Consolidationists, with more zeal than reason, have argued that the last two words in the tenth amendment referred to the whole people. But this is surely untenable; the only people known to the system were the people of a State or commonwealth; they only had been represented in the Congress or in the convention which framed the Constitution. To them that instrument had been submitted; by them it had been ratified. The expression fairly construed must mean the State governments, and the people of each State who held rights they had reserved from the control of their State government. Furthermore, the obvious purpose being to guard against the usurpation of undelegated power, it would have been worse than superfluous by reservation to provide protection for the whole people against themselves.
In claiming sovereignty for the States I must not be understood as meaning the State governments. When the word State is used, it means the people of an organized community. The founders of the American Republic never conferred or intended to confer sovereignty upon either State or Federal governments.
If the people of the States, in forming a Federal Union, transferred their sovereignty, or any part of it, to whom was the transfer made? Not to the people of the United States in the aggregate, for there was no such political body. The Articles of Confederation in their front declared that each State retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence; that could only mean the people in their organic character. In like manner the original constitution of Massachusetts declared: "The people inhabiting the territory formerly called the Province of Massachusetts Bay do hereby solemnly and mutually agree with each other to form themselves into a free, sovereign, and independent body politic, or State, by the name of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts." In the debates of the convention which formed the Constitution, as they are found reported in Elliott's "Debates," there is abundant proof that the men who prepared the instrument recognized sovereignty as belonging to the people of the individual States; that there was no purpose to transfer it to the Federal Government, or to regard it as being divisible. The States intrusted to the Federal Government, as their agent, some of the functions of sovereignty, but the performance of these by authority of the people of the States did not involve a violation of a cardinal feature in the American theory; that sovereignty
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