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finally destroy the Union itself. This is a Government of checks. and balances. All free governments must be so. The whole organization and regulation of every department of the Federal as well as of the State governments establish, beyond a doubt, that it was the first object of the great fathers of our Federal system to interpose effectual checks to prevent that over-action which is the besetting sin of all governments, and which has been the great enemy to freedom over all the world.
In the Kentucky resolutions of '98 it is explicitly declared "that the several States which formed the Constitution, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infractions, and that a nullification by those sovereignties of all unauthorized acts done under color of that instrument is the rightful remedy."
But the gentleman says this right will be dangerous. Sir, I insist that, of all the checks that have been provided by the Constitution, this is by far the safest and the least liable to abuse. It is admitted by the gentleman that the Supreme Court may declare a law to be unconstitutional and check your further progress. Now, the Supreme Court consists of only seven judges; four are a quorum, three of whom are a majority, and may exercise this mighty power. Now, the judges of this court are without any direct responsibility, in matters of opinion, and may certainly be governed by any of the motives which it is supposed will influence a State in opposing the acts of the Federal Government. Sir, it is not my desire to excite prejudice against the Supreme Court. I not only entertain the highest respect for the individuals who compose that tribunal, but I believe they have rendered important services to the country; and that, confined within their appropriate sphere (the decision of questions "of law and equity"), they will constitute a fountain from which will forever flow the streams of pure and undefiled justice, diffusing blessings throughout the land. I object only to the assumption of political power by the Supreme Court-a power which belongs not to them, and which they cannot safely exercise. But, surely, a power which the gentleman is willing to confide to three judges of the Supreme Court may safely be intrusted to a sovereign State. Sir, there are so many powerful motives to restrain a State from taking such high ground as to interpose her sovereign power to protect her citizens from unconstitutional laws, that the danger is not that this power will be wantonly exercised, but that she will fail to exert it, even on proper occasions.
A State will be restrained by a sincere love of the Union.
The people of the United States cherish a devotion to the Union, so pure, so ardent, that nothing short of intolerable oppression can ever tempt them to do anything that may possibly endanger it. Sir, there exists, moreover, a deep and settled conviction of the benefits which result from a close connection of all the States for purposes of mutual protection and defence. will coöperate with the feelings of patriotism to induce a State to avoid any measures calculated to endanger that connection. A State will always feel the necessity of consulting public opinion, both at home and abroad, before she resorts to any measures of such a character. She will know that, if she acts rashly, she will be abandoned even by her own citizens, and will utterly fail in the object she has in view. If, as is asserted in the Declaration of Independence, all experience has proved that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to resort to measures for redress why should this case be an exception, where so many additional motives must always be found for forbearance? Look at our own experience on this subject. Virginia and Kentucky, so far back as '98, avowed the principles for which I have been contending-principles which have never since been abandoned; and no instance has yet occurred in which it has been found necessary, practically, to exert the power asserted in those resolutions.
If the alien and sedition laws had not been yielded to the force of public opinion, there can be no doubt that the State of Virginia would have interposed to protect her citizens from its operation. And, if the apprehension of such an interposition by a State should have the effect of restraining the Federal Government from acting, except in cases clearly within the limits of their authority, surely no one can doubt the beneficial operation of such a restraining influence. Mr. Jefferson assures us that the embargo was actually yielded up, rather than force New England into open opposition to it. And it was right to yield it, sir, to the honest convictions of its unconstitutionality entertained by so large a portion of our fellow-citizens. If the knowledge that the States possess the constitutional right to interpose, in the event of "gross, deliberate, and palpable violations of the Constitution," should operate to prevent a perseverance in such violations, surely the effect would be greatly to be desired. But there is one point of view in which this matter presents itself to my mind with irresistible force. The Supreme Court, it is admitted, may nullify an act of Congress, by declaring it to be unconstitutional. Can Congress, after such a nullification, proceed to enforce the law, even if they
should differ in opinion from the Court? What, then, would be the effect of such a decision? And what would be the remedy in such a case? Congress would be arrested in the exercise of the disputed power, and the only remedy would be an appeal to the creating power, three-fourths of the States, for an amendment of the Constitution. And by whom must such an appeal be made? It must be made by the party proposing to exercise the disputed power. Now I will ask whether a sovereign State may not be safely intrusted with the exercise of a power, operating merely as a check, which is admitted to belong to the Supreme Court, and which may be exercised every day, by any three of its members? Sir, no ideas that can be formed of arbitrary power on the one hand, and abject dependence on the other, can be carried further than to suppose that three individuals, mere men, "subject to like passions with ourselves," may be safely intrusted with the power to nullify an act of Congress, because they conceive it to be unconstitutional; but that a sovereign and independent State is bound, implicitly, to submit to its operation, even where it violates, in the grossest manner, her own rights or the liberties of her citizens. But we do not contend that a common case would justify the interposition.
This is "the extreme medicine of the State," and cannot become our daily bread.
The gentleman has called upon us to carry out our scheme practically. Now, sir, if I am correct in my view of this matter, then it follows, of course, that, the right of a State being established, the Federal Government is bound to acquiesce in a solemn decision of a State, acting in its sovereign capacity, at least so far as to make an appeal to the people for an amendment to the Constitution. This solemn decision of a State (made either through its legislature, or a convention, as may be supposed to be the proper organ of its sovereign will-a point I do not propose now to discuss) binds the Federal Government, under the highest constitutional obligation, not to resort to any means of coercion against the citizens of the dissenting State. How, then, can any collision ensue between the Federal and State governments, unless, indeed, the former should determine to enforce the law by unconstitutional means? What could the Federal Government do in such a case? Resort, says the gentleman, to the courts of justice. Now, can any man believe that, in the face of a solemn decision of a State, an act of Congress is "a gross, palpable, and deliberate violation of the Constitution," and that, if the State interposed its sovereign authority
to protect its citizens from the usurpation, juries could be found ready merely to register the decrees of the Congress, wholly regardless of the unconstitutional character of their acts? Will the gentleman contend that juries are to be coerced to find verdicts at the point of the bayonet? And, if not, how are the United States to enforce an act solemnly pronounced to be unconstitutional? But, if the attempt should be made to carry such a law into effect, by force, in what would the case differ from an attempt to carry into effect an act nullified by the courts, or to do any other unlawful and unwarrantable act? Suppose Congress should pass an agrarian law, or a law emancipating our slaves, or should commit any other gross violation of our constitutional rights, will any gentleman contend that the decision of every branch of the Federal Government, in favor of such laws, could prevent the States from declaring them null and void, and protecting their citizens from their operation?
Sir, if Congress should ever attempt to enforce any such laws, they would put themselves so clearly in the wrong that no one could doubt the right of the State to exert its protecting power.
Sir, the gentleman has alluded to that portion of the militia of South Carolina with which I have the honor to be connected, and asked how they would act in the event of the nullification of the tariff law by the State of South Carolina? The tone of the gentleman, on this subject, did not seem to me as respectful as I could have desired. I hope, sir, no imputation was intended.
SENATOR WEBSTER.-Not at all; just the reverse.
SENATOR HAYNE.-Well, sir, the gentleman asks what their leaders would be able to read to them out of Coke upon Littleton, or any other law book, to justify their enterprise? Sir, let me assure the gentleman that, whenever any attempt shall be made, from any quarter, to enforce unconstitutional laws, clearly violating our essential rights, our leaders (whoever they may be) will not be found reading black letter from the musty pages of old law books. They will look to the Constitution, and when called upon, by the sovereign authority of the State, to preserve and protect the rights secured to them by the charter of their liberties, they will succeed in defending them, or "perish in the last ditch."
Sir, I will put the case home to the gentleman. Is there any violation of the constitutional rights of the States, and the liberties of the citizen (sanctioned by Congress and the Supreme
Court), which he would believe it to be the right and duty of a State to resist? Does he contend for the doctrine of "passive obedience and non-resistance"? Would he justify an open resistance to an act of Congress, sanctioned by the courts, which should abolish the trial by jury, or destroy the freedom of religion, or the freedom of the press? Yes, sir, he would advocate resistance in such cases; and so would I, and so would all of us. But such resistance would, according to his doctrine, be revolution; it would be rebellion. According to my opinion, it would be just, legal, and constitutional resistance. The whole difference between us, then, consists in this: The gentleman would make force the only arbiter in all cases of collision between the States and the Federal Government. I would resort to a peaceful remedy, the interposition of the State to "arrest the progress of the evil," until such time as "a convention (assembled at the call of Congress, or two-thirds of the States) shall decide to which they mean to give an authority claimed by two of their organs." Sir, I say with Mr. Jefferson (whose words I have here borrowed), that "it is the peculiar wisdom and felicity of our Constitution to have provided this peaceable appeal, where that of other nations" (and I may add that of the gentleman) "is at once to force."
The gentleman has made an eloquent appeal to our hearts in favor of union. Sir, I cordially respond to that appeal. I will yield to no gentleman here in sincere attachment to the Union; but it is a union founded on the Constitution, and not such a union as that gentleman would give us, that is dear to my heart. If this is to become one great "consolidated Government," swallowing up the rights of the States, and the liberties of the citizen, "riding over the plundered ploughmen and beggared yeomanry," the Union will not be worth preserving. Sir, it is because South Carolina loves the Union, and would preserve it forever, that she is opposing now, while there is hope, those usurpations of the Federal Government which, once established, will, sooner or later, tear this Union into fragments. The gentleman is for marching under a banner, studded all over with stars, and bearing the inscription Liberty and Union. I had thought, sir, the gentleman would have borne a standard, displaying in its ample folds a brilliant sun, extending its golden rays from the center to the extremities, in the brightness of whose beams the "little stars hide their diminished heads." Ours, sir, is the banner of the Constitution: the twentyfour stars are there, in all their undiminished luster; on it is inscribed, Liberty-the Constitution-Union. We offer up our