University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

Home: The Annexation Of Hawaii: A Collection Of Document

Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

[ Previous Page ] -- [ View PDF ] -- [ View in MS Word ] -- [ Next Page ]

                             2129
is concerned; and the merchant marine of the. United States under these 
navigation laws, a relic of barbarism, has run down from 70 per cent carried 
in American ships in 1857 to less than 11 per cent to-day; and we are now 
about to enact a law-and I take it that it will pass this Senate by a large 
majority-leaving the navigation laws, the result of this bargain with the 
slave trade in 1789, unrepealed. We are about to give $180,000,000 in subsidies 
to shipowners in order to do away with the disastrous effects of the navigation 
laws to which I have alluded.
It is a curious history, Mr. President. In vain the appeal is now made to 
wipe out those laws, narrow and bigoted and disastrous to our people; and they 
are kept upon the statute book as if they were some sacred institution, never to 
be attacked. "We are to resort now to the unconstitutional project of subsidies 
to do away with their evil effects.
Another curious thing, Mr. President, while I am in a reminiscent mood, is 
that in the Convention of 1789 a proposition was made to give Congress the 
power to grant subsidies to agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, which was 
referred without debate to a committee and was never heard of afterwards. I 
have no hesitation in saying that, in my opinion, there is no constitutional power 
in Congress to take the tax money of the people of this country and give it as 
subsidies to any interest; and I am confirmed in the opinion that the men who 
made the Constitution never intended that subsidies should be granted, from 
the fact that the proposition to give them to agriculture, manufactures, and 
commerce was allowed to sleep and was not even dignified by a debate in the 
Convention.
Mr. President, I had the temerity in the last Congress to quote from the Dred 
Scott decision, to the effect that this Government has no right to hold colonies; 
that it has no right to hold any people as subjects, and that no territory can be 
acquired under the Constitution as it now exists except with the ultimate 
purpose of its being admitted as a State within the discretion of Congress. I 
offered a resolution to that effect, which was ridiculed, maligned, and called 
absurd, and it was charged that I was an unrepentant rebel, a traitor to the 
country, and that my motives were of the most sinister and malign character.
I said at the time when I quoted from the Dred Scott decision- and I will not 
repeat the quotation nor place it in the remarks I am now making-that the 
political part of that opinion was settled beyond resurrection by the result of 
the civil war; but I asserted then, and I assert now, that the portion of it which 
related to the power of the United States to hold colonies had been acquiesced 
in by the entire court, not only the seven Democrats; but Justices McLean and 
Curtis, who delivered dissenting opinions, did not dissent from what Chief 
Justice Taney said in regard to the constitutional power to which I have 
adverted. In answer to that the junior Senator from Connecticut [Mr. PLATT], 
in reply to my argument, contented himself with denouncing the Dred Scott 
decision as a discredited opinion, and in his speech referred to it as a decision 
which is popularly believed to have contained the enuciation that the negro 
had no right which the white man was bound to respect.
Mr. President, I do not know that I would have addressed the Senate to-day 
except that I want the opportunity, in justice to the dead, to correct any 
impression that may have been made by the intimation of the Senator from 
Connecticut. That statement is a slander upon the seven judges who united in 
the opinion in the Dred Scott case, and especially upon Roger B. Taney, than 
whom a purer man never lived in this or any other country. It has gone 
uncontradicted too long. I challenge any man to find one sentence, one word, 
one syllable in that opinion which contains any such statement as that to which 
the Senator from Connecticut alluded. The Senator from Connecticut is an able 
lawyer, a fair man, as my experience with him in this body has taught me to 
believe. Chief Justice Taney said in that opinion, alluding to the status of this 
unfortunate and helpless race of Africans, that they had been treated by the 
nations of Europe, and especially by the English kings and queens, as having no 
rights that the white man was bound to respect; but he deprecated that state of 
things. Ho expressed sympathy for this most unfortunate race of all that have 
ever lived beneath the sun. He was not an advocate of slavery and doubted the 
policy of its existence in this country, as did Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Clay and Mr. 
Benton, but I repeat that there is not one syllable, not one letter in that much 
maligned and slandered opinion in the Dred Scott case to justify this political 
canard that was used to influence the election for President in 1860.
Mr. President, the party feeling that then existed was so intense that William 
H. Seward, Senator from New York, after the de-livery of the Dred Scott 
decision, which was the day after Taney had sworn in James Buchanan as 
President of the United States upon the eastern exposure of this Capitol, 
stated, in a speech to be found in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, that Taney stooped and 
whispered in the President's ear: " To-morrow the Supreme Court will decide the 
Dred Scott case, and carry slavery into the Terri-


