« PreviousContinue »
JACKSON AGAINST NULLIFICATION.
landing the cargo; and it will be your duty, President's
and that he insisted against any forcible attempt, to retain and defend the custody of the said vessel, by the throughout on expressing and enforcaid of the officers of the customs, inspectors, ing his own sentiments and convicand officers of the cutters, until the requisi- tions. The language may in part be tions of the law shall be fully complied with; and, in case of any attempt to remove her Livingston's; the positions and the or her cargo from the custody of the officers principles are wholly Jackson's; and of the customs, by the form of legal process their condemnation of the Calhoun from State tribunals, you will not yield the custody to such attempt, but will consult or South Carolina theory of the the law officer of the district, and employ nature, genius, and limitations of our such means as, under the particular circum
Federal pact, are
as decided and stances, you may legally do, to resist such process, and prevent the removal of the sweeping as any ever propounded by Tessel and cargo.
* Should the entry of such vessel and Hamilton, by Marshall, or by Webcargo not be completed, and the dutie. paid,
ster himself. or secured to be paid, by bond or bonds, After reciting the purport and with sureties to your satisfaction, within the time limited by law, you will, at the expira
effect of the South Carolina Ordition of that time, take possession of the car nance, General Jackson proceeds: go, and land and store the same at Castle Pinckney, or some other safe place, and, in
“The Ordinance is founded, not on the due time, if the duties are not paid, sell the indefeasible right of resisting acts which are same, according to the direction of the 56th plainly unconstitutional and too oppressive section of the act of the 2d of March, 1799 ;
to be endured; but on the strange position and you are authorized to provide such
that any one State may not only declare an stores as may be necessary for that purpose.” act of Congress void, but prohibit its execu
tion; that they may do this consistently The contrast between the spirit
with the Constitution; that the true con
struction of that instrument permits a State evinced in these instructions, and
to retain its place in the Union, and yet be that exhibited by General Jackson's bound by no other of its laws than those it successor, on the occurrence of a simi- may choose to consider as constitutional!
It is true, they add that, to justify this abrolar outbreak at Charleston twenty- gation of a law, it must be palpably coneight years later, is very striking. trary to the Constitution; but it is evident Congress reconvened on the 3d of that description, coupled with the uncon
that, to give the right of resisting laws of December; but the President's Mes- trolled right to decide what laws deserve sage, delivered on the following day, ing all laws. For, as, by this theory, there
that character, is to give the power of resistmade no allusion to the impending is no appeal, the reasons alleged by the peril of civil convulsion and war. State, good or bad, must prevail. If it should One week later, however, the country check against the abuse of this power, it
be said that public opinion is a sufficient was electrified by the appearance of may be asked why it is not deemed a suffithe famous Proclamation, wherein cient guard against the passage of an uncon
stitutional act by Congress. There is, howthe President's stern resolve to crush ever, a restraint in this last case, which Nullification as Treason was fully makes the assumed power of a State more manifested. And, though this docu- indefensible, and which does not exist in the manifested. And, though this docu- other. There are two appeals from an unment received its final fashion and constitutional act passed by Congress-one polish from the pen of the able and to the Judiciary, the other to the people and
the States. There is no appeal from the eminent Edward Livingston, who State decision in theory, and the practical then worthily filled the post of Secre- illustration shows that the courts are closed tary of State, it is abundantly estab- against an application to review it, both
judges and jurors being sworn to decide in lished" that the original draft was the its favor. But reasoning on this subject is
19 See Parton's Life of Jackson, pp. 455-6.
superfluous when our social compact in ex law of the United States, assumed by one press terms declares that the laws of the State, incompatible with the existence of the United States, its Constitution, and the trea- Union, contradicted expressly by the letter ties made under it, are the supreme law of of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirthe land ; and, for greater caution, adds, it, inconsistent with every principle on which that the judges in every Sta shall be it was founded, and destructive of the great bound thereby, anything in the constitution object for which it was formed." or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.' And it may be asserted,
A little farther on, he proclaimed without fear of refutation, that no federative his concurrence in the “ Nationgovernment could exist without a similar provision. Look, for a moment, to the con- al,” as contradistinguished from the sequences. If South Carolina considers the “State Rights,” theory of our Fedrevenue laws unconstitutional, and has a eration, in these words: right to prevent their execution in the port of Charleston, there would be a clear con
"The Constitution of the United States, stitutional objection to their collection in then, forms a Government, not a league; every other port, and no revenue could be and, whether it be formed by compact becollected anywhere; for all imposts must be tweer
, the States, or in any other manner, equal. It is no answer to repeat, that an its character is the same. It is a governunconstitutional law is no law, so long as ment in which all the people are representthe question of legality is to be decided by ed, which acts directly on the people indi. the State itself; for every law, operating vidually, not upon the States—they retained injuriously upon any local interest, will be all the power they did not grant. But each perhaps thought, and certainly represented State, having expressly parted with so many as, unconstitutional; and, as has been powers, as to constitute, jointly with the shown, there is no appeal.
