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as composing one great body, but the people as composing thirteen sovereignties."
This question, as to the character of the fountain of authority from which the Constitution flows, may be set at rest by a fact which no one will dispute, that the Constitution could not have been the act of a majority of the people, because a minority could not only have formed, but that a minority may now amend it. Six States in the Union have now a majority of its population, whilst four States, at the adoption of the Constitution, possessed, relatively, an equally decided superiority of numbers. Nine States, in a minority in population, formed a federal majority in the Convention, in the creating power; and eighteen states, now in a similar minority in numbers, possess, in a plenary sense, the amending power.
In all its relations to the States, the General Government is strictly federal; it is national only in regard to its operation on the citizens, individually of the States, by virtue of clearly delegated grants of power, and in its diplomatic relations with foreign nations. This distinction is vital not only to a clear understanding of the question, but to what is vastly more important, to the civil and political liberties of the States; the first of which are without any effective security, except in the unimpaired vigour in which the States maintain the latter, by virtue of their separate sovereignties. Nothing can be more preposterous than the assertion, that “the General and State Governments derive their authority from the same source.” The State Governments derive their authority from the immediate action of the people; the General Government derives its authority from the political action of the separate sovereignties of the States. When the Supreme Court and Mr. Webster looked to the preamble of the Constitution as furnishing a just ex position of the source of its authority, they should also have examined the test of its ratification, which declares that it was "done in Convention by the unanimous consent of the STATES present.” Can any thing be more strong? When an historical fact, apparently so little susceptible of mistake, can be perverted, is it a subject of surprise that the important trusts of the instruient should bave sustained a worse fate?
We have deemed it a matter of no small preliininary importance, that the true source of the authority of the Constitution should be fixed, before we proceed to another branch of the argument, because this point being settled, it furnishes a lamp to light our path through the rest of the discussion.
A consideration of the question, whether the Tariff is or is not constitutional, forms no part of our present business; if it
did, we should leave it to be settled in a subsequent article in this number, where the subject is likely to receive such an investigation as its importance merits. Before, however, we proceed to consider the question, whether the States have any, and what redress in the event of a violation of their reserved rights, short of revolution, it may not be amiss to affirm, that as the State of South-Carolina, and three of the other Southern States, have declared this measure (the Tariff of protection) a violation of the compact, a case, we conceive, of an exercise of powers not granted by the compact, bas been clearly made out. Let us see now in what way Mr. Webster discusses the question of remedy.
After expressing great respect for the constitutional opinions of Mr. Madison, which he avers weigh greatly with him always—which must have been especially the case when Mr. Madison affirmed, and Mr. Webster denied, in all the bitter revilings of party spirit, the constitutionality of the embargo, Mr. Webster says, “that resolution (Mr. Madison's of '98) declares, that in the case of the dangerous exercise of powers, not granted to the General Government, the States may interpose to arrest the progress of the evil." "But how interpose, and what does this declaration purport? Does it mean no more than there may be extreme cases in wbich the people, in any mode of assembling, may resist usurpation, and relieve themselves from a tyrannical government ? No one will deny this."
We differ from Mr. Webster, and think Mr. Madison's resolution must have meant something else, if it meant any thing that could rightly belong to the security, dignity and honour of our institutions. If he had intended merely to affirm the broad right of resistance, in the form of revolution, he certainly might have saved himself the pains of drawing out an elaborate essay in political metaphysics of some hundred pages in length. A single line from the Declaration of Independence, would have been quite sufficient for his purpose. He might even have learnt from Jack Cade, that a pretty sightly rebellion may be got up without the preparatory flourish of such various and subtle abstractions. No, the whole character of that invaluable document, puts a direct negative on Mr. Webster's interpretation-and this we will demonstrate beyond the possibility of doubt from the resolutions of 1798 themselves.
The first resolution recites the scope and object of all of them. It contains the emphatic declaration—" that the Geneneral Assembly of Virginia doth unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, against every aggression, either foreign or domestic, and that they will support the Government of the United States in ult mousures wurrunted by the former. Mr. Madison then remarks, “that no unfavourable comment can have been made on the sentiment here expressed. To maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and of their own State, against every aggression, both foreign and domestic, and to support the Government in all measures warranted by their Constitution, are duties which the General Assembly ought always to feel, and to which, on such occasions, it was evidently proper to express their sincere and firm adherence.”
