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United States on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever.” Next after the equal suffrage in the Senate stands this provision with its talismanic phrase, equal footing. New States are to be admitted on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever. This language is strong; but nobody can doubt that it must be read in the light of the Ordinance where it appears. Read in this light, its meaning cannot be questioned. By the Ordinance there are no less than six different articles of compact, “forever unalterable, unless by common consent," constituting so many perpetual safeguards : the first perpetuating religious liberty; the second perpetuating Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and judicial proceedings according to the course of the Common Law; the third perpetuating schools and the means of education; the fourth perpetuating the title of the United States in the soil without taxation, the freedom of the rivers as highways, and the liability of the people for a just proportion of the national debt; the fifth perpetuating the right of the States to be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States; and then, next in order, the sixth perpetuating freedom, — being that immortal condition which is the golden bough of this mighty oak, – that “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory.” Now it is clear that subjection to these perpetual conditions was not considered in any respect inconsistent with that “equal footing" which was stipulated. Therefore, even assuming that States, when admitted, shall be on an “equal footing” with others, there can be no hindrance to any conditions by Congress kindred to those which were the glory of the Ordinance.
To all who, borrowing a catchword from Slavery, assert the Equality of States in derogation of fundamental conditions, I oppose the plain text of the Constitution, which contains no such rule, except in a single instance, and there the equality may be waived; and I oppose also the Ordinance of 1787, which, while requiring that new States shall be admitted on an “equal footing ” with other States, teaches by its own great example that this requirement is not inconsistent with conditions of all kinds, and especially in favor of Human Rights. The Equality of States on the lips of SlaveMasters was natural, for it was a plausible defence against the approaches of Freedom; but this unauthorized phrase, which has deceived so many, must be rejected now, so far at least as it is employed against the Equal Rights of All. As one of the old garments of Slavery, it must be handed to the flames.
From this review it is easy to see that we approach the present question without any impediment or constraint in the Constitution. Not a provision, not a clause, not a sentence, not a plırase in the Constitution can be made an apology even for the present objection, - absolutely nothing; and here I challenge reply. Without any support in the Constitution, its partisans borrow one of the worst pretensions of Slavery, and utter it now as it was uttered by Slave-Masters. Once more we hear the voice of Slavery crying out in familiar tones, that conditions cannot be imposed on new States. Alas that Slavery, which we thought had been slain, is not entirely dead! Again it stalks into this Chamber, like the majesty of buried Denmark, -"in the same figure, like the king that's dead,” — and then, like this same ghost, it cries out, “Swear!” and
then again, “Swear!” — and Senators pledged to Freedom take up the old pretension and swear it anew. For myself, I insist not only that Slavery shall be buried out of sight, but that all its wretched pretensions hostile to Human Rights shall be buried with it.
The conditions upon new States are of two classes: first, those that may be required; secondly, those that must be required.
The first comprehends those conditions which the Nation may consider it advisable to require, before admitting a new member into the partnership of government. The Constitution, in positive words, leaves to the Nation a discretion with regard to the admission of new States. The words are : "New States may be admitted by the Congress into the Union,” — thus plainly recognizing a latitude under which any conditions not inconsistent with the Constitution may be required, as by a firm on the admission of a new partner. All this is entirely reasonable ; but I do not stop to dwell on it, for the condition which I have at heart does not come under this head.
A fundamental condition in favor of Human Rights is of that essential character that it must be required. Not to require it is to abandon a plain duty; so it seems to me. I speak with all deference to others, but I cannot see it otherwise.
The Constitution declares that “the United States shall guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government." These are grand words, perhaps the grandest in the Constitution, hardly excepting the Preamble, which is so full of majestic meaning and such a fountain of national life. Kin
dred to the Preamble is this supreme obligation imposed on the United States to guaranty a republican government. There it is. You cannot avoid this duty. Called to its performance, you must supply a practical definition of a republican government. This again you cannot avoid. By your oaths, by all the responsibilities of your position, you must say what in your judgment is a republican government, and you must so decide as not to discredit our fathers and not to give an unworthy example to mankind. Happily the definition is already of record in our history. Our fathers gave it to us, as amid the thunders of Sinai, when they put forth their Declaration of Independence. There it stands in the very front of our Great Charter, embodied in two simple, self-evident truths, — first, that all men are equal in rights, and, secondly, that all just government is founded only on the consent of the governed,
the two together making an axiomatic definition which proves itself. Its truth is like the sun; blind is he who cannot see it. And this is the definition bequeathed as a freehold by our fathers. Though often assailed, even by Senators, it is none the less true. So have I read of savages who shot their arrows at the
Clearly, then, that is a republican government where all have equal rights and participate in the government. I know not if anything need be added; I am sure that nothing can be subtracted.
The Constitution itself sets the example of imposing conditions upon the States. Positively it says, no State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; no State shall grant letters of marque and reprisal; no State shall coin money; no State shall emit bills of credit. Again it says, no State shall, without the con
sent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, or keep troops or ships of war in time of peace. All these are conditions in the text of the Constitution so plain and intelligible as to require no further elucidation. To repeat them on the admission of a State would be superfluous. It is different, however, with that highest condition of all, that the State shall be republican. This requires repetition and elucidation, so as to remove all doubt of its application, and to vitalize it by declaring what is meant by a republican government.
Here I might close this argument; but there are two hostile pretensions which must be exposed: the first founded on a false interpretation of "qualifications,” being nothing less than the impossible assumption, that, because the States may determine the “ qualifications” of electors, therefore they can make color a criterion of the electoral franchise; and the second founded on a false interpretation of the asserted power of the States “to regulate suffrage," being nothing less than the impossible assumption that under the power to regulate suffrage the rights of a whole race may be annihilated. These two pretensions are of course derived from Slavery. They are hatched from the eggs that the cuckoo bird has left behind. Strange that Senators will hatch them !
1. By the Constitution it is provided that “the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.” On this clause Senators build the impossible pretension that a State cannot be interrupted in its disfranchisement of a race. Here is the argument: Because a State may determine the quali