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GENERAL JACKSON ON THE RIGHT OF SECESSION.
pressed, I rely with equal confidence on your undivided support in my determination to execute the laws-to preserve the Union by all constitutional means to arrest, if possible, by moderate, but firm measures, the necessity of a recourse to force. And if it be the will of Heaven that the recurrence of its primeval curse on man for the shedding of a brother's blood should fall upon our land, that it be not called down by any offensive act of the United States.
"Fellow-citizens! the momentous case is before you. On your undivided support of your Government depends the decision of the great question it involves, whether your sacred Union will be preserved, and the blessing it secures to us as one people shall be perpetuated. No one can doubt that the unanimity with which that decision will be expressed will be such as to inspire new confidence in republican institutions, and that the prudence, the wisdom, and the courage which it will bring to their defense, will transmit them unimpaired and invigorated to our children.
May the great Ruler of nations grant, that the signal blessings with which He has favored ours may not, by the madness of party, or personal ambition, be disregarded and lost and may His wise providence bring those who have produced this crisis to see the folly, before they feel the misery, of civil strife; and inspire a returning veneration for that Union, which, if we may dare to penetrate His designs, He has chosen as the only means of attaining the high destinies to which we may reasonably aspire."
General Jackson's Special Message against Nullification" is equally decided and thorough in its hostility to the Calhoun heresy, under all its aspects, and dissects the Ordinance of Nullification, and the legislative acts based thereon, with signal ability and cogency. A single extract, bearing directly upon the alleged right of Secession, will here be given:
"The right of the people of a single State to absolve themselves at will, and without the consent of the other States, from their most solemn obligations, and hazard the liberties and happiness of the millions composing this Union, cannot be acknowledged. Such authority is believed to be utterly repugnant both to the principles upon which the General Government is constituted, and
to the objects which it was expressly formed to attain.
"Against all acts which may be alleged to transcend the constitutional power of Government, or which may be inconvenient or oppressive in their operation, the Constitution itself has prescribed the modes of redress. It is the attribute of free institutions that, under them, the empire of reason and law is substituted for the power of the sword. To no other source can appeals for supposed wrongs be made, consistently with the obligations of South Carolina; to no other can such appeals be made with safety at any time; and to their decisions, when constitutionally pronounced, it becomes the duty, no less of the public authorities than of the people, in every case to yield a patriotic submission.
"That a State, or any other great portion of the people, suffering under long and intolerable oppressions, and having tried all constitutional remedies without the hope of redress, may have a natural right, when their happiness can be no otherwise secured, and when they can do so without greater injury to others, to absolve themselves from their obligations to the Government, and appeal to the last resort, need not, on the present occasion, be denied.
"The existence of this right, however, must depend on the causes which justify its exercise. It is the ultima ratio, which presupposes that the proper appeals to all other means of redress have been made in good faith, and which can never be rightfully resorted to unless it be unavoidable. It is not the right of the State, but of the individIt is the right of mankind generally to seual, and of all the individuals in the State. cure, by all means in their power, the blessings of liberty and happiness; but when for these purposes any body of men have voluntarily associated themselves under any particular form of government, no portion of them can dissolve the association without acknowledging the correlative right in the remainder to decide whether that dissolution can be permitted consistently with the general happiness. In this view, it is a right dependent upon the power to enforce it. Such a right, though it may be admitted to preexist, and cannot be wholly surrendered, is necessarily subjected to limitations in all free governments, and in compacts of all kinds, freely and voluntarily entered into, and in which the interest and welfare of the individual become identified with those of the community of which he is a member. In compacts between individuals, however deeply they may affect their relations, these principles are acknowledged to create a
20 January 16, 1833.
sacred obligation; and in compacts of civil government, involving the liberty and happiness of millions of mankind, the obligation cannot be less."
| few months which followed a most vigorous and determined struggle to defeat his re-election.
At the South, the case was somewhat different, though in every State South Carolina, of course, except
The unanimity and enthusiasm, with which the people of the Free States responded to these downright manifestations of a purpose to pre-ed-the President's course was ap proved by a decided majority. The great mass of the voting population of nearly all these States had just given General Jackson their suffrages for the second or third time-they had long enough been told that he was a despot, an usurper, a tyrant, etc., without believing it; and they were little inclined to repudiate in a moment the convictions and the associations of a lifetime. In Virginia alone was there any official exhibition of sympathy with South Carolina in her self-invoked peril; and she sent a commissioner to that State rather to indicate her fraternal regard than to proffer any substantial assistance.