The next resolution affirms that “the General Assembly most solemnly declares a warm attachment to the Union of the States, to maintain which, it pledges all its powers, and that, for this end, it is their duty to watch over und oppose every infraction of those princiciples which constitute the only busis of that Union, because a faithful observance of them can alone secure its existence, and the public happiness.” Upon this resolution, Mr. Madison further remarks—" the observation just made is equally applicable to this solemn declaration of warm attachment to the Union, and this solenn pledge to maintain it. Nor can any question arise among enlightened friends of the Union, as to the duty of watching over and opposing every infraction of those principles which constitute its basis, and a faithful observance of which, can alone secure its existence, and the public happiness thereon depending."
The objects then most distinctly and unequivocally recited in these resolutions, are, " to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States."-By what means?—Let the 3d resolution answer this question: "That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declure, that it views the powers of the Federul Government, as resulting from the compuct to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no farther valid, thun they are anthorized 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 maintuining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them."
It manifestly appears, therefore, that Mr. Madison did not regard this right “ to interpose," (which for the sake of greater distinctness, we will hereafter term, the right of interposition
on the part of a State,) as leading to revolution-on the contrary, he deems it essential to the preservation of the Constitution and the Union, in case of “a deliberate, palpable and dangerous exercise of power not granted," on the part of the General Government. In order, however, that there may be no doubt on this point, we will recite again Mr. Madison's most lucid and admirable exposition of the scope and bearing of this third resolution, although we have had occasion, in the extract from Mr. Hayne's speech, to bring it already to the view of our readers. Mr. Madison says—"It appears to your committee to be a plain principle founded on common sense, illustrated by common practice, and essential to the nature of compacts, that where a resort can be had to no tribunal superior to the authority of the parties, the parties themselves must be the rightful judges, in the last resort, whether the bargain made, has been perverted or violated. The Constitution of the United States was formed by the sanction of the States, cach in its sovereign capacity. It adds to the stability and dignity, as well as to the authority of the Constitution, that it rests upon this legitimate and solid foundation. 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 parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.”
And again, in continuation, he remarks :-"The resolution has guarded against misconstruction by expressly referring to cases of a deliberate, palpable and dangerous nature.' cifies the object of the interposition, which it contemplates to be solely that of arresting the progress of the evil of usurpation, and of maintaining the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to the States, as parties to the Constitution.”
We are willing to leave these commentaries of Mr. Madison on his own resolutions, as a fit answer to Mr. Webster's assertion, and shall now pass to a point of no small moment in this discussion. What could the legislature of Virginia have meant by this right of interposition?' We acknowledge that this is a question of great solemnity and importance upon a just understanding of which, not only the existence of the Union, but what is more vital, the liberties of the citizens of the different States depend. We wish to ask, whether the resolutions warrant us in believing, that this right on the part of a State, is "a perfect right.” We apprehend that from the VOL. VI.-N0. 11.
language of the resolution, it can be nothing less. Indeed, Mr. Madison affirms, not only that the right exists to interpose on the part of the States, in case of a violation of the compact, but that they (the States,) are in duty bound to interpose. If, therefore, the right to interpose is “a perfect right,” and a moral obligation which belong to a sovereign State, for arresting the progress' of an infraction of the compact by which it is bound in a confederacy to other States, and for “maintaining within its limits its authorities, rights and liberties," it would seem to follow as a matter of inevitable necessity, as in the case of all perfect rights, that all the means necessary to enforce this right are justifiable. To suppose such a right, without a remedy for its maintenance, would be a solerism in politics which we presume there can be no occasion for us to meet. Mr. Madison having, therefore, laid down “this right of interposition" as a cardinal principle of State sovereignty, the deduction is irresistible, that a State, if it is the only means left, may render void, within her territorial limits, the exercise of a power not granted by the compact, but reserved to herself, and this, without in the slightest degree impairing her obligations to the confederacy in regard to all powers constitutionally exerçised and clearly delegated. It will be recollected that we are now following out Mr. Madison's resolutions to their legitimate consequences. It is entirely true that a State has a choice of means as to the mode by which she will interpose; she may, in the first instance, do this by petition, remonstrance, or by an effort to procure the co-operation of her sister States, by the assembly of a Convention to consider the validity of the disputed power; but as she has “a perfect right to judge as well of infractions, as the mode and measure of redress,” this involves the power of determining the precise means necessary for “arresting the progress of the evil, within her limits.” Any other view of this subject, would render the affirmance of this right an absolute mockery. We believe that all the misapprehension which has arisen as to the power of a State, in a confederacy, to take the necessary measures to make null and void the exercise of a power not granted to the government created by the compact of confederacy, but reserved to the State itself, has resulted from a radical misconception of the rights which belong to a state as a sovereign member of the league. The power to protect herself, in the confederacy, from an infraction of the conditions of the compact, is not a revolutionary right, but a right that belongs to her as a member of the confederacy; and we maintain, that in regard to all such powers as she has not delegated, she remains as competent as she was before she joined the