other States, a single nation, cannot, from “If this doctrine had been established at that period, possess any right to secede; bean earlier day, the Union would have been cause such secession does not break a league, dissolved in its infancy. The Excise law in but destroys the unity of a nation, and any Pennsylvania, the Embargo and Non-Inter- injury to that unity is not only a breach course law in the Eastern States, the car which would result from the contravention riage-tax in Virginia, were all deemed un of a compact, but it is an offense against the constitutional, and were more unequal in whole Union. To say that any State may their operation than any of the laws now at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say complained of; but, fortunately, none of that the United States are not a nation, bethose States discovered that they had the cause it would be a solecism to contend that right now claimed by South Carolina. The any part of a nation might dissolve its connecwar into which we were forced, to support tion with the other parts, to their injury or the dignity of the nation and the rights of ruin, without committing any offense. Secesour citizens, might have ended in defeat and sion, like any other revolutionary act, may disgrace, instead of victory and honor, if the be morally justified by the extremity of opStates who supposed it a ruinous and uncon- pression ; but to call it a constitutional right, stitutional measure had thought they pos is confounding the meaning of terms, and sessed the right of nullifying the act by can only be done through gross error, or to which it was declared, and denying supplies deceive those who are willing to assert a for its prosecution. Hardly and unequally right, but would pause before they make a as those measures bore upon several mem- revolution, or incur the penalties consebers of the Union, to the Legislatures of quent on a failure.” none did this efficient and peaceable remedy,
The dogma of State Sovereignty, as it is called, suggest itself. The discovery of this important feature in our Constitution as contravening or limiting the was reserved for the present day. To the proper Nationality of the Republic, statesmen of South Carolina belongs the invention, and upon the citizens of that State is thus squarely confronted : will unfortunately fall the evils of reducing
“The States severally have not retained it to practice."
their entire sovereignty. It bas been shown General Jackson summed up
that, in becoming parts of a nation, not mem
bers of a league, they surrendered many of objections to Nullification in these their essential parts of sovereignty. The unambiguous terms:
right to make treaties, declare war, levy
taxes, exercise exclusive judicial and legisla“I consider, then, the power to annul a | lative powers, were all of them functions
APPEAL TO SOUTH CAROLINA.
of sovereign power. The States, then, for grant? Will the inhabitants of the inland all these important purposes, were no longer States agree to pay the duties that may be sovereign. The allegiance of their citi- imposed without their assent by those on zens was transferred, in the first instance, the Atlantic or the Gulf, for their own bento the Government of the United States; efit? Shall there be a free port in one State they became American citizens, and owed and onerous duties in another? No one beobedience to the Constitution of the United lieves that any right exists in a single State States, and to laws made in conformity with to involve all the others in these and countthe powers it vested in Congress. This less other evils, contrary to engagements sollast position has not been, and cannot be, emnly made. Every one must see that the denied. How, then, can that State be said other States, in self-defense, must oppose it to be sovereign and independent, whose cit- at all hazards." izens owe obedience to laws not made by it, and whose magistrates are sworn to disre
Having thus frankly and vigorgard those laws, when they come in conflict ously set forth the fundamental prinwith those passed by another? What shows, ciples of our political system, though conclusively, that the States cannot be said to have reserved an undivided sovereignty, at much greater length, and with a is, that they expressly ceded the right to variety and fullness of illustration, punish treason—not treason against their General Jackson proceeds to proseparate power, but treason against the United States. Treason is an offense against
claim sovereignty, and sovereignty must reside with
“ That the duty imposed on me by the the power to punish it.
