[Illustration: Rufus King]
OF NEW YORK. (BORN 1755, DIED 1827.)
On the Missouri bill—united states senate,
February 11 and 14, 1820.
The Constitution declares “that Congress shall have power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory and other property of the United States.” Under this power Congress have passed laws for the survey and sale of the public lands; for the division of the same into separate territories; and have ordained for each of them a constitution, a plan of temporary government, whereby the civil and political rights of the inhabitants are regulated, and the rights of conscience and other natural rights are protected.
The power to make all needful regulations, includes the power to determine what regulations are needful; and if a regulation prohibiting slavery within any territory of the United States be, as it has been, deemed needful, Congress possess the power to make the same, and, moreover, to pass all laws necessary to carry this power into execution.
The territory of Missouri is a portion of Louisiana, which was purchased of France, and belongs to the United States in full dominion; in the language of the Constitution, Missouri is their territory or property, and is subject like other territories of the United States, to the regulations and temporary government, which has been, or shall be prescribed by Congress. The clause of the Constitution which grants this power to Congress, is so comprehensive and unambiguous, and its purpose so manifest, that commentary will not render the power, or the object of its establishment, more explicit or plain.
The Constitution further provides that “new States may be admitted by Congress into this Union.” As this power is conferred without limitation, the time, terms, and circumstances of the admission of new States, are referred to the discretion of Congress; which may admit new States, but are not obliged to do so—of right no new State can demand admission into the Union, unless such demand be founded upon some previous engagement of the United States.
When admitted by Congress into the Union, whether by compact or otherwise, the new State becomes entitled to the enjoyment of the same rights, and bound to perform the like duties as the other States; and its citizens will be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.
The citizens of each State possess rights, and owe duties that are peculiar to, and arise out of the Constitution and laws of the several States. These rights and duties differ from each other in the different States, and among these differences none is so remarkable or important as that which proceeds from the Constitution and laws of the several States respecting slavery; the same being permitted in some States and forbidden in others.