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We have thus proved, we trust, by the history of former colonial unions, and by the recorded opinions of some of the most influential fathers or framers of the Constitution, that it was intended to establish an indissoluble union of the States, and the complete unity, within prescribed limits, of the National Government; and that these were the great ends to which all other objects were pronounced by the Constitutional Convention of inferior magnitude. What, then, says the Constitution itself?



WE propose now to examine the Constitution of the United States, with special reference to the question discussed in the sixth chapter of Mr. Spence's work-"Is secession a constitutional right?" availing ourselves of such external evidence as may be found in the writings or speeches of its framers.

This remarkable document is of no great length. It is not written in technical phrase, but in the language of ordinary life. It consists of seven articles, and is subdivided into sections and clauses. These relate to the Legislature, the Executive, the Judicial powers, the rights of citizenship, the admission of new States; the amendment of the Constitution, its binding force, its ratification, and a supplement of amendments afterwards adopted. We shall examine such parts as come within the scope of our present inquiry.

The preamble states:-"We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

In this preamble we have, first, the authority on which the Constitution is founded-" We, the People." Second, the objects for which it is ordained and established. These are to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, &c. Third, the subject of it-the United States of America.

The authority, we observe, is the People of the United States; not those of the separate States; still less the States themselves in their corporate capacity, as they were united under the Confederation. The Constitution was proposed by a convention recommended by Congress, the delegates of which were commissioned by the State legislatures. It was ratified by conventions of the people within each State. It is therefore a Constitution

proposed by the individual States, but receiving its sanction and validity from the whole people. Mr. Spence has endeavoured to fritter away the meaning of this phrase, "We, the People," by some very strange arguments, a few of which we must notice.

"It has also been endeavoured," he says, "to impart a peculiar force to this epithet by the deduction that it proved the popular action, and so gave the sanction of its being a direct manifestation of the people's will. The defect of this argument is, that of being directly opposed to historical record. It is the fact, that after the Constitution was framed by delegates of the States, approved by the Congress appointed by the States, and referred to the legislatures of the States, it was finally ratified by a convention called in each State for the purpose.

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The words "referred to the legislatures of the States" do not, as we have just shown, give the exact truth. The Convention and the Congress had alike declared that the Constitution should go direct to the people; and if Mr. Spence

The American Union, 224.

means to say that it rested in any way with the State legislatures to determine whether it might or might not be so submitted, we reply it is he who is "opposed to historical record." 1

He objects to the mode in which the people ratified the Constitution, viz., by conventions of representatives.

He says, "the decision, whether to ratify or not, was left absolutely to these conventions: they acted independently on their own judgment. Their decision, therefore, was an act of the people, simply as a vote of the House of Commons may be called an act of the people, and in no other sense,' "2 Certainly! We ask no other admission. How the sovereign power chooses to act does not impugn the act itself. The people, politically speaking, means simply

1 "Whereas the Convention assembled in Philadelphia pursuant to the resolution of Congress, 21st Feb., 1787, did, on the 17th September in the same year, report to the United States in Congress assembled a constitution for the people of the United States, whereupon Congress ** did resolve unanimously, 'That the said report, with the resolu

tion and letter accompanying the the same, be transmitted to the several legislatures, in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the Convention made and provided in that case."-Proceedings in Congress, 13th Sept. 1788. HICKEY'S "Constitution," 190.

2 The American Union, 224.

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