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SPEECH OF .Wi, CAMIOUX.
OK SOUTH CAROLINA.
In Senate of the United Stutrs August 23,
1841 On the Distribution BUI.
Mr. Calhoun said
If thisbil should become a law, it would
make a wider breach in the constitution, 'nd j
be followed by changes nnre disastrous, than
any one uiea-ure which lias been adopted.
It would, in iis violation of the constitution,!
co far beyound the general welfare doctrine
of firmer days, which stree.hed the power of
the Government as fir as it was then sup
posed was possibl- by construction, however
bold. Bat, as wide as were the limits: while
this bill as I shall show, rests on principles j
which, it admitted, whouid supersede all
According to the general-welfare doctrine,
Congress had power to raise money, and ap
trronriate it to all objects which it might deem
calculated to promote the general welfare,!
that is, Hie prosperity oi the Mates, regarded
in their aggregate character as members of
the Unionr or to express i: more briefly, and
in language once so common, to national ob
jects; thus excluding, by necessary implica
tion, all that were not nation i!, ashiliin ,
within the spheres of the separate States. j
As wide as are too narrow for this bill. It
takes in what is exe'uded tin ier the general '
welfare doctrine and assumes fr Congress j
the right to raise money, to give w dis'rihu-!
tion to theSt-ites; that is, to he applied by
them to those very local State objects to ,
which that doctrine, by necessary implica
tion denied that Congrees had a right t i ap- i
appropriate money, anil thus snper.Neiiing all '
the limits of the constitution as far at least. '
as the money power is concerned. The ad
'vocatesof this extraordinary doctrine have,!
indeed attempted to restrict it. in their argn-;
inent, to revenue derived from the public j
lands; but facts speak louder than words. j
To test the sinccritv of their argument af- i
ter amendments have been offered to limit j
the operation of the bill exclusively to the !
revenue derived from that source, but which ;
as often as offered have been steadily voted j
down by their united votes. Hut 1 t ike :
higher ground. The aid of t'mss test votes,,
as strong as they are, is no! ncedrd to make j
good the assumption that Congress has the j
riirht to lav anJ collect taxes f-r the sepa-
rate use of the State. The circumstances ;
fjnder which it is attempted to force this bill .
through, speak of themselves a language too
distinct to be misunder-tood.
The Treasury is exhausted; the revenues
from the public lands cannot be spared; they
are needed for the pres ing and necessary,
wants of the Government. For every do!-!
Iar withdrawn from the Treasury, and to the '
States, a dollar must be raised from thecus-j
foms to supply its place; that is admitted.
Now I put it to the advocates of this bill j
is there, can there be, any real dilference ci-1
ther in principle or effect, between raising j
money from customs, to be divided .-mongj
the States, and raising the same amount from !
them to supply the place of an equal siiuij
withrawn from tbe Treasury to be divided ;
among the States? If ihere be a difference I
tny faculties are not acute nough to perceive j
it; and I would thank any one who can to;
point it out. But, if this difficulty could be I
surmounted, it would avail nothing unless
another, not inferior, can aNo be got over. ,
The land from which the revenue, proposed
to be divided is derived was parchased (with '
the exception of the small portion of the j
small portion comparatively, lying beteen j
the Ohio and Mississippi rivers) one of the j
common funds of "he Union, and with mon-1
ey derived for the most part, from customs.
1 do not exempt the portion acquired from j
Georgia, which was purchased at its lull val
ue, and cost as much, in proportion as Flor
ida purchased from Spain or Louisiana from
If money cannot be raised from custom
"ex other resources for distribution, I ask, how
can monev derived from ihe sales of land
purchased with money raised from the cus- j
toms or other resources De aisinouiea among
; the States? If the money could not be distri
buted before it was vested in land, on what
i principle ean it be when it is converted back
sustain to monev bv the sales of the land?
2S prior; Jo the purchase it was subject, in
' jfn&ff appropriations, to the limits pre
rtrfbidbythe constitution, how can it after
it had been converted back again into mo
ney by the sale of the land, be freed from
those limits ?By what art, what political al
chymy, could the mere passage of the mo
ney through the lands tree it from the con
stitutional shackles to which it was previous
But if this difficutv also ronl.l he. tiirmnnn.
