Page:Attainder of treason and confiscation of the property of Rebels - 1863.pdf/28

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loquy between Senators Collamer, Doolittle and Hale on the 23d of April, 1862. Mr. Hale took the view which I have been endeavoring to maintain in this letter. Senator Collamer asks, "Would it not be strange if in framing the Constitution, those who made it should have taken such pains to take care of fee tail estates, of which there were but few here, and let the great body of estates in fee-simple be forfeited?" The simple answer is, that they did not. They were not taking care of estates at all, but of the rights of men, and they abolished the old doctrine of corruption of blood and forfeiture after the death of the traitor, in order to protect the rights of innocent heirs. That is just the difference between our policy and the English. They legislate to protect estates; we to protect men. Still, however, the general opinion seemed to be against the views entertained by Mr. Hale.

I am inclined to think, that the act of 1790 has done more than the words of the Constitution themselves to produce the general impression with regard to Confiscation. Something of the same kind of views have been entertained in regard to the naturalization of foreigners. Thus Duer (Const. Jurisprudence, p. 298), and other authors, on the Constitution, speaks of its "not authorizing any but WHITE persons to become citizens," (the capitals are Duer's,) when not the Constitution, but the act of 1794, limits naturalization to whites of foreign birth. The Constitution says nothing about the color of citizens, whether natural born or naturalized.

But be the origin and cause of this prevalent opinion what it may, the opinion prevailed in the Senate, and it was to meet and accommodate the feeling that grew out of it, that the joint resolution of the two Houses of Congress was passed, limiting the effect of the forfeiture of real estate. The phraseology of that resolution is worthy of notice. It says: "Nor shall any punishment or proceeding under said act be so construed as to work forfeiture of the real estate of the offender beyond his natural life."

But why make the discrimination between real and personal estate? It is true that it is easy to identify and restore the one, and difficult, if not impossible, to restore the other. But the Constitution makes no such distinction. Nor did the English law,