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Report President has marked out for himself. Whether the occasion was a fit Resolutions. one for denunciation of his fellow-citizens, or the official avowal of his 1831. course of action upon what all must admit to be the highest and most v-^'v^k-' responsible of his functions, was of course a matter for his own consideration, and can afford no light in determining the character of the act. The committee, therefore, cannot but regard it as the annunciation to the world by the President of the United States, that there is a plan of disorganization existing in South Carolina, against which, as chief executive of the United States, he has resolved to present an unsurmountable barrier.
If there be a plan of disorganization within the State of South Carolina, known to the President of the United States, it would seem to be within the scope of his high and sacred duties, to inform the constituted authorities of this State, of its nature and extent, and lay before them the testimony to convict the disorganizes. It is not less the high and sacred duty of the constituted authorities of the State, than of the President of the United States, to interpose an "insurmountable barrier," against whatever endangers the existence of the government. Nor is it to be presumed that any department of this government, either legislative, judicial or executive, would be less sensible to the influence of those duties, than the corresponding department of the General Government. But if the President alludes, as the committee do not doubt he does, either to the public avowal and discussion of certain constitutional principles, or to the proposed action of this government upon them, it becomes a serious question, whether this interference of the President does not lead more directly to disorganization than the plan which he denounces.
The Constitution of the United States guarantees to the citizen, freedom of speech and of the press. Whatever opinions he may choose to entertain he may dare to express. Error of opinion, said Mr. Jefferson, may be tolerated, when reason is left free to combat it.
When one of the earlier Presidents supposed that he had detected a plan of disorganization in the unrestrained freedom of speech and the presS—he procured from a subservient Congress a law to assist him in the exercise of his high and sacred duties—but both he and the law were swept away by the indignation of the country. Those who have once experienced the benefits of free discussion will never consent to forego them. It is the tenure by which free principles are held, and is dangerous only to tyrants. Under a form of government certainly not so free as our own, upon a recent occasion, an attempt of the executive to check the freedom of discussion, hurled him from his throne and brought his advisers and agents, as culprits to a public trial. The citizens of this country will not consent to be driven from ' this high privilege by threats or force. Even if their purpose be to effect a change or abolition of the government, by means of public opinion, they may safely do so under the fundamental maxim, that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish a government when it is destructive of the ends for which it is created, and no high and sacred duties of any public functionary can rightfully interpose.
No written form of government can be devised which may not be liable to various constructions; no free government can exist without party differences. Hitherto the wise and patriotic men who have administered the general government, have been careful—as well from a sense of official dignity as from the more important consideration of the dangerous weight of official authority—not to mingle in the party contests of the citizens. It is not only calculated to excite regret, but other feelings, which the committee will not trust itself to express, that the State of Report South Carolina has been selected for the first instance of this unau- Rebolutioi thorized intrusion; as the first example of an attempt to close political 1831. discussion by the terror of executive power; or to throw into the scale ^^-v-^» of party the weight of the executive sword. While as a member of this confederacy, and anxious for the dignity of its chief executive, the State of South Carolina cannot but regret every occurrence which may degrade that dignity; yet her feelings are of a sterner and deeper character; when her citizens within her own jurisdiction, in the exercise of unquestionable constitutional rights, are denounced as disorganizes, and threatened with military interference. Whatever emotions, however, there may be, they are not those of terror ; ours is a government of law and not of force—of opinion, not of will. In the absolute supremacy of the law, we know that a President or-a private citizen is equally amenable to its tribunal, and that a threat from either against the other, is of equal validity.
If, however, the allusion of the President be not to the public discussion of opinions differing from his own, then it must be to a proposed course of legislative action, which he denounces as a plan of disorganization. In this view of the Presidents letter, the legislature has to consider, not an invasion of the rights of the citizens merely, but an attempt to fetter its own freedom of action.
The committee finds it difficult to find language at once suitable to the occasion and the dignity of this House.
