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term, and in relation to which there is usually no disagreement. Thus, according to the old meaning, (and which I had still supposed was its legal and constitutional meaning,) a convention of the people invariably implied a meeting of the people, either by themselves, or by delegates expressly chosen for the purpose, in their high sovereign authority, in express contradistinction to such assemblies of individuals in their private character, or having only derivative authority. It is, in a word, a meeting of the people in the majesty of their power—in that in which they may rightfully make or abolish constitutions, and put up or put down Governments at their pleasure. Such was the august conception which formerly entered the mind of every American when the terms “convention of the people” were used. But now, according to the ideas of the dominant party, as we are told on the authority of the Senator from North Carolina, it means any meeting of individuals for political purposes, and, of course, applies to the meeting at Ann Arbor, or any other, party caucus for party purposes, which the leaders choose to designate as a convention of the people. It it thus the highest authority known to our laws, and constitution is gradually sinking to the level of those meetings which regulate the operation of political parties, and through which the edicts of their leaders are announced, and their authority enforced; or, rather, to speak more correctly, the latter are gradually rising to the authority of the former. When they come to be completely confounded, when the distinction between a caucus and the convention of the people shall be completely obliterated, which the definition of the Senator, and the acts of this body on this bill, would lead us to believe is not far distant, this fair political fabric of ours, erected by the wisdom and patriotism of our ancestors, and once the gaze and admiration of the world, will topple to the ground in ruins. It has, perhaps, been too much my habit to look more to the future, and less to the present, than is wise; but such is the constitution of mind, that when I see before me the indications of causes calculated to effect important changes in our political condition, I am led irresistibly to trace them to their sources, and follow them out in their consequences. Language has been held in this discussion which is clearly revolutionary in its character and tendency, and which warns us of the approach of the period when the struggle will be between the conservatives and the destructives. I understood the Senator from Pennsylvania [Mr. Bucha NAN] as holding lan. guage countenancing the principle that the will of a mere numerical majority is paramount to the authority of law and constitution. He did not indeed announce distinctly this principle, but it might fairly be inferred from what he said; for he told us the people of a State, where the constitution gives the same weight to a small. er as to a greater number, might take the remedy into their own hand; meaning, as 1 understood him, that a mere majority might at their pleasure subvert the constitution and Government of a State, which he seemed to think was the essence of democracy. Our little State has a constitution that could not stand a day against such doctrines, and yet we glory in it as the best in the Union. It is a constitution which respects all the great inter. ests of the State, giving to each a separate and distinct voice in the management of its political affairs, by means of which the feebler interests are protected against the preponderance of the greater, we call our state a re. public, a commonwealth, not a democracy; and let me tell the Senator it is a far more popular Government than if it had been based on the simple principle of the numero! majority. It takes more voices to put the mal. chine of Government in motion, than in those that the Senator would consider more popular. It represents all the "ests of the State, and is in fact the Government
of the people, in the true sense of the term, and not that of the mere majority, or the dominant interests. I am not familiar with the constitution of Maryland, to which the Senator alluded, and cannot, therefore, speak of its structure with confidence; but I believe it to be somewhat similar in its character to our own. That it is a Government not without its excellence, we need no better proof than the fact, that though within the shadow of executive influence, it has nobly and successfully resisted all the seductions by which a corrupt and artsul administration, with almost boundless patronage, has tempted to seduce her into its ranks. Looking, then, to the approaching struggle, I take my stand immoveably. I am a conservative in its broadest and fullest sense, and such I shall ever remain, unless, indeed, the Government shall become so corrupt and disordered that nothing short of revolution can reform it. I solemnly believe that our political system is in its purity not only the best that ever was formed, but the best possible that can be devised for us. . It is the only one by which free States, so populous and wealthy, and occupying so vast an extent of territory, can preserve their liberty. Thus thinking, I cannot hope for a better. Having no hope of a better, I am a conservative; and because I am a conservative, I am a States rights man. I believe that in the rights of the States are to be found the only effectual means of checking the