Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 35.djvu/185
The, Right of Secession. 171
thing therefore by all and since by many, deemed an impos- sibility the Federal Government to be supreme with respect to certain sovereign powers delegated to it and surrendered by the States ; and the State Governments, or the people thereunder, to remain sovereign and supreme with respect to certain powers not delegated to the States, or to the people thereof it needed no Cassandra to foretell that long years of debate, and, per- chance, the trial by wage of battle, would be needed to define and fix the resultant effect of so momentous an innovation in matters of government.
And this indeed has come to pass.
Was the delegation and surrender by the States of a portion of their sovereign power to the Federal Government absolute irrevocable? Upon this pivotal question the decision turned.
That it was not so intended by the framers of the Federal Constitution, or, if so intended, that they did not dare avow such an intention, is matter of historic knowledge. That if such an avowal had been made, the Federal Constitution would not have been ratified or adopted by the necessary number of three- fourths of the States, is matter of like knowledge. That for many years following the adoption of such Constitution such an in- tention found no advocates, but that the contrary view prevailed, both north and south, is equally demonstrated by history. Mr. Webster (Daniel) himself, when, in one of his later speeches, he said : "I do not hesitate to say and repeat that if the Northern States refuse wilfully and deliberately to carry into effect that part of the Constitution which respects the restoration of fugi- tive slaves, the South would be no longer bound to keep the compact. A bargain broken on one side is broken on all sides" (see page 101 of Dr. Bledsoe's work), appears not to have had clearly defined in his mind the idea for which he had in former years so strenuously contended, that the States entering into the Federal compact had surrendered absolutely and irrevocably the sovereign powers delegated to the Federal Government. There was, indeed, up to the very commencement of hostilities, no settled conviction on this subject, even in the North, contrary to the historic view of it, which prevailed almost unanimously in the South. As Mr. Henderson, in his most admirable work (Stonewall Jackson, Vol. I., page 117), says: