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" The great expounder" scouts the idea, that the States " accededto the Constitution.

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MR. WEBSTER was supposed to have studied the Constitution, and its history, more carefully and more profoundly than any other man. He habitually spoke, indeed, as if he had every particle of its meaning, and of its history, at his finger's end. Hence he acquired, at least among his political friends, the lofty title of “The great expounder." His utterances were listened to as oracles. If, indeed, his great mind had been guided by a knowledge of facts, or a supreme love of truth; the irresistible force of his logic, and the commanding powers of his eloquence, would have justified those who delighted to call him “the god-like Daniel." But, unfortunately, no part of his god-likeness consisted in a scrupulous regard for truth, or the accuracy of his assertions. He was, however, so great a master of words, that he stood in little need of facts, in order to produce a grand impression by the rolling thunders of his eloquence. I only wonder, that he was not also called, “The thunderer." No one better understood, either in theory or in practice, the wonderful magic of words than Daniel Webster.

“Was it Mirabeau,” says he, “or some other master of the human passions, who has told us that words are things? They are indeed things, and things of mighty influence, not only in addresses to the passions and highwrought feelings of mankind, but in the discussion of legal and political questions also ; because a just conclusion is

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often avoided, or a false one reached, by the adroit substitution of one phrase, or one word, for another." Nothing can be more just than this general reflection; and nothing, as we shall presently see, can be more unjust than the application made of it by Mr. Webster.

He finds an example of this adroit use of language in the first resolution of Mr. Calhoun. “ The first resolution,” says he, "declares that the people of the several States acceded' to the Constitution.” As “the natural converse of accession is secession,” so Mr. Webster supposes that Calhoun hås adroitly, and “not without a well-considered purpose," shaped his premises to a foregone conclusion. “When it is stated," says he, “that the people of the State acceded to the Union, it may be more plausibly argued that they may secede from it. If, in adopting the Constitution, nothing was done but acceding to a compact, nothing would seem necessary, in order to break it up, but to secede from the same compact.”

But "this term accede," asserts Mr. Webster, "is wholly out of place...........There is more importance than may, at first sight, appear in the introduction of this new word by the honorable mover of the resolutions.”..... people of the United States," he continues, "used no such form of expression in establishing the present Govern

....... It is “unconstitutional language.” Such are a few of the bold, sweeping, and confident assertions of “the great expounder of the Constitution.” But how stands the fact? Is this really "a new word;" or is it as old as the Constitution itself, and rendered almost obsolete at the North by the progress of new ideas and new forms of speech? Was it not, in fact, as familiar to the very fathers and framers of the Constitution of the United States as it afterwards become foreign and strange to the ears of its Northern expounders ? This is the question; and, fortunately, the answer is free from all metaphysical refinement, from all logical subtlety, from all curious spec

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ulation. For there lies the open record, with this very word accede, and this very application of the word, spread all over its ample pages in the most abundant profusion. No mode of expression is, indeed, more common with the fathers and the framers of the Constitution, while speaking of the act of its adoption, than this very phrase, “the accession of the States.” No household word ever fell more frequently or more familiarly from their lips.

Thus in the Convention of 1787, Mr. James Wilson, to whose great influence the historian of the Constitution ascribes its adoption by the State of Pennsylvania,* preferred “a partial union” of the States, “with a door open for the accession of the rest,” rather than to see their disposition “to confederate anew on better principles” entirely defeated.† “But will the small States," asks another member of the same Convention, “in that case, accede to it" (the Constitution?) Mr. Gerry, a delegate from Massachusetts, was opposed to "a partial confederacy, leaving other States to accede or not to accede, as had been intimated."| Even Mr. Madison, "the father of the Constitution," as by way of eminence he has long been called, used the expression " to accede" in the Convention

6 of 1787, in order to denote the act of adopting “the new form of government by the States."'S

In like manner Governor Randolph, who was also a member of the Convention of 1787, and who had just reported the form of ratification to be used by the State of Virginia, said, “That the accession of eight States reduced our deliberations to the single question of Union or no Union." "If it (the Constitution,") says Patrick

“ Henry, “be amended, every State will accede to it."|| “Does she (Virginia) gain anything from her central position," asks Mr. Grayson, “by acceding to that paper,” the

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* Mr. Curtis, vol. i., p. 465. †"The Madison Papers,'' p.

797. [Ibid, p. 1101. @Ibid, p. 1103. ||•'Elliot's Debates," vol. iii., p. 652.


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Constitution * "I came hither,” says Mr. Innes, "under the persuasion that the felicity of our country required that we should accede to this system,” † (the new Constitution.) "Our new Constitution," says Franklin, who next to Washington was the most illustrious member of the Convention of 1787, “is now established with eleven States, and the accession of a twelfth is soon expected." I And, finally, George Washington himself, who, watching the States as one after another adopted the new Constitution, says:—“If these, with the States eastward and northward of us, should accede to the Federal Government,'' &c. Thus, while the transaction was passing before their eyes the fathers of the Constitution of the United States, with the great father of his country at their head, described the act by which the new Union was formed as “the accession of the States;" using the very expression which, in the resolution of Mr. Calhoun, is so vehemently condemned as “unconstitutional language," as "a new word,” invented by the advocates of secession for the vile purpose of disunion.

To these high authorities, may be added that of Chief Justice Marshall; who, in his Life of Washington, notes the fact, that “North Carolina accedes to the Union.''|| This was many months after the new Government had gone into operation. Mr. Justice Story, is, in spite of his artificial theory of Constitution, a witness to the same fact. “The Constitution,” says he, “has been ratified by all the States;”.... “Rhode Island did not accede to it, until more than a year after it had been in operation;" just as if he had completely forgotten his own theory of the Constitution.

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* " The Madison Papers,' p: 1099.

"Elliot's Debates," vol. ii. " Franklin's Works,” vol. v.. p. 409. “ The Writings of Washington, vol. ix., p. 280. || Vol. v, chap. iii. | Book iii, chap. xliii.

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If it were necessary, this list of authorities for the use of the word in question, and for the precise application made of it by Mr. Calhoun, might be greatly extended. But surely we have seen enough to show how very illinformed was "the great expounder" with respect to the language of the fathers. Not only John C. Calhoun, but Washington, Franklin, Wilson, King, Morris, Randolph, Madison, and all the celebrated names of the great Convention of 1787, came under the denunciation of this mod`ern “expounder of the Constitution.”

There is, as Mr. Webster says, more importance to be attached to the word in question than may at first sight appear. For if “the States acceded” to the Constitution, each acting for itself alone, then was it a voluntary association of States, from which, according to his own admission, any member might secede at pleasure. Accordingly this position of the great oracle of the North is echoed and re-echoed by all who, since the war began, have written against the right of secession. Thus, says one of the most faithful of these echoes, Mr. Motley—“The States never acceded to the Constitution, and have no power to secede from it.” It was 5 ordained and established”

over the States by a power superior to the States, by the people of the whole land in their aggregate capacity.* If, with the fathers of the Constitution, in opposition to its modern expounder and perverter, he had seen that the new Union was formed by an accession of the States, then he would have been compelled, on his own principle, to recognise the right of secession. For he has truly said, what no one ever denied, that “the same power which established the Constitution may justly destroy it.”Hence, if the Constitution was established by the accession or consent of the States, then may the Union be dissolved by a secession of

, the States. This conclusion is, as we have seen, expressly admitted by Mr. Webster and Mr. Justice Story.

* Rebellion Record, vol. 1, p. 211. + Ibid. p. 214.

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