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Indianapolis Indiana Journal (Newspaper) - April 14, 1830, Indianapolis, Indiana
Indiana journal. Vol. , wednesday april 14, 1830. No. 364. Published by Douglass amp Maguire. Terms. Two Douai is per annul if paid in Advance. Three dollars at the end of the year. Advertisements inserted at the usual terms. . Debatz. Or. Webster s Seech concluded. I must now beg to ask sir whence is this supposed right of the states derived where do they get the Power to interfere with the Laws of the Union sir the opinion which the honorable gentleman maintains is a notion founded in a total misapprehension in my judgment of the origin of this government and of the foundation on which it stands. I hold it to be a popular government erected by the people those who administer it responsible to the people and itself capable of being a mended and modified just As the people May chose it should be. It is As popular just As truly emanating from the people As the shiite governments. It is created for one purpose the state governments for another. It has its own Powers they have theirs. There is no More authority with them to arrest the operation of a Law of Congress thao with Congress to arrest the operation of their Laws. We Are Here to administer a Constitution emanating immediately from the people and trusted by them to our administration. It is not the creature of the state governments. It is of no moment to the argument that certain arts of the state Legislatures Are necessary to fill our seats in this body. That is not one of their original state Powers a part of the sovereignty of the slate. It is a duty which the people by the Constitution itself have imposed on the state Legislatures and which they might have left to be performed elsewhere if they had seen fit. So they have left the Choice of president with electors but All this does not affect the proposition that this whole government president Senate and House of representatives is a popular government. It leaves it still All its popular character. The governor of a state in some of the states is chosen not directly by the people but by those Yho Are chosen by the people for the purpose of performing among other duties that of electing a governor. Is the government of the stale of that account not a popular government this government sir is the Independent offspring of the popular will. It is not the creature of slate Legislatures nay More if the whole truth must be told the people brought in into existence established it and have hitherto supported it for the very pure curse amongst others of imposing certain salutary restraints on state Sovereign ties. The states cannot now make War they cannot contract alliances they cannot make each for itself separate regulations of Commerce they cannot Lay imposts they cannot Coin Money. If this Constitution sir be the creature of state Legislatures it must be admitted that it has obtained a Stange control Over the volition of its creators. The people then sir erected this government. They gave it a Constitution and in that Constitution they have enumerated the Powers which they bestow on it. They have made it a limited government. They have defined its authority. They have restrained it to the exercise of such Powers As Are granted and All others they declare Are reserved to the states or the people. But sir they have not stopped Here. If they had they would have accomplished but half their work. No definition can be so Clear As to avoid possibility of doubt no limitation so precise As to exclude All uncertainty. Who then shall construe this Grant of the people who shall interpret their will where it May be supposed they have left it doubtful with whom do they leave this ultimate right of deciding on the Powers of the government sir they have settled All this Iii the fullest manner. They have left it with the government its Milf in its appropriate branches. Sir the very chief end the main design for which the whole Constitution was framed and adopted was to establish a government that should not be obliged to act through state Agency or depend on state opinion and state discretion. The people had had quite enough of that kind of government under the confederacy. Under that system the Legal action the application of Law to individuals belonged exclusively to the states. Congress could Only recommend their acts were not of binding Force till the states had adopted and sanctioned them. Are we in that condition still Are we yet at a the mercy of state Diacre Iod and state construction sir if we Are then vain will be our attempt to maintain the Constitution under which we sit. But sir the people have wisely provided in the Constitution itself a pro Ler suitable Mode and tribunal for settling questions of constitutional Law. There Are in the Constitution Grants of Powers to Congress and restrictions on these Powers. There Are also prohibitions on the states. Some authority must therefore necessarily exist having the ultimate jurisdiction to fix and ascertain the interpretation of these Grants restrictions and prohibitions. The Constitution has itself pointed out ordained and established that authority. How has it accomplished this great and essential end by declaring sir that Quot a Constitution and the Lotos of the United states made in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme Law of the land any thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the contrary this sir was the first great step. By this the supremacy of the Constitution and Laws of the United states is declared. The people so will it. No state