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FER. 19, 1833.]
Revenue Collection Bill.
consequence of combinations, or assemblages of persons,
ports and harbors of the United States—of all the twenty
four States of the confederacy; but how has it been ar-
ses, and on their ingenuity for their conclusions. There ple confederation of States into a popular Government of is no military force enlisted and paid by the State of South unlimited powers, I am very sure that the honorable SenCarolina; she, like every other State, must rely on her mi- ator never dreamed that those doctrines were so soon to litia for her defence against every assault, external or inter- be canonized, and find a place among the records of the nal. Have not the States of Massachusetts and Connecti. Department of State, under the sanction of the broad seal, cut a well-organized militia? Do they not rely on them and the signature of the Chief Magistrate. But, sir, we for protection, and the preservation of their rights against now see that such was the fortunate destiny which await. a foreign foe, or domestic intrusion If my information ed the speech of the honorable Senator. He finds himself be correct, these States can, at the tap of the drum, call suddenly translated into the company of his former politiinto the field, at a moment's warning, the best organized cal antagonists, and, like Asmodeus when he found himand most efficient militia in the world. Would they hesi. self in a church, may well look around him with astonishtate to employ this force on any emergency which might ment, and wonder how he came there. threaten their safety? No one can doubt that they would Sir, this singular proclamation is mandatory in its charnot. And yet, sir, this constitutes the military array in acter. It speaks this language to the people of South CarSouth Carolina, of which we have heard so much, calling oliña: “If you agree with me in opinion, all's well; if for the concentration of the army and navy in the port not, you shall be punished by the strong arm of power, and harbor of Charleston to suppressit. There is nothing and more particularly your leaders, on whom I charge all in the State to excite the fears or apprehensions of the your errors." Let me suppose an interview to take place General Government. She has legislated, and that is all. between the President of the United States and some ob. It is, therefore, most evident that if we operate on her by stinate State rights citizen of South Carolina. The former means of a military power, it must be for the purpose of reads this proclamation, and then he asks the latter, "Do enforcing the proclamation of the President, which de. you concur' with me in opinion?" The citizen replies, mands the abrogation of the ordinance and laws enacted “Sir, I do not." Upon which he receives a gentle slap by the sovereign authority of the people, and for which on the face, and the question is repeated. Again, the anshe can only be responsible in her character as one of the swer is, “Sir, I do not assent to your doctrines." He parties to the compact of Union.
receives a blow which fells him to the ground. “Do you Can this Government, of limited and defined powers, now presume to deny the accuracy of my opinions?” interfere with, or control, by the exertion of its military “Sir," the astonished citizen replies, “I claim the privipower, the internal action of a State in its highest sove lege of a freeman, and utterly reject your doctrine as reign capacity? This is a grave question, and I shall pre- false and unfounded.” What next? “off with his head; sently give it a full and fair examination. Sir, by what au so much for Buckingham.” thority did the President of the United States put forth his proclamation, promulgating only political dogmas un
"To be hung for treason is a common evil, der the broad seal, with denunciations against all who
To die for false opinions is the devil.” should be guilty of the crime of non-conformity to his Will the high-minded freemen of South Carolina bow new views of the constitution? Can any gentleman point to this imperial dictation, menaced as they are by the preto the law on which this extraordinary state paper is found-sence of a military force to humble them into .obedience! ed? I presume not; for, if there be such a one, it has I am much mistaken if they do. escaped my observation. It has a strong resemblance to a Having taken this concise view of the military features Pope's bull, from which none of the church may dare of the bill, I proceed to the analysis which has been given to dissent, without incurring the vengeance of the Al- of the origin of the Government founded on the political mighty