over-action of this Government; to resist its tendency to concentrate all power here, and to prevent a departure from the constitution; or, in case of one, to restore the Government to its original simplicity and purity. State interposition, or, to express it more fully, the right of a State to interpose her sovereign voice, as one of the parties to our constitutional compact, against the encroachments of this Government, is the only means of sufficient potency to effect all this; and I am, therefore, its advocate. I rejoiced to hear the Senators from North Carolina [Mr. Bnows] and from Pennsylvania [Mr. Bucha NAN] do us the justice to distinguish between nullification and the anarchical and revolutionary movements in Maryland and Pennsylvania. I know they did not intend, it as a compliment; but I regard it as the highest. They are right. Day and night are not more different—more unlike in every thing. They are unlike in their principles, their objects, and their consequences. . I shall not stop to make good this assertion, as I might easily do. The occasion does not call for it. As a conservative, and a States rights man, or, if you will have it, a nullifier, I have and shall resist all encroachments on the constitution, whether it be the encroachment of this Government on the States, or the opposite; the Executive on Congress, or Congress on the Executive. My creed is to hold both Governments, and all the departments of each, to their proper sphere, and to maintain the authority of the laws and the constitution against all revolutionary movements. I believe the means which our system furnishes to preserve itself are ample, if fairly understood and applied; and I shall resort to them, however corrupt and disordered the times, so long as there is hope of reforming the Government. The result is in the hands of the Disposer of events. It is my part to do my duty. Yet, while I thus openly avow myself a conservative, God forbid I should ever deny the glorious right of rebellion and revolution. Should corruption and oppression become intolerable, and cannot otherwise be thrown off; if liberty must perish, or the Government be overthrown, I would not hesitate, at the hazard of life, to resort to revolution, and to tear down a corrupt Government that could neither be reformed nor borne by freemen; but I trust in God things will never come to that pass. I trust never to see such fearful times; for fearful, indeed, they would be, if they should ever befalus. It is the last experiment, and not
to be thought of till common sense and the voice of mankind would justify the resort. Before I resume my seat, I feel called on to make a few brief remarks on a doctrine of fearful import, which has been broached in the course of this debate--the right to repeal laws granting bank charters, and, of course, of railroads, turnpikes, and joint stock companies. It is a doctrine of fearful import, and calculated to do infinite mischief. There are countless millions vested in such stocks, and it is a description of property of the most delicate character. To touch it is almost to destroy it. But, while I enter my protest against all such doctrines, I have been greatly alarmed with the thoughtless precipitancy (not to use a stronger phrase) with which the most extensive and dangerous privileges have been granted of late. It can end in no good, and, 1 fear, may be the cause of convulsions hereafter. We already feel the effects on the currency, which no one competent of judging but must see is in an unsound condition. I must say (for truth compels me) I have ever distrusted the banking system, at least in its present form, both in this country and Great Britain. It will not stand the test of time; but I trust that all shocks, or sudden revolution, may be avoided, and that it may gradually give way before some sounder and better-regulated system of credit which the growing intelligence of the age may devise. That a better may be substituted I cannot doubt, but of what it shall consist, and how it shall finally supersede the present uncertain and fluctuating currency, time alone can determine. All I can see is, that the present must, one day or another, come to an end, or be greatly modified, if that, indeed, can save it from an entire overthrow. It has within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Mr. STRANGE said he was gratified that the Senator from South Carolina had addressed the Senate; for he had a very high respect for his abilities, and, from some intimations he had casually thrown out, he was apprehensive that, in retaining the preamble, the Senate was falling into some unperceived but dangerous error. But we have now heard all that the Senator has to say upon this important subject, and he has utterly failed to convince us of error in a single proposition about which we differed. This was not for want of ability in the honor. able Senator, but was entirely owing to the cause he advocated—to his being on the wrong side of the question. The most powerful intellect can never long make head against truth. Mr. S. said he had as high a regard as the gentleman, for the institutions of their common country-admired as much the wisdom of their organization, and cherished toward them as deep an affection. He was far from believing time misspent in this body which was employed in the discussion of great constitutional questions, and was never sorry to see the talent of the Senate arrayed upon different sides of interesting propositions. The having them presented