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platforms of a powerful political party; by obiter opinions, or the sayings of Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States; by editors of newspapers, and by authors of literary publications which are, in many respects, accurate and valuable. For example—
The Articles of Confederation, which went into force on the first of March, 1781, declared that each State retained its “sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right” which was not, by the Confederation, “expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.”
“Let them” (the Articles of Confederation) “be candidly reviewed under a sense of the difficulty of combining in one general system the various sentiments and interests of a continent divided into so many sovereign and independent communities, under a conviction of the absolute necessity of uniting all our councils, and all our strength, to maintain and defend our common liberties.”— Circular Letter, agreed to in Congress, Nov. 17, 1777.
In Congress, June 28, 1779:-“The committee, consisting of Mr. McKean, Mr. Lovell, and Mr. Paca, to whom was referred the memorial of Messrs. John Cox and Charles Petit, Assistant Quartermaster-General, report that they have come to the following resolution thereupon, viz.:-That Congress cannot, in any manner, control the Legislature of New Jersey in the internal police of said State. That it is not to be presumed that any citizen will be unjustly or oppressively taxed in any State, without remedy, by appeal or otherwise, within the same. “Resolved, That Congress agree to said Report.”
The published opinions of Luther Martin, of Maryland, who was a member of the convention that formed the Constitution of the United States, contain the following passages: “When the States threw off their allegiance to Great Britain, they became independent of her and of each other.”—Elliot's Debates, Vol. I, p. 423. “The separation from Great Britain placed the thirteen States in a state of nature towards each other.”—Madison Papers, Supplement to Elliot's Debates, Vol. V, p. 213. “Every argument which shows one man ought not to have more votes than another, because he is wiser, stronger, or wealthier, proves that one State ought not to have more votes than another, because it is stronger, richer, or more populous.” — Elliot’s Debates, Vol. I, p. 353. “Everything which relates to the formation, the dissolution, or the alteration of a federal government over States equally free, sovereign, and independent, is the peculiar province of the States in their sovereign or political capacity, in the same manner as what relates to forming alliances or treaties of peace, amity, or commerce; * * * the people at large, in their individual capacity, have no more right to interfere in the one case than in the other.”— Elliot's Debates, Vol. I, p. 387.
James Madison on Luther Martin.
* * * In a letter under the date of June 5, 1835, James Madison said: “The passions and prejudices of Mr. L. Martin, betrayed in his published letter, could not fail to discolor his representations. He also left the Convention before the completion of their work. I have heard, |but will not vouch for the fact, that he became sensible of and admitted his error. Certain it is, that he joined the party who favored the Constitution in its most liberal construction.”— Writings of James Madison, Vol. IV,
In 1796, Mr. Justice Samuel Chase, of the Supreme Court of the United States, in referring to the Declaration of American Independence, said: “I consider this as a declaration, not that the united colonies jointly, in a collective capacity, were independent States, &c., but that each of them had a right to govern itself by its own authority, and its own laws, without any control from any other power upon earth.”—Dallas' Reports, Vol. III, p. 224. Mr. Chase was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The Virginia Resolutions of 1798, adopted by the House of Delegates, December 21, and by the Senate, December 24, declare, “explicitly and peremptorily,” that the General Assembly of Virginia “views the powers of the Federal Government as resulting from the compact to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no farther valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the States, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them.”
Extract from a report of a Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates, at the session of 1799–1800: “The States, then, being the parties to the Constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity that there can be no tribunal above their authority to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and, consequently, that, as the parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.”—Madison's Works, Vol. IV, p. 517.
The Kentucky Resolutions, of 1799, declare that the several States “by compact, under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto,” “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 selfgovernment; 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; its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party;” and “that, as in all other cases of compact among parties having no common judge, each party has a right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”
The Appendix to the first volume of Tucker’s” Blackstone, published in Philadelphia in 1803, contains the following passages: “Whatever political relation existed between the American colonies antecedent to the Revolution, as constituent parts of the British empire, or as dependencies upon it, that relation was completely dissolved and annihilated from that period. From the moment of the Revolution they became severally independent and sovereign States, possessing all the rights, jurisdictions, and authority that other sovereign States, however constituted, or by whatever title denominated, possess; and bound by no ties but of their own creation, except such as all other civilized nations are equally bound by, and which together constitute the customary law of nations.”—Appendia, p. 150. “The right of sovereignty, therefore, in all cases not expressly ceded to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the several States, remains inviolably with the States respectively.”—Appendia, p. 176. The Federal Government, then, appears to be the organ through which the United Republics communicate
* St. George Tucker was Professor of Law in the University of William and Mary, in Virginia, and one of the Judges of the General Court of that State.