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Jax, 27, 1830.]
Mr. Foot's Resolution.
opinions, in defiance of the opinions of all others; the presence. He quotes that distinguished Senator as say. liberty of judging and deciding exclusively themselves, ing, that, in his judgment, the embargo law was uncon. in a matter in which others have as much right to judge stitutional, and that, therefore, in his opinion, the people and decide as they; the liberty of placing their own opin- were not bound to obey it. That, sir, is perfectly conions above the judgment of all others, above the laws, and stitutional language. An unconstitutional law is not bindabove the constitution. This is their liberty; and this is ing; but then it does not rest with a resolution, or a law the fair result of the proposition contended for by the of a State Legislature, to decide whether an act of Conhonorable gentleman. Or, it may be more properly said, gress be, or be not, constitutional. An unconstitutional i is identical with it, rather than a result from it.
act of Congress would not bind the people of this District, In the same publication we find the following: “Pre- although they have no Legislature to interfere in their beviously to our Revolution, when the arm of oppression was half; and, on the other hand, a constitutional law of stretched over New England, where did our Northern Congress does bind the citizens of every State, al. brethren meet with a braver sympathy than that which though all their Legislatures should undertake to annul sprung from the bosoms of Carolinians? We had no ex-it, by act or resolution. The venerable Connecticut Sentortion, no oppression, no collision with the King's min- ator is a constitutional lawyer, of sound principles, and isters, no navigation interests springing up in envious rival- enlarged knowledge; a statesman, practised and expery of England.”
rienced; bred in the company of Washington, and hold. This seems extraordinary language. South Carolina no ing just views upon the nature of our Governments. He collision with the King's ministers in 1775! No extortion! believed the embargo unconstitutional, and so did others; No oppression! But, sir, it is, also, most significant lan- but what then? Who, did he suppose, was to decide that guage. Does any man doubt the purpose for which it was question? The State Legislatures? Certainly not. No penned? Can any one fail to see that it was designed to such sentiment ever escaped his lips. Let us follow up, raise in the reader's mind the question, whether, at this sir, this New England opposition to the embargo laws; let time—that is to say, in 1828, South Carolina has any col- us trace it till we discern the principle which controlled lision with the King's ministers, any oppression, or extor- and governed New England, throughout the whole course tion, to fear from England? Whether, in short, England is of that opposition. We shall then see what similarity not as naturally the friend of South Carolina, as New Eng. there is between the New England school of constitutional land, with her navigation interests springing up in envious opinions, and this modern Carolina school. The gentle. rivalry of England?
I think, read a petition from some single individual, Is it not strange, sir, that an intelligent man in South addressed to the Legislature of Massachusetts, asserting Carolina, in 1828, should thus labor to prove, that, in 1775, the Carolina doctrine--that is, the right of State interferthere was no hostility, no cause of war between South Ca-ence to arrest the laws of the Union. The fate of that rolina and England. That she had no occasion, in refer- petition shows the sentiments of the Legislature. It met ence to her own interest, or from a regard to her own no favor. The opinions of Massachusetts were otherwise. welfare, to take up arms in the revolutionary contest? Can They had been expressed in 1798, in answer to the resoany one account for the expression of such strange senti- lutions of Virginia, and she did not depart from them, nor ments, and their circulation through the State, otherwise bend them to the times. Misgoverned, wronged, oppressthan by supposing the object to be, what I have already ed, as she felt herself to be, she still held fast her integrity intimated, to raise the question, if they had no “collision” to the Union. The gentleman may find in her proceedings (mark the expression) with the ministers of King George much evidence of dissatisfaction with the measures of the the third, in 1775, what collision have they in 1828, with Government, and great and deep dislike to the embargo; the ministers of King George the fourth? What is there all this makes the case so much the stronger for her: for, Row, in the existing state of things, to separate Carolina notwithstanding all this dissatisfaction and dislike, she from Old, more, or rather, than from New England? claimed no right, still, to sever asunder the bonds of the
Resolutions, sir, have been recently passed by the Le- Union. There was heat, and there was anger, in her pogislature of South Carolina. I need not refer to them: litical feelings. Be it so; her heat or her anger did not, they go no farther than the honorable gentleman himself nevertheless, betray her into infidelity to the Government. has gone, and, I hope, kot so far. I content myself, there. The gentleman labors to prove that she disliked the embarfore, with debating the matter with him.
