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felt, that they had a higher duty to perform, than to flatter the prejudices of the people, or to subserve selfish, or sectional, or local interests. Many of them went to their graves, without the soothing consolation, that their services and their sacrifices were duly appreciated. They scorned every attempt to rise to power and influence by the common arts of demagogues ; and they were content to trust their characters, and their conduct, to the deliberate judgement of posterity.
§ 41. If, upon a close survey of their labors, as developed in the actual structure of the Constitution, we shall have reason to admire their wisdom and forecast, to observe their profound love of liberty, and to trace their deep sense of the value of political responsibility, and their anxiety, above all things, to give perpetuity, as well as energy, to the republican institutions of their country; then, indeed, will our gratitude kindle into a holier reverence, and their memories will be cherished arnong those of the noblest benefactors of mankind.
Exposition of the Constitution.— The Preamble.
§ 42. Having given this general sketch of the origin of the Colonies, of the rise and fall of the Confederation, and of the formation and adoption of the Constitution of the United States, we are now prepared to enter upon an examination of the actual structure and organization of that Constitution, and the powers belonging to it. We shall treat it, not as a mere compact, or league, or confederacy, existing at the mere will of any one or more of the States, during their good pleasure ; but, (as it purports on its face to be,) as a Constitution of Government, framed and adopted by the people of the United States, and obligatory upon all the States, until it is altered, amended, or abolished by the people, in the manner pointed out in the instrument itself. It is to be interpreted, as all other solemn instruments are, by endeavoring to ascertain the true sense and meaning of all the terins; and we are neither to narrow them, nor to enlarge them, by straining them from their just and natural import, for the purpose of adding to, or diminishing its powers, or bending them to any favorite theory or dogma of party. It is the language of the people, to be judged of according to common sense, and not by mere theoretical reasoning. It is not an instrument for the mere private interpretation of any particular men. The people have established it and spoken their will; and their will, thus promulgated, is to be obeyed as the supreme law. Every department of the Government must, of course, in the first instance, in the exercise of its own powers and duties, necessarily construe the instrument. But, if the case admits of judicial cognizance, every citizen has a right to contest the validity of that construction before the proper judicial tribunal ; and to bring it to the test of the Constitution. And, if the case is not capable of judicial redress, still the people may, through the acknowledged means of new elections, or proposed amendments, check any usurpation of authority, whether wanton, or unintentional, and thus relieve themselves from any grievances of a political nature.
$ 43. For a right understanding of the Constitution of the United States, it will be found most convenient to examine the provisions, generally, in the order, in which they are stated in the instrument itself; and thus, the different parts may be made mutually to illustrate each other. This order will, accordingly, be adopted in the ensuing commentaries.
44. We shall begin then, with the Preamble, which is in the following words :
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
§ 45. This Preamble is very important, not only as explanatory of the motives and objects of framing the Constitution ; but, as affording the best key to the true interpretation thereof. For it may well be presumed, that the language used will be in conformity to the motives, which govern the parties, and the objects to be attained by the Instrument. Every provision in the instrument may therefore fairly be presumed to have reference to one or more of these objects. And consequently, if any provision is susceptible of two interpretations, that ought to be adopted, and adhered to, which best harmonizes with the avowed intentions and objects of the authors, as gathered from their declarations in the instrument itself.
$ 46. The first object is, “ to form a more perfect union.” From what has been already stated, respecting the defects of the Confederation, it is obvious, that a further continuance of the Union was impracticable, unless a new government was formed, possessing more powers and more energy. That the Union of the States is in the highest degree desirable, nay, that it is almost indispensable to the political existence of the States, is a proposition, which admits of the most complete moral demonstration, so far as human experience and general reasoning can establish it. If the States were wholly separated from each other, the very inequality of their population, territory, resources, and means of protecting their local interests, would soon subject them to injurious rivalries, jealousies, and retaliatory measures. The weak would be wholly unable to contend successfully against the strong, and would be compelled to submit to the terms, which the policy of their more powerful neighbors should impose upon them. What could Rhode Island, or New Jersey, or Delaware, accomplish against the will, or the resentments, of the formidable States, which surround them? But, in a more general view, the remark of the Abbe Mably may be appealed to, as containing the result of all human experience. “Neighboring states (says he) are naturally enemies of each other, unless their common weakness forces them to league in a confederative republic, and their Constitution prevents the differences, that neighborhood occasions, extinguishing
that secret jealousy, which disposes all states to aggrandize themselves, at the expense of their neighbors.”
$ 47. On the other hand, if the States should separate into distinct confederacies, there could scarcely be less than three, and most probably, there would be four ; an Eastern, a Middle, a Southern, and a Western Confederacy. The lines of division would be traced out by geographical boundaries between the slave-holding and the non-slave-holding States, a division, in itself, fraught with constant causes of irritation and alarm. There would also be marked distinctions between the commercial, the manufacturing, and the agricultural States, which would perpetually give rise to real or supposed grievances and inequalities. But the most important consideration is, that, in order to maintain such confederacies, it would be necessary to clothe the government of each of them with summary and extensive powers, almost incompatible with liberty, and to keep up large and expensive establishments, as well for defence as for offence, in order to guard against the sudden inroads, or deliberate aggressions of their neighbors and rivals. The evils of faction, the tendencies to corrupt influence, the pressure of taxation, the necessary delegation of arbitrary powers, and the fluctuations of legislation, would thus be immeasurably increased. Foreign nations, too, would not fail to avail themselves, in pursuit of their own interests, of every opportunity to foster our intestine divisions, since they might thus more easily command our trade, or monopolize our products, or crush our manufactures, or keep us in a state of dependence upon their good will for our security.
§ 43. The Union of the States, “the more perfect union” of them, under a National Government, is, then, and for ever must be, invaluable to the whole country, in respect to foreign and domestic concerns. It will diminish the causes of war, that scourge of the human race; it will enable the National Government to protect and secure the rights of the whole people; it will diminish public expenditures ; it will insure respect abroad, and confidence at home ; and it will unite in one common bond the interests of agriculture, of commerce, and of manufactures. $ 49. The next object is, “to establish justice.” This, indeed, is the first object of all good and rational forms of government. Without justice being fully, freely, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected. Call the form of government whatever you may, if justice cannot be equally obtained by all the citizens, high and low, rich and poor, it is a mere despotism. Of what use is it to have wise laws to protect our rights or property, if there are no adequate means of enforcing them ? Of what use are constitutional provisions or prohibitions, if they may be violated with impunity? If there are no tribunals of justice established to administer the laws with firmness and independence, and placed above the reach of the influence of rulers, or the denunciations of mobs, what security can any citizen have for his personal safety or for his public or private rights ? It may, therefore, be laid down as a fundamental maxim of all governments, that justice ought to be administered freely and fully between private persons; and it is rarely departed from, even in the most absolute despotisms, unless under circumstances of extraordinary policy or excitement. Doubtless, the attainment of justice is the foundation, on which all our State governments rest; and, therefore, the inquiry may naturally present itself, in what respects the formation of a National Government would better tend to establish justice.
$ 50. The answer may be given in a few words. In the administration of justice, citizens of the particular State are not alone interested. Foreign nations, and their subjects, as well as citizens of other States, may be deeply interested. They may have rights to be protected; wrongs to be redressed ; contracts to be enforced ; and equities to be acknowledged. It may be presumed, that the States will provide adequate means to redress the grievances, and secure the rights of their own citizens. But, it is far from being certain, that they will at all times, or even ordinarily, take the like measures to redress the grievances, and secure the rights of foreigners, and citizens of other States. On the contrary, one of the rarest