Imatges de pàgina

has rendered the Government of the United States, in its several departments, the judge of its own powers; and that the Supreme Court, in order to preserve uniformity in the interpretation and administration of the laws of the Union, must be the ultimate tribunal to decide in the last resort upon them, in all cases of a constitutional nature which arise in a suit at law or equity, either in the Federal or State Courts. The early legislation of Congress, the Judiciary Act of 1789, and the whole course of judicial decisions since that period, concur in proving that there is, in fact and in truth, a supreme law, and a final interpreter of the Constitution, created by the Constitution itself, to the exclusion of the authority and jurisdiction of the several states. A state, therefore, hav. ing no power to interpret the Constitution finally for itself, cannot secede from the Union without adopting a proceeding essentially revolutionary in its character; and every attempt by a state to abrogate or nullify a law of Congress is not only a usurpation of the powers of the National Government, but of the rights of the other states; for if the states, as such, have equal rights in matters concerning the whole, then for one state to set up its judgment against that of the others, and to insist on executing its own judgment by force, is a manifest usurpation upon the rights of all the rest; and if that be revolutionary which arrests the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the General Government in their course, dispenses with existing oaths, dissolves the obligations of allegiance to the supreme authority of the Union, and elevates another power in its place, then are nullification and secession, in character and principle, equally revolutionary.

\ I have now completed the proposed examination of the powers vested in the General Government, as well as of its fundamental principles and organization. And I trust it has abundantly and satisfactorily appeared, 1. That all the powers requisite to secure the objects of National Union are vested in the Federal Government, while those only which are not essential to that object are reserved to the states, or to the people. 2. That this National Government, though limited in its powers to national objects, is supreme in the exercise of those powers, whether exclusive or concurrent, express or implied ; and that, whenever any of these powers come into collision with the concurrent or independent powers of the states, the state authority, which is subordinate, must yield to that of the nation, which is supreme. 3. That this Constitution, the laws made in pursuance of it, and treaties existing under its authority, are the supreme law of the land, and, both from the nature of the case, and the provisions of the Constitution, the National Legislature must judge of and interpret the supreme law, as often as it exercises its legislative functions; that the chief executive magistrate of the Union, in like manner, possesses the right of judging of the nature and extent of his political authority; and that, in all cases assuming the character of a suit in law or equity, the supreme judicial tribunal of the Union is the final interpreter of the Constitution. 4. That no state authority has power to dissolve the relations between the Government of the United States and the people of the several states, and that, consequently, no state has a right to secede from the Union, except under such circumstances as

would justify a revolution ; and that an attempt by any state to abrogate or annul an act of the National Legislature is a direct usurpation of the powers of the General Government, an infringement of the rights of all the other states, and a violation of the paramount obligation of its members to support and obey the Federal Constitution.

In this exposition, it has, I trust, been rendered also manifest, that unless such were the nature and principles of that Constitution, it would never have accomplished, as it has most effectually and happily, the great ends for which it was ordained, nor delivered the people of this country from the evils they had experienced under the Confederation. I trust, too, that, in reviewing this system of government in its practical operation and results, you will have perceived that we have abundant cause of gratitude to Heaven, not only for defending us from those former evils, which must necessarily have increased under a mere alliance between the states, but for bestowing on us, in their stead, those blessings of liber. ty, law, order, peace, and prosperity, which, under Providence, the present Constitution has secured to the present generation and promises to posterity. And, finally, I trust, most confidently, that you will not hesitate to join with me in earnest and devout prayer to the Supreme Ruler of the universe that our National Government, as established by this Constitution, and the happiness hitherto enjoyed under it, may stand as fast and endure as long as the vast continent over which it seems destined to extend its influence

or its sway.


A, p. 29.

In Congress, July 4, 1776. When, in the course of human events, it becomes neces sary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, ovinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King o, Great Britain is a history of repeated inju.


ries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained ; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the Legislature; a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners ; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refu. sing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependant on his will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers, to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our

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