Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

"high tariff,” or “protective system,” is meant. This, she maintained, presented issues deeply and vitally affecting the whole Union. For herself, she determined that, as a sovereign State, she would meet the encroachment in its bud ;that she would save the Constitution she had struggled to establish. A contest awakening, as this did, so many independent interests,-involving such immense consequences, developing such an extent of political knowledge, must forever occupy a prominent position in the annals of our country. Every other question dwindled into insignificance before it. The final settlement of such a question was flattering to the lovers of freedom and the advocates of sound government every where.

The treaty of Ghent, 1814, restored peace to the country, A war of three years, with its antecedent embargo and exclusive systems, had fostered into being a large "home manufacturing establishment.” The prosperity of this establishment was commensurate with the restrictions. New-England had left her commerce for the spindle. What was to become of this establishment ? Could it endure that foreign competition, which a return of peace must bring ? Could the gossamer web withstand the giant's arm ? The war had created an immense public debt. This must be extinguished. Was it to be extinguished in a slow or a rapid manner? The patriotic statesmen of the time decided both questions. Low duties would prolong the payment of the debt, and be less felt by the people; but low duties would irretrievably ruin the manufacturers. High duties must soon disencumber the country. They would be more felt, but they would give the manufacturers breathing time; it would be their own fault, afterwards, if they did not make all the necessary adjustments and transfers of capital necessary to the new state of things, and to save themselves harmless.

The Tariff of 1816 passed. This was fair and honorable-but was it met in the spirit in which it was given ? Mistakes are made about this tariff. It was not expected to be a permanent measure. Its whole history evinces this. It did not establish the principle of protection. It cannot be drawn into precedent for that purpose. It was a high, but not a protective tariff. Its average duties were higher on other, than on what are now called the protected articles. This may be seen by a reference to it. To this tariff South

Carolina humanely assented. This is the first epoch in the tariff controversy.

We reach 1820. Here a modification had been looked for. The duties were to be reduced to 20 per cent. The tables turned, however, and that which was yielded in favor was demanded of right. A tariff was introduced into Congress,-a protective tariff, in every sense. Here the question arose, and South-Carolina spoke. Her Legislature, in December that year, pronounced it "a wretched expedient to repair the losses incurred in some commercial districts by improvident and misdirected speculation,—to compel those parts of the Union which are still prosperous and flourishing, to contribute, even by their utter ruin, to fill the coffers of a few monopolists in the others.” Two things are to be observed before dismissing this—the second epoch. 1. That South-Carolina had not yet begun to regard or raise questions of constitutionality. Of their existence she might have been persuaded,but the period had not arrived to raise them. If she did not know of their existence, her ignorance was discreditable to her, but could not compromise her rights. 2. That she had not broached the doctrine of State interposition, State veto, or nullification. The very report which protests against the tariff, protests also against "arraying upon questions of national policy the States, as distinct and independent sovereignties, in opposition to, or (what is much the same thing) with a view to exercise a control over, the general government." Not very orthodox States' Rights doctrines, we will all admit.

The Tariff of 1824. The third era. South-Carolina takes another step in advance. The Legislature of 1825 resolves, "that it is an unconstitutional exercise of power on the part of Congress to lay duties to protect domestic manufactures." Here the State seems to have awakened. She refers to the "bond.” She demands what is written in the bond. We reach 1827 The State is another step in advance. She speaks boldly out. She reviews and denounces what she considers Federal encroachments,-1, the Supreme Court doctrine of consolidation ;* 2, its consequent, that the people, and not the States, have the right of remonstrance; 3, the protective system ; 4, the internal improvement system; 5, the nationality of the colonization society.

* In the celebrated case of McCulloch vs. the State of Maryland.

The Tariff of 1928. Technically the "bill of abominations." This is our fourth epoch. South-Carolina protests in the United States Senate, through Hon. W. Smith and Robert Y. Hayne. The power to protect manufactures is no where granted to Congress. It cannot be considered as necessary to carry into effect any specified power. It is reserv. ed to the States by the tenth section of the first article of the Constitution. "South-Carolina, from her climate, situation and peculiar institutions, is, and ever must continue to be, wholly dependent upon agriculture and commerce, not only for her prosperity, but her very existence."

"Deeply impressed with these considerations, the Representatives of the good people of the commonwealth, anxiously desiring to live in peace with their fellow-cit zens, and to do all that in them lies to preserve and perpetuate the Union of the States, and the liberties of which it is the surest pledge-but feeling it to be their bounden duty to expose and resist all encroachments upon the true spirit of the Constitution, lest an apparent acquiescence in the system of protecting duties should be drawn into precedent, do, in the name of the commonwealth of South-Carolina, claim to enter upon the journals of the Senate, their protest against it, as unconstitutional, oppressive and unjust.”

