Imatges de pÓgina


any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince, or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them."

The previous and more numerous amendments were proposed by some of the states as conditions of their accession to the Constitution. They all operate as general restrictions upon the powers of Congress, are, for the most part, affirmative either of the inalienable rights of individuals, or of the civil and political rights and privileges substituted in their stead, as explained in our review of the fundamental principles of the government; and they were manifestly adopted from superabundant caution, inasmuch as those rights were already sufficiently guarded by the state constitutions and bills of rights. The following, however, may be enumerated as exceptions, viz. :

Ist. That which prohibits Congress from making any law respecting a religious establishment, prohibiting the free exercise of religious worship, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.

2d. That “the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” And,

3d. That “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

The second of these amendments was intended to prevent any perverse or ingenious misapplication of the maxim that “ an affirmation in particular cases implies a negation in all others.” The one last specified is merely an affirmation of a necessary rule for the interpretation of the Constitution; which, being an

instrument of limited and enumerated powers, what is not conferred by it is withheld, and retained by the state governments, if vested in them by their constitutions,

and if not so vested, remains with the people, as a part of their residuary sovereignty. This amendment, however, does not confine the Federal Govern. ment to the exercise of express powers; for implied powers must necessarily have been admitted, unless the Constitution had descended to the regulation of the minutest details of legislation. It is a general principle, that all bodies politic possess all the powers incident to a corporate capacity, without any express declaration to that effect; and one of those defects of the Confederation which led to its abolition,. was its prohibiting Congress from the exercise of any power "not expressly delegated."

It could never, therefore, have been intended by the amendment in question to abridge any of the powers granted under the new Constitution, whether express or implied, direct or incidental. Its manifest and sole design was to exclude any interpretation by which other powers should be assumed beyond those granted. All the powers granted by the Constitution, whether express or implied, direct or incidental, are left by the amendment in their original state, while all powers “not delegated" (not all powers “not expressly delegated") and not prohibited are reserved.

In these, and all the other restrictions on the legislative powers of the Union, the two great objects were to secure the rights of the people, and to preserve the Federal system.




The fifth class of provisions in favour of the Federal authority consists of restrictions on the powers of the several states. These may be distinguished by their character as two sorts: the first comprehending those limitations which are absolute; and the second, such as are qualified.

I. The former prohibit any state from entering into any treaty of alliance or confederation; from granting letters of marque and reprisal; from coining money, emitting bills of credit

, or making any. thing but gold or silver coin a tender in payment of debts; from passing any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts; and from granting any title of nobility.

1st. The prohibition against treaties, alliances, and confederations was contained in the articles of the former union of the states, and copied in the new Constitution. If every state were at liberty to enter into treaties, alliances, and confederacies with foreign states, or with other members of the Union, the power confided to the National Government in regard to the former would be rendered nugatory, while the Constitution itself might be subverted by the exercise of such a power among the states.

The prohibition of letters of marque and reprisal was also a part of the old system, and adopted, but with some extension, in the new. According to the former, they might be granted by the states, after a declaration of war by Congress; under the latter, they must be obtained, as well during the war as previously to its declaration, from the General Government. This alteration is fully justified by the advantages of uniformity, in all points relating to foreign powers; and by the necessity of an immediate responsibility to the nation, in all matters in which the nation itself is responsible to others. Moreover, were it otherwise, it would be in the power of a single state to involve the whole Union in war, at its pleasure; and although the issuing of letters of marque is not always designed as a preliminary or provocative to war, yet, in its essence, it is a measure of hostile retaliation for unredressed grievances, real or supposed, and is most generally succeeded by open hostilities,

2d. The prohibition of the states to coin money was necessary to give complete effect to the power of the Union in relation to the current coin, and arose from a consideration of the danger and facility of circulating base or spurious coins, where the coins are various in value and denomination, and issued by several independent and irresponsible authorities Under the Confederation, it was left in the hands of the states as a concurrent right, with an exception in favour of the exclusive right of Congress to regulate the alloy and the value. In this particular, these two provisions have been found to be an improvement on the old; for while the alloy and the value depended on the General Government, a right of coinage in the individual states could have no other effect than to multiply expensive mints, and diversify the forms and weights of the coins in circulation. The latter measure was found to defeat the purposes for which the power was originally submitted to the Federal authority; and so far as the former might prevent the easy remittance of gold and silver to the central mint for recoinage, the end can be as well attained by local mints established by the General Government in particular states. But the general substitution of a paper medium for a metallic currency obviates the objection entirely, and gives, therefore, greater importance to the extension of the

prohibition to bills of credit.

The loss which this country had sustained between the war of the Revolution and the adoption of the Federal Constitution, from the fatal effects of paper money on public and private confidence, on the industry and morals of the people, the national reputation, and the character of Republicanism itself, could be redeemed in no other way than by the voluntary surrender by the several states of the power which had been rendered the instrument of such profligate and destructive mischief. In addition to these considerations, the same reasons which evince the necessity of denying to the individual states the power of regulating the coin, apply with equal force to inhibit them from substituting a paper medium in its place. Were every state at liberty to regulate the value of its metallic currency, there would be as many different currencies as states; and thus the commercial intercourse between them would be em barrassed and impeded; retrospective alterations of the value of its coin might be made by any state, in fraud not only of its own citizens, and those of other states, but of foreigners, which would not merely interrupt the harmony among the states, and engender animosities between them, but discredit and compromise the Union with foreign nations, by the indiscretion or profligacy of a single state. Nor are these mischiefs less incident to a power in the states to emit bills of credit than to coin money; and the power to make anything but gold or silver coin a tender in pay

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