Page:Attainder of treason and confiscation of the property of Rebels - 1863.pdf/14

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"Its consequences (says Blackstone, vol. IV, p. 381,) are corruption of blood and forfeiture."

The forfeiture or loss of civil rights may be resolved into three elements:

(1.) The right to hold any office or trust under the Government, together with the right to vote at any election for the choice of any officers.

{2.) The right to hold property, especially real estate, as that right in England and in this country, when the Constitution was adopted, was not allowed to any foreigner or alien.

(8.) The right to protection, in case one should leave the country, for the purpose of traveling or residing in foreign lands.

Thus, the forfeiture of attainder was a loss of all civil rights—all the rights and privileges of citizenship.

The expression, "corruption of blood," grew out of usages connected with the feudal tenures. The fief was an estate in lands held from a superior lord, on condition of fealty, (fidelity), homage, and military service. It is highly probable, that these fiefs or estates were at first granted as personal favors and only for life. But in the troublous and confused times of the early settlement of the kingdoms of Europe, nothing was more natural, than that the son of the vassal should succeed to the fief or estate of his father, if he was worthy of it, and capable of performing its duties, In this way, a usage grew up, by which the inheritance of the fief, with its titles and duties, came to have the force of law, and very generally prevailed, if it did not become quite universal. If however, the vassal at any time failed of his duties, and came short in his fidelity; still more, if he should array himself against his lord, he, of course, forfeited all that he had received, not only his own estate and rights in the fief, but the rights of his heirs, whatever they might be, to succeed by inheritance to what he had lost. Under the Norman kings in England, says Hallam, ("View of Europe," chap. II, p. 11), these "absolute forfeitures came to prevail, and a new doctrine was introduced, 'the corruption of blood,' by which the heir was effectually excluded from claiming his title at any distance of time through an attainted ancestor." This, of course, reduced them to the condition of serfs or slaves, with no rights which the more privileged classes were bound to respect. The idea was, that treason implied a baseness of "blood," or of nature, which