On the next day, the same Legislature, with the "bill of abominations” on the table before then,

Resolved, “That the measures to be pursued, consequent on the perseverance of this system, are purely questions of expediency, and not of allegiance; and that for the purpose of ascertaining the opinions, and inviting the co-operation of other States, a copy of these and the resolutions heretofore adopted by this Legislature, be transmitted to the Governors of the several States, with the request that they be laid before the several Legislatures, to determine on such ulterior measures as they may think the occasion demands."

This brings us in mcdias res. Here is laid the broad foundation of Carolina Nullification. We shall watch the proportions of the edifice as it is reared upon it. The same day it was resolved, to "make exposition of State wrongs to the people of America.” Under the resolution was appointed James Gregg, D. L. Wardlaw, Hugh S. Legare, A. P. Hayne, Wm. C. Preston, W. Elliott, and R. Barnwell Smith, (Rhett.) The magnificent “Exposition" of that session was the result. It has been attributed to the great Carolina statesman. No document, of any country or time, has ever surpassed it, no document, ever, more clearly, comprehensively and forcibly summed up the greatest issues, reducing to first principles the chaos of doubt and difficulty which surrounded them. No people can be enslaved who understand so well their liberties. Tyranny walketh not "abroad at noonday." Tyrants awake when men sleep.

But was South-Carolina isolated and alone in the great movement she was projecting? Did any voice greet her from abroad? If alone, and right, then greater glory her's. Posterity will determine the question of right. But she was not alone. Georgia, after a skilful analysis of the whole matter, and a luminous report,

"Resolved, That this Legislature concur with the Legislature of South-Carolina in the resolutions adopted at their December session in 1827, in relation to the powers of the General Government and State Rights."

A memorial went forth to the world with this resolution. It was addressed "To the Anti-Tariff States.” It recommended various expedients on their parts, "such as may restore Federal legislation to the standard of constitutional correctness :

“Times, occasions and provocations," says the address, “teach their proper lessons and experients. Future measures will be dictated by expediency. The nature and tendency of injury will suggest the mode and measure of future resistance."

“We must," said another memorial to the 'Tariff States,' at the same period, we must, as we did under British domination, seek an effectual remedy."

Virginia spoke. Dear to her had always been liberty and constitutional rights. From those halls where Patrick Henry thundered in irresistible eloquence against British tyranny, from those halls where Jefferson learned the immortal principles which, beacon-like, guided him through the darkest periods of our history,--a responsive voice echoed back the sentiments of Carolina. Virginia could not forget her Madison and the "Resolutions of '98.” She clings to them in 1829 with all her early devotion. What plainer than her language of that year :

“Each State has a right to construe the Federal compact for itself. The acts of Congress, usually denominated the Tariff Laws, are not authorized by the plain construction, true intent and meaning of the Constitution.”

Thus, pari passu, went forward these great States in the march of constitutional liberty. But the crisis had not yet arrived. Other strokes must accelerate the movement, other strokes must consummate it. We reach 1830. The language of South-Carolina, of that year, is yet higher toned :

"The government created by the constitutional compact, was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself,—but, as in all other cases of compacts between parties, having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redrese. Whenever any State which is suffering under this oppression, shall lose all reasonable hope of redress, from the wisdom and justice of the Federal government, it will be its right and duty to ini erpose in its sovereign capacity to arrest the progress of the evil," * etc., etc.

We pass on. 1831. A Free Trade Convention assembles in Philadelphia. Two hundred delegates meet. Every State in the Union is represented. The Convention declares "the present tariff system inconsistent with the principles of free government." The resolution is carried, 189 to 2. The two are from South-Carolina. They oppose the resolution because it is not strong enough.

"If, after this decision in our favour,” says Gov. Hamilton of SouthCarolina, in his message of that year, "and the appeal of this assembly, relief does not come from this tyranny the most odious,-may we not say, in the language and on the authority of the assembly itself, "Why should we, who are its victims, not stand on our chartered rights.' ""

The Tariff of 1832. The last epoch, and the crisis. The executive power of the country had been wrested out of the hands of Adams, to be placed in those of Jackson. The military reputation of Gen. Jackson, gave him an astonishing ascendancy in our national concerns. He had fought for liberty, and he was supposed to be the friend of liberty. No man--not even the Duke of Wellington-ever maintained, for so long a period, so extraordinary, so uninterrupted an influence, over the minds of men. In 1832, he was triumphantly re-elected to the Presidency. He was understood to favour a modification of the tarill, and a reduction of it to revenue principles. The pretexts for high and restrictive duties had ever been, the public debts. These were nearly liquidated. In 1832, but an insignificant amount of them

* Vide Resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky, penned by Madison and Jefferson, in relation to the Alien and Sedition Laws. These were republished in South-Carolina during this contest, and circulated every where in the State. They were received with the greatest enthusiasm.

« ПредишнаНапред »