Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech on the Relations of the States, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, May 21, 1860 >> Page 364

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Page 364

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 364
under the Constitution and the laws of this Confedera-
tion. Their immediate local governments have no
other foundation than the vague power of Congress to
make " needful rules and regulations ; " that such a pop-
ulation should set itself up as a sovereign people and
such a corporation claim to exercise any sovereign
power, especially the great central sovereign power of
declaring what is property, is, I repeat it, with due
deference, simply absurd, and would, I think, be agreed
to by no human being of ordinary intelligence who
was not misled by his passions, prejudices, or interests.
Why, the Federal Government itself, save in one or
two instances where the power has been specifically
conferred on it, cannot declare what is or what is not
property. That is a power reserved by the sovereign
States, and by them alone can it be exercised ; and it
is by this reservation that they prove their sovereignty.
What each State declares to be property, the General
Government is bound, in all its departments, to regard
as property, and protect as property ; and so under the
Constitution, every other State is bound to regard and
protect it; and each and every State has a right to de-
mand that, whatever it has, by its sovereign fiat, de-
clared to be property, shall most fully be recognized
and protected as such on the Territorial soil of which
it is part owner.
But another great power has been granted to Con-
gress which bears directly on this question. Though
it can only make " needful rules and regulations for
the territory,"&c., you will note that the word is
"territory," not territories showing that the whole
scope of the grant of power was to regulate property
only yet this Government, not sovereign itself, can,