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Columbia Democrat and Bloomsburg general advertiser. (Bloomsburg, Pa.) 1850-1866, December 15, 1860, Image 1

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LEVI L. TATE, Editor.
$2 00 PER ANNUM.
VOL. 14.--NO. 41.
o vJTo E
cf lAe CVarl lhati. "Democratic Head Qaarlc r."
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xecutcil, at the established prices.
or THE
President of the United States.
Throughout the year since our last meet
ing, thocountry has been eminently pros
perous, in all its material interests. The
general health has been excellent, our
harvests have been abundant, and plenty
smiles throughout the land. Our com
merce and manufactures have been prose
cuted with energy and industry, and have
yielded fair and ample returns. In short,
no nation in tho tide of timo has ever pro
cented a spcctaclo of greater material
prosperity than wo havo done until with
in a vory recent period.
Why is it, then, that discontent now so
extensively prevails, and tho Union of the
States, which is tho source of all these
blessings, is threatened with distruction ?
Tho long continued and intenipcrato inter
ference of tho Northern people with tho
question of slavery in the Southern Slates
has at length produced its natural effects.
The different sections of the Union are
now arrayed against each other, and the
timo has arrive!, so much dreaded by the
Father of his Country, whin hostile geo
graphical parties havo been formed. I
havo long foreseen and often forewarned
my countrymen of tho now impending
danger. This does not proceed solely from
the claim on tho part of Congress or tho
territorial legislatures to exclude slavery
from tho Territories, nor from the efforts
of different States to defeat the execution
of the fugitivo slave law.
All or any of these evils might have
been endured by tho South without danger
to the Union, (as others havo been,) iu
the hope that time and reflection might
apply tho remedy. The immediate peril
arises not so much from these causes as
from tho fact that tho incessant and violent
agitation of the slavery question through
out the North for tho last quarter of a
century,has at length produced its malign
influence on the slave, and in-pired them
with vague notions of freedom. Hence a
senso of security no longer exists around
tho family alter. This feeling of peace at
homo has given placo to apprehension of
ervilo insurrection. Many a matron
throughout the South retires at night iu
dread of what may befall herself and her
children bctorc the morning.
Should this apprehension of domestic
danger, whether real or imaginary, extend
and intensify itself until it shall pervade
tho masses of the Southern people, then
disunion will become inevitable. Self
preservation is the first law of nature,and
has been implanted in tho heart of man by
hisCrcator lor the wisest purpose ; and no
political union, however fraught with bless
ings and benefits in all respects, can lone
continue, if tho necessary consequcneo bo
to render tho homos and the firesides of
tearly half the parties to it habitually and
hopelessly insecure. Soonor Or later the
bonus of such a Union must bo severed.
It is my conviction that this fatal pc:iod I vcfr 1 10 .ot b,e f"norl ueclarll,S
has not yet arrived ; and my prayers to 1 "Y8' '? au?( lm . forever pro
i!n,l :, l,of tit. m .L ,-.,:. hilited m this lorntory." Such an act,
,,,.; ,n,l ,l, ni ii i,f nil I
orations '
Rut let us take warning in time, and 1
remove the cause of danoer. It cannot bo I
denied that, for fivo and twenty years, tho
agitation at tho .North against slavery in
the South has been incessant. In 1835
pictorial hand-bills, aud inflammatory ap
peals, were circulated extensively through
out tho South, of a character to' excite the
passious of tho slaves ; and, iu tho lau
miasa of General Jackson, "to stimulate
them to insurrection, and produce all tho
mirrors ot a servile war.' This agitation
has over sinco been continued bv the nub-1
lie nress. bv tho proceedings of Stato aud
county conventions, and by abolition sor-1
mons and lectures. Tho timo of Congress;
has been occupied in violent speeches on
this never -ending subject; and appeals in
pamphlet and other forms, endorsed by
distinguished names, havo been sent forth
from this central point, aud spread broad
cast o,'er tho Union.
How easy would it be for tho American
people to settle tho slavery question forever,
and to rcstoro peaco and harmony to this'
distrae'ed country
They, and they alone, can do it,
that is necessary to accomplish tho object,
and all for which the slave States havo
ever contended, is to bo let alone, and per
mitted to manago their domestic institu
tions in their own way. As sovereign
States, they, and they alone, aro responsi
ble beforo God and the world for the slavery
existing among them. For this, tho people
of the North are not moro rcsponsiblo,aud
havo no moro right to interfere, than with
similar institutions iu Russia or iu Rrazil.
