by their illustrious author.
He repeats his exploded parodoxes as confidently, as if Mr. Madison
himself had expired with the Alien and Sedition laws, and left no testimony to the meaning of his resolutions; while, at the present day, with equal confidence, the same resolutions are appealed to by the disciples of Mr. Calhoun
as sustaining the doctrine of secession, in the face of the positive declaration of their author, when that doctrine first began to be broached, that they will bear no such interpretation.
Mr. Calhoun did not claim a Constitutional right of Secession.
In this respect the disciples have gone beyond the master.
There is a single sentence in Mr. Calhoun
's elaborate volume in which he maintains the right of a State to secede from the Union
. (Page 301.) There is reason to suppose, however, that he intended to claim only the inalienable right of revolution.
In 1828, a declaration of political principles was drawn up by him for the State of South Carolina
, in which it was expressly taught, that the people of that State by adopting the Federal Constitution
had “modified its original right of sovereignty
, whereby its individual consent was necessary to any change in its political condition, and by becoming a member of the Union
, had placed that power in the hands of three-fourths of the States, [the number necessary for a Constitutional amendment,] in whom the highest power known to the Constitution
In a recent patriotic speech of Mr. Reverdy Johnson
, at Frederick, Md.
, on the 7th of May, the distinct authority of Mr. Calhoun
is quoted as late as 1844 against the right of separate action on the part of an individual State, and I am assured by the same respected gentleman, that it is within his personal knowledge, that Mr. Calhoun
did not maintain the peaceful right of secession.1
Secession as a Revolution.
But it may be thought a waste of time to argue against a Constitutional right of peaceful Secession, since no one denies the right of Revolution; and no pains are spared by the disaffected leaders, while they claim indeed the Constitutional right, to represent their movement as the uprising of an indignant People against an oppressive and tyrannical Government.
Is the Government of the United States oppressive and tyrannical?
An oppressive and tyrannical government!
Let us examine this pretence for a few moments, first in the general, and then ill the detail of its alleged tyrannies and abuses.
This oppressive and tyrannical Government is the successful solution of a problem, which had tasked the sagacity of mankind from the dawn of civilization; viz.: to find a form of polity, by which institutions purely popular could be extended over a vast empire, free alike from despotic centralization and undue preponderance of the local powers.
It was necessarily a complex system; a Union at once federal and national.
It leaves to the separate States the control of all matters of purely local administration, and confides to the central power the management of Foreign affairs and of all other concerns in which the United
family have a joint interest.
All the organized and delegated powers depend directly or very nearly