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the articles of confederation created a confederacy-a system of governments. The deputies who met in Congress, were appointed by the governments of the several States. It differed in principle in no respect from the many European Congresses which assembled at various times to concert measures of resistance against France. But the deputies appointed by a legislature or State government, do not represent the sovereignty of the people of a State. They can have no more power to limit or surrender the rights of sovereignty belonging to the people, than the legislature. Their powers are greatly inferior to those which belong to a convention of the people. When, therefore, the articles state that the confederacy was formed by the States, they mean, of course, by the legislatures or governments of the States. The confederation was, therefore, a system of governments.
This union was found to be inefficient for the accomplishment of its purposes. A Convention, therefore, was held, which formed the present Constitution. And as that Constitution conferred extraordinary powers upon Congress, it was admitted to be necessary to have it ratified by conventions of the people of the several States, each acting as an independent people or “sovereign community."
The present Constitution, therefore, was not ratified and made obligatory by the governments of the several States, as the articles of confederation had been, but was ratified by the several people of each State. Hence, therefore, the title, the Constitution of the United States, means the Constitution of the united societies-peoples---communities; whereas, that of the confederation meant the Constitution of the several governments—legislatures-States. That the word State should be used in several senses, is not unusual ; and being equivocal, ought to be rejected, or some definite meaning given to it, in discussions of this sort. Thus, Mr. Calhoun uses the word to express government ; for, at the beginning of his disquisition, he states that ours is a system of governments. In the Constitution, however, the word is generally used to mean "people,” or sovereign community. In the art. 1, sec. 2, representatives shall be chosen “by the people of the several States.” Here, States seem to refer to territories. It is,
therefore, necessary, in order to discuss the subject with clearness, that the word State should be rejected, and the word government, or the word society, used in its place. But as the word State means, under the articles, government, and as Mr. Calhoun uses it in that sense, we will adopt it, and hold it to mean government. With this understanding of its meaning, then, it is plain, that if we look, as Mr. Calhoun properly thinks we should do, to the source and creator of the government, it is plain that our present Constitution is a Constitution of the united peoples, or sovereign communities. And its title ought to have been the Constitution of the united peoples, whilst that of the articles was an union of the governments. In other words, when we adopt his test of the nature of the government, the source and creator of it, the present union differs from the union of the confederation, as much as the sources of these two governments differ from each other. The articles created a union of governments, the present Constitution an union of peoples. Now we deny that two or more peoples can be united for specific purposes, without being, as to those purposes, one people. Just as several individuals, by entering into a compact to accomplish certain lawful purposes, are, in legal sense, one person, or a firm. To prevent the union of these several peoples into one, it is indispensably necessary to interpose their governments; and if we interpose their governments in reference to the present union, with a view to prevent this union of the peoples, then we contradict and deny the test of the nature of the government, the source and creators of it-in short, we contradict the premises which Mr. Calhoun has himself established as true. But it is as certain that the peoples of the several States formed our present Constitution, as it is that the governments of the several States formed the articles of confederation.
It is plain, therefore, it was with a view of uniting several peoples—of making several peoples into one peoplethat our present government was formed. This could only be effected by a convention of each people acting as independent and sovereign communities, free to become consolidated with the other several peoples, or to refuse. They
chose to become one people. To do so, it was necessary to surrender either all their separate rights of sovereignty, or some of them. In the former case, the consolidation would have been complete for all purposes-in the latter, for some. Did the several peoples surrender any of their sovereign rights, and thus become partially consolidated? We shall show that they did surrender some of their rights of sovereignty, and it must follow, then, that they were partially consolidated, and, of course, could not be united wholly in a federal government.
During the session of the Convention, George Washington, whose opinions, we very humbly conceive, are as valuable and as much valued as those of any other person, wrote thus:*
Persuaded I am that the primary cause of all our disorders was in the different State governments, and in the tenacity of that power which pervades the whole of their systems. Whilst independent sovereignty is so ardently contended for—whilst the local views of each State and separate interests by which they are too much governed, will not yield to a more enlarged scale of politics, incompatibility in the laws of different States, and disrespect to those of the General Government, must render the situation of this great country weak, inefficient and disgraceful.”