in all their various bearings and points of view, and sifted and examined with care and ability, was very friendly to the ascertainment of truth. It had been adverted to in this House that some of its members had been recently transferred hither from judicial stations in their respective states, and he had himself the honor to be among the number, and he would take the liberty of stating, as one of the results of his official experience, that the failure of an able lawyer was nearly as good evidence of the unsound** of his position, as the strength of argument brought to bear against it. by the opposing counsel; and so, on to present occasion, having listened to the unsuccessful efforts of the oble Senator from South Carolina to over. *** ** Positions he had assumed in the early part of this debate, had but inspired him with renewed confi. dence in their soundness, The Senator has in the first place assailed the pream. Vol. XIII,-20
ble to this bill on account of its inconsistency with the votes, at the last session of Congress, of its present advocates. Upon this point Mr. S. had nothing to say. Those of whom this predicament was supposed were doubtless well able to vindicate themselves; but for his part, he had not then had the honor of a seat in this body, and consequently stood entirely uncommitted to any of its doings. But it was further urged that Michigan was a State, and that those who disputed it did so in the face of a record; for that the act of Congress, passed at the last session, expressly declared her to be a State. But, said Mr. S., I still deny her to be a State, without any apprehension of being overborne by any such record as that referred to by the gentleman. If there was such an act as the one described by the Senator, he would not question its existence, nor would he indeed put him to the proof that there was such a record. But what the record would prove, when produced, was an altogether different matter; and he denied that any act of Congress, however broadly it might assert it, could prove the existence of a State under the circumstances stated in the case of Michigan; it was altogether incompetent to the proof of such a fact. Here Mr. S. took leave to remark that it was with great reluctance he had embarked so deeply in this debate; but he had been induced at an early period to state a few propositions which had been denounced as dangerous and revolutionary in their tendency. He would never venture on this floor to sate any thing as his deliberate conviction which had not been duly considered by him. He might sometimes throw out crude suggestions, with a view to draw out others, or bring their attention to the subject; but on such occasions he would always present them as mere hasty impulses of the passing moment; but when he had gone so far as to make a deliberate assertion, he trusted he should always be found ready to maintain his position. He had asserted that Michigan was not a State, and this he stood ready to prove. It is not denied that the land covered by Michigan was once the property of this Union; and it is a principle of law which he presumed no Senator would deny, that things continuous in their nature are always presumed to remain the same, unless the contrary is shown. If, then, the territory embraced in Michigan was once the property of this Union, it continues to be so until gentlemen show us the where, the when, and the how, of its cessation. They say it ceased to be so by virtue of the act of Congress of last session. I deny the authority of Congress to pass such an act. If they have passed such a one, it is a nullity. When an act of Congress comes in collision with the constitution, it comes in contact with a power which annihilates it. It is as though it had never existed. It is a dead letter. The constitution gives authority to Congress to create a State for no other purpose but admission into the Union; and whenever Čongress passes an act creating a State, without at the same time admitting it into the Union, that act is a nullity. Indeed, if the matter were res integra, if it were a new question, it might be seriously debated whether Congress can create a State, even for the purpose of admission into the Union. But I will not deny that it has been the practice to do so, and I am not now disposed to question its correctness. I had occasion heretofore to call the attention of the Senate to the only clause of the constitution relating to that subject, and defied any one to produce any other authority for Congress to create a State, or to contend that the power under that clause was any thing more than implied. [Here Mr. CALHous interrupted Mr. S., to explain himself, and said that he had not declared Congress competent to create a State, either in or out of the Union; but by withdrawing its jurisdiction from a given Territory, that Territory was then at liberty to form itselfinto a State.] SENATE.]
.Admission of Michigan. [JAN. 5, 1837.
Mr. S. said he did not think the Senator's explanation had materially varied his proposition. That there could be but little difference between creating a State out of the territory of the Union and suffering it to create itself; as in both cases Congress relinquished a trust confided to her by the Union, which she had no right to relinquish but in one special case, and that was, when by the same act she formed the State and admitted it into the Union; so that the act of Congress of the last session, not executing any power possessed by Congress, is a nullity.