go; as much as South Carolina dislikes the tariff, and exAnd now, sir, what I have first to say on this subject is, pressed her dislike as strongly. Be it so; but did she that at no time, and under no circumstances, has New propose the Carolina remedy? Did she threaten to inEngland, or any State in New England, or any respectable terfere, by State authority, to annul the laws of the Union? body of persons in New England, or any public man of That is the question for the gentleman's consideration. standing in New England, put forth such a doctrine as this No doubt, sir, a great majority of the people of New Carolina doctrine.
England conscientiously believed the embargo law, of The gentleman has found no case, he can find none, to 1807, unconstitutional; as conscientiously, certainly, as the support his own opinions by New England authority. people of South Carolina hold that opinion of the tariff. New England has studied the constitution in other schools, They reasoned thus: Congress has power to regulate comand under other teachers. She looks upon it with other merce; but here is a law, they said, stopping all commerce, regards, and deems more highly and reverently, both of and stopping it indefinitely. The law is perpetual; that its just authority, and its utility and excellence. The his- is, it is not limited in point of time, and must, of course, tory of her legislative proceedings may be traced; the continueuntil it shall be repealed by some other law. It is ephemeral effusions of temporary bodies, called together as perpetual, therefore, as the law against treason or murby the excitement of the occasion, may be hunted up- der. Now, is this regulating commerce, or destroying it? they have been hunted up. The opinions and votes of Is it guiding, controlling, giving the rule to commerce, as a her public men, in and out of Congress, may be explored; subsisting thing, or is it putting an end to it altogether? it will all be in vain. The Carolina doctrine can derive Nothing is more certain than that a majority in New Eng“from her neither countenance nor support. She rejects land deemed this law a violation of the constitution. The it now; she always did reject it; and till she loses her very case required by the gentleman, to justify State insenses, she always will reject it. The honorable member terference, had then arisen. Massachusetts believed this has referred to expressions on the subject of the embargo law to be “a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise law, made in this place by an honorable and venerable of a power not granted by the constitution.” Deliberate gentleman, (Mr. Hillhouse] now favoring us with his it was, for it was long continued; palpable she thought it,
Mr. Foot's Resolution.
(Jax. 27, 1830.
as no words in the constitution gave the power, and only a ed his higher efforts. His very statement was argumenti construction, in her opinion most violent, raised it; dan- his inference seemed demonstration. The earnestness of gerous it was, since it threatened utter ruin to her most his own conviction wrought conviction in others. One important interests. Here, then, was a Carolina case. was convinced, and believed, and assented, because it was How did Massachusetts deal with it? It was, as she gratifying, delightful, to think, and feel, and believe, in thought, a plain, manifest, palpable violation of the con- unison with an intellect of such evident superiority. stitution; and it brought ruin to her doors. Thousands of Mr. Dexter, sir, such as I have described him, argued the families, and hundreds of thousands of individuals, were New England cause. He put into bis effort bis whole heart, beggared by it. While she saw and felt all this, she saw as well as all the powers of his understanding: for he had and felt also, that, as a measure of national policy, it was avowed!, in the most public manner, his entire concurperfectly futile; that the country was no way benefited rence with his neighbors on the point in dispute. He by that which caused so much individual distress; that it argued the cause: it was lost--and New England submitted. was efficient only for the production of evil, and all that the established tribunals pronounced the law constituevil inflicted on ourselves. In such a case, under such tional, and New England acquiesced. Now, sir, is not this circumstances, how did Massachusetts demean herself? the exact opposite of the doctrine of the gentleman from Sir, she remonstrated, she memorialized, she addressed South Carolina? According to him, instead of referring herself to the General Government, not exactly “with to the judicial tribunals, we should have broken up the the concentrated energy of passion," but with her own embargo, by laws of our own; we should have repealed strong sense, and the energy of sober conviction. But it, quoad New England; for we had a strong, palpable, she did not interpose the arm of her own power to arrest and oppressive case. Sir, we believed the embargo unthe law and break the embargo. Far from it. Her prin- constitutional; but still, that was matter of opinion, and ciples bound her to