ted. there is another! not less formidable and
more eompiehensive, still to be overcome. If
tne lands belong to the States at all, they
must belong to them in one of two capacities,
either in their federative character, as
members of a common Union; or in their sep-
crdie, as aistinct and independent communi
ties. If the former, this Government, which
a i: jr. ueu as a common agent to carry in
to effect the objects for which the Union
was formed, holds the lands, as it does all its
other delegated powers, as a trustee for the
States in their federal character, for the exe
cution of those objecics, and no other pur
pose whatever; and can of course, under
the grant of the constitution "to dispose of
me territories or other property belonging
to the United States," disposed of the hinds
only under it trust powers, and in execution
of the objects for which they were granted
by the constitution. When, "then, the lands,
or other property of the United States, are
dipoed of by sale that is, converted into
money ihe "trust, with all its limitations,
attached as fully to the money, as it did to
the lands our property of which it is the
proceeds. Nor would the Government have
any more right to riivide the land or the mo
ney among the States that is, to surrender
any other of its delegated powers. If it
may surrender either to the State, it may al
so surrender tie power of declaring war,
laying duties, or coining money. -They are
all delegated by the same parties, held under
the same instrument, and interest, for the ex
ecution of the same objects. The assumption
of such a right paramount to the constitu
tion itself The right on the part of the Gov
ernment to destroy the instrument, and dis
solve the Union, from which it derives it ex-
isien'ie. lu such monstrous results must the
nriurinle on which this bill rests leads, on
the supposition that the lands (that is, the the Government ought to be, with due econ-
territories) belong to ihe United States' as 'omy restricted to the objects lor which it
they are expressly declared to do by the' was instructed.
cos"ii;u:i..n. " j This bill proposes to withdraw this lame,
Uut the difficulty would not be less if t!i-v
should be considered as
belonL'iii'' to the
States in their individual and separate char-; tributes it among the several States, and the ! versed. Instead of harmony and tranquility ,o one " lI;c two sources of the revenue to
ne'er. So considered, what right can this qtipiicn is. wouIJ it I wise to do s, vp-w- within, there would be dicord. distraction. ' 'the Str.tcs, to te divided among them in pro
Government possibly have over? It is the e'l as a financial measure, in rcfrrenc to ; and conflict, followed by ihe absorption of j portion to their joint delegation in the two
atrent, or trustee, for the United States; i what ought to be the jMli.-y of the Govern-: the attention of the Government, and exhaus- Houses of Congress, and to impose a burden
States as members of a common Union. :iml
notol the States individually, each of which
has a separate Government ot its own to t.
present it in lhat r-inncitr. F.ir t.i n.v.
ernnient to assume to represent the.n in both
capacities, would be to assume all power to
centralize the whole svstem in itself. Hut
admitting this bold assumption: on what
principle of right or justice in the land real- J
ly belong to the States or, which is the same'
thing, the tevenue from the lands belong to'
them can this Government impose the va-
nous limitations presenhed in the bill?
What right has it, on that supposition, to ap-,
propriate funds belonging to the Sta'cs sepa-.
ratelv, to the use of the Union, in the event
of war, or in case the price of land .slumlj
be increased above a dollar and a qarter an
article of the taiilT above twenty per centum i
ad valorem. I
ad valorem. I
Such, and so overwhelming, are the con-.was
stitutioal difficulties which deset this measure,
No one who can overcome them who can
brins him self to vote for this bill need
him self to vote for this bill need
trouble himself about constitutional scruples!
liereafter. He may swallow without hesita-1 abroad, this Government is the sole and ex- tlian a state ol hostility between the oppres
tion, bank, tariff", and everv other unconstiu- elusive repsesentative of the united majesty, sor and the oppressed war waged not by
tional measures which has ever been adop- 'sovereignty, and power of the States consti- armies, but by laws; acts and sections of acts
ted or proposed. les; it would he easier j tut ing this great and glorious Union. To 'a,e senl oy uie sironer pauy n a piunuer
to make a plausible araument for the consti-' the rest of the world, we arc one. Nci- ing expedition, instead of divions and bri
tutionality of the most monstrous of the S ther States nor State Government is known 'gades, which often return more richly laded
measures "proposed bv the abolition for ah- lievond our borders. Within.it is different, i with spoils than a plundering expedition af-
olilion itself than for this detestable bill;
and vet we find Senators from slaveholding
States, the very safety of whose constitu
ents depends on a strict construction of the
constitution, recodring their names in favor
of a measure from which they have nothing
to hope, and every thing to fear. To what
is a course so blind to be attributed, but to
that fanaticism of party zeal, openly avowed i
on this floor, which regards the preservation J
of the power of the whig parly as the para-1
mount consideration? It has staked its exist
ence on the passage of this and the other
measures for which this extraordinary session
was called; and when it is brought to the al
ternative of their defeat or success, in the
anxiety to avoid the one and secure the oth
er, constituents, duty, and country, all
A measure which would make so wide
and fatal a breach in the constitution, could
not but involve in its consequences many
and disastrous changes in our political sys
tem; too numerous to be traced in a speech.
