by the States composing the Federal sovereignty of each over specified subjects; the portions retained forming the sovereignty of each over the residuary subjects within its sphere.
If sovereignty cannot be thus divided, the political system of the United States is a chimera; mocking the vain pretensions of human wisdom.
If it can be so divided, the system ought to have a fair opportunity of fulfilling the wishes and expectations which cling to the experiment.
Nothing can be more clear than that the Constitution of the United States has created a Government, in as strict a sense of the term as the Governments of tile States created by their respective Constitutions.
The Federal Government has, like the State Governments, its legislative, its executive, and its judiciary departments.
It has, like them, acknowledged cases in which the powers of these departments are to operate.
And the operation is to be directly on persons and things in the one Government as in the other.
In the same letter, he said, considering it but as a compact:
Applying a like view of the subject to the case of the United States, it results, that the compact being among individuals as embodied into States, no State can at pleasure release itself therefrom and set up for itself.
The compact can only be dissolved by the consent of the other parties, or by usurpations or abuses of power justly having that effect.
It will hardly be contended that there is any thing in the terms or nature of the compact authorizing a party to dissolve it at pleasure.
It is indeed inseparable from the nature of a compact that there is as much right on one side to expound it, and to insist on its fulfilment according to that exposition, as there is on the other, so to expound it as to furnish a release from it; and that an attempt to annul it by one of the parties may present to the other an option of acquiescing in the amendment or of preventing it, as the one or the other course may be deemed the lesser evil.
This is a consideration which ought deeply to impress itself on every patriotic mind, as the strongest dissuasion from unnecessary approaches to such a crisis.
What would be the condition of the States attached to the Union and its Government, and regarding both as essential to their well-being, if a State placed in the midst of them were to renounce its Federal obligations, and erect itself into an independent and alien nation?
Could the States north and south of Virginia, Pennsylvania, or New York, or of some other States, however small, remain associated and enjoy their present happiness, if geographically, politically, and practically thrown apart by such a breach of the chain which unites their interests and binds them together as neighbors and fellow-citizens?
It could not be. The innovation would be fatal to the Federal Government, fatal to the Union, and fatal to the hopes of liberty and humanity, and presents a catastrophe at which all ought to shudder.
Without identifying the case of the United States with that of individual States, there is at least an instructive analogy between them.
What would be the condition of the State of New York, of Massachusetts, or of Pennsylvania, for example, if portions containing their great commercial cities, invoking original rights as paramount to social and constitutional compacts, should elect themselves into distinct and absolute sovereignties?
In so doing they would do no more, unless justified by an intolerable oppression, than would be done by an individual State as a portion of the Union, in separating itself without a like cause from the other portions.
Nor would greater evils be inflicted by such a mutilation of a State on some of its parts than might be felt by some of the States from the separation of its neighbors into absolute and alien sovereignties.
And lastly, he writes Mr. Webster
, in May, 1830, who had sent him his speech on Foot
I had before received more than one copy from other sources, and had read the speech with a full sense of its powerful bearing on the subjects discussed, and particularly its over-whelming effect on the nullifying doctrine of South Carolina.
How clear, how convincing are all these to show the utter unsoundness of the doctrine, in the opinion of one so eminently fit to give us the true meaning of the Constitution
from having largely assisted in framing it, in expounding it, in commending it to the adoption of the people, and administering it with unsurpassed ability in almost every department of the public service, including the very highest.
How pale do the small, feeble lights of the present day appear in the presence of such a luminary!
How unreliable and unauthoritative our modern seiolists, compared with one who, deeply imbued with all the knowledge that makes the accomplished statesman, had converted it almost into a part of his very nature, from a daily application of it in the promotion of his country's welfare, and the maintenance and perpetuation of the noble form of Government which he had done so much to establish.
Looking at it with the eye of a patriot and with a knowledge of the unparalleled blessings it had conferred on his country, he construed it so as to preserve it. He did not, with the acuteness of a special pleader, try to discover defects fatal to its continuance.
His mind, though the law was his early study, had not been cabined within technical limits.
Though astute, it was comprehensive.
The law he only knew as it was connected with the character and duties of the statesman.
He never dreamed, who does who is competent to the task, of construing the Constitution
of a great nation, as you would an indictment to rescue a culprit.
His object was to preserve and enforce it, not to escape from it by little