two things; and she followed her prin- who was to decide it? We thought it a clear case; but, ciples, lead where they might. First, to submit to every nevertheless, we did not take the law into our own bands, constitutional law of Congress; and secondly, if the con- because we did not wish to bring about a revolution, nor to stitutional validity of the law be doubted, to refer that break up the Union: for, I maintain, that, between subquestion to the decision of the proper tribunals. The mission to the decision of the constituted tribunals, and first principle is vain and ineffectual without the second. revolution, or disunion, there is no middle ground; there A majority of us in New England believed the embargo is no ambiguous condition, half allegiance, and half relaw unconstitutional; but the great question was, and bellion. And, sir, how futile, how very futile, it is, to adalways will be, in such cases, who is to decide this? Who mit the right of State interference, and then attempt to is to judge between the people and the Government? And, save it from the character of unlawful resistance, by addsir, it is quite plain, that the constitution of the United ing terms of qualification to the causes and occasions, States confers on the Government itself, to be exercised leaving all these qualifications, like the case itself, in the by its appropriate department, and under its own respon- discretion of the State Governments. It must be a clear sibility to the people, this power of deciding ultimately case, it is said; a deliberate case; a palpable case; a danand conclusively upon the just extent of its own authority. gerous case. But, then, the State is still left at liberty to If this had not been done, we should not have advanced a decide for herself what is clear, what is deliberate, what is single step beyond the old confederation.
palpable, what is dangerous. Do adjectives and epithets Being fully of opinion that the embargo law was unconsti- avail any thing? Sir, the human mind is so constituted that tutional, the people of New England were yet equally clear the merits of both sides of a controversy appear very clear in the opinion--it was a matter they did not doubt upon--- and very palpable to those who respectively espouse them; that the question, after all, must be decided by the judi- and both sides usually grow clearer, as the controversy adcial tribunals of the United States. Before those tribu-vances. South Carolina sees unconstitutionality in the nals, therefore, they brought the question. Under the tariff; she sees oppression there, also; and she sees danprovisions of the law, they had given bonds, to millions in ger. Pennsylvania, with a vision not less sharp, looks at amount, and which were alleged tu be forfeited. They the same tariff, and sccs no such thing in it; she sees it all suffered the bonds to be sued, and thus raised the ques- constitutional, all useful, all safe. The faith of South tion. In the old fashioned way of settling disputes, they Carolina is strengthened by opposition, and she now not went to law. The case came to hearing, and solemn ar-only sees, but resolves, that the tariff is palpably unconstigument; and he who espoused their cause, and stood up tutional, oppressive, and dangerous: but Pennsylvania, for them against the validity of the embargo act, was none not to be behind her neighbors, and equally willing to other than that great man, of whom the gentleman has strengthen her own faith by a confident asseveration, remade honorable mention--Samuel Dexter. He was then, solves, also, and gives to every warm affirmative of South sir, in the fulness of his knowledge and the maturity of his Carolina, a plain, downright, Pennsylvania negative. South strength. He had retired from long and distinguished Carolina, to show the strength and unity of her opinion, public service here, to the renewed pursuit of profes- brings her Assembly to a unanimity, within seven voices; sional duties; carrying with him all that enlargement and Pennsylvania, not to be outdone in this respect more than expansion, all the new strength and force, which an ac- others, reduces her (lissentient fraction to a single rote. quaintance with the more general subjects discussed in the Now, sir, again I ask the gentleman, what is to be done? Are National Councils is capable of adding to professional these States both right? Is he bound to consider them attaininent in a mind of true greatness and comprehension. both right? If not, which is in the wrong? or rather, He was a lawyer, and he was also a statesman. He had which has the best right to decide? And if he, and if I, studied the constitution, when he filled a public station, that are not to know what the constitution means, and what it he might defend it; he had exainined its principles, that is, till those two State Legislatures and the twenty-two he might maintain them. More than all men, or at least others shall agree in its construction, what have we sworn as much as any man, he was attached to the General Go-to, when we have sworn to maintain it? I was forcibly vernient and to the union of the States.
