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JAN. 2, 1837.]
trine contained in the preamble, the gentleman was unquestionably in error. He, however, agreed with the Senator that Michigan ought to be admitted into the Union; his mind had undergone no change on this point, for he was of the same opinion at the last session of Congress; he was opposed to the principle contained in the third section of the act for her admission at the time of its passage, though he said nothing on the floor of the Senate on the subject. He at that time considered this third section not only as unnecessary as it respected the -rights of Ohio, but as unconstitutional and dangerous, and as requiring of the people of Michigan an act nugatory in itself, and humiliating in its consequences. He was anxious then, he was anxious now, that Michigan should be admitted without having any restriction or condition whatever imposed on her. He thought then, as he found the fact now, that the people of Michigan would view this provision, o their assent to the law of Congress, as an act of supererogation, and one which the authority of the constitution did not warrant, and did not reach; and he had found both conventions which had lately been held in Michigan concur on this head, for both had denied the power of Congress to require the assent which had been required in the third section of the act for their admission; nor did they submit or agree to give it as a matter of right, but as matter of obedience only, and to prove to the country their love and attachment to the Union. Whenever Michigan shall be admitted, it ought to be on that high and elevated ground on which she desires to stand: a repeal of the third section of the act of last session. On this ground, Mr. M. said, he wished most ardently to place her citizens; and the passage of the bill without the preamble would accomplish that object; for he believed that it was a well-settled principle, that, if the provisions of an act passed by the Legislature be repugnant to the provisions of a former act, the former act is repealed without any express words being used for that purpose. This, then, was his first, though most inconsiderable, reason, for wishing to strike out the preamble; for, if his doctrine was true, as he verily believed it was, the passage of the act itself, without the lumber and encumbrance of the preamble, would fairly and honorably admit the State o Michigan at once. He had understood the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. CALhou N] to say that, if both the Senators from Ohio were satisfied as to the northern boundary line of that State, he would have no objection to give his assent to the bill, provided the preamble was stricken out, after this declaration. If that were done, as he (Mr. M.) hoped it would be, he had but little doubt of the unanimous vote of the Senate in favor of the admission; he could not possibly see any quarter from which objections would be made to it. Gentlemen had argued as if there was a party here who wished to keep Michigan out of the Union; he was not one of those; and whatever gentlemen might say in argument, he did not suppose a single member harbored such a wish, but all were anxious for her admission the first moment it could be done without a violation of constitutional duty, of principle, or of law. Although it has been attempted to be impressed upon the Senate that the controversy which had existed between Ohio and Michigan, with regard to boundary, was one reason why the delegation from that State were opposed to the bill, he begged leave to undeceive gentlemen on this point, by assuring them that was not the case; the course which Ohio had marked out for herself in that controversy had proved itself to be the correct one. Congress, by their act of the last session, had given consent to the constitutional boundary of that State, and it had now become satisfactory as well as obligatory on all parties; and thus the encumbrance which for so many years had been thrown over the title of Ohio by the act
of Congress of 1805, establishing the Territory of Michigan, had been withdrawn; and the moment this was done, the jurisdiction of Ohio over the disputed territory was complete. It is, then, by virtue of the constitution of the State that Ohio has taken jurisdiction over that portion of country; we cannot for a moment admit the idea that Congress has given us any power to do so. Congress has only recognised the validity of our claim, and removed the difficulty the act of 1805 had created. He, therefore, as one of the Senators from Ohio, was perfectly satisfied that the State of Michigan should be admitted without any reference to the Ohio boundary whatever. On this question doubts no longer remain, as it respects Ohio; and he felt strongly disposed to remove from the people of Michigan the now unnecessary and humiliating condition which had been imposed on them, which condition, he thought, in point of sound policy, was never required, nor did he believe that Congress rightfully possessed the power to impose it. But, sir, (said Mr. M.,) the view which I have so far taken on this subject is a very important one, indeed, when compared with the broad and dangerous principle contained in the preamble before us. He had for many years occupied some humble station in public life; had been somewhat acquainted with the legislation of the country; that branch, more than any other, had occupied his attention; and he could say, in the most perfect sincerity, and with a clear conscience, that he never had heard, nor had he ever expected to hear, doctrines such as were recognised in the preamble to the bill, and such as had been openly and clearly avowed in the Senate on the present occasion, and in support of the preamble now under discussion. The facts, as stated by the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. CALhou N,) with regard to the proceedings in Michigan, have often been repeated on this