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"The General Assembly doth explicitly illustrated by common practice, and essenand peremptorily declare, that it views the tial to the nature of compacts, that, where powers of the federal government, as re- resort can be had to no tribunal superior sulting from the compact to which the to the authority of the parties, the parties states are parties, as limited by the plain themselves must be the rightful judges in sense and intention of the instrument con- the last resort, whether the bargain made stituting that compact, as no further valid has been pursued or violated. The conthan they are authorized by the grants stitution of the United States was formed enumerated in that compact; and that in by the sanction of the states, given by each case of a deliberate, palpable, and danger- in its sovereign capacity. It adds to the pus exercise of other powers not granted stability and dignity, as well as to the auby the said compact, the states who are thority, of the constitution, that it rests parties thereto have the right, and are in upon this legitimate and solid foundation. duty bound, to interpose for arresting the The states, then, being the parties to the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, constitutional compact, and in their sovwithin their respective limits, authorities, ereign capacity, it follows of necessity that rights
, and liberties, belonging to them." there can be no tribunal above their auIn addition to the above resolution, the thority, to decide, in the last resort, whethGeneral Assembly of Virginia “ appealed er the compact made by them be violated, to the other states, in the confidence that and consequently that, as the parties to it, they would concur with that common- they must decide, in the last resort, such wealth, that the acts aforesaid (the alien questions as may be of sufficient magniand sedition laws) are unconstitutional, tude to require their interposition.” and that the necessary and proper mea
“The resolution has guarded against sures would be taken by each for co-operat- any misapprehension of its object by exing with Virginia in maintaining un- pressly requiring for such an interposition impaired the authorities, rights, and liber the case of a deliberate, palpable, and ties reserved to the states respectively, or dangerous breach of the constitution, by to the people."
the exercise of powers not granted by it.' The legislatures of several of the New It must be a case, not of a light and tranEngland States, having, contrary to the sient nature, but of a nature dangerous to expectation of the legislature of Virginia, the great purposes for which the constituexpressed their dissent from these doc- tion was established. trines, the subject came up again for “But the resolution has done more than consideration during the session of 1799, guard against misconstructions, by ex1800, when it was referred to a select com- pressly referring to cases of a deliberate, mittee
, by whom was made that celebrated palpable, and dangerous nature. It specireport which is familiarly known as fies the object of the interposition, which "Madison's Report," and which deserves it contemplates, to be solely that of arrestto last as long as the constitution itself. In ing the progress of the evil of usurpation, that report, which was subsequently and of maintaining the authorities, rights, adopted by the legislature, the whole sub- and liberties appertaining to the states, as ject was deliberately re-examined, and the parties to the constitution. objections urged against the Virginia doc "From this view of the resolution, it trines carefully considered. The result would seem inconceivable that it can inwas, that the legislature of Virginia re- cur any, just disapprobation from those affirmed all the principles laid down in the who, laying aside all momentary impressresolutions of 1798, and issued to the world ions, and recollecting the genuine source that admirable report which has stamped and object of the federal constitution, shall the character of Mr. Madison as the pre- candidly and accurately interpret the server of that constitution which he had meaning of the General Assembly. If the contributed so largely to create and estab- deliberate exercise of dangerous powers, lish. I will here quote from Mr. Madison's palpably withheld by the constitution, report one or two passages which bear could not justify the parties to it in intermore immediately on the point in contro- posing even so far as to arrest the progress Teray. “The resolutions, having taken of the evil, and thereby to preserve the this view of the federal compact, proceed constitution itself, as well as to provide for to infer that in case of a deliberate, palpa- the safety of the parties to it, there would ble
, and dangerous exercise of other powers. be an end to all relief from usurped power, the states who are parties thereto have the and a direct subversion of the rights speciright
, and are in duty bound, to interpose fied or recoganized under all the state for arresting the progress of the evil
, and constitutions, as well as a plain denial of for maintaining, within their respective the fundamental principles on which our limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties independence itself was declared.” appertaining to them.”
