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ambition, with other states, recommend | This Constitution has established a Suan amendment for that purpose: which preme Court of the United States, but has amendment was, in due time, annexed to made no provisions for its protection, even the Constitution; but they did not surely against such improper conduct in its presexpect that the proceedings of their state ence, as might disturb its proceedings, unconvention were to explain the amend-less expressed in the section before recited. ment adopted by the Union. The words But as no statute has been passed on this of that amendment, on this subject, are, subject, this protection is, and has been Congress shall make no law abridging for nine years past, uniformly found in the the freedom of speech or of the press. application of the principles and usages of The act complained of is no abridgment the common law. The same protection of the freedom of either. The genuine may unquestionably be afforded by a statliberty of speech and the press, is the lib-ute passed in virtue of the before-menerty to utter and publish the truth; but tioned section, as necessary and proper, for the constitutional right of the citizen to carrying into execution the powers vested utter and publish the truth, is not to be in that department. A construction of confounded with the licentiousness in the different parts of the Constitution, perspeaking and writing, that is only em- fectly just and fair, will, on analogous ployed in propagating falsehood and slan-principles, extend protection and security der. This freedom of the press has been against the offences in question, to the explicitly secured by most, if not all, the other departments of government, in disstate constitutions; and of this provision charge of their respective trusts. there has been generally but one construction among enlightened men; that it is a security for the rational use and not the abuse of the press; of which the courts of law, the juries, and people will judge; this right is not infringed, but confirmed and established by the late act of Congress.
The President of the United States is bound by his oath "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution," and it is expressly made his duty, "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed;" but this would be impracticable by any created being, if there could be no legal restraint of those scandalous misrepresentations of his measures and motives, which directly tend to rob him of the public confidence. And equally impotent would be every other public officer, if thus left to the mercy of the seditious.
It is holden to be a truth most clear, that the important trusts before enumerated cannot be discharged by the government to which they are committed, without the power to restrain seditious practices and
By the Constitution, the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of goyernment are ordained and established; and general enumerated powers vested in them respectively, including those which are prohibited to the several states. Certain powers are granted in general terms by the people to their general government, for the purposes of their safety and protection. The government is not only empowered, but it is made their duty to repel invasions and suppress insurrections; unlawful combinations against itself, and to guaranty to the several states a repub-to protect the officers thereof from abusive lican form of government; to protect each misrepresentations. Had the Constitution state against invasion, and, when applied withheld this power, it would have made to, against domestic violence; to hear and the government responsible for the effects decide all cases in law and equity, arising without any control over the causes which under the Constitution, and under any naturally produce them, and would have treaty or law made in pursuance thereof; essentially failed of answering the great and all cases of admiralty and maritime ends for which the people of the United jurisdiction, and relating to the law of na- States declare, in the first clause of that intions. Whenever, therefore, it becomes strument, that they establish the same, necessary to effect any of the objects de- viz: "To form a more perfect union, essignated, it is perfectly consonant to all tablish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, just rules of construction, to infer, that the provide for the common defence, promote usual means and powers necessary to the the general warfare, and secure the blessattainment of that object, are also granted: ings of liberty to ourselves and posterity." But the Constitution has left no occasion to resort to implication for these powers; it has made an express grant of them, in the 8th section of the first article, which ordains, "That Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States or in any department or officer thereof."
