Meaning of the word Free Popular passages Page 17 - Of Law there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world : all things in heaven and earth do her homage ; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power Page - The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities, of citizens of the United States ; and, in the mean time, they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they profess.
Page 25 - England; and saving and reserving to us, our heirs and successors, the receiving, hearing, and determining of the appeal and appeals of all or any person or persons of, in, or belonging to the territories Page - States, with a request that it might " be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each state by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification. Page 17 - Commentaries remarks, that this law of Nature being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other.
Spooner took this course because the abolition of slavery was vastly more morally important to him than the consistent defense of "anti-Constitutionalism. Though this may appear dishonest, it is a consequentialist position that simply acknowledged an important reality: the existing human social and political networks of the time were not morally intelligent enough to choose abolition on their own. They needed to be successfully tricked into doing so from a position of knowledge greater than their own, so Spooner tricked them. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.
Home FAQ Contact. The Unconstitutionality of Slavery Wikipedia open wikipedia design. This article does not cite any sources. And if the country ratified the act of absolution, did they not also necessarily ratify and acknowledge the principles which they declared legalized the act? It is sufficient for our purpose, if it be admitted that this principle was the law of the country at that particular time, —even though it had continued to be the law for only a year, or even a day. For if it were the law of the country even for a day, it freed every slave in the country— if there were, as we say there were not, any legal slaves then in the country.
And the burden would then be upon the slaveholder to show that slavery had since been constitutionally established. And to show this, he must show an express constitutional designation of the particular individuals, who have since been made slaves. Without such particular designation of the individuals to be made slaves, and not even the present constitutions of the slave States make any such designation, all constitutional provisions, purporting to authorize slavery, are indefinite, and uncertain in their application, and for that reason void. But again. This is more especially true of governments founded, like ours, upon contract.
And therefore they are all taken for granted unless particular ones be plainly denied. All such truths are therefore taken for granted. And it is the same in all compacts of government, unless particular truths are plainly denied.
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And governments, no more than individuals, have a right to deny them in any case. On the contrary, it has been reiterated, by them, annually, daily and hourly, for the last sixty-nine years, in almost every possible way, and in the most solemn possible manner. And this assertion has never been retracted by us as a people.
We have virtually reasserted the same truth in nearly every state constitution since adopted. We have virtually reasserted it in the national constitution. It is a truth that lives on the tongues and in the hearts of all. It is true we have, in our practice, been so unjust as to withhold the benefits of this truth from a certain class of our fellow-men. But even in this respect, this truth has but shared the common fate of other truths.
They are generally allowed but a partial application. Still, this truth itself, as a truth, has never been denied by us, as a people, in any authentic form, or otherwise than impliedly Edition: current; Page: [ 39 ] by our practice in particular cases. If it have, say when and where. If it have not, it is still law; and courts are bound to administer it, as law, impartially to all.
Our courts would want no other authority than this truth, thus acknowledged, for setting at liberty any individual, other than one having negro blood, whom our governments, state or national, should assume to authorize another individual to enslave. Why then, do they not apply the same law in behalf of the African?
Certainly not because it is not as much the law of his case, as of others. But it is simply because they will not. It is because the courts are parties to an understanding, prevailing among the white race, but expressed in no authentic constitutional form, that the negro may be deprived of his rights at the pleasure of avarice and power. And they carry out this unexpressed understanding in defiance of, and suffer it to prevail over, all our constitutional principles of government—all our authentic, avowed, open and fundamental law.
Of all the state constitutions, that were in force at the adoption of the constitution of the United States, in , not one of them established, or recognized slavery. All those parts of the state constitutions, i. All the states, except Rhode Island and Connecticut, formed constitutions prior to Those two states went on, beyond this period, under their old charters. The eleven constitutions formed, were all democratic in their general character. The most of them eminently so. They generally recognized, in some form or other, the natural rights of men, as one of the fundamental principles of the government.
Several of them asserted these rights in the most emphatic and authoritative manner. Most or all of them had also specific provisions incompatible with slavery. Not one of them had any specific recognition of the existence of slavery. Not one of them granted any specific authority for its continuance. The only provisions or words in any of them, that could be claimed by anybody as recognitions of slavery, are the following, viz. As each of these terms and clauses may be claimed by some persons as recognitions of slavery, they are worthy of particular notice.
