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Weekly national intelligencer. [volume] (Washington [D.C.]) 1841-1869, February 22, 1845, Image 2

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SPEECH OF Mk. RIVES, ok Virginia,
On the Resolution for the Annexation of Texas.
The Senate having resumed the consideration of the jouit
resolution t'roui the House for the annexation of Texan,
Mr. RIVES riwe and addressed the Senate in opposition to
the joint resolution for the admission of Texas to the Union.
He commenced by observing Uiat it was very well known to
the Senate, and not unknown to the country, (so far as any
humble opinion of his could be deemed of any importance,)
thai he was not opposed to the acquisition of Texas whenever
it coujd be fairly and honorably accomplished, in accordance
with the provisions of the Constitution, and without gravely
disturbing the harmony of existing relations between one sec
tion of this country and another, and between this Govern
ment and other Governments. So far from it, that he regard
ed that measure as combining many important national ad
vantages, commending it to the consideration of the whole I
country?of the North and the West more than the South.
In liiuch of what had been so eloquently said by the hon
orable Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Bichasa*) yester
day, in regard to the expediency of the annexation, he concur
red. But a far higher question than that is now before us.
Every thing that might be deemed by us expedient is not,
therefore, lawful and justifiable. What would it profit us
should we gain Texas, if thereby we lost our regard for that
sacred instrument which was the bond of our national union,
the pledge and palladium of our liberty and happiness ' rhe
mode in which Texas was to be acquired, in its aspect upon
the principles of our political compact, was, with him, a vital
and a paramount consideration. We had heretofore made
important acquisitions of foreign territory, more than doubling
the area of our original limits; but we had made the acquisi
tion by means of the treaty-making jwwer ; and in this case of
Texas, too, the treaty jwwer had been called into action to
achieve the measure of annexation s but the treaty not having
received the constitutional sanction of two-thirds of this body,
it was now at last discovered that all this reference to the
treaty-making power was a mere useless ceremony ; a work
of supererogation ; an idle, unmeaning formality ; and that
the object could 1* better accomplished by a joint resolution, to
be passed bv a mere majority of the two Houses of Congress.
Under these circumstances, the question now put to the judg
ment and conscience of every Senator was, whether this sum
mary mode of proceeding was warranted by the Constitution,
and in conformity with that goo?l faith which the people of the
several States had pledged to each other when they adopted the
Constitution and promised to abide by it.
It was the proud distinction and the peculiar happiness of (
tliis country to {lossess a written Constitution?an instrument
which not "only limited the general mass of power delegated (
to the Government, but which defined the particular powers (
to I* exercised by each branch of that Government. Accord- t
ing to its provisions, each department had its own appropriate ^
sphere of action ; each of them checked and was in turn
checked bv the others ; and thus the whole together preserved ?
the safeguard of the public liberty. The legislative depart- f
?nent in other Government* arrogated to itself supreme power, ^
the jura turn mi imperii; but, thank God' such legislative ^
supremacy was unknown in oars. The legislative as well as ^
the other departments of Government in our system, were, in (
the impressive language of Mr. Jefferson, "chained down ^
by the limitations of delegated authority. " An elective de?- ^
potisin," as he had so well said, "was not the Government 1 ^
,ve fought for." In our system the power, were so balanced (
tietween the several l?odics of magistracy that neither could
transcend its own limits without being immediately checked by
the other*. This wu the fundamental conception of Ameri
can constitutional liberty, as understood by the enlightened
founders of this Republic, and it had been faithfully carried
out in the Constitution of the United States. In that instru
ment all the legislative powers of the Government were spe
cifically enumerated and vested in the two Houses of Con
gress ; the Executive |>ower was defined and entrusted to
the hands of the President ; while the Judicial authority was
confided to the Supreme Court, and to such other subordinate
courts u should be established from time to time by Congress.
This organization embraced all the great internal interests of
the country. _
But there remained other interests to be provided for, which
had respect to the relations of this country with foreign Pow
ers. So important was the power which controlled thew>,
that Locke, in his celebrated Treatise on Government, had
ranked it jong with the legislative and Executive, as a co
ordinate independent power, under the name of the Federa
tive power. All these interests, whether of peace or war. of
Alliances, of succors, of commerce, of territory, of hcninda
-iea, were regulated by treaty. It became, therefore, in lay
ing the foundations of the Government, a matter of primary
importance to determine where this (Treat power should be
lodged. In all the modern Governments of Europe it was an
appendage to the Executive ; but in- ours it was different.
Under the articles of the Confederation this power was reposed
in Congress . but the consent of nine States was requisite to
give effect to any treatv or alliance. V* hen the Convention
met to frame the new Constitution, it was an emljarrassing, as
well as an important inquiry, where this power should be dc
posited. The first idea suggested was to place it in the Senate
exclusive!* ; then it was suggested that the President should
b? associated with the Senate : and when this was resolved on,
t hen arose the question whether the President and a mere ma
urity of the Senate should cxercise the power, or whether
more than a majority should lie required. In this question
great interests were' involved. The Northern State* enter
tained great jealoosv in regard to the interests of the fishe
ries, and feared lest, in the future exigencies of the Rejwblic,
these might c?uir to be ceded by treaty ; while the Southern
States were equally jealous resjiectinc the navigation of the
Mississippi and the question of their Western boundaries, both
which points were then in controversy with Spain. Both the
North and South, therefore, united in demanding that more
than a simple majority of the Senate shouM be requisite for
the ratification of a treaty, and the proportion of two-thirds
was fmallv agreed on.
The new Constitution having l>een adopted by the Conven-1
tion which framed it, it was presented to the people assembled I
in Conventions in their several States for acceptance or rejec
tion. When the draught of the new instrument came before
the Convention of Virginia, no feature in it attracted so ear
nest and so jealous a degree of attention as this power to form
treaties. The thunder of Patrick Henry's eloquence was im
mediately launched against it; l*cause he thought its arrange
ment of the treaty-making power did not sufficiently secure
to the South and the West their rights in reference to the navi
gation of th* Mississippi and to their western boundaries. He
compared the n?vw Constitution with the old articles of Con
federation in this respect, and endeavored to show that the
States had enjoyed greater security under the latter than they
would by the new arrangement. So great was the anxiety
11 the Virginia Convention reflecting the safely of Western
interests, that a most searching inquiry was instituted into
the acts of the Continental Congress respecting a negotiation
for the temporary surrender of our right of navigating the
Mississippi; and members of the Convention who had lieen
delegate* to Congress were called to the stand as witnesses,
and required to testify what had been done in that matter.
Nor was it until after days of deliberation that Virginia finally
consented to ratify the new Constitution ; but she accompanied
her ratification with a proposition for its amendment, demand
ing higher security respecting the exercise of the treaty-making
power. Her demand was, that in commercial treaties the as
sent of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate should be
requisite, and that in treaties for territorial boundaries the as
sent of three-fjurths of !?oth Houses should lie requisite. The
noble and jiatriotic State of North Carolina concurred with
Virginia in this amendment, but it was not acceded to by the
other States, the requisite number of them liaving ratified it
with the treaty clause as it now stood.
Soon after thu new Government went into operation, an
important discussion arose in Congress as to the extent of this
very poWer. He referred to the unfortunate difference of opi
nion between the House of R-jiresentatives ami Present
Washington respecting the Bntish treaty negotiated by Mr.
