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and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution. But no religious test shall ever be required, as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
§ 426. That all those, who are intrusted with the execution of the powers of the National Government, should be bound, by some solemn obligation, to the due execution of the trusts reposed in them, and to support the Constitution, would seem to be a proposition too clear, to render any reasoning necessary in support of it. It results from the plain right of society, to require some guarantee from every officer, that he will be conscientious in the discharge of his duty. Oaths have a solemn obligation upon the minds of all reflecting men, and especially upon those, who feel a deep sense of accountability to a Supreme being. If, in the ordinary administration of justice, in cases of private rights, or personal claims, oaths are required of those, who try the cause, as well as of those, who give testimony, to guard against malice, falsehood, and evasion, surely like guards ought to be interposed in the administration of high public trusts, and especially in such, as may concern the welfare and safety of the whole community. But there are known denominations of men, who are conscientiously scrupulous of taking oaths, (among which is that pure and distinguished sect of Christians, commonly called Friends, or Quakers,) and, therefore, to prevent any unjustifiable exclusion from office, the Constitution has permitted a solemn affirmation to be made, instead of an oath, and as its equivalent.
§ 427. But it may not appear to all persons quite so clear, why the officers of the State governments should be equally bound to take a like oath or affirmation; and it has been even suggested, that there is no more reason to require that, than to require, that all of the United States officers should take an oath or affirmation to support the State Constitutions. A moment's reflection will show sufficient reasons for the requisition of it in the one case, and the omission of it in the other. The members and officers of the National Government have no agency in carrying into effect the State Constitutions.
inembers and officers of the State governments have an essential agency in giving effect to the National Constitution. The election of the President and the Senate will depend, in all cases, upon the Legislatures of the several States; and, in many cases, the election of the House of Representatives may be affected by their agency. The judges of the State courts will frequently be called upon
to decide upon the Constitution, and laws, and treaties, of the United States ; and upon rights and claims growing out of them. Decisions ought to be, as far as possible, uniform, and uniformity of obligation will greatly tend to such a result. The executive authority of the several States may be often called upon to exert powers, or to allow rights, given by the Constitution, as in filling vacancies in the Senate, during the recess of the Legislature ; in issuing writs of election, to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives; in officering the militia, and giving effect to laws for calling them out; and in the surrender of fugitives from justice. These, and many other functions, devolving on the State authorities, render it highly important, that they should be under a solemn obligation to obey the Constitution. In common sense, there can be no wellfounded objection to it. There may be serious evils growing out of an opposite course.
$ 428. The remaining part of the clause declares, that no religious test shall ever be required, as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." This clause is recommended by its tendency to satisfy the minds of many delicate and scrupulous persons, who enterjain great repugnance to religious tests, as a qualification for civil power or honor. But it has a higher aim in the Constitution. It is designed to cut off every pretence of an alliance between the Church and the State, in the administration of the National Government. The American people were too well read in the history of other couniries, and had suffered too much in their colonial state, not to dread the abuses of authority resulting from religious bigotry, intolerance, and persecution. They knew but too well, that no sect could be safely trusted with power on such a subject ; for all had in turns wielded in
to the injury, and sometimes to the destruction, of then inoffensive, but, in their judgement, erring neighbors. And we shall presently see, that, by an amendment to the Constitution, evils of this sort in the National Gov. ernment are still more effectually guarded against.
$ 429. The seventh and last article of the Constitu tion is, “ The ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.” It is unnecessary now to comment upon this article, as all the States have ratified the Constitution. know, that if an unanimous ratification of it, by all the States, had been required, it would have been rejected ; for North Carolina, and Rhode Island, did not, at first, accede to it.
§ 430. And here closes our review of the Constitu tion in the original form, in which it was adopted by the people of the United States. The concluding passage of it is valuable, as an historical reminiscence.
6. Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent of the States yresent, the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States the twelfth. In witness whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names.”
At the head of the illustrious men, who framed and signed it, stands the name of “George Washington, President, and Deputy from Virginia ;” a name, at the utterance of which it is impossible not to feel the liveliest sense of gratitude to a gracious Providence, for a life of so much glory, such spotless integrity, and such exalted patriotism.
Amendments to the Constitution.
$ 431. When the Constitution was before the people for adoption, several of the State conventions suggested certain ailendments for the consideration of Congress, some of the most important of which were afterwards proposed to the people for adoption, by that body, at its first organization ; and, having been since ratified, they are now incorporated into the Constitution. They are mainly clauses, in the nature of a Bill of Rights, which more ef: fectually guard certain rights, already provided for in the Constitution, or probibit certain exercises of authority, supposed to be dangerous to the public interests. We have already had occasion to consider several of them in the preceding pages ; and the remainder will now be presented.
§ 432. Before, however, proceeding to the consideraion of them, it may be proper to say a few words, as to he origin and objects of the first ten amendments, which nay be considered as a Bill of Rights, and were proposed by the first Congress, and were immediately adopted by the people of the United States. The first amendment is, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
§ 433. It has been already stated, that many objections were taken to the Constitution, not only on account of its actual provisions, but also on account of its deficiencies and omissions. Among the latter, none were proclaimed with more zeal, and pressed with more effect, than the want of a Bill of Rights. This, it was said, was a fatal defect; and sufficient of itself to bring on the ruin of the republic. To this objection, several answers were given ; first, that the Constitution did, in fact, contain many provisions in the nature of a Bill of Rights, if the whole Constitution was not, in fact, a Bill of Rights ; secondly, that a Bill of Rights was in its nature more adapted to a monarchy, than to a government, professedly founded upon the will of the people, and executed by their imme diate representatives and agents; and, thirdly, that a formal Bill of Rights, beyond what was contained in it, was wholly unnecessary, and might even be dangerous
§ 434. It was further added, that, in truth, the Consti tution itself, was, in every rational sense, and ti) every useful purpose, a Bill of Rights for the Union. It specifies, and declares the political privileges of the citizens in the structure and administration of the Government. It defines certain immunities and modes of proceeding, which relate to their personal, private, and public rights and concerns. It confers on them the unalienable right of electing their rulers; and prohibits any tyrannical measures, and vindictive prosecutions. So that, at best, much of the force of the objection rests on mere nominal distinctions, or upon a desire to make a frame of government a code to regulate rights and remedies.
$ 435. Although it must be conceded, that there is much intrinsic force in this reasoning, it cannot in candor be admitted to be wholly satisfactory, or conclusive on the subject. It is rather the argument of an able advocate, than the reasoning of a constitutional statesman. In the first place, a Bill of Rights (in the very sense of this reasoning) is admitted in some cases to be important and the Constitution itself adopts, and establishes its pro priety to the extent of its actual provisions. Every reason, which establishes the propriety of any provision of this sort in the Constitution, such as a right of trial by jury in criminal cases, is, to that extent, proof, that it is neither unnecessary nor dangerous. It reduces the ques tion to the consideration, not whether any Bill of Rights is necessary, but what such a Bill of Rights should properly contain. This is a point for argument, upon which different minds may arrive at different conclusions.
That a Bill of Rights may contain too many enumerations, and especially such, as more correctly belong to the ordinary legislation of a government, cannot be doubted. Some of our State Bills of Rights contain clauses of this description, being either in their character and phraseology quite too loose, and general, and ambiguous; or covering doctrines quite debatable, both in theory and practice ; or even leading to mischievous consequences, by restricting the Legislative power under circumstances, which were not foreseen, and if foreseen, the restraint would have