Upon their good senso and patriotio fore
bearanoo I confess I still greatly roly
Without their aid, it is beyond tho power
of any President, no matter what may bo
his own political proclivities, to rcstoro
peaco and harmony among tho States.
Wisely limited aud restrained as is, his
power, under our Constitution and laws,
he abno can accomplish but little, for
good or forcvil,on such a momentous ques
tion. And this brings mo to ohscrvo that the
election of any one of our fellow-citizens
to tho office of President docs not of itself
afford just causo for dissolving tho Union.
This is more especially true if his election
has been effected by a more plurality, and
not a majority, of tho people, and has re
sulted from transient aud temporary causes
which may probably never again occur.
In order to justify a resort to revolutiona
ry resistance, tho Federal Government
must bo guilty of "a deliberate, palpable
and dangerous cxerciso" of powers not
granted by tho Constitution. Tho late
Presidential election, however, has been
held in strict conformity with its express
provisions. How, then, can tho result
justify a revolution to destroy this very
Constitution I Reason, justice, a regard
for the Constitution, all requiro that we
shall wait for some overt and dangerous
act on tho part of tho President elect bo
foro resorting to such a remedy.
It is said, however, that tho antecedents
of tho President elect havo been sufficient
to justify tho fears of tho South that he
will attempt to invade their constitutional
rights, Rut are such appresions of con
tingent danger in the futuro sufficient to
ju-tify tho immediato destruction of tho
noblest system ot government ever devised
by mortals! From tho very naturo of
his office, aud Us high responsibilities, he
must necessarily bo conservative. Tho
stern duty of administering tho vast and
complicated concerns of this Government
affords iu itself a guarantee that ho will
not attempt any violation of a clear con
stitutional right. After all, ho is no more
than tho chief executive officer of tho Gov
ernment. Ilia province is not to malic but to ex
ecute tho laws ; and it is a remarkable fact
in our history, that notwithstanding tho
repeated efforts of tho anti-slavery party,
no singlo act has ever passed Congress,
unless wo may possibly except tho Mis
souri Compromise, impairing, in thesilght
est degree, tho rights of the South to their
property iu slaves. And it may also bo
observed, judging from present indications.
that no probability exists of tho passage of
such an act, by a majority ot both Houses,
either iu the present or the next Congress.
Surely, under theso circumstances, we
ought to bo restrained from present action
by tb.9 precept of Him who spake as never
man spoke, that "sufficient unto the day is
the evil thereof.'' Tho day of evil may
uever come, unless wc shall rashly bring
it upon ourselves.
It is alleged as one causo for immediate
secession that the Soutlieru States are de
nied equal rights with the other States in
the common Territories. Rut by what
authority are these denied ? Not by Con
gross, which has never passed, aud I be
liuvo never will pass, any act to exclude
slavery from theso Territories ; aud cer
taiuly not by tho Supreme Court, which
has solemnly decided that slaves are prop
erty, and, like all other property, their
owners havo a right to take them into the
common Territories, and hold them thcro
uuder the protection of tho Constitution.
So far, then, as Congress is concerned,
the objection is not to anything they havo
ahead v done, but to what thev niav do
hercalter. It will surely be adniitted'tbat
this apprehension ot tuturc danger is no
good reason for an immediate dissolution of
the Union. It is iruo that tho territorial
legislature of Kansas, on tho 'J3d of Feb
ruary, leGO, passed in great haste an act,
however, plainly violating tho rights of
ProPL'rtJ' secured by the Constitution, will
su.rel' bo declared void by tho judiciary
whenever it shall do presented iu a legal
j totm-
Only three days after my inauguration
tho Supremo Court of tho United States
solemnly adjudged that this power did not
exist in a territorial legislature, let such
has been tho factious temper of tho times
that tho correctness of this decision
has been extensively impugned before tho
1 people, and tho question has given rise to
angry ponitcm ouumcis luougiiotu iitu
country. Thoso who havo appealed from
this judgment of our highest constitutional
tribunal to popular assemblies would, if
they could, invest a territorial legislature
with power to annul tho sacred rights of
property. This power Congress is expressly
forbidden by tho Federal t oustitution to
exercise, hvery Stato legislature iu the
Union is forbidden by its own constitution
to exorctso it It cannot be exercised m
any Stato except by tho peoplo in their
highest sovereign capacity when framing
or amending their Stato constitution. In
liko manner, it can only bo exercised by
tho people of a Territory represented in a
convention of delegates for tho purposo of
forming a constitution preparatory to ad
mission as a State into tho Union. Then,
and not until then, aro they invested with
power to deeido tho question whether sla
very shall or shall not exist in their limits.
