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first breath of dissatisfaction? Was this self-destroying, visionary theory, the work of the profound statesmen, the exalted patriots, to whom the task of constitutional reform was intrusted ? Did the name of Washington sanction, did the States deliberately ratify such an anamoly in the history of fundamental legislation ? No. We were not niistaken. The letter of this great instrument is free from this radical fault; its language directly contradicts the imputation; its spirit--its evident intent, contradicts it. No, we did not err! Our Constitution does not contain the absurdity of giving power to make laws, and another power to resist them. The sages whose memory will always be reverenced, have given us a practical, and, as they hoped, a permanent constitutional compact. The Father of his Country did not affix his revered name to so palpable an absurdity. Nor did the States, when they severally ratified it, do so under the impression that a veto on the laws of the United States, was reserved to them, or that they could exercise it by implication. Search the debates in all their conventions, examine the speeches of the most zealous opposers of federal authority, look at the amendments that were proposed; they are all silent-not a syllable uttered, not a vote given, not a motion made, to correct the explicit supremacy given to the laws of the Union over those of the States, or to show that implication, as is now contended, could defeat it. No, we have not erred ! The Constitution is still the object of our reverence, the bond of our Union, our defense in danger, the souroe of our prosperity in peace; it shall descend as we received it, uncorrupted, by sophistical construction, to our posterity, and the sacrifices of local interest, of State prejudices, of personal animosities, that were made to bring it into existence, will again be patriotically offered for its support.
*The two remaining objections made by the ordinance to these laws, are that the sums intended to be raised by them are greater than are required, and that the proceeds will be unconstitutionally employed.
The Constitution has given, expressly, to Congress the right of raising revenue, and of determining the sum the public exigencies will require. The States have no control over the exercise of this right, other than that which results from the power of changing the representatives who abuse it, and thus procure redress. Congress may, undoubtedly, abuse this discretionary power; but the same may be said of others with which they are vested. Yet this discretion must exist somewhere. The Constitu-tion has given it to the representatives of all the people, checked by the representatives of the States and by the executive power. The South Carolina construction gives it to the legislature or the convention of a single State, where neither the people of the different States, nor the States in their separate capacity, nor the chief magistrate elected by the people, have any representation. Which is the most discreet disposition of the power? I do not ask you, fellow-citizens, which is the constitutional disposition; that instrument speaks a language not to be misunderstood. But if you were assembled in general convention, which would you think the safest depository of this discretionary power in the last resort? Would you add a clause giving it to each of the States, or would you sanction the wise provisions already made by your Constitution ? If this should be the result of your deliberations when providing for the future, are you, can you be ready to risk all that we hold dear to establish, for a temporary and a local purpose, that which you must acknowledge to be destructive, and even absurd, as a general provision? Carry out the consequences of this right vested in the different States, and you must perceive that the crisis your conduct presents at this day would recur whenever any law of the United States displeased any of the States, and that we should soon cease to be a nation.
The ordinance, with the same knowledge of the future that characterizes a former objection, tells you that the proceeds of the tax will be unconstitutionally applied. If this could be ascertained with certainty, the objection would, with more propriety, be reserved for the law so applying the proceeds, but surely can not be urged against the laws levying the duty.
These are the allegations contained in the ordinance. Examine them seriously, my fellow-citizens; judge for your
selves. I appeal to you to determine whether they are so clear, so convincing, as to leave no doubt of their correctness; and even if you should come to this conclusion, how far they justify the reckless, destructive course which you are directed to pursue. Review these objections, and the conclusions drawn from them, once more. What are they? Every law, then, for raising revenue, according to the South Carolina ordinance, may be rightfully annulled, unless it be so framed as no law ever will or can be framed. Congress has the right to pass laws for raising a revenue, and each State has a right to oppose their execution—two rights directly opposed to each other; and yet is this absurdity supposed to be contained in an instrument drawn for the express purpose of avoiding collisions between the States and the General Government, by an assembly of the most enlightened statesmen and purest patriots ever embodied for a similar purpose.