Il wouldrequire a volume to do them justice.
As many as may fall touch in their proper
place. Suffice it fort' e present to say, that
such and so great would they be, as to dis
turb and confound the relations of all the
constituent parts of our beautiful but com
plex system of that between this and the
co-ordinate Governments of the States, and
"POWER IS EVER STEALING FROM TF MaNT to the
MO. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1841.
between ihem and their respective constitu
ency. Let the principle of the distribution
of the revenue, on which this bill resis.
be established, and it would follow, as cer
tainly as it is now before ur, that this Gov
ernment and those of the States would be
placed in antagonist relations on all subjects
except the collection and distribution of rev-
jnue; which would end, in time,in converting
mis into a mere maenme oi collection and
distribution for those of the States, to the
utter neglect of all the functions for which
it was created. The proper responsibil
ity of each to their respective cmslituency
would be destroyed; then v.oulJ succeed a
i , i . .
scence oi pjunaer ana soiu uon,. r an en
tire change of system. Yes, if e.nv one
measure can dissolve this Union, this is that
measure. The revenue is the State, said
the great British statesman, Burke. With
us, to divide the revenue among its members
is to divide the Union. This bill proposes to
divide that from the lands. Take one step
more, to which this will lead if not arrested;
divided the revenue from the customs, and
what of union would he left? I touched more
fully on this, and other important points con
nected with this detestable measure, durine
the discussions oi the last session, and shall
not now repeat what I then said.
hat I now propose is, to trace the chanec
it would make in our financial system, with
its bearings on what ought to be the policy
of the Government. I have selected il. not
because it is the most importan', because it
is that winch has heretofore received the
least attention. This Government has here- ' s'on f ',s resources, would with that gener
toforc been supported almost exclusively OUi rivalry which always takes place be
from two sources of Revenue the lands and 'tween clusters ol free Stiles of the origin
the customs; excepting a short period at its and language, and whiv.li give the greatest
commencement, anu during the late war,
when it drew a great portion of its means
from internal taxes. The revenue from
lands has been constantly and steadiljjincrea- But if, instead of restricting these pow
sing with the increase of population, and ers t their proper objects, they should be
may, fr the next ten years, be safely esti- perverted to those never intended; if for ex
mated to vield an annual average income ample, that of raisincr revenue should be ner-
of .N5.00C.000, if they should be properlf
administered a sum equal to more than a
c. i. .i ..l... .1. i . .
auministcrcii a sum equal to more than a
.fourth ol what the entire expenditures of
rmancnt, and growinji source of revenue,
c . ... .
from the. Treasury of the Union, and to dis-
ment? winch brings up the previous ouestion.
what that policy ought to be? In the order
of things, the uuestion of nohey precedes
' that of finance. The latter has reference to.
and is dependent on the former. It must
first be determined what ought to be d"iie,'
before it can be ascertained how much of the i
revenue will be required, and on what it
ought to be raised. j
To the question, then, what oii"lit to be !
the policy of the Government? the shortest ;
and most comprehensive answer which 1
can give is, that it ou mt to be the very -
posite of that for which this extraordinary
session was called, and of which this meas-;
urc forms so promin nt apart. The effect
of these measures is to divide and distract
the country w ithin, and to weaken it with-
out; the very reverse of the objects for
which the Government was intrusted which
which the Government was intrusted which
to give peace, tranquility, and harmony ;
j within, and power, security and res; .ccta bill-.
j tv without. We find, accordingly, thr-t w ith-
out. where strength was rcnuirtd. its powers
out. where strength was rcnuircd. its powers
are undivided. In its exterior relations
Tliere we form twenty six district, imlepen-
dent and sovereign communities, each with i
its separate Government, whose powers are ;
as exclusive within, as that of this Govern-
ment is without, with the exception of three
classes of powers which are delegated to it.
The first is, those that were necessary to the
discharge of its exterior functions such as
declaring war, raising armies, providing a '
navy, and raising revenue. The reason for !
delegating these requires, no explanation. i
The next class consists of those powers that I
were necessary to legulate the exterior or
international relation of the States among ,
themselves, considered a district communi- i
ties powers that could not be exercised
by the States separately and the regulation !
