Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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CREOLE CASE, The (IN U. S. HISTORY). The brig Creole, with a cargo of 130 slaves, sailed from Hampton Roads for New Orleans Oct. 27, 1841, this species of coasting slave trade having been allowed and regulated by act of March 2, 1807. Nov, 7, 17 of the slaves rose, killed one of the owners, mastered the vessel, and ran her into Nassau, where the authorities, as they had done in several previous cases of the kind, set at liberty all not expressly charged with murder. The administration demanded their surrender by Great Britain on the ground that they were on United States soil while under the United States flag, and were therefore still property, by municipal law, even on the high seas. They were not surrendered, and the claim for them was finally merged in the negotiations which resulted in the treaty of Aug. 9, 1842, for the extradition of criminals.


—GIDDINGS' RESOLUTIONS. During the progress of the negotiations, March 21, 1842. J. R. Giddings, of Ohio, offered a series of resolutions in the house of representatives which were the basis of the war against slavery during the succeeding 18 years. They were in brief as follows: 1. That, before 1789, each state had exclusive jurisdiction over the subject of slavery in its own territory. 2. That this jurisdiction had never been delegated to the federal government. 3. That commerce and navigation on the high seas were under the jurisdiction of the federal government. 4. That slavery, being an abridgment of the natural rights of man, can exist only by force of positive municipal law, and is necessarily confined to the jurisdiction of the [state] power creating it. 5. That a ship belonging to citizens of a state is under the jurisdiction of the United States only, when it reaches the high seas. 6. That when the Creole left Virginia, the slave laws of Virginia ceased to apply to her cargo. 7. That the cargo, in resuming liberty, violated no law of the United States. 8, 9. That attempts to re-enslave the escaped slaves, or to maintain the coast wise slave trade, were unauthorized by the constitution, subversive of the rights of the free states, and prejudicial to our national character.


—The reading of these resolutions roused intense excitement. By a meagre majority the house ordered the previous question, cut off debate, and passed a resolution prepared by J. M. Botts, of Virginia, declaring that the conduct of Giddings, in offering resolutions which justified mutiny and murder, and tended to complicate the pending negotiations between the United States and Great Britain, was "unwarranted and unwarrantable, and deserved the severest condemnation of the people of this country, and of this body in particular." Giddings resigned his seat, and was at once re-elected by an overwhelming vote, with instructions from his district to present his resolutions again and to press them to a vote. This he was not allowed to do: indeed, it would seem impossible for a democrat (See CONSTRUCTION. I) to vote against the first three resolutions, from which the others logically follow, without a denial of every tenet of the party. For the remainder of this congress "resolution day" was, by successive votes of the house, regularly devoted to other business. But the principle of the resolutions lived, and upon it parties were reorganized after 1850. (See SLAVERY.)


—See 2 von Holst's United States, 479; 2 Benton's Thirty Years' View, 409; 1 Wheeler's History of Congress, 275; Giddings' History of the Rebellion, 173; 6 Webster's Works, 303. The previous cases of the kind will be found in 2 Benton's Thirty Years' View, 432-434, and the resolutions in full in Giddings' History of the Rebellion, 180. The whole affair, pregnant as it was with future results, is entirely ignored in 14 Benton's Debates of Congress. The act of March 2, 1807, is in 2 Stat at Large, 426.


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