Слике страница
PDF
ePub

This amendment was formally adopted, and is a part of the constitution of the United States.

Washington admitted the ability of the States to resume their delegated powers, and, while he was afraid that his own State of Virginia might resolve to do such a thing, he cautioned them in this language : “ In resuming your sovereign rights, you will expose yourself to the danger of one portion of you being oppressed by the other."

In order to quiet the fears of those who were alarmed for State sovereignty, Jefferson said :

“ Our government is based on the consent of the governed. To the compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party ; the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the constitution, the measure of its powers ; but that, as in all cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each State has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions, as of the mode and measure of redress.”

I have now given, at some length, the language of the immortal author of the Declaration of Independ. ence, and of the great and patriotic men who framed the constitution of the United States—the men, in a word, who, under the guiding hand of Divine Provi. dence, founded this government.

You certainly cannot be in doubt as to tne nature of the government they intended to form, and supposed they had formed, when their work was done.

That Saxon love of local independence which our fathers brought to these shores, is still the key which unlocks the blessed cabinet of liberty they bequeathed to us.

This Saxon principle of local sovereignty is alone compatible with the perfect liberty of man. This alone

allows all that variety in political institutions which harmonizes with the social and moral variety that obtain among men.

But the Norman principle of a consolidated centralized government aims to destroy all this natural variety, and to crush the characteristic passions and aspirings of the race into a subjected, consolidated mass of men.

Such a government is seen in its perfection in Austria, where the only sign of life is the feeble, muscular leaving beneath the mighty weight of centralized power.

The poles are not further apart than is this kind of government from the one established by our fathers.

In our government, all the natural variety common to different communities of men is left to the protection of harmonizing local institutions.

The man of South Carolina has nothing to do with the domestic institutions of the man of Massachusettsand the man of Massachusetts has nothing to do with the domestic institutions of the man of South Carolina.

The States of South Carolina and Massachusetts have nothing to do with each other. Their duty is simply to faithfully obey the laws of the Union, contribute their respective shares to the support of the Federal Govern. ment, respect each other's censtitutional rights, and mind their own business.

Under the constitution of the United States, the people of South Carolina have no more right to meddle with the internal affairs of Massachussetts, than they have to meddle with the internal affairs of the kingdom of Great Britain, or the empire of China. Each State is master-sole master-of its internal affairs.

This form of government, we say, is not only is', it compatible with the most perfect liberty of man is favorable to the highest civilization, inasmuo harmonizes with the natural variety of the race.

One of the most eminent modern philosophers, Niebuhr, adopted as a leading principle in his science this truth, that—"As in organic beings, the most perfect life is that which animates the greatest variety of numbers, so among States, that is the most perfect in which a number of institutions, originally distinct, being organized each after its kind into centers of national life, form a complete whole."

This is a perfect description of the government of the United States. Each State is an organized center of political life-of sovereignty--and the circle of these centers forms the Union.

Such is the Union, as organized by our fathers. It is the most perfect form of government ever adopted, because it is the most favorable to perfect liberty, and to the development of all the resources of human nature.

There is no such inspirer of human enterprise as those institutions of Saxon freedom which leaves limited cir. cles of men masters of their local affairs.

How the nation prospered while all the States, biding by the original compact, and faithfully adhering to the Constitution, never presumed to molest the local institutions of each other !

Under the rule of non-interference with the invalua. ble right of local self-government, how the Republic “expanded from its primitive circumscription, until its boundary lines, which at first reached not far beyond the sound of the Atlantic, became enlarged beyond the mountains—then beyond the Mississippi-until, having crcssed the second great range of mountains, it heard the sound of the earth's other great ocean!” "I'mnow of no grander right in history than this simre Saxon characteristic principle of self-government,

curely shadowed forth in the ancient fatherland of

Saxon-carried thence into England—then brought 111, ese virgin shores, and made the animating prin.

[ocr errors]

ciple of a new Republic-ever extending the doctrines of local freedom over the limitless domain of the New World !

Who can trace this sublime principle from its feeble start among the ancient forests of Saxony, through its bloody conflicts with Norman centralism over twelve hundred years of British history, until it planted the seeds of a mighty new empire on this continent, without devoutly feeling that the hand of Deity shaped its destiny and preserved its life in every bloody trial through whieh it had to pass ?

May we not trust that the protecting career of Divine Providence will not now be wholly withdrawn from this grand principle of liberty, and leave it to perish in this land of our fathers ?

Oh, let us not forget how God prospered this nation while it remained just as our forefathers made it, and each State attended to its own affairs, and let the affairs of every other State alone !

Shall I tell you how we' became rich-how we grew great and powerful, and became the wonder and admiration of the world?

By minding our own business!

Oh, what a sublime science that is, of minding our own business!

How essential to the peace and prosperity of States, as well as of private virtue and social happiness!

Upon the good temper, mutual forbearance and justice of all the States depends, not the prosperity, but the very existence of the Union.

It was established, in the first place, for mutual protection and benefits.

It was a voluntary bond of political Union between independent States, whose lot had been cast on a con. tinent which seemed fitted by Providence to be the abode of one nation.

The Continent itself is inseparably bound together by vast rivers and mighty mountain ranges running North and South, as if typical of the indissoluble tie, which God intended should unite the people of this land for ever.

Rivers flowing North and South, connecting the climate and soil of different latitudes, have a most important bearing upon the social, financial, and political relations of States.

Thus the immutable teachings of Nature—the voices of rivers and mountains, of climate and soil-all proclaim that the territories occupied by the United States were fitted by the hand of Heaven itself to be the abode of a united people.

To dissolve this Union is to disobey the voice of God, and to commit all our happiness—all our social and financial well-being—to a shoreless ocean of shipwrecks and storms.

Instead of there being any conflict between the labor institutions of the North and South, there is precisely the same harmony between them that there is between tropical and inter-tropical productions as articles of commerce and trade.

This nation has grown rich and prosperous with a rapidity, and to a degree, that has no parallel in the history of man.

And it is the perfect harmony and commercial balance existing between the productions and the labor institutions of the North and the South which has led to all this greatness.

While the hot climate and rich soil of the South have produced more than three-quarters of all the export wealth of the United States, the more invigorating climate of the North has developed an enterprising people, which have used all our mountain streams to drive the machinery which employs more than seven-tenths of the mechanic skill and industry of the country.

« ПретходнаНастави »