history of the country from the commencement of the The President reads to the people of South Carolina & revolution up to the time of the adoption of the federal political lecture, in the nature of a 4th of July oration, constitution. This review is rendered necessary by the and a very bad one too, in which he demands their concur-course of reasoning drawn from a misrepresentation of rence, and admonishes them, by virtue of his high pre-facts, which has been resorted to by the advocates of the rogative, as a father giving advice to his children, to com- theory of consolidation, to establish the position that the pel the convention to re-assemble and repeal their ordi- people of the United States, since the Declaration of Innance; and, in like manner, to require their Legislature dependence, have been governed as one consolidated mass, to repeal the laws which they have enacted to carry this and that they now constitute a single nation, within which ordinance into effect. A non-compliance with this de. the States are mere corporate bodies, possessing only mumand is threatened with the most signal punishment. Sir, nicipal powers, without the high attributes of sovereignty. if the President has power to impose his constructions of It is not my intention to fatigue the Senate by a particular the constitution on the world; to give them the force and reference to official documents which might be applicaeffect of law; to record them in the Department of State, ble to this part of the subject, but shall pass rapidly over under his sign-manual, for the instruction of his succes- the early events of the revolution, to demonstrate that sors; he might, with equal propriety, appoint political this new theory cannot be supported by a recurrence to preachers, propagandists, whose duty it should be to in- the true character of the Union, formed between the seculcate bis orthodox principles of government throughout veral States at that eventful period. The proclamation the Union, and pay them out of the public treasury. But of the President, concocted and matured, doubtless, by his this extra-official document owes its origin, in reference to constitutional advisers, assumes for the Federal Governthe political heresies which it contains, to the speech of ment supreme powers; and to sustain this postulatum, car. the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, (Mr. WEB-ries us back to our colonial dependence on the parent ster,] delivered in this body in 1830, on what was famil- country. This state paper is not more remarkable for its iarly called "Foot's resolutions." These principles had political sophistry than for the wretched caricature which never before been avowed by any political party in this it presents of historical facts connected with the revolucountry. They leave the old federal school far in the tion. It affirms, 1. That under the crown of Great Britrear in their ultra-consolidation tendencies, and were for ain, prior to the Declaration of Independence, we were the first time introduced to the notice of the American known in our aggregate character as the United Colonies people in the speech of the honorable Senator to which I of America.” 2. That by the Declaration of Indehave referred. Sir, although I accord to the Senator pendence "we declared ourselves one nation by a joint, much credit for his labored effort to overturn the well-set-not by several acts." 3. That the confederation was “a tled principles of the constitution, and to change this sim- solemn league of several States, by which they agreed
Fen. 19, 1833.] that they would collectively form one nation.” But this is subsequently qualified by the admission that under the confederation “we could scarcely be called a nation.” 4. That the constitution of the United States was made in the name and by the authority of the people of the United States, whose delegates formed, and whose conventions approved it. 5. That the President and Vice President, and members of both Houses of Congress, represent the whole people of the United States, to whom they are responsible, and not the particular States or districts in which they are chosen. Now, sir, (said Mr. P.) I maintain precisely the converse of all these propositions, in their whole extent. They conform, almost to the letter, with the principles advanced for the first time in this country by the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, in the memorable debate to which I have already referred. He, it is true, does not carry his principles of consolidation quite so far as the President does in his proclamation; but they are so nearly allied, that any attempt to discriminate between them would be superfluous. Kindred of the same family, they might al. most be considered of common parentage. Is it then true that we were known as the United Colonies of America under the British crown? No, sir; every page of our history contradicts it. The earliest dawn of the revolution made its appearance in the colony of Massachusetts. Other colonies had exhibited symptoms of discontent, and resolutions were passed in their assemblies and popular meetings, indicating their dissatisfaction of the arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British Parliament. But the distinguished honor belongs to Massachusetts to have taken the lead in measures of resistance. She gave the first impetus to the ball of the revolution; the battles of Concord and Bunker's Hill attest the fortitude, patriotism, and bravery of her people, in which they successfully contended, almost single-handed, with the disciplined troops of the mother country. Partial leagues, for common defence, were very soon formed with the neighboring colonies, and committees of correspondence were appointed, to bring those more distant into the common cause. We are told by