His feelings struck, sir, with one reflection, as the gentleman went on and opinions all ran in that direction. A question of con- in bis speech. He quoted Mr. Madison's resolutions to stitutional law, too, was, of all subjects, that one which prove that a State may interfere, in a case of deliberate, was best suited to his talents and learning. Aloof from palpable, and dangerous exercise of a power not granted. technicality, and unfettered by artificial rules, such a ques. The honorable member supposes the tariff law to be such tion gave opportunity for that deep and clear analysis, an exercise of power; and that, consequently, a case has that mighty grasp of principle, which so much distinguish- arisen in which the State may, if it see fit, interfere by its
Jax. 27, 1830.]
Mr. Foot's Resolution.
own law. Now it so happens, nevertheless, that Mr. is as popular, just as truly emanating from the people, Madison himself deems this same tariff law quite constitu- as the State Governments.
It is created for one purpose; tional. Instead of a clear and palpable violation, it is, in the State Governments for another. It has its own powhis judgment, no violation at all. So that, while they use ers; they have theirs. There is no more authority with his authority for a hypothetical case, they reject it in the them to arrest the operation of a law of Congress, than very case before them. All this, sir, shows the inherent with Congress to arrest the operation of their laws. We futility-1 had almost used a stronger word-of conced- are here to administer a constitution emanating immediately ing this power of interference to the States, and then from the people, and trusted, by them, to our administraattempting to secure it from abuse by imposing qualification. It is not the creature of the State Governments. tions, of which the States themselves are to judge. One is of no moment to the argument, that certain acts of the of two things is true; either the laws of the Union are be- State Legislatures are necessary to fill our seats in this yond the discretion and beyond the control of the States, body. That is not one of their original State powersa or else we have no constitution of General Government, part of the sovereignty of the State. It is a duty which and are thrust back again to the days of the confederacy. the people, by the constitution itself, have imposed on the
Let me here say, sir, that, if the gentleman's doctrine State Legislatures; and which they might have left to be had been received and acted upon in New England, in the performed elsewhere if they had seen fit. So they have times of the embargo and non-intercourse, we should pro- left the choice of President with electors; but all this does bably not now have been here. The Government would, not affect the proposition that this whole Government-very likely, have gone to pieces, and crumbled into dust. President, Senate, and House of Representatives—is a poNo stronger case can ever arise than existed under those pular Government. It leaves it still all its popular characlaws; no States can ever entertain a clearer conviction ter. The Governor of a State (in some of the States) is than the New England States then entertained; and if they chosen, not directly by the people, but by those who are had been under the influence of that heresy of opinion, as chosen by the people, for the purpose of performing, I must call it, which the honorable member espouses, this among other duties, that of electing a Governor. Is the Union would, in all probability, have been scattered to Government of a State, on that account, not a popular the four winds. I ask the gentleman, therefore, to apply Government? This Government, sir, is the independent his principles to that case; I ask him to come forth and de- offspring of the popular will. It is not the creature of clare, whether, in his opinion, the New England States State Legislatures. Nay, more, if the whole truth must would have been justified in interfering to break up the be told, the people brought it into existence, established embargo system, under the conscientious opinions which it, and have hitherto supported it, for the very purpose, they held upon it? Had they a right to annul that law? amongst others, of imposing certain salutary restraints on Does he admit or deny? If that which is thought palpa- State sovereignties. The States cannot now make war; they bly unconstitutional in South Carolina, justifies that state cannot contract alliances; they cannot make, each for itin arresting the progress of the law, tell me, whether that self, separate regulations of commerce; they cannot lay which was thought palpably unconstitutional also in Mas- imposts; they cannot coin money. If this constitution, sachusetts, would have justified her in doing the same sir, be the creature of State Legislatures, it must be adthing? Sir, I deny the whole doctrine. It has not a foot mitted that it has obtained a strange control over the voliof groundin the constitution to stand on. No public man tions of its creators. of reputation ever advanced it in Massachusetts, in the The people, then, sir, erected this Government. They warmest times, or could maintain himself upon it there at gave it a constitution; and in that constitution they have
enumerated the powers which they bestow on it. They I wish now, sir, to make a remark upon the Virginia re- have made it a limited Government. They have defined its solutions of 1798. I cannot undertake to say how these authority. They have restrained it to the exercise of such resolutions were understood by those who passed them. powers as are granted; and all others, they declare, are reTheir language is not a little indefinite. In the case of the served to the States or to the people. But, sir, they have exercise, by Congress, of a dangerous power, not granted not stopped here. If they had, they would have accomto them, the resolutions assert the right, on the part of the plished but half their work.
