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hing Pled their entre les al
our Union," which he never ceased / tion. They vehemently disclaimed to regard as of the highest impor- any desire to return to the chronic tance and the greatest beneficence. feebleness and anarchy of the supHistory teaches scarcely anything planted Confederation, and consecramore clearly than that it was the ted their energies to battling against purpose of the framers of the Consti- the measureless ills of an unbalanced tution to render the inhabitants of and centralized despotism. They all the States substantially and per- generally rejected the appellation petually one people, living under a of Anti-Federalists, and chose to be common Government, and known to distinctively known as Republicans. the rest of mankind by a common Thomas Jefferson, who had been abnational designation. The advan- sent as embassador to France throughtages secured to the people of all the out the five or six preceding years, States by the more perfect Union” and who had therefore taken no conattained through the Constitution, spicuous or decided part either for or were so striking and manifest that, against the Constitution in its incipiafter they had been for a few years ency, became the leader, and was for experienced and enjoyed, they si many years thereafter the oracle, of lenced all direct and straightforward their party. opposition. Those who had origin- The Federalists, strong in the posally opposed and denounced the Con- session of power, and in the popularstitution became at least in profes- ity and influence of their great chief, sion-its most ardent admirers and Washington, were early misled into vigilant guardians. They volunteered some capital blunders. Among these their services as its champions and pro- was the passage of the acts of Contectors against those who had framed gress, famous as the Alien and Sediit and with difficulty achieved its rat- tion laws. The aliens, whom the ification. These were plainly and political tempests then convulsing persistently accused of seeking its Europe had drifted in large numbers subversion through the continual en- to our shores, were in good part turlargement of Federal power by lati- bulent, restless adventurers, of despetudinous and unwarranted construc- rate fortunes, who sought to embroil
3 In the address of the Federal Convention to a body as Congress. Two sovereignties cannot the people, signed by Washington as its Presi exist within the same limits.” dent, September 17, 1787.
Mr. Wilson, of Pennsylvania (June 20th),
"was tenacious of the idea of preserving the 4 “Citizens by birth or choice of a common State Governments." But in the next day's country, that country has a right to concentrate debate: “Taking the matter in the more your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which general view, he saw no danger to the States belongs to you in your National capacity, must from the General Government. On the contraalways exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more ry, he conceived that, in spite of every precauthan any appellation derived from local discrim- . tion, the General Government would be in perinations."- Washington's Farewell Address. petual danger of encroachments from the State 5 In the Federal Convention of 1787 (Debate
Mr. MADISON, of Virginia, "was of the opinion, of Monday, June 18th):
in the first place, that there was less danger Mr. HAMILTON, of New York, said: “The of encroachment from the General Government General power, whatever be its form, if it pre than from the State Governments; and, in the serves itself, must swallow up the State Govern- | second place, that the mischiefs from the enments. Otherwise, it would be swallowed up by croachments would be less fatal, if made by the them. It is against all the principles of good former, than if made by the latter.”—Madison's government to vest the requisite powers in such | Papers, vol. ii., pp. 884, 903, 921.
us in the contest then devastating was far easier to libel a hated oppothe Old World. Washington, and nent than to refute his arguments. the Federal magnates who surround- The best newspapers of that day ed him, were inflexibly averse to this, would hardly maintain a comparison, and baffled all attempts to involve us either for ability or decorum, with in a foreign war. This very natural- the third class of our time; and ly offended the European refugees personalities largely supplied the among us, who looked anxiously to place of learning and logic. Hence, this country for interference to reës- many prosecutions under the Sedition tablish them in power and prosperity law; some of them, doubtless, richly in their own. Hence, they generally deserved; but all tending to excite took the lead in reprobating and stig- hostility to the act and its authors. matizing the negotiation and ap- No other contributed half so palpaproval of Jay's treaty with Great bly to the ultimate overthrow of the Britain, whereby our past differences Federal ascendency. and misunderstandings with that. When John Adams became Presipower were adjusted. They were in dent, in 1797, the South had become good part politicians and agitators the stronghold of the Opposition. by trade, instinctively hostile to a Mr. Madison had dissolved his earlier government so cold-blooded and un | association with the great body of the impulsive as ours, and ardently de- framers of the Constitution, and besired a change. Regarding them as come the lieutenant of Mr. Jefferson. dangerous and implacable enemies to Kentuckyma Virginia colony and the established policy of non-inter- offset—was ardently and almost vention, and to those who upheld it, unanimously devoted to the ideas the Alien law assumed to empower and the fortunes of Jefferson; and he the President to send out of the was privately solicited to draft the country any foreigner whose further manifesto, through which the new stay among us should be deemed by State beyond the Alleghanies prohim incompatible with the public claimed, in 1798, her intense hostility safety or tranquillity. The Sedition to Federal rule. The famous “ Resolaw provided for the prosecution and lutions of '98” were thus originated; punishment of the authors of false, Mr. Jefferson's authorship, though malicious, and wicked libels on the suspected, was never established President, and others high in author- until he avowed it in a letter more ity. The facts that no one ever was than twenty years afterward. These sent away under the Alien act, and resolutions are too long to be here that the Sedition law was hardly quoted in full, but the first is as folmore than the common law of libel lows: applied specially to those who should 1 “ Resolved, That the several States comventure to speak evil of dignities, posing the ñture to sneak evil of dionities | posing the United States of America are not
united on the principle of unlimited submisproved rather the folly of such legis
sion to their General Government, but that, lation than its necessity or its accord by a compact under the style and title of a ance with the Constitution. Party
Constitution for the United States, and of
amendments thereto, they constituted a spirit and party feeling ran high. It General Government for special purposes