Mr. Jefferson, that the messengers of Massachusetts and Virginia passed each other on their way, bearing similar propositions, to produce a concert of feeling and of affection in opposition to their oppressors. These bold measures had very soon their desired effect, and a general Congress from most, if not all the colonies, assembled at Philadelphia, to consult on the means best calculated to meet the emergency, and provide for the safety of the whole. This body of patriotic men were appointed, in some instances, by the Colonial Legislatures, and in others by assemblages of the people, without regard to form, or to the general suffrages of the inhabitants of the colonies which they professed to represent. They were united only by a sense of common danger; but, in all other respects were separate and distinct, wholly independent of each other; in which character they acted on their own convictions and responsibility. This was our condition prior to the Declaration of Independence. For some purposes the colonies acted together, but without any other obligation to continue so to act, distinct from the interest which each had in throwing off their allegiance to the British monarch. It remains to be seen how far the Declaration of Independence changed the relative condition of the colonies towards each other. It was “a declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,” each acting for itself, with full power to dissent from the measure, without incurring the displeasure of those who might think proper to adopt it. It was, therefore, a joint and several act, and the parties to it became bound by their own volunta consent. It declares, in express terms, “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free, sovereign, and independent States.” To make the instrument cor.
Revenue Collection Bill.
[SENATE. respond to the character given to it by the proclamation, the appropriate language would have been, “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, a free and independent nation.”. But it was not so in fact, nor was it so considered by the patriots who signed it. Can this be doubted by any one who will take the trouble to look at the manner in which the war of the revolution was conducted? As one nation, all who fought under our flag would have been responsible to the common head, and entitled to demand compensation for their services out of the general fund. And was it so? Certainly not. Each State had its separate army, organized, equipped, and paid out of the separate fund of each; and what was then called the continental army, and that only, was paid out of the general fund. Many of the States, having waste and unappropriated lands, made large grants of their domain to the officers and soldiers of the militia who were called into service for the defence of the State. This single fact, if it stood alone, is abundantly sufficient
to show that the States retained their separate and individual sovereignty, while each contributed its just proportion, both in men and money, to accomplish the glorious result. From the declaration itself, which announces to the world that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free, sovereign, and independent States,” and from the manner in which the war was prosecuted, am I not warranted in the conclusion that we were not looked upon, either at home or abroad, as one nation? Had this been the construction put upon the Declaration of Independence by those who signed it, we should have heard nothing of State troops as a distinct body of men, but the whole army must, of necessity, have been deemed national.
It has been reserved for the political jugglers of the new school to discover the hidden secret that we achieved our independence as one nation; and thereby to bring into contempt and derision the “proud sovereignty of the States.”
I will make only a few remarks on the articles of confederation. These are designated as a “league of several States, by which they collectively agreed that they would form one nation;” but, in a subsequent paragraph of the same paper, it is said that under their operation “we could scarcely be called a nation.” It may be asked, with great force and propriety, if, by the Declaration of Independence, we becameone nation, whence the necessity of forming a union of States, by adopting the articles of confedera: tion? These articles were not binding on the States until they were acceded to by the Legislature of each State, acting in its sovereign capacity. They were not finally accepted by the concurrence of all the States, until the year 1781, more than three years after they had been submitted for ratification. By the second article of confede: ration, “each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.” Could they retain that which they did not possess before? I deemit needless to multiply reasoning on this subject; a bare recital of the facts will satisfy all candid men that this novel idea of our forming one nation is perfectly absurd and ridiculous. We declared ourselves free and independent States. As such, the articles of confederation were entered into, which expressly declare that the sovereignty, freedom, and independence, possessed by each State prior to their adoption, were retained.
