Page:State Documents on Federal Relations.djvu/44
support that Constitution and preserve the union by a temperate and firm opposition to acts which are repugnant to the first principles and purposes of both, into a wish to recede from the other states. If a secession has been conceived by the states or people referred to in your Honour's communication, it is unknown to the House of Representatives, who absolutely disclaim any participation therein, or having afforded the least colour for such a charge. If ever such suspicions existed they can have arisen only in the minds of those who must be sensible that they had adopted and were persisting in, measures which had driven the people to desperation, by infringing rights which the citizens of Massachusetts conceive to be unalienable, and which they fondly hoped had been inviolably secured to them by the federal compact.
The Legislature and people of Massachusetts ever have been and now are firmly and sincerely attached to the union of the States, and there is no sacrifice they have not been, and are not now, willing to submit to, in order to preserve the same, according to its original purpose. Of this truth your Honour must be conceived.
* * * * * * *
That the regulation of our commercial intercourse and our national defence, is most wisely confided to the general government, is a truth so plain and palpable, that we should hold it unnecessary to be repeated here, were it not for the purpose of concurring with your Honour in the justice of the sentiment; but the liberty of discussing the measures of our general government with freedom and firmness, though with fairness and moderation, is a right the House of Representatives never will relinquish.
We cannot agree with your Honour that in a free country there is any stage at which the constitutionality of an act may no longer be open to discussion and debate; at least it is only upon the high road to despotism that such stages can be found.
At such a point the Government undertaking to extend its powers beyond the limits of the constitution, degenerates into tyranny. The people, if temperate and firm, will, we confidently rely, eventually triumph over such usurpations.
Were it true, that the measures of government once passed into