Page images

actions, of a civil nature, intended to be embraced in the jurisdiction, but in reference to which there is nothing in the known proceedings of the Convention, other than what is to be inferred from the language selected, that affords any special evidence of the intention of the framers of the Constitution.



[ocr errors]

We now come to a class of provisions designed to place the people of the separate States in more intimate relations with each other, by removing, in some degree, the consequences that would otherwise flow from their distinct and independent jurisdictions. This was to be done by causing the rights and benefits resulting from the laws of each State to be, for some purposes, respected in every other State. In other words, by the establishment and effect of certain exceptions, the general rule which absolves an independent government from any obligation to regard the law, the authority, or the policy of another government was, for some purposes, to be obviated between the States of the American Union.

To some extent, this had been attempted by the Articles of Confederation, by providing, first, that the free inhabitants of each of the States (paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted) should be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and that the people of each State should have free ingress and

[ocr errors]

regress to and from any other State, and the same privileges of trade and commerce as its inhabitants; -secondly, that fugitives from justice charged with certain enumerated crimes, and escaping from one State into another, should be given up, on demand of the executive of the State from which they had escaped; — and thirdly, that full faith and credit should be given in each State to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other State.

The Confederation, however, was a "firm league of friendship with each other," entered into by separate States, and the object of the provisions above cited was "the better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of those States. One of the purposes of the Constitution, on the other hand, was "to form a more perfect Union"; and we are therefore to expect to find its framers enlarging and increasing the scope of these provisions, and giving to them greater precision and vigor. We shall see, also, that they made a very important addition to their number.

The first thing that was done was to make the language of the Confederation respecting the privileges of general citizenship somewhat more precise. The Articles of Confederation had made "the free inhabitants of each State," with certain exceptions, entitled to the privileges and immunities of "free citizens in the several States." It is probable that

1 See and compare Art. IV. of the Confederation and Art. IV. § 2 of the Constitution.

these two expressions were intended to be used in the same sense, and that by "free inhabitants" of a State was meant its "free citizens." The framers of the Constitution substituted the latter expression for the former, and thus designated more accurately the persons who are to enjoy the privileges and immunities of free citizens in other States besides their


In the next place, while the Articles of Confederation declared that full faith should be given in each State to the acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State, they neither prescribed the mode in which the proof was to be made, nor the effect when it had been made. The committee of detail, in preparing the first draft of the Constitution, merely adopted the naked declaration of the articles. The Convention added to it the further provision, which enabled Congress to prescribe by general laws the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect to be given to them when proved.1

With respect to fugitives from justice, the Articles of Confederation had specified persons "charged with treason, felony, or other high misdemeanor in

1 So far as the proceedings in the Convention are to be regarded as a guide to construction, it appears clearly that the clause which empowers Congress to "prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof," was intended to give a power to declare



the effect of the acts, records, and judicial proceedings of any State, when offered in evidence in another State, as well as to prescribe the mode of proving them. See Elliot, V. 487, 488, 503, 504. See also a learned discussion on this clause in Story's Commentaries, S$ 1302-1313.

any State," as those who were to be given up by the States to each other. For the purpose of avoiding the ambiguity of this language, the provision was made to embrace all other crimes, as well as treason and felony.1

Besides correcting and enlarging these provisions, the framers of the Constitution introduced into the system of the Union a special feature, which, in the relations of the States to each other, was then entirely novel, although not without precedent. I refer, of course, to the clause requiring the extradition of "fugitives from service," who have escaped from one State into another.

In describing the compromises of the Constitution relating to slavery, I have not placed this provision among them, because it was not a part of the arrangement by which certain powers were conceded to the Union by one class of States, in consideration of certain concessions made by another class. It is a provision standing by itself, in respect to its origin, about which there is some popular misapprehension. Its history is as follows.

In many of the discussions that had taken place, in preparing the outline of the government that was sent to the committee of detail, a good deal of jealousy had been felt and expressed by some of the Southern members, not only with regard to the relative weight of their States in the representative system, but also with respect to the security of their slave property. Slavery, although it had existed in

1 Elliot, V. 487.

« EelmineJätka »