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BY JOHN TAYLOR,
PRINTED BY SHEPHERD & POLLARD.
DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, TO WIT :
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the thirteenth day of November, 170727000in the forty-fifth year of the independence of the United States of
SEAL America, Thomas Ritchie and Company, of the said district, have ***090474* deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they
claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit : “ Construction “ construed, and constitutions vindicated. By John Taylor, author of the En“ quiry, and Arator.” In conformity to the act of the congress of the United States, entitled, “An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the “ copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned."
RD. JEF ES, Clerk of the District of Virginia.
TO THE PUBLICK.
The crisis has come, when the following work “may do the state some service.”
The Missouri Question is probably not yet closed. The principle, on which it turns, is certainly not settled. Further attempts are to be made to wrest from the new states, about to enter into the American confederacy, the power of regulating their own concerns. The Tariff question is again to be agitated. It is time to bring the policy and the power of a legislature's interfering with the judicial functions to the bar of publick opinion. The usurpation of a federal power over roads and canals is again to be attempted, and again to be reprobated. That gigantick institution, the Bank of the United States, which, while yet in the green tree, was proclaimed by the republicans a breach of the constitution, 6 stands now upon its bond;" but that charter, bad as it is, has been justified by the supreme court of the United States, on principles so bold and alarming, that no man who loves the constitution can fold his arms in apathy upon the subject. Those principles, so boldly uttered from the highest judicial tribunal in the United States, are calculated to give the tone to an acquiescent people, to change the whole face of our government, and to generate a thousand measures, which the framers of the constitution never anticipated. That decision
will be recorded for a precedent, And many an error by the same example May rush into the state. It cannot be.
Against such a decision, it becomes every man, who values the constitution, to raise his voice.
In truth, we have arrived at a crisis, when the first principles of the government and some of the dearest rights of the states are threatened with being utterly ground into dust and ashes. When we look to the original form of the government, we are struck with its novelty and beauty. It presents to us one of the grandest experiments that ever was made in political science. We see in it an attempt to ascertain, how far power could be so distributed between two governments, as to prevent an excessive concentration and consequent abuse of it in one set of hands; at the same time, that so much power was conveyed to each, as to enable them to accomplish the objects to which each of them was best adapted. The federal government was to watch over our foreign relations; that of the states, was particularly to take care of our internal concerns. The great secret was, to have these functions so wisely regulated, as to prevent the general government from rushing into consolidation; and the states, into a dissolution of the union. The first extreme would infallibly conduct us to great oppression, and probably to monarchy: the last would subject us to insults and injuries from abroad, to contentions and bloodshed at home. To avoid these extremes, we should never have lost sight of the true spirit of the federal constitution. To interpret it wisely, we should have rigidly adhered to the principle, laid down by George Clinton, when he, from the chair of the senate of the United States, gave the casting voice against the renewal of the first bank charter : “ In the course of a long life, I have found that “ government is not to be strengthened by the assumption “ of doubtful powers, but a wise and energetick execution of 6 those which are incontestable; the former never fails to “ produce suspicion and distrust, whilst the latter inspires “ respect and confidence. If, however, on fair experience, o the powers vested in the government shall be found ino competent to the attainment of the objects for which it 66 was instituted, the constitution happily furnishes the means for remedying the evil by amendment.” This maxim
deserves to be written in letters of gold upon the wall of the capitol in Washington.
But, we have been almost deaf to the voice of wisdom. We have nearly forgotten the principles of our fathers. In repeated instances, we have suffered the constitution to be trodden under foot. We have been lately rushing rapidly towards the gulph of consolidation. We have even seen the purest triumphs of the republican party in 1800-1, (when an alien and sedition law were shivered into atoms by an indignant people,) almost forgotten. We have seen a deci. sion promulgated from the federal bench, which is calculated to sweep down the dearest rights of the states. The infatuation of the day has been carried so far, that we have just seen an attempt made, and bolstered up by the seriatim opinion of five eminent counsellors, to humble the powers of the state governments at the feet of the District of Columbia!
The period is, indeed, by no means an agreeable one. It borrows new gloom from the apathy which seems to reign over so many of our sister states. The very sound of State Rights is scarcely ever heard among them; and by many of their eminent politicians, it is only heard to be mocked at. But a good citizen'will never despair of the republick.. Among these good citizens, is John Taylor, of Caroline. Penetrated by the conviction, that the constitution is in danger; that the balance has seriously inclined towards the side of consolidation ; he comes forward to commune with his countrymen, and to state to them frankly his impressions and his fears.
If there be any book that is capable of rousing the people, it is the one before us. Bold and original in its conceptions, without passion, and with an admirable ingenuity to recommend it, it is calculated, we should think, to make a deep impression. Its author is far removed from the temptations of ambition. He holds no office. He wishes for none. He writes, for he has thought much; and the present is a sort of last legacy to his countrymen. It is unnecessary