In speaking of the New York ratification (page 344), he says that Hamilton, fighting over the question whether New York could ratify the Constitution conditionally, reinforced himself with the advice of Madison. The question was, "Could a State once adopt the Constitution and then withdraw from the Union if not satisfied? "Madison's reply," he says, "was prompt and decisive." Such a thing could never be done. * * * There could be no such thing as a constitutional right of secession." How much of this he intends to give as direct quotation from Madison's lips does not appear.
The letter itself our readers will find in Hamilton's works, volume I., or more conveniently in Henry's "Patrick Henry," volume II., page 368, where will also be found some interesting comments thereupon. It (the letter) does not contain Mr. Fiske's exact words, but it cannot be said that he overdraws that individual paper. It loses none of its force in his hands. Our author, however, thus presenting Mr. Madison to his readers, deals unfairly in failing to avail himself of the opportunity to give certain very important counter utterances of that statesman. We think that in fairness to him and in order that readers might be more truly informed, a few lines might have been added setting forth the fact that Mr. Madison (with Marshall and Nicholas) procured the passage of the Virginia act that we have quoted, and was himself the reputed author of the "Resolutions of 1798." That being done, Mr. Madison's absolute concurrence with Mr. Fiske as to the whole question, might not have been so clear. The quotation actually given would have at least lost much of its force, as an unbiased reader would have thought Mr. Madison singularly at variance with himself, if not with Mr. Fiske. Let teachers, at least, tell the whole story.It is enough to say, further, that Mr. Fiske, writing Virginia history, makes no allusion to the Virginia resolution, joining the Union in language which the concurrent debate (Elliott, volume II., pages 625 and 626) proves to have been understood as a condition of right to withdraw. Not universally, of course (nor, perhaps, by extreme Federalists), but so far as to secure its adoption. And so far, be