The Examiner, and Journal of Political Economy/Volume 2/Number 13/The Genuine Book of Nullification/6
|←Chapter V||The Examiner, and Journal of Political Economy, Volume 2, Number 13
The Genuine Book of Nullification (Chapter VI: Ohio Nullification)
|General Hamilton's Speech on the Oath of Allegiance→|
|Presented here is text from a reprint of the original book. For navigation of the complete work, see The Genuine Book of Nullification.|
The proceedings of the Ohio Legislature in 1820, against the Bank of the United States, to prevent its establishment in that state avow and sustain the doctrines of nullification, as well by their able report, and their firm and energetic Resolutions, as by an act of outlawry passed against the Bank and its officers.
First—By the Resolution affirming and approving the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of '98 and '99, in these words:
"Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, That in respect to the powers of the Governments of the several States which compose the American Union, and the powers of the Federal Government, this General Assembly do recognize and approve the doctrines asserted by the Legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky, in their resolutions of November and December 1798, and January 1800—and do consider that their principles have been recognized and adopted by a majority of the American people."
On this subject, the Report which precedes the Resolutions, contains the following words:
"The States and the People recognized and affirmed the Doctrines of Kentucky and Virginia, by effecting a total change in the administration of the Federal Government. In the pardon of Callender, convicted under the Sedition Law, and in the remittance of his fine, the new administration unequivocally recognized the decision and the authority of the States and of the people. Thus has the question whether the Federal Courts are the sole expositors of the Constitution of the United States in the last resort, or whether the States, "as in all other cases of compact among parties having no common judge," have an equal right to interpret that Constitution for themselves, where their sovereign rights are involved, but decided against the pretension of the Federal Judges, by the people themselves the true source of legitimate power."
Second—By the resolutions against the Jurisdiction of the United States Court in the case of the Bank, and all cases involving political rights; and against the powers of the General Government, establishing the Bank, in these words:
"Resolved further, That this General Assembly do protest against the doctrines of the Federal Circuit Court, sitting in this State, avowed and maintained in their proceedings against the officers of the State, upon account of their official Acts, as being in direct violation of the 11th amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Resolved further, That this General Assembly do assert and will maintain by all legal and constitutional means, the right of the State to tax the business and property of any private corporation of trade incorporated by the Congress of the United States, and located to transact its corporate business within any State.
Resolved further, That the Bank of the United States is a private corporation of trade, the capital and business of which may be legally taxed in any State where they may be found."
"Resolved further, That this General Assembly do protest against the doctrine that the political rights of the separate States that compose the American Union, and their powers as Sovereign States, may be settled and determined in the Supreme Court of the United States, so as to conclude and bind them in cases contrived between individuals, and where they are, no one of them, parties direct.
"Resolved further, That the Governor transmit to the Governors of the several States a copy of the foregoing report and resolutions to be laid before their respective Legislatures, with a request from this Assembly that the Legislature of each State may express their opinion upon the matters therein contained.
The report referred to, in these resolutions, and which is a most masterly one, of near forty pages in extent, (nearly approaching in ability to those of Madison and Jefferson), contains the following remarks on the subject of the penalty, laid in the shape of an enormous tax, upon the erection and operations of the United States Bank.
"It is urged by man, that the tax levied and collected is enormous in amount, and therefore unequal and unjust. It is readily admitted that this allegation is not entirely unfounded, and all must agree that it does not comport with the character of a State to afford any colour to accuse her of injustice. Even in the assertion of a right, it is highly derogatory for a State to act oppressively—and all injustice is oppression. It cannot be doubted, however, that the tax was levied as a penalty—and that it was not supposed the Bank would venture to incur it. It was an act of temerity in them to do so, and although, in this view, the tax was justly, and in the opinion of the committe, legally collected—yet, under all the circumstances of the case the committee conceive that the State ought to be satisfied with effecting the objects for which the law was enacted.
"At this time the Bank can have no object in continuing its branches, except to maintain the point of Right—The State having refused to use the money collected, has no interest but that of character and the assertion of the right."
"The Committee recommend that a proposition of a compromise be made by law, making provision that upon the Bank discontinuing the suits prosecuted against the public officers, and giving assurances that the branches shall be withdrawn, and only an agency be left to settle its business and collect its debts, the amount collected for tax shall be paid without interest. But the Committee conceive that the General Assembly ought not to stop here. The Representative of the State has been assailed through the United States—and the nature of the controversy and her true course of conduct have all alike been very much misunderstood. Itthe General Assembly, even if a compromise be effected, to take measures for vindicating the character of the State, and also for awakening the attention of the separate States to the consequences that may result from the doctrines of the Federal Courts upon the question that have arisen. And besides, as it is possible that the proposition of compromise may not be accepted, it is the duty of the General Assembly to take ulterior measures for asserting and maintaining the Rights of the State. For this purpose the Committee recommend that provision be made by law, forbidding the keepers of our jails from receiving persons committed at the suit of the Bank of the United States or for any injury done them—prohibiting any judicial officers from taking acknowledgment of conveyances, where the Bank is a party, or when made for their use, and our Recorders from receiving or recording such conveyances, forbidding our Courts, Justices of Peace, Judges and Grand Juries from taking cognizance of any wrong alleged to have been committed upon any species of property owned by the Bank, or upon any of its corporate rights of privileges, and prohibiting our Notaries Public from protesting any Notes or Bills held by the Bank or their Agents, or made payable to them."
"The adoption of these measures, will leave the Bank exclusively to the protection of the Federal Government; and its constitutional power to preserve it in the sense maintained by the Supreme Court may thus be fairly, peaceably, and constitutionally tested. The measures proposed, are peaceable and constitutional, conceived in no spirit of hostility to the Government of the Union, but intended to bring fairly before the nation great and important questions, which must be one day discussed, and which may now be very safely investigated."
In accordance with these recommendations, an Act was passed depriving the Bank of all protection from the State Laws, and of almost all civil rights.
And although this State afterwards consented to withdraw her restrictions upon the Bank and to allow of its existence, this does not at all effect the principle as at first asserted and enforced by her.
We have, in the above report, the practical effects of Nullification most admirably and satisfactorily explained. Indeed it is somewhat remarkable how perfectly the peaceful operation of this doctrine, as contended for by us at this time, was understood; and how ably set forth by the republicans of that day. With them we propose to enact laws of restriction and penalty, to arrest the progress of the evil," and when the severity of our laws shall be complained of, we will offer a compromise, (such as theirs,) of repealing the penalties upon the withdrawal of the obnoxious acts. With them, we solemnly declare, that we propose such measures in no spirit of hostility to the Union, but merely, in the event of refusal to annul the oppressive acts, to bring the question before the nation—that is a Convention of the States.