Слике страница

reignties. Article 1. Section II. of the constitution reads : “ The House of Representatives shall be com. posed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the electors in eaclı State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

You perceive that this article of the constitution recognizes no such body politic as the people of the United States as a consolidated people. The House of Representatives is the organ of the State governments, and represents their sovereignty. The election of these representatives is ordered by the independent action of the States. There is neither uniformity in the time nor in the qualifications of their election. In some States a property qualification is required-in some, not. One State requires one duration of residence within the State—another, another duration. The States are entirely sovereign in this election.

And to show you how entirely independent the States are in this particular, I will mention the fact that the States have power to annihilate the general govern. ment, by refusing to send members to the United States Congress, or by refusing to choose presidential electors, *

* If a certain number of the States should refuse to send senators to the General Congress, the General Government would fall by the lack of a constitutional quorum, and there is no way of compelling these States to send their senators. And should the Senate proceed without a quoruin it would violate the constitution, and all its acts would be pull and void. It would not be a Senate. and its doings would possess no legal claim to the obedience of the people.

And so, if a certain number of States should refuse to choose Presidential Electors, the General Government would fall for the want of an Executive head. Terrible as such a state of things would be, there is no remedy provided by the constitution.

The reason is this--our Government is based upon the voluntary principle, upon the consent of the governed, and our fathers could discover no way of pre. serving that principle, and, at the same time, of adopting the monarchical prin. ciple of compelling States against their own legislative will.

On this account we hear many say that our fathers formed a government which was “a rope of sand." By no means. The very strength of a Republic is in the faithful adherence of all parties to the voluntary principle. Our fathers saw that no other principle could possibly exist with a republic, for the Normun force principle, as Mr. Hamilton pointed out in the Convention, " would bring the nation at war with itself, and prove the dissolution of the Union.''

This Government proved itself to be pot a rope of sand, while all the parties to

4th. The judicial branch of the United States govern. ment also represents the State sovereignties.

Article 3. Section 1st of the constitution provides that " The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme court, and such inferior courts as Congress may, from time to time, ordain and establish.”

Again, it is said in article II., section 2d, the Presi. dent “ shall have power, by the advice and with the consent of the Senate, to make treaties "_" shall appoint embassadors, judges of the supreme court, and all other officers of the United States.”

You see, therefore, that the President has no power even to appoint the necessary officers to carry on the general government, without the consent of Congress, and Congress is the creature of the State governments, and represents their sovereignty.

5th. Two-thirds of the States can call a Convention not two-thirds of the people.

Three.fourths of the States can alter the constitution—110t three-fourths of the people.

To proceed further with this detail would be useless, so far as our present argument is concerned.

Enough has been said to show you that there is in: reality no such body politic known to the constitution of this republic as the people of the United States, viewed as one consolidated nation.

Our fathers formed a government of States, and not of one consolidated people.

I am aware that the introductory clause of the con

it faithfully adhered to the principle on which it was founded.-And any govern ment will prove a rope of sand, if its constitutional foundations are knocked away.

As long as the General Government faithfully works within its prescribed constitutional limits, there is hope :hat wandering States may be yet brought back to own their allegiance; but tbe Federal Government, once cut loose from Its constitutional moorings, ceases to be a legal power at all, and there is no longer anything left for wandering States to return to. Despotism would be added to apareby, and the government would porlab between tho two

stitution, viz, : “We, the people of the United States," has been quoted as proof of consolidation.

And Patrick Henry, in the convention of Virginia, brought this phraseology against the indcrsement of the constitution by the State of Virginia.

He indignantly demanded—“ What right had the framers of the constitution to say, We, the people,' instead of · We, the States ? States, (he continued) are the characteristics and soul of a confederacy. If the States be not the agent of the compact, it must be one great, consolidated, national government of the people of all the States."

Mr. Madison replied" Who are the parties to the government ? The people ; but not the people as com. posing one great body; but the people as composing thirteen sovereignties."

This explaration of Mr. Madison, who performed such an important part in the forming of the constitu. tion, sets the matter at rest as to the intentions of the authors of the constitution. It is also abundantly sus. tained by the grammatical structure of the phrase itself.

We, the people of the United States,” means simply " We, the people of the States united-the qualifying adjective “ united ” being annexed to the word States agreeably to the French tongue, in which this phrase is used : “ Les Etas Unis-the States United.

The phrase should have been “ We, the people of America,” if it meant to speak of the people as one consolidated nation.


Now let us return to the constitutional convention, to take notice of some of the momentous questions which were debated there, and which will further disclose to us that our fathers had neither changed their

principles, nor lost their determination to preserve them.

Great and good men differed as to some of the de tails of government, but all aimed at the same grand and patriotic end.

For instance, Mr. Hamilton entertained some opinions which were most repugnant to the majority of the people, and were promptly negatived by the Convention, but no one doubted his patriotism, or his devotion to the cause of his country.

The same may be said of Edmund Randolph, member of the Convention, from Virginia.

On the 29th of May, 1787, soon after the assembling of the Convention, Mr. Randolph presented a series of resolutions for the consideration of the Convention, as a basis of a constitution.

The sixth resolution of this draft of a constitution contained a clause, authorizing the use of the force of the Union to compel a delinquent State to fulfill its duty, in the following words :

• To call forth the force of the Union against any member of the Union failing to fulfil its duty under the articles thereof."

This clause, when called up for consideration, was, after some decided remarks in opposition to it from Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Mason, and Mr. Madison, repudiated, and on motion of Mr. Madison was postponed nem. con.

It is well known, that after the constitution was completed, Mr. Randolph withheld his signature from it, and in a letter to the convention of Virginia, dated Oct. 10th, 1787, giving his reasons for not affixing his name to the document, he offers some remarks on the subject of coercing a State by arms, which ought to be quoted in this place. He said :

“ But although coercion is an indispensable ingredient, it ought not to be directed against a State as a

State ; it being impossible to attempt it, except by blockading the trade of the delinquent, or carrying war into its bowels. But how shall we speak of the intru. sion of troops ? Shall we arm citizens against citizens, and habituate them to shed kindred blood ? Shall we risk the infliction of wounds, which will generate a ran. cour never to be subdued ? Would there be no room to fear that an army, accustomed to fight for the establishment of authority, would salute an emperor of their own ? Let us not bring these things into jeopardy: Let us rather substitute the same powers by which individuals are compelled to contribute to the govern. ment of their own States."

The date of this letter to the Convention of Virginia was four months later than the date of the resolution which Mr. Randolph offered in the constitutional con. vention touching the subject of coercing a State, a fact which makes it probable that in that resolution he in. tended the coercion of law rather than of arms.

Randolph's objection to the constitution was, that it was still liable to the chief faults of the old articles of confederation, which did not give the general govern. ment power enough to make it equal to all emergencies. Speaking of the constitution, he said :

“ After a war shall be inevitable, the requisitions of Congress for quotas of men or money will again prove unproductive and fallacious. No government can be stable which hangs on human inclination alone, un. biased by the fear of coercion.”

Although Mr. Randolph's objections to the constitu. tion did not weigh with the mind of the constitutional convention nor with that of his own State of Virginia, yet he had the satisfaction of seeing a part of his predictions fulfilled during the war of 1812, when the Presi. dent called on Massachusetts for its quota of men and money, and it refused to give either.

The President admitted that the constitution gave bim no power to force Massachusetts to comply, and

« ПретходнаНастави »