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nullification. Mr. Webster's speech on this occasion was a model of close reasoning and argumentative eloquence. It shivered the alleged rights both of secession and nullification to atoms. With inexorable logic he hunted these errors through all their tortuous windings into their only proper and natural limits of revolution. At this, his opponent, Mr. Hayne, of South Carolina, the great fellowapostle, with Mr. Calhoun, of the gospel of nullification, started to his feet and said, "he did not contend for the mere right of revolution, but for the right of constitutional resistance. What he maintained was, that in case of plain, palpable violation of the Constitution by the general Government, a State may interpose, and that the interposition is constitutional."

Mr. Webster, however, showed that this was a mere evasion. Who was to decide when such a case occurred? Mr. Hayne had worded his resolution almost in the words of Mr. Madison's Virginian resolution before alluded to; but this only weakened his own position, since the very case which South Carolina had selected for her constitutional resistance, viz.,

a protective tariff, had been pronounced by this statesman perfectly constitutional. The Judiciary Court had been adopted by the People of the United States as a resort for justice in all their grievances referring to their State Governments, or to the Nation at large; and to controvert its decision there were only two methods:-Amendment or Revolution. "If we look," said Mr. Webster, "to the general nature of the case, could anything have been more preposterous, than to make a government for the whole Union, and yet leave its powers subject, not to one interpretation, but to thirteen, or twenty-four interpretations? Instead of one tribunal, established by all, responsible to all, with power to decide for all—shall constitutional questions be left to four-andtwenty popular bodies, each at liberty to decide for itself, and none bound to respect the decisions of others; and each at liberty, too, to give a new construction on every new election of its own members? Would anything, with such a principle in it, or rather with such a destitution of all principle, be fit to be called a Government? No; it should not be denomi

nated a Constitution; it should be called, rather, a collection of topics, for everlasting controversy; heads of a debate for a disputatious people. It would not be a Government."

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Mr. Hayne, in reply, took up the same line of argument, which Mr. Spence has adopted. He denied that the Constitution was framed by the people at large instead of the States. He contended that it was a compact between the States. "When," said he, "in the preamble we find the words, We, the People of the United States,' it is clear they can only relate to the people, as citizens of the several States, because the Federal Government was not then in existence." Even in that case, argued Mr. Webster, the States would be the only parties to the compact, and the National Government would be of their creation. For the terms of that compact, and the method of their interpretation, we must look to the Constitution itself. No one State can have a right to fix upon it her own peculiar construction to the exclusion of the rest, but all must agree. And thus the Constitution would have been surrounded by the same difficulties and dangers,


as the articles of Confederation. Mr. Hayne's reply shows that no claim was then set up for the right of secession. Nullification itself was only intended to be a temporary arrest of what might be considered by a State, an unconstitutional exercise of power.

"A state," said he, "is brought into collision with the United States in relation to the exercise of unconstitutional powers: who is to decide between them? In all such

cases some mode must be devised by mutual agreement for settling the difficulty; and most happily for us that mode is clearly indicated in the Constitution itself, and results indeed from the very form and structure of the Government. The creating power is three-fourths of the States. By their decision the parties to the compact have agreed to be bound, even to the extent of changing the entire form of the Government itself; and it follows of necessity, that in case of a deliberate and settled difference of opinion between the parties to the compact, as to the extent of the powers of either, resort must be had to their common superior (that power which may give any character to the Constitution they

may think proper), viz., three-fourths of the States." 1


Mr. Calhoun, at that time, held similar opinions. In a declaration drawn up by him in 1828 for the people of South Carolina, he says, that "by the adoption of the Federal Constitution the State had modified its original right of sovereignty whereby its individual consent was necessary to any change in its political condition, and by becoming a member of the Union had placed that power in the hands of three-fourths of the States in whom the highest power known to the Constitution actually resides." "

It has been well observed, that no Constitution ever provides for its own destruction. It is confessedly subject to the changes of time and to the chances of revolution. The Constitution of the United States provides against the latter and for the former in the power of amendment by appeal to the source of its authority-the Sovereign People. It guarantees the blessings of a free press, free speech,

1 BRADFORD'S History of the Federal Government, Appendix. 2 EVERETT's Oration, 82.

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