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ments, which in former ages have disgraced the amals of many nations.
§ 401. The third section of the third article, contains the definition of treason, a crime, which is very apt to rouse public resentment, and, in times of party and political excitement, to be extended by construction to embrace acts of very slight misconduct, and even of an innocent character. Free governments, as well as despotic governments, have too often been guilty of the most outrageous injustice to their own citizens and subjects, upon accusations of this sort. They have been ready to accuse, upon the most unsatisfactory evidence, and to convict, upon the most slender proofs, some of their most distinguished and virtuous statesmen, as well as persons of inferior character. They have inflamed into the criminality of treason acts of just resistance to tyranny; and tortured a manly freedom of opinion into designs subversive of the government. To guard against the recurrence of these evils, the Constitution has declared, "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court." "The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason. But no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.'
§ 402. Treason is generally deemed the highest crime, which can be committed in civil society, since its aim is an overthrow of the government, and a public resistance of its powers by force. Its tendency is to create universal danger and alarm; and on this account, it is peculiarly odious, and often visited with the deepest public resentment. Even a charge of this nature, made against an individual, is deemed so opprobrious, that, whether just or unjust, it subjects him to suspicion and hatred; and, in times of high political excitement, acts of a very subordinate nature are often, by popular prejudices, as well as by royal resentment, magnified into this fatal enormity. It is, therefore, of very great importance, that its true
nature and limits should be exactly ascertained; and Montesquieu was so sensible of it, that he has not scrupled to declare, that if the crime of treason be indeterminate, that alone is sufficient to make any government degenerate into arbitrary power. The history of England itself is full of melancholy instruction on this subject. By the ancient common law, it was left very much to discretion to determine, what acts were, and what were not, treason; and the judges of those times, holding office at the pleasure of the Crown, became but too often the instru ments, in its hands, of foul injustice. At the instance of tyrannical princes, they had abundant opportunities to create constructive treasons; that is, by forced and arbitrary constructions, to raise offences into the guilt and punishment of treason, which were not suspected to be such. The grievance of these constructive treasons was so enormous, and so often weighed down the innocent, and the patriotic, that it was found necessary, as early as the reign of Edward the Third, for Parliament to interfere, and arrest it, by declaring and defining all the different branches of treason. This statute has ever since remained the pole star of English jurisprudence upon this subject. And, although, upon temporary emergencies, and in arbitrary reigns, since that period, other treasons have been created, the sober sense of the nation has generally abrogated them, or reduced their power within narrow limits.
§ 403. Nor have republics been exempt from violence and tyranny of a similar character. It has been justly remarked, that new-fangled and artificial treasons have been the great engines, by which violent factions, the natural offspring of free governments, have usually wreaked their alternate malignity on each other.
§ 404. It was under the influence of these admonitions, furnished by history and human experience, that the Convention deemed it necessary to interpose an impassable barrier against arbitrary constructions, either by the courts, or by Congress, upon the crime of treason. It confines it to two species; first, the levying of war against the United States; and, secondly, adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. In so doing, they have
adopted the very words of the Statute of Treason, of Edward the Third; and thus, by implication, in order to cut off, at once, all chances of arbitrary constructions, they have recognized the well-settled interpretation of these phrases in the administration of criminal law, which has prevailed for ages.
§405. The other part of the clause, requiring the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or a confession in open court, to justify a conviction, is founded upon the same reasoning. A like provision exists in British jurisprudence, founded upon the same great policy of protecting men against false testimony and unguarded confessions, to their utter ruin. It has been well remarked, that confessions are the weakest and most suspicious of all testimony; ever liable to be obtained by artifice, false hopes, promises of favor, or menaces; seldom remembered accurately, or reported with due precision; and incapable, in their nature, of being disproved by other negative evidence. To which it may be added, that they are easy to be forged, and the most difficult to guard against. An unprincipled demagogue, or a corrupt courtier, might otherwise hold the lives of the purest patriots in his hands, without the means of proving the falsity of the charge, if a secret confession, uncorroborated by other evidence, would furnish a sufficient, foundation and proof of guilt. And wisely, also, has the Constitution declined to suffer the testimony of a single witness, however high, to be sufficient to establish such a crime, which rouses at once against the victim private honor and public hostility. There must, as there should, be a concurrence of two witnesses to the same overt act, that is, to the same open act of treason, who are above all reasonable exception,
§ 406. The subject of the power of Congress to declare the punishment of treason, and the consequent disabilities, have been already commented on in another place
§ 407. We have thus passed in review all those provisions of the Constitution, which concern the establishment, jurisdiction, and duties, of the judicial department ; and the rights and privileges of the citizens, connected with the administration of public justice.
Privileges of Citizens.-Fugitive Criminals and Slaves.
§ 408. THE fourth article of the Constitution contains several important subjects, some of which have been al ready considered. Among those, which have been so considered, are, the clauses which respect the faith and credit to be given to the acts, records, judgements, and proceedings, of the different States, and the mode of proving them, and the effect thereof; the admission of new States into the Union; and the regulation and disposal of the territory, and other property, of the United States.
§ 409. Among those, which remain for consideration, the first is, "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." It is obvious, that if the citizens of the different States were to be deemed aliens to each other, they could not inherit, or hold, or purchase real estate, or possess any political or municipal privileges in any other State, than that, in which they were born. And the States would be at liberty to make laws, giving preferences of rights and offices, and even privileges in trade and business, to those, who were Natives, over all other persons, who belonged to other States; or they might make invidious discriminations between the citizens of different States. Such a power would have a tendency to generate jealousies and discontents, injurious to the harmony of all the States. And, therefore, the Constitution has wisely created, as it were, a general citizenship, communicating to the citizens of each State, who have their domicil in another, all the privileges and immunities enjoyed by the citizens of the latter.
$410. The next clause is, "A person, charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the Executive authority of the State, troi
which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State, having jurisdiction of the crime." As doubts have existed, whether, by the law of nations, a surrender of fugitives from justice can lawfully be demanded from the government of the country, where they seek an asylum, there is great propriety in making this a positive right, in regard to the several States composing the United States. It is for their mutual benefit, convenience, and safety. It will promote harmony and good feeling between them. It will also add strength to a great moral duty, and ope rate indirectly to the suppression of crimes; and finally, it will thus increase the public sense of the blessings of the National Government.
§ 411. The next clause is, "No person held to ser vice or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escap ing into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regu lation therein, be discharged from such service or labor. but shall be delivered up, on the claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." This clause was introduced into the Constitution solely for the benefit of the slave-holding States, to enable them to reclaim their fugitive slaves, who should escape into other States, where slavery is not tolerated. It is well known, that, at the common law, a slave escaping into a State, where slavery is not allowed, would immediately become free, and could not be reclaimed. Before the Constitution was adopted, the Southern States felt the want of some protecting provision against such an occurrence to be a grievous injury to them. And we here see, that the Eastern and Middle States have sacrificed their own opinions and feelings, in order to take away every source of jealousy, on a subject so delicate to Southern interests a circumstance, sufficient of itself, to repel the celusive notion, that the South has not, at all times, had its full share in the blessings resulting from the Union