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UNITED STATES WEEKLY TELEGRAPH,
which would effectually repeal all constitutional
and ail legal obligations.
The Constitution declares that public officers in the State Governments, as well as in the General Government, shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. , 'I his s all. ridicule on the whole provision, if the Constitu. tion had gone on to add the words, “us he understands it?” What could come nearer to a solemn farce than to bind a man, by oath, and still leave him to be his own interpreter of his own offligation? Sir, those who are to execute the laws have no more a license to construe them for themselves,than those whose only duty is to obey them. Public officers are bound to support the Constitution; private citizens are bound to obey it; and there is no more indul. gence granted to the public officer, to support the Constitution only as he understands it, than to a private citizen so to obey it, only as he understands it; and what is true of the Constitution, in this respect, is equally true of any law. Laws are to be executed, and to be obeyed, not as individuals may interpret them, but according to public, authoritative interpretation and au. judication. The sentiment of the message would abrogate the obligation of the whole criminal code. If every man is to judge of the Constitution and the laws for himself, if he is to obey and support them only as he may say he understands them, a revloution, I think, "would take place in the administration of jus. tice; and discussions about the law of treason, murder, and arson, should be addressed, not to the judicial bench, but to those who night stand charged with such offences. The object of discussion should be, if we run out this notion to its natural extent, to convince the culprit himself how he cught to understand the law. Mr. President, how is it possible, that a sentiment so wild, and so dangerous, so encouraging to all who feel a desire to oppose the laws, and to quarrel with the Constitution, should have been uttered by the President of the Unit. ed States, at this eventful and critical moment Are we not threatened with dissolution of the Union 2 Are we not told that the laws of the Government shall be openly and directly resisted 1s. not the whole country looking, with the utmost anxiety, to what may be the result f these threatened courses 2 And, at this very momen', so full of peril to the States, the Chief Magistrate puts forth opinions and sentiments as truly subversive of all Government, as absolutely in cofflict with the authority of the Constitution, as the wildest theories of nullification. Mr. President, I have very little regard for the law, or the log.c, of nullification. But there is not an individual in its ranks, capable of putting
Would it isot have cast an air of
well as the President of the United States, we |sworn to support the Constitution, Bohl. and they have taken the same oath, in the sue words. Now, sir, since he claims the fight to interpret the Constitution as he pleasts, low |can he deny the same right to them? Ishāqlū less stringent than theirs? Has he apture; in of dispensation, which they do not poss' |How can he answer them, when they tellin that the revenue laws are unconstitutou, a they understand the Constitution, and tha, to fore, they will nullify them? Will he too them, according to the doctrines of lisual inessage in 1830, that precedent has sekito question, if it was ever doubtful? To vil answer him, in his own words, in the Wesoło sage, that in such a case precedent is work ing. Will he say to them, that the out law is a law of Congres, which mustbetwo ed, until it shall be declared vid? To answer him, that, in other casts, he losino refused to execute laws of Congres withhol not been declared void, but which had bees on the contrary, declared valid. Will hero the force of judicial decision? They will. swer, that he himself does out admitive bid. ing obligations of such decisions. So, the Po -ident of the United States isofopinion thin individual, called on to execute a hy, o, himself, judge of its constitutional oilo Has nullification any thing more follo than that The President is of opinionths!" dicial interpretations of the Consistorio laws do not bind the conscients, and * not to bind the conduct,of men, Hasmullion anything more disorganizing thanu' " President is of opinion that every officer is bound to support the constitution only to ing to what ought to be, in his privaleo its construction has nullification, ins". est flight, ever reached to an estwo” that? No, sir, never. The doctrino cation, in my judgment, a most also ous, and revolution.ry doctrine, is to o the State, or a State, may declare the “” the obligations which is citizens are mo" the United States; in other words, that. So, by State laws, and State judicatures, no clusively construe the Constitution for " citizens, But that every individual mojo” strue it for himself, is a refinementoute" ty of resistance to constitutional power.” mation of the right of being dolo!" th: Union, a free charter for elevation of " opinion above the authority of the funa"
law of the State, such as was never Pto
to the public view and the publicasions.” even by nullification itself. Its first apper" is in the Vero Message. Melanchus; and to mentable,indeed, sir, is our cond ion, who"
the principles of the Veto Message, cannot de. fend as that nullification has ever threatened. To in-ke this assertion good, sir, let us see tow
the case stands. The Legislature of South Carolina, it is said, will nullify the late revenue or tari!, law, because, they say, it is not warranted by the Constitution of the United States, as they understand that Constitution. They, as
such lands. I cannot feel that the press"
