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For it is here shown, that the creation of such states, within the territorial limits fixed by the treaty of 1783, had been contemplated; that the old Congress itself expressly asserts, that the new constitution gave the power for that object; that the nature of the old ordinance required such a power, for the purpose of carrying its provisions into effect, and that it has been, from the time of the adoption of the federal constitution unto this hour, applied exclusively to the admission of states, within the limits of the old United States, and was never attempted to be extended to any other object. Now, having shown a purpose, at the time of the adoption of the constitution of the United States, sufficient to occupy the whole scope of the terms of the article, ought not the evidence to be very strong to satisfy the mind, that the terms really intended something else besides this obvious purpose; that it may be fairly extended to the entire circle of the globe, wherever title can be obtained by purchase or conquest, and that new partners in the political power may be admitted at the mere discretion of this legislature, anywhere that it wills ? A principle, thus monstrous, is asserted in this bill.
But I think it may be made satisfactorily to appear, not only that the terms “new states," in this article, did mean political sovereignties to be formed within the original limits of the United States, as has just been shown, but, also negatively, that it did not intend new political sovereignties, with territorial annexations, to be created without those original limits. This appears, first, from the very tenor of the article. All its limitations have respect to the creation of states, within the original limits. Two states shall not be joined; no new state shall be erected within the jurisdiction of any other state, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned, as well as of Congress. Now, had foreign territories been contemplated, had the new habits, customs, manners and language of other nations been in the idea of the framers
of this constitution, would not some limitation have been devised, to guard against the abuse of a power, in its nature so enormous, and so obviously, when it occurred, calculated to excite just jealousy among the states, whose relative weight would be so essentially affected by such an infusion, at once, of a mass of foreigners into their councils, and into all the rights of the country? The want of all limitation of such power, would be a strong evidence, were others wanting, that the powers, now about to be exercised, never entered into the imagination of those thoughtful and prescient men, who constructed the fabric. But there
another most powerful argument against the extension of the terms of this article to embrace the right to create states without the original limits of the United States, deducible from the utter silence of all debates at the period of the adoption of the federal constitution, touching the power here proposed to be usurped. If ever there was a time, in which the ingenuity of the greatest men of an age was taxed to find arguments in favor of and against any political measure, it was at the time of the adoption of this constitution. All the faculties of the human mind were, on the one side and the other, put upon their utmost stretch, to find the real and imaginary blessings, or evils, likely to result from the proposed measure. Now I call upon the advocates of this bill to point out, in all the debates of that period, in any one publication, in any one pamphlet, in any one newspaper of those times, a single intimation, by friend or foe to the constitution, approving or censuring it for containing the power, here proposed to be usurped, or a single suggestion, that it might be extended to such an object, as is now proposed. I do not say, that no such suggestion was ever made. But this I will say, that I do not believe there is such an one anywhere to be found. Certain I am, I have never been able to meet the shadow of such a suggestion, and I have made no inconsiderable research upon the point. Such may
exist; but until it be produced, we have a right to reason as though it had no existence. No, sir, the
people of this country, at that day, had no idea of the territorial avidity of their successors. It was, on the contrary, an argument used against the success of the project, that the territory was too extensive for a republican form of government. But, nowadays, there is no limit to our ambitious hopes. We are about to cross the Mississippi. The Missouri and Red River are but roads, on which our imagination travels to new lands and new states, to be raised and admitted, (under the power now first usurped,) into this union, among the undiscovered lands in the west. But it has been suggested, that the convention had Canada in view, in this article, and the gentleman from North Carolina told this House, that a member of the convention, as I understood him, either now, or lately a member of the senate, informed him, that the article had that reference. Sir, I have no doubt the gentleman from North Carolina has had a communication such as he intimates. But, for myself, I have no sort of faith in these convenient recollections, suited to serve a turn, to furnish an apology for a party, or give color to a project. I do not deny, on the contrary, I believe it very probable, that, among the coursings of some discursive and craving fancy, such thoughts might be started; but that is not the question. Was this an avowed object in the convention, when it formed this article? Did it enter into the conception of the people when its principles were discussed ? Sir, it did not, it could not. The very intention would have been a disgrace both to this people and the convention. What, sir ? Shall it be intimated; shall it for a moment be admitted, that the noblest and purest band of patriots, this, or any other country, ever could boast, were engaged in machinating means for the dismemberment of the territories of a power, to which they had pledged friendship, and the observance of all the obligations, which grow out of a strict and perfect
amity? The honor of our country forbids and disdains such a suggestion.
But there is an argument stronger, even than all those which have been produced, to be drawn from the nature of the power here proposed to be exercised. Is it possible that such a power, if it had been intendo ed to be given by the people, should be left dependent upon the effect of general expressions, and such too, as were obviously applicable to another subject, to a particular exigency contemplated at the time? Sir, what is this
power, we propose now to usurp? Nothing less than a power, changing all the proportions of the weight and influence, possessed by the potent sovereignties composing this union. A stranger is to be introduced to an equal share, without their consent. Upon a principle, pretended to be deduced from the constitution, this government, after this bill passes, may and will multiply foreign partners in power, at its own mere motion; at its irresponsible pleasure; in other words, as local interests, party passions, or ambitious views may suggest. It is a power, that from its nature, never could be delegated; never was delegated; and as it breaks down all the proportions of power, guaranteed by the constitution to the states, upon which their essential security depends, utterly annihilates the moral force of this political conduct. Would this people, so wisely vigilant concerning their rights, have transferred to Congress a power to balance, at its will, the political weight of any one state, much more of all the states, by authorizing it to create new states, at its pleasure, in foreign countries, not pretended to be within the scope of the constitution, or the conception of the people at the time of passing it? This is not so much a question concerning the exercise of sovereignty, as it is who shall be sovereign -whether the proprietors of the good old United States shall manage their own affairs in their own way; or whether they, and their constitution, and their political rights, shall be trampled under foot by foreigners, introduced through a breach of the constitution. The proportion of the political weight of each sovereign state, constituting this union, depends upon the number of the states, which have a voice under the compact. This number the constitution permits us to multiply at pleasure, within the limits of the original United States; observing only the expressed limitations in the constitution. But when, in order to increase your power of augmenting this number, you pass the old limits, you are guilty of a violation of the constitution, in a fundamental point; and in one, also, which is totally inconsistent with the intent of the contract, and the safety of the states, which established the association. What is the practical difference to the old partners, whether they hold their liberties at the will of a master, or whether by admitting exterior states on an equal footing with the original states, arbiters are constituted, who, by availing themselves of the contrariety of interests and views, which in such a confederacy necessarily will arise, hold the balance among the parties, which exist and govern us, by throwing themselves into the scale most conformable to their purposes? In both cases there is an effective despotism. But the last is the more galling as we carry the chain, in the name and gait of freemen.
I have thus shown, and whether fairly, I am willing to be judged by the sound discretion of the American people, that the power, proposed to be usurped in this bill, results neither from the general nature, nor the particular provisions, of the federal constitution; and that it is a palpable violation of it in a fundamental point; whence flow all the consequences I have intimated.
But, says the gentleman from Tennessee, (Mr. Rhea,) these people have been seven years citizens of the United States.” I deny it, sir. As citizens of New Orleans, or of Louisiana, they never have been, and by the mode proposed they never will be citizens of the United States. They may be girt upon us for a moment, but no real cement can grow from such an