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The next amendment proposes to restrict the power of making offensive war. Rarely can the state of this country call for or justify offensive war. The genius of our institutions is unfavorable to its successful prosecution; the felicity of our situation exempts us from its necessity. In this case, as in the former, those more immediately exposed to its fatal effects are a minority of the nation. The commercial towns, the shores of our seas and rivers, contain the population whose vital interests are most vulnerable by a foreign enemy. Agriculture, indeed, must feel at last, but this appeal to its sensibility comes too late. Again, the immense population which has swarmed into the West, remote from immediate danger, and which is constantly augmenting, will not be averse from the occasional disturbances of the Atlantic States. Thus interest may not unfrequently combine with passion and intrigue to plunge the nation into needless wars, and compel it to become a military, rather than a happy and flourishing, people. These considerations, which it would be easy to augment, call loudly for the limitation proposed in the amendment.
Another amendment, subordinate in importance, but still in a high degree expedient, relates to the exclusion of foreigners hereafter arriving in the United States from the capacity of holding offices of trust, honor, or profit.
It is agreed that a liberal policy should offer the rights of hospitality, and the choice of settlement, to those who are disposed to visit the country. But why admit to a participation in the Government aliens who were no parties to the compactwho are ignorant of the nature of our institutions, and have no stake in the welfare of the country but what is recent and transitory? It is surely a privilege sufficient, to admit them after due probation to become citizens, for all but political purposes. To extend it beyond these limits is to encourage foreigners to come to these States as candidates for preferment.
The last amendment respects the limitation of the office of President to a single Constitutional term, and his eligibility from the same State two terms in succession.
Upon this topic it is superfluous to dilate. The love of power is a principle in the human heart which too often impels to the use of all practicable means to prolong its duration. The office of President has charms and attractions which operate as powerful incentives to this passion. The first and most natural exertion of a vast patronage is directed toward the security of a new election. The interest of the country, the welfare of the people, even honest fame and respect for the opinion of poster
ity, are secondary considerations. All the engines of intrigue, all the means of corruption are likely to be employed for this object. A President whose political career is limited to a single election may find no other interest than will be promoted by making it glorious to himself, and beneficial to his country. But the hope of reëlection is prolific of temptations, under which these magnanimous motives are deprived of their principal force. The repeated election of the President of the United States from any one State affords inducements and means for intrigues which tend to create an undue local influence and to establish the domination of particular States. The justice, therefore, of securing to every State a fair and equal chance for the election of this officer from its own citizens is apparent, and this object will be essentially promoted by preventing an election from the same State twice in succession.
The convention dissolved with the statement that, if its proposals in regard to the embargo and related matters should not be agreed to, and if the defence of the New England States should still be neglected, a further convention would be created "with such powers and instructions as the exigency of a crisis so momentous may require." This was accepted at the time and thereafter as a threat of secession.
The ending of the war by the Treaty of Ghent rendered such a further convocation untimely, and thereafter the New England States never, by the slightest intimation, indicated that they contemplated secession, but, on the contrary, became more and more pronounced in favor of nationalism. Nevertheless the Southerners continually cast the Hartford convention up to the North as interdicting any complaint from that quarter against secession by the South.
Thus, in 1830, during the agitation over nullification, Robert Y. Hayne, Senator from South Carolina, alluded to the Hartford convention. After depicting in glowing colors the calamities of the country at the time the convention assembled, he represented the conduct of the Eastern States, in relation to the war, in as reprehensible a light as the force of language would enable him. For the facts to support his statements, he relied principally upon a partisan book entitled "The Olive
Branch," published shortly after the convention by Theodore Dwight, its secretary. Senator Hayne said:
THE TREASON OF NEW ENGLAND
As soon as the public mind was sufficiently prepared for the measure [secession], the celebrated Hartford Convention was got up; not as the act of a few unauthorized individuals, but by authority of the legislature of Massachusetts; and, as has been shown by the able historian of that convention, in accordance with the views and wishes of the party of which it was the organ. Now, sir, I do not desire to call in question the motives of the gentlemen who composed that assembly; I knew many of them to be in private life accomplished and honorable men, and I doubt not there were some among them who did not perceive the dangerous tendency of their proceedings. I will even go further, and say that, if the authors of the Hartford Convention believed that "gross, deliberate, and palpable violations of the Constitution" had taken place, utterly destructive of their rights and interests, I should be the last man to deny their right to resort to any constitutional measures for redress. But, sir, in any view of the case, the time when and the circumstances under which that convention assembled, as well as the measures recommended, render their conduct, in my opinion, wholly indefensible.
Let us contemplate for a moment the spectacle then exhibited to the view of the world. I will not go over the disasters of the war nor describe the difficulties in which the Government was involved. It will be recollected that its credit was nearly gone, Washington had fallen, the whole coast was blockaded, and an immense force, collected in the West Indies, was about to make a descent which it was supposed we had no means of resisting. In this awful state of our public affairs, when the Government seemed to be almost tottering on its base, when Great Britain, relieved from all her other enemies, had proclaimed her purpose of "reducing us to unconditional submission"-we beheld the peace party in New England (in the language of the work ["The Olive Branch"] before us) pursuing a course calculated to do more injury to their country and to render England more effective service than all her armies. Those who could not find it in their hearts to rejoice at our victories sang "Te Deum" at the King's Chapel in Bos
ton at the restoration of the Bourbons. Those who would not consent to illuminate their dwellings for the capture of the Guerriere could give visible tokens of their joy at the fall of Detroit. The "beacon fires" of their hills were lighted up, not for the encouragement of their friends, but as signals to the enemy; and in the gloomy hours of midnight the very lights burned blue. Such were the dark and portentous signs of the times which ushered into being the renowned Hartford Convention. That convention met, and from their proceedings it appears that their chief object was to keep back the men and money of New England from the service of the Union and to effect radical changes in the Government-changes that can never be effected without a dissolution of the Union.
The Tariff Act of 1828 (see Vol. XII, chapter iv) caused great indignation in the South, especially in South Carolina and Georgia. Mass meetings were held in these States, at which speeches were made and resolutions passed threatening secession from the Union unless the bill were repealed, and calling on the other Southern States to adopt the same attitude. However, this call was not heeded, since there was a general expectation that a Southern man, Andrew Jackson [Tenn.] would be chosen President in the fall election and that he would uphold the cause of his section. Indeed, South Carolina and Georgia, after recording their formal protests against the tariff in the Senate, also decided to cease their agitation and await events.
The North in general, with reprehensible blindness in view of the resolution passed by the Hartford Convention under no great provocation, failed to realize the seriousness of the Southern attitude. President John Quincy Adams, however, felt the gravity of the situation and, in his message of December 2, 1828, strove to pacify the disaffected section of the country by extending hopes of a revision of the obnoxious act and by appealing to the good sense of the Southerners not to enter into a conflict in which, by an anomaly of the Constitution, there was no competent judge, and the Federal