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The Hartford Convention.

In 1814, the Hartford Convention was called and met in consequence of the opposition of New England to the war then pending with Great Britain. Delegates were sent to this Convention by the Legislatures of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and several counties and towns from other Northern States also sent representatives. This Convention, after deliberating with closed doors on the propriety of withdrawing the States represented in it from the Union, published an address, in which it said, among other things:

If the Union be destined to dissolution * * * it should, if possible, be the work of peaceable times and deliberate consent. * * * Whenever it shall appear that the causes are radical and permanent, a separation by equitable arrangement will be preferable to an alliance by constraint among nominal friends, but real enemies.

In 1839, Ex-President John Quincy Adams, in an address delivered by him in New York, said:

‘The indissoluble link of union between the people of the several States of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the right, but in the heart. If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other, the bonds of political association will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of consolidated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship with each other than to be held together by, constraint.’

This same man presented to Congress the first petition ever presented in that body for a dissolution of the Union.

Mr. William Rawle, a distinguished lawyer and jurist of Pennsylvania, in his work on the Constitution, says this:

‘It depends on the State itself to retain or abolish the principle of representation, because it depends on itself whether it will continue a member of the Union. To deny this right would be inconsistent with the principles on which all our political systems are [175] founded, which is that the people have in all cases a right to determine how they will be governed.’

In the case of the Bank of Augusta against Earle, 13 Peters, 590-592, it was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States the same year in which Mr. John Quincy Adams made his speech above quoted from that—

‘They are sovereign States. * * We think it well settled that by the law of comity among nations a corporation created by one sovereign is permitted to make contracts in another, and to sue in its courts, and that the same law of comity prevails among the several sovereignties of this Union.’

Shortly after the nomination of General Taylor, a petition was actually presented in the Senate of the United States, ‘asking Congress to devise means for the dissolution of the Union.’ And the votes of Messrs. Seward, Chase and Hale were recorded in favor of its reception.

In 1844, the Legislature of Massachusetts attempted to coerce the President and Congress by the use of this language:

The project of the annexation of Texas, unless arrested on the threshold, may tend to drive these States (New England) into a dissolution of the Union.


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