Law of co-partnerships.This able writer then illustrates the compact between the States by the principles of law governing ordinary co-partnerships, just as Mr. Webster did. And he then says:
Now, if a partnership between persons is purely voluntary, and subject to the will of its members severally, how much more so is one between sovereign States? and it follows that, just as each, separately, in the exercise of its sovereign will, entered the Union, so may it separately, in the exercise of that will, withdraw therefrom. And further, the Constitution being a compact, which the States are parties “having no common judge,” “ each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress,” as declared by Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison in the celebrated resolutions of ‘98, and the right of secession irresistibly follows. But aside from the doctrine either of partnership or compact, upon the ground of State sovereignty pure and simple, does the right of State secession impregnably rest. We have quoted thus fully from this writer not only because he is a Northern man, but because he has stated both the facts and the principles underlying the formation of the Union, and the rights of the States therein, with an accuracy, clearness and force, that cannot be surpassed. But again: In his life of Webster, published in 1889, Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge, from whom we have before quoted, and at this time one of the distinguished senators from Massachusetts, uses this language in speaking of Mr. Webster's reply to Mr. Hayne. He says: ‘The weak places in his (Webster's) armor were historical in their nature. It was probably necessary (at all events Mr. Webster felt it to be so) to argue that the Constitution at the outset was not a compact between the States, but a national instrument, and to distinguish the cases of Virginia and Kentucky in 1799, and of New England in 1814, front that of South Carolina in 1830. The former point he touched upon lightly; the latter he discussed ably, eloquently and at length. Unfortunately the facts wear against him in both instances.’ And in this connection, Mr. Lodge then uses this language: ‘When the Constitution was adopted by the votes of the States at Philadelphia, and accepted by the votes of the States in popular convention, it is safe to say that there was not a man in the country, from Washington and Hamilton on the one side, to George Clinton and George Mason on the other, who regarded the new system as anything but an experiment entered into by the States, and from which each and every Stale had the right peaceably to withdraw.—a right which was very likely to be exercised.’ Mr. James C. Carter, now of New York, but a native of New England, and perhaps the most distinguished lawyer in this country to-day, in a speech delivered by him at the University of Virginia, in 1898, said:
I may hazard the opinion that if the question had been made, not in 1860, but in 1788, immediately after the adoption of the Constitution, whether the Union as formed by that instrument could lawfully treat the secession of a State as rebellion, and suppress it by force, few of those who participated in forming that instrument would have answered in the affirmative.