floor; they are well known, and need not be again detailed. Congress has recognised, even by the act of the 15th June, 1836, Michigan as a State; in the third section of that act she is no less than four times spoken of as a State. It is the State of Michigan, and not the people of the country, as abstract from the sovereignty of the State, that can rightfully respond to the law of Congress; and it is only the voice of the people of the State, collected and expressed as a State, that ought to be received as creating any obligation on the part of congress, or indeed any obligation upon the State herself. But, sir, what are we to understand by this word “State?” Do we mean an organized, or do we mean an unorganized, community? Do we mean a country governed by known and established laws, or do we mean one where the law shall never be known but when expressed by the public voice, through the medium of county conventious, or by an assemblage of the people
at one particular place? If by the word “State,” or the
expression, “people of the State,” we mean, as I contend is the only correct meaning, an organized community, a people who have associated together and provided, for the safety and security of all, written constitutions and laws, and also provided for the exercise of its sovereignty through the instrumentality of constituted tribunals, or a Government of any other known and established character, if this be the case, then he contended that a State had but one mode, and one medium, through which it could express its opinions or exercise its pow: er; and that, in pursuance of its own constitution and laws, a State can be known or recognised under no other character; and, to use a figurative expression, it can neither think, speak, nor act, in any other way. well, sir, (said Mr. M.,) what are the few facts to which this doctrine can be applied in the present case? The sovereign, but it would probably be more appropriate to say the physical or numerical, power of the people of SENATE.]
.Admission of Michigan.
[JAN. 2, 1837.
Michigan, exercised in their primary assemblies, without the authority of any law of the State, and not only without the sanction of any constitutional provision, but in direct contravention of constitution and law, and by mere numerical strength, evidenced by a plurality of votes, have understood her to give the assent of the State to an act of Congress, which is to remain obligatory upon the State in all time to come, and which the regular constituted authorities of the State have no power to control, and which the people themselves, according to the provisions of their own constitution, can never alter, abridge, or amend; and it is the assent thus given that we are now so emphatically called upon to receive as the constitutional and legitimate will of the State. Sir, (said, Mr. M.,) I cannot consent thus to humble any one of the sovereign States of this Union. Let it be constantly borne in mind, that there have been two conventions assembled in Michigan, for the purpose of considering, or assenting to, the act of Congress. The convention which first met was in pursuance of a law of the State specially passed for that purpose; that it was elected and organized according to the provisions of that law; that this convention dissented from the proposition of Congress, or rather did not consent thereto; that subsequent to this decision it was that the people met in their primary assemblies, and the result was that another convention was had. The documents furnished the Senate inform us that in two counties no elections were beld, and, of course, those counties were not represented in this latter convention, the president of which, in a communication to the President of the United States, says that “the convention originated through primary meetings of the citizens of the several counties, in ample time to afford notice to the whole State; pursuant thereto, elections, kept open for two days, on the 5th and 6th instant, (December,) have been held in all the counties except Monroe and Macomb.” This (Mr. M. said) was a relation of facts and circumstances to him entirely inexplicable; no time is mentioned as to the notice given, nor what kind of notice was thought necessary, or how the same was promulgated. This, as it appears to us, was mere matter of opinion, and might, in Michigan, depend very much on party views and party purposes. But the great principle, and, indeed, the argument, does not depend on these minor considerations; the question is, will Congress recognise as valid, constitutional, and obligatory, without the color of a law of Michigan to sustain it, an act done by the people of that State in their primary assemblies, and acknowledge that act as obligatory on the constituted authorities and Legislature of the State? Are we prepared to subject all State power and State authority to the test of this principle? Our answer not only concerns Michigan, but ought, and, I trust, will be examined into by every State in the Union; and although Michigan at this moment may be the scapegoat to bear off this power into the Western wilderness, yet it may and can be found convenient to apply it to other States. Are we prepared for this application? Is the great question now about to be decided? I would most seriously call upon all Staterights men to look well to this matter. Do you love and venerate your own constitution and laws, the only guar: antee you have for all your personal, social, and political rights? Are you willing to subject them all to this tre. mendous power? Congress may have a favorite measure to accomplish, which may come in collision with state power. How easy to overcome this power, by doing what is now claimed to be right in Michigan; pass an act requiring the people of the State to give their assent to it, or permitting them, if you please, to do so; send amongst them your agents and emissaries, to induce calls for Primary assemblies, to hold a convention to suit your views; obtain the act of assent by such convention,