This is an act of tovcrcign authority, aud
not of subordinate territorial legislation,
Were it otherwise then indeed wou'd tho
equality of tho States in tho Territories bo
destroyed, and the rights of property in
tdavos would depend, not upon tho guar
antees of tho Constitution, but upon tho
shilling malorities of an irresponsible ter
ritorial legislature. Such a doctrino, from
its iutrinsio unsoundness, cannot long in
fluence any considerable portion of onr
peoplo, much less can it afford a good rea
son for a disolution of tho Union,
Tho most palpablo violation of con
stitutional duty which havo yet been com
mitted consist in tho acts of different Stato
legislatures to defeat the execution of tho
fugitivo slavo law. It ought to bo romcm
bercd,howovcr, that for theso acts, Dcithcr
Congress nor any President can justly be
held responsible Having been passed in
violation of tho Federal Constitution, they
uro thercforo null and void. All tho
courts, both Stato and national, before
whom tho question has arisen, havo from
tho beginning declared tho fugitivo slave
law to bo constitutional. Tho finglo ex
ception is that of a Stato court in Wiscon
sin ; and this has not only been reversed
by tho proper appcllato ttibunal, but has
met with such universal reprobation that
there can bo no danger from it as a prece
dent. Tho validity of this law has been
established over and over again by tho
Supreme Court of tho United States with
perfect unanimity. It, is founded upon an
express provision of tho Constitution, re
quiring that fugitivo slaves who escape
Irom sorvico in one State to another shall
bo "delivered up'' to their masters.
Without this provisiou it is a well known
historical faat that tho Constitution itself
could never havo been adopted by tho Con
vention, In ono form or other under tho
acts of 1703 and 1850, both being sub
stantially tho saino, tho fugitive slavo law
has been tho law of tho land from tho days
of Washington until tho present moment.
Hero, then, a clear caso is presented, in
which it will bo tho duty of tho next Pros
ident, as it ha been my own, to act with
vigor in executing this supremo law against
the conflicting enactments of Stato legis
latures. Should ho fail in tho perform
ance of this high duty ho will then havo
manifested a disregard of tho Constitution
and laws, to tho great injury of tho people
of nearly ono half of tho people of
tho States of tho Union. Rut aro wc
to prcsumo in advance that ho will thus
violato his duty ?
This would bo at war with every prin
ciple of ju'tico and of Christian charity.
Let us wait for the over act Tho fugitivo
slavo law has been carried into execution
in every contested caso sinco tho com
mencement of tho present administration;
though often it is to bo regretted, with
great loss aim inconvenience to tho master
and with considerable expense to tho gov
ernment, iiut us trust that tho state leg
islatures will repeal their unconstitutional
and obnoxious enactmenis. Unless this
shall be done without unnecessary dclay.it
is impossible for any human power to save
mo union.
The Southern States, standing on tho
bais of the Constitution, havo a right to
demand this act ot mstico from tho States
of tho North. Should it bo refustd, then
the Constitution, to which all tho S'atcs
are parties, will have been wilfully viola-
ted by ono portion of them in a provion
essential to tho domestic security aud hap
piness of the remainder. In that event,
the injured States, alter having first used
all peaceful and constitutional means to
obtain redress, would be justified in revo
lutionary resistance to tho Government of
the union.
