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" Another kindred fallacy put forth by the author before us,
very common amongst writers, is that free governments are not suited to every people. The truth of this position is easily tested by the question, what is free government? A free government is a just government.”
Here, we desire to propound a few questions to the reviewer. Does Mr. Rhett hold it to be a fallacy, that the negro race is not fit to be free? Does he hold it to be a kindred fallacy, that that race is now governed jastly by the whites? Does he mean that the government of the whites over their slaves, is not a just government, because it is not a free government, and is an unjust government because the negroes are not free?
Will he defend his answer to his own question, “how are they to obtain a more enlarged freedom from their government ?" By fighting! Furthermore,
, is Mr. Rhett, himself, a freeman? Is he not, by his own definition, a mere slave? For he has, for the greater portion of his life, been clamorous in his declarations, that the government of the United States is not a just government, and, therefore, not a free government. It is not our design to impute to Mr. Rhett sentiments which might justly be inferred to be entertained by him from the above citation. Our questions have been put, not with a view to show that he has been writing abolitionism, but nonsense.
Having now disposed of these preliminary objections to the tract, which are original with Mr. Rhett, and, indeed, peculiar to him, we shall proceed to examine two grave objections that have been made by others as well as Mr. Rhett. These are : 1st. That the tract maintains that Congress possesses, by virtue of the Constitution, a specific power to promote the general welfare. 2. That the tract maintains the doctrines of the old federal or consolidation school. We shall consider these assertions in the order in which they are placed
It is admitted that the tract does expressly state that, in the opinion of the author, the Constitution is the source of the mischief; inasmuch as it contains a specific power to promote the general welfare. Furthermore, that, so long as that power remained in it, even as a seminal principle, that the people would suffer. Hence, he proposed, in energetic lan
guage, to eradicate this specific power from the Constitution. «With such views, it was plainly unnecessary for him to consider whether or not the Convention intended to give this power, either in a limited or unlimited extent. For, in either case, he regards the power as inherently and incurably mischievous—unmitigated by a single particle of good, and, moreover, incapable of any such mitigation. He argued that it was, and necessarily must be, productive of class legislation ; although limited to a degree suitable to the fancy of a strict constructionist. So far, therefore, from approving of the existence of the power, or its exercise, by way of tariffs, &c., he condemns it and them, in the strongest language. Moreover, he recommends, as the true policy of the South, that every member of Congress should vote against the use of that power, and that every one who votes for it, should be cashiered.
The question, therefore, between the critics of the tract and its author, is reduced to this, whether or not there is in the Constitution, even as a seminal principle, the power to promote the general welfare. For, if there be any power at all, in the slightest conceivable degree, to promote the general welfare, then it must be admitted, that neither a concurrent majority, nor any other device can eradicate it from the Constitution, and that those devices can, in their most successful application, only mitigate its evils, not cure them. This, no candid man will deny.
Now, according to the plain words of the preamble of the Constitution, one of the ends for which this government was created, was to promote the general welfare. Mr. Calhoun, in his disquisition, does not deny it; but, on the contrary, cites the preamble to show for what objects the government was created. He could not deny its existence without contradicting his early speeches in favour of the tariff-without reproaching Mr. McDuffie on account of his celebrated report in favour of the United States Bank—without censuring his own speech at the Memphis Convention, in favour of the improvements of that “internal sea," the Mississippi river. Let us pass, then, to the 8th sec. Ist article.
“The Congress shall have power to levy and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States.”
Here, it is to be observed, that there is a little want of candour on the part of Mr. Rhett. The author of the tract inserted, before the words “general welfare," the words “ 10 promote,” but carelessly omitted the marks of parenthesis, which should have preceded and followed those words. The passage should have been printed thus:
“ The Congress shall have power to levy and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and to promote the general welfare of the United States."