and your whole purpose is answered. The State is under your feet; you are the master-spirit that directs its movements; and you would have the light to call upon the executive power of the country to see that your laws were faithfully executed. Why, sir, but yesterday, and we might have looked on this picture as fancy only; but it is now fast assuming the character of fact, and we may awake to the reality before we are aware. All that has been suggested, and much more, may take place under the sanction of the broad principle now contended for. Let it not be said that we are unnecessarily alarmedyand that the argument is carried to extremes. We always test principles by the extent to which they can, consistent with themselves, be carried into effect. Suppose Congress should have a favorite project to carry through a State, say the State of South Carolina—for instance, a road or canal—which all would agree could not be done without the consent of the State, and Congress should pass an act in terms precisely those used in the act for the admission of Michigan, and the Legislature of the State should be convened to consider the proposition, or should provide for the election of a convention, who should meet and reject the same. If, after all this, some person should be found possessing influence sufficient, either with or without the patronage of this Government, to obtain a majority of the qualified electors of the State, or even the whole body of the people, both male and female, no matter how expressed, whether by convention or otherwise, would any man say that this was sufficient authority for Congress to proceed with the contemplated work? No! none would be found to avow this at once; yet to this length will the doctrine lead. Sir, the matter can be brought home to our doors in Ohio; we have had a controversy partaking of this claracter with the Bank of the United States: the Legislature of the State denied the power of Congress to authorize the bank to send a branch into the State without its consent. Suppose the charter had contained a provision that a branch might be sent into any State by the “assent of a convention of delegates, elected by the said State, for the sole purpose of giving such assent:” Suppose, sir, this had been the original charter of the bank, and a convention of delegates had been gotten up, and have forced upon the State the power of the bank, contrary to her own constitution and laws, and against the express will of the Legislature: I ask every citizen of Ohio, what would have been his opinion and feelings on a state of things of this kind? For my own part, as a
| citizen of that State, I had rather see Ohio struck at once
from the Union, than that a doctrine of this kind should be considered orthodox, and prevail in practice. We might wander for a while at large, and find a resting place; but when once swallowed up by this Government, our power of action would entirely cease. Then, indeed, would we have no Government of our own; we would be but mere automata in the hands of those who administer this Government. They would be the judges both as to the time and manner of our acting, and of the validity of the records of those acts. Would not this be the condition of the States if we adopt and maintain this dangerous principle?—a principle which admits a State into the Union without law and without record, so far as the State has any action in this case. It is true, as was observed by the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. CALHous,) that good precedents are soon forgotten, while bad ones live forever. He (Mr. M.) contended that the principle contained in the preamble to the bill was vicious in the extreme. Shall we, then, countenance it? Shall we maintain it? He trusted not. He said he was somewhat surprised, he confessed, to hear the doctrine that had been advanced by the Sena. tor from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Buchanas.) That gentle
man, if he understood him correctly, not only sustained the proceedings of the last convention in Michigan, but contended that if it had not assented, the people would have gone on, even ad infinitum, to elect conventions, until they had obtained one which would give the assent. A doctrine so latitudinarian as this, he said, he could by no means admit. It was a doctrine that unloosed all the obligation of society, and dissolved government into its original elements. In a controversy of this kind he would not fear to meet the gentleman, even in his own State, in which, as far as he knew, this doctrine had been first promulgated to the country. He would call the attention of the Senator to a public letter from the pen of a very distinguished citizen of that State; that letter had been made public, and of course was public property, and liable to public examination. The doctrine, he contended, contained in it, was revolutionary in its nature; it went to prove, as he understood it, that the right of revolution was a right inherent in the very nature of our institutions; a doctrine which he could not admit as correct, and one which went to prove that we had no stability whatever in our Government. This doctrine was broached in a State whose citizens had always proved themselves sound republicans; democratic sons of democratic fathers; and he felt highly gratified in finding that in that State this doctrine had fallen still-born from the press: it was at once rebuked by the good, sound, democratic sense of the people, and he thought had gone to the tomb of the Capulets; but he feared it was but the precursor of more extensive operations of a system which, while it flattered the pride and vanity of the people, was stealing from them every vestige of liberty, and undermining the foundation of all their social institutions. The case of Maryland had been mentioned; the plea in that case was, if he understood it correctly, that the Legislature of the State