Norfolk, January 2, 1833.

The People of each of the several revolted Colonies of Great Britain, having become free, sovereign, and independent States, in the manner stated in my last number, must necessarily continue to be such Sovereigns now, unless they have done or suffered some act, since this their Sovereignty was assumed, whereby its rights and powers have been annulled. Have they done or suffered any such act?

This is the question, which, in my last number, I proposed to examine in this. But a reperusal of the Proclamation of the President, since this promise was made, having shewn me, what I had not before observed, that doubts are therein cast upon the truth of my proposition which asserted the primitive sovereignty of the several States, although this is often admitted, by necessary implication, at least, in many other parts of this very instrument itself, I think it right to endeavor to remove all these doubts before I proceed further in the execution of the task I have undertaken.

During the various discussions, which the agitation of the questions as to the extent of the legitimate powers of the present government of the United States called forth, in former days, this asserted original sovereignty of the States was admitted and claimed by both sides, and was made the very basis of all the arguments of Federalists and Democrats respectively.

To these discussions, there was then brought, by either party, as much of zeal, of industry, of wisdom, and of laborious research, as have ever been manifested in this country, before or since; and the discussions were conducted, on either hand, by many of the Patriots of the Revolution, who were familiar with all its events, because they had been actors and advisers in that great scene ab initio.

Nay, it used to be then contended, by either party, that the jealous retainer by the States of their primitive rights of sovereignty, had caused the necessity for the then new Federal Constitution.

But, like Moliere's mock doctor, "nous avons changé tout cela," and the new College of Politicians, having younger, and of course wiser heads, have of late discovered, that all this was a mistake. The fashionable doctrine of the present day seems to be, that these States never were Sovereign; that there was, from the beginning, some great Central Sovereign power, abiding somewhere else than in the several States, of which they were subjects, and all their people lieges. In illustration of this new doctrine, the Proclamation says, that "in our colonial state, although dependent upon another power, we very early considered ourselves as connected by common interest with each other.—Leagues were formed for common defence; and before the Declaration of Independence, we were known in our aggregate character as The United Colonies of America. That decisive and important step was taken jointly. We declared ourselves a nation by a joint, not by several acts."

The exceeding caution in which this passage is penned, its intended assertions of doctrine, while seeming to narrate facts, merely, and the opening it obviously and designedly leaves, for escape from these doctrines, under the fog and smoke of verbal criticism, should the doctrines be thereafter controverted, may perhaps excite the admiration of minds trained or training in the mazes of diplomacy.

But when found in a State paper, uttered by the Chief Magistrate, and announced by him, as being intended for the edification and instruction of those to whom it is addressed, it can never meet the approbation of the candid and ingenuous.

Its obvious purpose is to assert, as a political dogma, that the revolted Colonies became one Sovereign Nation, before they severally assumed sovereignty upon themselves as individual States; and so to prove, that the States never were sovereign. But as this new doctrine was in direct conflict with all our past opinions, and in seeming opposition to much of our past history, it would not do to blurt it in the public face at once, as doctrine, therefore it is presented seemingly as a simple fact. Nay, it is not exhibited as a substantive fact, but in the modest guise of a mere inference from other facts. These other facts, too, are asserted in selected terms of such broad and general signification, that it is difficult to fix their precise meaning. If, seeing the necessary tendency and effect of the doctrine designed to be put forth in this passage, any one denies its truth, such may be immediately met by the assertion, that it is not stated as doctrine, but as historical fact merely. If it be denied as such a fact, it may be immediately said, that it is not asserted as a substantive fact, but only as one inferred from others previously stated. If the correctness of this inference is questioned, then commences a discussion as to the true meaning of the words employed to state the facts from which the inference is made; and this discussion, if it convicts the author of error, will also furnish him with an excuse for saying, that he is no scholar, not skilled in "metaphysical subtlety," and therefore, may have used terms inappropriate to convey, accurately, his own meaning, which, however, is precisely yours. But if the true signification of the words employed in this apparent and simple narrative, is once admitted to be that in which they are obviously used, and if the facts themselves, so told, are conceded, then no logical mind can escape from the conclusion derived from such facts, and the purpose of this argument, which is to disprove the original sovereign rights of the States, is fully attained.

