Imagens das páginas

JAN, 5, 1837.]

.Admission of Michigan.


cure 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.” [Mr. CALHoux, interposing, said: “Certainly; it is a revolutionary right!”] Here (resumed Mr. B.) is a right plainly recognised in this immortal state paper, which we all regard as the charter of our common liberties. Is it not, then, manifest that the Senator has taken a position where he stands in direct and open opposition to every principle of the American Revolution? Why, sir, had we not established Governments at the moment our conventions were held? Was not the character of these Governments, in the main, just and equitable? We went to war for a principle, for the just and glorious principle that there shall be no taxation without representation; and in support of this principle, the people of “the old thirteen,” without any previous legislative act, did hold conventions and Congresses at their pleasure. Our very rights to seats upon this floor rest upon what he calls revolutionary principles. [Mr. Calhoun. Certainly; I never denied the right of revolution; I contended for it. All our institutions rest on that right; they are the fruits of revolution. That was the very proposition which led to the revolutionary war. I said that a convention of the people had power to put up and to throw down any and every form of government; but that is, per ex, a revolution. The gentleman (resumed Mr. B.) did say that he gloried in the right of rebellion. Does he contend, then, that if, in one of the States of this Union, the Gov. ernment be so organized as utterly to destroy the right of equal representation, there is no mode of obtaining redress but by an act of the Legislature authorizing a convention, or by open rebellion? Must the people step at once from oppression to open war? Must it be either absolute submission, or absolute revolution? Is there no middle course? I cannot agree with the Sen. ator. I say that the whole history of our Government establishes the principle that the people are sovereign, and that a majority of them can alter or change their fundamental laws at pleasure. I deny that this is either rebellion or revolution. It is an essential and a recogni. sed principle in all our forms of government. To be sure, I should be one of the last men in the United States who would desire to see such a right often exerted. I admit that there is great propriety and convenience in having the Legislature to fix the time, and place, and mode, of calling a convention; because it is difficult for the people to effect their purpose without some such provision. Such has been the general practice; but I insist upon the right of the people to proceed without any legislative interference or agency whatever. I shall now, though with great regret that the topic has been introduced, attend to what has been said by the Senator in relation to Maryland. He did not expressly assert, but he left it to be inferred, that I had said the Maryland electors were right in the course which they pursued. I said no such thing. I expressed no opinion on the matter. On the contrary, I declared that I should not undertake to be a judge of other men's consciences; nor would I here undertake to canvass the conduct of individuals in relation to the Government of a sovereign State of this Union, of which they were citizens. This is not the proper forum for such a debate. I also asserted that the course of these electors had nothing in the world to do with the admission of Michigan into the Union.

The question concerning the conduct of the Maryland electors, in refusing to execute the trust for which they had been chosen, is one thing; that of the right of the people of Maryland to alter their State Government, is another. It presents an entirely different case. Were I placed in a situation which rendered it my duty to maintain this right in behalf of that people, I believe I should be able to do it successfully. I should then contend that, being sovereign within their own limits, they had a right to control their own destinies, and change the form of their own Government at pleasure. If I were the citizen of a State, and resided in a city or county where my vote was equivalent only to the one thirtieth or one sixth of the vote of another citizen, in another city or county, whilst I paid the same taxes, as is the case in some portions of Maryland, I should certainly use all my efforts to persuade the Legislature to call a convention for the purpose of redressing a grievance so enormous. If the Legislature should absolutely refuse to grant this just request, I should then endeavor to persuade the people to hold a convention of their own. I would not stir them up to sedition or rebellion; but I would call upon them peaceably and quietly to exert their own sovereign authority in effecting a change in their form of government. I cannot, therefore, condemn in others what I know in my own conscience I should do myself, under similar circumstances. As it is, however, the people of Maryland have the exclusive right to consider and decide this question for themselves. If they are content with their form of government, I have no right to conplain. It affects them, not me; and I have been led into these remarks purely on the principle of self-defence. I do not apprehend the slightest danger that they will act rashly. I know, from the character of the American people, to use the language of the declaration of independence, that they “are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

I shall certainly not discuss with the Senator the merits of the constitution of South Carolina. It may be, and doubtless is, all which he represents it. I shall not controvert the proposition that it has established the best form of government for South Carolina; because I am comparatively ignorant of its provisions. We have at least one strong proof that it has worked well in practice, in the fact that this State has ever sent an able and distinguished representation to Congress.