having, as some thought, neglected to adopt such measures as the wants of the people required, that the people, or rather a majority of the people, had the right, by a convention, elected without the authority of any law, to put down the whole frame of Government, and establish a new Government, with new powers and new agents, in its stead; that, in fact, the majority of the people of a State had the right to form a Government to suit their own convenience, without any regard to the rights of the mi. nority, as secured under the existing Government. This he considered the first act in the grand drama, by which he feared that public institutions, made for the safety of all, were to be abolished for the special benefit of a part; it was the mere precursor of more energetic and extensive operations. Suppose a few of the large States should be disposed to think that the Senatorial representation in Congress was unequal; that it was absurd, and derogatory to the rights of the people, that New York should have no more power in this body than Delaware; and should wish to change the present order of things. True it is that the constitution of the United States has provided that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate; but what of that? This, according to the argument we have heard, is but a subordinate right, always subject to the constitutional power of the people; let conventions be holden, elected by the people in their primary assemblies, according to mere numbers, and less than half a dozen of the most populous States would swallow up the twenty smaller ones, who now, by giving their assent to this doctrine, do homage to the larger States for their liberties, and appear willing to rely on them, and not on the constitution, as the security for their rights. It would be well that we should always remember that our fathers did not expend their blood and treasure to establish a Government resting alone upon popular breath, but one founded on written constitutions and laws for the
security of all, and in the formation of which all had an equal right to participate. But, sir, suppose all that has been urged against the facts, as they appear in this case, should be deemed insuffcient to show that the principle upon which the admission of Michigan is made to rest is founded in mistaken and erroneous views, yet he contended that there was no certain or conclusive evidence to show that the consent of the people of Michigan had ever been given, as required by the act of Congress. Who are the people of Michigan, within the meaning of that act? . Surely the qualified voters of that State, and none other; no one will contend for an opposite construction. , What evidence, then, have we that the convention which gave the assent was elected by the proper persons? None at all; for aught we know, or for aught that appears in any part of the documents furnished the Senate, there is no conclusive evidence that the people of Michigan ever did give their assent to the act of Congress., That the people of that State are desirous of being admitted into the Union he had little doubt; but insisted that certain forms were necessary before that admission could take place. The evidence furnished to prove a compliance with those forms he considered entirely incomplete and unsatisfactory. True, as the Senator from Tennessee has said, we have evidence founded on publications in newspapers, the statements of individuals, and copies of the proceedings of the convention itself; but none of these come to us under oath, or under the forms of official proceedings. The gentleman's opinion is...that evidence thus furnished ought to be considered sufficient to found an act of legislation upon. To this (he said) he agreed; but was the present a mere questio of general or local policy, to operate in future? He thought not. It was a question of a judicial character. Deciding upon the proper construction of an existing law, and the facts that were to determine the rights of citizens, under that law, we assumed here the character of judges rather than legislators; and he thought it indispensably neces: sary that at least the shadow of judicial. evidence should be preserved; and he contended that in this case even that shadow did not appear. In measures of naked policy, the argument of the gentleman might so fely be admitted, but he repudiated its application in the present case. If evidence of a higher nature exists, it is somewhat extraordinary that it has not been furnished the senate. if we are to rely exclusively on the popular vote of the people of the State, we ought to have some evidence of the votes given, and by whom. Does a single gentleman here know, by any evidence furnished, whether the persons who voted on the 5th and 6th days of December, for members to a convention, were qualified electors or not? No; not one of us has any evidence on that point. How, then, are we to judge of the validity of the vote, or the rights of the convention? None of the proceedings were authorized by a State law, and thus stamping them with the solemnity of state authority; nor have we any parol evidence, even without oath, at all satisfactory on this point. It is most extraordinary that we are not furnished with any evidence as to who the voters were that cast their votes for the election of members to the convention by whom the assent was given; and we may ask, and not without reason, who were they, or by what rule or authority their votes were collected and counted? No one here knows any thing on the subject. Sir, the history of the day informs us that the tide of emigration into the State of Michigan has for a year or two past been immense; not only citizens of the United States, but foreigners, who have reached our shores in shoals, have found their way into that part of our country. Have we any evidence that this class of men were not the persons, in a good degree, who have thus undertaken to remodel the constitution of SENATE.]
