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This'exhibit, like that of 1787 of the same kind, will be found equally defective. The whole number of votes given, is not so great.in the first as in the second experiment— while in other respects it corroborates the reflections, and deductions derived from that, as to the formation of public opinion, or, as it is called, "the will of the people." As the people improve their intellectual faculties, and extend the sphere of their researches, and the acquisition of information to their true sources, public documents, and genuine history, so as to comprehend what they read, and to form just conceptions of public measures; they will then, and not till then, be free from the impositions of spurious politicians; the never failing productions of popular governments. The evils of which are to be borne, until the people, from the accumulation of knowledge, or the sad effects of experience, shall be willing to admit into the constitution of government, those real checks, which, founded on human nature, and having their existence in the very structure of society, demand a protection, in the legislature, for the rights of individual property, equal to its security, from legislative violence: which it is deliberately believed can never take place, until those who have it are invested with its guardianship, by a legislative veto. This, were the people willing, or perhaps, it should be said, "their demagogues;" to assign one branch of the legislature, do those who have property; making land, in some fixed quantity, so as nearly to divide population equally, the criterion; and the other, to those of the citizens, as at present qualified, to vote; might be done, to the benefit of all. Upon this plan, no man would be deprived of his equal right of suffrage—while the two great classes of the community, those with much and those with little or no property, with all the intermediate degrees, on the one side, and on the other, would have his own immediate interest under the representative care of those who from similarity of condition, feeling, and principle, would possess a common sympathy. Thus, each party as the senate, and house of representatives, invested with equal powers, and armed with redprocal negatives, would live in harmony; because they would each be free from apprehensions of encroachments, from the other. But if at any time a hostile essay should be attempted, the simple application of the "nay," would bring it to its end, innoxious.
It is believed, that this suggestion, springing from the most serious reflections, on the^cenes exhibited in the history of Kentucky, no less than in those of other countries, merits the most profound investigation. Will, it may be asked, men never profit by experience? Had they rather be miserable themselves; than consent to make others happy? Why should not citizens of the same republic, mutually improve the condition of each other? and thus enhance the value, of free government?
This history, in its progress, approaches a change in the constitution of the country, springing essentially from a cause inherent in democracy; it is the source of some virtues, and of great vices—it is a spirit of jealousy, commixed with envy, in the less informed, and less accommodated, portion of society, of those whom they view, and consider, as more fortunate, or better furnished, than themselves. It is not a spirit of improvement. Nor can any country realize its full resources, under its preponderance. Its tendency is to pull down, not to elevate—to deteriorate, not to improve.
But feeling no desire to be thought oracular, the narrative will be resumed.
The November session of 1798, commenced on the first Monday in the month—was rendered memorable, by its proceedings in relation to the general government. The two acts of congress already noticed, under the popular epithets of, alien and sedition laws, had been the subjects of much censure, misrepresentation, and even virulence. The object of the first was to give the president of the United States the control over suspected aliens—that of the latter, to suppress libels against the government, the president, either branch of the legislature; and combinations of seditious persons, &c.; things which more than any others, were directly opposed to the party views of the domestic enemies of the American administration. The agents of France were notorious, and active; while libelling the president and congress, were among the practised means of the party, for rendering them unpopular. Nothing could therefore give more umbrage, than laws adapted to suppress the influence of French emissaries, and printed falsehoods. The opposition was in proportion.
The governor of the commonwealth, in his communications to the legislative body, in adverting to these acts of congress, remarked that they had "created an uncommon agitation of mind among the citizens of the state." He then proceeded to denounce them as unconstitutional, and dangerous to public liberty; as if these consisted in the protection of foreign emissaries, the publications of falsehood, and combinations to break the peace!
On the 8th of the month, Mr. John Breckenridge, an influential member from Fayette, introduced into the house of representatives, a concatenation of resolutions, with no little ostentation, on the subject of these proscribed laws; as it were, to enlarge and elucidate the ideas of the governor. And as they were adopted by the general assembly, they are thought worthy of further observation. The first will be inserted— the rest merely referred to in gross.
"1st. Resolved, That the several states composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of, a constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government, for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each state to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact, each state acceded, as a state, and is an integral party; its co-states forming as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact, was* not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the constitution, the measure of its powers; but that as in all other cases of compact among parties having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions, as of the mode and measure of redress."
A few observations will be hazarded on the matters contained in this resolution, as is the course of this history, regarding truth, and reason, as their only guides.— The other seven, and an eighth, requiring the governor to send out copies to congress, and to the state legislatures, being equally wise, and occupying a proportionate space with the first, may be judged of by the laconick analysis, which their primary will receive. Of that it may be said, it is the summary of anti-federalism. It is a misconception of the facts, and a perversion of the principles on which the constitution of the United States was framed, and adopted* It is a theory of error,conducing to mischievous practice; which merits a check.
Among other things, deserving attention, and the first that will be particularly noticed, is, that the resolution asserts in effect, "that the constitution of the United States, was a compact between the states, as states, for special purposes." That the first part of this proposition is not true in fact, will appear from the declaration at the head of the constitution itself— which is, that, "We, the People of the United States," &c. concluding with, "do ordain and establish this constitution, for the United States of America." Denying also the latter part of the same proposition to be true, "that it were for special purposes the constitution was made." No: they were general purposes, requiring plenary sovereignty to carry them into effect. And to this purpose, the constitution, whether made by the states, or the people, amply provides, in declaring, "that congress shall have power, to make all laws whioh shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution, the fore, going powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department, or officer thereof." And in providing that "this constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." To this may be added, the requisition, that "the senators, and representatives, (in congress,) before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution."
One other clause only need be exhibited, to prove the utter futility of the proposition of Mr. Breckenridgc, under consideration. It follows:
"The judicial power (of the United States) shall extend to all cases inlaw and equity, arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made or which shall be made under their authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, or other public ministers, and consuls; to all cases of admiralty, and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party, to controversies between two or more states, between a state and citizens of another state, between citizens of different states, and between a state, or citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens, or subjects."
While to give at once, and in connexion, a more distinct view of the objects for which the government of the United States was instituted, recurrence will still be had to the constitution, and further quotations made; in order to shew the reader, a catalogue of the declared powers of congress—which in effect are so many renunciations of state powers—as well as a like catalogue of powers expressly prohibited to the states. Thus it is provided in the eighth section:
"The congress shall have power—
"1st. To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence, and general welfare of the United States: but all duties, imposts, and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States. Vol. u. . 1*