The Unconstitutionality of Slavery Before examining the language of the Constitution, in regard to Slavery, let us obtain a view of the principles, by virtue of which law arises out of those constitutions and compacts, by which people agree to establish government.
To do this it is necessary to define the term law. Popular opinions are very loose and indefinite, both as to the true definition of law, and also as to the principle, by virtue of which law results from the compacts or contracts of mankind with each other.
What then is Law? That law, I mean, which, and which only, judicial tribunals are morally bound, under all circumstances, to declare and sustain?
In answering this question, I shall attempt to show that law is an intelligible principle of right, necessarily resulting from the nature of man; and not an arbitrary rule, that can be established by mere will, numbers or power.
To determine whether this proposition be correct, we must look at the general signification of the term law.