Monday, March 15, 2010

The Albert Gallatin Brown Resolutions, January 1860

In the comments to my last post, Sean referred to the fact that Jefferson Davis's fellow senator from Mississippi, Albert Gallatin Brown, introduced a competing set of resolutions concerning slavery in the territories during early 1860. The two men disliked each other personally and were political rivals.

As we have seen, Davis's resolutions were moderate by the standards of the deep south. Although they asserted that slave codes for a territory or territories might be necessary at some point in the future, the resolutions denied that they were required at present.

Brown's resolutions, in contrast, took the position that slave codes for the territories were mandatory. Congress should instruct territorial legislatures to enact them. And if the territorial legislatures failed or refused to do so, then it was “the admitted duty of Congress to interfere and pass such laws” itself.

Here are Brown's resolutions, which he introduced on January 18, 1860:
Resolved, That the Territories are the common property of all the States; and that it is the privilege of the citizens of all the States to go into the Territories with every kind or description of property recognized by the Constitution of the United States, and held under the laws of any of the States; and that it is the constitutional duty of the law-making power, wherever lodged, or by whomsoever exercised, whether by the Congress or by the Territorial Legislature, to enact such laws as may be found necessary for the adequate and sufficient protection of such property.

Resolved, That the Committee on Territories be instructed to insert, in any bill they may report for the organization of new Territories, a clause declaring it to be the duty of the Territorial Legislature to enact adequate and sufficient laws for the protection of all kinds of property, as above described, within the limits of the Territory; and that, upon its failure or refusal to do so, it is the admitted duty of Congress to interfere and pass such laws.

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