Seditious practices and unlawful combinations against the federal government, or any officer thereof, in the performance of his duty, as well as licentiousness of speech and of the press, were punishable on the principles of common law in the courts of the United States, before the act in question was passed. This act then is an amelioration of that law in favor of the party accused, as it mitigates the punishment which that authorizes, and admits of any
investigation of public men and measures its constitutional powers inviolate, inaswhich is regulated by truth. It is not in- much as every infringement thereof tends tended to protect men in office, only as to its subversion: And whereas the judithey are agents of the people. Its object cial power extends expressly to all cases of is to afford legal security to public offices law and equity arising under the Constiand trusts created for the safety and hap-tution and the laws of the United States piness of the people, and therefore the se- whereby the interference of the legislatures curity derived from it is for the benefit of of the particular states in those cases is the people, and is their right. manifestly excluded: And whereas our The construction of the Constitution and peace, prosperity, and happiness, cininentof the existing law of the land, as well as ly depend on the preservation of the Union, the act complained of, the legislature of in order to which, a reasonable confidence Massachusetts most deliberately and firmly in the constituted authorities and chosen believe results from a just and full view of representatives of the people is indispenthe several parts of the Constitution: and | sable: And whereas every measure calcuthey consider that act to be wise and ne-lated to weaken that confidence has a tencessary, as an audacious and unprincipled | dency to destroy the usefulness of our pubspirit of falsehood and abuse had been too lic functionaries, and to excite jealousies long unremittingly exerted for the pur- equally hostile to rational liberty, and the pose of perverting public opinion, and principles of a good republican governthreatened to undermine and destroy the ment: And whereas the Senate, not perwhole fabric of government. ceiving that the rights of the particular states have been violated, nor any uncon
The legislature further declare, that in the foregoing sentiments they have ex-stitutional powers assumed by the general pressed the general opinion of their consti- government, cannot forbear to express the tuents, who have not only acquiesced anxiety and regret with which they observe without complaint in those particular the inflammatory and pernicious sentimeasures of the federal government, but ments and doctrines which are contained have given their explicit approbation by in the resolutions of the legislatures of re-electing those men who voted for the Virginia and Kentucky-sentiments and adoption of them. Nor is it apprehended, doctrines, no less repugnant to the Constithat the citizens of this state will be ac- tution of the United States, and the princused of supineness or of an indifference ciples of their union, than destructive to to their constitutional rights; for while, the Federal government and unjust to on the one hand, they regard with due vi- those whom the people have elected to adgilance the conduct of the government, on minister it: wherefore, Resolved, That the other, their freedom, safety and happi- while the Senate feel themselves conness require, that they should defend that strained to bear unequivocal testimony government and its constitutional mea- against such sentiments and doctrines, sures against the open or insidious attacks they deem it a duty no less indispensable, of any foe, whether foreign or domestic. explicitly to declare their incompetency, as And, lastly, that the legislature of Mas- a branch of the legislature of this state, to susachusetts feel a strong conviction, that pervise the acts of the general government. the several United States are connected Resolved, That his Excellency, the by a common interest which ought to ren-Governor, be, and he is hereby requested. der their union indissoluble, and that this to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolustate will always co-operate with its con- tion to the executives of the states of Virfederate states in rendering that union pro-ginia and Kentucky, to the end that the ductive of mutual security, freedom, and same may be communicated to the legislahaz,piness. tures thereof.
Sent down for concurrence.
A true copy.
SAMUEL PHILIPS, President.
In the House of Representatives, Feb. 13, 1799.
Read and concurred.
EDWARD H. ROBBINS, Speaker.
JOHN AVERY, Secretary.
STATE OF NEW YORK.-In Senate, March 5, 1799.-Whereas, the people of the United States have established for themselves a free and independent national government: And whereas it is essential to the existence of every government, that it have authority to defend and preserve
ABM. B. BAUCKER, Clerk.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT.-At a General Assembly of the state of Connecticut, holden at Hartford, in the said state, on the second Thursday of May, Anno Domini 1799, his excellency the governor having communicated to this assembly sundry resolutions of the legislature of Virginia, adopted in December, 1798, which relate to the measures of the general government; and the said resolutions having been considered, it is
Resolved, That this Assembly views with deep regret, and explicidy disavows, the principles contained in the aforesaid reso
lutions; and particularly the opposition Assembly of Virginia. The legislature of to the Alien and Sedition Acts"-acts New Hampshire, therefore, deem it unnewhich the Constitution authorized; which cessary, by any train of arguments, to atthe exigency of the country rendered ne- tempt further illustration of the proposicessary; which the constituted authorities tions, the truth of which, it is confidently have enacted, and which merit the entire believed, at this day, is very generally seen approbation of this Assembly. They, and acknowledged. therefore, decidedly refuse to concur with the legislature of Virginia, in promoting any of the objects attempted in the aforesaid resolutions.
And it is further resolved, That his excellency the governor be requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolution to the governor of Virginia, that it may be communicated to the legislature of that
Passed in the House of Representatives unanimously.
Which report, being read and considered, was unanimously received and accepted, one hundred and thirty-seven members being present.
Sent up for concurrence.
That the constitutionality and expediency of the acts aforesaid have been very ably advocated and clearly demonstrated by many citizens of the United States, more especially by the minority of the General
JOHN PRENTICE, Speaker.
In Senate, same day, read and concurred in unanimously.
AMOS SHEPARD, President. Approved June 15, 1799.
J. T. GILMAN, Governor.
Attest, JOHN C. SMITH, Clerk. Concurred, unanimously, in the upper House.
Teste, SAM. WYLLYS, Sec'y.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.-In the
STATE OF VERMONT.—In the House of
House of Representatives, June 14, 1799.
Representatives, October 30, A. D. 1799.-
report as follows:
tion the resolutions of the General Assem-ral Assembly of Virginia, relative to cerbly of Virginia, dated December 21, 1798; tain measures of the general government, also certain resolutions of the legislature of transmitted to the legislature of this state Kentucky, of the 10th of November, 1798; for their consideration; whereupon, the state of Vermont do highly disapprove that the General of the resolutions of the General Assembly of the state of Virginia, as being unconstitutional in their nature and dangerous in their tendency. It belongs not to state legislatures to decide on the constitutionality of the laws made by the general government; this power being exclusively vested in judiciary courts of the Union.
The legislature of New Hampshire, having taken into consideration certain resolutions of the General Assembly of Virginia, dated December 21, also certain resolutions of the legislature of Kentucky, of the 10th of November, 1798,
Resolved, That the legislature of 'New Hampshire unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the con
That his excellency the governor be restitution of this state, against every aggres-quested to transmit a copy of this resolu sion, either foreign or domestic, and that tion to the executive of Virginia, to be they will support the government of the United States in all measures warranted communicated to the General Assembly of that state; and that the same be sent to by the former.
the Governor and Council for their con
That the state legislatures are not the proper tribunals to determine the constitutionality of the laws of the general government; that the duty of such decision is properly and exclusively confided to the judicial department.
Resolutions of 1798 and 1799.
(The original draught prepared by Thomas Jefferson.)
That if the legislature of New Hampshire, for mere speculative purposes, were to express an opinion on the acts of the general government, commonly called "the Alien and Sedition Bills," that The following resolutions passed the opinion would unreservedly be, that those House of Representatives of Kentucky, acts are constitutional and, in the present Nov. 10, 1798. On the passage of the first critical situation of our country, highly ex-resolution, one dissentient; 2d, 3d, 4th, pedient. 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, two dissentients; 9th, three dissentients.
A true copy.
Attest, JOSEPH PEARSON, Sec'y.
SAMUEL C. CRAFTS, Clerk. In Council, October 30, 1799.-Read and concurred in unanimously.
RICHARD WHITNEY, Sec'y.
1. Resolved, That the several states composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government;
reserved to the states or to the people; that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated rather than the use be destroyed; and thus also they guarded against all abridgment by the United States, of the freedom of religious principles and exercises, and retained to
but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each state to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government: and, that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each state acceded as a state, and is an integral party; that this govern-themselves the right of protecting the same, ment, created by this compact, was not as this, stated by a law passed on the genmade the exclusive or final judge of the eral demand of its citizens, had already extent of the powers delegated to itself; protected them from all human restraint or since that would have made its discretion, interference; and that, in addition to this and not the Constitution, the measure of general principle and express declaration, its powers; but, that as in all other cases another and more special provision has of compact among parties having no com- been made by one of the amendments to mon judge, each party has an equal right the Constitution, which expressly declares, to judge for itself, as well of infractions as that "Congress shall make no laws respectof the mode and measure of redress. ing an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or
2. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States having delegated to Con- abridging the freedom of speech, or of the gress a power to punish treason, counter-press," thereby guarding in the same senfeiting the securities and current coin of tence, and under the same words, the freethe United States, piracies and felonies dom of religion, of speech, and of the committed on the high seas, and offences press, insomuch that whatever violates against the laws of nations, and no other either, throws down the sanctuary which crimes whatever; and it being true, as a covers the others; and that libels, falsegeneral principle, and one of the amend-hood, and defamation, equally with heresy ments to the Constitution having also de- and false religion, are withheld from the clared, "that the powers not delegated to cognisance of federal tribunals. That therethe United States by the Constitution, nor fore the act of the Congress of the United prohibited by it to the states, are reserved States, passed on the 14th of July, 1798, to the states respectively, or to the people," entitled "An act in addition to the act entherefore also the same act of Congress, titled An act for the punishment of certain passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, and crimes against the United States," which entitled An act in addition to the act does abridge the freedom of the press, is entitled An act for the punishment of cer- not law, but is altogether void and of no tain crimes against the United States;" as force. also the act passed by them on the 27th day of June, 1798, entitled "An act to punish frauds committed on the Bank of the United States," (and all other their acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes other than those enumerated in the Constitution), are altogether void and of no force, and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes
4. Resolved, That alien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the state wherein they are: that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual states distinct from their power over citizens; and it being true, as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that
3. Resolved, That it is true, as a general principle, and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the Constitution, | that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people;" and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, all lawful powers respect ing the same did of right remain, and were
is reserved, and of right appertains solely" the powers not delegated to the United and exclusively to the respective states, States by the Constitution, nor prohibited each within its own territory. to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people," the act of the Congress of the United States, passed the 22d day of June, 1798, entitled "An act concerning aliens," which assumes power over alien friends not delegated by the Constitution, is not law, but is altogether void and of no force.
5. Resolved, That in addition to the general principle as well as the express declaration, that powers not delegated are reserved, another and more special provision inferred in the Constitution, from abundant caution has declared, "that the migra
welfare of the United States, and to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the
tion or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808." That this commonwealth does admit the migra- government of the United States, or any tion of alien friends described as the sub-department thereof, goes to the destruction ject of the said act concerning aliens; that of all the limits prescribed to their power a provision against prohibiting their migra- by the Constitution: That words meant by ton, is a provision against all acts equiva- that instrument to be subsidiary only to lent thereto, or it would be nugatory; that the execution of the limited powers, ought to remove them when migrated is equiva- not to be so construed as themselves to give Jent to a prohibition of their migration, unlimited powers, nor a part so to be taken and is, therefore, contrary to the said pro- as to destroy the whole residue of the invision of the Constitution, and void. strument: That the proceedings of the general government under color of those articles, will be a fit and necessary subject for revisal and correction at a time of greater tranquillity, while those specified in the preceding resolutions call for immediate redress.
6. Resolved, That the imprisonment of a person under the protection of the laws of this commonwealth on his failure to obey the simple order of the President to depart out of the United States, as is undertaken by the said act, entitled, "An act concerning aliens," is contrary to the Constitution, one amendment in which has provided, that "no person shall be deprived Representatives in Congress from this comof liberty without due process of law," monwealth, who are enjoined to present and, that another having provided, that the same to their respective Houses, and in all criminal prosecutions, the accused to use their best endeavors to procure at shall enjoy the right to a public trial by the next session of Congress a repeal of an impartial jury, to be informed as to the the aforesaid unconstitutional and obnoxnature and cause of the accusation, to be ious acts. confronted with the witnesses against him, 9. Resolved lastly, That the governor of to have compulsory process for obtaining this commonwealth be, and is hereby auwitnesses in his favor, and to have assist-thorized and requested to communicate the ance of counsel for his defence," the same preceding resolutions to the legislatures of act undertaking to authorize the President the several states, to assure them that this to remove a person out of the United States commonwealth considers union for special who is under the protection of the law, on national purposes, and particularly for his own suspicion, without jury, without those specified in their late federal compublic trial, without confrontation of the pact, to be friendly to the peace, happiness, witnesses against him, without having wit- and prosperity of all the states-that, faithnesses in his favor, without defence, with-ful to that compact, according to the plain out counsel, is contrary to these provisions intent and meaning in which it was underalso of the Constitution, is therefore not stood and acceded to by the several parties, law, but utterly void and of no force. it is sincerely anxious for its preservation; that it does also believe, that to take from the states all the powers of self-government, and transfer them to a general and consolidated government, without regard to the special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness, or prosperity of these states; and that, therefore, this commonwealth is determined, as it doubts not its co-states are, to submit to undelegated and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that if the acts before specified should stand, these conclusions would flow from them; that the general government may place any act they think proper on the list of crimes and punish it themselves, whether enumerated or not enumerated by the Constitution as cognisable by them; that they may transfer its cognisance to the President or any other person, who may himself be the accuser, counsel, judge, and jury, whose suspicions may be the evidence, his order the sentence, his officer the executioner, and
That transferring the power of judging any person who is under the protection of the laws, from the courts to the President of the United States, as is undertaken by the same act concerning aliens, is against the article of the Constitution which provides, that the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in the courts, the judges of which shall hold their office during good behavior," and that the said ect is void for that reason also; and it is further to be noted that this transfer of judiciary power is to that magistrate of the general government who already possesses all the executive, and a qualified negative in all the legislative powers.
7. Resolved, That the construction applied by the general government (as is evident by sundry of their proceedings) to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, excises; to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general
8. Resolved, That the preceding resolutions be transmitted to the Senators and