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which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety; perhaps, our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed upon our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected-a spirit of amity and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable." 1

Mr. Hamilton's opinions were no less decisive than those quoted. They are thus given in summary by Mr. Curtis-" All Federal Governments are weak and distracted.2 In

1 ELLIOTT'S Debates, 249.

2 The reader is here warned against supposing that Hamilton would thus have spoken of the present Federal constitution of the United States. The fact is, that the term "Federal" entirely changed its meaning after the Constitution had left the Convention. Up to that time it had described a Federal, as distinguished from a National system of Government, such as that established by the Articles of Confederation. But, when the constitution was before the

people for adoption, its advocates were popularly called "Federalists," and its opponents "Anti-federalists," according as they favoured or opposed the enlargement of the Federal powers. Thus Hamilton was no Federalist in 1787, when the opinions in the text were expressed; but he was a Federalist in 1788, and wrote a large number of the celebrated essays published under that name.Vide Hist. of the Constitution, CURTIS ii., 497.

order to avoid the evils incident to that form, the Government of the American Union must be a National representative system. But no such system can be successful in the actual situation of this country, unless it is endowed with all the principles and means of influence and power which are the proper supports of Government.

"It must, therefore, be made completely sovereign, and State power, as a separate legislative authority, must be annihilated; otherwise the States will be not only able, but will be constantly tempted, to exert their own authority against the authority of the nation." And, speaking in the New York ratifying convention, he said, "We contend that the radical vice in the old Confederation is, that the laws of the Union apply to States in their corporate capacity. Has not every man who has been in our Legislature experienced the truth of this position? It is inseparable from the disposition of bodies, who have a constitutional power of resistance to examine the merits of a law.1

1 Eloquence of United States, i. 24.

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

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