Jay. The House called on the President for the instructions
un ler which the treaty hail been made, and General Wash
ington sent them an answer in which, with the highest autho- j
nty which haul ever accompanied any merely human words,
he gave his testimony as to the true intent anil meaning of this
part of the Constitution. His words were these
" Having I teen s member of the General Convention, snd
knowing the principles on shich the Constitution was formed,
I have ever entertained but one opinion on this ?ub|eet; and,
from the first establishment of the Government to this moment,
tny conduct ha* exemnltied tbst opinion, thai the poser of
making treat** is rj ciuth-rJy vested in the President, bv and
with the sdvire and consent of the Senate, provided two-third*
of the Senators present concur ; snd thst every treatv, so made
and promulgated, thenceforward became thejsw of the land."
"It is a fact declared by the General Convention, and univer
ssllr understood, ihat the Constitution of the United State* 4a*
the result of a spirit of amits and mutual concession. And it
is well known that, under this influence, the arnaller Stiitr? were
admitted U> equal refrrr?entaUoii in the Senate with the larger
States; and this branch of the Government *"* invested with
ereat pnem, f>r, on the eipidl />artirifxition of those jeiwers,
the sovereignty and political safety of the *inallcr State* were
(it'ra'd essentially to depend."
Mr. R. was hippy to siv that thst patriotic and enlightened
House of Representatives," including, as it did, such men as
M tdison, Nicholas, Livingston, and Gallatin, and going, as it
^d, to an extent hardly now justified in regard to their right
f.^yilv to pass or not to pass acts to redeem the public faith,
wh<\t plighted by treaties, yet did disclaim, in the most posi
Uv? tvamer, any agency in the making of treaties.
Mr. R said he had brought forward these facts in onler to
show thv t no question had ent-red more deeply intothe frame
work ani vital comprmn ses of the Constitution than the ar
rangement ?be treafv-tuaking power?a power now sought
to be exen4?d, in open defiance of the Constitution, by the
two Houses of Congreaa. There were occasions when the
?udden irruption of new and dangerous innovations drove ua
?II to an examination of the fundamental doctrine- of our
>?>ateui. Vuginia had a maxim in her bilJ of nghu which
could never be too oft. ii repeated, that " no free government
or the bleating of liberty can be preserved to any ]>eople but
>y a irij! adherence to justice, temperance, moderation, and
virtue, and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principle*."
ever there had been an occasion which called for such a re
currence, and the exercise of them' saving virtue*, this was one.
J lav mg seen where the C'oustituUon has deposited the pow
er ol inaking treaties, the next question which presented itself
was this What i* a treaty '?for on that question depended
the n^htlul decision on the measure now proposed.
An attempt had Iweu made to attach a technical and cabal
istic meanuig to the word, which, if adojKcd, went to exclude
many international contracts. But was.this so > We were
in poeamian of what was justly deemed the highest authority
on such questions. Vattel told us what was the naked fun
damental conception of a treaty, defining it to I* "a public
compact lietween independent sovereign {lowers." 'l'hat was
the whole matter ; there was no mystery about it. He knew
indeedthat, m the language of diplomacy, we had both treaties
and articles ol convention, but conventions were all treaties , !
I J? 'lld. > Se"ttU' derive iUt l1?''' U? ratilv con- I
I so called An agreement between two nations in
sT.rh " MpeClhC ?rt?a si"S,e acl * performed,
such as the payment ol indemnities or the fixing of some un
uniwrtant boundary, was usually denominated a convention ;
still it was in substance a treaty, for the term treaty was gene
ric and comprehended the whole. A treatv, according to the
highest authority, was simply an international compact.
It was important to know in what sense this term treaty was
understood by the people when they were called on to ratify
e rratv -making power, a* laul down in the new Conatitu
on. nd on this point it gave him great pleasure to turn the
attention ol the Senate to a brief passage of the Federalist,
winch not only furnished a definition of a treaty, but went to
explain the whole nature, philosophv, and conception of the
treaty-making j>ower. Gentlemen would find the passage in 1
IV o. 75 of the Federalist, page 322 :
1 he essence ol the Legislative it to enact laws ; or, in oth
er words, to prescribe rule* for the regulation of the society:
? u e the execution ot the laws and the employment of the com
mon Strength, either lor this jHirfnr.se or for the common de
fence, secni to comprise all the lunctions ol the Executive mag
i* ra e. I he power ol making treaties is plainly neither the
one nor the other. It relates neither to the execution of the I
subsisting laws, ilbr to the enaction of new ones, and still less
to an exertion of the common stivngth. Its objects are con
tracts wt/i foreign J'mcert, which have the force of law but
derive it from the obligations of good faith. They are not rules
proscribed bv the sovereign to the subject, but asrreemeitt? be
twmi tovercigit and nverapn. The power in question, there
lore, seems to form a distinct detriment, and to belonir i.ro
pcrlt neither to the Ix-gislative nor to tlie Executive."
ISow, with the lights derived from this authoritative defini
tion of treaties and the treaty-making power, Mr. R. turned
to the joint resolution which had been received from the House
>f ?!,r?*ntatiw?, and he would inquire whether it was not,
o all intent* and purjioses, in every practical sense, a treaty
md nothing but a treaty > It was not a change of name oi^ "
anation in form which aflected the substance of things. He
Re"tle'"on to "J whether this joint resolution was not
n substance a contract with a foreign Power ?" Was it
lhe Fede-list' - ?-i: I
ession > m T W 1 l,een ?*binitted at the last
esMon W hat was a contract ? His learned friend from ,
ennsylvani* (Mr. Diciuxa*) needed not to be reminded
hat a contract was an "agreement to do or not to do a par
icular tiling on a sufficient consideration." Was not this an
tgreement, on certain terms and conditions, to admit a foreign
?ation into this associated Federal Republic > The question
lerday Had he not gone over the terms ol this agreement
dedanng that some of them he liked and others he did not
A ir ,.W resolll,1Hn Congress was asked U> say to Texas
If you will unhorse your President; dissolve your Govern
ment; go back to a state of nature , cede all yourpubhc
eatahlishmenu, mlhes, minerals, and every thing but your
public lands ; retain your public domain ; conUnue resinrn'sible
^your debts , agree to the understanding that nei Sutes
llof^iiem T ( y?Ur !ernlory? on *** ''ondition that in
all of them north of a certain line slavery shall be prohibited
hTild' .I,'" ?T S?Uth ?f " U *hal1 or sha11 not
hibited, as the people may choose?if you will do all these
things then it is a bargain, and we will admit you into our
Confederacy on equal terms with ourselves. ' Now ,I this
was not an agreement?if ,t was not a contract, and that with
know wh^m<iry Wp'"y ?f terlnR t0?' Mr. R. did not
know what an agreement or a contract was. That it was an
agreement all the world mu.t a*T No man " I
hard as not to see it. The only question, then, which r^
inde^rZt /W" " Wa< ^ agreemrm WitH ?
What, then, was Texas > Need Mr. R., at this time of
&JTTt U,e utle of Texa* to naitonal independence >
? hould he be told that she was not a foreign, sovereign in
SSSTJT^? He P^?nednot Aen, wheE we
looked at the terms or at the parties, this was ? agnZZ
between *ncert,gn and mwereign. grecment
Now, then, where was such an agreement to be consum
mated according to the Constitution ' He asked the honor
able -Senator from Pennsylvania where 1 The joint resolu
te" TTT, '? tnie Character on its f"*- ip*a loqui
' , . ' " Bt^,ed a )?"11 resolution "declaring the termion
which ongr?? will admit Texas into the Union as a State "
ordmanH T f", ^ ?f the reHolulion ^ it l?ear the
ordinary badge of legisIaUon?"l? it enacted'" No- its
lanru!w " COnfiCnte<,?" fA 7 It was the I
nguagc of th? marriage ceremony??? whereas A. and II ,
tf IrL lL*n h?'-V Wediock" laugh- I
iLn "?rTyLt? oWi^, to make such an ?JI??on ,
when addressing the honorable gentleman, who was not vet !
m i.ted these mrsterie*) [More laughter.] Ves, is t
erms were be ,t consented ;" "it is hereby agreed/' not t
ere by enact eH. It was the very language of treaties. a
.entlemen could not wink so hard as not to see it was in
mlwtance a treaty, liegun and ended by legislation.
And, further .when we looked at the subject-matter of the
tffreeinent, Mr. R averre.1 not only that it was a treatv, but
hat the object could be consummated in no other way than
By treaty. 3
?Jhu i la!d l,?Wu thi? ,,ropo?tJon' and h? invited the hon
orable Krnator (who, though not a " Philadelphia lawyer " I
ml M TnlS * PennK>Ivani? lawyer) to find a flaw in it'if
he could : he a-ertod that foreign territory could not ??e!
? ly U a..pure.l (up,,,, terms and conditions, as in this case)
m any other mode than by treaty , becauae such territory S
mj under an mde,jendent sovereign Power, could not Ik- ,?aec
?Wy acquiretl without the consent of that ^vereign an,I
ntory eoald be acquire,!. They were told that it mighi ?
quirnl bv conquest and by discovery. So it could ; but neither
of these modes affected Mr R.'s propositi,m in the least. He
said It could not be peatmbfy acquired ; this, in terms, exclud
disroverT^u'11 j an', by ''nplication it excluded
discovery, because it referred to a case of a ,copied and settled I
country, under the jurisdiction of a sovereign organized Power
He agam invited his honorable and learned fnend to answer it if
h,m ^,nl ou? ? by which foreign tern
tory could be peaceably acquired, m the pro,,er political w,nw
of the rights ol jurisdiction atUching to it, otherwise than by
treat}*. J
Hence it was that, after the disi ussions of a quarter of a
century- ,t had come to be the settled law of the land that
the treaty power could acquire foreign territory, and that it
exclusively was competent to that function.
Mr. R went on to say that this question had come up for
decision before the highest judicial tribunal of the country in
the cane of the American Insurance company vs. Canter, re
ferred to by the honorable Senator from Kentucky, (Mr. MoitK
H?*n ) when that august court had pronounced the opinion
that the Constitution, having established the treaty-making
power without qualification or reatriction, it had the same ex
tent in our Government which it had in all other Government*
snd legitimately extended to the acquisition of foreign territory!
He wa? no lawyer, and felt as if he was going out of his sphere
in quoting cases to his learned friend. He understood, how
ever, that tile honorable Senitor recognised the correctness of
decision in its full** extent. He did not pretend to que*.
tion that the treaty f*>wer might acquire foreign territory j but
he made a distipction?that when a foreign Power alienated
only s |w>rtion of ita territory, and thereby dismembered itself
a treaty wa. necessary ; but the case was different when such
? 'overnnient alienated the whole of its territory. Mhch was
^ distinction of the gentleman. But if there was any thing
mi, the gentleman was ertopr^I from using such an argu
I Z thf tr**tT "Ubmi<trd ,he l??t session did pro
[ W '* T"*n U,rr,t0r>' the gentleman
doctrine th-? .v 'T. "Wn *rt* tf,er,,fore' he had recognise,I the
ariiumitio, ' T'ty t?"" th" I,r*Per instrument of
3' ' ?"' rn whr" ,hr who,p ,<,rrit"ry of a foreign dor
ZtZ. ?Wn "rt 10 ^ Do??SL the
Hut even . , T" ?f ''""?"?"??nd Florida in hi.mind.
IhTLTS * th" fken, that did not affect
domestic quest ,.,n with us ? it affectod only the other partv
VZESZZE2 Wil; n0t whHh"r lh'"
er or not it of?n"ther Government by treaty, but wheth
ate the wh U (oT * foreign Government to alien
bS " ,ern,0r> w,lhout ,hp express consent of the
Zt -n" .wi4:;mo#t w?y u, .void that dif.
the iH?oi>|e C resoluUon provided for taking the sense of
XhU A n ?r? hf <,Ue-0? in the" primary a
AndherA f ' .trr'ty Pr?v^ ,h" '
: % W'n\ r"n,n'1 ^e honorable Senator that Mr.
?cquisitton rfl! ln"tr,",t,on,, *'ven h him at the time of the
lh?, vel7 thing?that some
bitanta to thet^rf ^e conaent of the inha
Principles of th, I T""' V "ccordlnK ^e general
fch for ob*enu,? ?"?*utiond guaraa*,
furntabed by the treaty-making power w one caae than in the
utoTl ,K aJu'uuau" of T?"? ^'g the former case, ,t re
r^ , inter portion ot all the guarantiee i? the Constitution
respecting transactions with foreign nations, and must have the
deracy ,WO" nJ" ol 4410 ?wveteign members of tlie Cuufc
Perhaps the honorable Senator had Uie idea that, in a trans
? on like this, where a foreign Government transferred iu
enure territory, with ail ita inhabitants, to the Government ol
new sovereign, where it transferred human allegiance uhvve||
a? acres ol the soil, it was not a treaty, and ? feaL m
honorable fnend in his eye (Mr. Fmnn) was a go^d?
taken by this doctrine. But was there any ground for it > \
treaty was an agreement with a foreign sovereign ; and where
was the sovereignty in Texas > Certainly, acconling to the
American doctrine, in the mass of the people. Now if il?.
agreement was made ultimately with the people, instead of be
tng less, it was more emphatically a treaty with a aovereimi
1 ower than li made with the Government orilv. If ?K.. h
arable Senator from Pennsylvania really intended to intii.?V?
lhat a transaction by which an entire territory and people are
transferred to a foreign sovereignty is not properly a treaty
(though he at least would seem to lie MtoDued fmm i
argument by his vote for the treaty of th, las, " v i"'
would give the ? law and the prophets ? t it Tau^ ?