I havo purposely confined my remarks
to revolutionary resistance, because it has
been claimed within the last few years that
auv Stato, whenever this shall bo its sov
ereign will and pleasure may secede from
the Union, iu accordance with tho Consii
tution, and without any violation of tho
constitutional rights of tho other members
of the Confederacy. That as each became
parties to tho Union by tho voto of its own
people assemble in Convention, so any ono
of them may retire from tho Union in a
similar manner by tho voto of such a Con
vontion. In order to justify secession as a consti
tutional remedy, it must bo on the princi
ple that tho Federal Government is a mere
voluntary association of States, to bo dis
solved at pleasure by any ono of tho con
tracting parties. If this bo so,the Confcd
cracy is a ropo of sand, to bo penetrated
aud dissolved by the first adverse wave ot
public opinion in any of the States. In
this manner our thirty-three States may
resolve themselves into as many petty -jarring
and hostile republics, each ono retir
ing from tho Union, without responsibility
whenever any sudden excitement might
impel them to such a course. Ry this pro
cess a Union might bo entirely broken iuto
fragments in a few weeks, which cost our
forefathers many years of toil, privation
aud blood to establish.
Such a principle is wholly luconsntcnt i peace ; cuter into any agreement or com
with tho history as well as tho character of, pact with another Stato, or with a foreigu
tho l'odoral Constitution. Alter it was
framed, with tho greatest deliberation aud
care, it was submitted to conventions ot
tho peoplo of tho soveral States for ratifi
cation. Its provisions were discussed at
length in theso bodies, composed of tho
first men of tho country. Its opponents
conteuded that it conterrod powers upon
tho Federal Government dangerous to tho
rights of tho States, whilst its advocates
maintained that under a fair construction
of tho instrument there was no foundation
for such apprehensions. In that mighty
struggle botweon tho first intellects of this
or any other country, it nevor ocourrcd to
any individual, cither among its opponents
or advocates, to assert, or even to iutimato
tliat their efforts wore all vain labor, be
cause tho moment that any Stato felt her
self aggriovod sho might secedo from tho
What a crushing argument would this
have proved against thosa who dreaded
that tho rights of tho States would bo en
dangered by tho Constitution. Tho truth
is, that it was not until many years after
tho origin of the Federal Government that
such a proposition was first advanced. It
was then met and refused by tho conclu
sive arguments of Gen. Jackson, who in
his mcssago of Jan. 10th, 1833, transmit-,
ting tho nullifying ordinance of South
Carolina to Congress, employs tho follow
ing language : "Tho right of tho peoplo
of a singlo State to absolve themselves at
will, and without tho consent of the other
States, from their most solemn obligations
and hazard the liberty and happiness of
tho millions composing this Union, cannot
bo acknowledged.
Such authority is believed to bo utterly
repugnant both to tho principles upou
which tho General Government is constitu
ted and to tho objects which it was express
ly formed to attain."
It is not pretended that any clauso in
tho Constitution gives countenance to such
a theory. It is altogether founded upou
inforenccnot from any languago contained
in tho instrument itself, but from tho sov
ereign character of tho several States bv
which it was ratified. Rut is it bovoud
tho power of a State, liko an individual, to
yield a portion of its sovereign rights to
secure tho remainder ; In tho language of
Mr. Madison, who has been called tho fa
ther of tho Constitution, "It was formed
by tho States that is, by tho peoplo iu
each of tho States, acting in their highest
sovereign capacity ; and formed consc-
quontly by tho same authority which form-1
cd tho Stato constitutions." '
"Nor is the Government of tho United '
States, created by tho Constitution, less a,
uovernmcnt in tho strict sense of tho term
within the sphere of its powers, than tho !
governments created by the Constitution all the attributes of sovereignty over tho
of tho States are, within their several I special subjects to which its authority cx
ephercs. It is, liko them, organized into j tends. Its framers never intended to im
legislative, and executive, and judi-, plant iu its bosom tho seeds of its own de
cary departments. It operates, iiko them 1 struction, nor were they at its creation
dircctjy on porsous aud things ; aud, like' guilty of tho absurdity of providing for its
them it has at command a physical forco own dissolution, it was not intended by
for executing the potvers committed to it.1
It was intended to bo perpetual, aud
not to bo annulled at tho pleasure of any
one of tho contracting parties. The old
articles of confederation were entitled
"Articles of Confederation aud perpetual
Unicn between tho States; and by the
13th article, it is expressly declared that
'the articles of this Confederation shall be
inviolable observed by every State, afid
tho Union shall bs perpetual." Tho pre
aiiib.o to the Constitution of tho United
States,having express reference to tho ar
ticles of Confederation, recites that it was
established "in order to form a moro per
fect union." Aud yet it is contended that
this 'moro pci feet union" does not include
the essential attribute of perpetuity.
