Слике страница
PDF
ePub

and glorious of our historical recollections. What, we ask, was the principle for which our forefathers contended in the revolutionary struggle, and for the establishment of which they hazarded their lives and fortunes ? It was the great and fundamental principle of liberty :—that the power of taxation should be only co-extensive with the right of representation. The practical exposition of this principle, as given by the elder Pitt, in discussing the question of American taxation, was, that those only had the right to impose the burthens of taxation, who were the representatives of the people who paid the taxes. Let us see how the impositions of our protecting tariff will abide the test of this principle. The sum and substance of the whole tariff system is the imposition of an oppressive weight of taxation upon the Southern States, by the representatives of the tariff States, for the benefit of the people, not of the Southern, but of the tariff States. Entirely reversing the principle of American liberty, the tariff imposition is laid, not by the representatives of those who pay the tax, but by the representatives of those who receive the bounty. We defy any man to draw a sensible and practical distinction between the exercise of this power by the tariff States, and the exercise, by the British Parliament, of the power to tax the colonies without their consent. In both cases, one party imposes and receives the tax, and the other opposes and pays it.

We are aware that it has been attempted to impair the force of this analogy, by adverting to the fact that the Southern States are fairly represented in Congress. We have, heretofore, shewn that the right of representation furnishes a security for the rights and liberties of the different portions of a federal republic, only when the powers of the common council are confined to the common interests of the whole confederation. But when the power of the common council is directed against the interest of a minority, so isolated and distinguished by geographical, civil, or religious peculiarities, as that laws apparently and nominally general, may be, in effect, local and exclusive in their impositions, it is obvious that a representation of the minority on all questions affecting its distinct and local interests, is substantially no representation at all. When the proposition before Congress is the imposition of a common and equal burthen upon the whole country, or the appropriation of the common funds, to defend the rights of a single State, or even of a single individual, we should consider South-Carolina really represented, however much she might differ with the majority. But when the proposition is to impose an exclusive burthen on South-Carolina or appropriate her peculiar funds for the pecuniary benefit even of all the other States, we should regard her as having no

representation at all, though she were entitled to forty-nine votes in a council of one hundred. On such a question, any thing less than a majority or at least an equality of votes, is precisely equal to no vote at all. It is not a question of deliberation concerning common interests, but a question of naked numerical power, concerning interests that are entirely adverse. Nothing, therefore, can be more "unfair and ridiculous” than to maintain that the unjust and unconstitutional impositions of the tariff system, are, in any respect, less tyrannical than the stamp duties or the tea tax, imposed upon the American Colonies by the British Parliament, merely because the Southern States are represented in Congress. What would have been the value of a colonial representation in the British Parliament? The wisest of our patriotic ancestors rejected the idea as a miserable mockery. What is the value of an Irish representation in the British Parliament, on all questions affecting the local interests of Ireland, and in which the interests or prejudices of England stand opposed to them? Let the oppression and ruin of Ireland answer the question. What would be the value of a West-India representation in Parliament, on the question of negro emancipation ? It would be obviously an empty delusion. And what, in fine, was the value of a Southern representation in Congress, when the question to be deterinined was, whether ten millions of Southern commerce should be subjected to the legislative rapacity of the majority, especially when the spoils were to be divided among the patriotic plunderers? Let the passage of an act unprecedented in our country for injustice and oppression, “ with all the forms" of deliberation, answer that question. The only effect of the presence of our representatives—for on such a question the light of revelation could produce no effect in the way of argument-was to be nominal parties to the act of our immolation, and thus furnish an apology for the outrage.

No man, therefore, who is not imposed upon by the fallacy of superficial resemblances, can fail to perceive that the tariff majority in Congress, in the act of confiscating Southern commerce for the use and benefit of Northern manufacturers and monopolists, violates, to all intents and purposes, that great and cardinal principle of modern liberty, which was consecrated even in the annals of our British ancestry, by the spirit of Hampden and the blood of Sidney, long before our American forefathers kindled up the sacred fires of a yet more pure and perfect liberty, in the solitudes of a savage wilderness. It is irresponsible, and worse than irresponsible, taxation.

In denying the right of the General Government to interfere with our local concerns, and in limiting its operation to the com

mon concerns of the Union, we are very far from intending to convey the idea that every law of Congress is unconstitutional which does not, in point of fact, operate with perfect equality on every portion of the confederacy. This would be the extravagance of a Utopian vision. We are perfectly aware that it must frequently happen, that laws which are clearly constitutional, and honestly designed to fulfil the purposes for which the Union was formed, will affect, in a very unequal degree, the varying interests of the different parts of the confederacy. It is against those acts of Congress, of which inequality and oppression constitute the obvious, the exclusive, and the final end, that we invoke the protecting genius of the Constitution, and raise the voice of solemn protestation.

To illustrate the subject still further, let us inquire what mative or object connected with our foreign relations, and constituting, therefore, a legitimate end of “regulating commerce with foreign nations" can, by any colourable supposition, have actuated Congress in the passage of the late tariff? If it can be shewn that any foreign power has committed an outrage upon the international rights of even the smallest member of the confederacy, the patriotic spirit of the South will disdain the huckstering coldness of " counting the cost” of vindicating and maintaining them. If the sovereignty of the Union has been violated in the person of a single individual, in the remotest Northern corner of the confederacy, by the act of any foreign nation,-every citizen of the Southern country will freely contribute both his blood and his treasure to avenge the injury, and support the national honour. Is it pretended that there has been any such violation or outrage ?

