James Buchanan: Remarks to Congress on Slavery(1836)
If any one principle of constitutional law can, at this day, be considered as settled, it is, that Congress has no right, no power, over the question of slavery within those States where it exists. The property of the master in his slave existed in full force before the Federal Constitution was adopted. It was a subject which then belonged, as it still belongs, to the exclusive jurisdictions of the several States. These States, by the adoption of the Constitution, never yielded to the General Government any right to interfere with the question. It remains where it was previous to the establishment of our Confederacy.
The Constitution has, in the clearest terms, recognized the right of property in slaves. It prohibits any State into which a slave may have fled from passing any law to discharge him from slavery, and declares that he shall be delivered up by the authorities of such State to his master. Nay, more; it makes the existence of slavery the foundation of...
James Buchanan (Library of Congress)View Full Size