But, sir, our authorities do not stop here. " It
appears to your committee to be a The state of Kentucky responded to Virplain principle, founded in common sense, ginia, and on the 10th of November, 1798,
adopted those celebrated resolutions, well | clares to be “usurpations of the powers reknown to have been penned by the author tained by the states, mere interpolations of the Declaration of American Independ- into the compact, and direct infractions of ence. In those resolutions, the legislature it,” he solemnly reasserts all the principles of Kentucky declare, “that the govern- of the Virginia Resolutions of '98, protests ment created by this compact was not against “these acts of the federal branch of made the exclusive or final judge of the the government as null and void, and deextent of the powers delegated to itself, clares that, although Virginia would consince that would have made its discretion, sider a dissolution of the Union as among and not the constitution, the measure of the greatest calamities that could befall its powers; but that, as in all other cases them, yet it is not the greatest. There is of compact among parties having no com- one yet greater-submission to a governmon judge, each party has an equal rightment of unlimited powers. It is only when to judge, for itself, as well of infractions as the hope of this shall become absolutely of the mode and measure of redress.” desperate, that further forbearance could
At the ensuing session of the legislature, not be indulged.” the subject was re-examined, and on the In his letter to Mr. Giles, written about 14th of November, 1799, the resolutions of the same time, he says,the preceding year were deliberately reaf “I see as you do, and with the deepest firmed, and it was, among other things, sol- affliction, the rapid strides with which the emnly declared, —
federal branch of our government is ad"That, if those who administer the gen- vancing towards the usurpation of all the eral government be permitted to transgress rights reserved to the states, and the conthe limits fixed by that compact, by a total solidation in itself of all powers, foreign disregard to the special delegations of and domestic, and that too by constructions power therein contained, an annihilation which leave no limits to their powers, &c. of the state governments, and the erection Under the power to regulate commerce, upon their ruins of a general consolidated they assume, indefinitely, that also over government, will be the inevitable conse- agriculture and manufactures, &c. Under quence. That the principles of construc- the authority to establish post roads, they tion contended for by sundry of the state claim that of cutting down mountains for legislatures, that the general govornment the construction of roads, and digging is the exclusive judge of the extent of the canals, &c. And what is our resource for powers delegated to it, stop nothing short the preservation of the constitution? Reason of despotism; since the discretion of those and argument? You might as well reason who administer the government, and not and argue with the marble columns encirthe constitution, would be the measure of cling them, &c. Are we then to stand to their powers. That the several states who our arms with the hot-headed Georgian? formed that instrument, being sovereign No; (and I say no, and South Carolina has and independent, have the unquestionable said no;) that must be the last resource. right to judge of its infraction, and that a We must have patience and long endurance nullification, by those sovereignties, of all with our brethren, &c., and separate from unauthorized acts done under color of that our companions only when the sole alterinstrument, is the rightful remedy.”. natives left are a dissolution of our Union
Time and experience confirmed Mr. with them, or submission. Between these Jefferson's opinion on this all important two evils, when we must make a choice, point. In the year 1821, he expressed there can be no hesitation." himself in this emphatic manner: “It is Such, sir, are the high and imposing aua fatal heresy to suppose that either our thorities in support of “The Carolina docstate governments are superior to the fed- trine,” which is, in fact, the doctrine of the eral, or the federal to the state; neither is Virginia Resolutions of 1798. authorized literally to decide which be Sir, at that day the whole country was longs to itself or its copartner in govern- divided on this very question. It formed ment; in differences of opinion, between the line of demarcation between the federal their different sets of public servants, the and republican parties; and the great po. appeal is to neither, but to their employ- litical revolution which then took place ers peaceably assembled by their repre- turned upon the very questions involved in sentatives in convention.". The opinion of these resolutions. That question was deMr. Jefferson on this subject has been so cided by the people, and by that decision repeatedly and so solemnly expressed, that the constitution was, in the emphatic lanthey may be said to have been the most guage of Mr. Jefferson, “saved at its last fixed and settled convictions of his mind. gasp.” I should suppose, sir, it would re
In the protest prepared by him for the quire more self-respect than any gentleman legislature of Virginia, in December, 1825, here would be willing to assume, to treat in respect to the powers exercised by the lightly doctrines derived from such high federal government in relation to the tariff resources. Resting on authority like this, I and internal improvements, which he de- I will ask gentlemen whether South Carolina
