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a light too separate and unconnected. The propriety of that course, in most, if not in all respects, would be susceptible of little question if there were no federal government, federal laws, federal judiciary, or federal officers; if important laws of the United States, by a series of violent, as well as of artful expedients, had not been frustrated in their execution for more than three years; if officers immediately charged with that execution, after suffering much and repeated insult, abuse, personal ill-treatment, and the destruction of property, had not been compelled for safety to fly the places of their residences, and the scenes of their official duties; if the service of the processes of a court of the United States had not been resisted; the marshal of the district made and detained for some time a prisoner, and compelled for safety also to abandon the performance of his duty, and return by a circuitous route to the seat of government; if, in fine, a judge of the United States had not in due form of law notified to the President, “that in the counties of Washington and Al. leghany, in Pennsylvania, laws of the United States are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshal of that district.” It is true, your excellency has remarked, that in the plan suggested you have only spoken as the executive magistrate of Pennsylvania, charged with a general superintendence and care, that the laws of the commonwealth be fully executed, leaving it implicitly to the judgment of the President to choose, on such evi. dence as he approves, the measures for discharging the analogous trust which is confided to him in relation to the laws of the Union. But it is impossible not to think that the current of the observations in your letter, especially as to the consequences which may result from the employment of coercive measures, previous to the preliminary course which is indicated in it, may be construed to imply a virtual disapprobation of that plan of conduct, on the part of the general government, in the actual stage of its affairs, which you acknowledge would be proper on the part of the government of Pennsylvania, if arrived at a similar stage. Let it be assumed here (to be more particularly shown hereafter), that the government of the United States is now at that point, where it is admitted, if the government of Pennsyl
vania was, the employment of force by its authority would be · justifiable; and let the following extracts be consulted for the
truth of the inference which has been just expressed. “Will not the resort to force, inflame and cement the existing opposition? Will it not associate in a common resistance those who have hitherto peaceably, as well as those who have riotously, expressed their abhorrence of the excise? Will it not collect and combine every latent principle of discontent, arising from the supposed oppressive operations of the federal judiciary, the obstruction of the western navigation, and a variety of other local sources ? May not the magnitude of the opposition on the part of the illdisposed, or the dissatisfaction of a premature resort to arms on the part of the well-disposed citizens of the State, eventually involve the necessity of employing the militia of other States ? And the accumulation of discontent which the jealousy engendered by that movement may produce, who can calculate, or who will be able to avert?"
These important questions naturally give birth to the following serious reflections. The issues of human affairs are in the hands of Providence. Those intrusted with them in society, have no other sure guide than the sincere and faithful discharge of their duty, according to the best of their judgments. In emergencies, great and difficult, not to act with an energy proportioned to their magnitude and pressure, is as dangerous as any other conceivable course. In the present case, not to exert the means which the laws prescribe for effectuating their own execution, would be to sacrifice those laws, and with them the Constitution, the Government, the principles of social order, and the bulwarks of private right and security. What worse can happen from the exertion of these means ?
If, as cannot be doubted, the great body of the citizens of the United States are attached to the Constitution, which they have established for the management of their common concerns—if they are resolved to support their own authority in that of the constitutional laws, against disorderly and violent combinations of comparatively small portions of the community—if they are determined to protect each other in the enjoyment of security to person and property-if they are decided to preserve the character of republican government, by evincing that it has adequate resources for maintaining the public order—if they are persuaded that their safety and their welfare are materially connected with the preservation of the Union, and consequently of a government adequate to its exigencies; in fine, if they are disposed to continue that state of respectability and prosperity which is now deservedly the admiration of mankind—the enterprise to be accomplished, should a resort to force prove inevitable, though disagreeable and painful, cannot be arduous or alarming.
If, in addition to these dispositions in the community at large, the officers of the governments of the respective States, feeling it to be not only a patriotic but a constitutional duty (inculcated by the oath enjoined upon all the officers of a State, legislative, executive, and judicial), to support in their several stations the Constitution of the United States, shall be disposed, as occasion may require (a thing as little to be doubted as the former), with sincerity and good faith to co-operate with the government of the United States, to second with all their influence and weight its legal and necessary measures, by a legal and substantial concert, then the enterprise to be accomplished can hardly even be deemed difficult.