No definition can be so State, to interfere, and arrest the progress of the evil. clear as to avoid possibility of doubt; no limitation so pre. This is susceptible of more than one interpretation. It cise, as to exclude all uncertainty. Who then shall conmay mean no more than that the States may interfere by strue this grant of the people? Who shall interpret their complaint and remonstrance; or by proposing to the peo- will
, where it may be supposed they have left it doubtful' ple an alteration of the Federal constitution. This would with whom do they repose this ultimate right of deciding all be quite unobjectionable; or, it may be, that no more on the powers of the Government? Sir, they have settled is meant than to assert the general right of revolution, as all this in the fullest manner. They have left it with the against all governments, in cases of intolerable oppression. Government itself, in its appropriate branches. Sir, the This no one doubts; and this, in my opinion, is all that he very chief end, the main design, for which the whole conwho framed the resolutions could have meant by it: for Istitution was framed and adopted was, to establish a Goshall not readily believe that lie was ever of opinion that vernment that should not be obliged to act through State a State, under the constitution, and in conformity with agency, or depend on State opinion and State discretion. it, could, upon the ground of her own opinion of its un- The people had had quite enough of that kind of governconstitutionality, however clear and palpable she might ment, under the Confederacy. Under that system, the think the case, annul a law of Congress, so far as it should legal action, the application of law to individuals, belongoperate on herself, by her own Legislative power. ed exclusively to the States. Congress could only recom
I must now beg to ask, sir, whence is this supposed right mend; their acts were not of binding force, till the States of the States derived ? Where do they find the power to had adopted and sanctioned them. Are we in that condi. interfere with the laws of the Union? Sir, the opinion tion still? Are we yet at the mercy of State discretion, which the honorable gentleman maintains, is a notion and State construction? Sir, if we are, then vain will be founded on a total misapprehension, in my judgment, of our attempt to maintain the constitution under which we the origin of this Government, and of the foundation on sit. But, sir, the people have wisely provided, in the conwhich it stands. I hold it to be a popular Government, stitution itself, a proper, suitable mode and tribunal for erected by the people; those who administer it, responsi- settling questions of constitutional law. There are, in the ble to the people; and itself capable of being amended and constitution, grants of powers to Congress, and restricmodified, just as the people may choose it should be. It tions on these powers. There are, also, prohibitions on
(Jax. 27, 1830. the States. Some authority must, therefore, necessarily pretations? Instead of one tribunal, established by all, exist, having the ultimate jurisdiction to fix and ascertain responsible to all, with power to decide for all, shall conthe interpretation of these grants, restrictions, and prohi- stitutional questions be left to four and twenty popular bitions. The constitution has, itself, pointed out, ordain- bodies, each at liberty to decide for itself, and none bound ed, and established, that authority. How has it accomplish- to respect the decisions of others; and each at liberty, too, ed this great and essential end? By declaring, sir, that to give a new construction on every new election of its “the constitution, and the laws of the United States made own members? Would any thing, with such a principle in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the in it, or rather with such a destitution of all principle, be land, any thing in the constitution or laws of any State to fit to be called a government? No, sir. It should not be the contrary notwithstanding.”