Is this legislature to be schooled and rated by the President of the United States?
Is it to legislate under the sword of the Commander-in-Chief!
Is the will of one man to be substituted for deliberation—and the enactments of this body to be fashioned by an edict from a President, not only avowing a right to annul a law when passed, but practically assuming the right to interpose while it is yet under discussion 1 The executive of a most limited government; the agent of an agency, but a part of a creature of the states, undertakes to prescribe a line of conduct to a free and sovereign State, under a denunciation of pains and penalties. It cannot but be esteemed a signal instance of forbearance, calmly to enquire into this assumed power of the President over the States. Under no part of the Constitution, or penal law of Congress, known to the Committee, is the crime of disorganization recognized or made punishable. It is to be lamented, that in denouncing a crime and threatening punishment, the President had not used terms of more definite import.
If by the vague generality of the word disorganization, be intended, as the context may perhaps indicate, that a plan of disunion existed in this State, it will be equally difficult to fix upon any constitutional or legal authority, or any thing in the nature of our institutions, which imposes any duty or grants any power to the President to prevent it. This is a confederacy of sovereign States, and each may withdraw from the confederacy whenever it chooses; such proceedings would neither be treason nor insurrection nor a violation of any portion of the Constitution. It is a right which is inherent in a sovereign State, and has not been delegated by the States of this Union. Whether assuming such an attitude might be cause of war on the part of the general government, may be, questioned,' but there can be no question that the President could not declare war. But the Committee deem it unnecessary to discuss a mere hypothetical question, the possible occurrence of which, if the President
Report nas contemplated it, is the result of his entire ignorance of the feelings Risolutions. and purposes of this State.
1831. No one denies that it is his right and duty to see that the laws of the
v^-v^' United States are faithfully executed, and no portion of the Union will be more prompt to recognize the right, or to sustain and assist him in the duty, than the State of South Carolina—but at the same time, if in the deliberate judgment of the State, acting in her sovereign capacity, any enactment in Congress is decided to be in violation of the constitution, and therefore not law—that judgment is paramount; and if the executive, or all the combined departments of the General Government, endeavour to inforce such enactment, it is by the law of tyrants, the exertion of brute force. If such a case should occur, which we pray a wise providence to avert, the State will throw herself on the protection of that providence, and if her destiny be slavery, she will not be mocked by the forms of a free government.
Resolved, That the letter of the President of the United States, to sundry citizens of this State, is an unauthorized interference in the affairs of this State: that the principles advanced in it are incompatible with the constitution, and subversive of the rights of the State—that the threatened course of executive conduct would, if acted upon, destroy the liberties of this country, and as a threat, is of dangerous precedent, highly repulsive to the feelings of a free people.
Resolved, That whilst we condemn the conduct of the President of the United States, when he is in error, we are willing to approve it, when, in our opinion, he is right; and that we regard with high gratification the sentiment expressed in his late message, that the Tariff ought to be reduced to the wants of the Government, and recognize in it the just response to the solemn resolutions of this Legislature.
Resolved, That the House do agree to the report. Ordered that it be sent to the senate for concurrence.
By order of the House, R. ANDERSON, C. H. R.
In the Senate, December 17, 1831. Resolved, That the Senate do concur. Ordered to be returned to the House.
By order of the Senate, JACOB WARLEY, C. S.
DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE CONVENTION.
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE CALLING OF A CONVENTION OF THE PEOPLE
OF THIS STATE.
Whereas, the Congress of the United States hath, on divers occasions, enacted laws laying duties and imports, for the purpose of encouraging and protecting domestic or American manufactures, and for other unwarrantable purposes; which laws, in the opinion of the good people of this State, and the Legislature thereof, are unauthorized by the Constitution of the United States, and are an infringement of the rights reserved to the States respectively, and operate to the grievous injury and oppression of the citizens of South Carolina: And whereas, to the State, assembled in Convention, it belongs to determine the character of such acts, as well as the nature and extent of the evil, and the mode and measure of redress.
