« ForrigeFortsett »
the ordinary form, on a proposition of two. perfection of their institutions, and is essential thirds of both Houses of Congress, to be ratifi- to the very existence of liberty. ed by three-fourths of the States; but, on the When, then, it is said, that a majority has the contrary, should the derangement of the system right to govern, there are too modes of estimat. be greai, embracing many points difficult to ing the majority, to either of which the expiesadjust, the States ought to be convened in a sion is applicable. The one in which the general convention, the most august of all as- whole community is regarded in the aggregate semblies, representing the united sovereignty and the majority is estimated in reference to the of the confederated States, and having power entire mass. This may be called, the majority and authority to correct every error, and 10 of the whole, or the absolute majority. The repair every dilapidation or injury, whether ther, in which it is regarded, in referer ce to caused by time or accident, crine conflicting its different political interesis, whether commovement of the bodies which compose the posed of different classes, of different commusystem. With institutions every way so fortu- nities, formed into one general confederated nate, possessed of means so well calculated to community, and in which the majority is esti. prevent disorders, and so admirable to correct maied, not in reference to the whole, but to them, when they cannot be prevented, ke who each class or community of which it is composwould prescribe fur our political disease, dis-ed, the assent of each, taken separately, and union on the une sile, corcion of a Stare, in the the concurrence of all constituting the majority, assertion of its rights, on the other, would de A majority thus estimated may be called the Serre and will receive the execrations of this and concurring majority. all future generations.
When it is objected to nullification, that it is • ' have now finished what I had to say on the opposed to the principle that a majority ought subject of this communication, in its immediate to govern, he who makes the objection, must connection with the Constitution. In the dis- mean the absolute, as distinguished from the cussion, I have advanced nothing but on the concurring. It is only in the sense of the form. authority of the Constitution itself, or that offer the objection can be applied. In that of recordec and unquestionable facts, connected the concurring, it would be absurd, as the c ne with the history of its origin and formation; curring assent of all the parts, (with us all the and have made no deduction, but such as rest- States,) is of the very essence of such majority, ed on principles which I believe to be unques. Again, it is manifest, that in the sense it would tionable; but it would be idle to expect, in the be good against nuliification, it would be equatpresent state of the public mind, a favorable ly so against the Constitution itself; tor, in reception of the conclusions to which I have whatever light that instrument may be regardibeen carried. There are too many miscon. ed, it is clearly, not the work of ihe absolute, ceptions to encounter, too many prejudices to but of the concurring majority. It was formed combat, and, above all, too great a weight of and ratified by the concurring assent of all the interest to resist. I do not propose to investi. States, and nut by the majority of the whole gate these great impediments to the reception taken in the aggregale, is has already been of the truth, though it would be an interesting stated. Thus the acknowledged right of each subject of inquiry to trace them to their cause, State in reference to the Constitution is uuquesand to measure the furce of their impending tivvably the same right which nullification atpower; but there is one among them of so mark tributes to each, in reference to the unconstitued a character, and which operates so extentional acts of the Government; and, if the latter sively, that I cannot conclude without making be opposed to the right of a majority to govern, it the subject of a few remarks, particularly as the former is equilly so. i go fartherThe they will de calculated to throw much light on objection might witli equal truth be applied to what has already been said.
al free States that have ever existed, I mean Of all the impediments, opposed to a just states deserving the vine, and excluding of conception of the nature of our political sys. course those which, after a factious and anarchi. lem, the impression that the right of a State io cal existence of a few years, have sunk under arrest an unconstitutional act of the General the yoke of tyranny, or the doininion of some Government, is inconsistent with the great and foreign power. There is not, with this excep. fundamental principle of all free States, that aftion, a single free State, whose institutions were majority has the right to govern, is the greatest. not based on the principle of the concurring Thus regarded, nullification is, withou: further majority-not one, in which the community reflection, denounced as the most dangerous was not regarded in reference to its different and monstrous of all political heresies, as in political interests, and which did not, in some truth it would be, were the objection as well form or other, take the assent of each in the op. founded, as in fact it is destitute of all founda. Jeration of the Governnent, L'), as I shall now proceed to show.
In support of this assertion, I might begin Those who make ilie objection, seem to suppose with our own Government and go back to that that the right of a majority to govern is a princi. of Sparta, and show, conclusively, that there is ple too simple to admit of anyjuistinction; St yet, not one on the list, whose institutions were not if I do not mistake, it is susceptible of the most organized on the principle of the concurring important distinction entering deeply into the majority, and in the operation of which, the construction of our system, and, I may ald, in- sense of each great interest was not separately to that of all free States, in proportion to the consulted. The various devices which have
been contrived for this purpose, with the pecu.