But if, contrary to the anticipations which are entertained of these favorable dispositions, the great body of the people should be found indifferent to the preservation of the government of the Union, or insensible to the necessity of vigorous exertions to repel the danger which threatens their most important interests, or, if an unwillingness to encounter partial inconveniences, should interfere with the discharge of what they owe to their permanent welfare;-or if, either yielding to the suggestions of particular prejudices, or misled by the arts which may be employed to infuse jealousy and discontent, they should suffer their zeal for the support of public order to be relaxed by an unfavorable opinion of the merits and tendency of the measures which may be adopted; if above all it were possible that any of the State gov. ernments should, instead of prompting the exertions of the citizens, assist directly or indirectly in damping their ardor by giving a wrong bias to their judgment-or by disseminating dissatisfaction with the proceedings of the general government-or should counteract the success of those proceedings by any sinister influence whatever-then, indeed, no one can calculate, or may be able to avert the fatal evils with which such a state of things would be pregnant. Then, indeed, the foundations of our political happiness may be deeply shaken, if not altogether overturned.
The President, however, can suppose none of these things. He cherishes an unqualified confidence in the virtue and good sense of the people, in the integrity and patriotism of the officers of the State governments, and he counts absolutely on the same affectionate support, which he has experienced upon all former occasions, and which he is conscious that the goodness of his intentions now, not less than heretofore, merits.
It has been promised to show more particularly hereafter, that the government of the United States is now at that point where, it is confessed, if the State government was, the employment of force on its part would be justifiable. This promise remains to be fulfilled.
The facts already noted establish the conclusion; but to render it palpable, it will be of use to apply them to the positions which your excellency has been pleased to lay down.
You admit, that as the offences committed respect the State, the military power of the government ought to be employed, when its judiciary authority, after a fair experiment, had proved incompetent to enforce obedience or to punish infractions of the law; that if the strength and audacity of a lawless combination shall baffle and destroy the efforts of the judiciary authority, to recover a penalty or inflict a punishment, that authority may constitutionally claim the auxiliary intervention of the military power—that in the last resort, at the requisition and as an auxiliary of the civil authority, the military force of the State would be called forth. And you declare that the circumstances of the case evidently require a firm and energetic conduct on the part, both of the State and General Government.
For more than three years, as already observed, certain laws of the United States have been obstructed in their execution by disorderly combinations. Not only officers, whose immediate duty it was to carry them into effect, have suffered violent personal outrage and injury, and destruction of property, at different times, but similar persecution has been extended to private citizens, who bave aided, countenanced, or only complied with the laws. The violences committed have been so frequent, and such in their degree as to have been matters of general notoriety and alarm—and it may be added that they have been abundantly within the knowledge and under the notice of the judges and magistrates of Pennsylvania, of superior as well as inferior jurisdiction. If in particular instances they have been punished by the exertions of the magistrates, it is at least certain that their efforts have been in the main ineffectual. The spirit has continued, and, with some intervals of relaxation, has been progressive, manifesting itself in reiterated excesses. The judiciary authority of the United States has also, prior to the attempt which preceded the late crisis, made some fruitless efforts. Under a former marshal, an officer sent to execute process was deterred from it by the manifest danger of proceeding. These particulars serve to explain the extent, obstinacy and inveteracy of the evil.
But the facts which immediately decide the complexion of the existing crisis are these: Numerous delinquencies existed with regard to a compliance with the laws laying duties on spirits distilled within the United States and upon stills. . An armed banditti, in disguise, had recently gone to the house of an officer of the revenue, in the night, attacked it, broken open the doors, and, by menaces of instant death, enforced by pistols presented at him, had compelled a surrender of his commission and books of office. Cotemporary acts of violence had been perpetrated in other quarters. Processes issued out of a court of the United States, to recover the penalties incident to a non-compliance with the laws, and to bring to punishment the violent infractors of them, in the above mentioned case, against two of whom indictments had been found. The marshal of the dis