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they also expressed an opinion, that the tariff was unconstitutional and inexpedient.
The state of Georgia, also, reprobated the doctrine of nullification as unconstitutional, by a vote of 102 to 51, but it denounced the tariff in decided terms, and proposed a convention of the states of Virginia, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, to devise measures to obtain relief from that system.
The legislature of Virginia assumed a still more extraordinary ground. The subject was there referred to a committee on the federal relations, where a general discussion was had on the powers of the government, too tedious to be recapitulated, and finally, resolutions were passed, earnestly requesting of S. Carolina not to proceed further under the ordinance of congress, to reduce the import duties to a revenue standard, and delaring that the people of Virginia expect that the general government and the government of S. Carolina will carefully abstain
from all acts calculated to disturb the tranquillity of the country."
After further resolving that they adhere to the principles of the resolutions of 1798, but that they do not consider them as sanctioning the proceedings of South Carolina, or the principles of the president's proclamation; they proceeded to appoint Benjamin W. Leigh, as a commissioner on the part of the state, to proceed to South Carolina, to communicate the resolutions of Virginia, and to express their good will to the people of that state, and their anxious solicitude for an accommodation of the difficulties between them and the general government. The state of New-Hampshire expressed no opinion as to the doctrines of South Carolina, but the legislature passed resolutions in favour of reducing the tariff to the revenue standard.
On the other hand, the legislatures of Massachusetts, Vermont, K. Island, N. Jersey, and Pennsylvania, declared themselves to be opposed to any modification of the tariff.
Tariff.—Proceedings in House.—In South Carolina.—Enforcing Bill.—Proceedings in Senate.—Mr. Wilkins' Speech.—Amendments.—Mr. Clay proposes Compromise.—Discussion on do.— Discussion on Enforcing Bill.—Mr. Calhoun's Speech.—Mr. Webster's Reply.—Mr. Forsyth's Amendments.—Mr. Bibb's do.— Bill passes Senate.
While the states were thus sustaining their respective views and interests, congress was slowly proceeding in the discussion of the questions belonging to the subject.
In the house, the tariff bill was subjected to an ordeal, that threatened to prove fatal to its passage through that body. The discussion upon its general principles, which ocupied the house for two weeks after its introduction, was resumed from time to time during the examination of its details for the purpose of amendment; and but little prospect appeared of bringing about any satisfactory termination of this long disputed question. Amendment after amendment was introduced, each producing debate, and the session seemed drawing to a close, without any proposition being made, that was calculated to unite the votes of a majority of the house. The authorities of South Carolina, in the mean time, did not relax in their exertions to increase the military force of the state. Munitions were provided, depots formed, and the militia in the nullifying districts were called upon to volunteer in her defence.
On the other hand, the union party were equally determined not to submit to the nullifying ordinance and laws, and prepared themselves with equal firmness and zeal to sustain the federal authorities. A spark was sufficient to kindle the flame of civil war, but fortunately no accident occurred to bring about a collision. The revenue laws, under the protection of the forces of the federal government, were carried into effect without any opposition by violence.
No attempt was made to enforce the laws under the ordinance, and on the 31st of January, at a meeting of the leading nullifiers at Charleston, afte
reiterating their determination to maintain their principles, and expressing their satisfaction at the proposition to modify the tariff, it was resolved that during the session of congress, all collision be avoided, between the state and federal authorities, in the hope that the controversy might be satisfactorily adjusted. During these proceedings in South Carolina, the enforcing bill, or the bill further providing for the collection of duties, was pressed forward to a vote. The discussion on this bill was commenced on the 28th of January, by Mr. Wilkins, (chairman of the judiciary committee.) Mr. Wilkins said that the bill was founded upon a message from the president, communicated on the 16th inst., and proposed to sustain the constitutionality of the doctrines laid down in that paper. In the outset of the discussion he admitted that the bill pointed to an afflicting state of things existing in a southern state of the Union. So far from being invidious, however, the bill was made general and sweeping, in its terms and application, for the reason that this course was thought to be more delicate in regard to the state concerned. The provisions of the bill were made general, for the purpose of enforcing every where the collection laws of the Union.
The bill, Mr. W. said, presents three very important and momentous considerations: Is there any thing in the circumstances of the country calling for legislation on the subject of the
revenue laws? Is the due administration of those laws threatened with impediments? and is this bill suited to such an emergency? He proposed to consider those points.
It is time, continued Mr. W., that the principles on which the Union depends, were discussed. It is time that congress expressed an opinion upon them. It is time that the people should bring their judgment to bear on this subject, and settle it for ever.
The bill is of great importance, not on account of its particular provisions, but of tneir application to a rapidly approaching crisis, which they were intended to meet. That crisis was in the control of this body, not of any branch of the government. He would now present to the senate a view of the position in which South Carolina had placed herself, in order to justify the committee in reporting the bill under consideration.
