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which are past. Having constituted the Government, and declared its powers, the people have further said that since somebody must decide on the extent of these powers, the Government shall itself decide, subject always, like other popular Governments, to its responsibility to the people. And now, sir, I repeat, how is it that a State Legislature acquires any power to interfere? Who or what gives them the right to say to the people, “We who are your agents and servants for one purpose, will undertake to decide that your other agents and servants, appointed by you for another purpose, have transcended the authority you gave them!” The reply would be, I think, not impertinent, “Who made you a judge over another's servants? To their own masters they stand or fall.”

Sir, I deny this power of State Legislatures altogether. It cannot stand the test of examination. Gentlemen may say that in an extreme case a State Government may protect the people from intolerable oppression. Sir, in such a case the people might protect themselves without the aid of State Governments. Such a case warrants revolution. It must make, when it comes, a law for itself. A nullifying act of a State Legislature cannot alter the case, nor make resistance any more lawful. In maintaining these sentiments, sir, I am but asserting the rights of the people. I state what they have declared, and insist on their right to declare it. They have chosen to repose this power in the General Government, and I think it my duty to support it like other constitutional powers.

For myself, sir, I do not admit the competency of South Carolina or any other State to prescribe my constitutional duty, or to settle, between me and the people, the validity of laws of Congress for which I have voted. I decline her umpirage. I have not sworn to support the Constitution according to her construction of the clauses. I have not

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stipulated by my oath of office or otherwise to come under any responsibility, except to the people, and those whom they have appointed to pass upon the question, whether laws, supported by my votes, conform to the Constitution of the country. And, sir, if we look to the general nature of the case, could anything have been more preposterous than to make a Government for the whole Union, and yet leave its power subject, not to one interpretation, but to thirteen or twenty-four interpretations? Instead of one tribunal, established by all, responsible to all, with power to decide for all, shall constitutional questions be left to four-andtwenty popular bodies, each at liberty to decide for itself, and none bound to respect the decisions of others; and each at liberty, too, to give a new Constitution on every new election of its own members? Would anything, with such a principle in it, or rather with such a destitution of all principle, be fit to be called a Government? No, sir. It should not be denominated a Constitution. It should be called, rather, a collection of topics for everlasting controversy; heads of debate for a disputatious people. It would not be a Government. It would not be adequate to any practical good, or fit for any country to live under.

To avoid all possibility of being misunderstood, allow me to repeat again in the fullest manner that I claim no powers for the Government by forced or unfair construction. I admit that it is a Government of strictly limited powers; of enumerated, specified, and particularized powers; and that whatsoever is not granted is withheld. But notwithstanding all this, and however the grant of powers may be expressed, its limit and extent may yet, in some cases, admit of doubt; and the General Government would be good for nothing, it would be incapable of long existing, if some mode had not been provided in which those doubts as they should arise might be peaceably but authoritatively solved....

The honorable gentleman argues that if this Government be the sole judge of the extent of its own powers, whether that right of judging be in Congress or the Supreme Court, it equally subverts State sovereignty. This the gentleman sees, or thinks he sees, although he cannot perceive how the right of judging in this matter, if left to the exercise of the State Legislatures, has any tendencies to subvert the Government of the Union. The gentleman's opinion may be that the right ought not to have been lodged with the General Government; he may like better such a Constitution as we should have under the right of State interference; but I ask him to meet me on the plain matter of fact. I ask him to meet me on the Constitution itself. I ask him if the power is not found there, clearly and visibly found there?

But, sir, what is this danger, and what are the grounds of it? Let it be remembered that the Constitution of the United States is not unalterable. It is to continue in its present form no longer than the people who established it shall choose to continue it. If they shall become convinced that they have made an injudicious or inexpedient partition and distribution of power between the State Governments and the General Government, they can alter that distribution at will.

If anything be found in the National Constitution, either by original provision or subsequent interpretation, which ought not to be in it, the people know how to get rid of it. If any construction, unacceptable to them, be established so as to become practically a part of the Constitution, they will amend it at their own sovereign pleasure. But while people choose to maintain it as it is, while they are satisfied with it, and refuse to change it, who has given, or who can give, to the Legislature a right to alter it, either by interference, construction, or otherwise? Gentlemen do not seem to recollect that the people have any power to do anything for themselves. They imagine there is no safety for them any longer than they are under the close guardianship of the State Legislatures. Sir, the people have not trusted their safety, in regard to the general Constitution, to these hands. They have required other security, and taken other bonds. They have chosen to trust themselves, first, to the plain words of the instrument, and to such construction as the Government themselves, in doubtful cases, should put on their powers, under their oaths of office, and subject to their responsibility to them, just as the people of a State trust their own Governments with a similar power. Second, they have reposed their trust in the efficacy of frequent elections, and in their own power to remove their own servants and agents whenever they see cause. Third, they have reposed trust in the judicial power, which, in order that it might be trustworthy, they have made as respectable, as disinterested, and as independent as was practicable. Fourth, they have seen fit to rely, in case of necessity, or high expediency, on their known and admitted power to alter or amend the Constitution, peaceably and quietly, whenever experience shall point out defects or imperfections. And, finally, the people of the United States have at no time, in no way, directly or indirectly, authorized any State Legislature to construe or interpret their high instrument of government, much less to interfere, by their own power, to arrest its course and operation.

If, sir, the people in these respects had done otherwise than they have done, their Constitution could neither have been preserved, nor would it have been worth preserving. And if its plain provisions shall now be disregarded, and these new doctrines interpolated in it, it will become as feeble and helpless a being as its enemies, whether early or more recent, could possibly desire. It will exist in every State

but as a poor dependent on State permission. It must borrow leave to be; and will be, no longer than State pleasure, or indiscretion, sees fit to grant the indulgence, and to prolong its poor existence.

But, sir, although there are fears, there are hopes also. The people have preserved this, their own Constitution, for forty years, and have seen their happiness, prosperity, and renown grow with its growth, and strengthen with its strength. They are now, generally, strongly attached to it. Overthrown by direct assault, it cannot be; evaded, undermined, NULLIFIED, it will not be, if we, and those who shall succeed us here, as agents and representatives of the people, shall conscientiously and vigilantly discharge the two great branches of our public trust, faithfully to preserve and wisely to administer it.

Mr. President, I have thus stated the reasons of my dissent to the doctrines which have been advanced and maintained. I am conscious of having detained you and the Senate much too long. I was drawn into the debate with no previous deliberation, such as is suited to the discussion of so grave and important a subject. But it is a subject of which my heart is full, and I have not been willing to suppress the utterance of its spontaneous sentiments. I cannot, even now, persuade myself to relinquish it without expressing once more my deep conviction that since it respects nothing less than the Union of the States, it is of most vital and essential importance to the public happiness. I profess, sir, in my career hitherto to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of the whole country, and the preservation of our Federal Union. It is to that Union we owe our safety at home, and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that Union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our country. The Union we reached only by the discipline of our virtues in the

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