from the weight of which that gentleman wodW *
an,I it went directly to show that pret'SvTh ?7
a* is now in view with the people of Texa, is a treatTvaM
(book 1, chap. 16) speaks of two forms of treaty inwhl h
one of the parties assume a subordinate relation to th
the one a treaty of protection inerelv >>? I >i u ?ther ;
by which ./pi,',"?k 1?^'
\\ lien n nation is not capable of nrrsei-viiiu- r t
suit and oppression, she mav imwn,-.. ,! 'g itaelf from m
powerful State. If she obtainsthis |,v ?.l ',ro,e<:t,on of a more
certain articles, as, to iwv a tribute 1,^, ' to l^rform
tained, to furnish her .mecto ^l. ,^ ,0'; *,fetv ol
Hll his wars as a joint Sen,butii? ^ ",l ,01?*n,1'"'-.k
right of administering her own Govern menTai"?!10 .l'K'
simple trcatu of /n olectin,, ,1.-. ,i ri,ment ?t_pleasure, it is a
her sovereignty and differ* ,?'* * kt "" derogate from
another ?I l i com?lete,y "ubjected to and incor,K?rated into
i.?vo ,????! htrsa".'*^ * '"My-He ^
i^Ten ^eientit^r?#lTfeeUaiS
more powerful !i?tion"tol! "'rft m*"V *u,'jcct itself to a
jarties- ' certain conditions agreed to by both
orward' l> ? >1 *' ,'on,lMtct or treaty of submission will tfience
h" h0n:""!''? "nd >~n>ed friendfrom M,?,
?nit S j that this was not properly the subject of treaty
and had asserted that the records of history could not show an
,u i friend well knew the lrequency with which
? JST" f ?<? had owurred m L p ^ rf
the Roman empire to universal dominion. He had not made
not ^'mvine that S! : bul hetho^hl ^ could
?irnr, ' i ^ en niai,y instances of the ab
takTn lTe in'n?r l?rati,0n ^ ^ ** mi8taken" h had also
oTeu?^" "r had lhe va* monarchiea
Iierari n r eit<'nt'ed themselves but by the an
eiation (in some cases undoubtedly by convention-) of weak
doubt not he will own, admirable Preacott, and I
uut not lie will hnd there that the Spanish monarchy had
with \rratrT es!at,li'ihe,i !,-v the successive incorporations
NaJane *Thl ^ ?f *he kin?donw of Granada and
was so stnkint CT t,nuiuda wa!i directly in jwint, and
in th m ? 3 picturesque in its character as to be fresh
dcred hi h I b * a,rs' ni!ld?* a treati/, by which he surren
er wovinw l r^""!'0 Ferdinand and L* for a small
retired into ATH? T #he.aftrrwartLi surrendered, and finaUv
the Low Col Z' !? 6 Se?tleman look at the history of
hrfJ 1, -"""tnes-the great battle-field of Europe?and gee
had beej, '^c"s|on?' of national independence, they
(hi i "inferred from one sovereign to another. Was all
No.waTh'ni ?rx'or u'tween Norwayand swpd^
treatv ^i . r ^pendency of ^nmark ; Denmark, by
ahe ~t ,^r ' t0l8weden? but tf?way refused to 1^ reded ,
atitoUon ?Wn ?"""?? "ke Texa" ' 8doPted > new Con
d ' m h/r ,r,defiendence ; but at length, l*i?g
closely pn,.wd by Sweden, the entere<l into negotiation and
Sr^hTt:^' ,'rhich,h<'
1 hese'eert i territory and people, to the Swedish crown.
on thin, h V 7T CaT" ,n |K,int- But Mr" R- did not rest
k L?. ' restedr?Ln l,'e impregnable authority of the weil
in au h T'T ^ ,aw of na,ions which he had quoted ;
*n authority which was m the hands of every frauier of the
Tr rh,ler:'
,ffhr!r,f 'U'g neeesaary to sanction the transfer
be (' V'?,f- le^ltf>ry and national independence, with ua
L, ?k " ^ f'fonded a competent power to treat with
Id thi'i , ^ treaty-making branch of the Government,
i??Ter r?KWe/e bOUnd 10 P*? to the im
>erative forms of the Constitution.
Mr. R. had said Uiua much in relation to the treaty-making
mX'r T CI?/n*dpred't ?n indisputable preliminary to
mother quest,on. If the general power of makingconvention
d arrangementa with foreign nations was delegated by the
.onsutu n , President and two-thirda of the Senate, and,
hen,6 ,L? K k ,VCI!Pral Wsw,?n?Tton, exclusively vested in
1^ , 00 other rlaUM0 in the name instrument
Cat^fZTPrH^ ,0 nUlhfy lhal ^ant" W^l<> the
Pennavlvarna tell him that after this investiture of
reatv l>ower m the Executive and two-thirda of the States,
rePrc,M,"ted iu this Iwdy, it was admissible to give auch a
::rrtl0n, l? ,*n0the.r Cll,u,,e of lhp Constitution as wholly to
overrule and subvert that ,x>w.-r ' Vet that was theacopeand
m cessary ellect ol the argument. Under the power of Con
gress to admit new States into the Union, it was contended that
ISLETS tWO Ho,1He" of C0"*1?"" ?>uld enter into
2 ?" *'"J ?'ith foreign State, for their incor
ml ??,K T ?Ur H"1^'-y-tem, although the power of treat
ing with fure,gn Static had been expressly restricted to the
Presi,lent and tuxy-thirH* of the State^ as ref^eaented in thia
hody. VV ould it not 1m- moat extraordinary, indeed, that the
hl "l a"d "f^'o"" "?Pn who framed the Constitution ahould
tZ^Cfimr0ng " Ch,Vk nnimjwrtant trans
GoVC7,mcnl w"h foreign Powers, such as the
fixing} * "Umn? T"?y' the 8urrcnder of criminals, the
inJ ,K HOm? T "nd unimportant boundary line, bv reouir
ibiirT," lW";lh,r,lH ?f ?he States, and yet ahould have
foTi? " " """t m"J?rlty ?f lhr two the vast,
formidable, tranacendant power of treating with a foreign na
ment of K ,ncorI>ora,,on ,nto ?"r ''nion > The mere state
Zlnr I,rT,R',IOn WR" 'ufficicnt- h could not bear a
moment a conaideration. W.a not such a F?wer as capable
Imlnrthe"^0"^"111 a*,Ju"tmr,,t of relative interests
am, ng U,. Htates ar^mlment of the Constitution itself >
And yet for the amendment of the Constitution the assent of
W/WM, of the States was indispensably required W?s
frament of 'the"'/ ' i", ^ ?f ,H'" manifrHt '"'ention of the
framers of the ( institution to reserve a Teto on all transactions
a id agreements with foreign States in the hands of one-third
ol Ii,e sovereign members of the Confederacy, that the vast
power ni admitting ? f,re,gn Government and>ople into the
' nmn w,m,|,| be entrusted to the vole of? mere transient party
rnajonty of the two llouaes of Con crew > Jt cannot la- sup
posed for a moment. '
And in what fairt of the Constitution was this vast, imperial
bTfou'^"^ ?L",, !!fr1nA"n i,K W"1, HdJn^(1 h-dan^, to
fLn r ,7 r 7 ?f Arch,"^lpS with which to prize up
from its stable foundations the whole avatem of our conatitu
S; 7?t I- -?*??. w^ittoVZind ^
iimmer ^ ^"stitution > I? the same phalanx of
to CO n ? ,KmTr"' W"h ,hr 1^" t0 mak'' the power
coin money, the power to raiae armies, to build navies, to
aJd r.i ^ A,1 U,e Ver> foot of th(1 instrument,
releffuted "a ^ ?f provisions. It was
r, legated to .n olm, ure corner , it was pushed off into a dark
Wato ZV* ,rau l"-V COn^''al'y,? lik' "?me (iuy Fawkes,
?!T " 'IMr' P^^ared to blow up and involve
el,nTrvr0m^0n.nnnrV Con",i,,,t?on and the Union of the
wrhiebTii fc0"", L '>rov,,,'on h"d lh' colossal magnitude
?h, i naU,r aupposecJ, it would not have been
thus unbakedo/r (to use the memorable expression of a former
chstingmshecl member of this body, now no more) into a corner.