Hut that tho Union was dn.irni"d to he.
perpetual appears conclusively from thoj
na me and extent of tho powers conferred
by the Constitution on the Federal Govern-1 tyranny and oppression of tho Federal
mcut. Theso powers embrace the very i Government? Ry no means. Tho right
highest attributes of national sovereignty, of resistance on tho part of the governed
They place both the sword and tho purso against tho oppressions of their govern
under its controL Congress has power to ments cannot be denied. It exists inde
make war, and to make peace ; to raiso 1 pendcntly of all constitutions,and has been
and support armies and navies, and to
coneludu treaties with fort-ign governments.
it is mvcsicci wim tne power to com mo
ney, and to regulate tho valuo thereof,and
to regulate commerce with foreign natious
and among tho several States, it is not
nccesary to cnumerato tho other high pow
ers which have been conferred upon tho
Federal Government In order to carry
tho enumerated powers into effect, Con
gress possesses tho exclusive right to lay
and collect duties on imports, and in com
mon with the States to lay and collect all
other taxes.
Rut tho Constitution has not only con
ferred these high powers upon Congress,
out it nas adopted elteetual means to re
strain the States from interfering with their
cxerciso. I1 or that purpose it has, in
strong prohibitory lauguago, expressly de
clared that "no State shall enter into any
treaty, alliance, or confederation ; grant
letters of marque and reprisal; coiu mon
ey, emit bills of credit; make anything
but gold and silver coiu a tender in pay-
incut oi ueuts; pass any bill ot attaiudcr,
ex post facto law, or law impairing tl,
obligation of contracts." Moreover, "with
out tho consent of Congress, no b'tato shall
lay any imposts or duties on any imports
or exports, except what may bo absolutely
necessary for executing its inspection laws; '
and, if they exceed this amount,tho excess
shall belong to tho United States.
And "'no State shall, without tho con
sent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage;
keep troops, or ships of war, in timo of
j power; or engage in war, unless actually
invaded or in such imminent danger as will
not admit of delay.'1
In order still further to secure tho unin
terrupted cxerciso of theso high powers
against Stato interposition, it is provided
, "that this Constitution and the laws of the
united states which shall bo mado in pur
suauco thereof, and all treaties made, or
which shall bo made, under tho authority
of tho United States, shall be tho supremo
law of the land ; and tho judgui in every
Mate snail be bound there-by anything iu
tho Coustitution or laws of any Stato to tho
contrary notwithstanding."
Tho solemn sanction of religion has been
superadded to tho obligations of official
duty, and all Senators aud Rcnrescnta-
tives of tho United States, as members of
sUto legislatures, and all executive, and
judicial officers, "both of tho United States
and ot tho several states, shall bo bound
by oath or afirmation to support this Con
stitution." In order to carry into effect theso pow-
era, tho Constitution has established a per
fect Government in all its forms, Legisla
tive, Executivo and judicial; and this
Government, to tho extent of its powers,
acts directly upon tho individual citizens
of every Stale, and executes its own de
crees by tho agency of its own oflicors.
In this respect it differs entirely from
tho Government uiylcr tho old Confedcra
tion, which was confiucd to making requisi
tions on tho States in their sovereign
character. This left it iu the discretion
of each whether to oboy or to refuse, and
they often declined to comply witli such
requisitions. It thus becamo necessary,
for the purposo of removing this barrier,
and "in order to form a moro perfect
Union," to establish a Government which
would net directly upon tho people, and
execute its own laws without tho interme
diate agency of the States. This has been
accomplished by tho Constitution of tho
United states.
In shoit, the Government created bv tho
Cou-titutioti, and deriving its authority ,
from the sovcrcigu peoplo of each of tho
several states, has precisely tho same
right to exercise its power over tho peoplo
oi an tneso states, in tuo enumerated
cases, that each one of them possesses over i
subjects not delegated to tho United States,
but "reserved to tho States respectively, '
or to tho people."
To I ho extent of tho delegated powers '
tne uonstitution ot tho united states is as
much a part of tho constitution of each
State, aud is as binding upon its people,
as though it had bceu texually inserted
lhu Government, therefore is a great
and powerful Government, invested with i
us uaincrs to ue mo baseless labne ot a
vision which, at tho touch of tho enchanter,
would vauish into thin air, but a substan
tial and mighty fabric, capable of resisting
the slow decay of timo aud of defying
tho 6torms ot ages.
