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tion is obeyed, is required or empowered to determine the soundness, in fact or law, of the decision of the State court, then in every case a separate investigation must be made by it of the proceedings appealed from; and it will not be bound to follow the State decision, although the latter was on a point of local law. And if an alleged error of Judge Gary, in being satisfied that the jurors Sanford and Denker were not disqualified under the jury law of Illinois, would give the Supreme Court of the United States a right or a duty to consider in detail the examinations of those jurors, in order to determine whether he was properly so satisfied, and empower it to reverse his judgment and that of the Supreme Court of Illinois, on being convinced that he was in error, as the course of the court seems to indicate, then the Fourteenth Amendment has given the Supreme Court jurisdiction on writ of error to the State courts practically in all cases; a jurisdiction wholly unshackled by the limitations imposed in cases coming from the inferior federal courts.

It is preposterous to attribute any such sweeping effect to the amendment. That amendment was adopted under special circumstances, and chiefly, at any rate, to secure a special object,—the establishment of the enfranchised negroes of the South on a basis of equal rights with other citizens. It may be that a broader object was also in view; that, as said by Mr. Justice Bradley in the Slaughter-House Cases, supra, it was aimed at the spirit of insubordination to the national government that had been displayed; but, without restricting it to its effect in securing to the negroes their newly-granted equality, it is not improper to consider in construing it what its immediate purpose was.

Nor are the same principles of interpretation to be followed where a provision of the organic law is in question that prevail in determining the effect of a private instrument. The spirit must be followed rather than the letter, and that construction adopted which shall do most towards harmonizing the whole. The mere literal meaning of the words is not to be given undue importance, but the pervading sense of the whole is to be kept in view. When Chief Justice Marshall, the creator of American constitutional law, found authority for Congress to charter the Bank of the United States, he was not guided solely by the written words of the Constitution. The right to issue a paper currency is not contained expressly in any grant of powers. The conclusions reached