political party which now pushes these doctrines, but to the doctrines themselves. Has he any where rebuked them? Has he any where discouraged them? Has his influence been exerted to inspire respect for the Constitution, and to produce obedience to the laws? Has he followed the bright example of his predecessors; has he held fast by the institutions of his country; has he summoned the good and the wise around him; has he admonished the country that the Union is in danger, and called on all the patriotic to come out in its support? Alas!" Sir, we have seen nothing, nothing of all this. Mr. President, I shall not discuss the doctrine of nullification. I am sure it can have no friends here. Gloss it and disguise it as we may, it is a pretence incompatiose with the authority of the Constitution. If direct separa. tion be not its only mode of operation, separation is, nevertheless, its direct consequence. That a State may nullify a law of the Union, and still remain in the Union; that she may have Senators and Representatives in the Government, and yet be at liberty to disobey and
against superseding the authority of the laws, by an armed force, under pretence of putting down nullification. The President has no authority to blockade Charleston, the President has no authority to employ military force, till he shall be duly required so to do, by law, and by the civil au
thorities. His duty is to cause the laws to be executed. His duty is to support the civil authority. His duty is, if the laws be resisted, to
employ the military force of the country, if necessary, for their support and execution; but to do all this, in compliance only with law and with decisions of the tribunals. If, by any ingenious devices, those who resist the laws escape from the reach of judicial authority, as it is now provided to be exercised, it is entirely competent to Congress to make such new provisions as the exigency of the case inay demand. These provisions undoubtedly will be made. With a constitutional and efficient head of the Government, with an- administration really and truly in favor of the constitution, the cbuntry can grapple with nushfication. By
resist that Government; that she may partake in the common councils, and yet not be bound by their results; that she inay control a law of Congress, so that it shall be one thing with her, while it is another thing with the rest of the Soates; all these propositions seem to be so absolutely at war with common sense and reason, that I do not understand how any intelligent person can yield the slightest assent to them. Nullification, it is in vain to attempt to conceal it, is dissolution; it is disme:nber. inent; it is the breaking up of the Union. It it shall practically succeed, in any State, from that monent there are twenty-four States in the Union no longer. Now, Sir, I think it exceed ingly probable that the President may come to an open rupture with that portion of his original party which now constitutes what is called the nullification party. I think it likely he with oppose the proceed ngs of that party, if they shall adopt measures coming directly in conflict with the laws of the United States. But how will he oppose? What will be his course of remedy? Sor, I wish to call the attention ol tne meeting, and of the people, earnestly to this question, how will the President attempt to o; down nullification, if he shall attempt it at 2
Sir, for one, I protest in advance against such reneties as I have heard hinted. The administra, on itself keeps a profound silence, but its friends have spoken for it. We are told, sir, that the President will immediately employ the military force, and at once blockade Charleston.’ A military remedy, a remedy by airect beliiger ent operation, has been thus suggested, and nothing else has been suggested, as the intend– ed means of preserving the Union. Sir, ther, is no httle reason to think that this suggestion is true. we cannot be altogether unminutus of the fact; and therefore we cannot be altogether unapprehensive for the future. For one, Sir, I raise my voice beforehand, against the unau
the force of reason, by the progress of enlightened, opinion, by the natural. genuine patriotlism of the country, and by the steady and well sustained operations of law, the progress of disorganization may be successfully checked, | and the union maintained. Let it be remembered, that where nullification is most powerful, it is not unopposed. Let it be remembered that they who would break up the union by force, have to march toward that object through thick ranks of as brave and good inen as the country can rais, ; men, strong in charocter, strong in intelligence, strong in the purity of their own motives, and ready, always ready, to sacrifice their fortunes and their lives to the preservation of the constitutional union of the States. If we can relieve the country from an administration which denies to the constitution those powers which are the breath of its life, if we can place the government in the hands of its iriends, if we can secure it against the dangers of irregular and unlawful and motary force; it it can be worder the lead of an admi'ustration where inoderation, firmness, and wisdom shall inspire confidence and command respect, we may yet surmount the d-ngers, numerous and formidable as they are, which surround us. And, sir, I see little prospect of overcoming these dangers without a co.o. 2 of inen. After all that has passed, the re-election of the present executive will give the national sanction to sentiunents, an i to measures, which will efsecrually change the government, which, in short, must destroy the government. If the i’resident be re-elected, w.tu concurrent and co-op rating majorities on both liouses of Congress, I do not see tort, to four years more, all the power which is swif red to ren, on in the government, wool hot be holden by the executive hand. Nuolitication will proceed or will Le put down by a power as unconstitutional as itself. The evenues will be managed
thorized, employinent of mitary power, and
by a treasury bank. The use of the WEro will
be considered as sanctioned by the public voice
that, with respect and decency, though * a broken and bleeding heart, she may Po last tribute to a glorious, departido tution.
