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off with these ominous words, "each State | 1787 left us one mouth of communication retains its sovereignty." with foreign countries, and no more; one head of counsel and of empire for purposes. of general interest among ourselves. to these objects, the States no longer existed. They retained, indeed, besides their organism, many important powers; just as, while they were yet completely sovereign, important powers remained vested in the smaller corporations, the counties, cities, townships of their territories. But as those corporations were voiceless in the halls of the State legislatures, so were the States to be voiceless for the future in the councils of the nation. Nor was the union of county with county more perfect, nor the individuality of their corporate existence more entirely merged in the supremacy of a State government as to general State affairs, than the union of the States is perfect and their separate individuality melted down to a mass, in the one subsisting sovereignty of the federal government as to all concerns of a strictly national character. The two cases are precisely parallel.
Well, as sovereignty, taken absolutely, is a whole of political power; if the States kept all, the Union of course got nothing; and so it proved. The new government (such by courtesy of speech) was too weakly constituted to be good for anything. The men appointed to administer it, tried to get on by overstepping their authority. That could not save the system. Nothing could save it or make it worth saving. And good reason: it was a confederacy, and not properly a government. It had no subjects. Can there be a government without subjects? Are not the two ideas correlative, implying each other? The federal Congress were to do everything by requisitions on the local legislatures. To the people as individuals, they had no access. They did not represent the people. It was not directly for the people that they acted in any respect. The organic States were the parties they had to do with, the masters they served. They voted by States. They held office at the pleasure of the States, and were liable to be recalled by them at any time, or dictatorially instructed, like ambassadors. In short, their functions and whole character were rather diplomatic than governmental. Rulers they were not in any legitimate sense of the term.
Fortunately, this poor contrivance of a confederacy, in lieu of a government, going very soon, as was meet, to its own place, a worthier effort of statesmanship was put forth, "a more perfect union" formed. The federal Constitution (loosely, but conveniently so called, the word federal having come down to us in a modified sense, equivalent to general, national, central, as applied to that Constitution) was truly a government, and consequently not a confederacy. Both it could not be. The union formed by it was a real, not a merely ostensible union. The States retained their separate organism, but in a very altered position, and with a total loss of national power. Everything national was transferred to the new economy, and there consolidated. They very design of the arrangement was to substitute one government nationality for many. The State sovereignties (absolutely speaking) were therefore at an end. The Constitution of
And this parallel may be run yet further. That we are one nation, and have but one government, so far as the union of the States is thus consolidated, no man, who has not a supposed interest of his own to serve by contradiction, will deny. The framework is complex, but the political entity is single. And here the question arises as to what we are in other respects; that is to say, whether we have properly one government or thirty, as regards those points of jurisdiction which have not been made over to the central economy, but are left where they were of old (under the confederacy) for local management. The answer would of course depend upon the bearing in which the question is put. In reference to the particular objects of the local jurisdictions, we naturally say there are thirty governments. And indeed, for special county purposes, township purposes, city and village purposes, there are as many governments as there are political corporations for conducting the detailed business of the people's affairs. But instead of looking microscopically inwards, let us turn our eyes upon the circumference of things, and contemplate the broad area of the country as a whole. say in that view, that we have a score and
ten governments for ends of internal administration; or is it better theory to say, the government is one even for those ends, the States being thus far unconsolidated parts of the union system, just as the union corporations, as to what concerns their special walks of privilege and power, are unconsolidated parts of the States?
that duty, to continue their functions? The jurisdiction of the States, in all matters of domestic concern to their inhabitants, was accordingly preserved under the new order of things, and has ever been regarded as an essential feature of that order.
It may be from a vague misconception of this circumstance that some wellmeaning persons have allowed themselves to be imposed upon by the pretense, which men of another stamp are incessantly putting forward, that the government of the country is still what it was at first, " at first, "a confederacy." They seem to think that because the State organisms are not laid aside, it is plausible to regard the States as only brought into joint
employ a language corresponding with this error. Have they considered how far the argument would carry them? Would not the very same kind of logic make each particular State by itself a confederacy? nay, each county, too? For not only the organisms of the counties are preserved entire in the State systems, but those of the townships also have an integrity and a life of their own in the county systems.
