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I call attention also to the case of the Wheeling Bridge, where Congress, under peculiar circumstances, exercised this identical power. In this case the State of Pennsylvania denied the power of Virginia to authorize a bridge across the Ohio River obstructing navigation; but, under the pressure of public demand, and in the exercise of the very powers now invoked, Congress declared the Wheeling Bridge a lawful structure, anything in any State law to the contrary notwithstanding. The Supreme Court, after the passage of this Act, denied a motion to punish the owners of the bridge for contempt in rebuilding it, and affirmed that the Act declaring the Wheeling Bridge a lawful structure was within the legitimate exercise by Congress of its constitutional power to regulate commerce.1 This very power is here invoked in a case more important and far more urgent than that of the Wheeling Bridge.

There is also another case. I refer to the Steubenville Bridge and Holliday's Cove Railroad across the Ohio, in what is called the Panhandle of Virginia. This bridge was first attempted under a charter granted by Ohio; but Congress at last interfered, and enacted,

"That the bridge partly constructed across the Ohio River at Steubenville, in the State of Ohio, abutting on the Virginia shore of said river, is hereby declared to be a lawful structure."

"That the said bridge and Holliday's Cove Railroad are hereby declared a public highway, and established a postroad for the purpose of transmission of mails of the United States."2

1 State of Pennsylvania v. Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company: 18 Howard, R., 421.

2 Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. pp. 569, 570.

Such are precedents of courts and of statutes, showing how completely this power belongs to Congress in the regulation of internal commerce. The authorities are plain and explicit. They cannot be denied. They cannot be explained away. It would be superfluous to dwell on them. There they stand like so many granite columns, fit supports of that internal commerce, in itself a chief support of the Union.

Secondly. There is also the power "to establish postroads," which is equally explicit. Here, too, the words are plain, and they have received authoritative exposition. It is with reference to these words that Mr. Justice Story remarks that "constitutions of government do not turn upon ingenious subtleties, but are adapted to the business and exigencies of human society; and the powers given are understood in a large sense, in order to secure the public interests. Common sense becomes the guide, and prevents men from dealing with mere logical abstractions."1 The same learned authority, in considering the text of the Constitution, seems to have anticipated the very question before us. Here is a passage which may fitly close the argument on this head:

"Let a case be taken when State policy" –

as, for instance, in New Jersey at this time,

"or State hostility shall lead the Legislature to close up or discontinue a road, the nearest and the best between two great States, rivals, perhaps, for the trade and intercourse of a third State; shall it be said that Congress has no right to make or repair a road for keeping open for the mail the best means of communication between those States? May

1 Commentaries on the Constitution, Vol. II. § 1134.

the National Government be compelled to take the most inconvenient and indirect routes for the mail? In other words, have the States a power to say how and upon what roads the mails shall and shall not travel? If so, then, in relation to post-roads, the States, and not the Union, are supreme.'


Thirdly. Then comes the power "to raise and support armies," an unquestionable power lodged in Congress. But this grant carries with it, of course, all incidental powers necessary to the execution of the principal power. It would be absurd to suppose that Congress was empowered to raise an army, but could not authorize the agencies required for its transportation from place to place. Congress has not been guilty of any such absurdity of abnegation. Already by formal Act it has proceeded "to authorize the President of the United States in certain cases to take possession of railroad and telegraph lines." By this Act the President is empowered "to take possession of any or all the railroad lines in the United States, their rolling stock, their offices, shops, buildings, and all their appendages and appurtenances," and it is declared that any such railroad" shall be considered as a post-road and a part of the military establishment of the United States."2 Here is the exercise of a broader power than any now proposed. The less must be contained in the greater.

Such are the three sources of power in the Constitution, each and all applicable to the present case. Each is indisputable. Therefore the conclusion, sustained by each, is threefold indisputable.

1 Commentaries on the Constitution, Vol. II. § 1144.

2 Statutes at Large, Vol. XII. p. 334.

So plain is this power, that it has been admitted by New Jersey in a legislative act, as follows:

"That, when any other rail road or roads for the transportation of passengers and property between New York and Philadelphia across this State shall be constructed and used for that purpose, under or by virtue of any law of this State or the United States authorizing or recognizing said road, that then and in that case the said dividends shall be no longer payable to the State, and the said stock shall be re-transferred to the Company by the Treasurer of this State." 1

Thus, in formal words, has New Jersey actually anticipated the very measure under consideration. All that is now proposed, so far as concerns New Jersey, is simply to recognize other railroads for the transportation of passengers and property between New York and Philadelphia across this State.

Such is the argument in brief for the constitutionality of the present bill, whether regarded as a general measure applicable to all railroads, or only applicable to the railroads of New Jersey. The case is so plain and absolutely unassailable that I should leave it on this simple exhibition, if the Senator from Maryland [Mr. REVERDY JOHNSON], who always brings to these questions the authority of professional reputation, had not most zealously argued the other way. According to him the bill is unconstitutional. Let me say, however, that the conclusion of the learned Senator is only slightly sustained by the reasons he assigns. Indeed, his whole elaborate argument, if brought to the touchstone, is found inconclusive and unsatisfactory.

1 Acts of the General Assembly of New Jersey, 1830-31, p. 75.

The Senator opened with the proposition, that the internal commerce of a State is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the State, and from this he argued that the present bill is unconstitutional. But the Senator will allow me to say that his proposition is not sufficiently broad for his conclusion. The present bill does not touch the internal commerce of a State, except so far as it is a link in the chain of "commerce among States," committed by the Constitution to the jurisdiction of Congress. This distinction must be made; for it is essential to a right understanding of the case.

From this inapplicable proposition the Senator passed to another equally inapplicable. He asserted that the jurisdiction of a State over all territory within its limits was exclusive, so that the United States cannot obtain jurisdiction over any portion thereof, except by assent of the State; and from this again he argued the unconstitutionality of the present bill. But this very illustration seems to have been anticipated by Mr. Justice Story in his excellent Commentaries, where he shows conclusively, first, that it is inapplicable, and, secondly, that, if it were applicable, it would be favorable to the power. Here are his words:

"The clause respecting cessions of territory for the seat of Government, and for forts, arsenals, dock-yards, &c., has nothing to do with the point. But if it had, it is favorable to the power. . . . . But surely it will not be pretended that Congress could not erect a fort or magazine in a place within a State, unless the State should cede the territory. The only effect would be that the jurisdiction in such a case would not be exclusive. Suppose a State should prohibit a sale of any of the lands within its boundaries by its own citizens, for any public purposes indispensable for the

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