Page:State Documents on Federal Relations.djvu/40

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STATE DOCUMENTS

gerous in their tendency. It belongs not to State Legislatures to decide on the constitutionality of laws made by the general government; this power being exclusively vested in the judiciary courts of the Union. That his excellency, the governor, be requested to transmit a copy of this resolution to the executive of Virginia, to be communicated to the General Assembly of that State: And that the same be sent to the Governor and Council for their concurrence.

In Council, October 30, 1799. Read and concurred unanimously.

[Elliot's Va. and Ky. Res., 15.]




The General Court of Massachusetts on the Embargo.

1808, 1809.

The embargo act, passed December 22, 1807 (U. S. Stat. at Large, II, 451453) was at first acquiesced in by the majority of the people in New England, and the Democratic-Republican party being in control of the State government of Massachusetts, the General Court passed a resolution, February 8, 1808, declaring that "we consider the imposing of embargo a wise and highly expedient measure, and from its impartial nature calculated to secure to us the blessings of peace." (Resolves of Mass., 1808, 89, 90.) As the distress resulting from the embargo increased, resistance began to show itself, and gradually political power returned to the party in opposition. The Federalists carried both branches of the legislature by a small majority in the spring of 1808, although the Republican Governor, James Sullivan, was re-elected. The change in the legislature is at once apparent in their "Answers" to the Governor's "Speech," June 9, 1808, in which the embargo is denounced and its constitutionality questioned. (Resolves of Mass., 1808, 164–173; see also Barry's Mass., III, 359, 360, note.) A similar spirit is shown in the November session (Ibid., 207), and on November 18, 1808, the legislature instructed the State's delegation in Congress to procure the repeal of the embargo laws. (Amer. State Papers, Commerce and Navigation, I, 728–729.) But Congress, instead of repealing the obnoxious laws, passed a stringent enforcement act, which became a law January 9, 1809. (U. S. Stat. at Large, II, 506511.) This called forth the pent-up anger and indignation of the Federalists. The protests and resolutions of the various towns in the State vied with each other in their vehemence, and there were ominous whisperings of secession. (Adams, United States, IV, 408–419.) Such was the situation when the General Court re-assembled, January 26, 1809. The Lieutenant-Governor, Levi Lincoln, an ardent supporter of Jefferson, succeeded to the duties of the