Графични страници
PDF файл

We name this (as in contradistinction to all others it was, and is still) the Constitution of South-Carolina. * It had, in fact, each and all the characteristics of such an instrument. The narrow and contracted principles of former fundamental laws, were no longer insisted on. Men had arrived at another stage in social progress. A new system was engrafted upon the State, broad enough to include all the doctrines of the soundest political wisdom. Carolina was rather ahead than behind the age. She was among the first to discover the entire inadequacy and defects of the Articles which confederated together the thirteen republican States. She was among the first to propose a remedy. When those "Articles” yielded to the magnificent Constitution of 1787, she was ready to hail it with acclamation, and accommodate her internal policy to all the high principles upon which it was based. She did su. On the 3d June, 1790, her people, speaking in their original capacity, in Convention at Columbia, prepared, discussed and adopted a republican Constitution for the State. Our citizens must be too well acquainted with the provisions of this instrument, to require any analysis at our hands. To other than citizens, a few words must suffice. The constituent parts of the government were little changed. The representation to the House was more justly apportioned; its number, too, was diminished one-half.t The Senate was also reduced considerably,-its term of existence to be four years,-half of its members to go out of office every two years, in analogy to the Constitution of the United States,-qualification of a voter, freehold or payment of tax,-qualification of a representative, £150 sterling in real estate,-of a senator, £300,-of a governor, £1500; governor elected by the Legislature on joint ballot, for two years. As an officer, he has very little power in South-Carolina. Even the veto power is not lodged in his hands. He adds to the pomp of the establishment, but the executive power strictly is lodged in the Legislature. Liberty of conscience is forever guaranteed in the State.

* The two former Constitutions cannot be considered as repealed by the Constitution of 1790. These Constitutions, we have already stated, were only laws. As laws they are distinctly recognized in the last Constitution. The seventh article of it enacts, "that all laws of force in this State at the passing of this Constitution, shall so continue until altered or repealed by the Legislature.”

+ "All numerous bodies of men, although selected with the greatest care, are too much swayed by passion and too impatient of protracted deliberation.” The world has had experience enough of this kind in the Athenian assemblies and those of the French Revolution. See Kent's Com., vol. i., p. 230.

Amendment of 1808. An amendment is a new Constitution to the extent that it is an amendment. The one before us was the result of a compromise between the lower and upper sections of the State. The wealth and population of the community must meet on equal terms; neither can be slighted. Property must be, to a great extent, the basis of sound representation. No theorist was ever wild enough to base representation exclusively upon mere numbers. The point is to find the mean. The present compromise seems in an admirable manner to have hit it. No disposition is yet evidenced to disturb the adjustment. This disturbance may, however, grow out of other proposed innovations. The amendment leaves the number of the house, one hundred and twenty-four, unchanged; the apportionment alone is altered. Every sixty-second part of the whole white population of the State is to send a member; every sixty-second part of the whole property in the State has the like privilege; every election district to have at least one member; every ten years a census taken of wealth and numbers ; each house election district to send one senator; Charleston, however, as before, may send two. In the Constitution, it required several districts often to send a senator. The senate, as we take it, neither represents wealth or numbers. It is based upon mere arbitrary geographical divisions, and has its parallel in the United States senate.

Amendment of 1810. This sweeps away, in effect, all property qualification from the exercise of the elective franchise. The condition of residence, however, must be fully met. We may speculate as to the effect of the principles which are gaining ground every day in our country, and which tend to remove every obstruction whatever between the individual and the ballot-box. One of the last expressions of these principles is to be found in the late revolutionary movements of the people of Rhode Island. We are far from countenancing the opposite doctrine, which absorbs all things into the rapacious maw of wealth. There is a medium. Universal suffrage is no suffrage at all; it degenerates into licentiousness, and defeats the very end it was intended to accomplish. Liberty well consisis with all due restrictions ; Liberty will not exist without them. Democracy is not necessarily liberty ; its consummation is frequently in delirious excess, its best principles are revolution. Our fathers, in all the Constitutions they formed, guarded anxiously against this danger. Let the heritage of the sons be the wisdom of their fathers.* And this much for the amendment of 1810.

Federal Relations. We turn our attention now from matters of a strictly local or State character. It will be necessary awhile to refer to others of a wide, national, and more imposing character. The constitution of the United States is the constitution of each particular State. We have an equivalent expression of Mr. Calhoun, who gives it on the authority of the late Nathaniel Macon.f This constitution we noticed en passant. Anything more was unnecessary. We did not discuss the federal constitution. We hesitate, now, whether to venture a discussion which shall relate to it. We have reached a period of our legal or governmental history, which largely mingles with and mixes itself in federal relations. The option seems to be left us cither to leave our sketch unfinished in one of its most important particulars, or proceed boldly on in despite of all the high responsibilities of the discussion. We are to touch upon an important controversy in our history. The historian, perhaps, lives too near the times to be free from its prejudices. The historian of another period will not have the actors in the scene for his judges. The accounts on each side are nearly balanced. We have no right to shrink from the responsibility. We leave the ground of

Maine, Vermont, New-York, Maryland, South-Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama, require no property qualification whatever in an elector. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Georgia, exact the condition of having paid all required taxes. Ohio and Louisiana, similar provisions. In Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia and North-Carolina, freehold still necessary, unless altered since 1840. "Such a rapid course of destruction of the former constitutional checks,” says Chancellor Kent, "is matter for grave reflection; and to counteract the dangerous tendency of such combined forces as universal suffrage, frequent elections, all offices for short periods, all officers elective, and an unchecked press; and to prevent them from racking and destroying our political machines, the people must have a larger share than usual of that wisdom which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated._ Comm. vol. i., p. 229, n.