Surely there ought to be no controversy on this point. Does the discretion vested in a board of supervisors make them a government, absolutely speaking, apart from the constitution of the State they live in? And why not? Because that constitution recognizes the organic arrangements of the counties as auxiliary to its own design; wheels within wheels of its own mechanism indeed, though not ap-action in the federal system. And they parently connected with its larger and more conspicuous movements. The states and the counties are one. They do not exercise identically one authority in the matter of direct administration, but there is a perfect harmony of action between them, a perfect coincidence of aims, so far as the county policy goes, although the State looks further, and with a wider field of vision. So in the economy of the federal system; the States, even as regards their reserved powers, are but a sort of counties Besides, how can the notion of " a conon a vast scale of magnitude, holding these federacy" be indulged in reference to the powers in subordination to the general general government, without the comscope and purpose of the union govern- panion whim of a parcel of independent ment, as designing the welfare of the re- State sovereigntics figuring as high conpublic at large, and thus of all the states, tracting parties to the league? Accordcounties, townships in particular, that com-ingly, this whim is rife in certain places, pose it. The States are recognized by that government as standing in this relation to Union government would not be what the phrase imports if they were not. It was never intended to merge them altogether. Far from it. Their nationality, and the powers it especially rested on, were merged. But there was infinite moment in preserving their home agency untouched. This agency was wanted for conservative purposes. That was one great object. It was wanted also for the direct convenience and utility of its application to the details of administrative business throughout the country. The framers of the system looked to these details; and what so hopeful a provision could they make for having them everywhere duly dispatched, as by leaving the State organizations, already in charge of
and heads of senatorial dignity are turned
*Commonly called Mr. Calhoun's Address upon the subject of slavery extension.
must take for granted that they are as usual in that respect. And they are serious, too; they mean what they say. Let me appeal, however, from their reason as sectional politicians to their reason as men; from their judgment as persons bred and schooled in the assertion of a particular dogma, to their judgment as men of mind and character, on the indisputable facts of the case. If the States are sovereign, as they were at first, they can, of course, do the same things; for sovereignty is power-national power. And so the question is, can they do the same things? To give an instance or two: Can they make war, raise and support armies, equip and send out fleets? Can they hold diplomatic relations, commission or receive ambassadors, negotiate treaties? Can they coin money, emit bills of credit, or make their own scrip a lawful tender for the payment of debts? Can they regulate commerce, even among themselves? Can they fix the terms on which a single foreigner shall be admitted to citizenship? Can they exclude from that privilege a foreigner who has been admitted to it by Union laws? All these (to borrow a forensic term) are droits of sovereignty, of nationality. Do the States possess them? Is there a power of any kind belonging to the category of things at once national and sovereign, of which the States can severally say, It is mine?
But, it seems, a thing may continue to subsist in gross, when all the ingredients necessary to compose it are gone. The sovereignty prattle is still heard, and in high places. There was a very singular specimen of it not long since at Washington. A venerable father from "the sunny South" rose suddenly to order in the federal Senate, because another senator had spoken of one of these territorial subgovernments with a less awful deference than was thought due to the majesty of "a sovereign State!" Such was the precise form of this interposition. And what is alike creditable to the decorous manners and to the nerves of the honorable champion of the "distinct sovereignties," he kept his countenance !
