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check, which will still further illustrate the nature of its operation. Among Exposition the various interests which exist under our complex system, that of large p„*!!° „
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and small states are among the most prominent and among the most care- 18'.J8. fully guarded in the organization of our government. To settle the re- v^-v-^»/ lative weight of the states in the system, and to secure to each the means of maintaining its proper political consequence in its operation, were amongst the most difficult duties in framing the Constitution. No one subject occupied greater space in the proceedings of the Convention. In its final adjustment, the large states had assigned to them a preponderating influence in the House of Representatives, by having there a weight proportioned to their members, but to compensate which, and to secure their political rights against this preponderance, the small states had an equality assigned them in the Senate, while, in the Constitution of the Executive branch, the two were blended. To secure the consequence allotted to each, as well as to insure due deliberation in legislation, a veto is allowed to each in the passage of bills; but it would be absurd to suppose, that this veto placed cither above the other; or was incompatible with the portum of the sovereign power allotted to the House, the Senate or the President.
It is thus that our system has provided appropriate checks, with a veto, to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution over the laws, and to preserve the due importance of the states, considered in reference to large and small, without creating discord or weakening the beneficent energy of the government; and so in the division of sovereign authority between the general and state governments, and in granting an efficient power to the latter, to protect by a veto the minor against the major interests of the community, the framers of the Constitution acted in strict conformity with the principle which invariably prevails throughout the whole system whenever separate interests exist. They were in truth no ordinary men. They were wise and practical men, enlightened by history and their own enlarged experience, acquired in conducting our country through a most important revolution; and understood profoundly the nature of man and of government. They saw and felt that there existed in our nature the necessity of a government, which to effect the object of government must have adequate powers. They saw the selfish predominate over the social feelings, and that without a government with such powers, universal conflict and anarchy must prevail among the component parts of society: but they also clearly saw, that our nature 'remaining unchanged by change of condition, that unchecked power, from this very predominance of the selfish over the social feeling, which rendered government necessary, would of necessity lead to corruption and oppression on the part of those invested with its exercise. Thus the necessity of government and of checks originate in the same great principle of our nature, through which the very selfishness, which would impel those who have power, to desire more than their own, will also, with great energy, impel those on whom power may operate to demand their own; and in the balance of these opposing tendencies from different conditions, but originating in the same principle of action, the one impelling to excess, the other restraining within the bounds of moderation and justice, liberty and happiness must forever depend. This great principle guided the framers of the Constitution in constructing our political system. There is not an opposing interest throughout the whole that is not counterpoised. Have the rulers a separate interest from the people 1 To check its abuse, the relation of representative and constituent is created between them, through periodical elections, by which the fidelity of rulers to their Exposition trusts is secured. Have the states as members of the Union, distinct Pbotest political interests in reference to their magnitude? Their relative weight 1828. is carefully settled, and each class has its appropriate moans, with a veto
.^■ntx^ to protect its political consequence. May there he a conflict between the Constitution and the laws, whereby the rights of citizens may be affected 1 To preserve the ascendency of the Constitution, a power is vested in the Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional in such cases. Is there in a geographical point of view separate interests? To meet this a peculiar organization is provided in the division of the sovereign power between the state and general governments 1 Is there danger growing out of this division, that the states may encroach on the general powers through the acts of their legislatures 'I To the Supreme Court is also assigned adequate power to check such encroachment. May the general government on the other hand encroach on the rights reserved to the states? To the states in their sovereign capacity is reserved the power to arrest such encroachment. And finally, may this power be abused by the states in interfering improperly with the powers delegated to the general government I There remains a still higher power created supreme over all, invested with the ultimate power over all interests, to enlarge, to modify or rescind at pleasure, whose interposition the majority may invoke and to oppose whose decision would be rebellion. On this the whole system rests. .
