Migration, then, even if it comprehends slaves, does not mean the removal of them from State to State, but means the coming of slaves from places beyond their limits and their power. And if this be so, the gentlemen gain nothing for their argument by showing that slaves were the objects of this term.
An honorable gentleman from Rhode Island, whose speech was distinguished for its ability, and for an admirable force of reasoning, as well to as by the moderation and mildness of its spirit, informed us, with less discretion than in general he exhibited, that the word “migration” was introduced into this clause at the instance of some of the Southern States, who wished by its instrumentality to guard against a prohibition by Congress of the passage into those States of slaves from other States. He has given us no authority for this supposition, and it is, therefore, a gratuitous one. How improbable it is, a moment’s reflection will convince him. The African slave trade being open during the whole of the time to which the entire clause in question referred, such a purpose could scarcely be entertained; but if it had been entertained, and there was believed to be a necessity for securing it, by a restriction upon the power of Congress to interfere with it, is it possible that they who deemed it important, would have contented themselves with a vague restraint, which was calculated to operate in almost any other manner than that which they desired? If fear and jealousy, such as the honorable gentleman has described, had dictated this provision, a better term than that of “migration,” simple and unqualified, and joined, too, with the word “importation,” would have been found to tranquilize those fears and satisfy that jealousy. Fear and jealousy are watchful, and are rarely seen to accept a security short of their object, and less rarely to shape that security, of their own accord, in such a way as to make it no security at all. They always seek an explicit guaranty; and that this is not such a guaranty this debate has proved, if it has proved nothing else.
OF MASSACHUSETTS. (BORN 1811, DIED 1884.)
On the murder of Lovejoy;
FANEUIL HALL, BOSTON, DECEMBER 8, 1837