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‘ [46] of the Constitution. * * If he (the President) must look there (to the Constitution) alone for authority, then all these acts are flagrant usurpations.’

With such cool contempt does he brush aside the flimsy pretexts by which it had been sought, in striking fulfilment of Gouverneur Morris' famous prediction to avoid the ‘shame if not the guilt of perjury,’ by affecting to reconcile acts like this with the provisions of the fundamental law. Better, in his view, not to attempt it; better that the ‘legislative lion’ should burst at once and boldly through the ‘meshes’ of the constitutional net. The attempt, indeed, by whatever abilities sustained, could not but end in failure; for it was a task beyond the power of human accomplishment. The Constitution, in letter and in spirit, from the first line to the last, looks solely to a voluntary association of co-equal commonwealths. There is no point in the whole instrument so jealously guarded, so fenced in by precaution on precaution as the absolute equality of the States, and it is utterly impossible, in accordance with its provisions, to discriminate between them, to lay down one law for Massachusetts and another for South Carolina; to retain New York by consent and Georgia by constraint; to govern Ohio by the ballot and Mississippi by the bayonet. Once embarked in the essentially unconstitutional enterprise of coercion, day by day and hour by hour, such insuperable obstacles arose in the way of prosecuting it within the limits imposed by the Constitution, that human ingenuity strained and tortured in vain, at length, in sheer despair, abandoned the hopeless attempt. Of what avail laboriously and painfully to dispose of one constitutional difficulty by skilful evasion, and of another by forced construction, merely to find oneself immediately confronted by another, and another, and another, in endless succession? The process could not go on indefinitely; from the beginning it was apparent that, sooner or later, it lust inevitably break down. All the subtlety displayed by the ingenious brothers of Swift's famous satire in affixing to their father's will a meaning directly opposed to its obvious intent, would hardly suffice to wrest the organic law of the Union so far from the purpose of its framers as to render it applicable to a condition in which one portion of the States are invaded, subjugated and governed as military districts by the other portion. So manifest, indeed, was this that the Congress at Washington, impelled by an unacknowledged, but not the less imperative sense of it, felt constrained, while in the very act of prosecuting a war as distinctly one of conquest as that which Xerxes waged against Greece, or Edward


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