denominated a constitution. It should be called, rather, This, sir, was the first great step. By this, the supre- a collection of topics, for everlasting controversy; heads macy of the constitution and laws of the United States is of debate for a disputatious people. It would not be a declared. The people so will it. No State law is to be government. It would not be adequate to any practical valid which comes in conflict with the constitution or any good, nor fit for any country to live under. To avoid all law of the United States. But who shall decide this ques- possibility of being misunderstood, allow me to repeat tion of interference? To whom lies the last appeal? This, again, in the fullest manner, that I claim no powers for the sir, the constitution itself decides also, by declaring “that Government by forced or unfair construction. I admit the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under that it is a Government of strictly limited powers, of enuthe constitution and laws of the United States.' These merated, specified, and particularized powers; and that two provisions, sir, cover the whole ground. They are, whatsoever is not granted, is withheld. But notwithstandin truth, the key-stone of the arch. With these, it is a con- ing all this, and however the grant of powers may be exstitution; without them, it is a confederacy. In pursuance pressed, its limit and extent may yet, in some cases, admit of these clear and express provisions, Congress established, of doubt; and the General Government would be good at its very first session, in the Judicial Act, a mode for car- for nothing, it would be incapable of long existing, if some rying them into full effect, and for bringing all questions mode had not been provided, in which these doubts, as of constitutional power to the final decision of the Supreme they should arise, might be peaceably, but authoritatively, Court. It then, sir, became a Government. It then had solved. the means of self protection; and, but for this, it would, in And now let me run the honorable gentleman's doctrine all probability, have been now among things which are a little into its practical application. Let us look at his propast. Having constituted the Government, and declared bable modus operandi. If a thing can be done, an ingenious its powers, the people have farther said, that, since some- man can tell how it is to be done. Now, I wish to be informed body must decide on the extent of these powers, the Go- how this State interference is to be put in practice without vernment shall itself decide; subject, always, like other violence, bloodshed, and rebellion. We will take the exist. popular governments, to its responsibility to the people. Jing case of the tariff
' law. South Carolina is said to have And now, sir, I repeat, how is it that a State Legislature made up her opinion upon it. If we do not repeal it, (as acquires any power to interfere? Who or what gives them we probably shall not) she will then apply to the case the right to say to the people, “we, who are your agents the reinecly of her doctrine. She will, we must suppose, and servants for one purpose, will undertake to decide pass a law of her Legislature, declaring the several acts that your other agents and servants, appointed by you for of Congress, usually called the tariff laws, null and void, another purpose, have transcended the authority you gave so far as they respect South Carolina, or the citizens them?” The reply would be, I think, not impertinent: thereof. So far, all is a paper transaction, and easy “Who made you a judge over another's servants? To enough. But the collector at Charleston is collecting the their own masters they stand or fall.”
duties imposed by these tariff laws; he, therefore, must be Sir, I deny this power of State Legislatures altogether. stopped. The collector will seize the goods if the tariff duIt cannot stand the test of examination. Gentlementies are not paid. The State authorities will undertake their may say that, in an extreme case, a State Government rescue: the marshal, with his posse, will come to the colmight protect the people from intolerable oppression. lector's aid, and here the contest begins. The militia of the Sir, in such a case, the people might protect themselves, State will be called out to sustain the nullifying act. They without the aid of the State Governments. Such a case will march, sir, under a very gallant leader: for I believe warrants revolution. It must make, when it comes, a law the honorable member himself commands the militia of for itself. A nullifying act of a State Legislature cannot that part of the State. He will raise the nullifying act on alter the case, nor make resistance any more lawful. In his standard, and spread it out as his banner! it will have maintaining these sentiments, sir, I am but asserting the a preamble, bearing, that the tariff laws are palpable, derights of the people. I state what they have declared, liberate, and dangerous violations of the constitution! He and insist on their right to declare it. They have chosen will proceed, with this banner flying, to the custom house to repose this power in the General Government, and 1 in Charleston: think it my duty to support it, like other constitutional
" All the while, powers.
