Page images

his premises before proceeding to discuss the different signification, and points to an agconsequences flowing from them. But this gressive spirit supposed to lurk in the framehe has carefully avoided, as much out of work of the Federal Constitution, struggling regard for the danger as for the difficulty of by insidious encroachments to overwhelm such an attempt.

the State sovereignties. Without consulting either the prudence The nationality of the United States is in or the apprehensions of Mr. Dallas, we no respect inconsistent with the independent will venture to present a few thoughts sovereignty of the States. The States are upon that part of the subject under con- not subordinate, but, like the United States, sideration which he has so signally neg- limited sovereignties, each supreme, indelected. It requires a mind of somewhat pendent and self-sustaining within its proper enlarged capacity to comprehend the divisiou sphere; that is to say, where the exclusive of powers established by the Constitution powers of the General Government are not between the General Government and those encroached upon. of the States. The Federal Government is Every citizen resident within the States is supreme and sovereign, though constitution at once a member of the general and the ally restricted to certain powers affecting local community—a citizen of the United equally all the members of the Union. It States and of his own State. From him possesses all the attributes of sovereignty: all loyalty and sincere attachment is due to it can legislate and enforce its legislation ; both. The immediate and intimate bearing it is self-sustained ; possesses powers ade- which the institutions of his State have upon quate to its own protection, and for the de- his social and material interests will assure fense of every member of the confederacy. at least as firm an attachment to them as to It establishes its own tribunals, not only a system more remote from his observation, authorized to adjudicate all questions arising and whose operations affect his interests in under the laws and treaties of the United a manner more remote and more difficult to States, but with power to determine contro- understand. Under such circumstances, for versies between the citizens of different a citizen of the United States to become an States, and between States themselves. And instrument of erecting a consolidated empire still higher in importance, its tribunals are upon the ruin of the State sovereignties, imclothed with authority to determine all ques- plies treason to an authority which affection, tions arising from a collision of the consti- duty and interest conspire to preserve in its tutions and laws of the States with those of integrity. the United States. With foreign nations it Who, then, are the conspirators whoso treats on the footing of a sovereign power, machinations excite so lively an apprehenand its compacts and guaranties depend for sion in the brain of our philosopher? Whotheir efficacy on no higher authority than ever they may be, the first act of encroachthat reposed in it by the Constitution. ment upon the State sovereignties, the first

Such are the admitted powers of the breathings of such treason, are not recorded Federal Government; and whether we choose in the history of our political existence. Are to apply to such a political system the name of not the Northern States struggling to ena “nation" or a “mere federal union," cannot force the constitutional guaranty of a purely add to or abate from its essential character- local State right, under circumstances evincistics, or from the powers rightfully exercised ing the strength of their attachment for the under it. For ourselves, designing to dic- Union ? Are not sacrifices of honestly entate definitions to no one, we deem the word tertained opinions and prejudices daily made, "nation" more expressive of the dignified to maintain the supremacy of law? The character of the United States than any less warmth of the discussion, the fermentations significant term.

and disturbances occasionally arising in To a certain extent the term “nation” some of the Northern States, and gradually implies consolidation. As applied to our Con- yielding to the peaceful sway of law, furnish stitution, it implies the consolidation of the the strongest argument in behalf of the loyfederal

powers in an organic, objective gov- alty of the North to the Constitution. These ernment.

indications are rightly interpreted by generBut the term consolidation, when applied ous minds in every section of the Union, and by the declaimers as a bug-bear, has a far I give strength to the conviction that there

yet exists among us enough of forbearance vities to achieve some strange destiny for us. with the opinions of others, and of fraternal Does the secret lie in prosperity at home sympathy, to transmit our noble Constitu- and honor abroad-in industry, abundance tion-the gift of a generation that is past and contentment? It may perhaps be porin all its purity to the generation which shall tended in the silence that pervades and sursucceed to us.

rounds certain closed and deserted buildings, To minds constituted like that of Mr. not long since noisy with the clangor of Dallas, these considerations are inapprecia- wheel and anvil. Then again may it not ble. But fortunately, if they do not possess lurk in the necessity for electing a Democratthe power of appreciating that which is ic successor to Fillmore? noble and dignitied, they are themselves the It would seem highly probable that this more easily appreciated in their length and last is the true origin of Mr. Dallas's apprebreadth, compass and volume.

hensions for the future; for throughout his Mr. Dallas has mistaken the indications of patriotic letter he nowhere loses sight of this the political horoscope. From the lofty means of accomplishing that beneficent conelevations of Schooley's Mountain he may summation. have observed all the stars in the firmament We will venture, then, to assume that the in their courses, but he has failed to discover impending ruin can only be averted by the their conjunctions; his astrology is as much election of a Democratic President at the at fault as his philosophy. The most sen- approaching presidential election; and thus sitive and jealous among the sisterhood of having placed ourselves in sympathy of purStates have no need nor desire for his sym- pose and feeling with Mr. Dallas, we will pathy, and can gain as little from his cham- examine in order to admire the adroitness pionship as the Union can lose by the worst with which he applies the means requisite act of treason of which his genius is capable. to that end, or to wonder at the presump

