State Documents on Federal Relations/5
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First Remonstrance of the Legislature.
|Second Remonstrance of the Legislature.→|
State of New Hampshire:
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled: The remonstrance of the Legislature of the State of New Hampshire, showeth:—
That the citizens of the State of New Hampshire adopted the federal constitution of the United States under the full conviction that more extensive general powers were necessary to be vested in Congress than they ever possessed or pretended that they possessed, when they were entirely dependent on the good-will or the resolves of the several States. But by this adoption they did not then intend, nor does their Legislature now choose to admit, that the confederation was in force prior to March, 1781, or that the federal constitution existed with respect to New Hampshire before June, 1788. That a question respecting the powers of Congress and the powers of the several States previous to the constitution or the confederation has been determined in the circuit court for the district of New Hampshire, held at Exeter on the 24th day of October, 1793, in which the foundation of the action was, whether this State, prior to an express grant to Congress, had a right to pass a law final in every way concerning the capture of vessels by this State, or citizens thereof, from the British, the enemy we were then engaged with in war. That the determination of this circuit court was, that the State of New Hampshire had no such power; but that Congress, or a court commissioned by them, could nullify the laws of any particular State; could control their several courts; and that in fact, the constitution of 1789 was unnecessary to be adopted, as it contained no new grant of powers, but only a confirmation of old ones.
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The states are forbidden by the federal constitution to make any retrospective laws. The Legislature conceived that Congress was under the same obligations; and that their courts could not rejudge cases that were finally adjudged by courts existing prior to its adoption. In fact, the Legislature conceive, and feel no inclination to relinquish the idea, that Congress, in its origin, was merely an advisory body, chosen by the several States to consult upon measures for the general good of the whole; that the adoption of measures recommended by them was entirely in the breast of the several States or their Legislatures; that no measure could be carried into effect in any State without its agreement thereto; that the subsequent powers of Congress entirely depended upon the express grants of the State Legislatures; that the Legislature of this State, so far from agreeing to the exercise of the power by Congress or its courts, now determined by the circuit court to have belonged to them, on request from Congress, did not grant, but denied it; that the declaration of independence received effect from its being acceded to by the Legislatures of the several States; and that the confederation was the first act binding upon the States which was not expressly agreed to by them individually; that a declaration by any body whatever contrary thereto is subversive of the principles of the revolution; unsettling all the proceedings of the State Governments prior to the existence of the constitution; and will inevitably involve the States, and this State in particular, in confusion, and will weaken, if not perhaps destroy, the National Government; the true principles of which the State of New Hampshire has, and will always endeavor to maintain.
The Legislature of New Hampshire, therefore, again protest and remonstrate against the exercise of any such powers by Congress, or any court or body of men appointed by them, and request that measures may be taken to prevent and annihilate such illegal acts of power.