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You will understand that the only qualification will be the reservation of the right to recede, in case our amendments have not been decided upon in one of the modes pointed out by the Constitution within a certain number of years — perhaps five or seven. If this can, in the first instance, be admitted as a ratification, I do not fear any further consequences.But Madison knew no ifs in the ratification of our federal pact. His reply, in full, is as follows:
2 Hon. Reverdy Johnson, who lived in the same house with John C. Calhoun from 1845 to 1849, and enjoyed a very close intimacy with him, in a letter to Edward Everett, dated Baltimore, June 24, 1861, says:
He [Calhoun] did me the honor to give me much of his confidence, and frequently his Nullification doctrine was the subject of conversation. Time and time again have I heard him, and with ever-increased surprise at his wonderful acuteness, defend it on constitutional grounds, and distinguish it, in that respect, from the doctrine of Secession. This last he never, with me, placed on any other ground than that of revolution. This, he said, was to destroy the Government; and no Constitution, the work of sane men, ever provided for its own destruction. The other was to preserve it — was, practically, but to amend it, and in a constitutional mode.To the same effect, Hon. Howell Cobb--since, a most notable Secessionist — in a letter to the citizens of Macon, Ga., in 1851, said:
When asked to concede the right of a State to secede at pleasure from the Union, with or without just cause, we are called upon to admit that the framers of the Constitution did that which was never done by any other people possessed of their good sense and intelligence — that is, to provide, in the very organization of the Government, for its own dissolutions. It seems to me that such a course would not only have been an anomalous proceeding, but wholly inconsistent with the wisdom and sound judgment which marked the deliberations of those wise and good men who framed our Federal Government. While I freely admit that such an opinion is entertained by many for whose judgment I entertain the highest respect, I have no hesitation in declaring that the convictions of my own judgment are well settled, that no such principle was contemplated in the adoption of our Constitution.
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