But the Senator from South Carolina insists that to deny Michigan to be a State is a denial against the actual and obvious fact that Michigan is now really exercising all the powers of sovereignty: she has formed her constitution, elected her Legislature and members of Congress; and her Legislature has actually assembled, and elected her Senators to Congress. But (said Mr. S.) the question is not what Michigan has done, but what she has a right to do. Although these things, I admit, may be prima facie evidence of her legal existence as a state, they are susceptible of being met by the proof of what is, in fact, her true condition. When one is found acting sui juris, exercising all the privileges of a freeman, it may o facie evidence that he is what the performance of the act implies; but if it be susceptible of proof that he is in fact a slave, the inference no longet exists that he is free. And so in this case we show that Michigan was once subject to the United States, and demand the proof that she has ever been emancipated. In vain was the wisdom of our forefathers employed in devising plans for the happiness and perpetuity of this nation; in vain did they inculcate the doctrine of union, and repudiate the idea of separate sovereignties or multiplied confederacies, if the doctrine of the Senator from South Carolina is to prevail. If Michigan can exist as a separate State for a single hour, she may sor days and years, and might ultimately refuse to come into the Union at all. During this time she may have her own army and navy, declare war, form alliances, and do all those acts which our forefathers were so anxious to bring within the control of a power representing the common interest of all the States. The idea is too preposterous, too inconsistent with all their plans and purposes, to suppose that they contemplated it for a single moment. The whole confederacy would be in continual danger of dissolution from such a cause operating in its vicinity; and yet, according to the Senatol’s theory, there is no mode of preventing this evil, but, after we had rashly given her a separate existence, constraining her by the terror of the sword and the bayonet, or the application of them, to become an unwilling party to our national compact; a state of things which no one can suppose to have been planned by wisdom, or desirable either upon the score of interest, patriotism, or humanity. But to enforce his position, the Senator has supposed that it is necessary she should first have a separate existence ere she can become a member of our Union, which he insists is altogether federative, and even urges that she must be of age. Now, I humbly conceive that the Senator has suffered himself to be misled by a metaphor, a figure of speech. The age of the Territory or State is a matter of perfect indifference; it is enough is the inhabitants are of age to make contracts; for with them, if with any one, the compact is formed. The idea of the necessity of a separate, anterior existence as a State is altogether fallacious; the incident of being a member of the Union is a portion of the very law of her existence, and her federal relationship commences co instanti that she becomes a state. Nor does this violate the analogy of individual relationship to society; the infant, as Soon as he is born, becomes a member of the political society in which he comes into existence. By
his very birth the social compact is implied; and without any formal recognition of the compact, when he shall attain mature age, he is held liable to the sanctions of the law as soon as capable of discerning between right and wrong; without waiting for his assent, society extends over him the arm of protection. No matter how young he may be, he who takes away his life is punished by society as a murderer; and it is not because the social compact is not sufficiently complete, but in mere tenderness to the frailty of human nature, that he is not liable to punishment for a violated law, at any stage of existence, however early. But another difficulty, which it is attempted to throw in our way, is, that Michigan has already elected her Senators and Representative; and if we say that she is not a State, their election was irregular, and they will not be entitled to seats in the respective branches of the National Assembly. I have already had occasion to say, sir, that while I have the honor of representing, in part, a sovereign State upon this floor, I will speak what I believe to be the language of truth, regardless of the consequences. If, then, the assertion that Michigan is not a State must necessarily exclude the honorable gentlemen now waiting for admission to their seats, I shall deeply regret it. But, sir, I foresee no such consequence; the whole matter appears to me exceedingly plain, and free from all the metaphysical difficulties in which gentlemen have striven to involve it. When a bargain is concluded between two parties, it is no longer a matter of consequence from which the first overture proceeded, whether the vender proposed to the vendee, or the vendee to the vender; the only question is, was there finally an agreement between them? And the same consequences, precisely, follow, whichever made the first advance. Now, sir, Michigan had no right to form herself into a State without the assent of Congress, and with the assent of Congress she had the right. It is a matter of perfect indifference whether Michigan took the primary steps with a view to their ratification by Congress, which ratification is subsequently, made, or that congress first gives the permission, and Michigan acts upon such permission; whether the Senators and Representative from Michigan knock at the door of Congress and are admitted, or Congress opens her doors and announces to Michigan that her Senators and Representative may walk in whenever she pleases to send them, and they are sent and do walk in. In the one case Michigan acts upon a previous authority, and in the other a subsequent ratification gives effect to that which was previously done. I think I have now sufficiently shown that I was right in contending that Michigan was not a State. The Senator from South Carolina himself has admitted the evil consequences likely to flow from supposing that congress has the power to create a State for any other purpose than admission into the Union. [Here Mr. Calhoux disclaimed.] Well, said Mr. S., I certainly understood him to say so, but I suppose I was mistaken; but I insist that, without the gentleman's admission, the consequences are plain and obvious to every man; that the perpetuity of our Union would be seriously endangered, and that in the mean time we should, with our own hands, be placing in our side a thorn to rankle and annoy us, and all without the slightest inducement or consideration; and no one who has a proper respect for the good, great, and wise framers of our constitution, can ever believe that they intended any thing so preposterous. Having, as I conceive, disposed of this matter, it is unnecessary for me to take up the inquiry of the gentleman, whether, in a regularly organized State, a convention can be called under any other authority than that of the Legislature. I do not find it my present purpose to take either side of this question, as I insist that Michigan JAN. 5, 1837...]
