a new District Judge
, a new Marshal
, to replace those who have resigned?
If no one of the vicinage will or dare accept these trusts, why not fill them from loyal States?
If these shall be resisted, will it not be at the proper peril of the insurgents?
If the Federal Government
can be driven out of a State, and compelled to stay
out, by the cheap process of bullying two or three Federal officers into resigning, and bullying others out of daring to take their places, is ours a real government at all?
The President, proceeding, set forth the main issue as follows:
The question, fairly stated, is: Has the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to coerce into submission a State which is attempting to withdraw, or has actually withdrawn, from the confederacy?
If answered in the affirmative, it must be on the principle that the power has been conferred upon Congress to declare and to make war against a State.
After much serious reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power has been delegated to Congress, or to any other department of the Federal Government.
It is manifest, upon an inspection of the Constitution, that this is not among the specific and enumerated powers granted to Congress: and it is equally apparent that its exercise is not “ necessary and proper for carrying into execution” any one of these powers.
The contrast between this logic and that of Gen. Jackson
in like circumstances1
has already been noted.
But it is difficult to realize that such transparent sophistry can have deceived even its author.
The President had already truly stated that
The Executive has no authority to decide what shall be the relations between the Federal Government and South Carolina.
He has been invested with no such discretion.
He possesses no power to change the relations heretofore existing between them; much less to acknowledge the independence of that State.
The act of Secession, so called, was therefore — at least, so far as the President
was concerned — a simple nullity.
He could know South Carolina
only as one of the States composing our Union, whose citizens were consequently citizens of the United States
, and bound to uphold their Constitution and obey their laws.
If any or many of those citizens chose to break and defy those laws, it was his simple and imperative duty to cause them to be faithfully executed, at whatever inconvenience or peril to the law-breakers.
had ever suggested or imagined that the opposition of any State to the Fugitive Slave
law, for example, could absolve him from the duty of enforcing that law. This is the President
's duty in the premises, and the whole of it,--to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The Constitution and laws being, by express provision, “the supreme law of the land; * * * anything in the Constitution
or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding,” 3
the real question was not--“Has the Constitution
delegated to Congress the power to coerce a State?”
but “Has any State a reserved, inherent power to coerce the Union
into acquiescence in the overthrow of the Federal Constitution
, the subversion of the laws, and the destruction of our Nationality?”
The President is bound to know no legitimate power within the Union
acting in hostility to the Constitution
and laws he has solemnly sworn to uphold and enforce.
Whoever and whatever stands in the way of such enforcement, he can regard only as law-breakers, insurgents, and traitors.