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given rise to angry political conflicts stitutional duty which have yet been throughout the country. Those who committed, consist in the acts of differhave appealed from this judgment of our | ent State legislatures to defeat the exhighest constitutional tribunal to pop- | ecution of the Fugitive Slave law. It. ular assemblies would, if they could, in- ought to be remembered, however, that vest a Territorial Legislature with power for these acts neither Congress nor any to annul the sacred rights of property. President can justly be held responsible. This power Congress is expressly for- Having been passed in violation of the bidden, by the Federal Constitution, to Federal Constitution, they are, thereexercise. Every State Legislature in fore, null and void. All the courts, the Union is forbidden, by its own Con- both State and national, before whom stitution, to exercise it. It can not be the question has arisen, have from the exercised in any State except by the beginning declared the Fugitive Slave people, in their highest sovereign capac- law to be constitutional. The single ity, when framing or amending their exception is that of a State court in State Constitution.
Wisconsin ; and this has not only been “In like manner it can only be exer- reversed by the proper appellate tricised by the people of a Territory rep bunal, but has met with such universal resented in a convention of delegates, reprobation that there can be no danger for the purpose of framing a constitution, from it as a precedent. The validity of preparatory to admission as a State into this law has been established over and the Union. Then, and not until then, over again by the Supreme Court of are they invested with power to decide | the United States with perfect unanthe question, whether slavery shall or imity. It is founded upon an express shall not exist within their limits. This provision of the Constitution, requiring is an act of sovereign authority, and not that fugitive slaves who escape from of subordinate territorial legislation. service in one State to another shall be Were it otherwise, then indeed would | 'delivered up' to their masters. Withthe equality of the States in the Terri- out this provision, it is a well-known tories be destroyed, and the right of historical fact that the Constitution itself property in slaves would depend, not could never have been adopted by the upon the guarantees of the Constitution, | Convention. but upon the shifting majorities of an “In one form or other, under the irresponsible Territorial Legislature. acts of 1793 and 1850, both being subSuch a doctrine, from its intrinsic un- stantially the same, the Fugitive Slave soundness, can not long influence any law has been the law of the land from considerable portion of our people, the days of Washington until the present much less can it afford a good reason moment. Here, then, a clear case is for a dissolution of the Union.
presented, in which it will be the duty “The most palpable violations of con- of the next President, as it has been my
BUCHANAN ON SECESSION.
own, to act with vigor in executing this “I have purposely confined my re. supreme law against the conflicting en- marks to revolutionary resistance, beactments of State legislatures. Should cause it has been claimed within the last he fail in the performance of this high few years that any State, whenever this duty, he will then have manifested a dis- shall be its sovereign will and pleasure, regard of the Constitution and laws, to may secede from the Union, in accordthe great injury of the people of nearly ance with the Constitution, and without one half of the States of the Union. any violation of the constitutional rights But are we to presume in advance that of the other members of the confedhe will thus violate his duty ? This eracy. That, as each became parties to would be at war with every principle of the Union by a vote of its own people justice and of Christian charity. Let assembled in convention, so any one of us wait for the overt act. The Fugitive them may retire from the Union in a Slave law has been carried into execu- similar manner by the vote of such a tion in every contested case since the convention. commencement of the present adminis- “In order to justify secession as a tration ; though often, it is to be re-constitutional remedy, it must be on the gretted, with great loss and inconveni- principle that the Federal Government ence to the master, and with consider- is a mere voluntary association of States, able expense to the Government. Let to be dissolved at pleasure by any one us trust that, the State legislatures will of the contracting parties. If this be repeal their unconstitutional and obnox- so, the confederacy is a rope of sand, to ious enactments. Unless this shall be be penetrated and dissolved by the first done without any necessary delay, it is adverse wave of public opinion in any impossible for any human power to save of the States. In this manner our the Union.
thirty-three States may resolve them“The Southern States, standing on selves into as many petty, jarring, and the basis of the Constitution, have a hostiles republics, each one retiring from right to demand this act of justice from the Union, without responsibility, whenthe States of the North. Should it be ever any sudden excitement might impel refused, then the Constitution, to which them to such a course. By this process all the States are parties, will have been a union might be entirely broken into willfully violated by one portion of them fragments in a few weeks, which cost in a provision essential to the domestic our forefathers many years of toil, prisecurity and happiness of the remain- | vation, and blood to establish. der. In that event, the injured States, “Such a principle is wholly inconafter having first used all peaceful and sistent with the history as well as the constitutional means to obtain redress, character of the Federal Constitution. would be justified in revolutionary re- | After it was framed, with the greatest sistance to the Government of the Union. deliberation and care, it was submitted
to conventions of the people of the the principles upon which the General several States for ratification. Its pro-Government is constituted, and to the visions were discussed at length in these objects which it was expressly formed bodies, composed of the first men of the to attain.' country. Its opponents contended that “It is not pretended that any clause it conferred powers upon the Federal in the Constitution gives countenance to Government dangerous to the rights of such a theory. It is altogether founded the States, while its advocates main- upon inference, not from any language tained that under a fair construction of contained in the instrument itself, but the instrument there was no foundation from the sovereign character of the for such apprehensions. In that mighty several States by which it was ratified. struggle between the first intellects of But is it beyond the power of a State, this or any other country, it never oc- like an individual, to yield a portion of curred to any individual, either among its sovereign rights to secure the reits opponents or advocates, to assert, or mainder? In the language of Mr. Madeven to intimate, that their efforts were ison, who has been called the Father of all vain labor, because the moment any the Constitution : 'It was formed by State felt herself aggrieved she might the States—that is, by the people in secede from the Union. What a crush- each of the States, acting in their highing argument would this have provedest sovereign capacity ; and formed conagainst those who dreaded that the sequently by the same authority which rights of the States would be endangered formed the State constitutions. by the Constitution! The truth is, that! “Nor is the Government of the United it was not until many years after the States, created by the Constitution, less origin of the Federal Government that a goverument in the strict sense of the such a proposition was first advanced. term, within the sphere of its powers.
