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to make Patrick Henry dictator, there arose a cry among patriots which had terrible significance. His brother said to him with deadly decision: “I learn that certain parties desire to create you dictator. Before sundown of the day you accept I will plant a dagger in your heart!"
Power and long official tenure go together, and hence the opposition to a third term President. One term was regarded by Washington as enough. He did not desire to serve a second term because of the opposition generated by the idea and his distaste for public office, Thomas Jefferson, in a warm patriotic letter, urged Washington to permit his name to go before the people for a second term. He contended that it was the duty of the President to make a sacrifice of his personal feelings for the good of his country. After a second term, literally forced upon him by political opponents as well as friends, he never had a thought of a third term. Thus was established that unwritten law which will always make it perilous for any man whose ambition prompts him to override it and invoke the vengeance of patriots on dictators.
This Washingtonian precedent is a declaration to the States and the people that ROTATION IN OFFICE IS THE LIFE OF A REPUBLIC.
What was the Declaration of Independence ?
separation ” from Great Britain. It was a prophecy of the coming first and second Constitutions, especially of the Bill of Rights of the latter. It expressly declares for
separation" in the preamble to the bill of indictment against George III. Jefferson knew that it would intensify hostilities.
Is separation a peaceful and efficacious remedy ?
It never can be and it would be folly to think so where there are conflicting opinions and interests.
Revolution is a natural right. It is therefore a perfect right which can enforce itself. Separation is an imperfect right, and cannot enforce itself.
If ever a successful war is waged against the Union by the people, growing out of centralized encroachments, the United States would cease to be, but the States would live. As an example, the Confederation passed away, but the States survived. Ours is not an “indestructible Union,” but the States are indestructible bodies politic. They are perpetually vivified by the people who occupy them.
What did Choate say ?
States may be compared to the primordial particles of matter, indivisible, indestructible, impenetrable, and exist in their independent identity, while the Union is an artificial aggregation of such particles.” Chief Justice Chase's glittering epigram of an “indestructible Union of indestructible States” seems to have been plagiarized from Webster's “ liberty and union one and indivisible, now and forever," and from Choate's brilliant comparison.
What were the opinions in subsequent days?
Josiah Quincy, in 1811, seemed to think peaceful separation could be accomplished. On the question of admitting Louisiana, Mr. Quincy, member of Congress from Massachusetts, said: “ If this bill passes, it is my deliberate opinion that it is virtually a dissolution of the Union; that it will free the States from their moral obligation, and as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, definitely to prepare for a separation-amicably if they can, violently if they must.”
In December, 1814, the Hartford convention reported : "If the Union be destined to dissolution by reason of the multiplied abuses of bad administration, it should, if possible, be the work of peaceable times and deliberate consent. Wherever it shall appear that the causes are radical and permanent, a separation by an equitable arrangement will be preferable to an alliance by constraint among nominal friends, but real enemies." In 1844 the legislature of Massachusetts adopted a resolution declaring: “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, faithful to a compact between the people of the United States, according to the plain meaning and intent in which it was understood by them, is sincerely for its preservation, but that it is determined, as it doubts not the other States are, to submit to undelegated power in no body of men on earth ;” and that “the project of the annexation of Texas, unless arrested on the threshold, may tend to drive these States into a dissolution of the Union."
Mr. Madison, the principal draftsman of the treaty between the States, lays down this rule: “ It is an established doctrine on the subject of treaties that all articles are mutual conditions of each other; that a breach of any article is a breach of the whole treaty; and that a breach committed by either of the parties absolves the others, and authorizes them, if they please, to pronounce the compact violated and void. Should it unhappily be necessary to appeal to those delicate truths for a justification for dispensing with the consent of particular States to a dissolution of the Federal pact, will not the complaining parties find it a difficult task to answer the multiplied and important infractions withi which they may be confronted ?”
What say the famous Virginia and Kentucky resolutions ?
The Virginia resolutions were drawn up by James Madison, and the Kentucky resolutions by Thomas Jefferson. They were aimed at the Alien and Sedition law, as before stated. The following is the first Kentucky resolution :
“Resolved, that the several States comprising the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government, but that, by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government, for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government, and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, that this government created by this compact, was not made the exclusive or