The ingenuity of an argument thus constructed, undoubtedly has merit, but it is not such merit us ingenuous candour can ever claim. It imposes upon all who may deny its conclusion, the laborious task of unravelling a long tissue of supposed errors, and when they have done so, it exposes them to the sneer of having laboured to disprove what, it will then be said, was never affirmed.

On the other hand, if they pass by such things unnoticed, they immediately fall into the snare laid for them, from which they cannot then easily extricate themselves.—For one, I greatly prefer to undertake the labour, and to subject myself to the sneer, than to incur the other hazard. Therefore, I will bring the whole of this narrative and argumentative passage to the test of a strict analysis. Its importance justifies, its art requires this.

The object of this argument, (confessed in its conclusion,) is to prove that the People of some of these now United States, while in their colonial state, declared themselves to be a Nation, by the Declaration of Independence made in 1776, under which they became "One People." The necessary and inevitable result of this would be, that the People having once resolved themselves into one Nation, could not thereafter create themselves into separate and independent sovereignties, otherwise than by force, or by common consent.

But as no one has presumed, as yet at least, to establish, or to attempt to establish sovereignty here, by force; and as there exists not the slightest memorial of any common consent on the part of this supposed Nation, to its own dismemberment, therefore the sovereignty of the States never could have existed. The author of this Proclamation, does not seem to have been aware of the fact, which I stated in my last number, that before the declaration of Independence in July 1776, the People of Virginia certainly, and of several of the other Colonies, I believe, had severally announced their own sovereignty and independence, in totally dissolving their former government, and ordaining new governments for themselves respectively. But if such a fact had been known to him, it would not have changed the intended effect of his conclusion; because, as this new Nation is said to have been created by the People, a part of which People the creators of State sovereignties were, their last act would of course have abrogated and annulled their first, and so put an end to the sovereignty which they had created but a short time before. So that the Sovereignty of all the States which had declared themselves sovereign before the declaration of Independence in July 1776, is as certainly annulled, as the existence of the sovereignty of those States who had not then declared it, is prevented, by the mere assertion of this simple fact of our existence as one nation, if that fact was true. A matter so important in its consequences ought not, and would not be conceded, to the mere say-so of any man, although that man might be the President; therefore, it became indispensably necessary, that he should prove it. Hence the attempt to do so.—Let me now examine what these proofs are.

As the object was to prove the existence of a Nation, the first step of the process must necessarily be to prove the pre-existence of a community. Government being superinduced upon this community, it would then become a Nation, so far at least as all the members of that community were concerned. The first point to be proved, then, was the existence of a community composed of all the People who were afterwards to become the subjects of the nation. Now how is this established?

"In our colonial state," says the President, "although dependent on another power, we very early considered ourselves connected by common interest with each other." A more flimsy pretext, from which to infer the existence of a single community, could not easily have been selected; and yet a more ingenious mode of getting up this pretext could not well have been devised. Mark, no social connection of any sort, is affirmed to have actually existed; it is merely said, that we very early considered ourselves as connected. And by what was this imaginary connection constituted? Were we inhabitants of a common territory, the vacant and unoccupied parts of which were admitted to belong to all? No.—Did we profess the same religious faith ? No.—Did there exist any one institution, which having been created or preserved by all, was therefore common to all? No.—By what tie then did this People consider themselves to be connected, in their colonial state? Why, by the single tie of a supposed common interest. No man before President Jackson, ever thought of inferring the existence of a community from such a fact, which if believed to be sufficient to produce that effect, would consolidate, probably, one-half the People of the whole world into one community, and by so doing, would dissolve more than the half of all the societies now existing, whose members do not even consider themselves connected by any such tie.