It is very true that I did introduce the subject of nullification in my former remarks, but it was strictly upon the principle of a just retaliation. I had then, and have now, no disposition to dwell upon this topic. Some of the leaders of the nullification party, I am proud to believe, I may number among my friends. With more than one of them I had the honor of serving in the other House of Congress, in trying times. I certainly feel no disposition to say a word which might wound their feelings. I have always thought, and still think, the State of South Carolina was wrong; yet I am glad she has got out of her difficulties in such handsome style. I am now about to propose a bargain to the Senator, which is, that if he will never allude, upon this floor, to the domestic concerns of my State, I shall be guided by the same rule in regard to his.

[Mr. Calhous said he was perfectly agreed to strike such a bargain with the Senator from Pennsylvania. ]

As to Michigan, (said Mr. B.,) it is peculiarly unfortunate that all her difficulties have been brought upon her in consequence of our own conduct. Why did not the Senator sound the alarm at the last session, when this admission bill was before the Senate, and proclaim that we were about to recommend a revolutionary measure to her people? That was the appropriate time for him to have urged this objection.


.Admission of Michigan.

[JAN. 5, 1837.

[Mr. Calhoun rose to explain. He reminded Mr. B. of the late hour at which the bill had passed. He had spoken again and again, in the course of the debate, and felt reluctant again to occupy the floor; and the particular reason why he had not stated this point of objection was, that, according to his conception, the word convention signified a meeting of the people, duly convened through the action of their own constituted authorities. So he understood the law, and so the people of Michigan understood it, as their action showed.] Mr. Buch AN AN resumed. The bill, as it originally stood, required the assent of the Legislature of Michigan; but this clause was unanimously stricken out, and the consent of a convention of delegates elected by the people was substituted in its place, by a unanimous vote of the Senate. The bill, as it passed, contains no reference to any interposition by the Legislature. [Mr. Calhoun again explained. It was indeed certain that the Legislature could not give their assent to the conditions of that bill, because those conditions touched the State constitution on the question of boundary, and, therefore, no power could assent to those conditions, but a power which was cqual to that which made the constitution. This could be done only by a convention; and, in point of fact, it had been a convention which considered it. A convention regularly called was competent to consider and decide upon it, and it is a great mistake to think otherwise. But surely, if a regular convention was incompetent to assent, and thereby change the State constitution, the meeting at Ann Arbor could not be competent.] Mr. Buch ANAN resumed. I trust that, ere long, we shall get to understand each other. I was about to prove that the Senate, at its last session, unanimously determined in favor of the principle which the gentleman now denounces as revolutionary. What did we then decide? Without a dissenting voice it was then admitted that the Legislature of Michigan, under her constitution, had no authority to give its assent to the condition contained in our bill. How, then, was the assent of the State to be obtained? The boundary line established by the constitution was to be changed, (for I take it for granted the Senator will not contend that the reference contained in that instrument to the act of Congress of 1805 did not fix the boundary.) How, then, I ask again, was the assent of the State to this new boundary to be obtained The Legislature was out of the question. The Senator has not contended that this assent could only be obtained by a change to be effected in the constitution of Michigan, according to the forms which it prescribes. All that he requires is, that there should have been a previous act of the Legislature; but this would have been no compliance with the organic law. It would have been in direct opposition to it; and, therefore, I would ask, is not the Senator himself, upon his own principles, as great a revolutionist as my self or any other member of this body? If this change of boundary could only have been effected by an amendment to the constitution in the mode prescribed by itself, the proceeding would have been extremely tedious, involving a delay of at least two years, and a majority of two thirds of both branches of the Legislature would have been required. Under its provisions, one third of the people of the State could thus have prevented it foom assenting to the conditions of the act of Congress, and from entering the Union. Ilow was the gordian knot to be cut? Only by the great revolutionary principles, if the Senator will have it so, of referring the question directly to the sovereign power of the people of Michigan, in a convention of delegates. This was the course which the Senate took. It was the only course left for us to take. We had no alternative but to appeal to the sovereign power. Ay, gir, to this mad, revolutionary tribunal, which threatens