has not manifested a high regard for the was maintained by Virginia and Kentucky Union, when, under a tyranny ten times in the worst of times--that it constituted more grievous than the alien and sedition the very pivot on which the political revolaws, she has hitherto gone no further than lution of that day turned-that it embraces to petition, remonstrate, and to solemnly the very principles, the triumph of which, protest against a series of measures which at that time, saved the constitution at its she believes to be wholly unconstitutional last gasp, and which New England statesand utterly destructive of her interests. men were not unwilling to adopt, when Sir
, South Carolina has not gone one step they believed themselves to be the victims further than Mr. Jefferson himself was dis- of unconstitutional legislation. Sir, as to posed to go, in relation to the present sub- the doctrine that the federal government is ject of our present complaints-not a step the exclusive judge of the extent as well as further than the statesman from New Eng- the limitations of its powers, it seems to me land was disposed to go, under similar cir- to be utterly subversive of the sovereignty cumstances; no further than the senator and independence of the states. It makes from Massachusetts himself once considered but little difference, in my estimation, as within the limits of a constitutional whether Congress or the Supreme Court are opposition.” The doctrine that it is the invested with this power. If the federal right of a state to judge of the violations of government, in all, or any, of its departthe constitution on the part of the federal ments, is to prescribe the limits of its own government, and to protect her citizens authority, and the states are bound to subfrom the operations of unconstitutional mit to the decision, and are not to be allaws, was held by the enlightened citizens lowed to examine and decide for themof Boston, who assembled in Faneuil Hall, selves, when the barriers of the constitution on the 25th of January, 1809. They state, shall be overleaped, this is practically "a in that celebrated memorial, that “ they government without limitation of powers." looked only to the state legislature, who | The states are at once reduced to mere were competent to devise relief against the petty corporations, and the people are enunconstitutional acts of the general gov-tirely at your mercy, I have but one word ernment
. That your power (say they) is more to add. In all the efforts that have adequate to that object, is evident from the been made by South Carolina to resist the organization of the confederacy."
unconstitutional laws which Congress has A distinguished senator from one of the extended over them, she has kept steadily New England States, (Mr. Hillhouse,) in a in view the preservation of the Union, by speech delivered here, on a bill for enforc- the only means by which she believes it ing the embargo, declared, “I feel myself can be long preserved—a firm, manly, and bound in conscience to declare, (lest the steady resistance against usurpation. The blood of those who shall fall in the execu- measures of the federal government have, tion of this measure shall be on my head, it is true, prostrated her interests, and will that I consider this to be an act which directs soon involve the whole south in irretrieva mortal blow at the liberties of my country able ruin. But even this evil, great as it an act containing unconstitutional pro- is, is not the chief ground of our complaints. visions, to which the people are not bound It is the principle involved in the contest to submit
, and to which, in my opinion, -a principle which, substituting the disthey will not submit."
cretion of Congress for the limitations of And the senator from Massachusetts him- the constitution, brings the states and the self
, in a speech delivered on the same sub- people to the feet of the federal governject in the other house, said, “This opposi- ment, and leaves them nothing they can tion is constitutional and legal; it is also call their own. Sir, if the measures of the conscientious. It rests on settled and sober federal government were less oppressive, conviction, that such policy is destructive we should still strive against this usurpato the interests of the people, and danger- tion. The south is acting on a principle ous to the being of government. The ex- she has always held sacred-resistance to perience of every day confirms these senti- unauthorized taxation. These, sir, are the ments. Men who act from such motives principles which induced the immortal are not to be discouraged by trifling obsta- Hampden to resist the payment of a tax cles
, nor awed by any dangers. They know of twenty shillings. Would twenty shilthe limit of constitutional opposition ; up lings have ruined his fortune? No! but to that limit, at their own discretion, they the payment of half twenty shillings, will walk, and walk fearlessly.” How "the on the principle on which it was demanded, being of the government” was to be endan- would have made him a slave. Sir, if act: gered by constitutional opposition " to the ing on these high motives-if animated by embargo, I leave the gentleman to explain that ardent love of liberty which has always
Thus it will be seen, Mr. President, that been the most prominent trait in the souththe South Carolina doctrine is the republi- ern character-we should be hurried becan doctrine of '98m-that it was promul- yond the bounds of a cold and calculating gated by the fathers of the faith--that it I prudence, who is there, with one noble and
generous sentiment in his bosom, that be elsewhere. The honorable member, w Juld not be disposed, in the language of however, did not incline to put off the disBurke, to exclaim, “You must pardon cussion to another day. He had a shot, he something to the spirit of liberty ?” said, to return, and he wished to discharge
it. That shot, sir, which it was kind thus to inform us was coming, that we might
stand out of the way, or prepare ourselves Webster's Great Reply to Hayne, to fall before it, and die with decency, has In which he “ Expounds the Constitution," delivered in now been received. Under all advantages, Senule, Junuary 26, 1830.