6 Signed November 19, 1794; ratified by Washington, August 14, 1795.
delegated to that Government certain defi- acts, nor any others of the General Governnite powers, reserving, each State to itself, ment, not plainly and intentionally authorthe residuary mass of right to their own | ized by the Constitution, shall be exercised self-government; and that whensoever the within their respective territories. General Government assumes undelegated “9th. Resolved, That the said Committee powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, be authorized to communicate, by writing or and of no force; that to this compact each | personal conferences, at any times or places State acceded as a State, and as an integral whatever, with any person or persons who party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the may be appointed by any one or more coother party; that the Government created States to correspond or confer with them, by this compact was not made the exclusive and that they lay their proceedings before or final judge of the extent of the powers | the next session of Assembly.” delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitu The Virginia resolves on the same tion, the measure of its powers; but that, as subject, passed by her Legislature in in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an
1799, were drafted by Mr. Madisonequal right to judge for itself, as well of doubtless after consultation with his infractions as of the mode and measure of
chief, Mr. Jefferson—and did not redress." The resolves proceed, at great
differ materially in spirit or expreslength, to condemn not only the Alien sion from those of Kentucky. and Sedition laws, as utterly unconstitutional and void, but even the
Mr. Jefferson became President on act, recently passed, to punish frauds
the 4th of March, 1801. Up to this committed on the Bank of the United
hour, he had been an extreme and States, as well as other acts and parts
relentless stickler for the most rigid of acts; and conclude with a call on
and literal construction of the Federal the other States to unite with Ken
pact, and for denying to the Governtucky in condemning and opposing
ment all authority for which express all such usurpations of power by the
warrant could not be found in the Federal Government, and by express
provisions of that instrument. Said ing her undoubting confidence
he?: “In questions of power, then,
let no more be heard of confidence in “That they will concur with this commonwealth in considering the said acts as so
man, but bind him down from mispalpably against the Constitution as to chief by the chains of the Constituamount to an undisguised declaration that
tion.” that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, His fidelity to his declared princibut that it will proceed in the exercise, over ple was soon subiected to a searchin these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of ordeal. Louisiana fell into the hands the States, and consolidating them in the of Bonaparte, who, it was not improbhands of the General Government, with the
able, might be induced to sell it. It power assumed to bind the States (not merely as to the cases made federal (casus was for us a desirable acquisition ; fæderis), but) in all cases whatsoever, by but where was the authority for buylaws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent: that this would
ing it? In the Constitution, there be to surrender the form of government we clearly was none, unless under that have chosen, and live under one deriving its
very power to provide for the general powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, returning welfare, which, as he had expressly to their natural right in cases not made fede declared, was meant by the instrural, will concur in declaring these acts void and of no force, and will each take measures
ment “to be subsidiary only to the of its own in providing that neither these execution of limited powers.” 8 He
? Eighth Kentucky Resolve.
8 Seventh Kentucky Resolve.
was quite too large and frank a man | ted States, I cannot help believing the to pretend that his action in this case intention was not to permit Congress was justified by the Constitution, as to admit into the Union new States, he understood and had always inter- which should be formed outside of preted it. He said ::
the territory for which, and under " This treaty must of course be laid before
whose authority alone, they were then both Houses, because both have important acting. I do not believe it was meant functions to exercise respecting it. They, I that thern
that they might receive England, Irepresume, will see their duty to their country in ratifying and paying for it, so as to secure
land, Holland, etc., into it, which a good which would otherwise be probably would be the case on your construcnever again in their power. But I suppose
tion.” After disposing in like manthey must then appeal to the nation for an additional article to the Constitution, ap ner of “the opinion of those who conproving and confirming an act which the sider the grant of the treaty-making nation had not previously authorized. The Constitution has made no provision for our
power as boundless," and completing holding foreign territory, still less for incor- his demonstration that there was no porating foreign nations into our Union.
power whatever in the Constitution, The Executive, in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much advances the good of
as he construed it, to make this purheir country, have done an act beyond the chase, he, with more good sense than Constitution. The Legislature, in casting behind them metaphysical subtleties, and
consistency, concludes; “I confess, risking themselves like faithful servants, then, I think it important, in the presmust ratify and pay for it, and throw them
ent case, to set an example against selves on their country for doing for them unauthorized what we know they would | broad construction, by appealing for have done for themselves had they been in a new power to the people. If, howsituation to do it. It is the case of a guardi
ever, our friends shall think differan, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; ently, certainly I shall acquiesce with and saying to him, when of age, 'I did this satisfaction; confiding, that the good for your good; I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get
sense of our country will correct the out of the scrape as I can. I thought it my evil of construction when it shall duty to risk myself for you.' But we shall
| produce ill effects.” not be disavowed by the nation, and their act of indemnity will confirm, and not weaken, the Constitution, by more strongly When, in 1811, the Territory of marking out its lines.”