Mr. Dallas thinks that we are, as a peo- tion involved in the attempt, as the result ple, rather too conservative and calm; too may warrant. much so for our good; too much so to fulfil Two notable champions of Democracy are the destiny marked out for us by our Con- at this moment watching each other over stitution. It may be so; but it seems strange the wide regions that separate the peninsula that so apathetic a race should endure of the North from the farthest South, ready years of dangerous agitation, unsettling our to meet in terrible encounter some day: sentiments as fellow-citizens, and winding gradually up to a social convulsion.” That

“Two planets rushing with aspect malign

Of fiercest opposition in mid sky." must be a strange conservatism that can agitate to the verge of a social crisis, but But for a certain "noise and confusion," cannot remove the cause of agitation with one would long since have spoken to some out belying its own principles; that a most purpose; while the other prudently keeps desirable calmness that can maintain itself silence, lest a worse noise and confusion throughout such fermentations.

should ensue. But it matters little whether we be con At this juncture, a feeble trumpet-note is servative or radical, calm or impetuous, if heard in an unexpected quarter. A former the fact be that we are winding up to a politician, supposed long since to have been social convulsion. Let us stand upon this dead and buried and embalmed, is lustily firm ground---not so elevated as the summit piping away like a very Anthony Van Corof Schooley's Mountain-and look about us laer, till the little valleys of the Schooley for the portents of the coming storm. Is it ring again with the clangor, though the in the honor recently achieved by our com- sound is scarcely audible so far off as the mercial marine? Is it in the widely-expand Atlantic. ing wings of our commerce ? Are railroads, With a composure worthy of the highest telegraph lines and canals, stretching into conscious rectitude, the discontented are and subduing forests, the emissaries of the invited to unite in an agitation for an amendinfernal power, forging chains for freedom ment of the Constitution designed to guarin the dark caverns of the earth? All these antee more effectually and for ever to secure agents are about us, coiling their folds the rights of the States from federal entighter and tighter, and straining their acti- I croachments. There is—what a politician

stands most in need of, next to a God and a ! the catastrophe he displays his highest tragic party-an issue, a something to attach ad- mood. herents, to inflame zeal, to turn the breath "What,” he inquires, “ if this doubtful of patriotic enthusiasm full into the sail of and dilatory course should prove abortive?the fortunate craft that has been lucky A world of despair for the experiment of free enough to trim for a breeze from the right government and for the shrewdness and quarter. The time was, when personal sobriety of the popular judgment is implied superiority attracted the admiration and in those portentous words doubtful and determined the choice of the millions ; when dilatory. When this crisis arrives, we are heroic fortitude and self-devotion were ideal- assured that the quick instinct of self-presized and worshipped. In those days heroes ervation will grasp at disunion as the only were magnified to demi-gods, and men were alternative left. So Mr. Dallas can look but slaves; but now-a-days ideas are the through the present and calmly contemplate heroes, and those who ride them in the race disunion as a possible, nay, a probable resolufor glory are their squires and lackeys. The tion of impending difficulties. Much allowtime may yet come when a joint consulship ance ought at all times to be made for difof ideas and ideal men will control the des- ferences of judgment and feeling; but it is tiny of mankind. That will be a happy safe to say of any citizen of the United day for the world, but a sad one for such | States, with the opportunities that Mr. Dalpoliticians as Mr. Dallas.

las has wasted to understand the purest Will not our calm and conservative peo- system of political freedom the world has ple seize upon this real and tangible propo- yet produced, and to become imbued with a sition, for lack of something better to contend generous attachment to its principles, and and wrangle about ? Shall not mass meet- who yet can calmly louk disunion in the ings be assembled, and sharp quills be dipped face, and calculate its present and future adin gall for such an occasion? We think not; vantages that the air he breathes and the though the voice that has spoken from food he consumes were better bestowed upon Schooley's Mountain should be uttered from the humblest drudge that has a warm and every peak of the Alleghanies, though Mr. honest heart. Fratricide may, under posDallas should prove a false prophet and a sible circumstances, be justified by the quick worse politician.