No candid or just mind would have suspected the writer of the equal stupidity aud immorality of designing to interpolate a clause of the Constitution with his own language, for a party purpose, or for any purpose ; and Mr. Rhett should have shown himself above conceiving, and, still more, of expressing, such a thought. We frankly say to him, that the very notion of such a thing is discreditable to his nobleness and candour. Mr. Walker evidently inserted the words in question, simply with the view to express his understanding of the meaning of the word “provide” for the general welfare. Let us return to the question.
We admit, for the sake of argument, that the Convention did not intend to give to Congress unlimited power to promote the general welfare. We admit, for the same purpose, that it did not intend to give more than extremely limited powers to promote the general welfare. But we deny that it did not give some power to promote the general welfare. Mr. Rhett may limit it as much as he pleases, short of its total extinction. So long as that power exists, as a mere seminal principle, so long all “concurrent majorities,” including single State veto and double Presidents, are useless. That the power does exist to this limited extent, is admitted even by Mr. Calhoun. Upon that point we have his own
express testimony. It is well known that he was the author of the Report and Resolutions of 1827 (1 vol. St. at Large, p. 238). Hear him
" Whether, under the power to promote the general welfare, Congress can expend money in internal improvements, or for any purposes not connected with the enumerated objects in the Constitution.”
Here is an explicit acknowledgment, by Mr. Calhoun, which was adopted by both branches of the Legislature, that there is a specific power to promote the general welfare granted to Congress by the Constitution. Indeed, the question was, at the time, not whether such a power existed at all, but whether it was a limited or unlimited power. Now, however painful it may be to some persons to answer, still it is our duty to ask them, whether they hold now the same opinions that they did in 1827? It cannot be pretended that this State has, by any authoritative act, repudiated the report and resolutions of that year. Nor has the State Rights party of the South altered its position. Nor, so far as we are informed, has Mr. Calhoun disowned those opinions. The author of the tract, therefore, stands firmly fixed upon the old principles of this State.
It is to be observed, here, that Mr. Walker differs, in this material respect, from the school of Alexander Hamilton: that he condemns what it approves—the power to promote the general welfare. He would eradicate it entirely from the Constitution. Mr. Hamilton would have had the power unlimited. But, according to the views of Mr. Walker, no limitation can, in fact, be applied to the exercise of this power. As well may the physician attempt to confine poison infused into the blood to a particular limb or artery. It will be borne upon its silent current through every portion of the body. The whole history of the legislation of this country, by virtue of the power to promote the general wel. fare, demonstrates the fact that, for all practical purposes, the supposed limitations upon its exercise are vain and nugatory. There is no effectual remedy, then, but to eradicate it from the Constitution.
It has been shown that the power to promote the general welfare has been admitted, even by Mr. Calhoun, to exist. We might, therefore, stop at this point; for further argument will not be necessary in order to defend the tract. But it is said that, although the Constitution gives the power to promote the general welfare, still it is not an unlimited power, but one limited to certain enumerated objects. We regret sincerely that such a construction is not sustained by the proceedings of the Convention. As we have often repeated, our purpose is to amend the Constitution, so that Congress shall not have this power. There is, however, a great difference between what the Constitution is, and what it ought to be. At present we are considering what it is. To know what the Convention meant by the words "promote the general welfare," "provide for the general welfare," let us trace these words throughout the proceedings.
Soon after the Convention assembled, and had arranged its rules of procedure and other preliminary business, Mr. Randolph, of Virginia, arose. He remarked that the gov. ernment which was to be formed, ought “to procure to the several States various blessings of which an isolated condition was incapable."-(Mad. Papers, 729.) He proposed, therefore, several resolutions, and among them the following
Resolved, That the articles of confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution, namely: the common defence, security of liberty and general welfare." --(731.)
This resolution was referred to the committee of the whole house. Here observe that the words “general welfare” are separated from the words “common defence," by the insertion, between them, of another object of the Union“ the security of liberty.” During the same day, Mr. Charles Pinckney submitted to the Convention the draft of a Constitution, which seems to have been made the foundation of the present Constitution. Its preamble sets forth that-
“We, the people of the States of, etc., etc., do ordain, declare and