Law is to be valid which comes in conflict with the Constitution or any Law of the United states. But who shall decide this question of interference to whom lies the last a peal this sir the Constitution itself decides also by declaring that the judicial Power shall extend to All cases arising wider the Constitution and Laws of the United states Quot these two provisions sir cover the whole ground. They Are in truth the key Stone of the Arch. With these it is a Constitution without them it is confederacy in pursuance of these Clear and express provisions. Congress established at its very first session in the judicial act a Mode for carrying them into full effect and for bringing All questions of constitutional Power to the final decision of the supreme court it then sir became a government. It then had the Means of self Protection and but for this it would in All probability have been now among things which Are past. Having constituted the government and declared its Powers the people have further said that since somebody must decide on the extent of these Powers the government shall itself decide subject always like other popular governments to its re Sponski bitty to the people. And now sir i repeal How is it that a state legislature acquires any right to interfere who or what gives them the right to say to the people we who Are your agents and servants for one purpose will undertake to decide that your other agents and servants appointed by you for another purpose have transit ended the authority you gave them the reply would be i think not impertinent Quot who made you a judge Over another s servants to their own masters they stand or sir i deny this Power of state legis allures altogether. It cannot stand the test of examination. Gentlemen May say that in an extreme Case state government might protect the people from intolerable oppression sir in such a Case the people might protect themselves without the Aid of the stale governments. Such a Case warrants revolution. It must make when it comes a Law for itself nullifying act of a state legislature cannot alter the Case nor make resist Ance any More lawful. In maintain ing these sentiments sir i am but asserting the rights of the people state what they have declared and in Sist on their right to declare it. They have chosen to repose this Power in the general government and i think it my duty to support it like other constitutional Powers. For myself sir i doubt the jurisdiction of South Carolina or any other state to prescribe my constitutional duty or to Settle Between me and the people the Validity of Laws of con Gress for which i have voted. I de Dine her ump rage. I have not sworn to support the Constitution according to her construction of its clauses have not stipulated by my oath of of fice or otherwise to come under any responsibility except to the people and those whom they have appointed to pass upon the question whether Laws supported by my votes conform to the Constitution of the , sir if we look to the general a lure of the Case could any thing have been More preposterous than to have made a government for the whole u Nion and yet left its Powers subject not to one interpretation but to thir teen or Twenty four interpretations instead of one tribunal established by ail responsible to All with Power to decide for All shall constitutional questions be left to four and Twenty popular bodies each at Liberty to decide for itself and none bound to respect the decisions of others and each at Liberty too to give a new construction on every new election of its own members would any thing with such a principle in it or rather with such a destitution of All principle be fit to be called a government no sir. It should not be denominated a Constitution. It should be called rather a collection of topics for everlasting controversy Heads of debate for a disputations people. It would not be a government. It would not be adequate to any practical Good nor fit for any country to live under. To avoid 1 possibility of being misunderstood allow me to repeat again in the fullest manner that i claim no Powers for the government by forced or unfair construction. I admit that it is a government of strictly limited Powers of enumerated specified and particularized Powers and that whatsoever is not granted is withheld. But notwithstanding All this and however the Grant of Powers May be expressed its limit and extent May yet in some cases admit of doubt and the general government would be Good for nothing it would be incapable of Long existing if some Mode had not been provided in which those doubts As they should arise might be peaceably but authoritatively solved. And now or. President let me run the honorable gentleman s doctrine a title into its practical it us look at his probable Modulo Prandi. If a thing can be done an ingenious Man can Tell How it is to be done. Now i wish to be informed How this state interference is to be put practice. We will take the existing Case of the Tariff Law. South Carolina is said to have made up her opinion upon it. If we do not repeal it As we probably shall not she will then apply to the Case the remedy of her doctrine. She will we must suppose pass a Law of her legislature declaring the several acts of Congress Usu Fly called the Tariff Laws null and void so far As they respect South Carolina or the citizens thereof. So far All is a paper transaction and easy enough. But the collector at Charleston is collecting the duties imposed by these Tariff Laws he therefore must be stopped. The collector will seize the goods if the Tariff duties Are not paid. The slate authorities