of which was necessary to their peace, tran
quility, and that free intercourse, social and
commercial, which ought to exist between
confederated States. Such are those of reg
ulating commerce between the States coin
ing money, and fixing the value thereof, and
the standard of weights and measures. . The
remaining class consists of those powers which,
though not belonging to the exterior relations
of the States, are of such nature that they
could not be exercised by States separately,
without one injuring the other such as im
posing duties of imports; in exercising of
which the maratime States having the advan
tage of good ports, would tax those who
would have to draw their supply through : There never csn be peace till they are abaa-"
ihem. In asserting that, with these excep-1 doned, or till our free and popular institaticm
tions, the powers of the States are exclusive are succeeded by the calm of despotism; and
within, 1 speak in general terms. There are ' that not till the spirits of our patriotic, and
indeed, others not reducible to either oi these ! immortal ancestors, who achieved our inde-
classes; but they are too few and inconsider-j pendente and established cur glorious politi-
able to be regarded as exceptions. j cal system, shall become extinct and their
On the moderate and prudent exercise of descendants a base snd sordid rabble. Till
these, its interior powers, the success of the , then, or till our opponents shall be expelled
Government, and with it our entire political from power, and their hope of restoring and
system mainly depends. If the Government 'maintaining their system of measures is bias
should be restricted in the exercise to the ted, the struggle will be continued, the tran-
objects for which they were delegated, peace jquility and harmony of the country be dis
i. i . :i: j ' .:.i I .' L i j .t .; .i j r
harmony, and tranquility would reign with
in; and the attention of the Gov
ernment, unai.orbed cy piz'ci.g rprt
lions within, and its entire resources unwas- Hut, of ail the measures which constitute
ted by expenditures on objects foreign to its ibis pernicious system, there is not one more
duties, would be directed with all its energy 'subversive of the objects for which the Gov
to guard against danger from without, to iernment was instituted, none more destruc
tive security to our vast commercial and
naviating interest, and to acquire that
weight and respectability for our name in
the tumily of nations which
without belong j
rprbinir, and j
the globe. If;
to the freest, most cnterpri:
most growing people on the
thu3 restricted in the exercise of these, the;
most delicate of its powers, and in the exer-!
cise of which only it can come in conflict My object is not to trace political conse
with the Governments of the States, or in-'qucnees; but to discuss the financial bearing
terfere with iheir interior policy and inter- of this measure, regarded in reference to
est, this Government, with our whole politi- what ought to te the policy of the Govern
cal system, would work like a charm, ment; w hich 1 trust I have satisfactorily shown
and become the admiration of the world. ought to te, tolutn its attention, energy, and
; The States left undisturbed within their
'separate spheres, and each in the full posses-
possiuie impulse to improvement, carry ex.
cellence in all that is desirable beyond any
verted into that of protecting one branch of ,
industry at the expense of others; that of;
. .' - .
' industry at the exnen
collecting and di'Uirsmu the revenue, into
that of incorporating a grat central b.mk to'
be located at some favored point, and p!u- j
! ced under local control; and that of making'
appropriations for specified objects, into that
of expending monev on whoever Congress
- .... ..."
should think proper: all this would be re-i
ted of it- means and energy on obiects nev -
cr intended to be placed under
its control, to
i hrlongin" to
the utter ne-'lect f the duties
i the evtrt ior relations of the Goi -eminent.
and which are exclusively confided to its
charge. Such has been, and ever must be
the elfect ol pervert inir these Dowers to o!-
iects foreign to ihe constitution. When thus
perverted, they become unequal in their nc
'''"'i operating to the benefii of one part or
t'1 ,lic injury of another part or c!as
I" the benefit of the manufacturing acainst
agricultural ami commercial portions, or:"1 "Ir ; vuu mai ur, uu n im iui
'I'' n"n productive against the producting
class. The more extensive the country, the
V'rcatcr would be the inequality and opprcs-
In ours, stretching over two thousand
s piare mile, they became intolerable wheni
j !":shd beyond moderate limits. It is then,
conflicts take place, from the struggle on the !
conflicts take place, from the struggle on the
part of those who are benefited by the ope -
ration of an unequal system of legislation to
retain their advantage, and on the part of the
oppressed to resi-t it. When ibis state of
oppressed to resist it. When ibis state of!