That there exists a case which would justify the interposition of this State, and thereby compel the general governmet to abandon an unconstitutional power, or to make an appeal to the amending power to confer it by express grant, the committee does not in the least doubt; and they are equally cleat in the existence of a necessity to justify its exercise, if the general government should continue to persist in its improper assumption of powers, belonging to the state; which brings them to the last point which they propose to consider. When would it be proper to exercise this high power1? If they were to judge only by the magnitude of the interest, and urgency of the case, they would, without hesitation, recommend the exercise of this power without delay. Hut they deeply feel the obligation of respect for the other members of the confederacy, and of great moderation and forbearance in the exercise, even of the most unquestionable light, between parties who stand connected by the closest and most sacred political union. With these sentiments, they deem it adviseable, after presenting the views of the Legislature in this solemn manner, to allow time for further consideration and reffection, in the hope that a returning sense of justice on the part of the majority, when they come to reffect on the wrongs which this and other staple States have suffered and are suffering, may repeal the obnoxious and unconstitutional acts, and thereby prevent the necessity of interposing the sovereign power of this State.
The Committee is further induced at this time to take this course, under the hope that the great political revolution which will displace from power on the 4th of March next, those who acquired authority by setting the will of the people at defiance, and which will bring in an eminent citizen, distinguished for his services to bis country, and his justice and patriotism, may be followed up under his influence with a complete restoration of the pure principles of our government.
But in thus recommending delay, the committee wish it to be distinctly understood, that neither doubts of the power of the State, nor apprehension of consequences, constitute the smallest part of their motives. They would be unworthy of the name of Freemen, of Americans, of Carolinians, if danger, however great, could cause them to shrink from Exposition the maintenance of their constitutional rights; but they deem it prepos- Protest. terous to anticipate danger, under a system of laws, where a sovereign 1828. party to the compact which formed the government, exercises a power, ^^-v^/ which after the fullest investigation, she conscientiously believes, belongs to her, under the guarantee of the Constitution itself, and which is essential to the preservation of her sovereignty.
The committee deem it not only the right of the state, but the duty of her representatives, under the solemn sanction of an oath, to interpose if no other remedy be applied. They interpret the oath to the Constitution, not simply to impose an obligation to abstain from violation, but if possible to prevent it in others. In their opinion, he is as guilty of violating that sacred instrument, who permits an infraction, when in his power to prevent it, as he who is actually guilty of the infraction. The one may be bolder and the other more timid, but the sense of duty must be equally weak in both.
With these views, the committee are solemnly of impression, if the system be persevered in after due forbearance on the part of the state, that it will be her sacred duty to interpose her veto; a duty to herself, to the Union, to present, and to future generations, and to the cause of liberty over the world, to arrest the progress of a power, which, if not arrested, must, in its consequences, corrupt the public morals, and destroy the liberty of the country.
To avert these calamities, to restore the Constitution to its original purity, and to allay the differences which have been unhappily produced between various states, and between the states and general government, we solemnly appeal to the justice and good feeling of those states heretofore opposed to us; and earnestly invoke the council and co-operation of those states similarly situated with our own. Not doubting their good will and support, and sustained by a deep sense of the righteousness of its cause— the committee trusts that under Divine Providence the exertions of the State will be crowned with success.•
*The Protest reported w ith this Exposition, is already given, Ante, page 244.
The preceding "Exposition" is inserted as being a Document of great historical interest. But although the report was read and ordered to be printed, it waS not adopted by the two Houses. Objections were made, that it contained tenets on which the legislature ought not to be committed. The refusal to give legislative sanction to any dubious position, was prudent: but from the high character of its presumed author, and the interest taken in it at the time, it seemed to the Editor a document in the history of the legislative proceedings of the day, well worth preserving. Edit.
Adopted Bv The Legislature Of The State Of Georgia, On The ResoLutions Of South Carolina And Ohio. Dec. 10, 1828.
ORDERED TO BE PRINTED IN THE PAMPHLET LAWS, REPORTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, AT DEC. SESSION, 1829.