† “This was a favorite idea of Mr. Macon, for whose wisdom I have a respect increasing with my experience, and whom I have frequently heard say, that most of the misconceptions and errors in relation to our system, originated in forgetting that they (i.e. the General and State Governments) were but parts of the same system.”-Calhoun's Speeches--speech on the Federal Compact 1833, p. 98.

the partisan for the higher one of the historian. If we awake prejudices, then history must never be written. South-Carolina's sons are ever lauding her glory. I know not whether a true son of her's has yet blushed for any portion of her history. We chronicle facts in our exposition, not invent them. Facts are responsible for themselves.

In consenting to become a member of the general govern. ment, each State exhibited all anxiety to preserve its indi. viduality unimpaired. Under the "articles of confedera. tion, this was attained. The constitution grew out of the deficiencies of that instrument. It did not establish any other description of government. The delegates from the States would have disobeyed their constituents (the States) had they attempted it.* The government was federal under the “Articles ;" it remained federal under the consti. tution-an integer of many units a sovereign as far as sovereignty was conferred, and for the purposes for which it was conferred, and no further. The States did not anni. hilate any portion of their sovereignty. Sovereignty is indivisible. It either remains unimpaired in a State, or it goes out of it entire. It never went out of the States in this federal compact. If it went out of the States, they became dependencies, which is absurd. The States did not, nor could they part with any portion of their sovereignty. They delegated to the agency they created (the general government) the exercise of certain sovereign powers. To delegate and to surrender such powers, are things essen

• This will be perceived by a reference to the language of the States recommending the convention which framed the constitution. Virginia, 1786, recommended a "revision of the federal system as to all its defects." New-Jersey, 1786, "such provisions as shall be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate,' &c. Pennsylvania, 1786, "such alterations and amendments as the exigencies of our' affairs may require." NorthCarolina, 1787, "for the purpose of revising the federal constitution." Georgia, 1787, such further provisions as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate, &c. New York, 1787, "for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation." South-Carolina, 1787, "such alterations adequate to the future good government of the confederated States." Massachusetts, 1787, “for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation.Connecticut, 1787, same clause. Maryland, 1787, provisions "to render the federal constitution adequate," &c. NewHampshire, 1787, "o remedy the defects of our federal Union." United States Congress, 1767, resolved that a “convention of delegates be suggested for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation." If all of this does not support our conclusion, then no conclusion ever followed from its premises. See Southern Review, No. 4, Art. V., 1828.

tially dissimilar. Powers delegated may be resumed. Powers surrendered are gone forever. And this is the only relation which can be proved to subsist between the go. vernment and the States. While this relation is preserved, the harmonious action of the systems results. The different forces are in equilibrio. Disturb that equilibrium, and, as in the natural world, the jarring elements will fly asunder. New combinations will ensue. We have not thought proper to watch the operations of the systems, or to com. ment upon them, so far as these operations have been all harmonious. They exhibit, in this case, no phenomena in the political annals of a State. In the exercise of legitimate and conceded powers, the general overshadows the local government. The latter is content, behind the ample proportions of the former, to retire into a voluntary and self-imposed obscurity. But let there arise a conflict. Let the overshadowing power grow wanton, and struggle to oppress or crush the overshadowed. Let it reach forth its giant arm to beat down every barrier, and march onward to universal, uncontrolled, irresponsible empire. Let it even seize upon a single power not its own. Let it pervert a legitimate power to unlawful purposes. Then the State emerges from its obscurity. Then is it seen and heard and felt. Then it approaches the usurper was a sovereign and an equal.” When sovereign meets sovereign, there is a crisis in our affairs-a crisis of imposing moment. The alternative of war, or a return to first principles, is presen. ted,-fundamental and conflicting systems are analyzed and developed, -re-adjustments, compromises and fresh understandings of the constitutional compact," follow. The latter alternative will ever preserve the constitution while it is worth preserving. The former will be resorted to at a period when all has grown corrupt, and the further existence of the constitution and government would be a crime.

So far as South-Carolina is concerned, she has formed as yet but one issue with the general government. It is this issue which is now fully before us. However she might have considered herself injuriously affected by any constitutional enactment, she was silent; it was a casus foederis, and she did not complain. But there arrived a period when a new policy was to be fastened upon the country. It was a policy which she considered in direct violation of the principles upon which the federacy is based. The “American”

« ПредишнаНапред »