The rest of the Virginia constitution is eminently democratic. This is no acknowledgment that they themselves had any slaves of their own; much less that they were going to continue their slavery; for the constitution contained provisions plainly incompatible with that. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Slavery was clearly impossible under these two constitutional provisions, to say nothing of others. North Carolina had none, Georgia none, Virginia none. The slave laws of these three latter states, then, necessarily fell to the ground on this change of government. Maryland, New York, New Jersey and South Carolina had acts upon their statute books, assuming the existence of slavery, and Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] pretending to legislate in regard to it; and it may perhaps be argued that those laws were continued in force under the provision referred to.
This objection applies to the slave acts of all the colonies None of them could be continued under this provision. But in particular states there were still other reasons against the colonial slave acts being valid under the new constitutions. New Jersey also was in the same situation. She had slave statutes; but none designating the slaves so as to distinguish them from the rest of her population. Maryland had also, in her new constitution, a specific provision incompatible with the acts on her colonial statute book in regard to slavery, to wit:.
For instance: That of South Carolina provided, Sec. Or are they used in that political sense, in which they are used in the common law of England, and in which they had been used in the colonial charters, viz.
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If it be answered, that they are used in the sense first mentioned, to wit, as the correlatives or opposites of slavery—then it would be argued that they involved a recognition, at least, of the existence of slavery. But this argument—whatever it might be worth to support an implied admission of the actual existence of slavery—would be entirely insufficient to support an implied admission either of its legal, or its continued existence. Slavery is so entirely contrary to natural right; so entirely destitute of authority from natural law; so palpably inconsistent with all the legitimate objects of government, that nothing but express and explicit provision can be recognized, in law, as giving it any sanction.
No hints, insinuations, or unnecessary implications can give any ground for so glaring a departure from, and violation of all the other, the general and the legitimate principles of the government. To call one man free, gives no legal authority for making Edition: current; Page: [ 44 ] another man a slave.
And if, as in the case of these constitutions, no express authority for slavery were given, slavery would be as much unconstitutional as though these words had not been used. The use of these words in that sense, in a constitution, under which all persons are presumed to be free, would involve no absurdity, although it might be gratuitous and unnecessary. It is a rule of law, in the construction of all statutes, contracts and legal instruments whatsoever— that is, those which courts design, not to invalidate, but to enforce —that where words are susceptible of two meanings, one consistent, and the other inconsistent, with liberty, justice and right, that sense is always to be adopted, which is consistent with right, unless there be something in other parts of the instrument sufficient to prove that the other is the true meaning.
The rule of law, therefore, is imperative, that they must be regarded in the sense consistent with liberty and right. If this rule, that requires courts to give an innocent construction to all words that are susceptible of it, were not imperative, courts might, at their own pleasure, pervert the honest meaning of the most honest statutes and contracts, into something dishonest, for there are almost always words used in the most honest legislation, and in the most honest contracts, that, by implication or otherwise, are capable of conveying more than one meaning, and even a dishonest meaning.
If courts could lawfully depart from the rule, that requires them to attribute an honest meaning to all language that is susceptible of such a meaning, it would be nearly impossible to frame either a statute or a contract, which the judiciary might not lawfully pervert to some purpose of injustice.
There would obviously be no security for the honest administration of any honest law or contract whatsoever. This rule applies as well to constitutions as to contracts and statutes; for constitutions are but contracts between the people, whereby they grant authority to, and establish law for the government. One who enjoys, or is entitled to a franchise or peculiar privilege; as the freemen of a city or state. And this use of these words has been common in the English laws for centuries. The English statutes abound with the terms, in reference to almost every franchise or peculiar privilege, from the highest to the lowest, known to the English laws.
But the more common and important signification of the words is to designate the citizens, native or naturalized, and those specially entitled, as a matter of political and acknowledged right, to participate in, or be protected by the government, as distinguished from aliens, or persons attainted, or deprived of their political privileges as members of the state. In short, the terms, when used in political papers, have a meaning very nearly, if not entirely synonymous, with that which we, in this country, now give to the word citizen. See charter of Rhode Island.
