Page:Review of the Proclamation of President Jackson.djvu/28
A REVIEW OF THE
Was this pledge violated by any overt act of force? The act was declared to be Treason, ard the proper punishment of this crime was announced. If it be true then, as the President in his Proclamation says, that "Treason is an offence against sovereignty, and sovereignty must reside with the power to punish it," the Commonwealth of Virginia which defined this crime against itself, provided for its punishment, and once at least inflicted, it must have been a sovereign. But if ever a sovereign, she be-
shall probably refer at some other time. It runs thus: "I — —, do declare myself a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia; I relinquish and renounce the character of subject or citizen of any Prince or other State whatsoever; and abjure all allegiance which may be claimed by such Prince or other State; and I do swear to be faithful and true to the said Commonwealth of Virginia, so long as I continue a citizen thereof. So help me God" (see Revised Code of 1819, Vol. I., p. 72).
No person has power to act in any office, legislative, executive, or judiciary, before he shall have given this assurance; and all who may by law be required to give assurance of fidelity, must for that purpose take this oath. [See the Law ut supra, which was re-enacted on the 7th day of January, 1818.]
- The law of Virginia defining and punishing Treason, is the sanction of the oath of fidelity, and is not less curious and important than the form of that assurance. It is in these words: "If a man do levy war against the Commonwealth in the same, or be adherent to the enemies of the Commonwealth, within the same, giving to them aid and comfort in the Commonwealth, or elsewhere, and thereof be legally convicted of open deed, by the evidence of two sufficient and lawful witnesses, or his own voluntary confession, the cases above rehearsed shall be judged Treason which extendeth to the Commonwealth, and the persons so convicted, and, his or her aiders, abettors and counsellors, being thereof convicted, shall suffer death, by hanging by the neck without benefit of clergy. Also, every person or persons, who shall erect or establish, or cause or procure to be erected or established, any government separate from, or independent of the government of Virginia, within the limits thereof, unless by act of the Legislature of this Commonwealth for that purpose first obtained; or who shall, in any such usurped government, hold or execute any office, legislative, executive, judiciary, or ministerial, by whatever name such office may be distinguished or called; or who shall swear, or otherwise solemnly profess allegiance or fidelity to the same; or who shall, under pretext of authority derived from, or protection afforded by, such usurped government resist or oppose the due execution of the laws of this Commonwealth, shall be adjudged guilty of high Treason, and shall be proceeded against, and punished in the same manner as other Traitors may be proceeded against and punished."—[See Revised Code of 1819, Vol. I., p. 591.]
The scholar may read the rough English of some parts of this statute, as he does the bald and confessedly bad Latin of Magna Cliarta, with a contemptuous