Therefore, states are equal in natural rights.
But I deny that the Constitution recognizes property in man.
Sir, there is no Christian nation, thus free to choose as we are, which would establish slavery.
But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes.
I submit, on the other hand, most respectfully, that the Constitution not merely does not affirm that principle, but, on the contrary, altogether excludes it.
The United States are a political state, or organized society, whose end is government, for the security, welfare, and happiness of all who live under its protection.
It is the maintenance of slavery by law in a state, not parallels of latitude, that makes its a southern state; and the absence of this, that makes it a northern state.
I deem it established, then, that the Constitution does not recognize property in man, but leaves that question, as between the states, to the law of nature and of nations.
I speak on due consideration because Britain, France, and Mexico, have abolished slavery, and all other European states are preparing to abolish it as speedily as they can.
The right to have a slave implies the right in some one to make the slave; that right must be equal and mutual, and this would resolve society into a state of perpetual war.