adjoining her, holding similar constitutional
Font Hill, August 28th, 1832. My Dear Sir: I have received your note of the 31st July, requesting me to give you a fuller development of my views than that con
ed your press, as the medium of communicating tained in my address last summer, on the right tainly in relation to them, and yet judging by what is constantly heard and seen, there are few subjects on which the public opinion is more confused. The most indefinite expressions are habitually used in speaking of them. Sometimes it is said that the Constitution was made by the States, and at others, as if in contradiction, by the poeple, without distinguishing between the two very different meanings which may be attached to those general expressions; and this, not in ordinary conversation, but in grave discussions before deliberate bodies, and in judicial investigations, where the greatest accuracy, on so important a point, might be expected: particularly, as one or the other meaning is intended, conclusions the most opposite must follow, not only in reference to the subject of this communication, but as to the nature and character of our political system. By a State, may be meant either the Government of a State or the people, as forming a separate and independent community; and by the people, either the American people taken collect. ively, as forming one great community, or as the people of the several States, forming, as above stated, separate and independent communities. These distinctions are essential in the inquiry. If, by the people, be meant, the people collectively, and not the people of the several States taken separately; and, if it be true, indeed, that the Constitution is the work of the American people collectively; if it originated
to the good people of South Carolina the opirooms of one of the most distinguished of her tons, on a question of deep and vital interest; on which he has reflected with profound de. liberation, -opiniors, which are as much their property as his own, and which I cannot but think Mr. Calhoun has presented in a light approaching as nearly to demonstration as any subject which belongs to moral and not mathematical reasoning will permit. Consider, therefore, the whole correspondence, as in your hands, to be published, if you please, as early as the engagements of your press will permit. I remain, dear sir, with great esteem, Very respectfully, your ob't serv't, .J. HAMILTON, Junior. Dr. F. W. SYMMEs. PENDLEros, July 31st, 1832. My Dear Sir. In reading again, a few days since, your communication addressed, last summer, to the editor of the “Pendleton Mes— senger,” containing an exposition of the doctrine of the right of interposition, which belongs to a sovereign State in this confederacy, to arrest an usurpation on the part of the General Government, of powers not delegated to it, I felt satisfied, not only from a remark which you yourself make in that article, but from an obvious condensation of your argument, that there were still a variety of lights in which the truth and vital importance of this highly conservative principle to the liberties of the States, were quite familiar to the reflections of your own mind, which have not suggested themselves even to those who are the most zealously devoted to the doctrines in question. Your patience has been so heavily taxed by the late oppressive session of Congress, (oppressive in every sense of the term,) that I feel some scruple in placing you under the requisition which my request is about to impose on you; out if you could find leisure this suminor, for my private satisfaction and information, to fill out your argument of the last year, by going somewhat more into detail both as to tue prin
of a State to defend her reserved powers
against the encroachments of the General Government. As fully occupied as my time is, were it doubly so, the quartcr from which the request comes, with my deep conviction of the vital importance of the subject, would exact a compliance. No one can be more sensible than I am, that the address of last summer fell far short of exhausting the subject. It was in fact intended as a simple statement of my views. I telt that the independence and caudor, which ought to distinguish one occupying a high punlic station, imposed a duty on me to meet the call for my opinion, by a frank and full avowal of my sentiments, regardless of consequences. To fulfil this duty, and not to discuss the subject, was the object of this address. But in making these preliminary remarks, I do not intend to prepare you to expect a full discussion on o present occasion. What I propose is to touch some of the more prominent points, that have received less of the public attention, that their importance seems to me to demand. Strange as the assertion may appear, it is nevertheless true, that the great difficulty in determining, whether a State has the right to defend the reserved powers against the General Government, or in fact any right at all beyond those of a mere corporation, is to bring the public fund to realise plain historical facts, connected with the origin and formation of the Government. Till they are fully understood, it is impossible that a correct and just view can be taken of the subject. In this coun-ction, the first and most important point is to ascertain distinctly who are the real authors of the Constitution of the United States, whose powers created it, whose voice clothed it with autho. rity, and whose agent, the government it formed in reality is. At this point 1 commence the execution of the task which your request has imposed. The formation and adoption of the Constitution are events so recent, and all the connected facts so fully attested, that it would seen impossible that there should be the least uncer|