But perhaps it will be said, that I do the President wrong, in supposing that he meant the People when he says "we," that by this personal pronoun he did not mean to denote all the Colonists, in their individual, but in the social characters which they had long had, and which was denoted by the term Colonies. If so, this sentence becomes the simple annunciation of a well-known historical fact, proved by numerous documents in our archives, that even in their colonial state, the several Colonies considered themselves as connected with each other, by a common interest. But as all these documents while establishing this fact, establish also, that this belief of a common interest was neither designed or ever supposed to amalgamate the different Colonies, by whom it was entertained, into a single community, but merely to invite to their co-operation confederacy and union as distinct independent communities, it is not easy to discern how from such a fact, the existence of a single community could be inferred. Therefore, and as the use made of the assertion was afterwards manifest, I was bound to consider its meaning to be such as I have stated; especially as I found this word "we," in an address of the President to his "fellow-citizens, the People."

So much for the first proposition of this argument, which if considered in one light, asserts a truth directly in contradiction to its conclusion; and if considered in another, asserts not only an unknown fact, but one unimportant if it could be known. In which of these lights it was designed to be seen, let the rules of the English language, and the conclusion of the argument itself, determine.

Having inferred the existence of one great community, composed of all the People of the different revolting Colonies, while yet in their colonial state, the next step necessary to be taken in the argument designed to prove their subsequent existence as one nation, was to superinduce a government upon this great community: for a nation without a government, would indeed be a nondescript, as horrible in the Political, as any of the fabled monsters of the natural world. Here, as before, it would not do to affirm the establishment of any such government, at the time referred to, that is to say, "in our colonial state," as a positive fact, for this would be in direct contradiction of the other affirmation, of our dependence on another power; and of such a fact too, there does not exist any scintilla of proof in any of our histories or State papers. Therefore, the existence of such a government, like that of the community, was to be inferred. Now from what is this second inference to be made?

"Leagues were formed for common defence," says the President; and as leagues can only be formed by communities, acknowledging some government, authorized to speak and so to contract for them, if the fact be conceded that Leagues were formed by this great community, it establishes beyond doubt, not only the actual existence of such a community, but of its government, too. But mark the caution displayed in this assertion, also. The President does not say, in terms, at least, that these Leagues were so formed, but most sedulously avoids to state by whom, or with whom, they were formed. The cause of this studied obscurity is not difficult to be explained. If it had been asserted as an historical fact, that in their colonial state, the Colonists being connected together as one community, had, in that character, entered into any League whatever, this fact could not have been proved, simply because it neither is, or could be, true. But if it had been said, that these Leagues were formed by the different colonies with each other, as separate and independent communities, in asserting this well-known historical truth easily to be proved by a reference to the Leagues themselves, the President would have dissolved completely his imaginary great community, and with it the government to regulate the affairs of this supposed Nation.

Nay, he then would have established, beyond doubt, the separate and independent existence of the colonies, as acknowledged by themselves, in such Leagues.

To avoid this dilemma, the author of this Proclamation most cautiously suppresses the fact by whom and with whom these Leagues were made. Yet, as they were certainly made for "common defence," all those who may be disposed to believe that "we" in the first sentence denoted the Colonists as individuals, and not the colonies as communities, will of course conclude, that these Leagues were made by the same "we," with some community foreign to themselves. While those who understand "we" in a different sense, will arrive at a conclusion diametrically opposed to this,—so much for the second member of this argument, which, like the first, is either true or false, according to the meaning intended to be annexed by its author, to the words, "we" and "our."

Having inferred the existence of a supposed community, and also inferred a government for it, in the mode I have stated, the next thing needful was to bestow a name upon this infant Nation. But, as it would have been difficult to infer a name which could not have had any previous existence, the President was compelled to state the name positively. Therefore, he next says, that "before the declaration of independence, we were known in our aggregate character as The United Colonies of America." The attempt to infer any fact, from any name, merely, would be considered, generally, rather as an assumption than an inference. But to infer the fact of a single Nation, from the name of many United Colonies, or of many Colonies United, whether in America or anywhere else is not only a groundless assumption, but a plain perversion of the meaning of words, unless United means Consolidated. The President seems to have been aware of this, therefore, to do away, so far as he could the effect of his own strong words, United Colonies, used, apparently, to show, that the Colonies were united, and not consolidated into one mass or Nation, he tells us, that "we were known in our aggregate character" by this name.—Although I cannot help considering this phrase of "aggregate character" as very infelicitous, especially when applied to United Colonies, yet I freely admit that the excuse of the Rhetorician may be found in the necessity the Politician felt to employ it. There were two differing parties interested in the matter he was examining, and he was desirous to please both; therefore, from the beginning of his argument, he had used terms so general, that either might apply them to their own side: but when he came to give a name to his Nation, he found that so clearly indicating that it was not one consolidated mass, but many distinct masses united, merely, it was necessary to weaken the force of this. Hence, he tells us that, although we were united by name, yet in character we were aggregated, that is to say, consolidated.

