« ZurückWeiter »
to alter nor to abolish it. The power that made, is the power to unmake. Ur. Justice Story did not mean, that is, he did not deliberately mean, that the people of the United States, or the majority of them, could alter or abolish the Constitution; for he was too well informed to be capable of such a blunder. But in this instance, as in many others, his logic, speaking the language of nature and of truth, got the better of his artificial and false hypothesis.
If the people of the United States are, in reality, one sovereign political community, and as such, ordained the Constitution, then they have the most absolute control over all the parts; and the States bear the same relation to this one grand and overshadowing sovereignty, that counties sustain to a State. They may be divided, or moulded, or abolished, at the pleasure of the whole people. But everybody knows better than this. Mr. Lincoln did, it is true, endorse this conclusion, in the first speech he ever made to the American public. When the long silence was broken, and, as President elect, he addressed his first word to an anxious country, he likened the relation between the States and the Union to that of countries to a State. Until then, there were many intelligent and wellinformed persons, who did not believe, that there was one individual in the United States capable of taking such a view of the Constitution, except among political preachers or parsons.* But however absurd, it is only the necessary consequence of the premises laid down by Mr. Justice Story and Mr. Webster. It will, however, be regarded by every student of the Constitution in the light of a reductio ad absurdum, which, instead of establishing the conclusion to which it leads, only shatters and demolishes the position from which it flows.
*Indeed, this doctrine, and the very illustration of it, was borrowed by Mr Lincoln from the celebrated Preacher of Princeton, N. J. Compare Mr. Lincolp's speech with Dr. Hodge on “the State of the Country.”
The hypothesis that the people of America form one Nation."
We have seen, in the preceding chapter, some of the absurdities flowing from the assumption, that the people of America form one nation, or constitute one political community. But as this is the negotov noev&o$, the first and all-comprehending falsehood, of the Northern theory of the Constitution, by which its history has been so sadly blurred, if not obliterated, and by which its most solemn provisions have been repealed, so we shall go beyond the foregoing reductio ad absurdum, and show that it has no foundation whatever in the facts of history. I was about to say, that it has not the shadow of such a foundation; but, in reality, it has precisely such a shadow in the vague popular use of language, to which the passions of interested partisans have given the appearance of substance. And it is out of this substance, thus created from a shadow, that have been manufactured those tremendous rights of national power, by which the clearly-reserved rights of the States have been crushed, and the most unjust war of the modern world justified. I purpose, therefore, to pursue. this agotov doevdos, this monstrous abortion of night and darkness, into the secret récesses of its history, and leave neither its substance nor its shadow in existence. Fortunately, in the prosecution of this design, it is only necessary to cross-examine those willing witnesses by whom · this fiction has been created, and compare their testimony with itself, in order to show that they are utterly unwor
thy of credit as historians of the American Union. I shall begin with Mr. Justice Story.
The attempt of Mr. Justice Story to show, that the people of America formed one nation or State.
This celebrated commentator strains all the powers of language, and avails himself of every possible appearance, to make the colonies of America “one peeple," even before they severed their dependence on the British crown. Thus, he says:
" The colonies were fellowsubjects, and for many purposes one people. Every colonist had a right to inhabit, if he pleased, in any other colony; and as a British subject, he was capable of inheriting lands by descent in every other colony. The commercial intercourse of the colonies, too, was regulated by the laws of the British empire; and could not be restrained, or obstructed, by colonial legislation. The remarks of Mr. Chief Justice Jay on this subject are equally just and striking: All the people of this country were then subjects of the king of Great Britain, and owed allegiance to him; and all the civil authority then existing, or exercised here, flowed from the head of the British empire, They were, in a strict sense, fellow-subjects, and in a variety of respects, one people.'*
Now all this signifies just exactly nothing as to the purpose which the author has in view. For, no matter in what respects the colonies were “one people,” if they were not one in the political sense of the words; or if they had no political power as one people, then the germ of the national oneness did not exist among them. But this is conceded by Mr. Justice Story himself. “The colonies,”
" says he, “were independent of each other in respect to their domestic concerns.”+ Each was independent of the legislation of another, and of all the others combined, if they had pleased to combine.
* Story on the Constitution, vol. i, page 164. +Ibid.
In many respects, indeed, the whole human race may be said to be one. They have a common origin, a common psychology, a common physiology, and they are all subjects of the same great Ruler of the world. But this does not make all men "one people” in the political sense of the words. In like manner, those things which the colonists had in 'common, and which are so carefully enumerated by Mr. Justice Story, do not make them one political community; the only sense in which their oneness could have any logical connexion with his design. Nay, so palpably is this the case, that he fails to make the impression on his own mind, which he seems so desirous to make on that of his readers; and the hypothesis that the colonies were “one people," is utterly dispelled by his own explicit admission. For, says he; “Though the colonies had a common origin, and owed a common allegiance, and the inhabitants of each were British subjects, they had no direct political connexion with each other. Each was independent of all the others; each, in a limited sense, was sovereign within its own territory. There was neither allegiance nor confederacy between them. The Assembly of one province could not make laws for another, nor confer privileges which were to be enjoyed or exercised in another, farther than they could be in any independent foreign state. As colonies, they were also excluded from all connexion with foreign states. They were known only as dependencies, and they followed the fate of the parent country, both in peace and war, without having assigned to them, in the intercourse or diplomacy of nations, any distinct or independent existence. They did not possess the power of forming any league or treaty among themselves, which would acquire an obligatory force, without the assent of the parent State. And though their mutual wants and necessities often induced them to associate for common purposes of defence, these confederacies were of a casual and temporary nature,