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'N HOM'S

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

both judges and jurors being sworn to decide in its favor. But reasoning on this subject is superfluous, when our social compact, in express terms, declares that the laws of the United States, its Constitution, and treaties made under it, are the supreme law of the land; and, for the greater caution, adds " that the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." And it may be asserted, without fear of refutation, that no Federal Government could exist without a similar provision. Look for a moment to the consequence. If South Carolina considers the revenues unconstitutional, and has a right to prevent their execution in the port of Charleston, there would be a clear constitutional objection to their collection in every other port, and uo revenue could be collected anywhere; for all imposts must be equal. It is no answer to repeat, that an unconstitutional law is no law, so long as the question of its legality is to be decided by the State itself; for every law operating injuriously upon any local interest will be, perhaps, thought, and certainly represented, as unconstitutional; and, as has been shown, there is no appeal.

If this doctrine had been established at an earlier day, the Union would have been dissolved in its infancy. The excise law in Pennsylvania, the embargo and non-intercourse law in the eastern States, the carriage tax in Virginia, were all deemed unconstitutional, and were more unequal in their operation than any of the laws now complained of; but fortunately none of those States discovered that they had the right now claimed by South Carolina. The war into which we were forced to support the dignity of the nation and the rights of our citizens, might have ended in defeat and disgrace instead of victory and honor, if the States who supposed it a ruinous and unconstitutional measure, had thought they possessed the right of nullifying the act by which it was declared, and denying supplies for its prosecution. Hardly and unequally as those measures bore upon several members of the Union, to the legislatures of none did this efficient and peaceable remedy, as it is called, suggest itself. The discovery of this important feature in our Coustitution was reserved to the present day. To the statesmen of South

Carolina belongs the invention, and upon the citizens of that State will unfortunately fall the evils of reducing it to practice.

If the doctrine of a State veto upon the laws of the Union carries with it internal cvidence of its impracticable absurdity, our constitutional history will also afford abundant proof that it would have been repudiated with indignation had it been proposed to form a feature in our Government.

In our colonial state, although dependent on another power, we very early considered ourselves as connected by common interest with each other. Leagues were formed for common defense, and, before the Declaration of Independence, we were known in our aggregate character as the United Colonies of America. That decisive and important step was taken jointly. We declared ourselves a nation by a joint, not by several acts, and when the terms of our Coutederation were reduced to form, it was that of a solemn league of several States. by which they agreed that they would collectively forin one nation for the purpose of conducting some certain dowestic concerns and all foreign relations. In the instrument forming that Union is found an article which declares that every State shall abide by the determination of Congress ou all questions which, by that Confederation, should be submitted to them.'

Under the Confederation, then, no State could legally annul a decision of the Cougress, or refuse to submit to its executiou ; but no provision was made to enforce these decisions. Congress made requisitious, but they were not complied with. The Government could not operate on individuals. They had no judiciary, no means of collecting

revenue

But the defects of the Confederation need not be detailed. Under its operation we could scarcely be called a nation. We had neither prosperity at home nor consideration abroad. This state of things could not be endured, and our present happy Constitution was formed, but formed in vain, if this fatal doctrine prevails. It was formed for important objects that are announced in the preamble made

in the name and by the authority of the people of the United States, whose delegates framed, and whose conventions approved it. The most important among those objects, that which is placed first in rank, on which all others rest, is, “to form a more perfect Union.” Now, is it possible that even if there were no express provision giving supremacy to the Constitution and laws of the Ŭnited States—can it be conceived, that an instrument made for the purpose of “forming a more perfect Union" than that of the Confederation, could be so constructed by the assembled wisdom of our country as to substitute for that Confederation a form of government dependent for its existence on the local interest, the party spirit of a State, or of a prevailing faction in a State? Every man of plain, unsophisticated understanding, who hears the question, will give such an answer as will preserve the Union. Metaphysical subtlety, in pursuit of an impracticable theory, could alone have devised one that is calculated to destroy it.

I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by ove State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the (oustitution, unauthorized by its spirit, incoosistent with every principle ou which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.

After this yeneral view of the leading principle, we must examine the particular application of it which is made in the ordinance.

The preamble rests its justification on these grounds: It assumes, as a fact, that the obnoxious laws, although they purport to be laws for raising revenue, were in reality iutended for the protection of manufactures, which purpose it asserts to be unconstitutional; that the operation of these laws is unequal; that the amount raised by them is greater thau is required by the wants of the Goverumeut; aud, finally, that the proceeds are to be applied to objects unauthorized by the Coustitution. These are the only causes alleged to justify an open opposition to the laws of the country, and a threat of seceding from the Union, if any attempt should be made to euforce them. The first virtually acknowledges that the law in question was passed

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