RING OVER THE ABSOLUTE MAJORITY.
granting and organizing authority, (if I may so a protection, and the former as a restraint, and, express myself,) the principle of the concur- of course, accompanied with all the impatient ring majority, and with it, that justice, mode. feelings, with which restrictions on cupidity ration, and full and perfect representation of and ambition are ever regarded by those unruly all the interests of the community which be passions. Under their influence, the Constilongs exclusively to it.
tution will be viewed by the majority, not as Such is the solidity and beauty of our admi. the source of their authority, as it should be, rable system, but which, it is perlecıly obvi- but as shackles on their power. To them it ous, can only be preserved by inaintaining the will have no value as the means of protection. ascendency of the CONSTITUTION-MAKING AU. As a majority, they require none. The numTHORITY OVER THE LAW-MAKING THE CONCUR- ber and strength, and not the Constitution, are
Nor is it their protection; and, of course, if I may so less clear, that this can only be effected by the speak, their instinct will be to weaken and deright of a State to annut ihe unconstitutional stroy the restrictions, in order to enlarge the acis of the Government-a right confounded powers. He must have a very imperfect knowwith the idea of a minority governing a majo- ledge of the human heart, who dues not see, in rity, but which, so far from being the case, is this state of things, an incessant conflict beindispensable to prevent the more energetic, tween the Government, or the law-making pow. but imperfect inajority, which controls the er, and the Constitution making power. Nor movements of the Government, from usurping is it less certain that in the contest, the advanthe place of that more perfect and just majori- tage will be exclusively with the former. ty, which formed the Constitution, and ordained The law-making power is organised and in Government to execute its powers.
constant action, having the control of the lion. Nor need we to apprehend this check, asors and emoluments of the country, and armed powerful as it is, will prove excessive. This with the power to punish and reward; the othdistinction between the Constitution and the er, on the contrary, is unorganised, lying dor. law-making powers, so strongly marked in our mant in the great inert mass of the community, institutions, may yet be considered as a new till called into action on extraordinary occasions, and untried experiment. It can scarcely be and at distant intervals, and then bestowing no said to have existed at all, before our system honors, exercising no patronage, having neither of Government. We have yet much to learn, the faculty to reward nor to punish, but enas to its practical operation, and among other dowed simply with the attribute to grant powthings, if I do not mistake, we are far from ers and ordain the authority to execute them. realizing the many and great difficulties of hold. The result is inevitable. With so strong an ing the latter subordinate to the former, and instinct on the part of he Government to throw without which, it is obvious the entire scheme off the restrictions of the Constitution, and to of constitutional government, at least in our enlarge its powers; ami with such powerful facsense, must prove abortive. Short as has been ulties to gratify this instinctive impulse, the our experience, some of these, of a very formi-law-making must necessarily encroach on the dable character, have begun to disclose them. Constitution-making power, unless restrained selves; particularly between the Constitution by the most efficient check, at least as strong and the Government of the Union. The two as that for which we contend. It is worthy of powers there, represent very different inter-remark, that all other circumstances being equal, ests; the one, that of all the states taken se. the more dissimilar the interests represented by parately; and the other, that of a majority of the two, the more powerful will be this tenden.. the States, as forming a confederated commu- cy to encroach; and it is from this among other nity. Each acting under the impulse of these causes, that is so much stronger between the respective and very different interests, must Government and the Constitution making pownecessarily strongly tend to come into collision; ers of the Union, where the interests are so and in the conflict, the advantage will be found, very dissimilar, than between the two in the almost exclusively, on the side of the Govern several states. ment or law-making power. A few remarks That the framers of the Constitution were a. will be sufficient to illustrate these positions. ware of the danger which I have describe!, we
The Constitution, while it grants powers to have conclusive proof, in the provision to which the Government, at the same time impuses re- plave so frequently alluded, i mean that wliich strictions on its action, with the intention of provides for ameniments to the Constitution. confining it within a limited range of powers I have already remarked on that portion of this and of the nieans of executing them. The ob. provision, which with the view of strengthening ject of the powers is, to protect the rights and the confederated powerconceded to three fourths promote the interests of all; and of the restric-of the States a right to amend, which otherwise tions, to prevent the majority, or the dominant could only have been exercised by the unaniinterests of the Government, from perverting mous consent of all. It is remarkable, that powers intended for the common guod, into the while th.s provision thus strengthend the amend. means of oppressing the minor interests of the ing power, as it regards the States, it impused community. Thus circumstanced, the domi- impediments on it, as far as the Government was nant interest in possession of the powers of concerned. The power of acting as a general the Government and the minor interests, on rule is invested in the majority of Congress, who they are exercised, must regard these re.but iustead of persnitting a majority to propose strictions in a very different light; the latter as amendments, the provision requires, for that
purpose, two thirds of both houses, clearly with BODI TRE WILL OF THE STRONGER INTEREST, IT a view of interposing a barrier against this TAE OPERATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND SOT strong instinctive appetite of the Government THE WILL OF THE WHOLE COMMUNITI, ASP TU for the acqusition of power. But it would have LEAVE THE OTHERS TNPROTECTED, A PRES TO ITS been folly in the extreme, thus carefully to AMBITION AND Curidilt just as would be guard the passage to the direct acquisition, bad the case between the rulers and rule !, if the the wide door of construction been left open to right to govern was vested exclusively in the it indirect; and hence, in the same spirit in bands of the former. They would both be, in which two thirds of both houses were required reality, absolute and despotic governments; the to propose amendments, the convention that one as much so as the other. framed the Constitution rejected the many They would both become mere instrument of capidity propositions which were moved in the body, and ambition in the hands of those who wielded them with the intention of divesting the States of the No one doubts tha such would be the case, were Re Goright of interposing, and thereby of the only 'ef- but, unfortunately for the cause of liberty, it is be lectual mcans of preventing the enlargement of seen, with equal clearness, tai it must as fiel estthe powers of the Government by construction. and yet, the former is niet nie certain lian the lates.