will undertake their Rescue the marshal with his posse will come to the collector s Aid and Here the contest begins. The militia of the state will be called out to sustain the nullifying act. They will March sir under a very Gallant Leader for i believe the honorable member himself commands the militia of that part of the state. He will raise the nullifying act on his St Windard and spread it out As his Banner. It will have a preamble bearing that the Tariff Laws Are palpable deliberate and dangerous violations of the Constitution he will proceed with this Banner flying to the custom House in Charleston you propose to defend us Quot look at my floating Banner Quot he would reply Quot see there the nullifying Law Quot is it your opinion Gallant commander they would then say that if we should be indicted for treason that same floating Banner of your s would make a Good plea in bar Quot South Carolina is a Sovereign state Quot he would that is True but would the judge admit our plea Quot these Tariff Laws Quot he would repeat Quot Are unconstitutional palpably deliberately that All May be so but if the tribunals should not happen to be of that opinion shall we swing for it wears ready to die for our country but it is rather an awkward business this dying without touching the ground. After All that is a sort of Lem tax worse than any part of the Tariff. Or. President the honorable gentleman would be in a dilemma like that of another great general. He would have a knot before him which he could not untie. He must Cut it with his sword. He must say to his followers defend yourselves with your bayonets and this is War civil War. Direct collision therefore Between Force and Force is the unavoidable result of that remedy for the revision of unconstitutional Laws which the gentleman contends for. It must happen in the very first Case to which it is applied. Is not this the Plain result to resist by Force the execution of a Law generally is treason of the United states take notice of the indulgence of a state to commit treason the common saying that a state cannot commit treason herself is nothing to the purpose. Can it authorize others to do it if John Fries had produced an act of Pennsylvania annulling the Law of Congress would it have helped his Case talk about it As we will these doctrines go the length of revolution. They Are incompatible with any peaceable administration of the government. They Lead directly to disunion and civil commotion and therefore it is that at their commencement when they Are first found to be maintained by respectable men and in a tangible form that i enter my Public protest against them All. Quot All the while Quot sonorous Metal blowing martial arrived at the custom House he will Tell the collector that he must collect no More duties under any of the Tariff aws. This he will be somewhat puzzled to say by the Way with a grave countenance considering what hand South Carolina herself had in that of 1816. But sir the collector would probably not desist at his bidding Here would ensue a pause for they say that a certain stillness precedes the tempest. Before this military array should fall on the custom House collector clerks and All it is very probable some of those composing it would request of their Gallant commander in chief to be informed a Little upon the Point of Law for they have doubtless a just respect for his opinions As a lawyer As Well As for his bravery As a Soldier. They know he has read Blackstone and the Constitution As Well As Murrene and Vauban. They would ask him therefore something concerning their rights in this matter. They would inquire whether it was not somewhat dangerous to resist a Law of the United what would be the nature of their offence they would wish to learn if they by military Force and array resisted the execution in Carolina of a Law of the United states and it should turn out after All that the Law Zoas constitutional he would answer of course treason. No lawyer could give any other answer. John Fries he would Tell them had Learned that some years ago. How then they would ask do you propose to defend us we Are not afraid of bullets but treason has a a of taking people off that we do not much relish. How do the honorable gentleman argues that if this government be the sole judge of the extent of its own Powers whether that right of judging be in Congress or the supreme court it equally subverts state sovereignty. This the gentleman sees or thinks he sees although he cannot perceive How the right of judging in this matter if left to the exercise of state Legislatures has any tendency to subvert the government of the Union. The gentleman s opinion May be that the right ought not to have been lodged with the general government he May like better such a Constitution As we should have under the right of state interference but i ask him to meet me on the Plain matter of fact i ask him to meet me on the Constitution itself i ask him if the Power is not found there clearly and visibly found there but sir what is this danger and what the grounds of it let it be remembered that the Constitution of the United states is not unalterable. It is to continue in its present form no longer than the people who established it shall choose to continue it. If they shall become convinced that they have made an injudicious or inexpedient partition and distribution of Power Between the state governments and the general government they can alter to distribution at will. If any thing be found in the National Constitution either by original provision or subsequent interpretation which ought not to be in it the people know How