It may well be said that under these articles of confede. ration we could “scarcely be called a nation;” for, in fact, we were not so; but we were united then, as we are now, by a compact binding on each separate community to the extent of the delegated powers.
This view of our political condition is strongly enforced by the treaty of peace made with Great Britain at the conclusion of the war. It is a remarkable fact, that our independence was acknowledged, not as one nation, but as
distinct, independent sovereignties, named in the treaty itself. And having thus treated with the crown of Great Britain, the view which was entertained at the time of our political condition can no longer remain doubtful. If we had, indeed, declared ourselves one nation, we should have treated in that character; but there is not in the records of the country one solitary fact which in the remotest degree warrants the assertion, that the several States who were parties to the Declaration of Independence, ever did, or intended, by any act whatever, to disrobe themselves of their sovereignty. As colonies of Great Britain, we were separate and distinct, owing a common allegiance to the crown; we declared ourselves independent as States, we confederated as States, we retained this distinctive character throughout the revolutionary struggle; as such, our independence was acknowledged, and we were introduced into the family of nations as a confederated republic. Thus we commenced our political career; and the only remaining subject of inquiry is, have the States, by a voluntary surrender of their sovereignty, created a General Government, supreme in its structure, overwhelming in its influence, and against the action of which no State can interpose its authority but by resorting to the natural and inherent right of revolution? It is my purpose now to examine this important question, than which none has ever arisen, or can arise, in the practical operation of the Government, more deeply interesting to the American people. On this point hangs the perpetuity of the Union, and the brightest hopes of human liberty throughout the civilized world. Is this a popular Government, wielding without restraint or limitation the destinies of the country? If so, the free institutions of which we have so long and so justly boasted have been misunderstood by all who participated in their establishment. I had supposed that if there was any thing connected with our complicated system clearly settled by general acquiescence, it was the source from which the power of the Government sprung, and the real parties to the constitutional compact, ille phrases which are familiar to all who sneak of the Government, would seem to leave no room for doubt on this subject. The term “federal,” which every one applies to the constitution, means league or compact; union is the joining together of separate bodies or communities; ergo, the United States form a Federal Government, league, or compact. The effort to overthrow all the checks and balances, which have been no carefully interposed to preserve the purity of the system against usurpations of power, and to render the Government supreme, by tracing its origin to the people as a consolidated mass, was reserved for the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. Websten,) who has been so fortunate, in the transmutations of political parties, within the last four years, as to gain for those bold innovations the sanction of the individual who now “rides on the whirlwind and directs the storm.” It is assumed in the proclamation that the constitution was “formed in the name and by the authority of the people of the United States, whose delegates framed, and whose conventions approved it.” The Senator from Massachusetts has entered into the defence of these broad principles, and has given to the Senate a revision of his former speech, delivered in 1830. I will not attempt to draw the line of distinction, if there be any, between the opinions of the Senator and the official recognition of them by the President, but shall consider them as comprising one undivided view of the questions to which they relate. The Senator says: “I hold this to be a popular Government, erected by the people; those who administer it responsible to the people; and itself capable of being amended and modified, just as the people may choose that it should be. It is popular, just as truly emanating from the people as the State Govern
ments.” Again, he says: “We are here to administer a constitution emanating immediately from the people. It is not the creature of the State Governments; nay, more, if the whole truth must be told, the people brought it into existence, established it, and have supported it, for the very purpose, among others, of imposing salutary restraints on State sovereignties. The people, then, sir, erected this Government. No State law is to be valid which comes in conflict with the constitution or any law of the United States.” I have deemed it proper to place these extracts from the speech of the Senator in juxtaposition with the proclamation, to show that I have not mistaken the strong resemblance which they bear to each other. Sir, is it true that this is a popular Government, erected by the people, and subject to be amended and modified as the people may choose it should be? Let the history of the constitution answer. In what manner shall we fix the nature and character of the Government? Not by the extent of the powers conferred on it in the