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Government would be compelled to support its claim by force.
APPEAL TO THE SOUTH
MESSAGE OF PRESIDENT ADAMS, DECEMBER 2, 1828
The tariff of the last session was, in its details, not acceptable to the great interests of any portion of the Union, not even to the interest which it was specially intended to subserve. Its object was to balance the burdens upon native industry imposed by the operation of foreign laws; but not to aggravate the burdens of one section of the Union by the relief afforded to another. To the great principle sanctioned by that act, one of those upon which the Constitution itself was formed, I hope and trust the authorities of the Union will adhere. But if any of the duties imposed by the act only relieve the manufacturer by aggravating the burden of the planter, let a careful revisal of its provisions, enlightened by the practical experience of its effects, be directed to retain those which impart protection to native industry, and remove or supply the place of those which only alleviate one great national interest by the depression of another.
The United States of America, and the people of every State of which they are composed, are each of them sovereign powers. The legislative authority of the whole is exercised by Congress, under authority granted them in the common Constitution. The legislative power of each State is exercised by assemblies deriving their authority from the constitution of the State. Each is sovereign within its own province. The distribution of power between them presupposes that these authorities will move in harmony with each other. The members of the State and general Governments are all under oath to support both, and allegiance is due to the one and to the other. The case of a conflict between these two powers has not been supposed; nor has any provision been made for it in our institutions as a virtuous nation of ancient times existed more than five centuries without a law for the punishment of parricide.
More than once, however, in the progress of our history, have the people and legislatures of one or more States, in moments of excitement, been instigated to this conflict; and the means of effecting this impulse have been allegations that the acts of Congress to be resisted were unconstitutional. The
people of no one State have ever delegated to their legislature the power of pronouncing an act of Congress unconstitutional; but they have delegated to them powers, by the exercise of which the execution of the laws of Congress within the State may be resisted. If we suppose the case of such conflicting legislation sustained by the corresponding executive and judicial authorities, patriotism and philanthropy turn their eyes from the condition in which the parties would be placed, and from that of the people of both, which must be its victims.
On January 12, 1829, the legislature of Georgia, through one of the Senators of the State, J. McPherson Berrien, entered its solemn protest against the tariff for record in the Senate archives.
PROTEST OF GEORGIA
In her sovereign character the State of Georgia protests against the act of the last session of Congress, entitled "An act in alteration of the several acts imposing duties on imports," as deceptive in its title, fraudulent in its pretexts, oppressive in its exactions, partial and unjust in its operations, unconstitutional in its well-known objects, ruinous to commerce and agriculture to secure a hateful monopoly to a combination of importunate manufacturers.
Demanding the repeal of an act which has already disturbed the Union and endangered the public tranquillity, weakened the confidence of whole States in the Federal Government, and diminished the affection of large masses of the people to the Union itself, and the abandonment of the degrading system which considers the people as incapable of wisely directing their own enterprise; which sets up the servants of the people in Congress as the exclusive judges of what pursuits are most advantageous and suitable for those by whom they were elected, the State of Georgia expects that, in perpetual testimony thereof, the deliberate and solemn expression of her opinion will be carefully preserved among the archives of the Senate; and in justification of her character to the present generation, and to posterity, if, unfortunately, Congress, disregarding the protest, and continuing to pervert powers granted for clearly defined and well-understood purposes, to effectuate objects never intended by the great parties by whom the Constitution was framed, to be entrusted to the controlling guardianship of
the Federal Government, should render necessary measures of a decisive character, for the protection of the people of the State, and the vindication of the Constitution of the United States.
Senator Berrien spoke as follows upon the protest:
Forty years of successful experiment have proved the efficiency of this Government to sustain us in an honorable intercourse with the other nations of the world. Externally, in peace and in war, amid the fluctuations of commerce and the strife of arms, it has protected our interests and defended our rights. One trial, one fearful trial, yet remains to be made. It is one under the apprehension of which the bravest may tremble-which the wise and the good will anxiously endeavor to avoid. It is that experiment which shall test the competency of this Government to preserve our internal peace whenever a question vitally affecting the bond which unites us as one people shall come to be solemnly agitated between the sovereign members of this confederacy. In proportion to its dangers should be our solicitude to avoid it by abstaining, on the one hand, from acts of doubtful legislation, as well as by the manner of resistance, on the other, to those which are deemed unconstitutional. Between the independent members of this confederacy, sir, there can be no common arbiter. They are necessarily remitted to their own sovereign will, deliberately expressed, in the exercise of those reserved rights of sovereignty, the delegation of which would have been an act of political suicide. The designation of such an arbiter, sir, was, by the force of invincible necessity, casus omissus among the provisions of a Constitution conferring limited powers, the interpretation of which was to be confided to the subordinate agents created by those who were entrusted to administer it.
