``The famous ordinance of Congress of the 13th July, 1787, which has ever since constituted, in most respects, the model of all our territorial governments, and is equally remarkable for the brevity and exactness of its text, and for its masterly display of the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty.''---Justice Story, 1 Commentaries, section1312.
``It is well known that the Ordinance of 1787 was drawn by the Hon. Nathan Dane, of Massachusetts, and adopted with scarcely a verbal alteration by Congress. It is a noble and imperishable monument to his fame.'' ---Id. note.
The ordinance was reported by a committee, of which Wm. S. Johnson and Charles Pinckney were members. It recites that, ``for extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions, are erected; to fix and establish those principles as the basis of all laws, constitutions and governments which forever hereafter shall be formed in the said Territory; to provide also for the establishment of States and permanent government, and for their admission to a share in the federal councils, on an equal footing with the original States, at as early periods as may be consistent with the general interest---
``It is hereby ordained and declared, by the authority aforesaid, that the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said Territory, and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit:'' * * * *
``Art. 6. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; provided always that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service.''
On passing the ordinance, the ayes and nays were required by Judge Yates, of New-York, when it appeared that his was the only vote in the negative.
The ordinance of April 23, 1784, was a brief outline of that of '87. It was reported by a Committee, of which Mr. Jefferson was chairman, and the report contained a slavery prohibition intended to take effect in 1800. This was stricken out of the report, six States voting to retain it---three voting to strike out---one being divided (N.C.,) and the others not being represented. (The assent of nine States was necessary to retain any provision.) And this is the vote alluded to by Mr. Lincoln. But subsequently, March 16, 1785, a motion was made by Rufus King to commit a proposition ``that there be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude'' in any of the Territories; which was carried by the vote of eight States, including Maryland.---Journal Am. Congress, vol. 4, pp. 373, 380, 481, 752.
When, therefore, the ordinance of '87 came before Congress, on its final passage, the subject of slavery prohibition had been ``agitated'' for nearly three years; and the deliberate and almost unanimous vote of that body upon that question leaves no room to doubt what the fathers believed, and how, in that belief, they acted.
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