or sovereignty, exerted in any mode, whether by State or people, are granted.
All executive power, too, is vested in the President
with no limitations whatever any way dependent on State authority, and all judicial power in a judiciary, in and over every variety of case involving the authority of the United States
, or the individual rights of person and property, and obligations of the United States
intended to be secured or imposed by the Constitution
, and finally these powers are all to be enforced, not on the citizen through his State, but upon the former directly.
It follows, consequently, that the offending citizen cannot rely as a defence on State power.
His responsibility is to the United States
His allegiance, his paramount allegiance, out of which the responsibility springs, as to all these powers, is to that Government alone.
His State cannot legally protect him or stand in his place.
Her prior sovereignty as to this was extinguished by the act of the people in adopting the Constitution
, never again to be resumed under that instrument.
A State or the people of a State may attempt its overthrow, but the attempt is treason if made with force, it being a “levying war against the United States
,” an act defined to be treason by the third section of the article.
But it has in these degenerate days, recently and even in Congress, and with great gravity and apparent confidence, been insisted in support of the right of secession, that as secession, in fact, places a State out of the Union
, there is no power in the General Government
to prevent it in advance, or redress it if done, because it has no powers that are not granted, and the power to make war upon a State is not granted.
Admitting for argument sake, that this is so, and that being so, no remedy exists, would this justify or excuse the act?
That the State
and her people are subject to all the obligations of the Constitution
Its legislative and all its Executive and judicial officers are in express terms bound by oath to support
This oath is not fulfilled by secession.
That intentionally, violates and destroys, instead of supporting.
She has, too, incurred under it, liabilities in common with her sisters.
These have been contracted by all and for all. Treaties are made, debts are contracted, fortifications, arsenals, a navy, navy yards, custom houses, a capitol, an executive mansion, court houses, and other public buildings, light houses, post offices, are constructed at enormous expense with the money of all for the benefit of all. Immense territory has been acquired in the same way, or by joint valor.
Does the seceding State get clear by secession of these treaties and debts?
Does she take with her any, and, if any, what interest in the public property?
That which is within the limits of the States was acquired with the consent of each, and which, under the very language of the Constitution
, not only makes it, thenceforth, the property of the United States
, but clothes them with the right of exclusive legislation over it. Thenceforth such portions of her territory ceased to be hers, and as effectually as if it never had been within her limits, and became eo instanti
--the cession — the sole territory of the United States
, and liable to their exclusive legislative power.
The State, after this, has no interest in it, except as she is a State of the Union
, and only so long as she remains within the Union
An act attended with such results to her sisters and herself, absolving her from responsibility for joint contracts, and depriving her of all interest in property and joint acquisitions, and defences necessary to her protection, finds no warrant in the Constitution
— none whatever.
It is, therefore, wrong and illegal.
Admit then that the Constitution
is so defective as to be forced to submit to it, does that prove the act right or legal?
Its illegality, its gross violation of duty, its perjured violation on the part of those who are under an oath to “support” the Constitution
, are not the less censurable and illegal because there may be no provision for its punishment.
Is there no obligation in duty?
Is morality not a virtue — immorality a crime?
Is patriotism an empty phrase?
Is treason the less treason because there is no law or tribunal competent to arrest or punish it?
Let the world judge, as it will
, the teachers of such a doctrine.
Do you doubt its judgment?
Good men may for a time lash themselves into passion, overwhelm reason, and give themselves up to the wildest license; but as Heaven is just and as opinion is enlightened, the victims of the madness of the hour will soon see the estimate which the civilized world will place upon their conduct, and shrink with remorse from its sentence.
But the Constitution
is not thus fatally impotent.
It is true that it contains no power to declare war against a State, but it has every power for the execution of the laws and the enforcement of their penalties.
It goes against the individual offender.
It makes no appeal to State power to protect it. For that end it is self-sustaining; it is its own protector.
If the State
places herself between the United States
and the offending citizen, and attempts to shield him by force of arms, it is she who declares war upon the United States
, not the United States
upon her. In such a contingency, the force used by the latter, and which they have a clear right to use, is not in attack, but in defence; not war, but the rightful vindication of rights against unjustifiable and illegal assaults.
It is further maintained that the right to secede actually exists, because although it be wrong, it is one that cannot be punished through the only legal proceeding known to the Constitution
, and for this the sixth amendment is seriously relied upon.
That provides that “in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, of the State
and district ”