I earnestly hope that the wise and conciliatory spirit of this Government and of those of the several States will postpone to a period far distant the day which will summon us to so fearful a trial. If we are indeed doomed to encounter it, I as earnestly hope that it may be entered upon in the spirit of peace and with cherished recollections of former amity. But the occasion which shall impel the sovereign people of even one of the members of this confederacy to resolve that they are not bound by its acts is one to which no patriot can look with levity nor yet with indifference.
South Carolina made its protest on February 10, 1829, through one of its Senators, William Smith.
PROTEST OF SOUTH CAROLINA
The Senate and House of Representatives of South Carolina do solemnly protest against the system of protecting duties lately adopted by the Federal Government, for the following
1. Because the good people of this commonwealth believe that the powers of Congress were delegated to it in trust for the accomplishment of certain specified objects which limit and control them, and that every exercise of them for any other purpose is a violation of the Constitution as unwarrantable as the undisguised assumption of substantive independent powers not granted or expressly withheld.
2. Because the power to lay duties on imports is, and in its very nature can be, only a means of effecting the objects specified by the Constitution; since no free Government, and, least of all, a Government of enumerated powers, can, of right, impose any tax (any more than a penalty) which is not at once justified by public necessity and clearly within the scope and purview of the social compact; and since the right of confining appropriations of the public money to such legitimate and constitutional objects is as essential to the liberties of the people as their unquestionable privilege to be taxed only by their own consent.
3. Because they believe that the tariff law passed by Congress at its last session, and all other acts of which the principal object is the protection of manufacturers or any other branch of domestic industry-if they be considered as the exercise of a supposed power in Congress to tax the people at its own good will and pleasure, and to apply the money raised to objects not specified by the Constitution-is a violation of these fundamental principles, a breach of a well-defined trust, and a perversion of the high powers vested in the Federal Government for Federal purposes only.
4. Because such acts, considered in the light of a regulation of commerce, are equally liable to objection; since, although the power to regulate commerce may, like other powers, be exercised so as to protect domestic manufactures, yet it is clearly distinguished from a power to do so eo nomine, both in the nature of the thing and in the common acceptation of the terms; and because the confounding of them would lead to the most
extravagant results; since the encouragement of domestic industry implies an absolute control over all the interests, resources, and pursuits of a people; and is inconsistent with the idea of any other than a simple consolidated government.
5. Because, from the contemporaneous expositions of the Constitution, in the numbers of The Federalist (which is cited only because the Supreme Court has recognized its authority), it is clear that the power to regulate commerce was considered by the convention as only incidentally connected with the encouragement of agriculture and manufactures; and because the power of laying imposts and duties on imports was not understood to justify in any case a prohibition of foreign commodities, except as a means of extending commerce by coercing foreign nations to a fair reciprocity in their intercourse with us, or for some other bona fide commercial purpose.
6. Because, while the power to protect manufactures is nowhere expressly granted to Congress, nor can be considered as necessary and proper to carry into effect any specified power, it seems to be expressly reserved to the States by the tenth section of the first article of the Constitution.
7. Because, even admitting Congress have a constitutional right to protect manufactures by the imposition of duties or by regulations of commerce designed principally for that purpose, yet a tariff of which the operation is grossly unequal and oppressive is such an abuse of power as is incompatible with the principles of a free government and the great ends of civil society, justice, and equality of rights and protection.
8. Finally because South Carolina, from her climate, situation, and peculiar institutions, is, and must ever continue to be, wholly dependent upon agriculture and commerce, not only for her prosperity but for her very existence as a State-because the valuable products of her soil, the blessings by which Divine Providence seems to have designed to compensate for the great disadvantages under which she suffers in other respects, are among the very few that can be cultivated with any profit by slave labor; and, if by the loss of her foreign commerce these products should be confined to an inadequate market, the fate of this fertile State would be poverty and utter desolation; her citizens, in despair, would emigrate to more fortunate regions, and the whole frame and constitution of her civil polity be impaired and deranged, if not dissolved entirely.
Deeply impressed with these considerations, the representatives of the good people of this commonwealth, anxiously desiring to live in peace with their fellow citizens and to do