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"To the Legislature of the state of Kentucky.
"We have maturely considered your resolutions of November 10th, 1798. As you invite our opinion, you will not blame us for giving it without disguise, and with decision. In your first resolution, you observe, in substance, That the states constituted the general government, and that each state as party to the compact, has an equal right to judge for itself as well of infractions of the constitution, as of the mode and measure of redress.' This cannot be true. The old confederation, it is true, was formed by the state Legislatures, but the present constitution of the United States was derived from an higher authority. The people of the United States formed the federal constitution, and not the states, or their Legislatures. And although each state is authorized to propose amendments, yet there is a wide difference between proposing amendments to the constitution, and assuming, or inviting, a power to dictate or control the general government.
"In your second resolution, you certainly misconstrue and misapply an amendment to the Federal Constitution, which, if your construction be true, does not surely warrant the conclusion that as a state you have a right to declare any act of the General Government, which you shall deem unconstitutional, null and void. Indeed, you actually do declare two acts of the Congress of the United States null and void. If, as a state, you have a right to declare two acts of the Congress of the United States unconstitutional and therefore void, you have an equal right to declare all their acts unconstitutional. Suppose each Legislature possess the power you contend for, each state Legislature would have the right to cause all the acts of Congress to pass in view before them, and reject or approve at their discretion, and the consequences would be, that the government of the Union, falsely called General, migh operate partially in some states, and cease to operate in others. Would not this defeat the grand design of our Union?
"In the eighteenth article [sub-division] in the eighth section of the Constitution of the United States, we read, That Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be proper for carrying into execution the Government of the United States." If you enquire, where is our redress, should the Congress of the United States violate the Constitution, by abusing this power? we point to the right of election, [and] the Judicial courts of the Union; and, in a jury of our fellow citizens, we find the ever watchful and constitutional guard against this supposed evil.
"In your third resolution you again severely reprehend the act of Congress commonly called the Sedition bill.' If we possessed the power
you assumed, to censure the acts of the General Government, we could not consistently construe the Sedition bill unconstitutional; because our own constitution guards the freedom of speech and the press in terms as explicit as that of the United States, yet long before the existence of the Federal Constitution, we enacted laws which are still in force against sedition, inflicting severer penalties than this act of Congress.
"And although the freedom of speech and of the press are declared unalienable in our bill of rights, yet the railer against the civil magistrate, and the blasphemer of his Maker, are exposed to grievous punishment. And no one has been heard to complain that these laws infringe our state Constiution. Our state laws also protect the citizen in his good name and if the slanderer publish his libel, he is not in a criminal "The words of the constitution are:
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any depart
ment or office thereof.
prosecution indulged, as by the act of Congress, in giving the truth of the facts as exculpatory evidence. Thus accustomed to construe our own Constitution, you will readily conceive that we acquiesce in a similar construction of the Constitution of the United States.
"In your fourth resolution, you declare the Alien Act to be of no force, and not law; that Congress have, in passing that law, assumed a power not delegated by the Constitution, and have thereby deprived the alien of certain Constitutional rights. We ever considered that the Constitution of the United States was made for the benefit of our own citizens; we never conjectured that aliens were any party to the federal compact; we never knew that aliens had any rights among us, except what they derived from the law of nations, and rights of hospitality, which gives them a right to remain in any country while inoffensive-subjects them to punishment if disobedient, and to be driven away if suspected of designs injurious to the public welfare.
"The construction of [that clause of] the Constitution which prohibits Congress from passing laws to prevent emigration ["migration or importation"] until the year 1808, in your fifth resolution, is certainly erroneous. This clause, we ever apprehended, had for its object Negro Slaves; and to give it any other construction would be to infer that Congress, after the year 1808, would have power to put a capitation tax upon every alien who should come to reside among us. The idea is too inhospitable to be admitted by a free and generous people.
"In your sixth resolution, you allege that the President is vested with a dangerous power; that, by his simple order, he may remove a suspected alien. We conceive that the President of the United States, as the head of the Government, possesses the best means of knowing the cmissaries of our enemies, and we have the fullest confidence in his using his power and knowledge for the public good. You say that an alien has a constitutional right to a trial by jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, and to have a compulsatory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence. If an alien among us commit a crime he may indeed be tried by a jury of the country, to which he owes local allegiance; but by what law shall a man be tried by jury for suspicion? If our country were threatened with invasion, a thousand spies might be sent to spy out our weakness, and to prepare bad men to assist, and weak men to submit to the enemy. Do not the common principles of self-defence enable a government to arrest such emissaries and send them from the country, if only suspected of designs hostile to the public safety? If not, should some foreign invader approach our coasts, with a powerful fleet and army, those aliens would have a constitutional right to a trial by jury.
"In your last resolution, you say, 'That confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence.' This is a sentiment palpably erroneous, and hostile to the social nature of man. The experience of ages evinces the reverse is true, and that jealousy is the meanest passion of narrow minds, and tends to despotism; and that honesty always begets coefidence, while those, who are dishonest themselves, are most apt to suspect others. "Resolved, That his Excellency, the Governor, be requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing answer to the Resolutions of the state of
By the Vermont Statute now, when the truth of the words charged as libellous is proved to the satisfaction of the jury, the verdict must be not guilty.
Kentucky, to the executive of that state, to be communicated to the Legislature."
The foregoing answer to the resolutions of the state of Kentucky was read and accepted.
THE ANSWER TO THE RESOLUTIONS OF THE STATE OF VIRGINIA. To his Excellency the Governor, the Hon. Council, and General Assembly, convened in joint committee, your sub-committee, appointed to report a resolution in answer to the resolutions of the state of Virginia, beg leave to report the following resolution, to be recommended by this committee to the Legislature for adoption.