forming political communities, and notism; viduals. Even in the first stage of exist: they formed distinct colonies, independent of each other, and politically united only tino the British Crown. In their first informilum. en, for the purpose of resisting the entrol. ments of the mother country, they unitia distinct political communities; and, posts from their colonial condition, in the act to nouncing their independence to the works declared themselves,by name and enumenia, free and independent Slates. In that ùre ter they formed the old confedention; r. when it was proposed to supercede the to of the confederation by the present to tion, they met in convention as Slato, or and voted as States; and the Constituto formed, was submitted for ratification to the people of the several States; it was titfodby them as States, each State forities to its ratification binding its own citieth to parts thus separately binding themoth of not the whole the parts; to which, fitted. ed, that it is declared in the promotio Constitution to be ordained by the pokos" United States, and in the attle of to when ratified, it is declared “soliosk tween the States so ratifying,” the to is inevitable, that the €onstitution stewark of the people of the states, consideredo: rate and independent political communo they are its authors—their power cardo
with them, and derives its authority from their their voice clothed it with uthority-les to will, then there is an end of the argument. 'Government it formed is in reality their go The right claimed for a State, of defending her and that the Union, of which it is the bond, i. reserved powers against the General Govern-'an union of states, and not of individual. M ment, would be an absurdity. Viewing the one, who regards his characterst into American people collectively, as the source of and truth, has ever ventured directly to de political power, the rights of the States would be facts so certain; but while they are two inere concessions—concessions from the com-for denial, they are, also, too concio hi. mon majority, and to be revoked by them with |vor of the rights of the States for admists. the same sacility, that they were granted. The The usual course has been adopted to states would, on this supposition, bear to the what can neither be denied moraim to Union the same relation that counties do to the never has the device been more so States; and it would, in that case, be just as practised. By confounding State, with solo preposterous to discuss the right of interposi-Governments, and the people of ho tion, on the part of a State against the General with the American people collectively, to Government, as that of the counties against the as it regards the subject of this communo states themselves. That a large portion of the totally dissimilar, as much so as a to people of the United States thus regard the re-a square, ficts, of themselves persoll, orst iation between the State and the General Go- and plain, and which, when well unders vernment, including many who call themselves' must lead to a correctoonception file so the friends of State rights, and opponents of have been involved in obscurity and so consolidation, can scarcely be doubted, as it is I will next proceed to state some of of stonly on that supposition it can be explained, sults which necessarily follow, from * fols that so many of that description should so which have been established. the doctrine for which the State contends, as so o absurd. t
The first, and in reference to the * But fortunately, the supposition is this communication, the most importano entirely destitute of truth. So far from the there is no direct and immediate conna". Constitution being the work of the American tween the individual citizens of a Salt people collectively, no such political body either General Government. The relation * now, or ever did exist. In that character the them is through the State. The Union iso people of this country never performed a single union of States, as communities, and moto political act, nor indeed can, without an entire junion of individuals. As members ofs Sto revolution in all our political relations. her citizens were originally subko to to I challenge an instance. From the begin-strol, but that of the §ate, and could be" ning, and in all the changes of political exist-sto no other, except by the acouf the so ence through which we have passed, the peo-litself. The constitution was 4. go Ple of the United States have been united, as mited to the states for their into