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the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity.”
Seditious practices and unlawful combinations against the Federal Government, or any officer thereof, in the performance of his duty, as well as licentiousness of speech and of the press, were punishable on the principles of common law in the courts of the United States, before the act in question was passed. This act then is an amelioration of that law in favor of the party accused, as it mitigates the punishment which that authorizes, and admits of any investigation of public men and measures which is regulated by truth. It is not intended to protect men in office, only as they are agents of the people. Its object is to afford legal security to public offices and trusts created for the safety and happiness of the people, and therefore the security derived from it is for the benefit of the people, and is their right.
This construction of the Constitution and of the existing law of the land, as well as the act complained of, the legislature of Massachusetts most deliberately and firmly believe results from a just and full view of the several parts of the Constitution : and they consider that act to be wise and necessary, as an audacious and unprincipled spirit of falsehood and abuse had been too long unremittingly exerted for the purpose of perverting public opinion, and threatened to undermine and destroy the whole fabric of government.
The legislature further declare, that in the foregoing sentiments they have expressed the general opinion of their constituents, who have not only acquiesced without complaint in those particular measures of the Federal Government, but have given their explicit approbation by re-electing those men who voted for the adoption of them. Nor is it apprehended, that the citizens of this State will be accused of supineness or of an indifference to their constitutional rights; for, while on the one hand, they regard with due vigilance the conduct of the government; on the other, their freedom, safety and happiness require, that they should defend that government and its constitutional measures against the open or insidious attacks of any foe, whether foreign or domestic.
And, lastly, that the legislature of Massachusetts feel a strong conviction, that the several United States are connected by a common interest which ought to render their union indissoluble, and that this State will always co-operate with its confede
rate States in rendering that union productive of mutual security, freedom and happiness. Sent down for concurrence.
SAMUEL PHILIPS, President. In the House of Representatives, Feb. 13, 1799, Read and concurred.
EDWARD H. ROBBINS, Speaker. A true copy. Attest. JOHN AVERY, Secretary.
STATE OF NEW YORK. In Senate, March 5, 1799.--Whereas, the people of the United States have established for themselves a free and independent national government: And whereas it is essential to the existence of every government, that it have authority to defend and preserve its constitutional powers inviolate, inasmuch as every infringement thereof tends to its subversion. And whereas the judicial power extends expressly to all cases of law and equity arising under the Constitution and the laws of the United States whereby the interference of the legislatures of the particular States in those cases is manifestly excluded. And, whereas, our peace, prosperity and happiness, eminently depend on the preservation of the Union, in order to which, a reasonable confidence in the constituted authorities and chosen representatives of the people is indispensable. And, whereas, every measure calculated to weaken that confidence has a tendency to destroy the usefulness of our public functionaries, and to excite jealousies equally hostile to rational liberty, and the principles of a good republican government. And, whereas, the Senate not perceiving that the rights of the particular States have been violated, nor any unconstitutional powers assumed by the General Government, cannot forbear to express the anxiety and regret with which they observe the inflammatory and pernicious sentiments and doctrines which are contained in the resolutions of the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky-sentiments and doctrines, no less repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, and the principles of their union, than destructive to the Federal Government, and unjust to those whom the people have elected to administer it: wherefore, Resolved, That while the Senate feel themselves constrained to bear unequivocal testimony against such sentiments and doctrines, they deem it a duty no less indispensable, explicitly to declare their incompetency, as a branch of the legislature of this State, to supervise the acts of the General Government. Resolved, That his excellency, the Governor, be, and he is hereby requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolution to the executives of the States of Virginia and Kentucky, to the end that the same may be communicated to the legislatures thereof.
A true copy. ABM. B. BAUCKER, Clerk.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT. At a General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, holden at Hartford, in the said State, on the second Thursday of May, Anno Domini, 1799, his excellency the Governor having communicated to this assembly sundry resolutions of the Legislature of Virginia adopted in December, 1798, which relate to the measures of the General Government, and the said resolutions having been considered, it is
Resolved, That this assembly views with deep regret, and explicitly disavows, the principles contained in the aforesaid resolutions; and particularly the opposition to the “Alien and Sedition acts”—acts which the constitution authorised: which the exigency of the country rendered necessary: which the constituted authorities have enacted, and which merit the entire approbation of this assembly. They, therefore, decidedly refuse to concur with the Legislature of Virginia, in promoting any of the objects attempted in the aforesaid resolutions.
And it is further resolved, That his excellency the Governor be requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolution to the Governor of Virginia, that it may be communicated to the Legislature of that State. · Passed in the House of Representatives unanimously.
Attest, JOHN C. SMITH, Clerk. Concurred, unanimously, in the Upper House.
• Teste, SAM. WYLLYS, Secry.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. In the House of Representatives, June 14, 1799.—The committee, to take into consideration the resolutions of the general assembly of Virginia, dated December 21st, 1798; also certain resolutions of the Legislature of Kentucky, of the 10th of November, 1798, report as follows:
The Legislature of New Hampshire having taken into consideration certain resolutions of the general assembly of Virginia, dated December 21, 1798; also certain resolutions of the Legislature of Kentucky, of the 10th of November, 1798,
Resolved, that the Legislature of New Hampshire unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this State, against every aggression, either foreign or domestic, and that they will support the Government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.
That the State Legislatures are not the proper tribunals to determine the constitutionality of the laws of the General Government—that the duty of such decision is properly and exclusively confided to the judicial department.
That if the Legislature of New Hampshire, for mere speculative purposes, were to express an opinion on the acts of the General Government, commonly called “the Alien and Sedition bills," that opinion would unreservedly be, that those acts are constitutional, and, in the present critical situation of our country, highly expedient.
That the constitutionality and expediency of the acts aforesaid have been very ably advocated and clearly demonstrated by many citizens of the United States, more especially by the minority of the General Assembly of Virginia. The Legislature of New Hampshire, therefore, deen it unnecessary, by any train of arguments, to attempt further illustration of the propositions, the truth of which, it is confidently believed, at this day, is very generally seen and acknowledged.
Which report being read and considered, was unanimously received and accepted, one hundred and thirty-seven members being present.
Sent up for concurrence. JOHN PRENTICE, Speaker.
AMOS SHEPARD, President. Approved, June 15th, 1799.
J. T. GILMAN, Governor. A true copy. Attest, JOSEPH PEARSON, Secretary.
STATE OF VERMONT. In the House of Representatives, October 30th, A. D., 1799. The House proceeded to take under their consideration the resolutions of the General Assembly of Virginia, relative to certain measures of the General Government, transmitted to the Legislature of this State, for their consideration : Whereupon,
Resolved, That the General Assembly of the State of Vermont do highly disapprove of the resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of Virginia, as being unconstitutional in
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their nature, and dangerous in their tendency. It belongs not to State Legislatures to decide on the constitutionality of laws made by the General Government; this power being exclusively vested in the judiciary courts of the Union: That his excellency the Governor be requested to transmit a copy of this resolution to the executive of Virginia, to be communicated to the General Assembly of that State: And that the same be sent to the Governor and Council for their concurrence.
SAMUEL C. CRAFTS, Clerk. In Council, October 30, 1799. Read and concurred in unanimously.
RICHARD WHITNEY, Secretary.
KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS OF 1798 AND 1799.
[The driginal draught prepared by Thomas Jefferson.] The following Resolutions passed the House of Representatives of Kentucky, Nov. 10th, 1798. On the passage of the first Resolution, one dissentient; 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, two dissentients; 9th, three dissentients.
I. Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, delegated to that Government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and, that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party; that this Government, created by this compact, was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but, that as in all other cases of compact, among parties having no common judge, EACH PARTY HAS AN EQUAL RIGHT TO JUDGE FOR ITSELF, AS WELL OF INFRACTIONS AS OF THE MODE AND MEASURE OF REDRESS.
II. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences