Page:Contemporary Opinion of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, p2.djvu/17

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

though the details of the doctrine were not so clearly formulated as later.

The pamphlet by Plain Truth is, perhaps, as good an illustration as could be chosen to exemplify the character of the arguments used by the Federalists against the Virginia Resolutions. Almost all of the Federalist appeals were grounded upon the declaration that the Republicans were seeking a dissolution of the Union, a charge which the Republicans as earnestly denied.[1] In their zeal against Republicans the federalists did not distinguish between opposition to the policy of the federal administration and resistance to the federal government. That doughty old warrior, Daniel Morgan, issued an appeal to his fellow-citizens: "My God! can it be possible! that a body, supposed to be collected from the wisdom and virtue of the State, convened to deliberate for its honor and advantage, and to coöperate with the General Government in maintaining the independence, union, and constitution thereof, against foreign influence and intrigue, should so far lose sight of that object as to attempt to foment divisions, create alarms, paralize the measures of defense, and, in short, render abortive every prudent and wise exertion? Had an angel predicted this some years ago, it would not have gained belief—yet it is too evident now to need testimony. Attempts have been made to separate us from our government; they are daily making; and I am sorry to say, with too much success. Again I say, my fellow-citizens, support our government, do not support in your elections anyone who is not friendly thereto."[2]

The Republicans throughout the campaign were upon the defensive. In the main they were content to deny any knowledge of a desire for disunion, to inveigh against the Alien and Sedition Laws, and to point to the resolutions of the legislature as a conclusive answer to all the Federalist attacks[3] Incidentally in the course of these arguments the remedial features of the Virginia Resolutions, the one portion of them which had not been passed upon by the people the preceding year, received much attention.

The result of the elections in 1799 was a decided triumph for the Republicans, the slight gain made by the Federalists being not at all commensurate with the exertions which they put forth. Under the circumstances this result indicated that the people of Virginia upon second consideration approved of their own verdict of the preceding year regarding the constitutionality and expediency of the Alien and Sedition Laws and also of the remedy for those laws which their legislature had formulated.

  1. The Virginia Argus, April 12, 1799. A. A. S.
  2. Columbian Mirror, April 18, 1799. H. U.
  3. The Examiner (Richmond), March 29, 1799. H. U.