and with expectation awakened by the Following Mr. Hayne in the debate, Mr. tone which preceded it, it has been disWebster addressed the Senate as fol. charged, and has spent its force. It may lows:
become me to say no more of its effect than Mr. President: When the mariner has that, if nobody is found, after all, either been tossed, for many days, in thick killed or wounded by it, it is not the first weather, and on an unknown sea, he natu- time in the history of human affairs that rally avails himself of the first pause in the the vigor and success of the war have not storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to quite come up to the lofty and sounding take his latitude, and ascertain how far the phrase of the manifesto. elements have driven him from his true The gentleman, sir, in declining to postcourse. Let us imitate this prudence, and pone the debate, told the Senate, with the before we float farther, refer to the point emphasis of his hand upon his heart, that from which we departed, that we may at there was something rankling here, which least be able to conjecture where we now he wished to relieve. (Mr. Hayne rose are. I ask for the reading of the resolu. and disclaimed having used the word tion.
rankling.] It would not, Mr. President, (The Secretary read the resolution as be safe for the honorable member to appeal follows:
to those around him, upon the question “Resolved, That the committee on pub- whether he did, in fact, make use of that lic lands be instructed to inquire and re-word. But he may have been unconscious port the quantity of the public lands of it. At any rate, it is enough that he remaining unsold within each state and disclaims it. But still, with or without the territory, and whether it be expedient to use of that particular word, he had yet limit, for a certain period, the sales of the something here, he said, of which he wished public lands to such lands only as have to rid himself by an immediate reply. In heretofore been offered for sale, and are this respect, sir, I have a great advantage now subject to entry at the minimum price. over the honorable gentleman. There is And, also, whether the office of surveyor nothing here, sir, which gives me the slightgeneral, and some of the land offices, may est uneasiness ; neither fear, nor anger, nor not be abolished without detriment to the that which is sometimes more troublesome public interest; or whether it be expedient than either, the consciousness of having to adopt measures to hasten the sales, and been in the wrong. There is nothing either extend more rapidly the surveys of the originating here, or now received here, by public lands."]
the gentleman's shot. Nothing original, We have thus heard, sir, what the reso- for I had not the slightest feeling of disrelution is, which is actually before us for spect or unkindness towards the honorable consideration; and it will readily occur to member. Some passages, it is true, had every one that it is almost the only subject occurred, since our acquaintance in this about which something has not been said body, which I could have wished might in the speech, running through two days, have been otherwise; but I had used phil. by which the Senate has been now enter-osophy, and forgotten them. When the tained by the gentleman from South Caro- honorable member rose, in his first speech, lina. Every topic in the wide range of our ! paid him the respect of attentive listenpublic affairs, whether past or present,- ing; and when he sat down, though surevery thing, general or local, whether be- prised, and I must say even astonished, at longing to national politics or party poli- some of his opinions, nothing was farther tics,—seems to have attracted more or less from my intention than to commence any of the honorable member's attention, save personal warfare; and through the whole only the resolution before us. He has of the few remarks I made in answer, I spoken of every thing but the public lands. avoided, studiously and carefully, every They have escaped his notice. To that thing which I thought possible to be consubject, in all his excursions, he has not strued into disrepect." And, sir, while paid even the cold respect of a passing there is thus nothing originating here, glance.
which I wished at any time, or now wish When this debate, sir, was to be resumed, to discharge, I must repeat, also, that noon Thursday morning, it so happened that thing has been received here which rankles, it would have been convenient for me to lor in any way gives me annoyance. I will