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[43]

Appendix.


Appendix a, p. 9.

after the remarks in the foregoing address, p. 9, were written, touching the impossibility, at the present day, of repealing the instrument by which in 1788 South Carolina gave her consent and ratification to the Constitution of the United States, I sought the opinion on that point of Mr. George Ticknor Curtis, the learned and accurate historian of the Constitution. It afforded me great pleasure to find, from the following letter, that my view of the subject is sustained by his high authority:

Jamaica Plains, Saturday Evening, June 8, 1861.
my dear Sir: Since I came home, I have looked carefully at the ratification of the Constitution by South Carolina. The formal instrument, sent to Congress, seems to be much more in the nature of a Deed or Grant, than of an Ordinance. An ordinance would seem to be an instrument adopted by a public body, for the regulation of a subject that in its nature remains under the regulation of that body;--to operate until otherwise ordered. A Deed, or Grant, on the other hand, operates to pass some things; and unless there be a reservation of some control over the subject-matter by the Grantor, his cession is necessarily irrevocable. I can perceive no reason why these distinctions are not applicable to the cession of political powers by a People, or their duly authorized representatives. The question submitted to the People of South Carolina, by the Congress, was, Whether they would cede the powers of government embraced in an instrument sent to them, and called the Constitution of the United States. In other words, they were asked to make a Grant of those Powers. When, therefore, the duly authorized Delegates of the People of South Carolina executed an instrument under seal, declaring that they, “in the name and behalf” of that people, “assent to and ratify the said Constitution,” I can perceive no propriety in calling this Deed an Ordinance. If they had adopted an instrument entitled, “An Act [or Ordinance] for the government of the People of South Carolina,” and had gone on, in the body of the instrument, to declare that the Powers embraced in the Constitution of the United States should be exercised by the agents therein provided, until otherwise ordered, there would have been something left for a repeal to operate upon. But nothing like this was done, and everybody knows that such a ratification could not have been accepted.

There are those, as you are well aware, who pretend that the most absolute and unrestricted terms of cession, which would carry any other subject entirely out of tho grantor, do not so operate when the subject of the grant is political sovereignty. But a political school which maintains that a deed is to be construed in one way when it purports to convey one description of right, such as political sovereignty, and in another


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