The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

By James Jackson Kilpatrick | Go to book overview

individuals, however exalted by station, who may violate the Constitution or laws of the United States."

What may we learn from this today? This citizen of Virginia, taking note of these events, does not profess to say who was right and who was wrong on the matter of the militia. Certainly it would appear that the question of contested power, having been raised by responsible States in mid-summer of 1812, could have been settled promptly had it been submitted to the arbitrament of all the States. The one point that may be emphasized, for the purposes of this essay, is that for two solid years--from the summer of 1812 until New England actually was invaded in the summer of 1814--Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont interposed their sovereign powers against what they regarded as an encroachment by Federal authority upon their rights. They stood granite-like upon what was to them a question of high constitutional principle.


5
Events of 1814

NEW ENGLAND'S contribution in this period to the story of State and Federal relations is by no means ended. Even as the bitter controversy continued over the control of State militia, Congress in December, 1813, added a fresh grievance to the Federalists' overflowing cup: A new embargo law was adopted, more stringent than all the embargoes of the preceding five years. Even shore fisheries and coastal trade were proscribed. In Massachusetts, a flood of memorials and remonstrances poured in from town meetings. These petitions were assembled and referred to a committee of the State legislature headed by William Lloyd; and on February 18, 1814, the General Court of Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved what still is remembered as "Lloyd's Report." It merits respectful attention.

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