« AnteriorContinuar »
sulting from causes so certain and obvious, as to be absolutely inevitable, when the effect of the principle is practically experienced. It is to preserve, to guard the constitution of my country, that I denounce this attempt. I would rouse the attention of gentlemen from the apathy, with which they seem beset. These observations are not made in a corner; there is no low intrigue; no secret machination. I am on the people's own ground; to them I appeal, concerning their own rights, their own liberties, their own intent, in adopting this constitution. The voice I have uttered, at which gentlemen startle with such agitation, is no unfriendly voice. I intended it as a voice of warning: By this people, and by the event, if this bill passes, I am willing to be judged, whether it be not a voice of wisdom.
The bill which is now proposed to be passed, has this assumed principle for its basis; that the three branches of this national government, without recurrence to conventions of the people in the states, or to the legislatures of the states, are authorized to admit new partners to a share of the political power, in countries out of the original limits of the United States. Now, this assumed principle, I maintain to be altogether without any sanction in the constitution. I declare it to be a manifest and atrocious usurpation of power; of a nature, dissolving, according to undeniable principles of moral law, the obligations of our national compact; and leading to all the awful consequences, which flow from such a state of things. Concerning this assumed principle, which is the basis of this bill, this is the general position, on which I rest my argument; that if the authority, now proposed to be exercised, be delegated to the three branches of the government by virtue of the constitution, it results either from its general nature, or from its particular provisions. I shall consider distinctly both these sources, in relation to this pretended power.
Touching the general nature of the instrument call
ed the constitution of the United States, there is no obscurity; it has no fabled descent, like the palladium of ancient Troy, from the heavens. Its origin is not confused by the mists of time, or hidden by the darkness of passed, unexplored ages; it is the fabric of our day. Some now living, had a share in its construction; all of us stood by, and saw the rising of the edifice. There can be no doubt about its nature. It is a political compact. By whom? And about what? The preamble to the instrument will answer these questions.
“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."
It is, we the people of the United States, for ourselves and our posterity; not for the people of Louisiana; nor for the people of New Orleans or of Canada. None of these enter into the scope of the instrument; it embraces only “ the United States of America.” Who these are, it may seem strange in this place to inquire. But truly, sir, our imaginations have, of late, been so accustomed to wander after new settlements to the very ends of the earth, that it will not be time ill spent to inquire what this phrase means, and what it includes. These are not terms adopted at hazard; they have reference to a state of things existing anterior to the constitution. When the people of the present United States began to contemplate a severance from their parent state, it was a long time before they fixed definitively the name, by which they would be designated. In 1774, they called themselves “ the Colonies and Provinces of North America." In 1775," the representatives of the United Colonies of North America.” In the declaration of independence “ the representatives of the United States of America." And finally, in the articles of confederation, the style of
the confederacy is declared to be “ the United States of America.” It was with reference to the old articles of confederation, and to preserve the identity and established individuality of their character, that the preamble to this constitution, not content, simply, with declaring that it is “ we the people of the United States," who enter into this compact, adds that it is for “ the United States of America.” Concerning the territory contemplated by the people of the United States, in these general terms, there can be no dispute; it is settled by the treaty of peace, and included within the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Croix, the lakes; and more precisely, so far as relates to the frontier, having relation to the present argument, within 6 line to be drawn through the middle of the river Mississippi, until it intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, thence within a line drawn due east on this degree of latitude to the river Apalachicola, thence along the middle of this river to its junction with the Flint river, thence strait to the head of the St. Mary's river, and thence down the St Mary's to the Atlantic ocean."
I have been thus particular to draw the minds of gentlemen, distinctly, to the meaning of the terms used in the preamble; to the extent, which “ the United States" then included ; and to the fact, that neither New Orleans, nor Louisiana, was within the comprehension of the terms of this instrument. It is sufficient for the present branch of my argument to say, that there is nothing, in the general nature of this compact, from which the power, contemplated to be exercised in this bill, results. On the contrary, as the introduction of a new associate in political power implies, necessarily, a new division of power, and consequent diminution of the relative proportion of the former proprietors of it, there can, certainly, be nothing obvious, than that from the general nature of the instrument no power can result to diminish and give away, to strangers, any proportion of the rights of the original partners. If such a power exist, it must be found, then, in the particular provisions in the constitution. The question now arising is, in which of these provisions is given the power to admit new states, to be created in territories, beyond the limits of the old United States. If it exist anywhere, it is either in the third section of the fourth article of the constitution, or in the treaty-making power. If it result from neither of these, it is not pretended to be found anywhere else.
That part of the third section of the fourth article, on which the advocates of this bill rely, is the following: “ New states may be admitted, by the Congress, into this union; but no new state shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state, nor any state be formed by the junction of two, or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned, as well as of the Congress.”
I know, Mr. Speaker, that the first clause of this paragraph has been read, with all the superciliousness of a grammarian's triumph" New states may be admitted, by the Congress, into this union”—accompanied with this most consequential inquiry : “ Is not this a new state to be admitted? And is not here an express authority?" I have no doubt this is a full and satisfactory argument to every one, who is content with the mere colors and superfices of things. And if we were now at the bar of some stall-fed justice, the inquiry would insure victory to the maker of it, to the manifest delight of the constables and suitors of his court. But, sir, we are now before the tribunal of the whole American people; reasoning concerning their liberties, their rights, their constitution. These are not to be made the victims of the inevitable obscurity of general terms; nor the sport of verbal criticism. The question is concerning the intent of the American people, the proprietors of the old United States, when they agreed to this article. Dictionaries and spelling
books are, here, of no authority. Neither Johnson, nor Walker, nor Webster, nor Dilworth, has any voice in this matter. Sir, the question concerns the proportion of power, reserved, by this constitution, to every state in this union. Have the three branches of this
government a right, at will, to weaken and outweigh the influence, respectively secured to each state in this compact, by introducing, at pleasure, new partners, situate beyond the old limits of the United States ? The question has not relation merely to New Orleans. The great objection is to the principle of the bill. If this principle be admitted, the whole space of Louisiana, greater, it is said, than the entire extent of the old United States, will be a mighty theatre, in which this government assumes the right of exercising this unparalleled power. And it will be; there is no concealment, it is intended to be exercised. Nor will it stop, until the very name and nature of the old partners be overwhelmed by new comers into the confederacy. Sir, the question goes to the very root of the power and influence of the present members of this union. The real intent of this article, is, therefore, an inquiry of most serious import; and is to be settled only by a. recurrence to the known history and known relations of this people and their constitution. These, I main= tain, support this position, that the terms “new states," in this article, do intend new political sovereignties, to be formed within the original limits of the United States; and do not intend new political sovereignties, with territorial annexations, to be created without the original limits of the United States. I undertake to support both branches of this position to the satisfaction of the people of these United States. As to any expectation of conviction on this floor, I know the nature of the ground; and how hopeless any arguments are,
which thwart a concerted course of measures. I recur, in the first place, to the evidence of history. This furnishes the following leading fact; that before, and at the time of, the adoption of this constitution,