serve at all hazards the integrity of the Union, are still freshly remembered. Those States had just been convulsed by a Presidential contest, wherein their people were about equally divided into zealous advocates and equally zealous opponents of General Jackson's re-election. Though his triumph had been overwhelming, so far as the choice of Electors was concerned, the popular majorities, whereby those electors were chosen, were very meager in several of the States, including New York, Ohio, and New Jersey; while the majorities against him in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Kentucky, were heavy. But the States which had opposed his re-election, the citizens who had deprecated it as confirming and renewing a lease of virtually absolute power in hands too prone to stretch Authority and Prerogative to the utmost, now vied with their late antagonists in pledging devotion and support to the elected chief of the Republic in his efforts to preserve its unity and vitality. Great public meetings were held in the principal cities to give formal and influential expression to the sentiment; the Press, all but unanimously, echoed and stimulated the popular plaudits; and General Jackson was never be fore nor afterward so strong throughout the Free States, as during the
There was some windy talk of opposing by force the passage of a Federal army southward through the Old Dominion on an errand of " subjuga tion;" and her Governor," in his annual Message, said something implying such a purpose. Ex-Governor Troup, of Georgia, and a few other doctrinaires of the extreme State Rights school, muttered some words of sympathy with the Nullifiers, about to be crushed under the iron heel of Federal power-some vague protest against Consolidation; but that was all. Had it become necessary to call for volunteers to assert and maintain the National authority on the soil of the perverse State, they would doubtless have offered themselves by thousands from nearly or quite
21 Benjamin Watkins Leigh.
"9 John Floyd, father of the late John B. Floyd, Mr. Buchanan's Secretary of War.
MR. CLAY'S TARIFF COMPROMISE.
every Southern as well as Northern | the convictions of a majority of the State. members, which would whelm them But it did not become necessary. in one common ruin. Finally", Mr. Congress in due time took up the Clay was induced to submit his ComTariff, with a view to its revision and promise Tariff, whereby one-tenth of reduction. The Jacksonian ascend- the excess over twenty per cent. of ency was decided in every depart- each and every existing impost was ment of the Government. Andrew to be taken off at the close of that Stevenson (anti-Tariff), of Virginia, year; another tenth two years therewas Speaker of the House, Gulian C. after; so proceeding until the 31st Verplanck (anti-Tariff) was Chair- of June, 1842, when all duties should man of its Committee of Ways and be reduced to a maximum of twenty Means, whence a bill containing per cent. This Compromise Tariff, sweeping reductions and equaliza- being accepted and supported by tions of duties was, at an early Mr. Calhoun and the Nullifiers, was period of the session, reported; and, offered in the House, as a substitute though no conclusive action was had for Mr. Verplanck's bill, by Mr. on this measure, the mere fact of Letcher, of Kentucky (Mr. Clay's imits introduction was seized upon by mediate representative and devoted the Nullifiers as an excuse for recoil- friend), on the 25th of February; ing from the perilous position they adopted and passed at once by a had so recklessly assumed. A few vote of 119 to 85; agreed to by the days before the 1st of February, the Senate; and became a law in the Nullifying chiefs met at Charleston, last hours of the session: General and gravely resolved that, inasmuch Jackson, though he openly condemned as measures were then pending in it as an unwise and untimely concesCongress which contemplated such sion to rampant treason, not choosreductions of duties on imports as ing to take the responsibility of vetoSouth Carolina demanded, the exe- ing, nor even of pocketing it, as he cution of the Nullifying Ordinance, clearly might have done. South Carand of course of all legislative acts olina thereupon abandoned her Ordisubsidiary thereto, should be post-nance and attitude of Nullification; poned till after the adjournment of and the storm that lowered so black that body! and imminent suddenly gave place But Mr. Verplanck's bill" made to a sunny and smiling calm. such slow progress that its passage, even at the last moment, seemed exceedingly doubtful. Mr. Webster forcibly urged that no concession should be made to South Carolina until she should have abandoned her treasonable attitude. The manufacturers beset the Capitol in crowds, remonstrating against legislation under duress, in defiance of the public interest and
But General Jackson was deeply dissatisfied, and with reason. He saw in this easy accommodation the seeds of future perils and calamities. He insisted that Calhoun was a traitor; and to the end of his days regretted that he had not promptly arrested and tried him as such. He denied that dissatisfaction with the Protective policy was the real incite
Reported December 28th.
24 February 12, 1833.
Carolinian's attempt at practical Nullification. "The Tariff," he wrote in 1834, to an intimate friend in Georgia, "was but a pretext. The next will be the Slavery or Negro question."
ment to the ambitious and restless | tiated by Henry Knox, Secretary of War, "being authorized thereto by the President of the United States." A further treaty, negotiated in 1798, under John Adams, recognized and ratified afresh all the obligations incurred, the guaranties given, by former treaties. Such stipulations continued to be made, at least down to 1817, when one was negotiated on our part by Andrew Jackson and others, again renewing and confirming to the Cherokees all former stipulations and guaranties.
Still more: when, in 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was negotiated, whereby the war of 1812 with Great Britain was terminated, the British commissioners long and fairly insisted on including her Aboriginal allies in that war in the provisions and stipulations of the treaty, especially that which exacted a mutual restoration of all territories or places taken by one party from the other during the preceding contest. Our commissioners naturally demurred to this, preferring to insert an article which set forth the humane and benevolent principles whereby (as it alleged) our Government regulates its conduct toward the Indian tribes within our borders.25 And Mr. Clay, one of the negotiators of that treaty, declared, in his speech on the Cherokee Grievances in 1835, that the British commissioners would never have been satisfied with this, if they had understood that those tribes
But while Nullification was thus sternly crushed out in South Carolina, it was simultaneously allowed a complete triumph in the adjoining State of Georgia. The circumstances were briefly as follows:
The once powerful and warlike Aboriginal tribes known to us as "Cherokees" and "Creeks," originally possessed respectively large territories, which are now included within the States of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. With those tribes, treaties were from time to time made by our Government, whereof each had for its main object the transfer, for a specified consideration, of lands by the Indians to the United States. One of the conditions on which we sought and obtained those lands was thus succinctly expressed in the treaty with the Cherokees negotiated on the bank of the Holston, in 1791, under the Presidency of Washington:
“ARTICLE 7. The United States solemnly GUARANTY to the Cherokee Nation all their lands not hereby ceded."
The stipulations of this treaty were recognized, and their validity confirmed by the treaty of 1794, nego
25 The following is that portion of the Treaty of Ghent relating to the Indians:
the possessions, rights, and privileges, which they may have enjoyed or been entitled to in one thousand eight hundred and eleven, previ "Article the Ninth. The United States of ous to such hostilities. Provided always, That America engage to put an end, immediately such tribes or nations shall agree to desist from after the ratification of the present treaty, to all hostilities against the United States of hostilities with all the tribes or nations of In-America, their citizens and subjects, upon the dians with whom they may be at war at the ratification of the present treaty being notified time of such ratification; and forthwith to re- to such tribes or nations, and shall so desist store to such tribes or nations, respectively, all accordingly."
GEORGIA AND THE INDIANS.
held their rights and possessions guaranteed to them by Federal treaties subject to the good-will and pleasure of the several States, or any of them. In 1802, Georgia ceded, on certain conditions, her western territory, now composing the States of Alabama and Mississippi, to the Union. Among these conditions, our Government undertook to extinguish the Indian title to all lands within the boundaries of the State as thereby constituted, so soon as this could be effected "peaceably and on reasonable terms." 26 And this object was urgently, perseveringly, and not always honorably, pursued. In February, 1825, just as Mr. Monroe's Administration was passing away, certain commissioners, selected by Mr. Calhoun, then Secretary of War, attempted to obtain from the Creeks, at a council held at Indian Springs, a cession of their lands; but were baffled by the stern resolve of chiefs and people the tribe having previously prescribed the penalty of death for any one who should make such sale. Thus defeated, the commissioners resorted to a too common practice: they bribed an inconsiderable minority of the Creeks, including one or two alleged chiefs, to give their formal assent to such an instrument as they desired. This sham treaty was hurried to Washington, and forced through the expiring Senate on the last day of the session, before its true character
103 could be generally known. The Creeks, upon learning that such a pretended treaty had been made, held a general council, wherein it was formally disavowed and denounced, and a party was at once dispatched to the home of McIntosh, a chief who had signed the fraud, to execute the sentence of the law upon him. McIntosh and another principal signer were shot dead on sight, and due notice given that the pretended treaty was utterly repudiated.
Governor Troup, of Georgia, of course assumed the validity of the instrument, and prepared to take forcible possession of the Creek lands. The Creeks appealed to the Government, demanding the enforcement of the treaties whereby they were guaranteed protection in the peaceable enjoyment of their clearly defined territorial possessions. Mr. Adams, who had now succeeded to the Presidency, looked fully into the matter, saw that their claim was just, and assured them that they should be defended. Governor Troup threatened to employ force; Mr. Adams did employ it. He ordered General Gaines, with a body of regulars, to the scene of apprehended conflict, and gave Georgia fair notice that she must behave herself. The Governor talked loudly, but did not see fit to proceed from words to blows. The Indian Springs fraud proved abortive; but Georgia and her backers scored up a heavy account against
The following is the entire article:
"Fourthly, That the United States shall, at their own expense, extinguish, for the use of Georgia, as early as the same can be peaceably obtained, on reasonable terms, the Indian title to the country of Talassee, to the lands left out by the line drawn with the Creeks, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, which had been previously granted by the State of
Georgia, both which tracts had formally been yielded by the Indians; and to the lands within the forks of the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers; for which several objects, the President of the United States has directed that a treaty should be immediately held with the Creeks; and that the United States shall, in the same manner, also extinguish the Indian title to all other lands within the State of Georgia."-American State Papers, vol. xvi., p. 114.