It is thus that the Constitution-making power to this we inay attribute de mistake no ofien sok te has fortified itself against the law-making; and fatally, repeated, itent " t expel a despit is to elablish that so effectually, that however strong the dis-liberiya mistake to which we may trace the fühere af position and capacity of the latter to encroach, error consists in considering communities as formed of the means of resistance on the part of the form. interests strictly identical thoughout
, indeed of wing er is not less powerful. If indeed encroach- distinct interests us there are individuals. The interest ments have been made, tive fault is not in the no two persons are the same, regarded in reference ?) each system, but in the inattention and neglect of other; th.vugh they may be, viewed in relation to the rest of those whose interests and duty it was to inter portions of the community bear to each other, in reteresse pose the ample means of protection afforded to the whole, that renders the principle of the enteurring by the Constitution.
inajority necessary to preserve liberty. Place the power To sum up in few'words in conclusion, what these would certaidly pervert the Goveramet fra the
in the hands of the absolute majority, and the structor appears to me to be the entire philosophy of object for which it was insútdred, the equal protection of government, in reference to the subject of this the rights of all, into an instrument of advancing itself, at
the expense of the rest of the community. Again this communication,
abuse of power, no remedy can be devised but that of the Two powers are necessary to the existence concurring majority. Neither the right of tufrage noir and preservation of free States; a power on the public opinion can possibly check it. "They, in fact, but part of the ruled to prevent rulers from abusing ing, that truths so obvious should be so imperíects un their authority, by compelling tbem to be faith. derstood. There would appear, indeed, a feebleness in ful to their constituents, and which is effected our intellectual powers on political subiecis, when direet
ed to large masses. We readily see why a single iedthrough the right of suffrage; and a power to vidual, as a ruler, would, if not prevented, oppress the COMPEL TAE PARTS OF SOCIETY TO BE JUST TO rest of the com..unity; but are at a loss to understand ONE ANOTHER, BI COMPELLING THEM TO CONSULT six millions, as if the relative numbers on either side
why seven millious would, it not also prevented, oypress THE INTEREST OF EACH OTHER, which can only could, in the least degree, vary the principle. be affected, whatever inay be the device for In staling what I have, I have but repeated the e rperithe purpose, by requiring the concurring assent ceding ours, and ours a fiu as it has progresseul. The
ences of ages, comprehending all free governments pure of all the great and distinct interests of the practical operation of ours has been substantially on the community to the measures of the Government. principle of the absolute majority. We have acced, with This result is the sum total of all the contrivances 10 interpret its owa powers, without limitation, or charteko adopted by free States to preserve their liberty, and, though many circumstances have favored er, and by preventing the conflicts between the several greatly inpeded the national progress of events under classes, or parts of the community. Both pow. whia ever direction we turn our eyes, the growing sinh crs are indispensable. The one as much so as tons of disorder and decay --the growia of faction, cupiti the other. The rulers are not more disposed 19, and corruption ; and the decay of patriotisan, integrity, to encroach on the ruled than the different in-flushed cheek and the short and fe verish breakb
, baxt terests of the community on one another, nor marks the approach of the fatal hour; and tone it will -would they more certaioly convert their power unless there be a speedy and radica, change a reluare do from the just and legitimate objects for which publican par y into authorily, but which, with the parti Governments are instituted, into an instrument session of poiver and prosperity, it has long mixte censed
Lo remember. of aggrundizement, at the expense of the ruled,
I have now finished the task, which your request ich uuless made responsible to their constituents posed if I have been so fortunate as to add to your than would the stronger interests theirs, at the fund a single new illustration of this great conservative expense of the weaker, unless compelled to con. principle of our Government, or to furaist an adtiucaul sult them, in the measures of the Government, and patriotic struggle to revive and waintain it, and we by taking their separate and concurring assent, which you have acted a part long 10 ta tentembered by The same cause operates in both cases, The for the time occupica' in no long a commun caton? constitution of our nature which would impel believe the cause to be the cause of truth and use it the rulers to oppress the ruled, unless prevent- of union, liberty, and the Constitution, before which the ed, would in like manner, and with equal force, insignitic anec; and that is still be so regulded to the cura? impel the stronger to oppress the weaker inter- distant posterity, I have not the slightest dongle,
To vest the right of Government in the With great and sincere regard, I am yours, absolute mujority, would be, in fact, BUT TO EM
JOHN C. CAL.ROVA, His Ex. James Hami top, fun, Gor, 8.C.