Many, if not all the charters had a provision similar in substance to the following in the charter to Rhode Island, viz. And it is hereby further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That when at any time any person, that is a foreigner, shall make his request to the proprietary and governor of this province and territories thereof, for the aforesaid freedom, the said person shall be admitted on the conditions herein expressed, paying at his admission twenty shillings sterling, and no more, anything in this law, or any other law, act, or thing in this province, to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
They were never used to designate a free person as distinguished from a slave—for the very sufficient reason that all these fundamental laws presumed that there were no slaves. The legal rule of interpretation before mentioned, viz. But we have other grounds. For instance:—Several of these constitutions have themselves explicitly given to the words this meaning.
While not one of them has given them a meaning correlative with slaves, inasmuch as none of them purport either to establish, authorize, or even to know of the existence of slavery. No person shall be entitled to more than one vote, which shall be given in the county where such person resides, except as before excepted; nor shall any person who holds any title of nobility, be entitled to a vote, or be capable of serving as a representative, or hold any post of honor, profit or trust, in this State, while such person claims his title of nobility; but if the person shall give up such distinction, in the manner as may be directed by any future legislature, then, and in such case, he shall be entitled to a vote, and represent, as before directed, and enjoy all the other benefits of a free citizen.
The constitution of North Carolina, adopted in , used the word in a similar sense, as follows:. The constitution of Pennsylvania, adopted in , uses the word in the same sense:. The constitution of New York, adopted in , uses the word in the same manner:. That every male inhabitant of full age, who has personally resided in one of the counties of this State for six months, immediately preceding the day of election, shall at such election be entitled to vote for representatives of the said county in assembly, if during the time aforesaid he shall have been a freeholder, possessing a freehold of the value of twenty pounds, within the said county, or have rented a tenement therein of the yearly value of forty shillings, and been rated and actually paid taxes to the State.
Provided always, That every person who now is a freeman of the city of Albany, or who was made a freeman of the city of New York, on or before the fourteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, and shall be actually and usually resident in the said cities respectively, shall be entitled to vote for representatives in assembly within his place of residence.
Not so. All persons who have been, or shall hereafter, previous to the ratification of this constitution, be admitted freemen, according to the existing laws of this State, shall be electors. I have found, in none of the State constitutions before mentioned, existing in , any other evidence or intimation of the existence of slavery, than that already commented upon and refuted. And if there be no other, then it is clear that slavery had no legal existence under them.
And there was consequently no constitutional slavery in the country up to the adoption of the constitution of the United States. The Articles of Confederation, formed in , contained no recognition of slavery. The only words in them, that could be claimed by anybody as recognizing slavery, are the following, in Art. There are several reasons why this provision contains no legal recognition of slavery. The rules of law require that an innocent meaning should be given to all words that will bear an innocent meaning. The Confederation was a league between States in their corporate capacity; and not, like the constitution, a government established by the people in their individual character.
The Confederation, then, being a league between states or corporations, as such, of course recognized nothing in the character of the State governments except what their corporate charters or State constitutions authorized. And as none of the State constitutions of the day recognized slavery, the confederation of the State governments could not of course recognize it. Certainly none of its language can, consistently with legal rules, have such a meaning given to it, when it is susceptible of another that perfectly accords with the sense in which it is used in the constitutions of the States, that were parties to the league.
Yet a property qualification was necessary, in some, if not all the States, to entitle Edition: current; Page: [ 53 ] even such to the franchises of suffrage, and of eligibility to office. Madison, in the 42d No.
There is a confusion of language here, which is remarkable. It seems to be a construction scarcely avoidable, however, that those who come under the denomination of free inhabitants of a State, although not citizens of such State, are entitled, in every other State, to all the privileges of free citizens of the latter; that is to greater privileges than they may be entitled to in their own State; so that it may be in the power of a particular State, or rather every State is laid under the necessity, not only to confer the rights of citizenship in other States upon any whom it may admit to such rights within itself, but upon any whom it may allow to become inhabitants within its jurisdiction.
The very improper power would still be retained by each State, of naturalizing aliens in every Edition: current; Page: [ 54 ] other State. In one State, residence for a short time confers all the rights of citizenship; in another, qualifications of greater importance are required. An alien, therefore, legally incapacitated for certain rights in the latter, may, by previous residence only in the former, elude his incapacity, and thus the law of one State be preposterously rendered paramount to the laws of another, within the jurisdiction of the other.
