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The reasoning on this subject, which has been with so much profoundness and ability advanced by the Federalist, will, in the mean time, deserve the attention of every considerate man in America."
§ 514. Hitherto our experience has demonstrated the entire safety of the states, under the benign operations of the constitution. Each of the states has grown in
power, in vigour of operation, in commanding influence, in wealth, revenue, population, commerce, agriculture, and general efficiency. No man will venture to affirm, that their power, relative to that of the Union, has been diminished, although our population has, in the intermediate period, passed from three to more than twelve millions. No man will pretend to say, that the affection for the state governments has been sensibly diminished by the operations of the general government. If the latter has become more deeply an object of regard and reverence, of attachment and pride, it is, because it is felt to be the parental guardian of our public and private rights, and the natural ally of all the state governments, in the administration of justice, and the promotion of the general prosperity. It is beloved, not for its power, but for its beneficence; not because it commands, but because it protects ; not because it controls, but because it sustains the common interests, and the common liberties, and the common rights of the people.
§ 515. That there have been measures adopted by the general government, which have not met with universal approbation, must be admitted. But was not this
occupied the mind of a distinguished American gentleman, who published a pamphlet in 1788, (edit. Worcester,) entitled, “Thoughts upon the Political Situation of the United States of America,” &c. p. 37, &c.
1 The Federalist, No. 45, 46, 31.
difference of opinion to be expected ? Does it not exist in relation to the acts of the state governments ? Must it not exist in every government, formed and directed by human beings of different talents, characters, passions, virtues, motives, and intelligence? That some of the measures of the general government have been deemed usurpations by some of the states is also true. But it is equally true, that those measures were deemed constitutional by a majority of the states, and as such, received the most hearty concurrence of the state authorities. It is also true, that some measures, whose constitutionality has been doubted or denied by some states, have, at other times, upon re-examination, been approved of by the same states. Not a single measure has ever induced three quarters of the states to adopt any amendment to the constitution founded upon the notion of usurpation. Wherever an amendment has taken place, it has been to clear a real doubt, or obviate an inconvenience established by our experience. And this very power of amendment, at the command of the states themselves, forms the great balance-wheel of our system ; and enables us silently and quietly to redress all irregularities, and to put down all practical oppressions. And what is not a little remarkable in the history of the government, is, that two measures, which stand confessedly upon the extreme limits of constitutional authority, and carry the doctrine of constructive power to the last verge, have been brought forward by those, who were the opponents of the constitution, or the known advocates for its most restricted construc
1 If there be any exception, it is the decision, as to the suability of the states. But even this deserves not the name of usurpation, for the case falls clearly within the words of the constitution.
tion. In each case, however, they received the decided support of a great majority of all the states of the Union; and the constitutionality of them is now universally acquiesced in, if not universally affirmed. We allude to the unlimited embargo, passed in 1807, and the purchase and admission of Louisiana into the Union, under the treaty with France in 1803. That any act has ever been done by the general government, which even a majority of the states in the Union have deemed a clear and gross usurpation, may be safely denied. On the other hand, it is certain, that many powers positively belonging to the general government, have never yet been put into full operation. So that the influence of state opinions, and state jealousies, and state policy, may be clearly traced throughout the operations of the general government, and especially in the exercise of the legislative powers. This furnishes no just ground of complaint or accusation. It is right, that it should be so. But it demonstrates, that the general government has many salutary checks, silently at work to control its movements; and, that experience coincides with theory in establishing, that it is calculated to secure "the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
§ 516. If, upon a closer survey of all the powers given by the constitution, and all the guards upon their exercise, we shall perceive still stronger inducements
1 4 Elliot's Debates, 257. President Jefferson himself, under whose administration both these measures were passed, which were, in the highest sense, his own measures, was deliberately of opinion, that an amendment of the constitution was necessary, to authorize the general government to admit Louisiana into the Union. Yet he ratified the very treaty, which sec
this right; and confirmed the laws, which gave it effect. 4 Jefferson's Corresp. 1, 2, 3. — A more particular consideration of these subjects will naturally arise in some future discussions.
to fortify this conclusion, and to increase our confidence in the constitution, may we not justly hope, that every honest American will concur in the dying expression of Father Paul, “ Esto perpetua,” may it be perpetual.
END OF VOL. I.