1 he honorable Senator had instructed us by reading certain
genera! rules of interprelation laid down by Vattel , but Mr.
*' r* .""d r?",e a liulc home. He
w ,uld ask the gentleman a attention and that of the Senate to a
CZ ST!?1 /'"H Pr,"rtir'11 ru'e of construction, applying to the
Constitution of the UmtedStatos, Uid down by one who had a
deeper interest m our system-not that Mr. R. objected to the
pa-aage which the Senator from Pennsylvania had read. The
" f.0011 ln 'hemselves, (nil they were inopplicable to the
question. He would show that the language of the Constitution,
, in the clause now under discussion, admitted of but one ration
a interpretation, an/1 that in preciae coincidence with the lite
( ra import of thewords, aa they were universally understood
and recced irt the t,^ of the establishment of the Conatiiu
tion. He had before him a canon of constitutional interpreta
tion which he well knew the Senator from Pennsylvania must
respect, for it came from an authority before which all true
Democrat* would reverentially bow. It wu to be found in a
tetter from Mr. Jetfcrsou to Judge Johiwon, in which that dia
guiohed founder of the Democratic school recapitulated the
fundamental principlesof hit* creed. "On every question oi
* construc tion," he bays, 44 we should carry ourselves back to
4 the time when the Constitution was adopted^ recollect the
< spirit mauifestad in the debate*, and, instead of trying what
' meaning may be squeezed out of the text, 01 iuvented
' against it, conform to the probable one in which it was
' passed."
Here was a good republican rule of construction t und it
was a rule which had Iwen sanctioned tiy the highest judicial
tribunal of the country, in one ol the greatest causes ever
brought up for the decision of any court ou earth. It was the
case of a citizen of Maryland against the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, in reference to the recovery of fugitive slaves.
In that case the most delicate and critical lelations of the States
of this Union were involved } and, in delivering the opinion of
the Court, recognising and affirming one yt' the fundamental
compromises of the Constitution, J udge Story says :
" The safest rule of interpretation, alter all, will be fouud to
Ik- to look to the nature and objects of the imrticular powers,
duties, and rights, -with all lite tip/Us anil atiit of contemporary
lustory : und to give to the words of each just such operation anil
force, eousistent with their legitimate meaning, as may J'uirly
secure und attain the ends proposal."
And now, with the aids and lights of contemporaneous his
tory, Mr. R. invited the Senate to do what Mr. Jefferson had
said ought to be done in every question of constitutional con
struction?"to go back to the lime when the Constitution
was adopted," and see what was the sense in which its pro
visions were then practically intended and understood.
At the time when the Constitution was adopted there were
two descriptions of political communities or existences embrac
ed within the limits of the United States; one consisted of
organized St at est, with all the powers, faculties, and instru
ments of independent self-government in regard to their mu
nicipal and domestic concerns, and at the same time partici
pating in the administration of the General Government over
the Union by their Representatives in Congress, Side by
side with these was another class, consisting of dependant
communities, with imperfect and subordinate powers, and de
nominated Territories. These Territories were governed,
mediately or immediately, by Congress, and were without any
voice of their own in the national councils. These latter
commuuities were doubtless prominently in the view of the
Constitution when it spoke of new States being admitted.
He did not mean to say that the clause referred only to such
Territories as were within the limits of the United States at
the time of the udoptimi of the Constitution. It applied to ull
j Territories which should be included within the national limits
at the time when new States were to be formed out of them.
Virginia had ceded to the United States in 1784 the vast body
of the lands northwest of the Ohio, and in the act of cession
had expressly stipulated that the territory so ceded should lie
divided into not less than three nor more than five republican
States, which should come into the Union on an equal foot
ing with the original Stutes. These embryo States formed one
class of candidates for admission into the Union, and were,
of course, within the view of the constiutional provision.
But this fwas not all. There were several States, of large
and disproportionate dimensions, within which it was fore
seen new States must arise. Virginia at that time included
within her limits what was then called the district of Ken
tucky: This territory was, even then, aspiring to rise into
the dignity of a State, and had entered into an arrangement
with the Legislature of Virginia for that purpose. Then
there was the patriotic and high-spirited community of Frank
land?the germ of the future State of Tennessee?embraced
within the limits of North Carolina. She wu then in sub
stance a separate community, cxercising de facto, though in
a style of almost Arcadian simplicity, many of the attributes
of independent sovereignty. Besides these there was the
Territory of Maine (within the limits of Massachusetts) also
aspiring after State dignity. There was, moreover, Vermont,
lying within territory claimed by the State of New York, but
having long since set up a separate Government, and earnest
ly demanded admission into the Confederacy. The Senator's
own State, too, was at that time agitated by schemes of di
vision, which, if they had been unfortunately carried into
execution, would have deprived her of the proud honor she
now wears of being the keystone of the Federal arch. With
in the broad limits of Georgia?then stretching over what are
now the States of Mississippi and Alabama?it was iinfiossible
not to foresee that new States would also arise. Thus the
country stood when the Constitution was adopted ; and it was
in view of this state of things, and of the fact that there was
no power in the old Confederation to admit new States, that
this much perverted clause was inserted.
Here, then, were five new States to come in out of the
Northwest Territory, besides all those other aspiring scions
from the larger States, which were springing up on all side*.
The old Confederation, strange as it may apjiear, possessed
no power to admit new States out of domestic territory. On
this point Mr. R. would call the attention of the Senate to a
number of the Federalist, in which Mr. Madison distinctly
stated this defect of power in the old Confederation, and
traced to that defect the origin of the clause in the present
Constitution which gives to Congress the power to admit new
! States into the Union. Nobody knows better than the Sena
tor from Pennsylvania that it is a fundamental rule, in the
construction of all remedial acts, to consider the state of the
old law, the defect or mischief existing under it, and then the
remedy furnished by the new law, which must lie so construed
as to correct the particular defect or mischief which existed un
der the old law. Now, Mr. President, let us see what Mr.
Madison says of the want of power under the articles of Con
federation. In the 38th number of the Federalist, speaking
of the Northwest Territory, which had been ceded to the
United 8tatf? by Virginia, and which Virginia had obtained a
positive stipulation from the old Congress should be divided
into not less than three nor more than five Republican States,
he says:
"Congress hart* assumed the administration of this stock.
They have begun to render it productive. Congress have un
dertaken to do more : they have proceeded to form new States;
[thatis, prosjiectivelv ;] to erect temporary Governments, to
appoint officer* for tfiem, and to prescribe the conditions on
which such Stales thai! be admitted into t/ie Coiifeiki'ary. All
this lias been done, and done urithout the least color of constitu
tional authority."
We have only to connect with this {lassage what the hon
orable Senator read to us from the 43d number of the Feder
alist, written also by Mr. Madison, and we have a com
plete clue to the true and incontestable meaning of the
clause of the new Constitution giving to Congress the
power to admit new States into the Union. After quoting
the whole clause providing for the admission of new States
into the Union, Mr. Madison, in the number of the Federal
ist now referred to, proceeds as follows:
44 In the articles of Confederation no provision is found on
this important subject. Canada was to be admitted of right, on
her joining in the measures of the United States; and the other.
colonics, by ?Inch were evidently meant the other British co
lonies, at the discretion ol nine States. The eventual establish
ment of new Stales seems to have been overlooked by the com
pilers of that instrument. We have seen the inconvenience of
this omission, and the assumption of power into which Con
gress have been led by it- With great propriety, therefore,
has the new system supplied the defect."
The new Constitution was our great national rrmedud
act. It was intanded to correct the evils and defects of
the Confederation. Under the old system, there had ex
isted, as we have seen, no authority to admit new States
arising within the limits of the United States?that was
the defect to be corrected, and this shed irresistible light
on the true meaning of the new clause. Admission into
the Confederacy had hcen clamorously demanded for years by
Vermont, and the other rising communities to which I have
referred were showing also an impatient desire to lie admitted
into the Union as States. These young giants were uneasy
and restless under the restraintsof their condition of pupilage t
they panted to east aside their tutors and governors, and to
assume the toga viri/is of State sovereignty. The passage
in the 43d number of the Federalist, quoted above, which was
rather unwittingly, as it seemed to me, for his purpose, read
by the honorable Senator from Pennsylvania, completed the
evidence (even to the proof of a negative) of the true mean
ing of the clause, and went conclusively to show that the
power to admit new States did not mean a jtower to admit
foreign but American States. What does Mr. Madison sny
in that numlier of the Federalist? The articles of Confede
ration, he says, provided for the admission of Canada, whose
aid in the war of the Revolution we were desirous to obtain. 1
They allowed her to come in by her simply "joining in the !
measures of-the United States," and this assent was given
unanimously by all the States ; for it was inserted in the ar- i
tides of Confederation themselves, which were the unanimous 1
act of the old thirteen States. At the same time, the articles
of Confederation provided that the other " colonics" (meaning,
as Mr. Madison says, British colonies) might also be admitted,
but not without the assent of nine States, forming two-third*
of the'States then in the Confederacy. But, at the same
time, says Mr. Madison, no provision was made by the ar
ticles of Confederation for the admission of new States.
"The eventual establishment of new Stales," liesays, "seems
to have lieen overlooked by the compilers of that instrument."
The words new States are ilaliciseil by him, and doubtless
with the design of contradistinguishing thein from foreign j
colonies. By the former, therefore, as used in the new Con
stitution, was clearly meant American States, to lie formed
within our own territory. The provision to admit Canada
and foreign British colonies was introduced in the articles of
Confederation when we were in the midst of the Revolutionary
war, in the hope that some of them would join us in the
struggle i but, after the close of the war, when the vital strug
gle was over, and we no longer needed their aid, the clause
about new States was introduced into the Constitution with
exclusive reference to the state of things in our own country,
and to provide for the admission of States to he " established "
or "formed," using the words of Mr. Madison, within our
own territorial and political system. So far as the future ac
quisition of foreign territory was in the view of the framers
of the Constitution, it was provided for in another part of thn
instrument entirely different from this. If the honorable Sen
ator would look at the discuaaions in the Convention respect
ingthe treaty-making pow?, ha would there tee reference
nude to the acquisition or ceeaion of territory, the adjustment
of boundaries, <Scc. us embraced within the scope ofthe treat*
puivtr, but uowhere, I fearlessly assert, will he nee thealwht
eet reference to foreign territory or formgn SULc* in comie*
1011 with the clause providing for the admission of new Statas
uito the union.
This, as Mr. R. believed, was the true and undoubted the
ory of the Constitution. He was not inclined to adopt the
view which had been put forth by some gentlemen, that the
Constitution contained no reference at all to any future exten
sion of territory. What he said was, that the ntode of effect
ing such extension was not in view in this clause respecting
new Stales, but that it belonged to the treaty power. And
this was iii analogy to the principle, though not the form, of
the old article* of confederation. We have aeen that while I
tlie Confederation made provision for the admission of foreign j
colonies into the-confederacy, it was to be done only by the
assent ol nine Stales, bring two-thirds of the whole number
<?1 States, which is precisely the projwrtion now required by
the existing Constitution to effect the acquisition of foreign
territory by treaty. It must be borne in mind, too, that under
the articles of confederation the Continental Congress was the
treaty-making as well as legislative branch of the Government,
and that the name vote ol nine Statcs9 or two-thirds, wan re
quired to enter into treaties or to admit Canada and the other
British colonies into the confederacy. The present extraordi
nary claim, therefore, to admit foreign States into the Union
by a mere legislative majority of the'two Houses of Congress,
? not. receive any, the slightest counteuanoe, even from the
old article* of eon federation.
But the Senator from Pennsylvania insists ??it is nominat
ed in the bond." This argument was short and simple, at least.
H ran thus: "New States may be admitted by Congress."
iexas is a new State ?, therefore, Texas may be admitted
>y congress. And the gentleman read CrubU' s Synonymes
and V attel s law of nations to shew us what this clause of the
Constitution means by the word Stefc/Now, with all respect,
K" '"UKt ?v> that neither Crabbe's tfvnonymcs, nor Vattel
no, nor (he hoped his honorable friend from Mississippi would
not suppose he meant a pun) Walkers dictionary, wis the au
thority by which this question was to be decided. The Con
stitution decides it for itself.
It surely is not for me (said Mr. R.) to assume to tell the
learned legal Senator from Pennsylvania what had been the
repeated decisions of the Supreme Court respecting the mean
ing of the word ?State," as used in the Constitution The
'"^VhT " ?Ui U,H)" ltty that ?e"tleman and his friends,
and the very definition of Vattel, now quoted by him, had
been over and over again brought before that Court, and reject
ed ns wholly inapplicable to the Constitution of the United
tares. In regard to the meaning of the phrase as used in ihn
Conwtuuoi, th.. ?U8U? lribon5 SJS
iSX!** li* "n"" "I*"k f?r ftaelf. Ho might
refer the gentleman to the early and leading case of Hepburn
vs. Elzey, where Chief Justice Marshall had overruled and
rejected \ attel s definition, under the general law of nations
as wholly inapplicable to the Constitution of the United States'
Mr. R. was no lawyer, yet he had tried, by close and long
study, to understand the Constitution of his country by all the
lights accessible to him. There had been a more recent and
very important case, sometimes called the Cherokee case, and
sometimes the Georgia case, (Worcester vs. the State of
(icorgia, I think,) in which this definition, quoted hv the gen
tleman from \ attel, had been again rejected as having noting
to do with the Constitution of the United States. A State of
the American Union, as the word was found in the Constitu
tioni of the United States, meant a very different thing from a
State or NaUon in the general unqualified sense of the law of
nations. 1 ?dcr thK law of nations a State was a wholly sove
reign, separate, and independent community. But this cer
tainly was not the condition of the States of the American
Lnion, in the sense of the Constitution, for they were expressly
disabled by the Constitution itself from the exercise of many
of the attribute* of national sovereignty?making war, treatie.,
nf%, , r^u f ^reaU>r variety significations than this
?7QQ M' J". celel:rated V'rginia report and resolutions of
1799 Mr. Madison said there were four different significations
in which it was used, and so said the Supreme Court. Some
times it meant the territory, simply ? at other times it m?ant
Political community ; in other cases, the organized Gov
ernment. In all these different senses, according to the Su
preme. Court, it is used in different parts of the Constitution,
and m cach case its particular meaning must be determined by
IfuWP WWh' theref0re' ,0 arrivp at the 'rue sense
n which this phrase " new States" is used in the rlau.se of
the Constitution now under discussion, and not to "aaueezel
^of the text," .s Mr Jefferson says some meanings"
trary to the intentions of the framers of the Constitution, and
of the people who accepted it, we must, instead of referring to
t rabbet Synonymu, Walker's Dictionary, or VatteL turn
to the Constitution itself, and, in doing that, read the whole
clause relating to the subject, and not a part, torn and isolated
from the rest. Now, Mr. President, let us read the wJofe
clause relating tu the subject, as it stands in the Canuti
lution : I
??\ew States may he admitted bv the Concret* into this
Union; but no new Stale, shall be formed or ^te!l will in
the jurisdiction ol any other StHte, nor any State be formed bv
the junction of t wo or more States, or part* of States without
In giving to Congress the power to admit "new States into
we Union, the Constitution proceeds, " no new States shall
be formed or erected," <kc. The new States to be admitted
then were stated to \* formed. or erected. Now, sir, i? it not
an absurdity to suppose, would it nofbe the grossest solecism
in language even, that the Congress of the United States was
to legislate respecting the "formation" or "erection" of new
State* except within the limits of the United States, under
our own jurisdiction, and out of our own territory > Mark
me, Mr. President, I do not mean to restrict this power to ter
ritory within the original limits of the United States, but ter
S't'V 'units of the United States at the time when
ed Thp / /' allm,,5sion' "to be formed or erect
ed. I he text of the Constitution itself, then, comes most de
cisively in confirmation of the overwhelming evidence of con
temporary history, to show what Mr. Jefferson calls the true
and honest sense of the instrument?the sense in which it was
framed by the Convention and adopted by the people.