Indeed, well may tho jealous patriots of
that day have indulged tears that a govern
ment of such high powers might violato
tho reserved rights of tho States, and wise
ly did they adopt tho rule of a strict con
struction of these powers to prevent tho
danger 1 Rut they did not fear, nor had
they any reason to imagine, that tho Con
stitution would ever bo so interpreted as
to enable any Stato, by her own aet, aud
without the consent ol her sister Status, to
discharge her peoplo from all or any of
their Federal obligations.
It may bo asked, then, arc the people of
the States without redress against the
exercised at all periods of tho world's his
tory. Uuder it old governments havo
been destroyed, aud now ones havo taken
their plaeo. It is embodied in stroug aud
express lauguago iu our Declaration of
Independence. Rut tho distinction must
ever bo observed, that this is revolution
against an established Government, and
not a voluutary secession from it by vir
tue of an inherent constitutional right. In
short, let us look tho danger fairly iu tho
face : Secession is neither moro nor less
than revolution. It may or it may not
bo justifiable revolution, but still it is rev
olution What, iu tho meantime, is tho responsi
bility aud true position of tho Executive !
' He is bound by solemn oath beforo God
and the country "to tako care that tho
laws bo faithfully executed," and from this
obligation ho cannot be absohed by any
human power. Rut what if the perform
ance ol this duty, iu whole, or iu part,has
been rendered impracticable by events
over which ho could have exercised no
control? Such, at the present moment,
is the case throughout tho Stato of South
Caroliua, so far as the laws of tho United
States to secure tho administration of jus
tice by means of tho Federal Judiciary
aro concerned. All tho Federal officers
within its limits, through whoso agency
alone those laws can be carried iuto exe
cution, havo already resigned.
We no louger havo a district judgo, a
district attorney, or a marshal, iu South
Carolina. In fact, tho whole machinery
of tho Federal Government, necessary for
tho distribution of remedial justice among
tho people, has been demolished ; and
it would bo difficult, if not impossible, to
replace it.
The ouly nets of l engross on tho statute
book, bearing upon this subject, aro thoso
of tho 28th February, 1705, and 3d
March, 1807. These authorise tho Pres
ident, after he shall havo ascertained that
tho marshal with his posso comitatus is
unable to execute civil or criminal process
iu any particular case, to call forth tho
militia and employ tho army and navy to
aid him iu performing this service, having
first by Proclamation commanded tho
insurgents "to disporso and retire peace
ably to their respective abodes, within a
limited timo.'" This duty cannot by pos
sibility bo performed iu a State where no
judicial authority exists to issuo process,
and whero there is no marshal to execute
it, and whore, oven if there were such an
officer, tho entire population would con
stitute one solid combination to resist
Tho bare enumeration, of these provi-
sious proves how inadequate tbey aro
without further legislation to ovcrcomo a
united opposition iu a singlo State, not to
speak of other States who may place them
selves in n similar attitude. Congress
alono has power to decido whether tho
present laws can or cannot bo amended so
as to carry out moro effectually tho ob
jects of tho Constitution.
Tho samo insupcrablo obstacles do not
lie in tho way of executing tho laws for tho
collection of tho customs. Tho rovenuo
still continues to be collected, as hereto
fore, at tho custom-house in Charleston ;
and should tho collector unfortunately ro
sign, a successor may be appointed to per
form this duty.
Then in regard to tiio property of tho
United States in South Carolina. This
has been purchased for a fair equivalent,
"by tho couscnt of tho legislature of tho
Stato," "for tho erection of forts, maga
zines, arsenals," &c., and over these tho
authority "to cxerciso exclusive lcgisla-
tion'' has been expressly granted by tho
Constitution to Congress. It is not bo-
heved that any attempt will bo made to
oxpcl tho United States from this nronortv
") luieu , uuwi in tuts i suouiu prove to
ho mistaken, the officer iu coinmaud of tho
forts has received orders to act strictly on
the defensive. In such a contiugcncy,tho
responsibility for consequences would
rightfully rest upon the heads of the as-
part from tho execution of tho laws.
so far as this may be practicable, the Ex
ecutive has no authority to decide what
shall bo tho relations betweou tho federal
government and South Carolina. Ho has
been invested with no such discretion.
lie possesses no power to chaugo tho
relations heretofore existing between them,
much less to acknowledge tho independence
of that State. This would bo to invest a
mere Executivo officer with tho power of
recognising the dissolution of tho Confed
eracy among our thirty.thrco sovereign
States. It bears no resemblance to tho
recognition of a foreign do faelo govern
ment, involving no such responsibility.