Section 1. Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State. of South Carolina, now met and sitting in General Asscmbly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority (if the same, That a Convention of the People of the said State shall be assembled at Columbia, on the third Monday in November next, then and there to take into consideration the several acts of the Congress of the United States, imposing duties on foreign imports, for the protection of Domestic Manufactures, or for other unauthorized objects; to determine on the character thereof, and to devise the means of redress; and further, in like manner to take into consideration such acts of the said Congress, laying duties on imports, as may be passed in amendment of, or substitution for, the act or acts aforesaid; and also, all other laws and acts of the government of the United States, which shall be passed or done for the purpose of more effectually executing and enforcing the same.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That on the second Monday in November next, and on the day following, the managers of elections for the several districts in this State, shall, after giving public notice, as in the cases of elections for members of the Legislature, open the polls and hold elections in their repective districts, for Delegates to the said Convention, in all respects in the same manner and form, and at the same places, as elections are now conducted for members of the Legislature: And all persons who are qualified and entitled, by the Constitution and laws of this State, to vote for members of the Legislature, shall be qualified and entitled to vote for said Delegates to said Convention; and in case of any vacancy occurring by death, re
Convention signation, removal from the State, or refusal _ to qualify, of any person 1832. elected a Delegate to the said Convention, the presiding officer of the
v^-v-^^/ said Convention shall issue his writ authorizing and requiring the managers of elections, in the election districts in which such vacancy may happen, after giving due notice thereof, to open a poll and hold an election to fill such vacancy, as in cases for the election of members of the Legislature.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That each election district throughout the State, shall be entitled to elect and send to the said Convention a number of Delegates equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives which such district is now entitled to send to the Legislature ; and the Delegates to the said Convention shall be entitled to the same freedom from arrest in going to, returning from, and whilst in attendance on said Convention, as is extended to the members of the Legislature. •
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That all free white male citizens of this State, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, shall be eligible to a seat in said Convention.
Sec. 5. And be it further efiacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said Convention may be continued by adjournments, from time to time, so long as may be necessary for the purposes aforesaid: Prorided, however, that unless sooner dissolved by their own authority, the said Convention shall cease and determine in twelve months from the day on which the delegates to the same were elected.
In the Senate House, the twenty-sixth day of October, in the year of our
H. L. PINCKNEY, Speaker of the House of Representative*.
This measure originated in the Senate, where a committee wis appointed on the subject. That Committee reported the 3d of December, 1830, by Mr. Scabrook, their Chairman, by Bill, wherein, after providing for the calling of a Convention, the two following, (being the 2 last) clauses are inserted, viz:
And Be It Further Enacted, That the said Convention when assembled, shall take into consideration such aets and laws of the Government of the United States ns this Legislature hath from time to time declared and pronounced to be unauthorized by the Constitution of the United States; and against which it hath protested as an infringement of rights which by the said Constitution are reserved to the States and can be legitimately exercised by them only: and such otheracts and laws of the General Government, as the said Convention may declare unconstitutional in their enactments, and dangerous in their tendency-. And that the said Convention shall adopt such mode and measure of redress for the evils arising from the unconstitutional legislation of Congress, as it may deem necessary and proper to protect the rights of the State of South Carolina, to preserve the federal constitution, and cement the Union of the States.
And Be It Further Enacted, That the Delegates elected to the said Convention, before, they take their scats, in addition to the oath required to be taken by members of the Legislature, shall take the following oath; "I swear, (or affirm) that I will not in the discharge of my duty as a member of this Convention, take into consideration any other matters, or engage in the discussion of any other propositions, than such as relate to the unconstitutional legislation of the Congress of the United States: and that I will not concur in the adoption of any other measures than such as may be intended to provide a remedy for the evils wising therefrom."