things occurs, it is neither more nor less
ter the most successful foray
That such must be the t-fleet of thn svs-
tern or measures now attempted to be forced
on the Government by the perversion of its
interior powers, I appeal to the voice of ct-
perience in aid of the dictates nf reason. 1
go back to the begining of the Government,
and ask what, at its outset, but this verv svs-
tern of measures, caused the great struggle
which continued down to 1 823, when the svs-
tern reached its full growth in the tariff of
that year? And what, Irom that period to
the termination ol the late election which
brought the present party into power, has
disturbed the harmony and tranquility of the
country, deranged its currency, interrupted
its business, endangered its liberty and insii-
tutions, but a struggle on one side to over
throw, and on the other to uphold the sys
tem? In that strugsle it fell prostrate; and
what now agitates the country what causes
this extraordinary session, with all its excite-
monl hilt the trilf-rr! fin the unrt rX tli.icA
in power to restore the system; to incorrKK
rate a bank; to re-enact a protective tariff; j . ,a luvoro1 tne lull, the duties it proposes
to distribute the revenue Irom the lands; to! J ,mre would be bounties, not taxes. If
originate another debt, and renew the svs- ,m e? b-v :ac,s th measures the dis
tern of wasteful expenditures; and the resis- lr,bul,on and.the dul!M wouId or theif
tance on the pari of the opposition to pre- PockeJ3 h7 W0ll!d Cainers, let who
vent it? Gentlsmen talk of settling these mny b' ' U financial game,
question; thev deceived themselves. They But fce equality greater cr Usa than
cry peace! peace! when there ie no peace. ma-v es!,u'a,A what cou,d 1)0 tfora unjust
LiilTOR AND rROPAIXtOR..
WHOLE NUMBER 45 a
turueu, sua wie eireiigui uuu iciuuiws vi
the Government be wasted within, and its
.1...: . ...
j tiveof harmony will. in, and security without,
than that now under consideration. Its di
rect tendency is to universal discord and dn-
traction; to array the tew States against the
old, the non-indebted against the indebted,
the staples against the manufacturing; one
class against another; end finally, the people
against the Government. But 1 pass these.
resource s irum wiunu to wimoui, to its ap
propriate and exclusive sphere, that of guar
ding against danger from abroad; giving free
scope and protection to our commerce and
navigation, and that elevated standing to
the country, to which it is so fairly entitled
in the family of nations. It becomes neces-
! sary to repeat, preparatory to what I pro-
poe, that the object of this measure is to
withdraw the r venue from the public land
Treasury of the Union, to te divided among
the States; that the probable annual amount
that would be so drawn would average the
next ten years not Iff than five millions of
dollars ; and t!i-t. to trake up the deficit, an
, i i-m .i . ;
equal sum must be laid on the imports. .
Such is the measure, regarded as one of
finance; and the question is, would it be just,
expedient, considered in its bearings
on wbat ought to te the policy of the Gov-
I mt r ' ,
. ' The measure cn its face is but a surrender
: ' an equal .-.mount on the imports; that s,-
j n the foreign commerce ol the country. In
every view I can take, it is preposterous, une-
: qua!, and unjust. kerarded in Its more
favorable aspect that is on the supposition
that the people of each State would pay
bark to the Treasury of the Union, through
''lc tax on the imports, in order to makeup
the deficit, a sum equal to that received by
j the State as its distributive share; and that
j each individual would receive of that sum an
j amount equal in proportion to what he paid
'I. nl . - ir, . . ! I.nt . . J l.lt.n 1.-I
it i.iii; .in , iiu oiiu laiiiiig uBLa
with the other? It would, in fact, be worse.
The expense of givinc and taking back must
be paid for, which in this case, would be one
not a little expensive and troublesome. The
expense of colIcctiuL' the duties on imports
! known to tie ahout ten per cent.; to which
1 ")ust te a'lcd the t
, distribution, irh lh
j money whue the pro
J ,nay be fairly rstima
must ee auuca me expense ana trouoie oi
:e losi of the use of the
process is coiiiT on. which
'e lairly estimated at two per cent, ad-
'"'tion; making in all tw '.ve per cenufor the
rnsl tS lt-iA r.fca It InHji,- fKnff lit.
people of the States, in order to return back
to the Treasury of thn Union an amount e
qual to the sur.i received by distribution,
would have each to pay, by the supposition,
twelve pei cent, more of taxes than his share
of the sum distributed. That sum (equal to
six hundred thousand dollars on five millions)
would g to the collectors of the taxes the
customs house officers fur their thare of
the public spoils.
But it is still worse. It is unequal and un
just, as well as foolish, and absurd. The
case supposed would not te the real state of
the facts. It would te scarcely possible so
to arrange a system ol taxes, under, which
the people of each Stale would pay back a
sum just equal to that received; much less
that the tax should fail on each individual in
the State, in the same proportion that lie
would receive the sum distributed to the State."
Uut, if this be possible, it is certain that no
system of taxes on imports especially the
oiii sent irom tne ottier nouse can make"
such equalization. Sofarfiom that, I has
zard nothing in asserting that the staple States
would pay into the Treasury, under its opef
ration, three times as much" as they would
receive on an average by the distribution,
and some ol them far more; while the manu-
hcturing States, if we are to judge from their