"Resolved, That the General Assembly of the state of Vermont do highly disapprove of the resolutions 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 laws made by the general government; this power being exclusively vested in the Judiciary Courts of the Union.
"That his Excellency the Governor be requested to transmit a copy of this resolution to the Executive of Virginia, to be communicated to the General Assembly of that state."
Which report was accepted by the committee.
The answer to Virginia was adopted, 104 to 52; and the answer to Kentucky, 101 to 50.1
On the 5th of November, thirty-three of the members of the Assembly, who voted against the answers to Kentucky and Virginia, entered upon the journals the reasons of their dissent. This document criticises the "answers" in several points, but hardly contests the all important principle of constitutional law, on which the efficiency of the general government and the very existence of the Union depend. It claimed for the states a right "to decide" on supposed infractions of the constitution, and to "communicate their sentiments in the comonm way;" but when it came to the point of resistance to alleged infractions of the constitution, they not only saw clearly the dangers of nullification and secession, which in later times were the progeny of the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, but affirmed the principle upon which the general government acted under the administration of President Lincoln. The following extract from this paper justifies the
"Let it not be supposed, that in advocating the power of each state to decide on the constitutionality of some laws of the union, we mean to extend that right to any laws which do not infringe on the powers reserved to the states by the twelfth article of the amendments to the constitution. We cannot, therefore, be charged with an intent to justify an opposition, in any manner or form whatever, to the operation of any act of the union. That we conceive to be rebellion, punishable by the courts of the United States."
'Printed Assembly Journal of 1799, pp. 101–104, 107-109.
The twelfth of the amendments proposed in 1789, but the tenth of those adopted.
LAST SPEECH OF GOV. THOMAS CHITTENDEN.'
Gentlemen of the Council and Assembly-You are so well knowing to the manifold favours and blessings bestowed on us, as a people, by the great ruler of the universe, that it would be unnecessary for me to recapitulate them. I would therefore only observe, that but a few years since we were without constitution, law or government, in a state of anarchy and confusion, at war with a potent foreign power, opposed by a powerful neighbouring state, discountenanced by the congress, distressed by internal dissentions, all our landed property in iminent danger, and without the means of defence.
Now your eyes behold the happy day, when we are in the full and uninterrupted enjoyment of a well regulated government, suited to the situation and genius of the people, acknowledged by all the powers of the earth, supported by the congress, at peace with our sister states, among ourselves and all the world.
From whence did these great blessings come? From God. Are they not worth enjoying? They surely are. Does it not become us as a people, to improve them, that we may have reason to hope they may be continued to us, and transmitted to posterity? It certainly does.
What are the most likely measures to be taken by us, as a people, to obtain this great end? To be a faithful, virtuous, industrious, and a moral people.
Does it not become us as the legislature, to take every method in our power to encourage virtue, industry, morality, religion, and learning? I think it does.
Is there any better method that can be taken by us, to answer this purpose, than by our own example, and having a sacred regard to virtue, industry, integrity, and morality, in all our appointments of executive and judicial officers? This is the day we have appointed to nominate all our subordinate, executive, and judicial officers, through the state, for the present year.
The people by their free suffrages, have given us the power, and in us they have placed their confidence, and to God, to them, and our own consciences we are accountable.
Suffer me, sir, as a leader, as a father, as a friend and a lover of this people, and as one whose voice cannot be much longer heard here, to instruct you in all your appointments, to have regard to none, but those who maintain a good moral character, men of integrity, and distinguished for wisdom and abilities; in doing this you will en courage virtue which is the glory of a people, and discountenance and discourage vice and profaneness, which is a reproach to any people.
1 From the printed Assembly Journal of 1796, p. 28.
ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS.
Samuel Mattocks.-Mr. Mattocks, then of Middlebury, declined being a candidate for re-election as State Treasurer, in a card dated July 28, 1800, for which see Spooner's Vermont Journal of Aug. 19, 1800. He held that office fourteen years.
Benjamin Swan, of Woodstock, was elected State Treasurer, in joint committee of both houses, Oct. 11, 1800, by "a large majority of the votes."—Ante, p. 259. He was re-elected annually by the people until 1833, having received a greater number of elections to a high office than any other citizen of the State. He was a pure, gentle, and genial man, trusted and beloved by all who knew him. As the stars have been said to go," singing as they shine," so went he about his daily duties, softly humming through them all, as one at perfect peace with God and man. On the settlement of his accounts with the State in October, 1833, it was found that, during the thirty-three years of his service, he had received $732.25 in counterfeit and uncurrent money, being an average of a little over $22 per annum, and by a joint resolution he was allowed that sum to balance the books of the office. At this day such an inconsiderable loss perhaps would be justly censurable; but in his day it indicated very great and commendable caution, since the fact was, for many years, that a very large proportion of the bills and coin in circulation was counterfeit. Of the criminal cases reported in 1808 from seven counties, there were sixty-three indictments specified for counterfeiting, or uttering base money. Out of a large number of cases in which the offence was not specified, it is probable that many more were for counterfeiting, or uttering counterfeit money.-See Assembly Journal of 1808, pp. 32 to 41.
Compensation of the Governor and State Treasurer.-In 1801 the salary of the governor was fixed at $750 per annum, and of the Treasurer at $400. In 1857, the salary of the governor was increased to the present sum, $1000; and that of the treasurer to $500. The present salary of the treasurer is $1500, and $900 for a clerk.
Vol. 1, p. 245.-Joshua Woodward and Samuel Daniels, who were killed in the fight at Shelburne in 1778, were previously citizens of Pittsford, though Mr. Daniels had removed to Salisbury before the fight. -See Dr. A. M. Caverly's History of Pittsford, p. 131.