The excitement raised in the state, gave to the party a majority in the legislature of the state, and a convention was called, under the provision of the state constitution, authorizing its amendment. The convention met, and passed what is called the ordinance, establishing new and fundamental principles. Without repeating it, he would call the attention of the senate to some few of its provisions. It overthrew the whole revenue system. It was not limited to the acts of 1828 or 183.2, but ended with a solemn declaration that, in that state, no taxes should be collected. The addresses of the convention to the people of the United States, and of the state of South Carolina, used a tone and language not to be misunderstood. They tell you it is necessary for some one state to bring the question to issue— that Carolina will do it—that Carolina had thrown herself into the breach, and would stand foremost in resistance to the laws of the Union, and they solemnly call upon the citizens of the state to stand by the principles of the ordinance, for it is determined that no taxes shall be collected in that state. The ordinance gives the legislature the power to carry into execution, this determination. It contains within itself no seeds of dissolution:— it is unlimited as to time; contains no restrictions as to application; provides no means for its amendment, modification or repeal. In their private, individual capacity, some members of the convention held out the idea, which had been advanced by some members of this house, that if the tariff law was made less oppressive, the ordinance would not be enforced.
[Mr. Poindexter here remarked, that he said that any new tariff law, even if more oppressive than the law of 1832, were passed, the ordinance would not apply to it.]
If the terms of the ordinance are considered, continued Mr. W., there is no possible mode of arresting it; so sure as time rolls on, and four days pass over our heads, the ordinance, and the laws emanating from it, will lead
to the employment of physical force, by the citizens of South Carolina, against the enforcement of the revenue laws. Although many of the most influential citizens of Carolina protested against the idea that any but moral force would be resorted to, yet the excitement and determined spirit of the people would, in his opinion, lead speedily to the employment of physical force.
[Mr. Calhoun: It is not intended to use any force, except against force. We shall not stop the proceedings of the United States courts; but maintain the authority of our own judiciary.]
Mr. Wilkins: How can the ordinance refer to any laws of the United States, when they are excluded from any operation within the limits of the state? Why do the laws and ordinances of South Carolina shut out the United States courts from appellate jurisdiction? Why do they shut the doors of the state courts against any inquisition from the United States courts? They intend that there shall be no jurisdiction over this subject, except through their own courts. They cut off the federal judiciary from all authority in that state, and bring back the state of things which existed prior to the formation of the federal constitution.
If we abolish our revenue system, they remain quiet. But if we go a hair's breadth towards enforcing that system, they present secession. We have secession on one hand, and nullification on the other. The senator from South Carolina admitted the other day, that no such thing as constitutional secession could exist. Then civil war, disunion, and anarchy must accompany secession. No one denies the right of revolution. That is a natural, indefeasible, inherent right—a right which we have exercised and held out, by our example, to the civilized world. Who denies it 1 Then we have revolution by force, not constitutional secession. That violence must-come by secession, is certain.
Another law passed by the legislature of South Carolina, is entitled a bill to provide for the safely of the people of South Carolina. It advises them to put on their armour. It puts them in military array; and for wnat purpose but for the use of force l The provisions of these laws are infinitely worse than those of the feudal system, so far as they apply to the citizens of Carolina. But with its operations on their own citizens, he had nothing to do. Resistance was just as inevitable as the arrival of the day on the calendar. If we judge by newspaper and other reports, more men were now ready to take up arms in Carolina, than there were during the revolutionary struggle. The whole state was at this moment in arms, and its citizens are ready to be embattled the moment any attempt was made to enforce the revenue laws.
Mr. W. then passed to the consideration of the provisions in tho bill. The first section of the bill, he said, contains provisions which are preventive and peaceful.
It enjoins forbearance on the executive, and gives him power to remove the custom house to a secure place, where the duties may be collected. Our object in removing the custom house, is to prevent all collision if possible. The power given in this clause is not new; the clause is simply declaratory of the existing law, as it has been held by our courts; for it has been decided, that where it is impossible to collect the duties, the officers of the customs may remove the custom house.
The next paragraph provides for the cash payment of duties, under circumstances which render it impossible to collect the duties in the ordinary way. Why should the practice of taking bonds be persisted in, when they say they are not bound to pay the bonds. It is a mockery to take bonds, when the constitution and the law release the people bound, from the obligation of the bonds. Suits must be brought to enforce the payment of the bonds, and the authority of the state and federal tribunals would thereby be brought into conflict, which conflict the bill seeks to avoid. The 62d section of the act of the 2d of March, 1799, refuses credit to merchants who have refused to pay their bonds. The same principle is applied to the present case, where people are combined to prevent the payment of bonds.
The third and remaining exigency provided for in this first section, is the authority to employ the land or naval forces, or militia. This provision is entirely defensive. It merely con