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of the State Legislatures. This constitution was not satisfactory to Mr. Jefferson, who, during its pendency for adoption, first suggested the principles on which the Senate and House of Representatives are at present organized. Mr. Bancroft says, “ The vote,' said Sherman, of Connecticut, should be taken two ways ; call the Colonies, and call the individuals, and have a majority of both.' This idea he probably derived from Jefferson, who enforced in private as a means to save the Union, that any proposition might be negatived by the Representatives of a majority of the people, or of a majority of the Colonies. Here is the thought out of which the great compromise of our constitution was evolved.” Mr. Jefferson was Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781. In 1784 he was appointed by Congress minister to France, where he remained as such for five years. He returned in 1789, when Washington appointed him Secretary of State, which office he resigned in 1793.
His great friend and cotemporary, James Madison, graduated at Princeton, New Jersey, in 1772, was a member of the Convention of Virginia which formed her first constitution in 1776; was a member of her Legislature till 1777; and from 1780 until 1783, was in the Congress of the Confederacy; afterwards, from 1784 to 1786, he was again a member of the Virginia Legislature. In 1786 a proposition was made by Mr. Madison, and adopted by the Annapolis Convention, to call a general convention of all the states to assemble at Philadelphia in May, of the following year, for changing the Articles of Confederation; which accordingly assembled and formed our present constitution. In view of such a convention, Mr. Jefferson in 1786 wrote a letter to Mr. Madison from France, in which he proposed the great and radical amendment to the then Federal Constitution which was most needed, and which distinguishes our present one from any Federal System of Government which ever preceeded it. In that letter Mr. Jefferson says: “To make us one nation as to foreign concerns, and keep us distinct in domestic ones, gives the outline of the proper division of powers between the general and particular government. But to enable the Federal head to exercise the power given it to the best advantage, it should be organized, as the particular ones are, into Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.” The convention at Annapolis referred to was composed of commissioners from five states, and met on the 11th of September 1786. They adopted a report which was sent as a circular to the legislatures they represented, in which they advised the calling a general convention of all the states, to meet in Philadelphia, May, 1787, “ to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to advise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.” That convention met on the 14th of May, 1787. Mr. Madison was a member of it. Determined as he said, “ to preserve as far as could be an exact account of what might pass in the convention while executing its trust, I chose a seat in front of the presiding member, with the other members on my right and left hands. In this favorable position for hearing all that passed, I noted in terms legible, and in abbreviations and marks intelligible to myself, what was read from the chair, and spoken by members; and losing not a moment unnecessarily between the adjournment and reassembling of the convention, I was enabled to write out my daily notes during the session, or within a few finishing hours after its close. It happened also that I was not absent a single day, nor more than a casual fraction of an hour in any day, so that I could not have lost a single speech, unless a very short one.” His papers, for which Congress since his death gave $30,000, contained the only extant copies of the debate, in this convention. He was also, as the proceedings show, by far the most active and efficient of its members, taking a leading part in all its most important measures; so much so, that he has been styled ever since “ the Father of the Constitution.” After the formation of the Constitution, he united with Hamilton and Jay in writing the work called the “ Federalist,” which ever since its publication has been held by American jurists and statesmen as a text book, and as the highest authority for a true exposition of the constitution. On account of his able defense of the then new constitution against a most powerful opposition, it was ratified by Virginia. After its adoption by the states, he became a member of the first Congress and successive ones; in which he served from 1789 to 1797.
The foregoing brief sketch of the political careers of Jefferson and Madison up to the closing period of the last century, has been given not to inform the public of facts so familiar to it, but to refresh the recollection of them, in order that the opinions, referred to hereafter, of those who were so pre-eminently the authors and earliest expounders of the constitution, may have their due weight in its construction. They, indeed, may be truly called, in comparison with all others in that age of heroes, the authors of two of the greatest productions of human genius ever made for the exposition of political liberty and for the security of human rights, the Declaration of American Independence, and the constitufion of the United States.
At the close of the last century, during the administration of John Adams, a question of fearful import arose, as to the true construction of the constitution, which convulsed the Republic from centre to circumference, and which, although settled in 1800, and for many years thereafter, was again revived, and has continued ever since a source of agitation and angry controversy. Out of that question sprang the doctrine of “ State Rights.” In their names, through declarations made by Jefferson and Madison in that celebrated conflict, were proclaimed the true principles of the government of which they themselves were the great architects.
