its technicalities—all its minor considerations; reduce it at once to its elements and substance; and what is the contest in which we are engaged? It is simply and essentially a Contest on the one side for the Principles of Despotism, and on the other, for the Principles of Liberty!
And how great would be the crowning Glory of our beloved State, were she not crippled by the obstructions of the Smith party, which now clog her noble efforts, to succeed by arresting Federal usurpation [whilst yet it can be arrested,] in restoring the violated charter of our Rights to its hallowed purity; and thus to reap the enviable and exalted Distinction of being the Redeemer of the Constitution, and, for all time to come, the Saviour of the Union!
We commence with the examples of Virginia and Kentucky in 1798—as well because they are amongst the earliest instances of the recognition of this State Remedy under the present Union—as because they constitute the authorities by which we justify ourselves, and sustain our cause—the Authorities to wit, of Madison and Jefferson in '98; exemplifying as they do, the original and authentic school of Republicanism, or in other words, of State Rights—for we hold these terms to be perfectly correlative and synonymous.
The parent however of the principle of Nullification is good old Pennsylvania—for that veteran State instituted and enforced this doctrine under the ancient Confederation, in 1779, by a positive and peremptory Act of her State Legislature. Yet the most approved and esteemed specimens of Nullification, are those exhibited by Virginia and Kentucky, as recommended by Madison and Jefferson, viz.—By Virginia:
1st. by the Resolutions of December 1798—On the 21st day of December, 1798—the Legislature of Virginia, having determined to oppose and resist the Alien and Sedition Laws of Congress—passed the following (among other) Resolutions:
"Resolved, That the General Assembly of Virginia doth unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this State, against every aggression, either foreign or domestic—and that they will support the Government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.
Resolved, "That this assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare that it view the Powers of the Federal Government as resulting from the compact to which the States are parties—as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constitution that compact—as no further valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact—and that in case of a deliberate, palpable and dangerous exercise of other powers not granted by the said compact, the States who are parties thereto, have the right and are in duty bound to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits the authorities, rights and liberties, appertaining to them."
"The General Assembly doth solemnly appeal to the like dispositions," (towards the Constitution of the Union,) "in the other States, in confidence that they will concur with this Commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the Acts aforesaid are unconstitutional and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each, for co-operating with this State, in maintaining unimpaired the authorities, Rights, and Liberties, reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
2dly. By the Act of 1798, protecting the members of her Legislature—The Act passed by Virginia to Nullify the Sedition Law as to her Legislature, is in the following words:
"Whereas, the freedom of speech and proceedings appertaineth of right to the General Assembly, and the preservation thereof is necessary to secure the Liberty of the people.
Be it enacted,—That if any person shall arrest or prosecute, or be aiding or abetting in arresting or prosecuting a Member or Members of the Senate or House of Delegates for, or on account of, any words spoken or written, any propositions made, or proceeding had, in the said Senate or house of Delegates, every such person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be apprehended, commmitted and tried therefor, as in other cases of misdemeanors, before the General Court, or Superior Court of Law of this Commonwealth, and being thereof convicted, by the verdict of a Jury, shall be adjudged to suffer imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year and shall pay a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars; which imprisonment and fine shall be assessed by a Jury.
And if any member or members of the said Senate or House of Delegates, shall be arrested or imprisoned, for or on account of any words spoken or written, or for any proposition made, or proceedings had, in the said Senate or House of Delegates, such member or members may apply to the General Court, or to a superior court of law, or any Judge thereof, in vacation, for a writ of Habeas Corpus, who are hereby empowered and required to issue the same, returnable before the said Court or said Judge, and upon the return thereof, to liberate and discharge such member or members.
The provisions of this Act shall be extended to the arresting and prosecuting any person or persons for words spoken in the said Senate or House of Delegates, or for any proposition made, or proceedings had in the said Senate or House of Delegates, and to the discharging and liberating any person or persons by Habeas Corpus as aforesaid, although such persons shall, by disqualification, or from any other cause; have ceased to be a member of the said Senate, or House of Delegates, at the time of such arrest or prosecution, or of the trial, judgment, or imprisonment, in consequence thereof—provided that nothing herein contained, shall, in any respect extend to the power which either House of the General Assembly now hath, or may exercise over their respective members." [See revised Code, vol. 1, p. 164.]
Thus we find that Virginia, in 1798, under the sanction of such men as Jefferson and Madison, not only recognized the principle, but actually passed an Act, enforcing the practice of the doctrine of Nullification. This Act, it is true, only extended to the members of her Legislature. Butcan be no doubt that a general act would have soon followed, extending to all citizens of Virginia, if the Alien and Sedition Laws had been re-enacted or continued in force.
3dly. The principle is again fully recognized by the report of the Committee, and the Resolutions, of the Legislature of Virginia in February, 1827, on the subject of Internal Improvements and the Tariff; which Report and Resolutions were drawn up, (and adopted,) in obedience to previous instructions from the Legislature, concluding with these words, "If the Committee should find all or any of these unauthorized assumptions of power, on the part of the