is not a regularly organized State, but is, as admitted by the Senator from South Carolina, pro hac vice, in a state of nature. Nothing, therefore, remains but the inquiry whether a convention has actually been held by Michigan, in any manner convened. And here I must be altowed to say that I have been singularly unfortunate in being misapprehended by both the Senators from South Carolina. By both I have been represented as saying that a convention was an undefined and undefinable something. ... I had the honor of correcting the misapprehension of the Senator from South Carolina who first addressed the Senate, and flattered myself that I had satisfied him; but his colleague has to-day fallen into a similar mistake, and I now beg leave to set him right also. I never thought, and therefore do not think I could have ever said, that a convention was something undefined and undefinable. On the contrary, I stated that it was an assemblage of all the persons of a given community, in person, or by their acknowledged agents or representatives; that it was perfectly certain in its existence, and in power irresistible. I did say, and do still say, that how it is to be gotten together is a matter altogether undefined by any law; but, when got together, its identity was a thing of the most absolute certainty, and in a country situated like Michigan, so far as its own people were concerned, supposing the authority of Congress out of the question, altogether omnipotent. Has a convention been holden in Michigan? That something of the kind has been holden, no one denies; but the difference of opinion seems to turn on the nature of the assembly at Ann Arbor. The Senator from South Carolina, with that delicacy which usually characterizes the initiatory steps in an argument, said he would not call it a caucus. But as men grow warmer in argument, they generally grow bolder in assertion; and, accordingly, in a very few breaths, the Senator flatly calls it a caucus, with a view, doubtless to brand it with a very odious name. But I will press this matter no farther. Mr. President, my object in rising at the commence. ment of this debate was simply to state what I conceived to be the true questions presenting themselves on the bill before us. I had observed what I conceived to be a vicious habit in this body to be exceedingly discursive in debate, to bring all sorts of things to bear upon all sorts of questions, and especially to involve every matter in the vortex of party politics. Now, sir, conceiving myself to be a new member, with a mind not yet contaminated by these vicious practices, I thought I was able to see without bias the true points in controversy, and I accordingly rose to present them to the Senate, and supposed, when this was done, my task was fulfilled. But I find, sir, I have been engaged in advocating treason and revolution, as some gentlemen think, and have been most unexpectedly called out to rescue myself from misapprehension, and am now forced in some degree to fall into the practice I have condemned in others, and touch upon a subject which has nothing in the world to do with the bill before us. T The Baltimore convention has been alluded to, and, as usual, for purposes of denunciation. In looking round this assembly, I see no one who had the honor or misfortune, as the case may be, to have been a member of that body. For myself, I must plead guilty to the charge. But certainly, sir, when I went there I was entirely unconscious of any criminal intent. I did not conceive that I was, in any way, violating the laws and
a constitution of my country, or subjecting myself to be
arraigned as a traitor to either. I thought I was merely exercising the privilege of a free citizen, to go where I pleased, and meet whom I pleased, for the purpose of consulting on matters in which we had a common right to act. . A few of our fellow-citizens, in their respective parts of the country, selected us to meet at Baltimore,
.Admission of Michigan.