.Admission of Michigan.
[JAN. 2, 1837.
Michigan, and with it the very principles of our Gov. ernment? Was it this class of men, or any portion of them, that have undertaken to give the assent of Michigan to her boundaries, as prescribed by Congress? Have we, I repeat again, any evidence to prove that this is not the class of persons who elected the second convention? We have no such evidence. There is another view of this subject, not unworthy our notice. The election appears to have been held two days in each county, and he should be glad to be informed who it was that selected the days, and the number of days in which the election was holden. Who it was that gave the notice of the place and manner of conducting the elections. Was it proclaimed by one individual, or was it made known by an assemblage of citizens in one county to the citizens of another county 2 Did the county of A send a special messenger to the county of B, and so throughout the State; or did the people act simultaneously, by instinct or impulse? Was the voting by ballot in one county, and viva roce in another, and in a third by the holding up of hands or counting of heads? All these facts, he contended, were entirely unknown to the Senate, and yet we were called to declare, by the solemn enactment of a law, that the people of Michigan, in proper form, had given their assent to the condition imposed on them by the act of Congress. He contended that the Senate was about to establish the truth of a fact about which they had heard but little, except from public rumor, paragraphs in party newspapers, or from the statements and assertions of individuals not under the obligations of an oath. This, he thought, would be a most dangerous decision, pronounced at a very inauspicious time. The condition of the country is at this time peculiar, if not alarming. He said he felt it his duty to express his opinions honestly, as he entertained them; and he regretted much that duty seemed to require him to comment on the existing state of things. Álmost every newspaper on which he laid his hands con: tained the history of crimes almost without number, and strongly impressed upon his mind the idea that men be: gan to think it right to take the administra ion of justice into their own hands, and dispense what they believed it to be, entirely without any of the forms of law. . He had read of punishments of the highest nature being inflicted by the order of assemblies of the people, in some of the States, who had conducted their proceedings with all the formality and gravity, no doubt, that the convention of Michigan had conducted theirs. He had read, with some surprise as well as regret, advertisements in newspapers in different cities, offering for sale fine duelling pistols, and pistols for the belt and the pocket, bowie-knives, and like instruments, well calculated for the taking of human life, offered as convenient articles, necessary for the convenience or comfort of man. He had no recollection of seeing, until very lately, advertisements of this kind; and the question very naturally pressed itself upon his mind, what does all this mean? Does it not prove to us that men are endeavoring to place themselves entirely above the power of the law, and do that which they think to be right in their own eyes? He thought that it was high time for the whole constituted authorities of the country to use all proper means to circumscribe the entire action of the people within the strict limits of the law, before the restraint of law was lost sight of altogether. Recognise (said Mr M.) that the people of Michigan may, in this informal manner, dispense with the constitution and laws of their own State, and you at the same time recognise the doctrine that numerical strength alone shall have precedence in point of obligation to the most solemn legal enactments. It seemed to him there was at that moment a powerful responsibility resting on Congress, and that they ought to proceed with the most serious deliberation. He had heard for a year
or two past much said about the abuse of executive power; but, said he, we are about to change the question, and to establish here dangerous assumptions of legislative power. By the act of the 15th of June, the fact of Michigan having assented to the conditions of that act is to be ascertained by the President of the United States alone; he is made the sole judge when the assent is given, and is to make the same known by proclamation. Has he found the fact to exist? or has he issued his proclamation? No; he has done neither. He informs us that one convention, elected and convened in pursuance of a law of the State, had not given its assent. He also informs us that another convention had met, and did assent; and he further says, that if the proceedings of this latter convention had come to him in the recess of Congress, he would have issued his proclamation in consormity with the provision of the act of Congress, if he was satisfied that this convention, in all respects, had accorded with the will of the people of Michigan. The President was not satisfied that such facts existed, upon which his proclamation ought to issue, and he referred the whole proceedings to Congress; and this very reference ought to prove to us that the fact did not exist, and that Michigan had not complied with the conditions required of her; and he referred it, in order that the restrictions might be removed; but, instead of removing the restrictions, we are about to find the fact of assent. He was anxious that this question should come to an issue, and that Michigan should come into the Union, but was not willing to sacrifice any principle to attain even this desirable end. He thought it would be better for the people of Michigan themselves, and more satisfactory, if they were kept a little longer out of the