of the land of political promise, which they lived not only to behold, but to possess and to enjoy. Again, sir, in the darkest and most gloomy period of the war, when our country stood single handed, against “the conqueror of the conquerors of the world,” when all about and around them was dark, and dreary, disastrous and discouraging, they stood a Spartan band in that narrow pass, where the honor of their country was to be defended, or to find its grave. And in the last great struggle, when, as we believe, the very existence of the principle of popular sovereignty was at stake, where were the democracy of New England? Where they always have been found, Sir, struggling side by side with their brethren of the South and the West, for popular rights, and assisting in that glorious triumph by which the man of the People was elevated to the highest office in their gift.
Who, then, Mr. President, are the true friends of the Union? Those who would confine the federal government strictly within the limits prescribed by the constitution—who would preserve to the States and the people all powers not expressly delegated—who would make this a federal and not a national Union—and who, administering the government in a spirit of equal justice, would make it a blessing and not a curse. And who are its enemies? Those who are in favor of consolidation; who are constantly stealing power from the States and adding strength to the federal government; who, assuming an unwarrantable jurisdiction over the States and the people, undertake to regulate the whole industry and capital of the country. But, Sir, of all descriptions of men, I consider those as the worst enemies of the Union, who sacrifice the equal rights which belong to every member of the confederacy, to combinations of interested majorities for personal or political objects. But the gentleman apprehends no evil from the dependence of the States on the Federal Government; he can see no danger of corruption from the influence of money or of patronage. Sir, I know that it is supposed to be a wise saying, “that patronage is a source of weakness,” and in support of that maxim it has been said, that “every ten appointments make a hundred enemies.” But I am rather inclined to think, with the eloquent and sagacious orator now reposing on his laurels on the banks of the Roanoke, that “the power of conferring favors creates a crowd of dependants.” He gave a forcible illustration of the truth of the remark when he told us of the effect of holding up the savory morsel to the eager eyes of the hungry hounds gathered around his door. It mattered not whether the gift was bestowed on Towser or Sweetlips, “Tray, Blanch, or Sweetheart,” while held in suspense they were all governed by a nod; and when the morsel was bestowed, the expectation of the favors of to-morrow kept up the subjection of to-day.
The Senator from Massachusetts, in denouncing what he is pleased to call the Carolina doctrine, has attempted to throw ridicule upon the idea that a State has any constitutional remedy by the exercise of its sovereign authority against “a gross, palpable, and deliberate violation of the Constitution.” He called it “an idle” or “a ridiculous notion,” or something to that effect; and added, that it would make the Union “a mere rope of sand.” Now, Sir, as the gentleman has not condescended to enter into an examination of the question, and has been satisfied with throwing the weight of his authority into the scale, I do not deem it necessary to do more than to throw into the opposite scale, the authority on which South Carolina relies; and there, for the present, I am perfectly willing to leave the controversy. The South Carolina doctrine, that is to say, the doctrine contained in an exposition reported by a committee of the Legislature in December, 1828, and published by their authority, is the good old Republican doctrine of ’ 98, the doctrine of the celebrated “Virginia Resolutions,” of that year, and of “Madison’s Report,” of ’ 99. It will be recollected that the Legislature of Virginia, in December, ’ 98, took into consideration the Alien and Sedition Laws, then considered by all Republicans as a gross violation of the Constitution of the United States, and on that day passed, among others, the following resolution:
“The General Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the Federal Government as resulting from the compact to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers not granted by the said compact, the States who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”
In addition to the above resolutions, the General Assembly of Virginia “appealed to the other States, in the confidence that they would concur with that Commonwealth, that the acts aforesaid [the Alien and Sedition Laws] are unconstitutional, and that the necessary and proper measures would be taken by each for co-operating with Virginia in maintaining unimpaired the authorities, rights, and liberties, reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The Legislatures of several of the New England States having, (contrary to the expectation of the Legislature of Virginia) expressed their dissent from these doctrines, the subject came up again for consideration during the session of ’ 99–1800, when it was referred to a Select Committee, by whom was made that celebrated report, which is familiarly known as “Madison’s Report,” and which deserves to last as long as the Constitution itself. In that report, which was subsequently adopted by the Legislature, the whole subject was deliberately examined, and the objections urged against the Virginia doctrines carefully considered; the result was, that the Legislature of Virginia re-affirmed all the principles laid down in the resolutions of ’ 98, and issued to the world that admirable report which has stamped the character of Mr. Madison as the preserver of that Constitution, which he had contributed so largely to create and establish. I will here quote from Mr. Madison’s report one or two passages which bear more immediately on the point in controversy. “The resolution having taken this view of the federal compact, proceeds to infer, that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of powers, not granted by the said compact, the States who are parties thereto have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them.
“It appears to your committee to be a plain principle, founded in common sense, illustrated by common practice, and essential to the nature of compacts, that, where resort can be had to no tribunal, superior to the authority of the parties, the parties themselves must be the rightful judges in the last resort, whether the bargain made has been pursued or violated. The constitution of the United States was formed by the sanction of the States, given by each in its sovereign capacity. It adds to the stability and dignity, as well as to the authority of the Constitution, that it rests upon this legitimate and solid foundation. The States, then, being the parties to the Constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity, that there can be no tribunal above their authority, to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and, consequently, that, as the parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition."