Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

tution ; an Article which, historically considered, has precisely the same origin and the same sense with those words themselves. 3. Because it attaches to these words a different sense from that attached to them by the Convention of 1787, as seen in the debates which gave ise to them. 4. Because it contradicts the sense given to these words by Gouverneur Morris, by James Madison, and by other framers of the Constitution of the United States. 5. Because, not satisfied with making this clause contradict everything else, it makes it contradict itself, or at least the very next clause in the same sentence with itself."

But there is another thing which Mr. Webster could not find in “all contemporary history,” nor in "the numbers of The Federalist,nor in “the publications of friends or foes.” In none of these various productions or publications did any one intimate that the new Constitution was but another compact between the States in their sovereign capacity. I do not find such an opinion advanced in a single instance.” Hence, after so careful, so conscientious, and so laborious a search, he feels perfectly justified in the assertion, that “the Constitution is not a compact between sovereign States." This is, indeed, the very title of his speech in 1833, and the great burden of all his eloquence. Yet, with no very great research, I have found, and exhibited in the preceding pages, a multitude of instances in which "such an opinion is advanced.” Nor was it at all necessary to ransack “all contemporary history” for this purpose. The Federalist itself, the great political classic of America, has already furnished several such instances. It teaches us, as we have seen, that “each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others ; * and also that, in the establishment of the Constitution, the States are “regarded as distinct and independent sovereigns.”+

But this, it may be said, does not use the term compact. * No. xxxix.



Very well. The same number of The Federalist, which says that the Constitution was to be established by each State, as a sovereign body, independent of all others, calls that Constitution THE COMPACT.” Thus, according to The Federalist, the Constitution, THE COMPACT, was established by "distinct and independent sovereigns."

” But numbers XXXIX and XL were written by Mr.' Madison. Every one knows, that he always regarded the Constitution as a compact between “distinct and independent sovereigns." That is, every one at all acquainted with the political history of the United States, except Mr. Justice Story and Mr: Webster during the great struggle of

It must be conceded, then, in spite of the sweeping assertion of Mr. Webster, that Madison held the Constitution to be “a compact between the States in their sovereign capacity," and that, too, in the pages of the Federalist as well as elsewhere. A rather conspicuous instance to be overlooked by one, whose search had been so very careful and so very conscientious! Nor does this instance stand alone. Alexander Hamilton is the great writer of the Federalist. Out of its existing eighty-five numbers, no

less than fifty proceeded from his pen; five from the pen of Jay, and thirty from that of Madison; and, in the opinion of the North, the numbers of Hamilton surpass those of Madison far more in quality than in quantity. In the estimation of the North, indeed, Hamilton is the one sublime architect of the Constitution, to whom it owes “every element of its durability and beauty." What, then, does Hamilton say about the nature of the Constitution? Does he call it a compact between States, or does he allege that it was ordained by the people of the United States as one sovereign nation? I do not wish to shock any one. I am aware, it will be regarded, by many of the followers of Story, as akin to sacrilege to charge Alexander Hamilton with having entertained the treasonable opinion, that the Constitution was a compact between the States. But

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

as we have, at the South, no grand manufactory of opinions to supply "all contemporary history," so we must take the sentiments of Alexander Hamilton just as we find them, not in the traditions of the North, but in his own published productions. The simple truth is, then, that he calls the provisions of the Constitution of 1787, “The compacts which are to embrace thirteen distinct States, in a common bond of amity and Union;" and adds, these compacts must “necessarily be compromises of as many dissimilar interests and inclinations."* Thus, according to Hamilton, the “thirteen distinct States” made compromises with each other, and adopted them as "the compacts” of the new Union !

Nor is this all. On the following page, he says: “The moment an alteration is made in the present plan, it becomes, to the purpose of adoption, a new one, and must undergo a new decision of each State.+ Indeed, even Hamilton, the great consolidationist of his day, never dreamed of any other mode of adopting the new Constitution, than by "a decision of each State.” Hence he continues, “To its complete establishment throughout the Union, it will therefore require the concurrence of thirteen States." Again, he says, "Every Constitution for the United States must inevitably consist of a great variety of particulars, in which thirteen INDEPENDENT STATES are to be accommodated in their interests or opinions of interest.”I...... “Hence the necessity of moulding and arranging all the particulars which are to compose the whole, in such a manner, as to satisfy all the parties to THE COMPACT.” That is, in such a manner as to satisfy the thirteen INDEPENDENT STATES, who are "THE PARTIES TO THE COMPACT."S Well may the great usurpers of the North exclaim, “ Et tu Brute!

The whole Federalist is in perfect harmony with this key note of the system it recommended to the people * Federalist, No. LXXXV. tíbid. *Ibid. Ibid.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


By Hamilton, the States are called "the MEMBERS of the Union ;'* the units of which it is composed, and not the fractions into which it is divided. Again, he speaks of “the Union, and of its members,”?+ by which, as appears from the context, he evi ntly means the States. In like manner, Mr. Madison speaks of the new Union as “Confederated States."I Again, he says, “Instead of reporting a plan requiring the confirmation of all the States, they reported a plan, which is to be confirmed, and may be carried into effect, by nine States only."Ş Indeed, similar. testimonies to the fact, that the States entered into the compact of the Constitution, are spread over the pages of the Federalist, as well as over "all contemporary history.'

I might easily produce a hundred other proofs of the same fact from "the Federalist," from "the publications of friends and foes,” from “the debates of the Convention,” without the aid of "all contemporary history." But I am sick of dealing with such unbounded and disgusting license of assertion.

The truth is, that Mr. Webster was a mere theorist, nay, a mere party sophist. He took an oath to support, but not to study, the Constitution. Hence, instead of a close, partial, and honest study of the political history of the country and of the Constitution; he merely looked into the great original fountains of information to furnish himself out with the weapons and the armor of a party champion, or prize fighter. If he ever read any of the documents to which he so confidently appeals, he must have read them with a veil over his eyes; or else, in the heat of debate, he must have forgotten all his first lessons in the political history of his country. From his own generation, he won the proud title of "the great expounder;" yet, after his appeal to posterity shall have been decided, he will be pronounced "the great deceiver." *No. xlii.

†No, ix. INo. xxxvi. & No. xl.


The Convention of 1787 describes the Constitution formed by them as a compact between the States.

The Convention of 1787, in their letter describing the formation of the new Constitution, use precisely the political formula employed by Sidney, Locke, and other celebrated authors, to define a social compact. Hobbes was the first to reduce this theory to a scientific form; and it is no where more accurately defined than by himself. “Each citizen," says he, "compacting with his fellow, says thus: I convey my right on this party, upon condition that you pass yours to the same;. by which means, that right which every man had before to use his faculties to his own advantage, is now wholly translated on some certain man or council for the common benefit.”* Precisely the same idea is conveyed by the formula of 1787: "individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest; and the great difficulty is, as to what rights should be delegated to the governing agents for the common benefit, and what right should be retained by the individual. This is the social compact as defined by Hobbes himself; and although it was an imaginary transaction in regard to the governments of the Old World, it became a reality in relation to the solemnly enacted Constitutions of America.

But, in the letter of the Convention of 1787, it comes before us in a new relation. In Hobbes, "each citizen

* Hobbes' Works, vol. ii., p. 91.

« ZurückWeiter »