with destruction all that we hold most dear. This appeal was made, too, without any objection on the part of the Senator from South Carolina. And now let me ask, is there any danger in recognising this proceeding? I do not certainly know whether all the requisite forms have been strictly complied with by the people of Michigan in the election of delegates and in holding the convention; but sufficient evidence has been presented to satisfy my mind as to the substance. I shall not again repeat the facts. I will now barely mention that I have seen, this morning, the journal of the first part of the proceedings of this convention, containing an account of the manner in which the votes for the delegates had been canvassed; and I find that they have proceeded with the same forms as are observed in regard to their other elections. But the Senator from South Carolina has advanced one most astonishing argument. He holds that, because there were no votes given against assenting to the condition proposed by Congress, therefore, the late convention must have been a mere party caucus. Now, I would draw from that fact a conclusion directly contrary. My inference would be, that there was nobody in Michigan disposed to vote against assenting to thc condition. Nobody there has complained of this convention as a revolutionary assembly, or sent us a remonstrance because it was held without a previous act of the Legislature. That tender sensibility which has been manifested, respecting the State rights of the people of Michigan, has not been felt in Michigan itself. The people there have yet to be enlightened upon this subject. I have never yet heard of one dissenting voice; and I believe, for myself, that the proceedings of the convention at Ann Arbor truly represent the feelings of the people. The sole reason why I did not vote for the amendment propos. d by the Senator from South Carolina was, because I thought it necessary to ratify the assent given by the convention, in order to put at rest the question of boundary. Although I believe that the boundary line of Ohio, having been established by act of Congress, would stand without the consent of Michigan, yet l know too well what trouble and difficulty might arise in a contest of this nature, between two sovereign States acknowledging no common umpire. When such States are incidentally brought before the Supreme Court as parties litigant upon such a question, their conflict may shake this Union to its centre. I am for settling the question whilst Michigan is yet in the bud, and putting it at rest forever. It was only for this reason, and not for any miserable party purpose, that I opposed the gentle: man's amendment. I believed that our recognition of the assent given by the Ann Arbor convention to the condition which Congress had proposed, was necessary to make a final end of this question. It was for this reason that I could not vote to strike out the preamble. As to the Baltimore convention, which the Senator has introduced into this debate, I shall say nothing. As I was not a member of that body, I shall leave the desence of its proceedings to the Senator from North Carolina, [Mr. Stn ANG E.] And now, sir, I might reply to some other arguments which have been urged by the Senator from South Car. olina; but I am unwilling longer to occupy the time of the Senate. I should not have addressed you at all, but for the purpose of putting myself right in regard to my former remarks. The Senator in some parts of his speech has employed—he is in the habit of employingvery strong language, which, were I so disposed, I might apply to myself. As it was general, I shall not presume it was thus intended. I know that his nature is ardent; and, when addressing the Senate, his feelings become excited, and sometimes carry him too far. But we part in peace. Upon the whole, I shall vote for the bil as it should hesitate as to what course I ought to pursue. Mr. CALHOUN here requested a few words of explanation, to which Mr. Buch ANAN signifying his assent, Mr. C. proceeded. The Senator admits that Michigan is a State; that, waiving forms, she was a State as soon as we recognised her constitution. I wish, then, to ask the honorable Senator whether he holds that Congress has a right to call a convention within a State. Mr. BUCHANAN. To that question I answer, no. Emphatically, no. Congress has no more right to call a convention in South Carolina than in the moon. But, before the State of Michigan has entered the Union, Congress possesses the power of proposing to her a condition, upon a compliance with which she shall be admitted. The propoistion thus presented she may accept or reject, according to her will and pleasure; and she may accept it, if she thinks proper, by means of a convention of delegates elected for that purpose, in the manner proposed to her by Congress. Mr. CAI, HOUN. Then I would further ask the Senator, has Congress a right to offer a proposition to the people of a State, without addressing their Legislature? Mr. BUCHANAN. Under the circumstances in which Michigan stood, Congress, in my opinion, had the right to make the proposition which they did make at the last session, and it was for the people of Michigan, in their sovereign capacity, to assent or dissent, as they thought proper. . Mr. CALHOUN. Congress has a right to make propositions to her constituted authorities, and the poeple of Michigan so understood our act. Mr. BUCHANAN. The Senator will pardon me for contradicting him. The people of Michigan did not so understand our act. One of the very first acts of the first convention was to declare that the Legislature had no right to call that convention. The sovereign people of Michigan themselves objected to any interposition of their Legislature. Mr. CALIHOUN. Then the whole matter amounts to this: when a State has provided a regular course for amending her own constitution, and the State does not choose to call a convention in conformity with that constitution, Congress may call a convention in that State to alter her State constitution. Mr. BUCHANAN, (in an under tone.) This may be the gentleman's inference; it is not mine. Mr. DAVIS, of Massachusetts, said that, before the question was put upon the bill, he would ask the attention of the Senate while he offered one or two reasons for the vote he was about to give. I voted (said Mr. D.) at the last session in the negative, and propose now to give a vote which I deem to be consistent with that. I shall endeavor in all cases to be consistent with myself, whether I am right or wrong. I gave the vote alluded to from a conviction that it was a proper one, and I shall give a vote now which I am equally convinced is in the course of my duty here. We have come here in obedience to the will of our constituents, and what for? There is but one rule of duty, and it applies equally to us all. I have heard many subjects drawn into this dis. cussion, and which had some, though a very remote, application to it; but here we are under only one great rule of duty. Before we can address this body, we are obliged to go to that table and swear, before Him who is invisible, that we will support the constitution of the United States. Who exacts this duty from us? Is it not the people of this country? And is not this the first and greatest and highest duty we have to perform on this floor? It is idle to talk of sovereigns above the constitution or below it. You have but one guide, and that is your binding compact. You have no right to know any other until that power which created this rule shall alter

