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[85] was quite too large and frank a man to pretend that his action in this case was justified by the Constitution, as he understood and had always interpreted it. He said:1
This treaty must of course be laid before both houses, because both have important functions to exercise respecting it. They, I presume, will see their duty to their country in ratifying and paying for it, so as to secure a good which would otherwise be probably never again in their power. But I suppose they must then appeal to the nation for an additional article to the Constitution, approving and confirming an act which the nation had not previously authorized. The Constitution has made no provision for our holding foreign territory, still less for incorporating foreign nations into our Union. The Executive, in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much advances the good of their country, have done an act beyond the Constitution. The Legislature, in casting behind them metaphysical subtleties, and risking themselves like faithful servants, must ratify and pay for it. and throw themselves on their country for doing for them unauthorized what we know they would have done for themselves had they been in a situation to do it. It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purcluasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him, when of age, “I did this for your good; I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get out of the scrape as I can. I thought it my duty to risk myself for you.” But we shall not be disavowed by the nation, and their act of indemnity will confirm, and not weaken, the Constitution, by more strongly marking out its lines.

In a letter to Wilson C. Nicholas,2 he examines and thoroughly refutes the assumption, suggested by Mr. N., that the power to purchase Louisiana “might possibly be distilled from the authority given to Congress to admit new States into the Union.” He says: “But when I consider that the limits of the United States are precisely fixed by the treaty of 1783, and that the Constitution expressly declares itself to be made for the United States, I cannot help believing the intention was not to permit Congress to admit into the Union new States, which should be formed outside of the territory for which, and under whose authority alone, they were then acting. I do not believe it was meant that they might receive England, Ireland, Holland, etc., into it, which would be the case on your construction.” After disposing in like manner of “the opinion of those whole consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless,” and completing his demonstration that there was no power whatever in the Constitution, as he construed it, to make this purchase, he, with more good sense than consistency, concludes: “I confess, then, I think it important, in the present case, to set an example against broad construction, by appealing for new power to the people. If, however, our friends shall think differently, certainly I shall acquiesce with satisfaction; confiding, that the good sense of our country will correct the evil of construction when it shall produce ill effects.”

When, in 1811, the Territory of Orleans was moulded into the State of Louisiana, Mr. Josiah Quincy, a young and very ardent Federalist who then represented the city of Boston in the House, indulged in what resembled very closely a menace of contingent secession; and similar fulminations were uttered by sundry New England Federalists under the pressure of Mr. Jefferson's Embargo and of the War of 1812. The famous but unsavory Hartford Convention,3 held near the close of that war, and

1 Letter to Senator Breckinridge, August 12, 1803.

2 September 7, 1803.

3 For proceedings of this Convention, see Niles's Register, January 14, 1815.

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