“It was then met and refuted by the than the governments created by the conclusive arguments of General Jack constitutions of the States are, within son, who, in his message of 16th Janu their several spheres. It is, like them, ary, 1833, transmitted the nullifying or organized into legislative, executive, and dinance of South Carolina to Congress, judiciary departments. It operates, like employs the following language : The them, directly on persons and things ; right of the people of a single State to and, like them, it has at command a absolve themselves at will, and without physical force for executing the powers the consent of the other States, from committed to it. their most solemn obligations, and haz “It was intended to be perpetual, and ard the liberty and happiness of the not be annulled at the pleasure of any millions composing this Union, can not one of the contracting parties. The old be acknowledged. Such authority is articles of confederation were entitled believed to be utterly repugnant both to l' Articles of Confederation and PerpetPERPETUITY OF THE UNION.
ual Union between the States;' and by to restrain the States from interfering the 13th article it is expressly declared with their exercise. For that purpose that the articles of this Confederation it has, in strong prohibitory language, shall be inviolably observed by every expressly declared that 'no State shall State, and the Union shall be perpetual.' enter into any treaty, alliance, or conThe preamble to the Constitution of the federation ; grant letters of marque and United States, having express reference reprisal; coin money ; emi to the articles of Confederation, recites credit ; make anything but gold and that it was established ' in order to form silver coin a tender in payment of debts ; a more perfect union.' And yet it is pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto contended that this ' more perfect union' | law, or law impairing the obligation of does not include the essential attribute contracts. Moreover, 'without the conof perpetuity.
sent of Congress, no State shall lay any “But that the Union was designed to imposts or duties on any imports or exbe perpetual, appears conclusively from ports, except what may be absolutely the nature and extent of the powers necessary for executing its inspection conferred by the Constitution on the laws ;' and if they exceed this amount, Federal Government. These powers the excess shall belong to the United embrace the very highest attributes of States. national sovereignty. They place both “And 'no State shall, without the conthe sword and the purse under its con- sent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage; trol. Congress has power to make war, keep troops, or ships of war, in time of and to make peace; to raise and sup- peace ; enter into any agreement or port armies and navies, and to conclude compact with another State, or with a treaties with foreign governments. It is foreign power; or engage in war, unless invested with the power to coin money, actually invaded, or in such imminent and to regulate the value thereof, and to danger as will not admit of delay.' regulate commerce with foreign nations, “In order still further to secure the and among the several States. It is not uninterrupted exercise of these high necessary to enumerate the other high powers against State interposition, it is powers which have been conferred upon provided that this Constitution, and the Federal Government. In order to the laws of the United States which shall carry the enumerated powers into effect, be made in pursuance thereof, and all Congress possesses the exclusive right to treaties made, or which shall be made, lay and collect duties on imports, and in under the authority of the United common with the States to lay and col States, shall be the supreme law of the lect all other taxes.
land ; and the judges in every State “But the Constitution has not only shall be bound thereby, anything in the conferred these high powers upon Con-Constitution or laws of any State to the gress, but it has adopted effectual means contrary notwithstanding.'
“The solemn sanction of religion has them possesses over subjects not delbeen superadded to the obligations ofegated to the United States, but reofficial duty, and all Senators and Rep served to the States respectively, or to resentatives of the United States, all the people.' members of State Legislature, and all "To the extent of the delegated powexecutive and judicial officers, both of ers, the Constitution of the United States the United States and of the several | is as much a part of the Constitution of States, shall be bound by oath or affirm- each State, and is as binding upon its ation to support this Constitution. people, as though it had been textually
" In order to carry into effect these inserted therein. powers, the Constitution has established “This Government, therefore, is a a perfect government in all its forms, great and powerful government, inlegislative, executive, and judicial; and vested with all the attributes of sovthis Government, to the extent of its ereignty over the special subjects to powers, acts directly upon the individual which its authority extends. Its framers citizen of every State, and executes its never intended to implant in its bosom own decrees by the agency of its own the seeds of its own destruction, nor officers. In this respect it differs en were they, at its creation, guilty of the tirely from the Government under the absurdity of providing for its own dissoold confederation, which was confined lution. It was not intended by its to making requisitions on the States in framers to be the baseless fabric their sovereign character. This left it vision which, at the touch of the enin the discretion of each whether to obey chanter, would vanish into thin air, but or to refuse, and they often declined to a substantial and mighty fabric, capable comply with such requisition. It thus of resisting the slow decay of time, and became necessary, for the purpose of re- of defying the storms of ages. Indeed, moving this barrier, and, 'in order to well may the jealous patriots of that day form a more perfect union,' to establish have indulged fears that a government a government which could act directly of such high powers might violate the upon the people, and execute its own reserved rights of the States, and wisely laws without the intermediate agency of did they adopt the rule of a strict conthe States. This has been accomplished struction of these powers to prevent the by the Constitution of the United States. | danger! But they did not fear, nor had
"In short, the Government created by they any reason to imagine, that the the Constitution, and deriving its au- Constitution would ever be so interthority from the sovereign people of preted as to enable any State, by her each of the several States, has precisely own act, and without the consent of her the same right to exercise its power over sister States, to discharge her people the people of all these States, in the from all or any of their Federal obligaenumerated cases, that each one of tions.