Union, rather than have a principle adopted which both of her conventions had declared to be unconstitutional. He trusted, however, that the difficulties might be remedied in the way suggested by the chairman of the committee; for he understood the gentleman to say that he viewed the preamble as of little consequence, and would vote for the bill if it was stricken out; yet he would feel himself bound to retain it, although he considered it perfectly harmless and nugatory. Now, if this was the case, he hoped the gentleman, in courtesy, would at once agree to let it be stricken out by the Senate, without his vote, as he believed it to be entirely unimportant, while other gentlemen believed it involved a dangerous principle, and would compel them to vote against the bill if it was retained; and he fully believed, that if the gentleman would thus give his assent, and the obnoxious preamble was stricken out, there would not be a dissenting voice to the admission of the new State into the Union. He could see no prejudice that would result, in pursuing this course, to the boundaries of either Ohio or Indiana; their boundaries were already settled, and could not be disturbed, whether the preamble was retained or not. A great deal (said Mr. M.) has been said here about Michigan having extended her jurisdiction over part of the territory belonging to Ohio and Indiana; but if he understood the constitution of Michigan, no definite boundary was established by that instrument. It was in the preamble to the constitution it was to be found, and in that alone. It was there provided that the people inhabiting the Territory, as established by the act of Congress of 1805, formed for themselves a State Government; this he considered as creating no difficulty as it respected the question of boundary, either with Ohio or Indiana. He therefore most sincerely hoped the honorable chairman would give his assent to thus striking out the preamble, for with it he thought it impossible to vote for the bill. The honorable chairman, he said, had told us that this was not a party or political question. He agreed with him that it was not. He felt that he ought to approach
JAN. 2, 1837.] .Admission of Michigan.
it as a judge; and, so far as he was advised of the important principle involved in the case, he would endeavor to decide upon it according to the dictates of his best judgment. He trusted that no Senator would give his vote on this question under the influence of party or political feelings. However, (said Mr. M.,) we may be attached to party for the purpose of favoring political views as to future policy; yet, when we came to a question of the magnitude of the one before us, we must decide it upon higher grounds, and suffer ourselves to be influenced by the sound principles of justice only. If Michigan was not a State, when would her existence as a State commence? If she was a State at the time the act of the 15th of June last was passed, she could only speak or rather make known her will as such State, and therefore the assent of this latter convention was not her act. If, said he, we recognise her as a State, we must date her existence from the time she adopted her constitution; and if her Senators and Representative, who have been elected to Congress, are entitled to seats, then indeed was she a State to all intents and purposes from that time; and the convention which afterwards met with. out authority was in derogation of all her State rights. No gentleman, he presumed, would deny this; and yet we are about to set up the acts of certain unauthorized individuals as above the constituted authorities of the State. There was one circumstance which he deemed somewhat material, which he wished to notice. The number of delegates which composed the first convention was forty-nine, and he took it for granted that the law of Michigan prescribed this number. But the convention which gave its assent to the act of Congress was composed of seventy-two members. How happened this? Was this a movement by which certain gentlemen in the State were to be put up, and others put down? Who apportioned to one county twelve delegates, the sixth part of the whole number, while an adjoining county sent but two? Where was the power in Michigan to make this discrimination, except the legislative power? Sir, (said Mr. M.,) admit the truth of this preamble, and then the legitimate lengths to which it may be carried, and we dissolve the very elements of Government, and reduce its power to physical or numerical force. It is through anarchy that we arrive at despotism. Submit this to any State, even to Michigan herself, freed from duresse, and no one would agree to it. He was sure it never would be assented to in his own State; her people had no authority to change her political condition, even by the consent or advice of Congress, but only through their own Legislature, and in the manner and form in which they had bound themselves to each other in their own constitution. . It has been said that the first step from correct principles was taken with more difficulty than others which followed. As in morals, so in politics: if we once let go our hold on the constitution, for any purpose whatever, we may soon find it convenient to dispense with it on most if not every occasion. These (Mr. M. said) were his views on this important question, delivered, to be sure, in desultory and unconnected manner; and he thanked the Senate for their patient attention. Mr. STRANGE said he should detain the Senate but a moment or two; for, in his judgment, there was not space for much pertinent argumentation on the subject under consideration. He did not perceive the alarming consequences from the adoption of the preamble, which Presented themselves to the minds of other gentlemen;
* indeed, did he much care, except so far as it might.