“Sonorous metal blowing inartial sounds." For myself, sir, I do not admit the jurisdiction of South Arrived at the custom house, he will tell the collector Carolina, or any other State, to prescribe my constitutional that he must collect no more duties under any of the taduty, or to setule, between me and the people, the vali-riff laws. This he will be somewhat puzzled to say, by dity of laws of Congress, for which I have voted. I decline the way, with a grave countenance, considering what her umpirage. I have not sworn to support the constitu- hand South Carolina herself had in that of 1816. But, tion according to her construction of its clauses. I have sir, the collector would, probably, not desist at his bidnot stipulated, by my oath of office, or otherwise, to come ding. Here would ensue a pause: for they say that a cerunder any responsibility, except to the people, and those tain stillness precedes the tempest. Before ilis military whom they have appointed to pass upon the question, array should fall on the custom house, collector, clerks, whether laws, supported by my votes, conform to the and all
, it is very probable some of those composing it constitution of the country. And, sir, if we look to the would request, of their gallant commander in chief, to be general nature of the case, could any thing have been informed a little upon the point of law: for they have, inore preposterous than to make a government for the doubtless, a just respect for his opinions as a lawyer, as whole Union, and yet leave its powers subject, not to well as for his bravery as a soldier. They know he has one interpretation, but to thirteen, or twenty-four, inter- read Blackstone and the constitution, as well as Turenne and
Jas. 27, 1830.]
(SENATE. Vauban. They would ask him, therefore,something concern-Governments and the General Government, they can alter ing their rights in this matter. They would inquire whe- that distribution at will. ther it was not somewhat dangerous to resist a law of the It any thing be found in the national constitution, either United States. What would be the nature of their offence, by original provision, or subsequent interpretation, which they would wish to learn, if they, by military force and ought not to be in it, the people know how to get rid of it. array, resisted the execution, in Carolina, of a law of the If any construction be established, unacceptable to them, United States, and it should turn out, after all, that the so as to become, practically, a part of the constitution, law was constitutional? He would answer, of course, they will amend it at their own sovereign pleasure. But treason. No lawyer could give any other answer. John while the people choose to maintain it as it is; while they Fries, he would tell them, had learned that some years are satisfied with it, and refuse to change it, who has giago. How, then, they would ask, do you propose to de- ven, or who can give, to the State Legislatures, a right fend us? We are not afraid of bullets; but treason has a to alter it, either by interference, construction, or otherway of taking people off, that we do not much relish. wise? Gentlemen do not seem to recollect that the peoHow do you propose to defend us? “Look at my float- ple have any power to do any thing for themselves; they ing banner,” he would reply; “see there the nullifying imagine there is no safety for them any longer than they law!” Is it your opinion, gallant commander, they would are under the close guardianship of the State Legislatures. then say, that, if we should be indicted for treason, that Sir, the people have not trusted their safety, in regard to same floating banner of your's would make good plea the general constitution, to these hands. They have rein bar? “South Carolina is a sovereign State,” he would quired other security, and taken other bonds. They reply. That is true; but would the judge admit our plea? have chosen to trust themselves, first, to the plain words "These tariff laws,” he would repeat,®“ are unconstitu- of the instrument, and to such construction as the Governtional, palpably, deliberately, dangerously.” That all ment itself, in doubtful cases, should put on its own powe may be so; but if the tribunals should not happen to be ers, under their oaths of office, and subject to their responof that opinion, shall we swing for it? We are ready to sibility to them; just as the people of a State trust their die for our country, but it is rather an awkward business, own State Governments with a similar power. Secondly, this dying without touching the ground! After all, that they have reposed their trust in the efficacy of frequent is a sort of hemp tax, worse than any part of the tariff. elections, and in their own power tv reniove their own The honorable gentleman would be in a dilemma like that servants and agents, whenever they see cause. Thirdly, of another great general: he would have a knot before they have reposed their trust in the Judicial power, him which he could not untię., He must cut it with his which, in order that it might be trust-worthy, they have sword: he must say to his followers, defend yourselvas made as respectable, as disinterested, and as independent with your bayonets!—and this is war--civil war. as was practicable. Fourthly, they have seen fit to rely,