Shortly afterwards, he addressed a letter to Benjamin Harrison, † sending "a copy of the Constitution, which the Federal Convention has submitted to the people of these States.” Mr. Harrison replied, “ if the Constitution is carried into effect, the States south of the Potomac will be little more than appendages to those to the northward of it."I Col. Mason, of Virginia, declared " that he would sooner chop off his right hand than put it to the Constitution as it now stands." This he said on the floor of the Convention, in the face of George Washington, and he never did sign the Constitution. The Constitution, however, was adopted ; and the President, George Washington, in his letter to Congress, accompanying the draft of the Constitution, says:
* Writings of Washington. Sparks. I vol. p. 258. Ibid. f. 265.
Ibid. p. 266. Mad. Pap. p. 1475.
“It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest.”
And in another paragraph, quoted by Mr. Calhoun, he says:
“In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American--the consolidation of our Union.”
Here we have, in the first citation, an express declaration that the peoples of the several States did not surrender all their rights of independent sovereignty, and, of course, surrendered some of them; and, in the second, that this was done with a view to the consolidation of the Union. And we have seen the conduct of Mr. Mason, and the opinion of Mr. Harrison, as to the effect of this Constitution upon the States south of the Potomac.
But the evidence is not exhausted. We will pass by, for the present, the opinions of Mr. Madison, so much criticised by Mr. Calhoun, and refer to the opinions and conduct of Patrick Henry. Who will undertake to denounce him as a traitor to his State ? Who dare assert that the earliest advocate of American Independence was no friend to liberty ? Who will taunt him as a consolidationist? None but a fool or a slave! When the Constitution was presented to the Convention of the people of Virginia, for ratification, he opposed it, and declared that it did make a consolidation of the United States—that it did destroy the independence and sovereignty of the States. “ Have they said, we, the States?t Have they made a proposal of a compact between States ? If they had, this would be a confederation ; it is, otherwise, most clearly a consolidated government." Again--"To all the common purposes of legislation, it is a great consolidation of government.”\ These are not the sentiments of one who approved of the Constitution, but of one who, in the Virginia Convention, closed his speech in opposition to the ratification of the Constitution, with these words:
* Constitution. Hickey, p. 188.
1 Ibid. p. 304.
“My head, my hand and my heart, shall be free to retrieve the loss of liberty, and remove the defects of that system in a constitutional way-I wish not to go to violence, but will wait, with hopes that the spirit which predominated in the revolution is not yet gone. I shall, therefore, patiently wait, in expectation of seeing that government changed, so as to be compatible with the safety, liberty and happiness of the people.”
Now, Mr. Calhoun has declared himself to be directly of the opposite opinion, and has maintained that this is a government altogether federal.
We have expressed an opinion different from that of Mr. Henry, as well as of Mr. Calhoun-an opinion in accordance with that of George Washington, that the States have not surrendered "all rights of independent sovereignty.” This is our language. It is not true that this Union is a “system of States” alonema mere confederacy. It is neither a system of States alone, nor an absolute consolidation of all the people.
Again. But suppose the other States, not content with a dissolution of the Union, and refusing to repeal the law, should say that this is not a system of States--that it was such under the articles of confederation, but that source of weakness was removed by the adoption of the Constitution--that this Union is partly federative and partly national--all of which they would be well warranted in saying,” &c.
Again—"For certain and for limited purposes, the Constitution has amalgamated the several peoples of the States into one people.”* But this is the language of Mr. Calhoun--" How strange, after all these admissions, is the conclusion that the government is partly federal and partly national.”+ And the same idea is repeated in various other places, and the opinion that this government is partly federal and partly national, declared to be an absurdity. With a full knowledge of this censure, we have taken to ourselves the liberty expressly to deny its justice.
To maintain our position, we appeal from Mr. Calhoun in 1852 to Mr. Calhoun in 1832 :/
“It must never be forgotten, that it is to the creating and to the controlling power, that we are to look for the true character of the fede
+ Disquisition, pp. 151 ; 140-2-6; 162.
* Tract, pp. 30–35.