to get rid of it. If any construction be established unacceptable to them so As to become practically a part of the Constitution they will a mend it at their own Sovereign pleasure. But while the people choose to maintain it As it is while they Are satisfied with it and refuse to change it who has Given or who can give to the state Legislatures a right to alter it either by interference construction or otherwise gentlemen do not seem to recollect that the people have any Power to do any thing for themselves they imagine there is no safety for them any longer than they Are under the close guardianship of the state Legislatures. Sir the people have not trusted their safety in regard to the general Constitution to these hands. They have required other Security and taken other Bonds. They have chosen to Trust themselves first to the Plain words of the constr ment and to such instruction As the government itself in doubtful cases should put on its own Powers under their oaths of office and subject to their responsibility to them just As the people of a state Trust their own state governments with a similar Power. Secondly they have reposed their Trust in the Efficacy of frequent elections and in their own Power to remove their own servants and agents whenever they see cause. Thirdly they have reposed Trust in the judicial Power which in order that it might be Trust worthy they have made As respectable As disinterested and As Independent As was practicable. Fourthly they have seen fit to rely in Case of necessity or High expediency on their known and admitted Power to alter or Amend the Constitution peaceably and quietly whenever experience shall Point out defects or imperfections. And finally the people of the United states have at no time in no Way directly or indirectly authorized any state legislature to construe or interpret their High instrument of government much less to interfere by their own Power to arrest its course and operation. If sir the people in these respects had done otherwise than they have done their Constitution could neither have been preserved nor would it have been Worth preserving. And if its Plain provisions shall now be disregarded and these new doctrines interpolated in it it will become As feeble and helpless a being As its enemies whether Early or More recent could possibly desire it will exist in every can the courts state but As a poor dependant on state permission. It must borrow leave to be and will be no longer than state pleasure or state discretion sees fit to Grant the indulgence and to prolong its poor existence. But sir although there Are fears there Are Hopes also. The people have preserved this their own chosen Constitution for forty years and have seen their happiness Prosperity and renown grow with its growth and strengthen with its strength. They Are now generally strongly attached to it. Overthrown by direct assault it cannot be evaded undermined nullified it will not be if we and those who shall succeed us Here As a gents and representatives of the people shall conscientiously and vigilantly discharge the two great branches of our Public Trust i faithfully to preserve and wisely to administer it. Or. President i have thus stated the reasons of my dissent to the doctrines which have been advanced and maintained. I am conscious of having detained you and the Senate much too Long. I was drawn into the debate with no previous deliberation such As is suited to the discussion of so grave and important a subject. But it is a subject of which my heart is full and i have not been willing to suppress the utterance of its spontaneous sentiments i cannot even now persuade myself to relinquish it without expressing once More my deep conviction that since it respects nothing less than the Union of the states it is of most vital and essential importance to the Public happiness. I profess sir in my career hitherto to have kept steadily in View the Prosperity and Honor of the whole country and the preservation of our Federal Union. It is to that Union we owe our safety at Home and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that Union that we Are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our country. That Union we reached Only by the discipline of our Virtues in the severe school of adversity. It had its origin in the necessities of disordered finance prostrate Commerce and ruined its benign influences these great immediately awoke As from the dead and sprang Forth with newness of life. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its Utility and its blessings and although our territory has stretched out wider and wider and our population spread farther and farther they have not outrun its Protection or its benefits. It Haa been to us All a copious Fountain of National social and personal happiness. I have not allowed myself sir to look beyond the Union to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind i have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving Liberty when the Bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder i have not accustomed myself to hang Over the precipice of disunion to see whether with my Short sight i can fathom the depth of the abyss below nor could i regard him As a Safe counsellor in the affairs of this government whose thoughts should be mainly Bent on considering not How the Union should be Best preserved but Tiow tolerable might be the condition of the people when it shall be broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts we have High exciting Gratifying prospects spread out before us
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