and ascertain by conference who among the many dis" tinguished fellow-citizens scattered over our wide ex" tent of country had been most decided in their adhe" rence to sound republican principles, best qualified to fill the two highest offices in our gist as a nation, and most likely to be acceptable to the people at large. We met, we conferred, and two distinguished individuals, as the result of our deliberations, were named and recommended to the people of the United States. We did not pretend to any power of coercion, and did not imagine that any one would impute to us such power. It was left to the free people of this Union to ratify or annul the choice we had made. We did not feel ourselves in the possession of any means of coercion. We had not any physical force to command, nor the control of treasure where with to purchase suffrages. We did nothing but publish a small pamphlet, setting forth what we had done, and coldly laying before the public the reasons why we believed the persons we had named ought to have the support of their fellow-citizens. But it has been said we were office-holders and office-seekers, and our object was the acquisition of offices, or the perpetuity of those already possessed. For himself, (said Mr. S.,) he was at the time the holder of an office under the State of North Carolina, but he had never imagined its perpetuity depended upon the results of the Baltimore convention, for it was an office for life. And, as to having had any thing personal in expectancy, he could, with a clear conscience, repel the imputation; and, in demanding of the opposition to believe him sincere, he required nothing more than the same courtesy he extended to them. As a party, he believed the opposition sincere in their opinions. To many individuals of that party he had no doubt it would be a most alarming exposure to have their hearts opened to public gaze; but the bulk of the party, he doubted not, were sincere, and might possibly be right in the various points of difference between them and those with whom he acted. If they were right, he trusted in God they would yet triumph over us. But believing, as I do, that they are wrong, I will manfully strive against them with all the means in my power. The Baltimore convention was one of those means, and I heartily rejoice that it has so far been successful. A variety of other topics, he said, had been referred to, equally impertinent to the subject in hand, yet he would not go into them; but, finding himself standing alone of the 600 men who constituted the Baltimore convention, he thought it but reasonable that he should have said thus much in its vindication, when he heard it so unnecessarily assailed. Mr. BUCHANAN regretted that he felt constrained again to detain the Senate with a few observations in reply to what had fallen from the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. CALhou N.] He had laid it down as a rule for himself, when he entered this body, never to obtrude himself upon its notice, unless when placed under the necessity of duty. Such was now his condition; and he rose merely for the purpose of putting himself right in regard to some portions of that Senator's remarks. These remarks had been made in that gentleman's very best manner: they were specimens which proceedcd from a master's hand. He (Mr. B.) could scarcely cherish the hope of obtaining, for what he had to offer in reply, the profound attention which the Senator had commanded. He would ask that gentleman, however, to hear him in a candid spirit, and to correct him, in case he had misapprehended any of his arguments. The Senator had undertaken, as he often did, to be. come a prophet; and, as a reason for it, had observed that it was more the habit of his mind to look to the fu.
ture, than to give minute attention either to the past or the present. The Senator had afforded at least one eviSENATE.]
.Admission of Michigan.
[JAN. 5, 1837.
dence of the authenticity of his inspiration in his resemblance, in one particular, to the ancient prophets of Israel. Like them, he almost always foreboded ill and threatened calamities. Mr. B. trusted that the ominous predictions of the gentleman would never be sulfilled; and sure he was that no one would more rejoice, should they prove false, than he who had uttered them. The Senator had set out with an argument, the aim of which was to convict the majority of the Senate of gross inconsistency; but Mr. B. must confess that he had been unable, from some cause, perhaps the obtuseness of his own intellect, to perceive its force. He had represented himself (Mr. B.) as having contended that Michigan was not a State, even after Congress had recognised her State constitution. This assumption was the basis of the gentleman’s entire argument. Now, Mr. B. had never taken any such ground. Directly the reverse. In his former remarks he had, throughout, treated Michigan as a State, although not one of the confederate States of this Union. She had adopted every measure necessary to become such, with a single exception. Her constitution and all her proceedings had received the sanction of Congress; and her actual admission as a State into this Union was only suspended until she should give her consent to the change which we had proposed in her boundaries. She was then a State; but not a confederate State. This is the true distinction. The General Government was in treaty with her as a State, not as a Territory, concerning the terms of her actual admission into this great national confederacy. This plain statement of the case itself affords an answer to almost every argument which has been urged by the Senator. Even if he (Mr. B.) were disposed to admit the irregularity of the convention held at Ann Arbor, which he was not, still, upon the Senator's