Page:Debates in the Several State Conventions, v2.djvu/219

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[A friend has favored the editor with the following fragment, being the only speech known to be preserved in the New Hampshire Convention on adopting the federal Constitution of the United States.]

Page 7, Sec. 9th. "The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to the year 1808; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person."

The Hon. Mr. DOW, from Weare, spoke very sensibly and feelingly against this paragraph.

Several members, on the other side, spoke in favor of it, with remarks on what Mr. Dow had said; after which, the Hon. JOSHUA ATHERTON, from Amherst, spoke as follows:—

Mr. President, I cannot be of the opinion of the honorable gentlemen who last spoke, that this paragraph is either so useful or so inoffensive as they seem to imagine, or that the objections to it are so totally void of foundation. The idea that strikes those, who are opposed to this clause, so disagreeably and so forcibly, is, hereby it is conceived (if we ratify the Constitution) that we become consenters to, and partakers in, the sin and guilt of this abominable traffic, at least for a certain period, without any positive stipulation that it should even then be brought to an end. We do not behold in it that valuable acquisition so much boasted of by the honorable member from Portsmouth, "that an end is then to be put to slavery." Congress may be as much, or more, puzzled to put a stop to it then, than we are now. The clause has not secured its abolition.

We do not think ourselves under any obligation to perform works of supererogation in the reformation of mankind; we do not esteem ourselves under any necessity to go to