JAN. 5, 1837.] .Admission of Michigan. [SENATE. now stands, though, if the preamble were rejected, I | or amend it. What, then, is the question here? At a

former session of Congress a portion of our population, claiming to be a State, presented themselves before us, with a constitution in their hand, and asked for admission into the Union. It is a great question, and I cannot conceive how any other anxiety can be felt in regard to it, but faithfully and honorably to discharge our duty. When this application was received, a controversy immediately arose, and the question presented itself whether Michigan was a State. I came to the conclusion that she was not, and I accordingly voted against her admission. I am now of the same opinion. To me it appears she has undergone no change which so alters her character as to justify an affirmative vote. Much lias been said of the elements of a State. What are they Without fully answering this question, we can perceive some in which we all agree. There must be population and there must be territory, and I take it that no gentleman will advocate such an absurdity as to maintain that there can be a State, without some fixed limits. We cannot entertain the idea in our mind without thinking of a limited territory. The notion carries absurdity on its very face. How, then, did Michigan present herself before us? She came to our door and proposed to be admitted into the Union with certain defined limits. She said that the people residing within those limits had erected themselves into a State. Can people any where, at their own pleasure, make a State? Can that be done? Let us look at facts. The Territory of Michigan lies within the limits of the United States; it is part and parcel of that territory which is owned, occupied, and possessed, by the United States; for a Territorial Government is under the laws of the country. This Territory had a Governor, a Legislature, and judicial tribunals. It had a Government established and in operation. The Territory was claimed by the United States; the United States Government exercised jurisdiction over it. Will it be said that the people of such a Territory can rise up at pleasure and displace your Government, and yet be guilty of no usurpation? I presume no Senator will answer this question in the affirmative. The people of Michigan certainly held no such doctrine. They came to us and said, we have felt ourselves justified in forming a Government, but we have not done so on revolutionary principles, but under the sanction and according to the provisions of the ordinance of 1787. There they told us we should find the power expressly provided, and on that ordinance they took their stand. Now, what is that ordinance? In the year 1787 the United States owned all the territory north and northwest of the Ohio river, the whole of that region which now constitutes the three States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and the Territories of Michigan and Wisconsin. What did the ordinance provide? After enacting a sort of bill of rights, it declares that three States may be formed immediately north of the Ohio; it runs one north and south line from the mouth of the Wabash, declaring that the territory west of that line should constitute one State. It then runs another north and south line, starting at the mouth of the Great Miami, declaring that the country east of that line and north of the Ohio shall constitute a second State, while the territory between these two lines shall form a third one. This covered the whole region. Here comes the provision on which the people of Michigan relied, as justifying them in the formation of a constitution without the previous action of Congress. I will read it: “And it is further understood and declared, that the boundaries of these three States shall be subject so for to be altered, that, if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two States in that part of the said territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly SENATE.]