avowed principles, he might vote for this bill to admit Michigan into the Union, provided he believes that the assent of a majority of her people has been fairly given to the terms which had been proposed by Congress. Upon these very principles, he might waive this irregularity, and act as though all her proceedings had been strictly according to the most approved forms. He admits that, although he believes the movement of the people of Michigan, in forming a State constitution for themselves without the previous authority of Congress, was revolutionary in its nature, yet we might, if we thought proper, waive this irregularity, and recognise the validity of their proceedings. Was not the same rule which applies to the one case equally applicable to the other? If we may waive such irregularities in forming a constitution, why shall we not waive similar irregularities in changing the boundaries fixed by that constitution? The two cases are F. parallel. The Senator had contended that the proceedings previous to the assembly of the convention which formed the constitution of Michigan were irregular; and to this proposition Mr. B., in part, assented. He thought it would have been better had a previous law been enacted by Congress, authorizing the formation of a constitution by the people of the Territory. But, year after year, these people had been knocking at our doors, urging their prayers and their complaints; but both these prayers and these complaints had been disregarded. Finding that Congress would pass no such law, they had at length taken the matter into their own hands, as Tennessee had done before... We possessed the undoubted power of waiving, this irregularity, and we had waived it, by the act of the last session, approving of their constitution. We ought now to do the same in regard to the last convention; especially as it appears that the whole body of the People have assented to their proceedings; not one word of remonstrance or complaint having reached the Senate from any quarter. He would put it to the sen.
ator whether, after all that had passed, he would now be willing to force those people to commence again, to annul all that had been done, and to compel them to form a new constitution. But, as Mr. B. did not believe that the proceedings of the last convention were either revolutionary or irregular, he should not rest the case on this ground alone, though it would be amply sufficient. He agreed with the Senator as to the fact that Michigan was now a State, though not a confederate State; but there had been another proposition advanced by him, to which he never could yield his assent. The Senator had contended that a Territory, after it had adopted a constitution in pursuance of an authority granted by Congress for that purpose, would rise up at once into the rank of a sovereign and independent State, no longer subject to the control of this Government. What, sir? Would the Territory of Wisconsin, for example, if Congress had authorized her to form a constitution, and she had adopted one of a republican character, from that moment become a sovereign and independent State? Could she then refuse to enter the Union’ Could she dispose of her public lands within her limits’ Could she coin money, and perform every other act pertaining to an independent sovereignty Did gentlemen intend to push their doctrine of State rights to such an extreme, and thus enable every Territory to rise up into a foreign State, and put Congress and the Union at defiance? If this doctrine be not revolutionary with a vengeance, he did not know what could be so called. No, sir. Our Territories belong to us. They are integral parts of the nation. We authorize their people to erect themselves into States, subject to our approbation; but until they actually enter the Union, they continue in a subordinate condition, and are subject to our control. The Senator contends that these Territories cannot enter the Union without having previously become States, because as States they must be admitted. Sub modo, this may be true. But whatever they may be called, they do not become confederate States until the very instant they are received into the Union, by virtue of an act of Congress. If this be not the case, then the preliminary proceedings, which we authorize them to adopt for the purpose of becoming States, may be converted into the very means of enabling them to shake off our authority altogether. but what is the proposition which lies at the very root of the Senator's whole argument against the bill? I understand it to be, that when any Commonwealth exists under an organic law, and has by it created a Legislature, without the previous assent of the Legislature no convention can be rightfully held within its limits; and that is such a convention should be held, the movement would be revolutionary, and its edicts, in their very nature, would be unauthorized and tyrannical. If this proposition be universally true, then it follows, as a necessary consequence, that no matter to what extent the regularly organized Government of a State or nation may be guilty of tyranny and oppression, this very Government must first give its assent, before the people can hold a convention for the redress of grievances, or, in a word, can exercise the unalienable rights of man. The fate of the people, it seems, must forever depend upon the "will of the very Legislature which oppresses them, and their liberties can only be restored when that Legislature may be pleased to grant them permission to assemble in convention. I . not supposed that any such proposition would ever be seriously contended for in this chamber. It is directly at war with the declaration of American independence, which declares that “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 se