United States v. Morris
125 Federal Reporter, 322 (1903)
The thirteenth amendment is a great extension of the powers of the national government. In the language of Mr. Justice Swayne in United States v. Rhodes, 1 Abb. 28, 37, Fed. Cas. No. 16,151:
"It trenches directly upon the power of the states and of the people of the states. It is the first and only instance of a change of this character in the organic law. It destroyed the most important relation between capital and labor in all the states where slavery existed. It affected deeply the fortunes of a large portion of the people. It struck out of existence millions of property. The measure was the consequence of a strife of opinions and a conflict of interests, real or imaginary, as old as the Constitution itself. These elements of discord grew in intensity. Their violence was increased by the throes and convulsions of a civil war. The impetuous vortex finally swallowed up the evil, and with it forever the power to restore it. Those who insisted upon the adoption of this amendment were animated by no spirit of vengeance. They sought security against the recurrence of a sectional conflict. They felt that much was due to the African race for the part it had borne during the war. They were also impelled by a sense of right and by a strong sense of justice to an unoffending and long-suffering people. These considerations must not be lost sight of when we come to examine the amendment in order to ascertain its proper construction."
The effect of this amendment on the negro, as stated by the same learned jurist in that case, is "that the emancipation of a native-born slave by removing the disability of slavery made him a citizen without any further act of Congress."
Chancellor Kent defines "citizens" as follows: " 'Citizens,' under our Constitution and laws, means free inhabitants born within the United States, or naturalized under the laws of Congress." 1 Kent Comm. 292. The possession of political rights is not essential to citizenship. Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 22 L. Ed. 627, 6 Am. & Eng. Enc. of Law 15.
Every citizen and freeman is endowed with certain rights and privilege, to enjoy which no written law or statute is required. These are fundamental or natural rights, recognized among all free people. In our Declaration of Independence, the Magna Charta of our republican institutions, it is declared:
"We hold these rights to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
[125 Federal Reporter 325]
"The abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude was intended to make every one born in this country a free man, and as such to give him the right
[125 Federal Reporter 330]
to pursue the ordinary avocatlons of life wltbout other restraint than such as affects all others, and to enjoy equally with them the fruits of hls labor. A prohibition to him to pursue certain callings, open to others of the same age, condition, and sex, and to reside in places, where others are permitted to live, would so far deprive him of the rights of a free man, and would place him, as respects others, in a condition of servitude. A person allowed to pursue only one trade or calling, and only in one locality of the country, would not be, in the strict sense of the term, in a condition of slavery, but probably none would deny that he would be in a condition of servitude. He certainly would not possess the liberties nor enjoy the privileges of a free man. The compulsion which would force him to labor, even for his own benefit, only in one direction, or in one place, would be almost as oppressive, and nearly as great an invasion of his liberty, as the compulsion which would force him to labor for the benefit or pleasure of another, and would equally constitute an element of servitude." 83 U. S. 90, 21 L. Ed. 413.
[125 Federal Reporter 331]