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be associated; and how is her concurrence to be obtained? She must be made the center of the Confederacy. Vermont and New Jersey would follow of course, and Rhode Island of necessity. Pickering to Cabot, Life of Cabot, pp. 338-340. Substituting South Carolina for Massachusetts; Virginia for New York; Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, for New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island; Kentucky for New Jersey, etc., we find the suggestions of 1860-‘61 only a reproduction of those thus outlined nearly sixty years earlier. Pickering seems to have had a correct and intelligent perception of the altogether pacific character of the secession which he prreater significance. The celebrated Hartford convention assembled in December, 1814. It consisted of delegates chosen by the legislatures of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, with an irregular or imperfect representation from the other two New England states, New Hampshire and Vermont, Maine was not then a stat
bor was found to be profitable and suited to the climate and productions. And this traffic was openly carried on, and fortunes accumulated by it, without reproach from the people of the States where they resided. This statement, it must be remembered, does not proceed from any partisan source, but is extracted from a judicial opinion pronounced by the highest court in the country. In illustration of the truthfulness of the latter part of it may be mentioned the fact that a citizen of Rhode Island (James D'Wolf), long and largely concerned in the slave trade, was sent from that state to the Senate of the United States as late as the year 1821. In 1825 he resigned his seat in the Senate and removed to Havana, where he lived for many years, actively engaged in the same pursuit, as president of a slave-trading company. The story is told of him that, on being informed that the trade was to be declared piracy, he smiled and said, So much the better for us—the Yankees will be the only
t no alteration should be made in any of them, unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and afterward confirmed by the Legislatures of every State. The legislatures of the various states, with the exception of Rhode Island, adopted and proceeded to act upon these suggestions by the appointment of delegates—some of them immediately upon the recommendation of the Annapolis Commissioners in advance of that of the Congress, and the others in the course of a few mont fifth article of the Confederation of the said States, finally ratified on the first day of March, in the year 1781, which declares that, in determining questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote. Rhode Island, as has already been mentioned, sent no delegates. From an examination and comparison of the enactments and instructions above quoted, we may derive certain conclusions, so obvious that they need only to be stated: 1. In the first place,
ir recommendations should take the course prescribed by this article—first, a report to the Congress, and then, if approved by that body, a submission to the various legislatures for final action. There was no reason to apprehend the nonconcurrence of Congress, in which a mere majority would determine the question; but the consent of the legislatures of every State was requisite in order to final ratification, and there was serious reason to fear that this consent could not be obtained. Rhode Island, as we have seen, had declined to send any representatives to the convention; of the three delegates from New York, two had withdrawn; other indications of dissatisfaction had appeared. In case of the failure of a single legislature to ratify, the labors of the convention would go for naught, under a strict adherence to the letter of the article above cited. The danger of a total frustration of their efforts was imminent. In this emergency the convention took the responsibility of tr
Government accession of North Carolina and Rhode Island correspondence between General Washington and the Governor of Rhode Island. The amended system of union, or confederation (the terms are emthen denied—North Carolina for nine months, Rhode Island for nearly fifteen, after the new governmento adopt and ratify the Constitution. In Rhode Island the proposed Constitution was at first submld be adopted—a convention of the people of Rhode Island acceded to the new Union, and ratified the ates of the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, duly elected and met in of that Constitution by North Carolina and Rhode Island respectively, those states were absolutely g this period between the United States and Rhode Island, it may not be uninstructive to refer to a er written in this month by the Governor of Rhode Island, at the request and in behalf of the Generaferred to are annexed: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, In General Assembly, Sep[1 more...]<
to discontinue his fortifications. American Archives, Fourth Series, Vol. I, p. 908. These were the people referred to by the Congress; the children of the Pilgrims, who occupied at that period the town of Boston and the province of Massachusetts Bay, would have been not a little astonished to be reckoned as one people, in any other respect than that of the common cause, with the Roman Catholics of Maryland, the Episcopalians of Virginia, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, or the Baptists of Rhode Island. The other citation of Everett is from the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence: When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, etc., etc. This, he says, characterizes the good people of the colonies as one people. Plainly, it does no such thing. The misconception is so palpable as scarcely to admit of serious answer. The Declaration of Independence opens with a general pro
amble, reported to the convention by a committee of five appointed to prepare the Constitution, as we find it in the proceedings of August 6, 1787, was as follows: We, the people of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, do ordain, declare, and establish, the following Constitution for the government of ourselves and our po 1778 to 1781, during which period Maryland refused to ratify or be bound by the Articles of Confederation, which, according to this theory, was binding upon her, as a majority of the whole people had adopted it. A fortiori, North Carolina and Rhode Island were in a state of rebellion in 1789-‘90, while they declined to ratify and recognize the Constitution adopted by the other eleven fractions of this united people. Yet no hint of any such pretension—of any claim of authority over them by the
ld no protest have been uttered against it—if these had been fractional parts of one community of people? Again, while the will of the consenting majority within any state was binding on the opposing minority in the same, no majority, or majorities, of states or people had any control whatever upon the people of another state. The Constitution was established, not over the States, as asserted by Motley, but between the States, and only between the States so ratifying the same. Little Rhode Island, with her seventy thousand inhabitants, was not a mere fractional part of the people of the whole land, during the period for which she held aloof, but was as free, independent, and unmolested, as any other sovereign power, notwithstanding the majority of more than three millions of the whole people on the other side of the question. Before the ratification of the Constitution—when there was some excuse for an imperfect understanding or misconception of the terms proposed—Madison thus <
jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Constitution delegated to the Congress of the United States or to the departments of the General Government. Rhode Island gave in her long-withheld assent to the Constitution, in full confidence that certain proposed amendments would be adopted, the first of which was expressed instanding of its nature and principles. Under such circumstances, and in the full confidence that this language expressed its meaning and intent, the people of Rhode Island signfied their accession to the Confederate republic of the states already united. No objection was made from any quarter to the principle asserted in thesepeople of states. There are but two modes of expressing their sovereign will known to the people of this country. One is by direct vote—the mode adopted by Rhode Island in 1788, when she rejected the Constitution. The other is the method, more generally pursued, of acting by means of conventions of delegates elected expressly
ted States, may be resumed by them, whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will. See Elliott's Debates, Vol. I, p. 360. New York and Rhode Island were no less explicit, both declaring that the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whenever it shall become necessary to their happiness. Ibid., pp. 361, 369. These expressions are not mere obiter dicta, thrown out incidenied the Constitution and acceded to the Union, and cannot be detached from them. If they are invalid, the ratification itself was invalid, for they are inseparable. By inserting these declarations in their ordinances, Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island formally, officially, and permanently declared their interpretation of the Constitution as recognizing the right of secession by the resumption of their grants. By accepting the ratifications with this declaration incorporated, the other stat
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