The view of the meaning of the constitutional compact taken by the then most rampant advocates of loose construction of the Constitution
in the closing years of the last century differed widely from the interpretation that their successors chose to adopt.
, of Connecticut
, said in the Federal Convention
: “The fact is the States do exist as so many political societies, and a government is to be formed for them in their political capacity, as well as for the individuals composing them.
Does it not seem to follow that if the States, as such, are to exist, they must be armed with some power of self-defence?”
That means the right to secede.
In the same debate Mr. Ellsworth
said: ‘He turned his eyes, therefore, for the preservation of his rights to the State
and Mr. Sherman
unite in saying: ‘The powers vested in Congress go only to matters respecting the common interests of the Union
and are specially defined, so that the particular States retain their sovereignty in other matters.’
further said: ‘The Constitution does not attempt to coerce sovereign bodies—States in their political capacity.’
, the head and front of the Centralization party, himself says: ‘But how can this (military) force be exerted on the States collectively (against State authority?) It is impossible.’
Thus, and by like examples much too numerous to quote, we see the view of the limitation of the powers of the general government taken by the fathers of the republic and agreed to by their supporters and constituents.
Before the first year of this century the tendency to consolidation became so apparent that two States, at least, passed resolutions assertive of their States' rights, and as these resolutions were without opposition or contradiction, they must have embodied the currently received doctrine of their time.