instinct of self-preservation; but the man who But we are told that we ought not to suffers his mind to become familiar with such falter in our reliance on the shrewd and a thought, under any degree of provocation sober judgment of our fellow-citizens, and however great, is guilty of the crime withwe are assured that they will rally in out the justification. To such a mind the their might to prop up the tottering frag- principle of union is expediency, and that ments of the Union. A more cunning which to other minds is sacred and reverend demagogue would have professed to trust is valued by it from the dollar-and-cent that sober judgment to work a happy issue standard. out of that impending crisis, without the aid It is time that we should all, North and of paper barriers to keep apart the warlike South, East and West, come to an underspirits of the States. It would be a notable standing about this much talked-of disunion. example of forbearance, worthy of beginning And we might as well know it first as last, a new chapter in the history of human that the thing is impossible. Union is indeliactions, should an infuriated people, rushing bly stamped upon the geographic features of headlong to the accomplishnient of a result our continent; it is a part of our political and dictated by passion, stop in their career to social being; it is determined for us, whether erect bulwarks strong enough to resist their we will or no, by our physical and moral impetuosity. In that day madmen will constitutions; and, to express the whole in a erect cells and forge chains to curb their own phrase vastly popular at this day with those fury.

of Mr. Dallas's way of thinking, it is our But Mr. Dallas is not much out of his manifest destiny. reckoning, for all this inconsistency. His The indissoluble character of the marriage dramatic talent has been overtasked in bond is by all civilized societies acknowledged sketching the characters of his dramatis to be the strongest means of repressing dopersone, and in contriving his plot; but in mestic discords and dissensions; and if we

would be good citizens, we must train our pression, and he who resorts to it is execrated minds to regard the Union as equally indis- as a traitor or revered as a hero, according soluble, and our charities to fit us to live to the justice and necessity of resistance, and harmoniously together under it. So long the moderation with which it is conducted. as threats of disunion are tolerated, and dis A proper regard for the consequences union is regarded as an alternative for any, which must ensue from a determined denial even the worst of conditions, there will be no of the rights of any member of the confedeend to the haughty demands fostered by racy cannot fail to inspire due respect for local and sectional interests and peculiarities, the guaranties of the Constitution; and wbile whether at the North or South, East or on the one hand it will deter aggressors, on Wes“, and backed by threats of secession the other it teaches those who take fire at which must inevitably spring from the mis- any fancied interference with their rights the conducted warmth of an active, enthusiastic folly and imprudence of their reiterated and ambitious people.

threats of disunion. Were these conseWe repeat what under other words we quences less terrible, a necessary check upon have already said, there is no peaceful and passion would be lost, and there would relegal means by which this Union can be dis- main less hope for the experiment of free solved. Revolution may overwhelm it, an- government than the history of our country archy may paralyze it, but no method exists has bitherto justified. by which it can be torn asunder short of Reflecting minds in every section of the violence. No tribunal exists, or can exist, Union are deeply weighing those considerapossessing authority adequate to pronounce tions vividly presented by the recent agitaa decree of divorce that shall remit the States tions. A generous and enduring attachto a condition of absolute independence. ment for the Union is every where gaining That which destroys the Constitution must strength, and the clamor of demagogues be superior to it. Where shall such tran- finds fewer listeners at the present day than scendent authority be found ? Not in Con- at any previous time. gress, for that is the creature of the Consti There are a few turbulent spirits left who tution; the national legislature derives its with Mr. Dallas fan the flame of discord for authority from no inherent right in the their personal advantage, and who, under the people's representatives to govern, nor from pretense of an ardent desire to preserve the any gift of power independent of the Consti- State sovereignties, hope to ingratiate themtution, but from the Constitution itself. The selves with the discontented; who raise the right to impair or annul the guaranties of cry against consolidation as a mere steppingthe Constitution has not been conferred upon stone to an ambition that would erect itself Congress, and therefore cannot be exercised over the fragments of the Union rather than by it. The framers of the Constitution wisely submit to occupy the position for which provided a means of future amendment; but nature, in the unequal distribution of her like Cortez, when once they were united gifts, designed them. But Mr. Dallas is as under a common standard upon the firm soil yet the only public man who has ventured, of a new world, they destroyed the ships while asserting that there are elements of in which they had been tossed upon a tem- agitation at work threatening social convulpestuous sea, and trusted their all to a com- sion and the forcible dissolution of the namon destiny While any number of the tion, to propose a course which, if adopted States remain loyal to the Union, there is under such circumstances, would blow the but one power that can adjudge its over- embers into a flame of resistless fury. throw, and those who deem themselves equal In striking contrast to the extravagances to the undertaking must, with arms in their of Mr. Dallas, let us turn to the masterly hands, appeal to the God of war.