By the laws of several States, certain descriptions of aliens, who had rendered themselves obnoxious, were laid under interdicts inconsistent, not only with the rights of citizenship, but with the privileges of residence. What would have been the consequence, if such persons, by residence, or otherwise, had acquired the character of citizens under the laws of another State, and then asserted their rights as such, both to residence and citizenship, within the State proscribing them?
Whatever the legal consequences might have been, other consequences would probably have resulted of too serious a nature, not to be provided against. The new constitution has, accordingly, with great propriety, made provision against them, and all others proceeding from the defect of the confederation on this head, by authorizing the general government to establish an uniform rule of naturalization throughout the United States.
Throughout this whole quotation Mr. And in this respect he no doubt correctly represents the meaning then given to the word by the people of the United States. We come now to the period commencing with the adoption of the constitution of the United States. We have already seen that slavery had not been authorized or established by any of the fundamental constitutions or charters that had existed previous to this time; that it had always been a mere abuse sustained by the common consent of the strongest party, in defiance of the avowed constitutional principles of their Edition: current; Page: [ 55 ] governments.
And the question now is, whether it was constitutionally established, authorized or sanctioned by the constitution of the United States? It is perfectly clear, in the first place, that the constitution of the United States did not, of itself, create or establish slavery as a new institution; or even give any authority to the state governments to establish it as a new institution.
The most they claim is, that it recognized it as an institution already legally existing, under the authority of the State governments; and that it virtually guarantied to the States the right of continuing it in existence during their pleasure. And this is really the only question arising out of the constitution of the United States on this subject, viz. This question is, in reality, answered in the negative by what has already been shown; for if slavery had no constitutional existence, under the State constitutions, prior to the adoption of the constitution of the United States, then it is absolutely certain that the constitution of the United States did not recognize it as a constitutional institution; for it cannot, of course, be pretended that the United States constitution recognized, as constitutional, any State institution that did not constitutionally exist.
Even if the constitution of the United States had intended to recognize slavery, as a constitutional State institution, such intended recognition would have failed of effect, and been legally void, because slavery then had no constitutional existence to be recognized.
Suppose, for an illustration of this principle, that the constitution of the United States had, by implication, plainly taken it for granted that the State legislatures had power—derived from the State constitutions—to order arbitrarily that infant children, or that men without the charge of crime, should be maimed—deprived, for instance, of a hand, a foot, or an eye.
This intended recognition, on the part of the constitution of the United States, of the legality of such a practice, would obviously have failed of all legal effect—would have been mere surplusage—if it should appear, from an examination of the State constitutions themselves, that they had really conferred no such power upon the legislatures. And this principle applies with the same force to laws that would arbitrarily make men or children slaves, as to laws that should arbitrarily order them to be maimed or murdered.
We might here safely rest the whole question—for no one, as has already been said, pretends that the constitution of the United States, by its own authority, created or authorized slavery as a new institution; but only that it intended to recognize it as one already established by authority of the State constitutions.
This intended recognition—if there were any such—being founded on an error as to what the State constitutions really did authorize, necessarily falls to the ground, a defunct intention.
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We make a stand, then, at this point, and insist that the main question—the only material question—is already decided against slavery; and that it is of no consequence what recognition or sanction the constitution of the United States may have intended to extend to it. No one can deny a proposition so self-evident as that. Although we might stop—we yet do not choose to stop—at the point last suggested. We will now go further, and attempt to show, specifically from its provisions, that the constitution of the United States, not only does not recognize or sanction slavery, as a legal institution, but that, on the contrary, it presumes all men Edition: current; Page: [ 57 ] to be free; that it positively denies the right of property in man; and that it, of itself, makes it impossible for slavery to have a legal existence in any of the United States.
In the first place—although the assertion is constantly made, and rarely denied, yet it is palpably a mere begging of the whole question in favor of slavery, to say that the constitution intended to sanction it; for if it intended to sanction it, it did thereby necessarily sanction it, that is, if slavery then had any constitutional existence to be sanctioned.
The intentions of the constitution are the only means whereby it sanctions anything.
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And its intentions necessarily sanction everything to which they apply, and which, in the nature of things, they are competent to sanction. To say, therefore, that the constitution intended to sanction slavery, is the same as to say that it did sanction it; which is begging the whole question, and substituting mere assertion for proof. Why, then, do not men say distinctly, that the constitution did sanction slavery, instead of saying that it intended to sanction it?