Let us now look into the nature of that conflict, and of the doctrine alluded to. During the administration of John Adams, the notorious alien and sedition laws were passed. The alien act provided, in substance, that the President should have power to order all aliens in the United States, whom he in his discretion thought dangerous to the peace and safety of the nation, to depart from the country. In regard to such aliens, he was invested with the exercise of legislative, judicial, and executive power. The sedition act was hostile to the freedom of the press, and its principle was to shield the President, and Congress, and officers of the government, against an unrestrained and unfettered criticism of their official acts. On the passage of these laws, Jefferson denounced them as palpable violations of the constitution, and as usurpations of power, dangerous to the rights of the states and to the liberties of the people. Through his instrumentality, appeals were made to the different state governments to take action against them; and to this end the famous Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798 and '99, denouncing them, were passed; followed by the celebrated report of Mr. Madison.
The Virginia resolutions use the following language: “That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the Federal Government as resulting from the compact to which the states are parties, as limited by the plain
sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers not granted by the said compact, states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them.”
" That the General Assembly doth also express its deep regret, that a spirit has, in sundry instances, been manifested by the Federal Government to enlarge its powers by a forced construction of the constitutional charter which defines them; and that indications have appeared of a design to expound certain general phrases (which having been copied from the very limited grant of powers in the former Articles of Confederation, were the less liable to be misconstrued) so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the particular enumeration which necessarily explains and limits the general phrases, and so as to consolidate the states by degrees into one sovereignty; the obvious tendency and inevitable result of which would be to transform the present republican system of the United States into an absolute, or, at best, mixed monarchy.”
" That the good people of this Commonwealth having ever felt, and continuing to feel, the most sincere affection for their brethren of the other states, the truest anxiety for establishing and perpetuating the union of all, and the most scrupulous fidelity to that constitution which is the pledge of mutual friendship and the instrument of mutual happiness; the General Assembly doth solemnly appeal to the like disposition in the other states, in confidence that they will concur with this Commonwealth, in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid are unconstitutional; and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each for co-operating with this state in maintaining unimpaired the authorities, rights, and liberties reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
“ That the General Assembly 'doth particularly protest against the palpable and alarming infractions of the constitution in the two late cases of the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed at the last session of Congress."
Mr. Madison, in his celebrated report sustaining these resolutions, declares: “ That the judicial department is, in all questions submitted to it by the forms of the constitution, to decide in the last resort; this resort must necessarily be deemed the last in relation to the authorities of the other departments of the government; not in relation to the rights of the parties to the constitutional compact, from which the judicial, as well as the other departments, hold their delegated trusts.”
In these extracts are to be found those great conservative principles of our Government which have rendered these resolutions and report so illustrious, and almost as famous as the constitution itself.
In order to avoid a misconstruction of the positions taken in the above resolutions and report, and the reasoning used in both to sustain them, it must be remembered that the question raised by the Alien and Sedition laws was one between the general government and the states, as composing its constituent body. They gave rise also to another question, viz., how far a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States was a bar to the interposition of the states; it having been alleged to be so, even to the declaration of legislative opinions. The replies, at that time, to those resolutions from other states, indicate such a position as the latter to have been held. Massachusetts, in her reply, said: “ They cannot admit the right of the State Legislatures to denounce the administration of that government to which the people themselves, by a solemn compact, have exclusively entrusted their national concerns;" " That the construction of all laws, made in pursuance of the constitution, is exclusively vested by the people in the judicial courts.” Another conclusive proof that such a position was maintained, is the fact that, when the report of Mr. Madison was under consideration in the Virginia House of Delegates, a resolution was moved which affirms: "That protests made by the legislature of this, or any other state, against particular acts of Congress as unconstitutional, accompanied by invitations to other states to join in such protests, are improper and unauthorized assumptions of power, not permitted, nor intended to be permitted, to the state legislatures. And inasmuch as correspondent sentiments with the present have been expressed by those of our sister states who have acted on the resolutions (of 1798); Resolved, therefore, that the present General Assembly, convinced of the impropriety of the resolutions of the last Assembly, deem it inexpedient further to act on the said resolu