Constitution to take care that the laws be Mr. Jefferson Davis, in one of his faithfully executed' shall be performed to earlier manifestoes from Richmond, the extent of the powers already vested in saw fit to speak of the severance of of Congress shall devise and intrust to me
me by law, or of such others as the wisdom our Union as “the dissolution of a
for that purpose; and to warn the citizens league.” General Jackson anticipa- of South Carolina, who have been deluded ted and refuted this assumption as they will incur by obedience to the illegal
into an opposition to the laws, of the danger follows:
and disorganizing Ordinance of the Conven“How is it that the most perfect of those
tion.” several modes of Union should now be con And he closes a most pathetic and sidered as a mere league, that may be dissolved at pleasure! It is from an abuse of eloquent appeal to the people of terms. Compact is used as synonymous South Carolina in these memorable with league, although the true term is not and stirring words : employed, because it would at once show the fallacy of the reasoning. It would not “Contemplate the condition of that coundo to say that our Constitution was only a | try of which you still form an important league, but it is labored to prove it a com part!—consider its Government, uniting in pact (which, in one sense, it is), and then to one bond of common interest and general argue that, as a league is a compact, every protection so many different States-giving compact between nations must, of course, to all their inhabitants the proud title of be a league, and that, from such an engage- American citizens—protecting their comment, every sovereign power has a right to merce-securing their literature and their recede. But it has been shown that, in this arts—facilitating their intercommunication sense, the States are not sovereign, and that, -defending their frontiers—and making even if they were, and the national constitu- their names respected in the remotest parts tution had been formed by compact, there of the earth! Consider the extent of its would be no right in any one State to ex territory, its increasing and happy populaonerate itself from its obligations.
tion, its advance in the arts, which render life “So obvious are the reasons which forbid agreeable, and the sciences which elevate this secession, that it is necessary only to the mind! See education spreading the allude to them. The Union was formed for lights of religion, humanity, and general inthe benefit of all. It was produced by mu- formation, into every cottage in this wide tual sacrifices of interests and opinions. Can extent of our territories and States ! Behold those sacrifices be recalled? Can the States it as the asylum where the wretched and who magnanimously surrendered their title the oppressed find a refuge and support! to the territories of the West, recall the Look on this picture of happiness and honor,
and say, WE, TOO, ARE CITIZENS OF AMERICA. | ants of the Pinckneys, the Sumpters, the Carolina is one of these proud States; her Rutledges, and of the thousand other names arms have defended, her best blood has which adorn the pages of your Revolutioncemented, this happy Union! And then ary history, will not abandon that Union, to add, if you can, without horror and re support which so many of them fought, and morse, "This happy Union we will dissolve bled, and died. I adjure you, as you honor --this picture of peace and prosperity we their memory, as you love the cause of freewill deface—this free intercourse we will dom to which they dedicated their lives—as interrupt—these fertile fields we will deluge you prize the peace of your country, the with blood—the protection of that glorious lives of its best citizens, and your own fair flag we renounce—the very name of Ameri- fame, to retrace your steps. Snatch from cans we discard.' And for what, mistaken the archives of your State the disorganizing men! for what do you throw away these edict of its Convention-bid its members to inestimable blessings—for what would you reassemble and promulgate the decided exexchange your share in the advantages and pression of your will to remain in the path honor of the Union? For the dream of a which alone can conduct you to safety, separate independence-a dream interrupted prosperity, and honor-tell them that, comby bloody conflicts with your neighbors, and pared to disunion, all other evils are light, a vile dependence on foreign power! If because that brings with it an accumulation your leaders could succeed in establishing a of all-declare that you will never take the separation, what would be your situation? field unless the star-spangled banner of your Are you united at home? Are you free country shall float over you—that you will from the apprehension of civil discord, with not be stigmatized when dead, and dishonorall its fearful consequences? Do our neigh-ed and scorned while you live, as the authors boring republics, every day suffering some of the first attack on the Constitution of new revolution or contending with some your country! Its destroyers you cannot be, new insurrection, do they excite your envy? | You may disturb its peace—you may inter
“But the dictates of a high duty oblige me rupt the course of its prosperity-you may solemnly to announce that you cannot suc cloud its reputation for stability—but its ceed. The laws of the United States must tranquillity will be restored, its prosperity be executed. I have no discretionary power will return, and the stuin upon its nationai on the subject-my duty is emphatically character will be transferred, and remain an pronounced in the Constitution. Those who eternal blot on the memory of those who told you that you might peaceably prevent caused the disorder." their execution, deceived you—they could not have been deceived themselves. They Turning from the deluded minorknow .at a forcible opposition could alone ity to the loyal and Union-loving prevont the execution of the laws, and they know that such opposition must be repelled. majority of the American people, the Their object is disunion : be not deceived President concludes his Proclamation by names. Disunion, by armed force, is
as follows: treason. Are you really ready to incur its guilt? If you are, on the heads of the insti “Fellow-citizens of the United States ! gators of the act be the dreadful conse The threat of unhallowed disunion, the quences—on their heads be the dishonor; names of those (once respected) by whom but on yours may fall the punishment-on it was uttered, the array of military force to your unhappy State will inevitably fall all support it, denote the approach of a crisis in the evils of the conflict you force upon the our affairs, on which the continuance of our Government of your country. It cannot unexampled prosperity, our political existaccede to the mad project of disunion, of ence, and perhaps that of all free governwhich you would be the first victiins—its ments, may depend. The conjuncture defirst magistrate cannot, if he would, avoid manded a full, a free, and explicit annunciathe performance of his duty—the conse tion, not only of my intentions, but of my prinquence must be fearful for you, distressing ciples of action; and, as the claim was assertto your fellow-citizens here, and the friends ed of a right by a State to annul the laws of the of good government throughout the world. Union, and even to secede from it, at pleasIts enemies have beheld our prosperity ure, a frank exposition of my opinions in with a vexation they could not conceal—it relation to the origin and form of our Govwas a standing refutation of their slavish ernment, and the construction I give to the doctrines, and they would point to our dis- | instrument by which it was created, seemed cords with the triumph of malignant joy. to be proper. Having the fullest confidence It is yet in your power to disappoint them. in the justness of the legal and constitutional There is yet time to show that the descend- | opinion of my duties, which has been ex
GENERAL JACKSON ON THE RIGHT OF SECESSION.
