Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
CREOLE CASE, The (IN
—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
—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.
Return to top