy the common property, may be told, you cannot come here with your slaves, and he will be held out at the border. By this subterfuge, owners of slave property, to the amount of thousand of millions, might be almost as effectually excluded from removing into the Territory of Louisiana north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, as if the law declared that owners of slaves, as a class, should be excluded, even if their slaves were left behind.
Just as well might Congress have said to those of the North, you shall not introduce into the territory south of said line your cattle or horses, as the country is already overstocked; nor can you introduce your tools of trade, or machines, as the policy of Congress is to encourage the culture of sugar and cotton south of the line, and so to provide that the Northern people shall manufacture for those of the South, and barter for the staple articles slave labor produces. And thus the Northern farmer and mechanic would be held out, as the slaveholder was for thirty years, by the Missouri restriction.
If Congress could prohibit one species of property, lawful throughout Louisiana when it was acquired, and lawful in the State from whence it was brought, so Congress might exclude any or all property.
The case before us will illustrate the construction contended for. Dr. Emerson was a citizen of Missouri; he had an equal right to go to the Territory with every citizen of other States. This is undeniable, as I suppose. Scott was Dr. Emerson's lawful property in Missouri; he carried his Missouri title with him; and the precise question here is, whether Congress had the power to annul that title. It is idle to say, that if Congress could not defeat the title directly, that it might be done [60 U.S. 393, 528] indirectly, by drawing a narrow circle around the slave population of Upper Louisiana, and declaring that if the slave went beyond it he should be free. Such assumption is mere evasion, and entitled to no consideration. And it is equally idle to contend, that because Congress has express power to regulate commerce among the Indian tribes, and to prohibit intercourse with the Indians, that therefore Dr. Emerson's title might be defeated within the country ceded by the Indians to the United States as early as 1805, and which embraces Fort Snelling. (Am. State Papers, vol. 1, p. 734.) We must meet the question, whether Congress had the power to declare that a citizen of a State, carrying with him his equal rights, secured to him through his State, could be stripped of his goods and slaves, and be deprived of any participation in the common property? If this be the true meaning of the Constitution, equality of rights to enjoy a common country ( equal to a thousand miles square) may be cut off by a geographical line, and a great portion of our citizens excluded from it.
Ingenious, indirect evasions of the Constitution have been attempted and defeated heretofore. In the passenger cases, (7 How. R.,) the attempt was made to impose a tax on the masters, crews, and passengers of vessels, the Constitution having prohibited a tax on the vessel itself; but this court held the attempt to be a mere evasion, and pronounced the tax illegal.
I admit that Virginia could, and lawfully did, prohibit slavery northwest of the Ohio, by her charter of cession, and that the territory was taken by the United States with this condition imposed. I also admit that France could, by the treaty of 1803, have prohibited slavery in any part of the ceded territory, and imposed it on the United States as a fundamental condition of the cession, in the mean time, till new States were admitted in the Union.
I concur with Judge Baldwin, that Federal power is exercised over all the territory within the United States, pursuant to the Constitution; and, the conditions of the cession, whether it was a part of the original territory of a State of the Union, or of a foreign State, ceded by deed or treaty; the right of the United States in or over it depends on the contract of cession, which operates to incorporate as well the Territory as its inhabitants into the Union. (Baldwin's Constitutional Views, 84.)
My opinion is, that the third article of the treaty of 1803, ceding Louisiana to the United States, stands protected by the Constitution, and cannot be repealed by Congress.
And, secondly, that the act of 1820, known as the Missouri [60 U.S. 393, 529] compromise, violates the most leading feature of the Constitution-a feature on which the Union depends, and which secures to the respective States and their citizens and entire EQUALITY of rights, privileges, and immunities.
On these grounds, I hold the compromise act to have been void; and, consequently, that the plaintiff, Scott, can claim no benefit under it.
For the reasons above stated, I concur with my brother, judges that the plaintiff, Scott, is a slave, and was so when this suit was brought.
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