to that Government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and as an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party; that the Government created by this compact was not made tile exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; hut that, as in all other cases of compact among ,powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.
The resolves proceed, at great length, to condemn not only the Alien and Sedition laws, as utterly unconstitutional and void, but even the act, recently passed, to punish frauds committed on the Bank of the United States
, as well as other acts and parts of acts; and conclude with a call on the other States to unite with Kentucky
in condemning and opposing all such usurpations of power by the Federal Government
, and by expressing her undoubting confidence
That they will concur with this commonwealth in considering the said acts as so palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, but that it will proceed in the exercise, over these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of the General Government, with the power assumed to bind the States (not merely as to the cases made federal (casus foederis), but) in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent: that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, returning to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void and of no force, and will each take measures of its own in providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government, not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.
9th. Resolved, That the said Committee be authorized to communicate, by writing or personal conferences, at any times or places whatever, with any person or persons who may be appointed by any one or more co-States to correspond or confer with them, and that they lay their proceedings before the next session of Assembly.
The Virginia resolves on the same subject, passed by her Legislature in 1799, were drafted by Mr. Madison
--doubtless after consultation with his chief, Mr. Jefferson
--and did not differ materially in spirit or expression from those of Kentucky
on the 4th of March, 1801.
Up to tills hour, he had been an extreme and relentless stickler for the most rigid and literal construction of the Federal
pact, and for denying to the Government
all authority for which express warrant could not be found in the provisions of that instrument.
: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution
His fidelity to his declared principle was soon subjected to a searching ordeal.
fell into the hands of Bonaparte
, who, it was not improbable, might be induced to sell it. It was for us a desirable acquisition; but where was the authority for buying it?
In the Constitution
, there clearly was none, unless under that very power to provide for the general welfare, which, as he had expressly declared, was meant by the instrument “to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers.”