pressed, I rely with equal confidence on to the objects which it was expressly formed your undivided support in my determination to attain. to execute the laws—to preserve the Union “Against all acts which may be alleged by all constitutional means—to arrest, if to transcend the constitutional power of possible, by moderate, but firm measures, Government, or which may be inconvenient the necessity of a recourse to force. And if or oppressive in their operation, the Constiit be the will of Heaven that the recurrence tution itself bas prescribed the modes of of its primeral curse on man for the shed- redress. It is the attribute of free instituding of a brother's blood should fall upon tions that, under them, the empire of reason our land, that it be not called down by any and law is substituted for the power of the offensive act of the United States.
sword. To no other source can appeals for " Fellow-citizens! the momentous case is supposed wrongs be made, consistently with before you.
On your undivided support of the obligations of South Carolina ; to no your Government depends the decision of other can such appeals be made with safety the great question it involves, whether your at any time; and to their decisions, when sacred Union will be preserved, and the constitutionally pronounced, it becomes the blessing it secures to us as one people shall duty, no less of the public authorities than be perpetuated. No one can doubt that the of the people, in every case to yield a patriunanimity with which that decision will be otic submission. expressed will be such as to inspire new “That a State, or any other great portion confidence in republican institutions, and of the people, suffering under long and inthat the prudence, the wisdom, and the tolerable oppressions, and having tried all courage which it will bring to their defense, constitutional remedies without the hope of will transmit theni unimpaired and invigor- redress, may have a natural right, when ated to our children.
their happiness can be no otherwise secured, "May the great Ruler of nations grant, that and when they can do so without greater the signal blessings with which He has fa- injury to others, to absolve themselves from vored ours may not, by the madness of their obligations to the Government, and party, or personal ambition, be disregarded appeal to the last resort, need not, on the and lost: and may His wise providence present occasion, be denied. bring those who have produced this crisis to “The existence of this right, however, see the folly, before they feel the misery, of must depend on the causes which justify civil strife; and inspire a returning venera its exercise. It is the ultima ratio, which tion for that Union, which, if we may dare presupposes that the proper appeals to all to penetrate His designs, He has chosen as other means of redress have been made in the only means of attaining the high des- good faith, and which can never be rightfully tinies to which we may reasonably aspire.” resorted to unless it be unavoidable. It is
not the right of the State, but of the individGeneral Jackson's Special Message It is the right of mankind generally to se
ual, and of all the individuals in the State. against Nullificationis equally de- cure, by all means in their power, the blesscided and thorough in its hostility to ings of liberty and happiness ; but when for
these purposes any body of men have volunthe Calhoun heresy, under all its as tarily associated themselves under any partipects, and dissects the Ordinance of cular form of government, no portion of Nullification, and the legislative acts acknowledging the correlative right in the
them can dissolve the association without based thereon, with signal ability and remainder to decide whether that dissolucogency.
A single extract, bearing tion can be permitted consistently with the directly upon the alleged right of
general happiness. In this view, it is a
lleged right of right dependent upon the power to enforce Secession, will here be given: it. Such a right, though it may be admitted
to preëxist, and cannot be wholly surren“The right of the people of a single State dered, is necessarily subjected to limitations to absolve themselves at will, and without all free governments, and in compacts of the consent of the other States, from their all kinds, freely and voluntarily entered into, most solemn obligations, and hazard the and in which the interest and welfare of the liberties and happiness of the millions com individual become identified with those of posing this Union, cannot be acknowledged. the community of which he is a member. Such anthority is believed to be utterly re In compacts between individuals, however pugnant both to the principles upon which deeply they may affect their relations, these the General Government is constituted, and principles are acknowledged to create a
20 January 16, 1833.