The only acts of any foreign power to which the advocates of the tariff policy have ever referred, as constituting a motive for its adoption, are the British corn laws, and a late act of Parliament reducing the import duties on foreign wool. Now, will it be pretended by any one, that these acts violate, in the slightest degree, one solitary right either national or individual, which the Federal Government is under obligations either to defend by war, or counteract by commercial regulations!

By the law of nations, it is the undoubted right of every country to regulate its impost duties, or prohibit the importation of foreign merchandize in any manner it may deem expedient, without giving to the nations affected by it any just cause of complaint. The people of the grain-growing States complain that Great Britain has prohibited the importation of their priucipal agricultural staple. We reply that this prohibition is a part of VOL. II.NO, 4.

77

the established policy of Great-Britain, founded exclusively on her own views—mistaken, we think-of her own internal prosperity, and equally extending to all the nations of the world. If this prohibition were aimed exclusively at the United States, though even in that event it would violate no right guaranteed by the law of nations, it might, nevertheless, be regarded as indicating an unfriendly spirit. But no such exclusive spirit exists in the policy of Great-Britain. If, therefore, the British corn laws constitute any motive for prohibiting British merchandize, it is a motive growing exclusively out of the pecuniary and local interests of the grain growers and manufacturers, and having no possible connexion with the maintenance of the commercial rights of the country, or of any other conceivable right entrusted to the guardianship of the Federal Government. Whatever may be the injury which the grain growers sustain in consequence of this British prohibition, it is not one of those injuries which the Federal Government is bound either to avenge or to indemnify, unless, indeed, we regard the Union as a joint stock and mutual insurance company. And even in that view of the subject, the grain growers of the North would scarcely have the right to call upon the cotton and tobacco growers of the South not only to bear an equal share of their private misfortunes, but to sustain the whole weight of them. While the British admit our raw cotton almost without any duty at all, the majority in Congress, contrary to the obvious dictates of a spirit of liberal reciprocity, have almost entirely prohibited every article which we import from Great-Britain. Can it be a legitimate function of the Federal Government, to blast and desolate one portion of the confederacy and deprive it of natural advantages and natural rights which it holds by all the consecrated titles of liberty, in order to indemnify other portions of the confederacy for the natural sterility of their soil, or the unavoidable mutations of commerce or because they happen to produce the same articles precisely which are raised in Great-Britain, and therefore not wanted ?

A recurrence to the political history of the United States immediately preceding the adoption of the Federal Constitution, will render it apparent that the primary object which the framers of that instrument had in view, was the protection and preservation of foreign commerce. How, then, in reference to the interests and rights of the Southern States, do the policy and measures of the Federal Government correspond with the ends of its creation? If the very genius of perversity presided in its councils they could not be more utterly and fatally misdirected. All its energies are called into active requisition to destroy that very commerce, which it is under the most sacred constitutional obli

gations to protect and defend against all human aggression. The inventive genius of fabulous antiquity never conceived a monster more "horrible, foul and unnatural," than that which is here exemplified in a government, literally devouring, with a ferocious and cannibal appetite, the objects committed to its guardianship and care.

The example of the Roman senator who concluded every speech on Carthaginian affairs with the memorable motto, "delenda est Carthago, "-is but a feeble illustration of the exterminating and relentless spirit with which the representatives of the tariff States have pursued the peculiar and rightful commerce of the Southern staple-growing States for the last ten years. Even the ravages of the Goths and Vandals, which an inscrutible dispensation of Providence brought, in awful retribution, upon the splendid monuments of Roman genius and the proud trophies of Roman valor, will not more than exemplify the spirit of that legislative warfare which is carried on against our commerce. To be sure, we see not the arm of violence and outrage openly exhibited in our land or upon that element which is the home of our adventurous mariners. Our fields are not ravaged by a foreign soldiery, nor our towns consumed by fire. Our ships, freighted with the reward of honest industry and the hopes of the laborious husbandman, are not plundered by Algerine pirates, nor our mariners sold into the bondage of the galleys. But the work of destruction is not the less certainly and effectually, accomplished, nor our citizens subjected to a less odious bondage, by the invisible ministry of the law, which goes forth like the genius of “pestilence and famine,” commissioned to execute the purposes of insatiable avarice and lawless ambition.

It is in vain that we attempt to disguise from ourselves the deplorable reality of our condition. Even the cherished delusions by which a proud, and lufty and generous spirit of national enthusiasm struggles to reconcile the chains of vassalage with the dignity of freedom, have all vanished. Every historical analogy connected with the glorious inheritance transmitted to us by our ancestors, serves only to remind us, that so far as we are concerned, their blood was unprofitably. shed, and that we are reduced to that very condition of colonial bondage from which they redeemed us.

What-we ask for no idle purpose—was the condition of these States when they were British colonies? The entire sum and aggregate result of all the commercial regulations and restrictions which constituted the colonial dependence of the British colonies, was, that these colonies should be restrained and prohibited from carrying on commerce with any country but Great Britain ? And what-We ask with feelings which no

« ПретходнаНастави »