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ilton's charges were calumnies and phantoms of his brain, which, according to the anti-Federalists, always burned with the fever of monarchy. It was a well-known fact that at the time that Washington saw a "dreadful crisis hastening," a large establishment for the manufacture of arms was set up in Richmond, in which, however, work was not commenced until some years later. John Randolph thought it due to the reputation of his state to remove every doubt as to the object of the erection of this establishment. He declared in 1817 in the house of representatives: "There was no longer any cause for concealing the fact that the great armory at Richmond was built to enable the state of Virginia to resist by force the encroachments of the then administration upon her indisputable rights, upon the plainest and clearest provisions of the constitution in case they should persevere in their outrageous proceedings.”1
It is not possible to say whether, or to what extent, these preparations were directly incited by Jefferson and Madison. The suspicion resting on Jefferson is obviously the greater, as Madison was from first to last more cautious in his steps. Nor can any definite answer be given to the question how far Madison recommended more moderate measures, or how far a different interpretation of the constitution lay at the foundation of these recommendations. Every move of his was made with anxious deliberation, and his native cautiousness, which sometimes degenerated into weakness and indecision, contributed beyond doubt to cause him to advise a milder and more tentative procedure. Besides, it may be that the internal struggle between his state and national patriotism, in both of which he was equally honest, hindered him from explaining to himself the "interpose." Perhaps he desired to leave open to
1 Reminiscences of J. A. Hamilton, p. 39, according to the National In telligencer.
CHARACTER OF JEFFERSON.
himself as well as to the legislatures of the other states all possible ways of coming to a substantial agreement. It may be, too, that he entertained some real doubt whether the letter and spirit of the constitution quite justified the last conclusion in the Kentucky resolutions of 1799, drawn from the correct principles-correct in his opinion-which were the common basis of the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions. Whatever estimate of the relative weight of these two motives may be made, the rôle played by Madison in the constitutional conflict which culminated in 1798 and 1799 throws much light on the real character of the constitution itself and on the history of the development of the national spirit during the last decade. Much weight is not to be attached to the fact that Jefferson read the constitution in such a way, that the union of the states was in principle, perhaps a looser, and certainly not a firmer, one, than it had been under the articles of confederation.1 It was not a difficult matter for Jefferson to act in opposition to his own theories; and it was still easier for him to reconcile. himself to a contradiction between his words and his deeds. Ambition was the sovereign trait in his character. He was always ready to sacrifice much of his favorite theories to his feverish thirst for power and distinction, the more especially as his eminently practical instinct caused him
Article 13 of the articles of confederation says: "Every state shall abide by the determination of the United States in congress assembled, on all questions which, by this confederation, are submitted to them." The opponents of the doctrine of nullification have interpreted this provision to mean that the laws of congress are absolutely binding on the states. In the constitution there are provisions which establish the supremacy of the laws of congress in a still more undoubted manner. If, spite of this, the doctrine of nullification could possibly and logically be deduced from it, it must have been much easier to deduce it from the articles of confederation, for several of the most important links in the proof are here expressly mentioned, whereas, in the latter, they can only be inferred from other provisions or words. Hence the indirect proof in opposition to the theory of nullification, from the 13th article of confederation, has no value.
often to doubt the tenableness of his ideal systems. Moreover, as he, partly from interest and partly because misled by his idealistic reveries, concealed his ambition under the mask of the greatest simplicity, stoical indifference, and even of disinclination to accept any political honor or dignity, so, too, his conscience was not precisely what would be called tender in the weighing and measuring of words, whether his own or those of others. Such a character could scarcely always resist the temptation to make ink and paper say what in his opinion they ought to say. His mode of thought, which was a mixture of about equal parts of dialectical acuteness and of the fanaticism of superficiality, as shortsighted as it was daring, made this a matter of no difficulty. Hence it is that not the slightest weight should be attached a priori to his interpretation of the constitution.
The direct contrary of this is true of Madison. His was not a character so thoroughly and harmoniously constituted and developed as Washington's. He, too, concealed the depth of his ambition under a plain and modest exterior. When it or his over-sensitiveness was wounded, he, too, could be unjust to his opponents. The violence with which the party struggle was conducted by degrees carried him, also, so far away that he played a more covert game than can be entirely justified by the excuse of political necessity. And when it was a question of opposing a measure in too great conflict with his own party programme, he could descend to the letter, and to petty quibbling, if he could not give his attack the necessary energy from the higher standpoint of the statesman. Spite of this, however, there was nothing of the demagogue about him. He is a purely constituted character, spite of the fact that his moral principles did not so unconditionally govern him as to leave his judgment entirely uninfluenced by his desires. It cannot be charged that he ever consciously approached the constitution with the intention of discovering in it a word which he might make to serve his purposes by di
alectical legerdemain. Great weight must therefore be given to his exposition of the constitution; for he played a leading part in the Philadelphia convention; was afterwards the most conspicuous defender of the draft of the constitution in the Virginia convention; in conjunction with Hamilton and Jay wrote the Federalist; had a precise knowledge of the constitution and had familiarized his thought with the minutest details of its provisions. But it can be shown that he now read the constitution in such a way as to find in it something essentially different from what he had advocated in Philadelphia, and from what he thought he saw in the completed draft of it. If it be conceded that he did not read the constitution now so as to introduce anything new into it—and this will scarcely be denied to-day-these different interpretations can be explained only on two assumptions, that, leaving all sophistry aside, the terms of the constitution. must admit of essentially different meanings, and that Madison's political proclivities and judgment had experienced a radical change since 1787 and 1788. This last point is important for the understanding of the history of the constitution, since the causes of the change in Madison's political tendency were not of a personal, but of a general, nature. Madison is in this respect only the most distinguished representative of a large fraction of the whole people.
Madison did not agree in 1787 with the opinion that had become current throughout the country, that the states were sovereign in the proper sense of the word. Said he on the 29th of June, in the Philadelphia convention: "Their [the states'] laws in relation to the paramount law of the confederacy were analogous to that of by-laws to the supreme law within a state."" And he added that the powers of the states, under the proposed form of government,
1 Compare the preceding note.
would be still more hampered. This language is very characteristic of his position. All his efforts at the time had their basis in this fundamental thought, and he followed out its logical conclusions with as much acuteness as practical insight. He repeatedly and urgently warned the country against the disastrous consequences of stopping half-way. He would not change the legal basis of the relation of the states to the Union, because it was not necessary to do so from his conception of the nature of the articles of confederation. He desired only to make the theory of the articles of confederation a living fact by means of the constitution. He would have the constitution give to the general government an express and definite legal remedy, by which every attempt of the states to curtail the legal and actual supremacy of the Union could be nipped in the bud.
Even before the meeting of the constitutional convention he writes to Edmund Randolph:2"Let it have a negative in all cases whatsoever, on the legislative acts of the states, as the king of Great Britain heretofore had. This I conceive to be essential, and the least possible abridgment of the state sovereignties. Without such a defensive power, every positive power that can be given on paper will be unavailing."
During the course of the convention he returns again and again to this point, insisting upon it as "absolutely necessary to a perfect system," and from first to last does not deviate by a hair's breadth from his original demand. He declares, on the 8th of June: "But in order to give the negative this efficacy, it must extend to all cases. A discrimination would be only a fresh source of contention between the two authorities. In a word, to recur to the illustrations borrowed from the planetary system, this