Page:Contemporary Opinion of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, p2.djvu/7
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, while the Republicans by their absence showed that they could not accept it entire.
New Hampshire, as regards the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, was the banner state of Federalism. The Federalist newspapers there added little if anything to the discussion of the principles involved, but their comments show a determined front. The Federal Miscellany, of Exeter, accepting the Virginia Resolutions as a threat to arm the militia of Virginia against the federal government, retorted that an allusion to force was improper in a discussion upon matters of government, but Virginia will find her sister states "as able in the field as in the cabinet."
When the resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky reached Governor Gilman the winter session of the legislature was over and, in consequence, the legislative reply of New Hampshire was delayed until June. On the fifth of that month Governor Gilman submitted the resolutions to the legislature, remarking that they appeared to him "of a very extraordinary nature," but that delicacy towards sister states prevented him from making any observations upon them But the legislature evidently did not share in the governor's feeling on the point of delicacy, for it promptly and decisively expressed its observations in very blunt fashion. One reply, addressed to both Virginia and Kentucky, sufficed for the declaration that if the legislature of New Hampshire "for mere speculative purposes" were to express an opinion it would be that the Alien and Sedition Laws were constitutional and "highly expedient"; and that the state legislatures were not the proper tribunals to decide upon the constitutionality of laws enacted by the federal government, that duty being "properly and exclusively confined to the judicial department." This reply, an emphatic demurrer to both the protest and remedy of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, was passed unanimously by both houses. None of the New Hampshire newspapers give any accounts of the proceedings of the legislature upon this reply and, in consequence, I am unable to offer a satisfactory explanation of the unanimity. The attitude of the Republicans elsewhere warrants the conclusion that the Republicans of New Hampshire could not have entirely endorsed the reply to Virginia and Kentucky. Being few in number, probably they absented themselves, as in Connecticut, or remained silent.
Of the replying states Vermont was the most tardy. Its General Assembly did not meet until October 10, 1799, but the spirit of Vermont Federalism, as connected with the Virginia and Ken-
- February 13, 1799. H. U.
- Courier of New Hampshire, June 15, 1799. H. U.
- Elliot, IV. 564–565.