Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

of interests barely to pass it through the two houses of Congress, on the plain principle that the greater the number from whom the monopoly takes, and the fewer on whom it bestows, the greater is the advantage to the monopolists. Acting in this spirit, we have often seen with what exact precision they count: adding wool to woollens, associating lead and iron, feeling their way, until a bare majority is obtained, when the bill passes, connecting just as many interests as are sufficient to ensure its success, and no more. In a short time, however, we have invariably found that this lean becomes a decided majority, under the certain operation which compels individuals to desert the pursuits which the monopoly has rendered unprofitable, that they may participate in those pursuits which it has rendered profitable. It is against this dangerous and growing disease that South Carolina has acted; a disease whose cancerous action would soon have spread to every part of the system, if not arrested.

There is another powerful reason why the action of the State could not have been safely delayed. The public debt, as I have already stated, for all

practical purposes, has already been paid ; and, under the existing duties, a large annual surplus of many millions must come into the treasury. It is impossible to look at this state of things without seeing the most mischievous consequences; and, among others, if not speedily corrected, it would interpose powerful and almost insuperable obstacles to throwing off the burden under which the South has been so long labouring. The disposition of the surplus would become a subject of violent and corrupt struggle, and could not fail to rear up new and powerful interests in support of the existing system, not only in those sections which have been heretofore benefited by it, but even in the South itself. I cannot but trace to the anticipation of this state of the treasury the sudden and extraordinary movements which took place at the last session in the Virginia Legislature, in which the whole South is vitally interested.* It is impossible for any rational man

to believe that that State could seriously have thought of effecting the scheme to

* Having for their object the Emancipation and Colonization of Slaves.

which I allude by her own resources, without powerful aid from the General Government.

It is next objected that the enforcing acts have legislated the United States out of South Carolina. I have already replied to this objection on another occasion, and will now but repeat what I then said : that they have been legislated out only to the extent that they had no right to enter. The Constitution has admitted the jurisdiction of the United States within the limits of the several States only so far as the delegated powers authorize; beyond that they are intruders, and may rightfully be expelled; and that they have been efficiently expelled by the legislation of the State through her civil process, as has been acknowledged on all sides in the debate, is only a confirmation of the truth of the doctrine for which the majority in Carolina have contended.

The very point at issue between the two parties there, is, whether Nullification is a peaceable and an efficient remedy against an unconstitutional act of the General Government, and which may be asserted as such through the State tribunals. Both parties agree that the acts against which it

is directed are unconstitutional and oppressive. The controversy is only as to the means by which our citizens may be protected against the acknowledged encroachments on their rights. This being the point at issue between the parties, and the very object of the majority being an efficient protection of the citizens through the State tribunals, the measures adopted to enforce the ordinance of course received the most decisive character. We were not children to act by halves. Yet for acting thus efficiently the State is denounced, and this bill reported to overrule, by military force, the civil tribunals and civil process of the State ! Sir, I consider this bill, and the arguments which have been urged on this floor in its support, as the most triumphant acknowledgement that Nullification is peaceful and efficient, and so deeply intrenched in the principles of our system, that it cannot be assailed but by prostrating the Constitution, and substituting the supremacy of military force in lieu of the supremacy of the laws. In fact, the advocates of this bill refute their own argument. They tell us that the ordinance is unconstitutional; that they infract the Constitution of South Caro

lina, although to me, the objection appears absurd, as it was adopted by the very authority which adopted the Constitution itself. They also tell us that the Supreme Court is the appointed arbiter of all controversies between a State and the General Government. Why, then, do they not leave this controversy to that tribunal ? Why do they not confide to them the abrogation of the ordinance, and the laws made in pursuance of it, and the assertion of that supremacy which they claim for the laws of Congress ? The State stands pledged to resist no process of the court. Why, 'then, confer on the President the extensive and unlimited powers provided in this bill? Why authorize him to use military force to arrest the civil process of the State ? But one answer can be given : That, in a contest between the State and the General Government, if the resistance be limited on both sides to the civil process, the State, by its inherent sovereignty, standing upon its reserved powers, will prove too powerful in such a controversy, and must triumph over the Federal Government, sustained by its delegated and limited authority; and in this answer we have an acknow

« ZurückWeiter »