Page:State Documents on Federal Relations.djvu/48
18. Resolutions of the Enforcement Act, February 15, 1809.
The report and resolutions of the joint committee on petitions from the town meetings was made February 1, 1809. The same were adopted by the Senate, on the 11th inst, by a vote of 19 to 18. (MS. Senate Journal, 1808–09, vol. 29, pp. 196–209.) The House concurred, on the 15th inst., by a vote of 205 to 139. (MS. House Journal, May, 1808–March, 1809, pp. 278–282. The Report and Resolutions are also given in Patriotick Proceedings, pp. 41–53.
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On viewing these provisions of the act under consideration, the committee do unequivocally declare their solemn conviction, that it is in many particulars, unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional. They would by no means contend that this opinion, if confirmed and adopted by the legislature, would be decisive of the question. While the laws continue to have their free course, the judicial courts are competent to decide this question, and to them every citizen, when aggrieved, ought to apply for redress. It would be derogatory to the honour of the commonwealth to presume that it is unable to protect its subjects against all violations of their rights, by peaceable and legal remedies. While this state maintains its sovereignty and independence, all the citizens can find protection against outrage and injustice in the strong arm of the state government.
Any forcible resistance, therefore, by individuals, to the execution of this act of Congress, is not only unnecessary, but would be highly inexpedient and improper; it would endanger the public peace and tranquility, and tend essentially to injure and put at hazard that cause, on which nearly the whole people are now so zealously united. The committee are deeply sensible of the accumulated distress which has so long oppressed the whole community, and borne with aggravation on some particular parts of it. They cannot too highly applaud the unexampled patience and forbearance which has been already exhibited under this pressure of undeserved calamities. And they would earnestly recommend the exercise of the same forbearance, until all those peaceable and orderly means which the constitution and laws of our country will permit, and all those political expedients, which our habits and usages can suggest, shall have been exhausted in vain.