(See Pamphlet Laws, Reports and Resolutions of 1829, p. 79.)
House of Representatives, December 10, 1828.
The Committee to whom was referred the Resolutions from the States of South Carolina and Ohio, have had the same under their consideration.
As the subjects ieforred involve questions of the deepest interest, touching the fundamental principles of the federal government, the sovereignty of the States, causes of complaint for infractions of the Constitution, and encroachments by the General Government upon State Rights, as well as the rights of the States to redress their wrongs, your committee have devoted their serious attention and grave consideration to the subject, which the magnitude and importance of the questions involved require. And from the view which your committee have given the subject, they concur in the sentiments and resolutions of the State of South Carolina upon most of the subjects involved in the discussion.
They entertain no doubt but that the Constitution of the United States is a federal compact, formed and adopted by the States as sovereign and independent communities.
The convention which formed and adopted the constitution, was composed of members elected and delegated by, and deriving immediate power and authority from the Legislatures of their respective States. Its ratification depended upon the Legislatures of the States, each reserving the right of assent or dissent without regard to population.
By the Articles of Confederation of 1778, which was a compact between the States, there was a special reservation of all rights of sovereignty and independence not thereby expressly delegated, which proves conclusively, that prior to entering into that compact, all the rights of sovereignty and independence belonged to the States, and were complete in them, and that they did not intend to divest themselves of any of those rights, except such as were expressly delegated.
In the constitution of 1787, the powers delegated are clearly defined and particularly enumerated. The amendment to the constitution is more explicit. It declares that the powers not delegated to the United States bv the Constitution, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the Georgia JL„la i J' Report.
The States were granting powers to the General Government, and as v^-v-^.
they enumerated the powers granted, it was useless, and would have
been superfluous, to have made special reservations. The affirmative
grant of powers enumerated, operates an exclusion of all powers not
The States, in forming the Constitution, treated with each other as sovereign and independent governments, expressly acknowledging their rights of sovereignty; and inasmuch as they divested themselves of those rights only which were expressly delegated, it follows as a legitimate consequence, that they are still sovereign and independent as to all the powers not granted.
The States respectively, therefore, have, in the opinion of your committee, the unquestionable right in case of any infraction of the general compact, or want of good faith in the performance of its obligations, to complain, remonstrate, and even to refuse obedience to any measure of the General Government manifestly against, and in violation of the constitution; and in short to seek redress of their wrongs by all the means rightfully exercised by a sovereign and independent government. Otherwise, the constitution might be violated with impunity and without redress, as often as the majority might think proper to transcend their powers, and the party injured bound to yield a submissive obedience to the measure, however unconstitutional. This would tend to annihilate all the sovereignty and independence of the States, and to consolidate all power in, the General Government; which never was designed nor intended by the framers of the constitution.
Your committee are also of opinion, that the acts of the General Government in providing for the general welfare, must be general in their operation, and promotive of the general good; not the advancement of the interest of any particular section or local interest, to the injury of another.
The term.general welfare, implies clearly, that the means used to obtain this end, must be general in their nature and tendency. Any measures, therefore, having for their object sectional advantages or local interests, to the prejudice of another portion of the community, cannot be general, and are therefore contrary to the letter and spirit of the constitution.
It is believed by your committee, therefore, that the tariff laws of the United States, so far as they have for their object the protection of a particular branch of labor to the injury of the commercial interest of the country, and of the agricultural interest of the Southern States, are unconstitutional.
For the same reason, Congress have not the right to appropriate the monies of the United States for the improvement or benefit of a particular section of the country, in which all the States would not have a common interest and equal benefit.
If Congress is invested with the right at all, she is invested to an unlimited and indefinite extent, and may exhaust the whole wealth and treasure of the Government in the promotion of the improvement and interest of particular sections of the country, to the injury of another. In fine, that she may make one portion of the country tributary to another—that she may tax the community to enrich or aggraudize a particular section, and make the general welfare yield to a particular interest. >