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of upwards of two thousand years since the remark was made by the virtuous and indignant Roman, I fear that a strict examination of the annals of some of the modern elective governments, would develope similar instances of violated confidence,
Although the fiat of the people has gone forth, proclaiming me the Chief Magistrate of this glorious Union, . nothing upon their part remaining to be done, it may be thought that a motive may exist to keep up the delusion under which they may be supposed to have acted in relation to my principles and opinions; and perhaps there may be some in this assembly who have come here either prepared to condemn those I shall now deliver, or, approving them, to doubt the sincerity with which they are uttered. But the lapse of a few months will confirm or dispel their fears. The outline of principles to govern, and measures to be adopted, by an Administration not yet begun, will soon be exchanged for immutable history, and Ishall stand, either exonerated by my countrymen, or classed with the mass of those who promised that they might deceive, and flattered with the intention to betray. However strong may be my present purpose to realize the expectations of a magnanimous and confiding people, I too well understand the dangerous temptations to which I shall be exposed, fron the magnitude of the power which it has been the pleasure of the people to commit to my hands, not to place my chief confidence upon the aid of that Almighty power which has hitherto protected me, and enabled me to bring to favorable issues other important but still greatly inferior trusts, heretofore confided to me by my country.
The broad foundation upon which our Constitution rests being the people—a breath of theirs having made, as a breath can unmake, change or modify it it can be assigned to none of the great divisions of Government, but to that of democracy. If such is its theory, those who are called upon to administer it must recognize, as its leading principle, the duty of shaping their measures 80 as to produce the greatest good to the greatest number. But, with these broad admissions, if we would compare the sovereignty acknowledged to exist in the mass of our
people, with tne power claimed by other sovereignties, even by those which have been considered most purely democratic, we shall find a most essential difference.
All others lay claim to power limited only by their own · will. The majority of our citizens, on the contrary, pos. sess a sovereignty with an amount of power precisely equal to that which has been granted to them by the par ties to the national compact, and nothing beyond. We admit of no Government by divine right. Believing that, so far as power is concerned, the Beneficent Creator has made no distinction amongst men, that all are upon an equality, and that the only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed. The Constitution of the United States is the instrument containing this grant of power to the several departments composing the Government. On an examination of that instrument, it will be found to contain declarations of power granted and of power withheld. The latter is also susceptible of division, into power which the majority had the right to grant, but which they did not think proper to intrust to their agents, and that which they could not have granted, not being possessed by themselves. In other words, there are certain rights possessed by each individual American citizen, which, in his compact with the others, he has never surrendered. Some of them, indeed, he is unable to surrender, being in the language of our system unalienable. The boasted privilege of a Roman citizen was to him a shield only against a petty provincial ruler, whilst the proud democrat of Athens could console himself under the sentence of death, for a supposed violation of the national faith, which no one understood, and which at times was the subject of the mockery of all, or the banishment from his home, his family and his country, with or without an alleged cause ; that it was the act, not of a single tyrant, or hated aristocracy, but of his assembled countrymen. Far different is the power of our sove. reignty. It can interfere with no one's faith, prescribe forms of worship for no one's observance, inflict no punishment but after well ascertained guilt, the result of investigation under rules prescribed by the Constitution itself. These precious privileges, and those scarcely less
important, of giving expression to his thoughts and opirions, either by writing or speaking, unrestrained but by the liability for injury to others, and that of a full partici pation in all the advantages which flow from the Government, the acknowledged property of all, the American citizen derives from no charter granted by his fellow man. He claims them because he is himself a man,
fashioned by the same Almighty hand as the rest of his species, and entitled to a full share of the blessings with which he has endowed them. Notwithstanding the limited sovereignty possessed by the people of the United States, and the restricted grant of power to the Government which they have adopted, enough has been given to accomplish all the objects for which it was created. It has been found powerful in war, and, hitherto, justice has been administered, an intimate union effected, domestic tranquillity preserved, and personal liberty secured to the citi
As was to be expected, however, from the defect of language, and the necessarily sententious manner in which the Constitution is written, disputes have arisen as to the amount of power which it has actually granted, or was intended to grant.
This is more particularly the case in relation to that part of the instrument which treats of the legislative branch. And not only as regards the exercise of powers claimed under a general clause, giving that body the authority to pass all laws necessary to carry into effect the specified powers, but in relation to the latter also. It is, however, consolatory to reflect, that most of the instances of alleged departure from the letter or spirit of the Constitution, have ultimately received the sanction of a majority of the people. And the fact that many of our statesmen, most distinguished for talent and patriotism, have been, at one time or other of their political career, on both sides of each of the most warmly disputed questions, forces upon us the inference that the errors if errors they were, are attributable to the intrinsic difficulty, in many instances, of ascertaining the intentions of the framers of the Constitution, rather than the influence of any sinister or unpatriotic motive. But the great danger to our institutions does not appear to me to be in a usurpation by the Government of