instrument by which it was formed, but by a recurrence to the authority which established and put it in motion. If it was brought into existence by the people, no one can deny that it would be strictly a popular Government. If it owes its origin to a league, compact, or concessions of power between separate political communities, without regard to the powers delegated, it is to all intents and purposes a Federal Government; and although the constitution in some of its features may be executed by the popular will, the original character of the Government is not thereby charged. I will suppose, in illustration of these positions, that we still remained a part of the British empire, and derived our form of government, from the charter of the crown; if, in such a charter, all the principles of the constitution under which we now live were incorporated, and we were in the full enjoyment of all the freedom which it secures to us, it must be admitted that it would nevertheless be a colonial Government, deriving its character from the grantee, and not from the enumeration of the powers granted. I have been induced to make these remarks, because it has been contended, in the progress of this debate, that we must look into the constitution of the United States, and from its various provisions determine whether the Government which it created is derived from the States or the people. The Senator from Massachusetts affirms that “the Government was erected by the people.” I maintain that it was the work of the States, in their sovereign capacity, from its inception to the period when it was put into full operation. I appeal to a well known historical fact in support of my position. The defects of the confederation have been so often referred to, and so fully disclosed, that I deem it unnecessary to trouble the Senate by going into a further examination of them. Experience had shown that the powers conferred upon Congress were not sufficiently comprehensive to embrace all the general objects connected with our foreign relations—the regulation of commerce; the payment of the debt of the revolution; and the preservation of internal tranquillity. Impressed with a necessity of extending these powers, and forming a more perfect system of government, the old Congress, by a resolution bearing date the 21st day of February, 1787, recommended the appointment of delegates by the Legislatures of the several States, to meet in Philadelphia, for the purpose of revising and amending the articles of confederation, and forming a constitution, adequate to the exigencies of Government, and the preservation of the Union. The people were not consulted, and had no agency whatever in this movement. The Congress, by which it was proposed to appoint delegates to a general convention, did not directly represent the people of the several States. But the Legislatures adopted the recom
mendation, and elected delegates to the convention, Feb. 19, 1833.]
which assembled in Philadelphia, on the 25th May, 1787. This body was neither chosen by, nor responsible to, the people. No authority was vested in the convention to form a constitution, and give it effect, or even to send it to the people for their consideration and adoption. The plan of a constitution, however, was formed, claiming in its preamble to have been authorized by the people #. United States. Such was not the fact; the whole proceedings up to this period amounted to nothing more than an effort between the States, as political sovereignties, to amend the articles of confederation, and erect a Government better calculated to conduct our foreign intercourse, and execute those general powers which were necessary to the welfare of the whole, and to form a more perfect union of the States. The articles of the constitution, thus agreed on, were binding on no one; they were transmitted to a Congress for its consideration, on whose recommendation the Legislatures of the States made provision for calling the convention, to whom the plan was submitted for ratification. During all these incipient proceedings, we hear not one word of the people. The States acted in their federative character, in the organization of the general convention; the Congress, who gave the first impulse to the measure, represented the States, and not the people. Is it not, then, absurd, to allege, in the face of these undeniable truths, that the constitution emanated “immediately from the people;” that this Government was “erected by the people,” when every official document, connected with the transaction, contains unequivocal evidence that such declarations are without the shadow of foundation to support them. Could not the Legislatures of six of the States have defeated the constitution, by refusing or neglecting to pass the necessary laws authorizing the call of conventions to ratify it? Most certainly they could. The ratification of nine States was requisite to put the system in operation; without the concurrence of these the whole scheme must have failed, although it had been approved by threefourths of the people of the United States. The action of the Legislatures of the several States was essential to impart life and vigor to the constitution, which, without their co-operation, must have remained a dead letter. The people were not allowed an opportunity to approve or disapprove of the contemplated reform in the Federal Government; they might, indeed, have heard that such a project was in progress, but they were not permitted to speak until the