Any attempt to do this would, on his part,
be a naked act of usurpation. Itis,therc-
loro, my duty to hubimt to Congress tho
whole question in a'l its bearings,
Tho course of events is so rapidly has
tening forward, that tho emergency may
soon arise, when you may bo called upon
to decido the momentous question whether
you possess tho power, by forco of arms,
to compel a Stato to remain in tho Union.
I should feel myself recreant to my duty
were I not to express an opinion on this 1
important subject.
Tho question fairly stated is : Has tho
Constitution dolega'tcd to Congress the
power to coerco a Stato into submission
which is attempting to withdraw or has
actually withdrawn from the Confedera
cy? If answered in tho affirmativo,it must
bo on tho principlo that the power has
been conferred upon Cougress to declare
aud to mako war against a State. After
much serious reflection I havo arrived at
tho conclusion that no such power has
been delegated to Congress or to any other
department of tho Federal Government.
It is manifest, upon an inspection of tho
Conitution, that this is not among the
specific and enumerated powers granted
to Congress; and it is equally apparent
that its exercise is not necessary and prop
er for carrying iuto execution any ono of
these powers. So lar irom this power
having been delegated to Congress, it was
expressly referred by Iho Convention
which framed tho Constitution.
It appears from tho proceedings of that
body, that on tho 31st May, 1787, tho
clause "authorizing an exertion of the foice
of the whole against a delinquent S't'f,"
came up for consideration. Mr. Madison
opposed it in a brief but powerful speech,
from which I shall extract but a single
sentence, lie observed : "Tho usu of
forco against a Siato would look more
liko a declaration of war thau an infliction
of punishment; and would probably bo
considered by tho party attacked as a
dis-olution of all previous compacts by
which it might bo bound."
Upon this motion tho clauso was unani
mously postponed, aud was never, 1 be
liovo, again presented. Soon afterwards,
on tho bth Juno, 1787, when incidentally
adverting to tho subject, ho said : " Any
Government for the United States, formed
on tho supposed practicability of using
force against tho unconstitutional pro
ceedings of tho States, would prove as
visiouary and fallacious as tho government
of Congress,"' evidently meaning tho then
existing Congress of tho old Confedera
tion. Without descending to particulars, it
may bo safely asserted, that tho power to
make war against a Stato is at varianco
with tho whole fpirit and intent of tho
Constitution. Supposo such a war should
result iu the conquest of a State, how aro
wo to govern it afterwards? Shall wo
hold it as a provinco, and govern it by Stat is might have mado a direct reprcson
despotic power ? In the nature of things tation to Congress with a view to obtain a
wo could not, by physical forco ; control , rescinding of tho two offensive acts,or tbey
the will of tho people, aud compel them to might havo repreentcd to their rcspectivo
elect senators and representatives to Con- Senators in I ongross their wish that two
gross, and to perform all the other duties ' thirds thereof would proposo an cxplana
depending upon their own volition, nnd tory amendment to the Constitution, or
required from tho free citizens of a free two-thirds of themselves, if such had been
Stato as a constituent member of the Con- their option, might, by an application to
federaoy. 1 Congress, have obtained a convention for
Rut, if wo possessed this power, would tho Famo object.''
it bo wiso to exercise it under existing This is tho very course which I car
circumstances ? Tho object would doubt- nestly recommend in order to obtain an
less bo to prcservo tho Union. War I "explanatory amendment" of tho Consti-
would not only present iho most effectual
means of destroying it ; but would bauish
all hope of i's pcaccablo reconstruction.
Resides, iu the fraternal conflict a vast
VOL. 24.
amount of blood and treasure would bo
expanded, rendering futuro reconciliation
between tho States impossible. In tho
meantime, who can forctel what would bo
tho sufferings and privatious of tho peoplo
during its cxisicnco ?
