American Eloquence, Volume 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about American Eloquence, Volume 3.

Without this protection, what would be the condition of the northern inventor?  Why, sir, the Vermont inventor protected by his own law would come to Massachusetts, and there say to the pirate who had stolen his property, “Render me up my property or pay me value for its use.”  The Senator from Vermont would receive for answer, if he were the counsel of the Vermont inventor, “Sir, if you want protection for your property go to your own State; property is governed by the laws of the State within whose jurisdiction it is found; you have no property in your invention outside of the limits of your State; you cannot go an inch beyond it.”  Would not this be so?  Does not every man see at once that the right of the inventor to his discovery, that the right of the poet to his inspiration, depends upon those principles of eternal justice which God has implanted in the heart of man, and that wherever he cannot exercise them it is because man, faithless to the trust that he has received from God, denies them the protection to which they are entitled?’

Sir, follow out the illustration which the Senator from Vermont himself has given; take his very case of the Delaware owner of a horse riding him across the line into Pennsylvania.  The Senator says:  “Now, you see that slaves are not property like other property; if slaves were property like other property, why have you this special clause in your Constitution to protect a slave?  You have no clause to protect the horse, because horses are recognized as property everywhere.”  Mr. President, the same fallacy lurks at the bottom of this argument, as of all the rest.  Let Pennsylvania exercise her undoubted jurisdiction over persons and things within her own boundary; let her do as she has a perfect right to do—­declare that hereafter, within the State of Pennsylvania, there shall be no property in horses, and that no man shall maintain a suit in her courts for the recovery of property in a horse; and where will your horse-owner be then?  Just where the English poet is now; just where the slaveholder and the inventor would be if the Constitution, foreseeing a difference of opinion in relation to rights in these subject-matters, had not provided the remedy in relation to such property as might easily be plundered.  Slaves, if you please, are not property like other property in this:  that you can easily rob us of them; but as to the right in them, that man has to overthrow the whole history of the world, he has to overthrow every treatise on jurisprudence, he has to ignore the common sentiment of mankind, he has to repudiate the authority of all that is considered sacred with man, ere he can reach the conclusion that the person who owns a slave, in a country where slavery has been established for ages, has no other property in that slave than the mere title which is given by the statute law of the land where it is found. * * *

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,

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American Eloquence, Volume 3 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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