Page:Examiner, Journal of Political Economy, v2n12.djvu/2

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178
THE EXAMINER,


"The theory of Government, as established in America, contemplates the Federal and State Governments as mutual checks on one another, constraining the various authorities to revolve within their proper and constitutional spheres."—Virginia Report, 1829, on do.

"The inviolable preservation of our political institutions is entrusted to the General Assembly of Virginia in common with the Legislatures of the several States; and the sacred duty devolves upon them of preserving these institutions unimpaired."—Do.

"Gentlemen may say what they please of the preamble to the Constitution; but the Constitution is not the work of the amalgamated population of the then existing Confederacy; but the offspring of the States. And however high we may carry our heads, and strut and fret our hour "dressed in a little brief authority;" it is in the power of the States to extinguish this Government at a blow. They have only to refuse to send memebers to the other branch of this Legislature, or to appoint Electors of President and Vice President, and the thing is done."—John Randolph, (on Internal Improvement.)

"The Judiciary branch is the Instrument which, working like gravity, without intermission, is to press us at last into one consolidated mass."—Jefferson.

"The doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd and slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind."—New Hampshire Constitution.

"The strength and power of usurpation consist wholly in the fear of resisting it; and in order to be free, it is only sufficient that we will it."—Rights of Man

"This being a Government limited and controlled by a written constitution that defines its powers, I, as a Senator from South Carolina am bold to announce that this Government recognizes no such principle that the majority shall rule. The fact is that a majority in the enacting of these laws has ruled. They could have succeeded on no other principle. But the fundamental principles of our Government recognise no principle of rule but that prescribed by the Constitution; and to this it must be brought again, or we, as a people, are undone." Judge Smith, (on South Carolina Protest.)

"The people of South Carolina believed that when the States surrendered into the hands of the General Government, a portion of their Sovereignty, it was in trust for the accomplishment of certain specific objects and every exercise of power beyond the attainment of those specified objects is a violations of the compact between the several States and the United States, and whenever that compact is infracted by the Government of the United States, it belongs to the several States to exercise their reserved Sovereignty to reduce the General Government to the exercise of powers within its legitimate sphere of action, and to restore the compact to its original purity."—Ib. (Do.)


INTRODUCTION.

The theory of those who deny the right of a State "to judge of infractions of the Constitution, and of the mode and measure of redress," and "of interposing (her Veto) to arrest the progress of the usurpation," is that these United States, are not independent and sovereign States—and that the Federal Constitution is not a compact of alliance between the several States (that is between the people of each State and the people of every other State,) as separate, pre-existing bodies, or Commonwealths—each ceding by that compact certain specific powers to a General Government, and reserving all others to themselves. But that it is a form of Government made and adopted by the people of North America, collectively—and that from this Constitution or form of Government these States (as corporations) derive all the powers which they possess, having no right to exercise any other powers than such as are thereby granted to them.

To expose the utter fallacy of such a theory, we need but adduce the simple and actual facts of the early history of our country.

From the dawning resistance of the colonies against the usurpations and tyranny of Great Britain, we find those colonies acting independently of each other.

As early as the year 1765 the colony of South Carolina forcibly resisted the Stamp Tax; her citizens in Charleston having in that year surprised the garrison of Fort Johnson, and seized upon the stamps which were there deposited.—(See Drayton's Memoirs of the Revolution, vol. 1, p. 45.)

In the same year (May 1765) Virginia adopted, in her House of Burgesses, the famous resolutions of Patrick Henry, which declared void (or nullified) the Stamp Act.

In December, 1773, Massachusetts resisted the Tea Tax—her citizens in Boston having destroyed the Tea which was at that time in their harbour.

In March, 1776, South Carolina, in consequence of the British Act for confiscating American property, formed a separate constitution, and established a General Assembly for her own separate government, holding herself thereby independent of Great Britain, and resolving that this constitution should remain in force until a reconciliation with Great Britain should take place, (an event which never occurred.)—(See Ramsay's South Carolina, vol. 1, p. 263, and Drayton's Memoirs, vol. 2, p. 174, 180.) This constitution forms the first general Act of Independence, in our country, as well as the first written frame of government, which either this country or the world has witnessed. It is drawn up with great ability, and is ascribed to the venerated John Rutledge, (who was elected under its provisions to the office of President and Commander-in-Chief.)

It commences thus:

"South Carolina—In a Congress begun and holden at Charleston, on Wednesday, the first day of November, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, and continued by divers adjournments to Tuesday, the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand seven hunder and seventy-six.

A Constitution and form of Government agreed to and resolved upon by the Representatives of South Carolina.

Whereas, The British Parliament, claiming of late years a right to bind the North American colonies by law, in all cases whatsoever, have enacted statutes for raising a revenue in those colonies and disposing of such revenue as they thought proper, without the consent, and against the will of the Colonists. And whereas, it appearing to them that (they not being represented in Parliament) such claim was altogether unconstitutional, and if admitted, would at once reduce them from the rank of freemen to a state of the most abject slavery, the said Colonies therefore, severally remonstrated against the passing, and petitioned for the repeal of those Acts; but in vain. And whereas the said claim being persisted in, other unconstitutional and oppressive statutes have been since enacted, &c." (proceeding to enumerate the various acts of oppression, amongst which are specified) "Statutes prohibiting the intercourse of the Colonies with each other, restricting their trade, and depriving many thousands of people of subsistence, by restraining them from fishing on the American