Pegratifying to others to retain it, whether the preamble accompanied the bill or not. The retention of it struck him as being an exceedingly simple matter, involving no assertion either dangerous or untrue. Čongress, at the last session, passed a law constituting Mich'gan one of the States of this Union upon a particular
condition therein prescribed, and the preamble merely asserted the performance of that condition. And what was that condition? Why, that the people of Michigan should hold a convention, and agree therein to be bound by the territorial limits prescribed by Congress to that State. Have the people of Michigan complied with that condition? Has she held her convention, and given the assent required? It was pot denied, as he understood, that a convention had been holden, but the manner of holding it was objected to. He was not aware that either the common law, or any statute, prescribed any mode of assembling conventions; and no mode was prescribed in the act of Congress imposing upon Michigan the condition of holding this convention; and it was rather hard now, after she had holden her convention, to tell her that she could take nothing by it, because it had not been properly holden, although no landmarks for her guidance were laid down by the common law or statute, and Congress herself had neglected to indicate any mode in which a convention might be constituted satisfactory to herself. Michigan was left, as we are still left, to the plain dictates of common sense, that a convention was an assemblage of the people of a community, in person or by their agents or representatives, no matter how assembled; and by that plain principle of common sense she has a right to ask that she shall be tried. How was the Government under which we live put in operation, but through the action of the primary assemblages of the people?—and who has ever dared to question the propriety of that result? And is Michigan now to be told, in the absence of all law, and in the face of such examples, that there was a particular mode of action, the only legitimate and proper one? The report of the chairman of the Judiciary Committee shows that Michigan has holden a convention and given her assent, and it is not denied that a convention has been holden, and the assent thereby given; but gentlemen say it is not a legitimate convention, but do not show us what is recessary to constitute a legitimate convention. It h is been assumed, in the argument of this matter, that Michigan is a State. If so, there is nothing left, it seemed to him, either to dispute or legislate about. The Senators and Representative from that State were entitled to their seats without further action. He was not prepared to admit that she was a State. She was unquestionably once a Territory, the property of this Union, and could only rise to the dignity of a sovereign State by the consent of Congress, properly given. Congress had given this consen, but it was accompanied with certain conditions, which conditions must be performed ere the consent could take effect; and whether these corolitions had been performed was the very matter under consideration. He denied that there was any chrysal s state in which she ceased to be a Territory, and yet was not a member of this Union. The transition must necessarily be instantaneous from territorial existence to that of membership in the Union. Until she became a State she continued to be a Territory, and only ceased to be a Territory when she became a State in the Union. Her existence as a State, and her membership in the Union, were the cotemporaneous effects of one action. if he rightly understood the reason why Congress had imposed this condition upon Michigan, it was that there might be no future difficulty between her and the States of Ohio and Indiana, relative to boundary. Congress could never decide the judicial question, as to what effect any or all the circurstances should have upon the rights of the several parties. . As a matter of prudence, she might ask conditions which might, in her judgment, tend to peace, but it remained to the judicial tribunals of the country only to decide ultimately upon their regularity and effect. A rigid technical Course was, therefore, unbefitting Congress; and nothing remained for