These gentlemen will have it, moreover, that the States (and not the people) are to be regarded as "the constituents" of the general government, and so the parties
represented by its officers. I suppose they mean, by this, that the Constitution of 1787 was really the work of the States in their capacity of bodies politic. A proposition just as fair to assert, as it would be to say that the present constitution of New York was formed by the counties of that State in a similar capacity; but not nearly so fair or colorable as it would be to affirm that the counties, or yet smaller districts, of the several States of the Union were the constituent authorities from whence that Union arose, forasmuch as the final ratification of the union deed was there consummated. There is no limit to the extravagance of sectional politics. When men are already committed in character to the absurdity of "nullification," upon principle, it might even be unkind to censure harshly their proceeding to other cognate absurdities, and thus relieving the pressure of one shame upon their minds by the concurrent pressure of several. Perhaps I judge them harshly; but I confess I think there are some truths which no man is at liberty to question, or to claim charitable construction of his conduct in the matter if he does. The federal system is a government, and not a confederacy or "league of friendship." This is one of those truths. It is a government established by the people, as its own caption declares, and as the historical fact of its ultimate adoption shows conclusively. This is another. So far as the federal jurisdiction goes, it is supreme; and, being supreme, it merges that of the States by a consolidated union, leaving them not only not sovereign as they were at first, but no longer capable of being parties to a confederacy, and for the very reasonthat their sovereignty, their nationality, their capacity of independent intercourse with the nations of the earth, and with each other even, is gone. This is a third truth, which no decent critic of our polity can expect indulgence for a cavil upon. Does not Blackstone tell us (and we knew it just as well before) that "the very notion" of a superior authority anywhere "destroys the idea of sovereignty" in the inferior? Apply this to the relation of the federal and State jurisdictions in regard to national affairs. Does it not show,
* 1 B. C., 244.
thus far, a union of consolidation? And a State which has not the larger and loftier kind of sovereignty that denotes relative independence is not a nation, not a sovereign State. Courtesy of speech may keep up the flattery of an old title, but the language of facts and principles has no palaver.
The only question that admits of debate in this connection, respects the powers reserved to the States for the management of their internal affairs.
And here, undoubtedly, the government is one, not of consolidated union, but of combined agencies; and these agencies are independent of each other, independent mainly of the central authority itself. The tree is now no longer a naked stem; it is a trunk with many branches. As far as concerns the strictly national powers, it is still a homogeneous body, undivided, unmarked with a seam. The branches are the territorial departments. These part off at the precise point where nationality ceases and home life begins. What they are good for, and to what end they are preserved and employed, is thus apparent. At the same time, the jurisdiction of the departments is mostly sovereign, for it is without appeal. But it is not of the kind regarded by writers upon public law as State sovereignty. All power without appeal is sovereign. The Common Council of New York have a large measure of such power, and it is as truly sovereign as any that the State government at Albany wields. In that case, as in this, there is no appeal, no higher jurisdiction to control or meddle. A board of supervisors has sovereign power; a colonel of militia has it; a parent has it. But to make a sovereign State, nationality, as well as sovereignty of power, is necessary. The government must have an external aspect; it must look abroad as well as at home, and be capable of free discretionary intercourse with other governments. It requires an unstinted, unmeasured plenitude of national power to make a sovereign State.
Admitting, therefore, that the States of the Republic had once this character, yet, if they lost it by the act of union, how are they now to be regarded as constituents" of the federal government?
*Vattel, 16, 32, 234.
how continue to sustain a relation of paternity to a system of which they have become mere members for a subordinate purpose?
But there is another style of constituency that is also made much of in certain quarters. It is said the States are the true patrons of the general government, having, in one way or another, the appointment of its officers, who are thereupon claimed as virtual representatives of these sovereign bodies politic. And the colorable circumstance that federal senators are advanced to their places by the votes of the local legislatures, has led judicious minds into a partial acquiescence in these visionary conceits. Let us see where the truth lies.
In the first place, the State legislatures are not identically the States; not a jot more so than the governors are, or even the judges. To see the States in their organic capacity, we must look at their entire organism-legislative, executive, judicial. Do we see the whole government of the Union in Congress? Has the President no necessary part in that government? It takes the complete agency corps of the Constitution to show the country's corporate existence; the complete forms of ordinary government procedure to utter its voice. So that an appointment by two legislative chambers is no more the act of an organic State than it would be if performed by one chamber, by the governor alone, or by the supreme court.
