Page images

as cheap as any nation of the globe can rear them; and to offer this exten sive country protection as an indemnity for losses sustained by the American system, would seem to be adding indignity to injury. Thus it is impossible that this section can escape from the tax imposed by protection; it can take no part of the bounty. It loses on the protection of woollens and cotton, hemp and iron, salt, &c., and gains in not one single item. The lavish expenditures on internal improvement have scarcely reached it.

Again: there are the navigating and commercial interests-interests of which every American may justly feel proud -- which have been arrested in their rapid growth by the blighting influence of the tariff.

Can any one wonder, then, when contemplating this state of things, that discontent and murmur should arise? that the minority should be indignant at this treatment of a sectional majority? Can any liberal member of such a majority, with these facts before him, say that the majority should unyieldingly persevere in its course?

But there is another view of this subject which we think may well be presented to the serious consideration of the majority. Two of the most salutary checks which can be exerted on Governments, are the responsibility of the representative to his constituent, and his subjection to all the evil as well as good consequences of his acts. Now, in a Government like that of the United States, when its action operates on the conflicting interests of the community, the first of these checks, instead of operating advantageously to the minority, may be productive of the very evil complained of, and the second may cease to speak. Thus the responsibility of the representative causes him to shield himself under the well known wishes of the constituent. The greater the oppression of the minority, the greater, temporarily at least, the gains of the majority; and consequently, through the infallible medium of self-interest, the greater the temptation to partial and unjust legislation. And thus you have the law passed by the sectional majority, upon whom it operates favorably; in fact, the more favorably the more unjust it may be, and without, yea, directly contrary to the voice of those upon whom it acts unfavorably: and where can you find irresponsible power more completely exercised than here, where those who reap all the advantages of the law, enact it against those who suffer all the evil?" Let us look to the passage of the tariff in 1828, and see whether some serious objections may not be urged against it upon this ground.

“On the final question in the House of Representatives, all the members from the southern States, (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia,) voted against the bill, except three members from Virginia, and three others from that State who were absent. All the members from the southwestern States, (Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana,) voted against the bill. All the members from the western States, (Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Mlinois, and Missouri,) voted for the bill, except one from Missouri, who voted against it, and one from Ohio, absent from indisposition. Of the delegations of the middle States, (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York,) fifty-six voted for the bill, and eleven against it. Seven were absent on the final question, and there was one vacancy from death. Of the eleven dissentienus, five were from Maryland, and six represented commercial districts in New York. The delegations of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, whether absent or present, were unanimously for the bill. Only one of the delegates from Maryland voted for the bill; but it is believed that three who were absent approved of the principle, and only objected to the details. Maryland, lying between Virginia and Pennsylvania, is naturally divided on every sectional question. The New Eng. land delegation stood fifteen for the bill, and twenty-eight against it. They brought forward the measure, and then opposed its adoption, because it did not take exactly the form most conducive to their sectional interests."

Cau any thing better prove, than the votes on this important occasion, that this was purely a question of compromise and sectional interests, and that the interests of the minority were wholly disregarded? And what can have a more certain tendency to corrupt and overthrow our institutions, than the exercise of such irresponsible power against the dearest rights and interests of the minority? It was the exercise of irresponsible power which broke into fragments the great hations of the earth. Look to Rome, whose conquering eagles overshadowed the remotest countries of the known world; and what produced the dissolution and consequent downfall of this empire? It was the exercise of irresponsible power. The governors of the prorinces were not re-ponsible to the people over which they ruled, and their tyranny was intolerable.

What but the exercise of the same kind of irresponsible power caused the emancipation of the United States? Did not the colonies deny the right of the British Parliament to tax them, unless through the medium of their own responsible representatives? and even if a small representation had been allowed them in the British Parliament, still they would have been entirely unprotected on all subjects relating to conflicting interests between the colonies and the mother country, for their representation would ever have been in a minority.

Are not these circumstances, then, well worthy of the gravest consideration of the majority, and sufficient to make it pause in its career? Do they not open to our view the very exposed condition of minorities in our country, and the absolute necessity for the utmost forbearance and circumspection on the part of majorities? A majority in our country, no matter when and how forined, should ever bear those things in mind, and recollect that there are soine features in the absolute rule of a majority, even worse than the power of a monarch or an aristocracy. In the first place, a sectional majority is impervious to the public opinion of the minority; then the majority and minority are permanent, and, consequently, there is no hope of relief for the latter: and, lastly, majorities are peeuliarly liable to be governed by narrow and selfish considerations.

We have now, we hope, shown the tendency which there must ever be in a Government consituted like oirs, to partial and even vicious Legislation, when meddling with the conflicting and hostile interests of the community.' We have shown, upon these grounds, that the repeal of the tariff is loudly called for Let us now inquire at what time this repeal should commence; and to this we have no hesitation in saying, the next session of Congress will be much the most appropriate time.

We concur in the sentiments of the memorial respecting the duty of acquiescence in the will of the majority, if it be restricted, as we suppose it must be understood to be restricted, to acts within the limits of their constitutional powers. It does not derogate from a majority, or from any earthly power, to suppose them liable to err. It is the condition of humanity. Men err from ignorance and weakness, and are misled by their interests and their passions; and no passion more universally actuates men, than the desire of power, and to free themselves from the restrictions which limit its'exertions.

If, when an act supposed by a part of the people to be unconstitutional, has once passed, opposition to it must cease, then usurpation is consecrated by the very fact of having been committed. Divine right is to be attributed neither to kings nor majorities.

Thc sentiment of passive obedience has been thought to degrade the subjects of a monarch; it is still less becoming an American freeman, and would be ill addressed to an American Congress. We agree that such opposition should be made by the most peaceful and constitutional means, and we hope and believe that the forms of a free and popular constitution will always afford a remedy when there is just cause to complain of abuse or usurpation

of power.

We beg the indulgent consideration of your honorable body to the views we have thus submitted.

WM. HARPER, for himself and


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »