Page:Contemporary Opinion of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, p2.djvu/21

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

find, except the replies of the Rhode Island and Vermont legislatures to Kentucky; the former is identical with its reply to Virginia, save in the matter of name and date; the latter has already been published. in the Records of the Governor of the State of Vermont, IV. 526–529. All of the legislative documents following, except C, are printed from certified copies of the legislative journals.

A. Replies to the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.
Report concurred in by the Maryland House of Delegates, December 28, 1798.
The committee to whom were referred the resolutions of the legislature of Kentucky report, that they have taken the same under their consideration, and are of opinion that the said resolutions contain sentiments and opinions unwarranted by the Constitution of the United States, and the several acts of congress to which they refer; that said resolutions are highly improper, and ought not to be acceded to by the legislature of this state. (Report of the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Delegates of the State of Maryland at November Session, 1798.)

Resolutions of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, adopted February 9, 1799.
Resolved, That in the opinion of this House the people of the United States have vested in their President and Congress, as well the right and power of determining on the intent and construction of the constitution, as on the ordinary subjects of legislation, and the defence of the Union; and have committed to the supreme judiciary of the nation the high authority of ultimately and conclusively deciding upon the constitutionality of all legislative acts. The constitution does not contemplate, as vested or residing in the Legislatures of the several states, any right or power of declaring that any act of the general government "is not law, but is altogether void, and of no effect;" and this House considers such declaration as a revolutionary measure, destructive of the purest principles of our State and national compacts.

That it is with deep concern this House observes, in any section of our country, a disposition so hostile to her peace and dignity, as that which appears to have dictated the resolutions of the Legislature of Kentucky. Questions of so much delicacy and magnitude might have been agitated in a manner more conformable to the character of an enlightened people, flourishing under a government adopted by themselves, and administered by the men of their choice.

That this House view, as particularly inauspicious to the general principles of liberty and good government, the formal declaration by a legislative body, "that confidence is every where the parent of despotism, and that free governments are founded in jealousy." The prevalence of such an opinion cuts asunder all the endearing relations in life, and renews, in the field of science and amity, the savage scenes of darker ages. Governments truly republican and free are eminently founded on opinion and confidence; their execution is committed to representatives, selected by voluntary preference, and exalted by a knowledge of their virtues and their talents. No portion of the people can assume the province of the