From what source the President may have derived his information as to aggregate character, except from its name, I know not. But if his information as to our character is as inaccurate as his representation of our name, but little reliance should be paid to it. I have before me a copy of the Journal of the first Congress, which met at "the Carpenter's Hall, in the City of Philadelphia, on Monday, the 5th day of September, 1774." In this first and most authentic document, which any one can consult, to discover either their name or character, at that day, both the one and the other is thus described: "We, the Delegates of the several Colonies of New Hampshire," etc., etc. (naming each), "deputed to represent them in a Continental Congress." Under this name, and in this character, was their first great act of Association entered into, for non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation, and recommended "to the Provincial Conventions, and to the Committees in the respective Colonies," to be carried into effect by them. Under the name and character of "The Delegates appointed by the several English Colonies of New Hampshire," etc., (naming each), "to consider of their grievances in General Congress," was their next great act, the Address to the People of Great Britain, uttered under the name and character of "We, the delegates of the Colonies of New Hampshire," etc., (naming each), "deputed by the inhabitants of the said Colonies, to represent them in a general Congress, to consult together," etc., was the Address to the inhabitants of the Province of Quebec, put forth. Under the name and character of "We, your Majesty's faithful subjects of the Colonies of New Hampshire," etc., (naming each), "in behalf of ourselves and of the inhabitants of these Colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general Congress," was the Address to the King adopted, which was the last act of that enlightened and patriotic body, the first Congress. In short, there cannot be found a single act of the first Congress, in which that body denominated itself as "The United Colonies of America," or in which its members denominated themselves as deleates of or to any body of that name. So far frmo it, all these acts shew, upon their very face, that they were the acts of individuals, representing respectively, not one, but several constituent bodies, and these individuals, as the representatives of such constituent bodies, respectively, were said to be assembled in a general Congress. In further proof of which it may also be remarked, that the very first rule established to regulate the proceedings of this Congress was, "that in determining questions, each Colony or Province should have one vote," without any reference to the number of its delegates present, or to its importance in any sense whatever.

Upon such evidence, I think myself justified in saying, that, although, at some subsequent period, it may possibly be found, that the delegates united in a general Congress, in some of their ordinary proceedings, and for brevity's sake, may perhaps have spoken of themselves as the delegates of the United Colonies, yet in all solemn acts they are differently described. Thus, in the most important paper which they could utter, the Commission to Gen. Washington as Commander-in-Chief, granted on the 17th June, 1775, they style themselves "The Delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire," etc., (naming each, as before), and by that name, and in that character, grant to him all the rights and authorities which he then acquired. Therefore, the President seems to have as little ground for bestowing this new name of the United Colonies of America upon all the revolted Colonies or Colonists of that day, as he has to bestow upon the Colonists any such aggregate character as that under which he is supposed to assert that they were then known.

Whether by the declaration of independence, uttered in 1776, either in the manner in which "that decisive and important step was taken," or in the language of that instrument, "we declared ourselves a Nation," and so annulled or prevented all the sovereign rights of the States, is a question I should have examined in this number, except for the reason I have before stated. But, Mr. Editor, I have already occupied so much of your space, that I must not intrude upon it at present, further than to say, that this declaration, being the first act which occurs in our history, that can be, or is supposed to annul any of the Sovereign rights of the States, its minute examination made a part of my original plan, which will be prosecuted in my next number.