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dition nevertheless that," which had been altered into "in full confidence that," and so the ratification was carried through, not in the best shape indeed, but unconditionally.
Do not these facts show that a right of secession was not one of those rights with which the American people entered into the Union.
The Kentucky and Virginia resolutions are not referred to by Dr. Palmer, but they have some bearing on his cause. They relate to the alien and sedition laws, those exceedingly odious measures of the dominant or federal party. The Virginia resolutions, of December, 1798, protest against these laws as unconstitutional, and express the hope that the other States will cooperate with Virginia “in maintaining unimpaired the authorities, rights, and liberties reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The coöperation here intended is declared by Mr. Madison to consist in "measures known to the Constitution, particularly the ordinary control of the people and legislatures of the States over the government of the United States,-which control, as the event showed, was equal to the occasion. The tenor of the debates discloses no reference whatever to a constitutional right in an individual State to arrest by force the operation of a law of the United States."* And yet the doctrine maintained by the advocates of these resolutions in regard to the concurrent interpreting power of the States, and of the Supreme Court, must, if we understand it, have brought the States into collision with the authorities of the Union.
The resolutions of Kentucky on the same subject, passed in November, 1798, and reaffirmed the next year, had for their basis a draft of resolutions prepared by Jefferson, which were thorough and violent enough to satisfy the most hotheaded partisan. Jefferson's draft says that "every State has a natural right, in cases not within the compact, to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power within their limits," and that the legislature doubts not that "each State will take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts nor
* Letter to Everett of August, 1830, in Niles's Register, vol. 43, Supplement. VOL. XIX. 48
any others of the General Government, not plainly nor intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories. The actual Kentucky resolutions follow Mr. Jefferson's draft, only taking out its eyeteeth; and both would introduce into our public law the view of the Union as a mere compact, as well as the power of a State to interpret the Constitution for itself against the decision of the Supreme Court, while remaining in the Union. But it is remarkable that in neither of these intemperate productions, dictated by the highest party zeal, is the right of a State to secede from the Union at all contemplated, although the principles avowed, if they had been sustained by the nation and reduced to practice, would have ended in the paralysis of the central government or the breaking up of the whole system.
But New England and the Federalists must be pressed into the service of secession. "The passage of the embargo act," says Dr. Palmer, "inflamed the New England States to the highest degree; so that on the floor of Congress it was declared, they were repining [qu. pining?] for a secession from the Union." As if what was said in the heat of debate, by a member of Congress, were of course true, or the act could be justified, because they were pining to do it. We presume that men, before now, have been "pining" or itching at least, to give other men a flogging, but were deterred by the consideration that it was not right. Of the Hartford Convention, Dr. Palmer thus speaks:
"In the Hartford Convention, at which five of the Eastern States were represented, the report which was adopted uses the following language: 'When ever it shall appear that the causes are radical and permanent, a separation by equitable arrangement will be preferable to an alliance by constraint among nominal friends, but real enemies, influenced by mutual hatred and jealousy,' etc. Again: In cases of deliberate, dangerous and palpable infractions of the Constitution, affecting the sovereignty of a State and the liberties of the people, it is not only the right, but the duty, of such a State to interpose its authority for their protection, in the manner best calculated to secure that end. When emergencies occur which are beyond the reach of the judicial tribunals, or too pressing to admit of the delay incident to their forms, States, which have no common umpire, must be their own judges, and execute their own decisions.' It is a little curious that these avowals of the right of secession should come from the very section which is most chargeable with begetting the present schism: and that the
very people now most ready to arm themselves for the coercion of the South could plead for an equitable and peaceful separation, so long as it was meditated by themselves. The infamy attaching to the Hartford Convention springs not from their exposition of political doctrine, but from the insufficiency of the cause impelling them to a breach of compact, and from the want of patriotism which could meditate such a step when the country was in the midst of war with a foreign enemy."
He must be a perverse reasoner who can argue from the first of the passages quoted that any right was claimed for one or more of the States to separate from the rest by a one-sided act. What is said is that separation of the States is better than union, whenever the causes of our calamities arising out of such union are deep and permanent.* And no forcible separation in such an extremity, but one by equitable arrangement between the parts of the country, is thought of.