Orleans was moulded into the State In a letter to Wilson C. Nicholas,to of Louisiana, Mr. "Josiah Quincy, a he examines and thoroughly refutes young and very ardent Federalist who the assumption, suggested by Mr. N., then represented the city of Boston that the power to purchase Louisiana in the House, indulged in what re"might possibly be distilled from the sembled very closely a menace of authority given to Congress to admit contingent secession; and similar fulnew States into the Union.” He minations were uttered by sundry says: “But when I consider that the New England Federalists under the limits of the United States are pre- pressure of Mr. Jefferson's Embargo cisely fixed by the treaty of 1783, and and of the War of 1812. The famous that the Constitution expressly de but unsavory Hartford Convention," clares itself to be made for the Uni- held near the close of that war, and
9 Letter to Senator Breckinridge, August 12,/ 1803.
10 September 7, 1803.
11 For proceedings of this Convention, see Niles's Register, January 14, 1815.
by which the ruin of the Federal | constitutional laws, without overturning the
lis | government. It is no doctrine of mine party was completed, evinced its dis
that unconstitutional laws bind the people. content with matters in general, but The great question is, “Whose prerogative is especially with Democracy and the
it to decide on the constitutionality or uncon
stitutionality of the laws?' On that, the War, by a resort to rhetoric which main debate hinges. The proposition that, was denounced as tending to dis in case of a supposed violation of the Constiunion, but which does not seem to
tution by Congress, the States have a consti
tutional right to interfere and annul the law warrant the imputation. And when of Congress, is the proposition of the gentleever the right of secession or of nulli- | man. I do not admit it. If the gentleman
had intended no more than to assert the fication has been asserted, whether
right of revolution for justifiable cause, he directly or by clear implication, in would have said only what all agree to. But any part of the country, or by any
I cannot conceive that there can be a mid
dle course between submission to the laws, party out of power, such assertion when regularly pronounced constitutional, has called forth expressions of em on the one hand, and open resistance, which
is revolution or rebellion, on the other. I phatic rebuke and dissent from other
say, the right of a State to annul a law of sections and antagonistic parties. Mr. Webster, 13 in replying to Mr.
ground of the inalienable right of man to
resist oppression; that is to say, upon the Hayne of South Carolina on this
ground of revolution. I admit that there is subject, forcibly said:
an ultimate violent remedy, above the Con
stitution and in defiance of the Constitu"I understood the gentleman to maintain, tion, which may be resorted to when a revthat, without revolution, without civil com olution is to be justified. But I do not admit motion, without rebellion, a remedy for sup that, under the Constitution, and in conforposed abuse and transgression of the powers mity with it, there is any mode in which of the General Government lies in a direct a State Government, as a member of the appeal to the interference of the State Gov Union, can interfere and stop the progress ernments."
of the general movement, by force of her Mr. Hayne here rose and said: “He did own laws, under any circumstances whatnot contend for the mere right of revolution, ever. * ** Sir, the human mind is so conbut for the right of constitutional resistance. stituted that the merits of both sides of a What he maintained was that, in case of a controversy appear very clear, and very palplain, palpable violation of the Constitution pable, to those who respectively espouse by the General Government, a State may in them; and both sides usually grow clearer terpose; and that this interposition is con as the controversy advances. South Carostitutional.”
lina sees unconstitutionality in the tariff; Mr. Webster resumed :-“So, Sir, I understood the gentleman, and am happy to find danger. Pennsylvania, with a vision not less that I did not misunderstand him. What he sharp, looks at the same tariff, and sees no contends for is, that it is constitutional to in such thing in it; she sees it all constitutional, terrupt the administration of the Constitu- / all useful, all safe. The faith of South Cartion itself, in the hands of those who are olina is strengthened by opposition, and she chosen and sworn to administer it, by the now not only sees, but resolves, that the tariff direct interference, in form of law, of the is palpably unconstitutional, oppressive, and States, in virtue of their sovereign capacity. dangerous; but Pennsylvania, not to be beThe inherent right of the people to reform hind her neighbors, and equally willing to their government, I do not deny; and they strengthen her own faith by a confident ashave another right, and that is, to resist un severation, resolves also, and gives to every
12 The following extract is a fair specimen of formality which formed the links of the Union the prevailing sentiment, at the time of the as
is necessary to dissolve it. The majority of the sembling of the “Hartford Convention," of the
States which formed the Union must consent to
the withdrawal of any branch of it. Until that South—including South Carolina-on the sub
consent has been obtained, any attempt to dissolve the ject of Secession:
Union, or distract the efficacy of its laws, is TREA"No man, no association of men, no State or son-treason to all intents and purposes." --Richset of States, has a right to withdraw itself from mond Enquirer, November 1, 1814. this Union, of its own account. The same power 13 Debate on Foot's resolutions, January 26, that knit us together can unknit. The same / 1830.