In vain have these sages declared that Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises; in vain have they provided that they shall have power to pass laws which shall be necessary
proper to carry powers into execution; that those laws and that Constitution shall be the “supreme law of the land, and that the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” In vain have the people of the severai States solemnly sanctified these provisions, made them their paramount law, and individually sworn to support them whenever they were called on to execute any office. Vain provision! ineffectual restrictions! vile profanation of oaths! miserable mockery of legislation! if the bare majority of the voters in any one State may, on a real or supposed knowledge of the intent with which a law has been passed, declare themselves free from its operation-say here it gives too little, there too much, and operates unequally-here it suffers articles to be free that ought to be taxed-there it taxes those that ought to be free—in this case the proceeds are intended to be applied to purposes which we do not approve-in that the amount raised is more than is wanted. Congress, it is true, is invested by the Constitution with
the right of deciding these questions according to their sound discretion; Congress is composed of the representatives of all the States, and of all the people of all the States; but we, part of the people of one State, to whom the Constitution has given no power on the subject, from whom it has expressly taken it away-we, who have solemnly agreed that this Constitution shall be our law-we, most of whom have sworu to support it—we now abrogate this law, and swear, and force others to swear that it shall not be obeyed; and we do this, not because Congress have no right to pass such laws--this we do not allege--but because they have passed them with improper views. They are unconstitutional from the motives of those who passed them, which we can never with certainty know; from their unequal operation, although it is impossible, from the nature of things, that they should be equal; and from the disposition which we presume may be made of their proceeds, although that disposition has not been declared. This is the plain meaning of the ordinance, in relation to laws which it abrogates for alleged unconstitutionality. But it does not stop there. It repeals, in express terms, an important part of the Constitution itself, and of laws passed to give it effect, which have never been alleged to be unconstitutional. The Constitution declares that the judicial powers of the United States extend to cases arising under the laws of the United States; and that such laws, the Constitution and treaties, shall be paramount to the State Constitutions and laws. The judiciary act prescribes the mode by which the case may be brought before a court of the United States by appeal, when a State tribunal shall decide against this provision of the Constitution. The ordinance declares that there shall be po appeal, makes the State law paramount to the Constitution and laws of the United States, forces judges and jurors to swear that they will disregard their provisions, and even makes it penal in a suit to attempt relief by appeal. It further declares that it shall not be lawful for the authorities of the United States, or of that State, to enforce the payment of duties imposed by the revenue laws within its limits.
Here is a law of the United States, not even pretended to be unconstitutional, repealed by the authority of a small majority of the voters of a single State. Here is a provision of the Constitution, which is solemnly abrogated by the same authority.
On such expositions and reasonings, the ordinance grounds not only au assertion of the right to annul the laws, of which it complains, but to enforce it by a threat of seceding from the Union, if any attempt is made to execute tl.:m.
This right to secede is deduced from the nature of the Constitution, which they say is a compact between sovereign States, who have preserved their whole sovereignty, and therefore are subject to no superior; that because they made the compact, they can break it, when, in their opinion, it has been departed from by other States. Fallacious as this course of reasoning is, it enlists State pride, and finds ad. vocates in the honest prejudices of those who have not studied the nature of our government sufficiently to see the radical error on which it rests.
The people of the United States formed the Constitution, acting through the State Legislatures in forming the compact, to meet and discuss its provisions, and acting in separate conventions when they ratified those provisions ; but the terms used in its construction show it to be a government in which the people of all the States collectively are represented. We are one people in the choice of President and Vice-President. Here the States have no other agency than to direct the mode in which the votes shall be given.
The candidates having a majority of all the votes are chosen. The electors of a majority of States may have given their votes for one candidate, and yet another may be chosen. The people, then, and not the States, are represented in the executive branch.
In the House of Representatives there is this difference: that the people of one State do not, as in the case of President and Vice-President, all vote for the same officers. The people of all the States do not vote for all the members, each State electing only its own Representatives. But this creates no national distinction. When chosen, they are all Representatives of the United States, pot representatives of the particular State from whence