tories by virtue of the Constitution"-the monstrous statement that the Chief 
Justice of the United States would lean down and whisper into the ear of the 
President the news that the Dred Scott decision would be decided in the interest 
of slavery! That statement was used in the campaign of 1860, and went through 
the North uncontradicted, a statement so monstrous as to be beyond belief, even 
by one who was tainted and poisoned with political venom.
    Mr. President, I am glad to be able to state that the Supreme Court of the 
United States has unanimously, within a few years, reaffirmed the doctrines laid 
down in the Dred Scott decision as to the power of this Government to hold 
colonies. I did not have this opinion when I spoke during the last Congress. I have 
hero an opinion delivered by Justice Gray, with the unanimous assent of his 
colleagues, a few years ago. Is there anyone here who will doubt the loyalty of 
Justice Gray to this country or to the Republican party? He is a jurist of eminence, 
having occupied the highest seat upon the supreme bench of Massachusetts, and 
then, at the instance of the distinguished senior Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. 
HOAR] , as I have understood, he was put forward for the place he now honors 
upon the Supreme Bench of the United States. If he is not a Republican, if his 
judicial opinions are to be attacked upon partisan grounds, where will be found 
the man who can be said to be true to the doctrines of the Republican party? I 
will ask the Secretary now to read an extract from that opinion as to the point I 
have made. 
   The Secretary read as follows:
   In the case of Shively vs. Bowlby (152 U. S.) Mr. Justice Gray said: "(1) The 
Territories acquired by Congress, whether by deed or cession from the original 
State or by treaty with a foreign country, are held with the object, as soon as 
their population and condition justify, of being admitted into the Union as States 
upon an equal footing with the original States in nil respects; (2) and the title and 
dominion of the tide waters and the land under them are held with the United 
States for the benefit of the whole people, and as this court has often said ill cases 
above cited, 'in trusts for the future States.'"
    In summing up the Shively case (page 57) the court said: "Upon the acquisition of 
territory by the United States, whether by cession from one of the States or by treaty 
with the foreign country, or by discovery and settlement, the same title and 
dominion passed to the United States for the benefit of the whole people and in 
trust for the several States to be ultimately created out of the territory."
Mr. VEST. That was the doctrine asserted by Chief Justice Taney, that all 
territory acquired either by purchase, cession, or conquest, either from foreign 
countries or granted by the original States, as Virginia granted the Northwest 
Territory, could not be held as colonies; that the United States simply held it 
as trustee. As the syllabus of that case shows, this was in regard to tide water 
and tide-water lands in a Territory, and the Supreme Court declared 
emphatically, in language not stronger than that in the Dred Scott case, that the 
United States is simply a trustee, and the ultimate purpose of having any such 
territory is to make it a State.
Mr. President, I have here copious extracts from Judge Cooley's work upon 
Constitutional Limitations, another distinguished Republican. I will not inflict 
all these upon the Senate, but I will print them in my remarks in order that they 
may be criticised, if worthy of criticism. Justice Cooley declares that territory 
can only be acquired by the United States with the ultimate purpose of 
changing it into States. In speaking of our Territorial and the British colonial 
system, Mr. Cooley says:
In this dependence of the Territories upon the central Government there is some 
outward resemblance to the conditions of the American colonies under the British Crown; but 
there are some differences which are important and indeed vital. The first of these is that 
the Territorial condition is understood under the Constitution to be merely temporary and 
preparatory, and the people of the Territory, while it continues, are sure of the right to 
create and establish State institutions for themselves as soon as the population shall be 
sufficient and the local conditions suitable; while the British colonial system contains no 
promise 9r assurance of any but a dependent government indefinitely. (Cooley's Principles 
of Constitutional Law, page 37.)
Mr. Cooley draws a second distinction on page 37:
The second is that above given, that the people of the American Territories are 
guaranteed all the benefits of the principles of constitutional right which protect life, 
liberty, and property, and may defend them under the law, even as against the action of the 
Government itself; while in the colonies these principles were subjects of dispute, and if 
admitted would be within the control of an Absolute imperial legislature, which might 
overrule them at will.
Mr. Cooley says, writing of our Territorial and the British colonial system:
There is also a difference in respect to taxation which, though not so striking, is still 
important. The Territories levy their own taxes for all purposes, and they are never taxed 
separately for national purposes, but only as parts of the whole country and under the 
same rules mid for the same purposes as are the States. Nor is it intended to realize from 
thorn any revenue for the National Treasury beyond what is expended by the United 
States in their interest.
Mr. Cooley says, on page 187 of his work on Constitutional Limitations:
The Constitution also provided that new States may be admitted by Congress into the 
Union; but whether they should be formed of territory at that time belonging to the 
States, or from territory that might thereafter be acquired, or taken in as existing States 
previously independent, was not expressly determined by that instrument. By the ordinance 
of 1787. however,

Return to Top

Terms of Use  |  UH Mānoa  |  UH System  |  Ask Us
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Library  |  2550 McCarthy Mall  |  Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA
808-956-7214 (Reference)  |  808-956-7203 (Circulation)  |  808-956-7205 (Administration)
808-956-5968 (fax)  |  library@hawaii.edu