Direct collision, therefore, between force and force, sin case of necessity, or high expediency, on their known the unavoidable result of that remedy for the revision of and admitted power to alter or amend the constitution, unconstitutional laws which the gentleman contends for peaceably and quietly, whenever experience shall point It must happen in the very first case to which it is applied. out defects or imperfections. And, finally, the people of Is not this the plain result? To resist, by force, the exe- the United States have, at no time, in no way, directly or cution of a law, generally, is treason. Can the courts of indirectly, authorized any State Legislature to construe the United States take notice of the indulgence of a State or interpret their high instrument of Government; much to commit treason? The common saying that a State can- less to interfere, by their own power, to arrest its course not commit treason herself, is nothing to the purpose. and operation. Can she authorize others to do it? If John Fries had pro If, sir, the people, in these respects, had done otherduced an act of Pennsylvania, arinulling the law of Con- wise than they have done, their constitution could neither gress, would it have helped his case? Talk about it as have been preserved, nor would it have been worth prewe will, these doctrines go the length of revolution. serving: And, if its plain provisions shall now be disre. They are incompatible with any peaceable administration garded, and these new doctrines interpolated in it, it will of the Government. They lead directly to disunion and become as feeble and helpless a being as its enemies, civil commotion; and therefore it is, that, at their com- whether early or more recent, could possibly desire. It mencement, where they are first found to be maintain- will exist, in every State, but as a poor dependent on ed by respectable men, and in a tangible form, I enter my State permission. It must borrow leave to be; and will public protest against them all.
be no longer than State pleasure, or State discretion, The honorable gentleman argues that, if this Govern- sees fit to grant the indulgence, and to prolong its poor ment be the sole judge of the extent of its own powers,
existence. whether that right of judging be in Congress or the Su But, sir, although there are fears, there are hopes, also preme Court, it equally subverts State sovereignty. This the people have preserved this, their own chosen constithe gentleman sees, or thinks he sees, although he cannot tution, for forty years, and have seen their happiness, perceive how the right of judging, in this matter, if left prosperity, and renown, grow with its growth, and to the exercise of State Legislatures, has any tendency to strengthen with its strength. They are now, generally, subvert the Governmert of the Union. The gentleman's strongly attached to it. Overthrown by direct assault, it opinion may be, that the right ought not to have been lodged cannot be; evaded, undermined, nullified, it will not be, with the GeneralGovernment; he may like better such a con- if we, and those who shall succeed us here, as agents and stitution as we should have under the right of State inter- representatives of the people, shall conscientiously and ference; but I ask him to meet me on the plain matter of vigilantly discharge the two great branches of our public fact; I ask him to meet me on the constitution itself; I ask trust, faithfully to preserve, and wisely to administer it. him if the power is not found there, clearly and visibly I have thus stated the reasons of my dissent to the doc. found there!-(Note 3.)
trines which have been advanced and maintained. I am But, sir, what is this danger, and what the grounds of conscious, sir, of having detained you and the Senate much it? Let it be remembered that the constitution of the too long. I was drawn into the debate with no previous United States is not unalterable. It is to continue in its deliberation, such as is suited to the discussion of so grave present form no longer than the people, who established and important a subject. But it is a subject of which my it, shall choose to continue it. If they shall become con heart is full, and I have not been willing to suppress vinced that they have made an injudicious or inexpedient the utterance of its spontaneous sentiments. I cannot, partition and distribution of power, between the State even now, persuade myself to relinquish it, without ex