Page:Examiner, Journal of Political Economy, v2n08.djvu/3

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is precisely in such cases that the State would have the least motive for coming into collision with her sister States. Besides, according to the doctrine for which I am contending, this evil would be temporary only; it must cease in some way or other as soon as the other States act upon the subject. I acknowledge however, that it is at best an evil, but it is an evil inseparable from our system, and one which cannot be avoided except by submitting to a greater evil. It is perfectly evident that this right must exist in the States unless it be incompatible with the rights of the Federal Government. Supposing this incompatibility to exist, there must be a right in that Government to control the States in this respect, and to enforce a law which the States may have pronounced to be unconstitutional. Let us now suppose an abuse of this right. It would consist in an attempt by the Federal Government to coerce obedience to an unconstitutional law.—This, sir, it seems to me, is despotism in its very essence. If the Federal Government may enforce one unconstitutional law, it may enforce every unconstitutional law, and thus all the rights of the States and the people may fall one by one, before the omnipotence of that Government. This consequence is too manifest to escape even the most superficial observation. The worst possible result of nullification, even in the opinion of its bitterest opponents, is to dissolve the Union—and this result does not legitimately flow from it; while the alternative which they propose, establishes an absolute despotism, which not only dissolves the Union, but establishes the worst possible form of government upon its ruins. Thus it appears that nullification is much less apt to be abused, than the alternate remedy, and when abused, its consequences are infinitely less to be deprecated. Of the two evils, I choose the least. I prefer the remedy, which, although in its extreme abuse, it may lead to disunion, may be peaceful in its results, to one which necessarily dissolves the Union, and whose direct object and tendency are to violence and blood, and absolute power.

And now Sir, you have a full view of nullification as I understand it. As I sincerely desire to be right in politics, as well as in morals and religion, I submit myself with all deference, to the correction of your greater wisdom. At all events, you ought to relieve your own principles from the cloud which now hangs over them, and renders them somewhat obscure to the general vision. In my next letter, I shall say something to you in reference to South Carolina.


From the Washington Globe, Sept. 23, 1833.