? Uwif ffv"tleman still insists on his ultra-literal mean
ing, Mr. R. would take the liberty of carrying him a little fur
ther back in his law learning. Though he was no lawyer, be
repeated, yet in his younger days, with a desire of acquiring
<uch a knowledge of the general principles of civil and politi
cal jurisprudence as is pro|K-r to every citiien of a free coun
try, he had read Blackstone's Commentaries, and he had there
round that of all the various sorts of interpretations, that which
IS most condemned was the strictly literal interpretation. Qui
'ncrrt m lit era, buret in cortiec. ?
I lie gentleman said Texas was a State, was a new State I
?nd therefore we might admit her into the Union. Did he
recollect the case of the Bolognian law, which imposed the
heaviest penalty on the crime of "drawing blood in the streets >"
iNow, it happened that a surgeon, passing along the street, saw
? man drop under a stroke of apoplexy, and bled him on the
spot to save his life. Now, sir, according to the honorable
enator s canons of interpretation, the surgeon must have been
condemned tg death for his humanity, for he had "drawn
Mood in the streets." Such were the mtrds of the law, but
such was not its meaning. The true meaning was not to be
obtained from the words only, but from the context, from the
subject-matter, from the cause and reason of the law, and from
the consequences which would attend a given construction,
i o illustrate this same principle, Cicero hail long ago cited
one of the laws of Rome, which ordained that fhe mariners who
deserted the ship ln a storm should forfeit all their interest in
the vessel and cargo to the man who should remain in the ves
' . A H,,l''"t ** being threatened with impending destruc
tion b\ a sudden and fearful tempest, the mariners all left her
to save the.r lives h happened there was a helpless invalid
on board, who could not stir , and, by the mercy of Providence,
the ship was wafted into port, and his life was saved. He
knew the provW?n of the law, and claimed the ownership of
rcmnjZ/ ? rr' a\f"rfc,UHl to h? *?r?fit, 1 "-cause he had
inn^r w "? . P - Accon,inK to the new school of blind,
inexorable interpretation, his case was a good one, few it is
quite a* unquestionable that he had "remained in the ship,"
and rlrhB~ n?W <>f lh<! 'UW' " t^t Texas is a State,
and perhaps a little more so.
wiUi" resiw rrr always rememl>ere?l
con nE T 7 w'?o knew him, that of Nathaniel Ma
spirit of that 1 "l" rn'ijure?l up the venerated
thoritv nrove ^ ^ ' Snt wh"1 His an
to form a new State out of i^\Vha Mr M
'h"r"rtin?,h* rfJSrxjJpZi
All ih?t i< conunhd f?r Ihi. '
bv wKn i . . oiflien. J his was denied
sJrh^rorv W ? u lhfl n,Mni"K of the Constitution to
tion SisTZ " W,?r 1?"r the time of iu adop
Uuincv of M rm' he"n takcn in th" 'febate 1^ Mr.
otSi! fry- -n,) was to that objection that the
no7the Zh?r y,Mr' M"r?n WPTP They have I
^ w r to fnrtign territory like Texas,
iriM r.he?u,p of thp ^
'u i?
Jofr ,1 ,h,> honor"|,|e Senator had invoked the name of Mr.
pr"?'! a!"?1 nn<l ,,'u, brought him before the Senate upon '
the stool of repentance, as making a solemn palinode and re-'
mauon of his o|>inion? on the question of admitting foreign
nations as nrw States into the Union. Did Mr. .leffenwn
ever do this > Mr. R. admitted Uiat Mr. Jefferson did practi
the opinion, ao eu.aJS^^L ^ued by treaty ^ But
ii. hu letter. to Mr. * J1'?
under the ciau?e gtvinK WWer Breckenndge, that,
State. into the Union," there wa. t0 Madu,it
authority, to use hi* own language Z ?,uthomy> ? ???* of
nation. into our Union," was never in a Jnwn*"ate >????
degree retracted, abandoned, or qualified bv hin"^ *"y
or word. Louisiana waa acquired by tr/aty 'df" **
-ub-equenlly pa^d appropriating money S'cSl t\ T
Into eflect by the payment of the purchase name? AiT*^
received the official auction of MrJefferson But ill
^r^?rV^rP3T',"?i" UU ""
th . I ? ? y ' Mr" Je"?r?on ever countenanced thei.i
testimony of Mr l..tr , ? \ ttverr?u that the solemn
and Mr V V Jefieraou, in hw letter., to both Mr. Nicholas
S??#bSSS5385 ?
it ui uii i r great man now descend into thia Hall
denial. lUuatrioua pubhc life pledged him to ita
ari^Lr^^ tHi8 ^ m08t ??,e'"n quention which had
^ZTAfS- ?f J" Con"*?*>?. ?d it become
.!? Co?,c?U?? which
?' Vf r Was for!D,Uly Uken ?n the restriction^of^he
power of Congress to admit new Hut** SnM #k? i t ? a ^
territorial limits of the United States, and that the iSrirri^
whs decisively rejected by u vote of that body Althr K^i"'
Senator hud said that he"entertained no a dL.t t! .? ^
interpretation of the Constitution, Mr. R wouldhtake^tb''
JtaW of T?? him. ,h.,, if ta hjj irta (M?l?)?
had done?if he had examined minutely, step by step the
proceeding of the Federal Convention on this subject' he
wou d have found that there is not a particle of foundation for
| the idea he has taken up, (he could not but think at second
hand,) that there ever was any vote of that body deciding
that the power of Congress to admit new States should
not be confined to the territory of the United State., meaning
of course the actual territory of the United States at the time
when the new State is to be admitted. Mr. R. averred that
there never was any vote or proceeding of the Convention
y 8U*ePtible of such an interpretation, and thia he would
now undertake to demonstrate.
tj% ik investigation, it would be necessary to go hack
? th? V reSOluUon moved ?? the subject, which wJ a part
the first,rUv,a ,'r7.,081^0"H by Governor Randolph, in
words? y" th? ConVentio"- 11 in the following
?i^ff's?2 W,rVi8i?n ?U^'i to ?* for the admia
srs rs?wiih ,h" .