bend or extreme of Lake Michigan. And whenever any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever; and shall be at liberty to form a permanent constitution and State Government, provided the constitution and Government so to be formed shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in those articles; and, so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty thousand.” This provision gives to Congress a discretionary power to form either one or two States, at pleasure, out of that remainder of the territory which lies north of an east and west line so drawn as to touch the southernmost extremity of Lake Michigan. Now, you have made your three States of Ohio, Indi. ana, and Illinois, and you have erected a Territory of Michigan; but where does it go to? How far does it extend? Over the whole country north of this line, embracing what is now called the State of Michigan and the Territory of Wisconsin? I ask if it is not perfectly plain that, according to this ordinance, it is a matter of discretion with Congress to create in that territory one State or two States; and if the power is in Congress, what right have the people of Michigan to settle the question? How can the people of that peninsula settle a precedent question of boundary in the territory of the United States? Have they any such authority? They have none. This ordinance does not give them a particle. On the contrary, the question is left solely and exclusively to the discretion of Congress. And neither in this ordinance, nor any where else, within my reading at least, is authority given to the inhabitants of the peninsula to decide it. But this the people of Michigan undertook to do, and this is the only color of justification they had. The ordinance declared that, whenever there should be a population of sixty thousand people within any of the respective limits which it had laid down, they might be formed into a State, and admitted into the Union. But Michigan, though she had population enough, seemed to forget that no State could exist, until congress should have first settled the question of boundary, and decided whether there should be in the territory one State or two. Michigan, then, most clearly had no power or authority under this ordinance to erect herself into a State, form a constitution, and demand admission into the Union. She was not a State, nor could she be. How did she come here, then, and what did she claim? By previous acts of Congress, you had given to Illinois a large portion of territory north of the line running east and west, through the southern extremity of Lake Michigan; and in respect to Indiana, you had done the same. While Ohio, by a provision in her constitu. tion, claimed another portion north of that line, and, without objecting or assenting to the claim of Ohio, you received her, under that constitution, into the United states; Michigan, in the mean while, claimed the very portions of territory which you had given to Indiana, and which Ohio claimed. She said that the inhabitants of the entire peninsula, as far down as the east and west line already mentioned, had a right to erect themselves into a State, and to form a constitution for the whole. This was the ground on which Michigan came to the Senate. I was not then convinced that any such State existed, and I still remain unconvinced. But the Senator from Pennsylvania says that we may waive irregularities. Perhaps we might, if the state you were to create had the identical boundaries claimed by Michigan when she formed her constitution, and the