discriminations of these subjects secesWe are not among those who believe in sion, nullification and revolution-presented passive submission under all circumstances in a recent letter from the Hon. Henry to constituted authority. The right of Clay. This most gifted of living statesrevolution-a right absolutely inalienable men, who has carried an intellect of unamong mankind-sets the limit of obedience surpassed comprehensiveness, a judgment to constituted authority ; but that right remarkable not less for its solidity and sobriis the last and most solemn appeal from op-lety than for its rich stores of well-considered

experience, and a 'sway over the minds and I ment, free or despotic, known to mankind, and hearts of his countrymen seldom possessed interrupting the intercourse and violating or menby more than one man in a century, far acing the execution of the laws of the dismembered

confederacy. It contends for this right as well for beyond the period when grosser natures Louisiana as for South Carolina, although the prosuccumb to the conflict of their own discor- vince of Louisiana cost us so much money, and was dant elements, still thinks and feels in uni- nigh involving us in a foreign war; for Texas, son with the brightest intellects and the although it occasioned us a war with Mexico, the warmest hearts that enrich our country and boundaries and to acquire it, many were willing

payment of ten millions of dollars to arrange its our age. The letter to which we have to risk a war with England; and for distant Calialluded is one of the noblest emanations of fornia, although that was acquired by the double his pen, and should be seriously considered title of conquest and the payment of an ample for its intrinsic merit and wise teachings. pecuniary consideration.

“The alleged right of secession is, I apprehend, Mr. Clay presents in the following paragraphs sometimes confounded with a right of revolution ; a vivid idea of the identity of secession and but its partisans mean a totally different thing: nullification in reference to the false principle They contend that it is a peaceful

, lawful, and, if from which they have their origin :

not constitutional remedy, that it is not forbidden

by the Constitution. They insist that it is a State “Nullification and secession have sprung from right, to be recognized and respected; and that, the same metaphysical school; and the latter is whenever exercised by a State, far from being centhe ally, if not the offspring of the former. They tled to the co-operation of other States. The pru

sured or condemned, the State, if necessary, is entiboth agree that a single State is invested with power to nullify the laws of all the other States, dent valor of these partisans, in imitation of the passed by Congress; but nullification claims a

previous example of the friends of nullification, right to accomplish that object, and to remain at

disclaims the purpose of using themselves, and the same time in the Union; whilst secession protests against the application to them of any phy

sical force. asserts a right to attain it by withdrawing from the Union, and absolving the State from all obli

" The right of revolution is that right which an gation to the Constitution and laws of the United unjustly, oppressed people, threatened with, or States. They both maintain that a resort to either borne down by, intolerable and insupportable process is peaceful and legitimate. Nullification tyranny and injustice, have, of resorting to forcible derived an ambiguous but contested support from which they are menaced, or under which they are

resistance to prevent or redress the wrongs with the memorable resolutions of the States of Virginia suffering. It may aim simply at a removal of and Kentucky, adopted in 1798-9; but these resolutions afford no color or countenance to the pre-existing government, or to establish within its

grievances, or it may seek totally to change the tensions of secession. “The doctrine of secession assumes, that any one

limits a new government. It is a right not conof the thirty-one States composing the Union, fined by the boundaries of States, (although, being wherever or however situated, wbether in the inte organized political bodies, they may be capable of rior or on the frontier, has a right, upon its own

giving greater effect to revolutionary efforts, but separate will, and according to the dictates of its condition. In all revolutions, however, there are

it belongs to oppressed man, whatever may be his exclusive judgment, to withdraw from the Uuion whenever it pleases; that this act of secession is two parties—those who revolt, and the government peaceful, and not to be controverted or obstructed which they forcibly resist. There are generally by the rest of the States, or by the application of two opposite opinions, also, entertained of the any force, within the limits of the seceding State, cause of resistance--that of those who rise in to execute the laws of the United States; and that that of the existing government

, which denies hav

rebellion, believing themselves to be wronged, and thereupon, the State and its citizens are absolved from all obligations and duties to the United States, ing inflicted any oppression or injustice. It is inand become a power as independent and sovereign

cumbent upon wise and considerate men, before as any of the nations of the earth. The doctrine they hastily engage in a revolution, deliberately to maintains that this right of secession may be exer

consider the motives and causes of revolt, and carecised whenever the State deems it has sufficient fully to calculate the probable consequences of forcause; at all times in a state of profound peace they will be guilty of treason, and incur the penalty

cible resistance. If unsuccessful, they know that and prosperity, or in the midst of a furious war

inflicted raging in all our borders; and that, in the latter

upon traitors." case, transforming itself into a distinct and inde

It is proper that those who profess docpendent nation, it may escape the calamities of war, make a separate treaty of peace with the trines which, in any country where the freecommon enemy, become neutral, or even ally itself dom of speech is less absolute than in our with that enemy, and take up arms against the own, would be deemed to have a tincture of United States. "It asserts this right, although it treasonable license in them, should undermay lead, in process of time, to the promiscuous dotting over, upon the surface of the territory of stand distinctly what it is they profess; so the United States, of petty independent nations, that those who have been misled, through establishing for themselves any form of govern- I want of reflection, may return to allegiance

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »