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ON THE

AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE..

LEGISLATION OF THE UNITED STATES ON THE FOREIGN SLAVE TRADE.

In the Constitution of the United States, the following restriction on the powers of Congress, was inserted as a compromise with the members of the Convention from South Carolina and Georgia :

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

This restriction has always been understood to apply to the African slave trade; yet prior to the year 1808, several acts were passed to prohibit that traffic, in cases which did not fall under the constitutional restriction.

An act of 1794 provides that no citizen of the United States, or any other person residing therein, shall build or equip any vessel for the purpose of carrying on the traffic in slaves to any foreign country, or for the purpose of transporting slaves from one foreign country to another, under the penalty of the forfeiture of every vessel so employed, and the payment of a fine of two thousand dollars.

By an act of 1798, in relation to the Mississippi terrritory, the introduction of slaves, from any place without the limits of the United States, was prohibited under a penalty of 300 dollars for each slave so introduced; and all such slaves were declared free.

By a law of 1800, citizens or residents of the United States

were prohibited from holding any right or property in vessels employed in the transportation of slaves from one foreign country to another, on pain of forfeiting their right of property; and likewise a fine equal to the double both of that right, and of their interest in the slaves. They were also prohibited under a penalty, not exceeding 2000 dollars, and imprisonment of not more than two years, from serving on board any vessel employed in transporting slaves from one foreign country to another. The commissioned ships of the United States were authorised to seize vessels and crews employed in violation of this act.

By an act of 1803, masters of vessels were forbidden to bring into any port, where the laws of the state prohibited the importation, any negro, mulatto, or other person of colour, not being a native, a citizen, or registered seaman of the United States, or a seaman of countries beyond the Cape of Good Hope, under a penalty of 1000 dollars for every person imported contrary to the provisions of this act; and no vessel having on board persons of the above description, was to be admitted to an entry; and if any such person should be landed from on board any vessel, the vessel was to be forfeited.

Soon after the acquisition of Louisiana, an act was passed for the regulation of the territory of Orleans, one of the governments into which that country was divided. Among the regulations then adopted, we find the following. "It shall not be lawful for any person to bring into the said territory, from any place without the limits of the United States, or to cause to be brought, any slave or slaves; and every person so offending, shall forfeit and pay for every slave imported the sum of 300 dollars; and every slave so imported, shall be free. It shall not be lawful for any person to bring into said territory from any place within the limits of the United States, any slave or slaves, which shall have been imported since the first day of May, 1798, into any place within the limits of the United States, or which may hereafter be so imported, from any place without the limits of the United States. And every person so offending shall forfeit for every slave imported, the sum of 300 dollars. And no slave shall be introduced into said territory, except by a citizen of the United States, removing into said territory for actual settlement, and being, at the time of remo

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