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The views of Webster.

Daniel Webster (the great ‘expounder of the Constitution,’ as he is called), notwithstanding his famous reply to Mr. Hayne, delivered in 1830, in which he so ingeniously denied the right of a State to determine for itself when its constitutional powers were infringed, and also that the Constitution was a compact between sovereign States, and contended that the power to determine the constitutionality of the laws of Congress was lodged only in the Federal Government, in a speech delivered at Capon Springs, Virginia, in 1851, used this language:

If the South were to violate any part of the Constitution intentionally and systematically, and persist in so doing from year to year, and no remedy could be had, would the North be any longer bound by the rest of it; and if the North were deliberately, habitually and of fixed purpose to disregard one part of it, would the South be bound any longer to observe its other obligations? * * * How [176] absurd is it to suppose that when different parties enter into a compact for certain purposes, either can disregard any one provision and expect nevertheless the other to observe the rest! * * A bargain cannot be broken on one side and still bind the other.

He said in a speech delivered at Buffalo, N. Y., during the same year:

The question, fellow-citizens (and I put it to you as the real question)—the question is, Whether you and the rest of the people of the great State of New York and of all the States, will so adhere to the Union—will so enact and maintain laws to preserve that instrument—that you will not only remain in the Union yourselves, but permit your Southern brethren to remain in it and help perpetuate it.

How different is the language above quoted from Mr. Webster in his Capon Springs speech from the proposition as stated by Mr. Lincoln in his first inaugural, when he says:

One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak—but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

But, what more could be expected of Mr. Lincoln, when it is well known that he held that the relation of the States to the Union was the same as that which the counties bear to the States of which they respectively form a part?


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