Tho fact is, that our Union rests upen
publio opinion, and can never bo cemented
by the blood of its citizens shed in civil
war. If it cannot livo in tho affections of
the people, it must ono day perish. Con
cross possess many means of preserving it
by conciliation : but tho sword was not
placed in their hand to prcservo it by
Rut may I be permitted solemnly to in
voko my countrymen to pauso and deliber
ate, beforo they determine to destroy this,
the grandest temple which has over boon
dedicated to human freedom sinco tho
world began ? It has becu consecrated by
tho blood of our fathers, by tho glories of
tho past, and by tho hopes of tho future.
Tho Union has already made us tho most
prosperous and cro longjWill, if preserved,
render us tho most powerful nation on tho
face of tho earth.
Iu every foreign region of tho clobotho
title of American citizen is held in tho
highost respect, and when prououueed in a
foreign land it causes tho hearts of our
countrymen to swell with honest pride.
Surely when wo reach tho brink of tho
yawning abyss, we shall recoil with horror
from tho last fatal plungo. Ry such a
dread catastrophe tho hopes of the friends
of freedom throughout tho world would bo
destroyed, and a long night of leaden
despotism would enshroud tho nations.
Our example for moro than eighty years
would not only bo lost; but it would bo
quoted as a conclusive proof that man is
uufit for self-government.
It is not every wrong nay, it is not
every grievous wrong which can justify a
resort to such a fearful alternative. This
ought to bo tho last desperate remedy of a
despairing people, after every other con
stitutional means of conciliation had been
exhausted. Wo should reflect that under
this free government thcro is aa incessant
ebb aud flow in publio opinion. Tho sla
very question, like evcrj thing human, will
have i.s day. I firmly believe that it has
already reached and passed tho culmina
ting point. Rut if, iu iho midst of tho ex
iting excitement, tho Union shall perish,
tho evil may then becomo irreparable.
Congress can contribute much to avert it,
by proposing aud recommending to tho
legislatures of the several States tho rcnio
dy for existing evils, which tho Constitu
tion has itself provided for its own preser
vation. This has been tried at different
critical periods of our history, and always
wan eminent success.
It ;j to bo found in tho fifth article pro-
viding lor its own amendment Undor
this ariiclo amendments havo been pro
posed by two-thirds of both houses of
Congress, aud havo been "ratified by tho
legislatures of three-fourths of tho several
States, ' and havo consequently becomo
parts of the Constitution. J'o this process
tho country is iudebted for tho clauso
prohibiting Congress from passing any law
respecting an establishment ot religion,
or abridging tho frcodom of speech or of
tho press, or of tho right of petition. To
this wo aro, also, indubted for the Rill of
Rights, which secures tho people against
any abuse of power by tho Federal Govern
ment. Such wore tho apprehensions just
ly entertained by tho friends of Stato
Rights at that period as to havo rendered
it extremely doubtful whether tho Consti
tution could havo long survived without
theso amendments.
Agaiu, tho Constitution was amended
by the samo process after tho election of
President Jefferson by tho House of Rep
resentatives, in February, 1S03. Th'u
amendment was rendered necessary to pre
vent a recurrence of tli3 dangers which
had seriously threatened tho cxistenco of
the Government during tho pendency of
that election. Tho article for its own
amendment was intended to securo tho
amicable adjustment of couflieting constitu
tional questions liko tho present, which
might arise between tho governments of
tho States aud that of the United States.
This appears from contemporaneous his
tory. In this connection, I shall merely call
attention to a few sentences in Mr. Madi
son's ju-tly celebrated report in 1700, to
tho legislature of Virginia. Iu this ho
ably and conclusively defended tho resolu
tions of tho preceding legislature against
the strictures of several ofher Stnta legis
latures. Theso were mainly founded upon
iho protest of the Virginia legislature
against (ho "Alien and Sedition Ac(s,'' as
"palpable and alarming iufracions of (ho
palpablo and alarming
In pointing out the peaceful and consti
tutional remedies, and he referred to nono
other, to which tho States wore authorized
to resort, on such occasions, ho concludes
i by saying, "that tho legislatures of tho
tution on tho tubject of slavery. This
might originate in Congress or the Stato
Legislatures, as may bo deemed most ad-
isable to attain the object. 1

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