So, too, the other citation contains nothing more than that a State may protect its citizens from unconstitutional acts of the General Government, or, as it is expressed in another passage of the same report, from acts "subjecting the militia or other citizens to forcible drafts, conscriptions, or impressments, not authorized by the Constitution of the United States." What is there here implying that a State may go out of the Union when it pleases, or may even set up its interpretation of the Constitution above that of the Supreme Court? Moreover, what was the Hartford Convention, and what did it recommend? It was the creature of three States, constituted-to quote the language of the act passed in Connecticut-" for the purpose of devising and recommending such measures for the safety and welfare of these States as may consist with our obligations as members of the national Union." So too the legislature of Rhode Island appointed delegates "to confer with delegates from other States, upon the best means of coöperating for our mutual defense against the enemy,"-Great Britain,-" and upon the measures which it may be in the power of said States, consistently with their obligations, to adopt, to restore and secure to the people thereof their rights and privileges under the Constitution of the United States." And in the same
* See the whole passage in Dwight's History of the Convention, p. 355.
strain, Massachusetts, where the plan of the Convention originated, and which is supposed to be the most thorough going and radical of the New England States, contemplates nothing worse than a revision of the Constitution of the Union. The letter written to the executive officers of the other States speaks of devising means of security and defense, "not repugnant to their obligations as members of the Union!" Lest jealousy of the objects of such a Convention should be awakened, the legis lature is content, continues the letter, to repose "upon the known attachment of its constituents to the national Union, and to the rights and independence of the country.'
With these professions both the report and secret journal of the Convention agree. In the report, besides certain proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States, it is recommended to the legislatures of the States represented in the Convention, to protect their citizens from forcible drafts, conscriptions and impressments, not authorized by the Constitution of the Union, to cause volunteer corps to be formed and armed for the purpose of securing their undefended coasts against the British, and to make an immediate application to the General Government for permission to assume the defense of their own territory, and to appropriate a portion of the taxes for this purpose. Such was the open action of the Convention: its secret journal contains no proposition which looks in the direction of disloyalty. And lest there should be thought to be a deeper secret, unrecorded on the pages of the secret journal, we have the evidence on oath, in a suit at law in 1831, of Roger M. Sherman, one of the members from Connecticut. "There was not," says he, "a single motion, resolution, or subject of debate, but what appears in the printed journal or report. I believe I knew their proceedings perfectly, and that every measure, done or proposed, has been published to the world."
We have been thus particular in correcting the mistakes of Dr. Palmer in this matter, because we have no disposition to allow the grave, stately matron of Federalism to be put by the side of the harlot of secession. A wife left without means of support by a selfish husband, has uttered before now some illadvised words looking to the possibility of separation; but a wife who shapes her theory of marriage with divorce in view,
who watches for long years until a convenient occasion for divorce arises, and who then breaks away without a bill or decree of Court, and marries another-such a wife "treacherously departeth" from her husband-she has the heart of a strumpet.
We add in regard to this Convention, that the strong condemnation of it through the country proceeded not more from a feeling that New England was disloyal to the country in the midst of war, than from a real, although most baseless, suspicion, that this secret body had projected a withdrawal of the States represented in it from the Union. The Hartford Convention gave in fact the coup de grace to Federalism, and for the reason just assigned. Nothing could more clearly show the feeling entertained at that time towards the right of a State or cluster of States to secede from the Union.
That feeling was still more marked, when, in 1832, South Carolina passed her ordinance of nullification, pronouncing certain tariff laws of the United States unconstitutional, null, and void; prohibiting the enforcement of them by any public officer within the bounds of the State; ordaining that no appeal should be taken in regard to the constitutionality of the ordinance from the Courts of the State to the Supreme Court of the Union; requiring all State officers and even jurors impanneled in any cause in which the ordinance should be drawn in question to take the oath to observe it, and declaring any act of obstruction to the commerce of the State or of coercion, on the part of the National Congress or Executive, a ground for withdrawal from the Union. The ordinance was passed by a vote of one hundred and thirty-six to twentysix. The shadow of this baleful thing had been cast upon the country some years before, but the great argument in the case of Webster versus Hayne, had for a time scattered it. It was now reserved for the most popular man in the country, above all at the South, by his vigorous measures, and his inculcation of sound political doctrine, to nullify nullification, so that it was rejected almost everywhere except in its birthplace. Let us be allowed to extract a passage or two from his proclamation relating to this ordinance. "I consider the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, in