Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

will not justify resistance to constitutional authority.

Were the Constitution merely a compact between the States, no one of the parties would have a right to withdraw from it. The interests of all are involved ; common engagements are formed, and common rights are acquired ; which might be essentially injured, if one, or some of the parties, might revoke their consent to the compact. This doctrine is so familiar in the ordinary concerns of individuals, that it does not admit of a doubt whether a man who has entered into a contract with others, is bound by the terms of it, though, from any cause, he may become dissatisfied with his bargain. The principle is the same with the larger bodies, whether Corporations or States; and that it has been made a question, is to be attributed to the power and dignity of the parties, not to the doubtfulness of the subject. In treaties, which are compacts between States, no one doubts the obligation of the parties, unless in cases which justify war.

But, as has been said, the Constitution is not a mere compact, but a government, over which the States have no rightful control. It is formed by all the people, its powers are delegated by all, it acts for all, and all are subject to its authority, within its allotted sphere. In this, there is no hardship, no degradation. For the States to resist it, is to set themselves in opposition to the people. As the national government was formed by the people, so it is under their control, and depends upon them for its existence. If they find it incompetent or oppressive, they may

amend or destroy it ; but so long as they continue it in existence, its authority should be recognised and obeyed.

Every attentive observer, who is unprejudiced by attachment to some other form of government, must be struck with the excellence of our Constitution, and its peculiar adaptation to the circumstances of our country. Extending over an immense territory, and comprising a numerous population, having a common language, and manners, and, in all important particulars, a common interest, yet separated into rival States, of unequal magnitude and power ; no single government, without despotic power, would be sufficient for the whole. If, on the other hand, the States were completely sovereign and independent, each possessing all the powers of government, and united only by à league ; the uniform experience of the world proves, that they would have been liable to constant dissensions, which would almost inevitably lead to civil wars, imbittered by the very similarity of manners, and feelings of friendship which had formerly united them. The present system is a happy medium between the two extremes. The management of foreign relations, and of all matters of general interest, is committed to the national government; while the regulation of all local and domestic affairs, is reserved to the respective States. By this means, the system may be expanded to an indefinite extent; the nation may be increased, and strengthened by the additior. of new States, and the protection of government be extended over the whole ; and the interests of each portion be as carefully regarded, and preserved, as if it were the only object of attention.

But this truly grand result depends upon our union ; and as we value our liberty and independence, we should cherish the Union, recollecting, that upon its preservation, depends the dignity, safety, and happiness of our country.

This Union, in the language of Washington's farewell address, which ought to be engraved on the heart of every citizen, “is a main pillar in the edifice of our real independence; the support of our tranquillity at home ; our peace abroad ; of our safety; of our prosperity; of that very liberty, which we so highly prize. It is of infinite moment that we should properly estimate the immense value of our national union to our collective and individual happiness ; that we should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immoveable attachment to it; accustoming ourselves to think and speak of it, as of the palladium of our political safety and prosperity ; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety, discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can, in any event, be abandoned ; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”

APPENDIX.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.

THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED

STATES OF AMERICA.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires, that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:-that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves, by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object

, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny

« ForrigeFortsett »