State Documents on Federal Relations/20n
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Connecticut and the Enforcement Act
|Speech of Governor Trumbull.→|
Connecticut and the Enforcement Act.February, 1809
In Connecticut the Federalists had retained unbroken control of all departments of the State government, and the great majority of the people sympathized with Massachusetts in its opposition to the embargo. Naturally, therefore, upon receipt of the circular letter from the Secretary of War of January 18, 1809, requesting the governors to designate special officers of the militia, "of known respect for the laws," to aid in the enforcement of the embargo, Governor Trumbull replied, February 4, 1809, declining to take the "responsibility" of complying with the request, on the ground "that neither the constitution nor the statutes of this State," nor "the constitution or laws of the United States," authorized such an act, and also stating that "the great mass of the citizens of this State" regarded the enforcement act as "unconstitutional in many of its provisions, interfering with the State sovereignties, and subversive of the guaranteed rights, privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States." The Governor then called a special session of the General Assembly, and addressed it in the famous speech given below. The legislature at once responded, passing, first, a resolution approving the action of the Governor in calling it together; next, a series of Resolves condemning the enforcement act and the attempts to carry it out, and finally issued an Address to the People in justification of the action taken.
Resolves: The texts of the Resolutions and the Address of the General Assembly were officially published. A rare pamphlet (16 pages, 8°) without title page or imprint, but containing the above-mentioned documents, as well as the Enforcement Act, is in the Library of the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford; the Governor's Speech, the Correspondence of the Secretary of War and the Governor, and the Report and Resolutions proposed by the Committee of the House of Representatives (nearly the same as later passed) are in The American Register for 1809 (Phila., 1809), Part II, 176–181. The circular letter of the Secretary of War is also given in the Writings of Jefferson (Ford's ed.), IX, 237, 238. Consult the following general histories: Adams, IV, 417, 418, 455, 456; Hildreth, VI, 120, 121; McMaster, III, 331, 332; Schouler, II, 173, 193. See also references under Massachusetts and the Embargo.
- I am indebted to Mr. Albert C. Bates, Librarian, for directing my attention to this pamphlet.