Page:Contemporary Opinion of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, p2.djvu/16

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F. M. Anderson

tion, that the Union was the result of a compact to which the states were parties. "This assertion," said Plain Truth, "is believed to be untrue in fact, and dangerous in principle. The paper from which the powers of the federal government result, and which is termed by the resolutions, a compact, is the constitution of the United States. To this constitution the state governments are not parties in any greater degree than the general government itself. They are in some respects the agents for carrying it into execution, and so are the Legislature and Executive of the Union; but they are not parties to the instrument, they did not form or adopt it, nor did they create or regulate its powers. They were incapable of either. The people, and the people only were competent to these important objects."[1] In support of this doctrine, Plain Truth argued that the states were parties to the old confederation, but that the present federal Constitution was formed to remedy that defect and "was proposed, not to the different state governments, but to the people for their consideration and adoption." As evidence of this difference between the confederation and the present federal union, he cited the language of the preamble of the Constitution. "The Constitution was in truth what it professes to be—entirely the act of the people themselves. It derives no portion of its obligation from the state governments. It was sanctioned by the people themselves, assembled in their different states in convention. They acted in their original, and not in their political character."[2] Having shown to his satisfaction that the people were the parties to the Constitution, Plain Truth made his point against the resolutions of Virginia by demanding, "Why are the people excluded from our view, and states substituted in their places?" The motive which inspired the legislature to make this claim for the states, Plain Truth argued, was a desire to arrogate to itself power which properly belonged to the people.[3] This argument of Plain Truth's was, of course, an unfair one, since it was based on a mistaken reading of the third Virginia resolution. Plain Truth treated the term states in the resolutions as if it was synonymous with the term state governments, whereas in the resolutions the term states means the people of each state. The treatment by Plain Truth of the fundamental doctrine of the third Virginia resolution is none the less instructive because it is fallacious. It shows plainly that the issue of national or state sovereignty, as raised by the Virginia Resolutions, was not overlooked in the Virginia campaign following their adoption. It indicates that the idea of state sovereignty was plainly put before the people of Virginia for their endorsement or rejection,

  1. P. 19.
  2. P. 20.
  3. P. 20.