[blocks in formation]

people you admit are the same that made the constitution and offered themselves. But what was the feeling here at that time? Was there a man here who would admit that Michigan was then a State? There was not one. You prepared, with great care and caution, a provisional act of admission, which subsequently became a law. And what appears on the face of it? Can any man read that act, and not admit that its passage was necessary because there was no State then? You admitted her on condition; because, by the law, you gave her a new boundary. You excluded her from the territory which you had given to Indiana, as well as from that claimed by Ohio; and, to compensate her, you added territory lying north and west of the lake, large enough for a State; and then you declared that, if she would give her assent to these bounds, she should be admitted into the Union. Was not that admitting that Michigan, as she stood, was not capable of coming in? The question went back to the people of Michigan, and what was done? The Legislature of Michigan called a convention of the people. It met, and considered the question, and finally concluded not to consent to the boundary. But, at a subsequent period, an irregular convention came together by the spontaneous movement of individuals, and without authority from any one—a voluntary collection—and declared its assent. Well, sir, how did that place the matter? You have got the consent of a convention, as it is called; but does that remove the difficulty? What did you send the matter back for? You sent it back that the people of Michigan might alter their constitution, so that the bounds of their State jurisdiction might be changed, by withdrawing jurisdiction from the territory claimed by Ohio and Indiana, and as: setting it over the added territory. And has it been done? The constitution has not been changed in a letter. It stands just as it did. The jurisdiction of the State has neither been withdrawn from that territory you gave to Indiana, nor from that claimed by Ohio, nor extended to that which you assigned her on the other side of the lake. How can she extend her jurisdiction to the one, or withdraw it from the other, but by altering her constitution? And is her constitution altered? Not a letter of it. The convention at Ann Arbor claimed no right to alter the constitution, and they had none. By their own constitution there are but two modes provided according to which that instrument can be altered. I need not trouble you with the detail; I will only state that the process must originate with the Legislature. This is the provision of her own constitution. And was not that constitution ratified, in 1835, at the ballot-box? And how can its provisions be waived? Her constitution provides two modes, and it has not been done according to either. The convention did not pretend to alter the constitution; they claimed no such authority. Who was it, then, that came here last year? It was the people of the Territory of the peninsula of Michigan, including a part of Indiana and Ohio. They have not, then, withdrawn their jurisdiction from the lands and people in these two States. They propose the same constitution now that they did then. It was the peninsula of Michigan last year, and it is the peninsula of Michigan this year. The same constitution, the same people; yes, the same that the Senate unanimously resused to admit into the Union. Much has been said about the injustice of Congress in delaying its action touching the admission of Michigan. The charge may be true, but it does not affect me. I had no part in effecting the delay. But, whatever may have been our fault, it is not to be rectified by the adoption of violent means. We may resort to those measures, but it will not help the argument. Again: I may say, individually, that I have no objection that Michigan should enter the Union. I believe that

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the population of that Territory ought to be a state in this Union. My only difficulty refers to the manner of the admission. If there has been no change in their condition since last year, and last year you could waive the difficulty only by calling a convention, why is there not the same difficulty now? If Maryland had presented herself one year alone for admission, and the following year should come in company with Delaware, would the question of admission be the same? Certainly not, because it would not be the same body of people that were asking admission. Nor could a constitution made for Maryland cover Delaware. Yet, by admitting Michigan, you propose to cover with the constitution a great additional territory. Can it be done? Only by doing violence to constitutional principle, and, I will add, to common sense. I do not know that gentlemen can satisfy themselves by saying that the difficulty is immaterial. is it the same body of people who applied last year? None of them were beyond the lake, and part now to be excluded were in Ohio and Indiana. This constitution neither covers nor asserts jurisdiction over the Territory now proposed to be admitted. Are you not, then, about to admit a State without a constitution? I beg gentlemen to consider this objection. I do not really see how this is to be argued down. How is it to be grappled with? And how is the constitution now offered to be the constitution of that Territory which you propose to admit as a State? I am told that the population is not numerous. Be it so. How does that alter the question? I will now ask the attention of Senators to another point, and I refer to it without the remotest feeling or thought of unkindness towards those who have been elected Sen. ators from Michigan; on the contrary, it will give me great happiness to be associated with them. But suppose the argument to be true, that under the ordinance of 1787 the people of the peninsula could not create themselves into a State, what does your constitution provide? It requires that the Senators in this hall shall all be elected by the State Legislatures. No other process is provided. Now, I ask, was Michigan a state at the time she exercised the power of appointing these gentlemen? You did virtually say by your law that there was no State then. You did not even underlake to waive the objection on this ground. You said that Michigan had no power to fix her own boundaries, and that she should not have the boundary she had fixed upon, and that the body which had elected their Senators could not, with those boundaries, be received as a State. This is an irregularity that you cannot waive. You cannot legislate members into this body. The constitution is imperative, and there is no such thing as compromising this objection. Now you propose to readmit Michigan, and who will come here as her Senators? Will it not be the very individuals who are thus elected? And the same objection will apply to the member of the other House. The constitution requires that those who vote for members of Congress shall be those who vote for the most numerous branch of the State Legislature. But Michigan, being no State, has no State Legislature; and how is she constitutionally to get members of Congress? I have sworn to support the constitution of the United States. I cannot break that oath from feelings of friendship. I bad rather that my friends should suffer, and that the admission of Michigan should be postponed. Mr. KING, of Georgia, said he had hoped that opposition to the bill would have ceased, as was usual, on the second reading. Although he was one of the committee that had been so severely rebuked for reporting the bill, so much time lad been consumed with it, that he had determined to say nothing on the subject. As there was an obstinate determination to continue it, he would say a few words to justify the opinion to which he was committed by consenting to the report. He weuld not in

