Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

the confederacy is declared to be " the United States of America." It was with reference to the old articles of confederation, and to preserve the identity and established individuality of their character, that the preamble to this constitution, not content, simply, with declaring that it is “ we the people of the United States,” who enter into this compact, adds that it is for 6 the United States of America.” Concerning the territory contemplated by the people of the United States, in these general terms, there can be no dispute; it is settled by the treaty of peace, and included within the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Croix, the lakes; and more precisely, so far as relates to the frontier, having relation to the present argument, within “ a line to be drawn through the middle of the river Mississippi, until it intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, thence within a line drawn due east on this degree of latitude to the river Apalachicola, thence along the middle of this river to its junction with the Flint river, thence strait to the head of the St. Mary's river, and thence down the St Mary's to the Atlantic ocean.'

I have been thus particular to draw the minds of gentlemen, distinctly, to the meaning of the terms used in the preamble; to the extent, which “ the United States” then included; and to the fact, that neither New Orleans, nor Louisiana, was within the comprehension of the terms of this instrument. It is sufficient for the present branch of my argument to say, that there is nothing, in the general nature of this compact, from which the power, contemplated to be exercised in this bill, results. On the contrary, as the introduction of a new associate in political power implies, necessarily, a new division of power, and consequent diminution of the relative proportion of the former proprietors of it, there can, certainly, be nothing more obvious, than that from the general nature of the inArument no power can result to diminish and give away, to strangers, any proportion of the rights of the

[ocr errors]

original partners. If such a power exist, it must be found, then, in the particular provisions in the constitution. The question now arising is, in which of these provisions is given the power to admit new states, to be created in territories, beyond the limits of the old United States. If it exist anywhere, it is either in the third section of the fourth article of the constitution, or in the treaty-making power. If it result from neither of these, it is not pretended to be found anywhere else.

That part of the third section of the fourth article, on which the advocates of this bill rely, is the following: “ New states may be admitted, by the Congress, into this union; but no new state shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state, nor any state be formed by the junction of two, or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned, as well as of the Congress."

I know, Mr. Speaker, that the first clause of this paragraph has been read, with all the superciliousness of a grammarian's triumph—“ New states may be admitted, by the Congress, into this union”—accompanied with this most consequential inquiry : “ Is not this a new state to be admitted ? And is not here an express authority ?” I have no doubt this is a full and satisfactory argument to every one, who is content with the mere colors and superfices of things. And if we were now at the bar of some stall-fed justice, the inquiry would insure victory to the maker of it, to the manifest delight of the constables and suitors of his court. But, sir, we are now before the tribunal of the whole American people; reasoning concerning their liberties, their rights, their constitution. These are not to be made the victims of the inevitable obscurity of general terms; nor the sport of verbal criticism. The question is concerning the intent of the American people, the proprietors of the old United States, wher they agreed to this article. Dictionaries and spelling

books are, here, of no authority. Neither Johnson, nor Walker, nor Webster, nor Dilworth, has any voice in this matter. Sir, the question concerns the proportion of power, reserved, by this constitution, to every state in this union. Have the three branches of this government a right, at will, to weaken and outweigh the influence, respectively secured to each state in this compact, by introducing, at pleasure, new partners, situate beyond the old limits of the United States ? The question has not relation merely to New Orleans. The great objection is to the principle of the bill. If this principle be admitted, the whole space of Louisiana, greater, it is said, than the entire extent of the old United States, will be a mighty theatre, in which this government assumes the right of exercising this unparalleled power.

And it will be; there is no concealment, it is intended to be exercised. Nor will it stop, until the very name and nature of the old partners be overwhelmed by new comers into the confederacy. Sir, the question goes to the very root of the power and influence of the present members of this union. The real intent of this article, is, therefore, an inquiry of most serious import ; and is to be settled only by a recurrence to the known history and known relations of this people and their constitution. These, I maintain, support this position, that the terms a new states, in this article, do intend new political sovereignties, to be formed within the original limits of the United States; and do not intend new political sovereignties, with territorial annexations, to be created without the original limits of the United States. I undertake to support both branches of this position to the satisfaction of the people of these United States. As to any expectation of conviction on this floor, 1 know the nature of the ground; and how hopeless any arguments are, which thwart a concerted course of measures.

I recur, in the first place, to the evidence of history. This furnishes the following leading fact; that before, and at the time of, the adoption of this constitution,

54

VOL. II.

the creation of new political sovereignties, within the limits of the old United States, was contemplated. Among the records of the old Congress, will be found a resolution, passed as long ago as the 10th of October, 1780, contemplating the cession of unappropriated lands to the United States, accompanied by a provision, “ that they shall be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States, and be settled and formed into distinct republican states, which shall become members of the federal union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence, as the other states." Afterwards, on the 7th of July, 1786, the subject of " laying out and forming into states," the country lying northwest of the river Ohio, came under the consideration of the same body; and another resolution was passed, recommending to the legislature of Virginia to revise their act of cession, so as to permit a more eligible division of that portion of territory, derived from her; " which states," it proceeds to declare, " shall hereafter become members of the federal union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence as the original states, in conformity with the resolution of Congress of the 10th of October, · 1780.” All the territories, to which these resolutions had reference, were, undeniably, within the ancient limits of the United States. Here, then, is a leading fact, that the article, in the constitution, had a condition of things, notorious at the time when it was adopted, upon which it was to act, and to meet the exigency, resulting from which, such an article was requisite. That is to say, new states, within the limits of the old United States, were contemplated at the time when the foundations of the constitution were laid. But we have another authority upon this point, which is, in truth, a contemporaneous exposition of this article of the constitution. I allude to the resolution passed on the 3d of July, 1788, in the words following.

[Here Mr. Quincy read the resolution.] In this resolution of the old Congress, it is expressly declared, that the constitution of the United States, having been adopted by nine states, an act of the old Congress could have no effect to make Kentucky a separate member of the union, and that, although they thought it expedient that it should so be admitted, yet that this could only be done under the provisions made in the new constitution. It is impossible to have a more direct contemporaneous evidence that the case, contemplated in this article, was that of territories, within the limits of the old United States; yet the gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr. Macon, for whose integrity and independence I have very great respect, told us the other day, that " if this article had not territories without the limits of the old United States to act upon, it would be wholly without meaning. Because the ordinance of the old Congress had secured the right to the states within the old United States, and a provision for that object, in the new constitution, was wholly unnecessary. Now, I will appeal to the gentleman's own candor, if the very reverse of the conclusion he draws, is not the true one; after he has considered the following fact—that by this ordinance of the old Congress, it was declared, that the boundaries of the contemplated states, and the terms of their admission, should be, in certain particulars, specified in the ordinance, subject to the control of Congress. Now, as by the new constitution the Old Congress was about to be annihilated, it was absolutely

necessary for the very fulfilment of this ordinance, that the new constitution should have this power for the admission of new states, within the ancient limits; so that the ordinance of the old Congress, far from showing the inutility of such a provision for the territories within the ancient limits, expressly proves the reverse; and is an evidence of its necessity to effect the object of the ordinance itself.

I think there can be no more satisfactory evidence adduced, or required, of the first part of the position, that the terms a new states," did intend new political sovereignties within the limits of the old United States.

« PředchozíPokračovat »