Before leaving this resolution let us comprehend, its real
taring and import. A. a part of the history of the time*
we must bear u min<l that the State of Vermont, wliich had
Molently separated herself from the State of New York of
which she had l>een a part, and within whoso lawful jurisdic
Uon she was still claimed to be by the authorities of New
*ork, had for years betn earnestly and importunately apply
ing for admission into the Confederacy under the Articles of
t.,T^ ^lT.y any *ubjwt ,nore copied and dis
turbed he deliberations of the Continental Congress. It di
vided the^ States into two distinct parties, some for, others
agatnrt the admission of Vermont. Mr. Madison, then a
member of the old Congress, was one of those who enter
tained and energetically expressed the opinion that the admis
sion of \erniont, under the circumstances of her violent se
paration from New York, and without the consent of New
* ork to her admission, would be a most dangerous precedent,
leading to a dismemberment of other large States, and Vir
ginia among others, by similar unlawful means. He there
fore steadily and firmly opposed the admission of Vermont
into the Confederacy without the express consent of New
l ork, as will be seen from many of his letters, contained in
the first volume of the Madison Papers.
i he opinions of Mr. Madiuon on this subject are of special
importance in this connexion, because I know, (said Mr R }
L?.k I COI"mun,c*t,on of that great and virtuous man, made
wuh his characteristic delicacy, that he proposed ami draught
hv r?v u' ^e, Ration, which were offered in Convention
If who was selected as the organ of the views
of the Virginia delegation in that body. With the evidence
then, afforded by Mr. Madison's published correspondence, of
bw opinions on the Vermont question, we are enabled at once
to see the particular significancy and import of the restrictive
clause in the resolution just read?" provision ought to be
made for the admission ^States lawfully arising within the
limits of the L/uted StatbzT It most clearly h Jin view the
ermont question, and was intended to guard against the ad
mission of States into the Union which, like Vermont, should
nave violently separated themselves from the parent 8tate, with
out the consent of the latter. There were indications of rest- ?
lewneas and an impatient desire for the independent condition
of States, at the time, on the pert of Maine in Massachusetts,
Frankland (the infant Tennessee) in North Carolina, arid also
P.? 7*?? ?l lhs 8tote of the honorable Senator of
nnsylvania himself, as I have already mentioned, which
seemed to make this wise precaution necessary. Accordingly,
?/r?uirr*,nted hy Goy Rand?'ph. p^iv a- ih.;;
rend it to the 8enate, was adopted by the Convention, first in
Committee of the Whole, and then in the House, and finally
referred together with more general propositions on the same
mibject by Mr. Pinckney of South Carolina ar)d Mr. Patteraon
2 10 thleC2m?itt<" ?f Det41'. who were instruct
ed to report a draught of a Constitution.
J" /rticle pre,?red by the Committee of Detail on the
Gov lUn h|r ?dmlr,H,on.of new States, the restrictive clause in
Gov lUndo jih apropos,uon was retained in substance, though
w ere ad l!?l ? it11 ^ 8eVeral ad,lit,onal S2S
ere added to t. It will lie necessary to read to the Senate
the whole article as reported by the Committee of Detail, that
we may better comprehend the true effect of the amendment,
t afterward, underwent The article is a. follows, and, for
the sake of simplifying the explanation of the subsequent pro
ceedingg of the Convention upon it, its several clauses are
numbered :
hILI 1VN/a.W *!i ln? fnl,y continued or established -within the
uT,"L n: i Ut"1 Slatrt> m"y the Lrgirfa
^)b,,t 10 *dmia?io? thecon
*1,' ^ ?wo-th'nfa of the members present aliall be nvee*
?ty. (J) If a new State shall ariae within the limita of any
ot the preaciit Statea, the consent of the Legislatures of auch
States aliall be alao neeeasary to ita admiaaion. (4) If the admia
"O" eonaentejl to, the new States ai.all be admitte?l on the
same ternia with the original Statea. (5) Butthe I^gi-lature may
nuke ?onditiona with the new Sutes concerning the public
debt which shall be then aubsisting."
When the article was taken up for consideration in the Con
vention, Mr. Gouverneur Moiris first moved to strike out the
fourth and the fifth claunes?the one declaring that the new
? tales wrre to be admitted on the same terms with the original
States, and the other providing that conditions were to lie made
with the new States respecting the public debt. They were
stricken out by the vote of nine States to two.
Mr. Luther Martin and Mr. Gouverneur Morria then moved
to strike out the second clause, requiring the consent of two
thirds of the memliers of Congress present to the admission of
a new .Vtate. It was carried, and by the same vote of nine to
two. iS'ow, Mr. President, I cannot forbear remarking that,
amid the jealousies respecting the balanee of power which are
known to have existed between the Northern and Southern
portions of the F nion in the Convention, and to which every
page of Mr. Madison's Drlmtes I tears the most impressive tes
timony, each apprehensive of the preponderance of the other,
it is morally impossible that either would have consented to
have placed ao powerful a mean, of disturbing the original ba
lance of power, (so carefully and painfully adjusted between
Ihem,) as the admission of frrre'tpi States into the Union
would obviously prove, into the hand, of a mere majority of
Congn>ss. We have seen that even under the articles of con
federation, and in time of war, when there were so many in
hieeinents to increase the aggregate power of the Confederacy
by the addition of new memliers, a two-thirds vote was deem
ed an indispensable safeguard in regard to the admission of the
neighboring British colonies.
But, to proceed with the history of the changes which this
irticle underwent in the Convention. After the successive
amendments which I have mentioned, what remained of the
original article reported hy the Committee of Detail wa. as
follows :
" New States, lawfully ronstihitrd or established within the
limits of the United States, may lie admitted by the legislature
into thia Government, if a new State aliall arise within the
limita of anv of the present Statea, the consent of the legisla
tures of such Statea shall be alao necessary to such admission."
In thia state of things, Mr. Gouverneur Morris moved the
substitute of which so much haslieen said, without the slight
est foundation in a correct comprehension of the proceedings
of the Convention, and of the reasons and motives which in
fluenced those proceedings. That substitute is in the follow
ing word.: ? ,
" New States may be admitted by the Is-rislaturr into the ,
Union i bnt. no new State shall be ereeted within the limita of
any of the present States without the consent of the legislature
ot such State, as well as of the General legislature."
Now, air, a little reflection and knowledge of the conflicting
interests and opinions in the Convention will ahow at once the
real bearing and operation of Mr. Morria*. substitute. There
was hut one opinion in the Convention that the want of power
in the old Congress, under the articles of Confederation, to
admit new States, should he supplied, and that that power
should be given to Congreea under the new Constitution,

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