[ocr errors]

flict a regular speech on the Senate. It had already suffered too much by the cruelty of others. In fact, if disposed to do so, he would not know how to commence, or where to begin; whether at Mr. Dallas's letter, the Baltimore convention, the revolutionary spirit of Maryland, or the divine right of Government to perpetuate and enforce its own authority, independent of the constituent power. These subjects had principally taken the place of the one before the Senate. A very strained effort had been made to raise the question into a magnitude and importance which did not belong to it. It was simply one of fact, unless we were disposed to unsettle every thing which had been determined at the last session, and trace the history of society from its earliest stages to the irregular oganization of the Territory of Michigan. As one of the committee, he had not done this, nor should he do it now. He had confined himself to the fact, whether the people of Michigan had accepted the terms we had proposed to them. On this subject, he had examined the evidence, weighed it, and come to a conclusion. He had the kind and quantity of testimony which he would require to convince him on any similar occasion. It had not, to be sure, as had been required by the Senator from Carolina, the technical formalities that would entitle it to admission “in a justice's court.” They had not the witnesses, book in hand, to prove the handwriting of the note or the signature to the bond. And who ever heard of such evidence being required as the foundation of legislation? Nations did not legislate on the technical evidence required by a justice's court. They acted on such probabilities as produced moral conviction of the existence of a fact. We legislate every day on printed papers, without seeing the originals; on cert ficates, not under oath; on. publications and letters; and even sometimes the most important legislation was based on public rumor; public evidence being sufficient, in many cases, for public purposes; The great object was to be convinced, without regard to technicalities in the means of conviction, which were well enough in “justices' courts,” but could not be required in the business of legislation, where the very notoTiety of every proceeding rendered imposition less probable. North Carolina, he said, had been reserred to. Well, it was possible that a majority of the people of North Carolina had never expressly consented to come into, the Union. He ventured to say that no strictly technical evidence that a majority voted was required on her admis: sion, such as would have passed a court of Justice. And North Carolina might undertake to prove hereafter that a majority never consented, though she had never made any objection, and had long received the benefits and performed the duties of a member of the Union. But this was very improbable. The same possibility existed in the case of Michigan. Though the most important subject ever agitated among the people had been fully agitated in every part of that State; though public elections were held in every county but two; though it was well known what was the subject of the convention; though it was well known that its only object was to re: verse the decision of a previous convention, on a subject which they ranked among the dearest of their interests; although these delegates publicly met, publicly deliberated, and publicly decided unanimously on the subject on which they were called to deliberate, and publicly went home among their constituents, from whom, we have heard not one syllable of complaint, either by letter, public meeting, legislative remonstrance, or even a newspaper paragraph; although we knew all these things to have taken place by the proofs before u-, and not brought into doubt by a single whisper of evidence on the other side, yet it may be possible that the majority of the people disapprove the proceedings of this conven

« AnteriorContinuar »