Let my position be answered; let me be told, let my constituents be told, the people of my State be told—a State whose soil tolerates not the foot of a slave—that they are bound by the Constitution to a long and toilsome march under burning summer suns and a deadly Southern clime for the suppression of a servile war; that they are bound to leave their bodies to rot upon the sands of Carolina, to leave their wives widows and their children orphans; that those who cannot march are bound to pour out their treasures while their sons or brothers are pouring out their blood to suppress a servile, combined with a civil or a foreign war, and yet that there exists no power beyond the limits of the slave State where such war is raging to emancipate the slaves. I say, let this be proved—I am open to conviction; but till that conviction comes, I put it forth not as a dictate of feeling, but as a settled maxim of the laws of nations, that, in such a case, the military supersedes the civil power; and on this account I should have been obliged to vote, as I have said, against one of the resolutions of my excellent friend from Ohio, (Mr. Giddings,) or should at least have required that it be amended in conformity with the Constitution of the United States.
We published, not long ago, an extract from a speech delivered by John Quincy Adams in Congress in 1842, in which that eminent statesman confidently announced the doctrine, that in a state of war, civil or servile, in the Southern States, Congress has full and plenary power over the whole subject of slavery; martial law takes the place of civil laws and municipal institutions, slavery among the rest, and “not only the President of the United States, but the Commander of the Army, has power to order the universal emancipation of the slaves.”
Mr. Adams was, in 1842, under the ban of the slaveholders, who were trying to censure him or expel him from the House for presenting a petition in favor of the dissolution of the Union. Lest it may be thought that the doctrine announced at this time was thrown out hastily and offensively, and for the purpose of annoying and aggravating his enemies, and without due consideration, it may be worth while to show that six years previous, in May, 1836, Mr. Adams held the same opinions, and announced them as plainly as in 1842. Indeed, it is quite likely that this earlier announcement of