good work was finished; then, and not until then, they were required to repair to the polls, and choose delegates to State conventions, to which the plan was submitted. Both the Congress of 1787 and the convention at Philadelphia, as I have already shown, were removed from popular responsibility. The Legislatures of the respective States, and they only, represented the people, as separate communities, but their constituents had not instructed them on the subject of this new form of government. Sir, I must be permitted to express my surprise that, in the face of these undeniable facts, the bold declaration should have been made, in grave state papers and learned speeches, that this constitution emanated from the whole people of the United States; and as a corollary, that the Government which it established is popular, and not federal. The honorable Senator from Massachusetts has admitted that the articles of confederation constituted a league or compact between the States, by which each retained its sovereignty and independence; but he insists that the constitution, coming directly from the people, and approved by them, amounts to a voluntary surrender of this sovereignty to a Government pervading the whole, with supreme and paramount powers, in the execution of which, the only check that can be interposed against the exercise of usurped powers is to be found in the will of the majority. If this be true, then the limitations specified in the constitution, for the
express purpose of restraining the action of the Government, and thereby protecting the rights of the minority, as the best security for the preservation of liberty and the purity of the system, are a mere mockery on the common sense of mankind. I agree with the honorable gentleman, that the confederation was a union between the States, founded on league or compact; and it would seem to follow, as a necessary consequence, that as the constitution was designed to form a more perfect union, the original league or compact remains unimpaired. The great object intended to be accomplished by the new organization and extension of the powers of the Government, was to render it efficient for the purposes of a general administration, which would embrace all the great interests of the country, internal and external, leaving the States, as parties to the compact, precisely in their former condition, as separate political sovereignties, reserving to themselves the full enjoyment of all the powers, rights, and privileges which they had not thereby expressly delegated. The States were the grantees of power under both systems. If it be true, as I admit it to be, that the people of each State, in convention, ratified the constitution, it is equally true that the same people, represented in their legislative bodies, adopted the arti. cles of confederation. There is no substantial difference in either case, as to the mode in which the popular will was ascertained. Hence, I arrive at the conclusion, that if the constitution of the United States can with propriety be said to have emanated from the people, the articles of confederation have just as high a claim to that distinction. If there be any discrimination, it consists in this only; that the one was a Union imperfectly formed, and the other a Union similar in its character, disrobed of the imperfections of the former system. The idea cannot be credited that the States ever intended to commit an act of selfimmolation, to part with their sovereignty and independence, and place themselves in the attitude of dependent corporations, subject to the uncontrolled discretion of one consolidated empire. , No, sir; their sole object was to create an agency for their mutual benefit, and to vest in it the necessary powers to provide for their common defence and general welfare, without departing in the slightest degree from the old federal basis to which they had ever adhered with such jealous vigilance and pertinacity. But the honorable Senator from Massachusetts has said that he will look no farther than the constitution itself for the source from which the powers of the Government are derived; and, from some expressions in the instrument, he draws the conclusion that it is not a compact between the States, but a noun substantive, “a Goyernment erected by the people,” in which they are individually represented, and to which they owe an allegiance paramount to all other social obligations. He has dwelt with emphasis on the words with which the preamble of the constitution commences: “We, the people of the United States.” From the arbitrary use of these words, he infers that, as sovereignty is an attribute belonging exclusively to the people, they have, by their own act, transferred and vested it in the Government of the United States. He rests on the inference against the fact; I rely on the fact against the inference; and submit the issue to the impartial judgment of an enlightened people. The convention assumed the name and authority of the people of the United States, in opposition to the commission under which they had assembled. They derived their authority exclusively from the States, as political communities; the Legislatures, by whom they were appointed, limited their powers simply to a revision of the articles of confederation. Each State was equally represented in that body, without regard to population. Rhode Island and Delaware were placed on an equal footing with the large States of Virginia and Pennsylvania; and yet, against all these facts,