But, in the second place, the power exercised in such an appointment is not State power. It has no natural connection with State officers of any name or grade. The agency is delegated by the federal Constitution. The States have it not in their own right. The people of the States, respectively, could not confer it if they would. We have not been called to witness the folly of an effort of the kind. As, therefore, it is neither the State governments, in their entirety, that make the appointments here referred to, nor State power that is exercised in making them, the States are in no respect the constituents even of federal senators, much less of other functionaries in the federal system, whose election is by other agencies, or by the people directly.
jects of representation to their own delegates in the State governments.
I say this form of speech is historical. It began to be used before the federal Constitution was adopted, and the fact that it has been common since, is thus partially explained.
But there is a further explanation. Every person chosen to an office is the delegate, the choice, the man of his immediate constituents. They feel as if they had a kind of special property in him; and as delegates and representatives are mere synonyms in vulgar parlance, the delegate of a county is the county representative, and the senators sent to Congress by the legislature of a State are regarded and currently spoken of as State senators. The ordinary meaning of such expressions is true; for the refined and important principle of government representation is no part of that meaning; nor is the principle in question probably understood with any approach to accuracy by one in twenty of the prattlers who thus seem to talk about it, while in fact they only talk about their delegate, their member, and the like, by way of personal designation.
I am well aware of the existence of a loose form of speech, used with much freedom by unthinking persons, and sometimes in accommodation to their understandings, by men of eminence and distinction, to the effect that officers of government are the representatives of the districts or bodies in particular to which they owe their elevation. Thus, the city of New York is said to have so many representatives in Congress, and if one of them should die during his term, the city would, till a new election, be regarded as but partially represented. It was a great tenet of freedom in colonial times, that unless we were represented in parliament, (that is, had members of our own choice there,) we could not be taxed by English law. General Hamilton himself, in the ninth "Federalist," speaks of the States being allowed by the Constitution "a direct representation in the Senate" of the Union. Nay, we have similar language in yet higher records. No State," say the old articles of confederation, "shall be represented in Congress by less than two nor more than seven members." This was in 1778, when the States as such were truly represented by their delegates in Congress; for as yet the representative character of federal officers was simply diplomatic, and had nothing to do with the people, which explains the casualty of General Hamilton's writing in the manner above mentioned, that is, according to the idiom of the time, though in reference to the new Constitution which he was recommending for adoption, and of which one of the grand advantages was to be, that it would bring about a change in the principle of federal representation-making it popular, and putting an end entirely to its local bearing. Little wonder that an idiom thus honored should have been afterwards used, as it has from time to time been, in a way no longer strictly jus- Unfortunately, words without knowltified by facts; as, for instance, in a con- edge are too rife among us. The miserastitutional amendment in Massachusetts, ble quillet of State constituency is an as late as 1837, it is said, "any town hav-instance. And this is only one of a sistering less than three hundred ratable polls hood of quillets which it seems the lishall be represented thus," &c.; and again, cense of a certain style of political harlotry in 1838, it was declared in the present can never let alone. The doctrine of constitution of Pennsylvania, "that no new county should be entitled to a separate representation until," &c.; as if towns and counties were ever the peculiar ob
Be this, however, as it may, the officers, whether of the Union or the States, represent, in philosophical truth of relationship, just those for whom they act. A foreign envoy represents his government; not the President and Senate who appoint him, but his government at large. He is a diplomatic representative. A member of Congress represents the people; not this or that petty district, or State legislature, but the people at large. This is government representation; a novelty of modern times, of which the ancients had no adequate conception. May our own. country grow in knowledge on the subject!
confederacy," the doctrine of "distinct sovereignties," the doctrine that the States are "the constituents" of all things, the doctrine of "the right of instruction" for