Why, then, in the case of slavery, do men say merely that the constitution intended to sanction it, instead of saying distinctly, as we do in the other cases, that it did sanction it? The reason is obvious. If they were to say unequivocally that it did sanction it, they would lay themselves under the necessity of pointing to the words that sanction it; and they are aware that the words alone of the constitution do not come up to that point.
They, therefore, assert simply that the constitution intended to sanction it; and they then attempt to support the assertion by quoting certain words and phrases, which they say are capable of covering, or rather of concealing such an intention; and then by the aid of exterior, circumstantial and historical evidence, they attempt to enforce upon the mind the conclusion that, as matter of fact, such was the intention Edition: current; Page: [ 58 ] of those who drafted the constitution; and thence they finally infer that such was the intention of the constitution itself.
Its intentions are no guide to its legal meaning—as the advocates of slavery all assume; but its legal meaning is the sole guide to its intentions. This distinction is all important to be observed; for if we can gratuitously assume the intentions of a legal instrument to be what we may wish them to be, and can then strain or pervert the ordinary meaning of its words, in order to make them utter those intentions, we can make anything we choose of any legal instrument whatever.
The legal meaning of the words of an instrument is, therefore, necessarily our only guide to its intentions. In ascertaining the legal meaning of the words of the constitution, these rules of law, the reasons of which will be more fully explained hereafter, are vital to be borne constantly in mind, viz. The rule of law is materially different as to the terms necessary to legalize and sanction anything contrary to natural right, and those necessary to legalize things that are consistent with natural right.
The latter may be sanctioned by natural implication and inference; the former only by inevitable implication, or by language that is full, definite, express, explicit, unequivocal, and whose unavoidable import is to sanction the specific wrong intended. To assert, therefore, that the constitution intended to sanction slavery, is, in reality, equivalent to asserting that the necessary meaning, the unavoidable import of the words alone of the constitution, come fully up to the point of a clear, definite, distinct, express, explicit, unequivocal, necessary and peremptory sanction of the specific thing, human slavery, property in man.
If the necessary import of its words alone do but fall an iota short of this point, the instrument gives, and, legally speaking, intended to give, no legal sanction to slavery. Now, who can, in good faith, say that the words alone of the constitution come up to this point? No one, who knows anything of law, and the meaning of words.
Not even the name of the thing, alleged to be sanctioned, is given. The constitution itself contains no designation, description, or necessary admission of the existence of such a thing as slavery, servitude, or the right of property in man. We are obliged to go out of the instrument, and grope among the records of oppression lawlessness and crime—records unmentioned, and of course unsanctioned by the constitution—to find the thing, to which it is said that the words of the constitution apply. And when we have found this thing, which the constitution dare not name, we find that the constitution has sanctioned it if at all only by enigmatical words, by unnecessary implication and inference, by innuendo and double entendre, and under a name that entirely fails of describing the thing.
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Everybody must admit that the constitution itself contains no language, from which alone any court, that were either strangers to the prior existence of slavery, or that did not assume its prior existence to be legal, could legally decide that the constitution sanctioned it. And this is the true test for determining whether the constitution does, or does not, sanction slavery, viz. Edition: current; Page: [ 60 ] whether a court of law, strangers to the prior existence of slavery or not assuming its prior existence to be legal—looking only at the naked language of the instrument—could, consistently with legal rules, judicially determine that it sanctioned slavery.
Every lawyer, who at all deserves that name, knows that the claim for slavery could stand no such test. The fact is palpable, that the constitution contains no such legal sanction; that it is only by unnecessary implication and inference, by innuendo and double-entendre, by the aid of exterior evidence, the assumption of the prior legality of slavery, and the gratuitous imputation of criminal intentions that are not avowed in legal terms, that any sanction of slavery, as a legal institution, can be extorted from it.
But legal rules of interpretation entirely forbid and disallow all such implications, inferences, innuendos and double-entendre, all aid of exterior evidence, all assumptions of the prior legality of slavery, and all gratuitous imputations of criminal unexpressed intentions; and consequently compel us to come back to the letter of the instrument, and find there a distinct, clear, necessary, peremptory sanction for slavery, or to surrender the point. To the unprofessional reader these rules of interpretation will appear stringent, and perhaps unreasonable and unsound.
For his benefit, therefore, the reasons on which they are founded, will be given. And he is requested to fix both the reasons and the rules fully in his mind, inasmuch as the whole legal meaning of the constitution, in regard to slavery, may perhaps be found to turn upon the construction which these rules fix upon its language. But before giving the reasons of this rule, let us offer a few remarks in regard to legal rules of interpretation in general.
Many persons appear to have the idea that these rules have no foundation in reason, justice or necessity; that they are little else than whimsical and absurd conceits, arbitrarily adopted by the courts. No idea can be more erroneous than this. The rules are absolutely indispensable to the administration of the justice arising out of any class of legal instruments whatever—whether the instruments be simple contracts between man and man, or statutes enacted by legislatures, or fundamental compacts or constitutions of government agreed upon by the people at large.
In regard to all these instruments, the law fixes, and necessarily must fix their meaning; and for the obvious reason, that otherwise their meaning could not be fixed at all.
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The parties to the simplest contract may disagree, or pretend to disagree as to its meaning, and of course as to their respective Edition: current; Page: [ 61 ] rights under it. The different members of a legislative body, who vote for a particular statute, may have different intentions in voting for it, and may therefore differ, or pretend to differ, as to its meaning.
The people of a nation may establish a compact of government. The motives of one portion may be to establish liberty, equality and justice; and they may think, or pretend to think, that the words used in the instrument convey that idea. The motives of another portion may be to establish the slavery or subordination of one part of the people, and the superiority or arbitrary power of the other part; and they may think, or pretend to think, that the language agreed upon by the whole authorizes such a government. In all these cases, unless there were some rules of law, applicable alike to all instruments, and competent to settle their meaning, their meaning could not be settled; and individuals would of necessity lose their rights under them.
The law, therefore, fixes their meaning; and the rules by which it does so, are founded in the same justice, reason, necessity and truth, as are other legal principles, and are for that reason as inflexible as any other legal principles whatever. They are also simple, intelligible, natural, obvious. Everybody are presumed to know them, as they are presumed to know any other legal principles.
No one is allowed to plead ignorance of them, any more than of any other principle of law. All persons and people are presumed to have framed their contracts, statutes and constitutions with reference to them. And if they have not done so—if they have said black when they meant white, and one thing when they meant another, they must abide the consequences.
The law will presume that they meant what they said. No one, in a court of justice, can claim any rights founded on a construction different from that which these rules would give to the contract, statute, or constitution, under which he claims. The judiciary cannot depart from these rules, for two reasons. First, because the rules embody in themselves principles of justice, reason and truth; and are therefore as necessarily law as any other principles of justice, reason and truth; and, secondly, because if they could lawfully depart from them in one case, they might in another, at their own caprice.
Courts could thus at pleasure become despotic; all certainty as to the legal meaning of instruments would be destroyed; and the administration of justice, according to the true meaning of contracts, statutes and constitutions, would be rendered impossible. One of them, as has been before stated, is, that where words are susceptible of two meanings, one consistent, and the other inconsistent, with justice and natural right, that meaning, and only that meaning, which is consistent with right, shall be attributed to them—unless other parts of the instrument overrule that interpretation.
Another rule, if indeed it be not the same, is, that no language except that which is peremptory, and no implication, except one that is inevitable, shall be held to authorize or sanction anything contrary to natural right. Another rule is, that no extraneous or historical evidence shall be admitted to fix upon a statute an unjust or immoral meaning, when the words themselves of the act are susceptible of an innocent one.
One of the reasons of these stringent and inflexible rules, doubtless is, that judges have always known, that, in point of fact, natural justice was itself law, and that nothing inconsistent with it could be made law, even by the most explicit and peremptory language that legislatures could employ. But judges have always, in this country and in England, been dependent upon the executive and the legislature for their appointments and salaries, and been amenable to the legislature by impeachment.
And as the executive and legislature have always enacted more or less statutes, and had more or less purposes to accomplish, that were inconsistent with natural right, judges have seen that it would be impossible for them to retain their offices, and at the same time maintain the integrity of the law against the will of those in whose power they were.
It is natural also that the executive should appoint, and that the legislature should approve the appointment of no one for the office of judge, whose integrity they should suppose would stand in the way of their purposes.