The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

By James Jackson Kilpatrick | Go to book overview

12
The Case for Nullification

AT THIS point, it is proposed to pause in this review of State and Federal conflicts, in order to argue the basis, the soundness, and the wisdom of the constitutional doctrines of John Calhoun. In undertaking this task, the author of these notes asks of his readers no more than the open mind which he himself brought to the subject at first encounter some months ago. To one reared in the custom of docile obedience to Federal authority, to the tradition of a strong "national" government, Calhoun's cold and logical reasoning comes with the shock of an icy plunge.

Because the best exposition of this argument is Calhoun's own exposition, let us go first to his Fort Hill Address of 1831. "The great and leading principle," he began, "is that the general government emanated from the people of the several States, forming distinct political communities, and acting in their separate and sovereign capacity, and not from all the people forming one aggregate political community."

The evidence in support of that proposition already has been marshaled, and seems undeniable: The colonies, under British rule, were separate colonies; with the Revolution, they declared themselves individually "free and independent States." As separate and distinct States they entered into the Articles of Confederation. As separate and distinct States they bound themselves under the new Constitution in 1787 and 1788. At no time did "we the people," meaning the people en masse, take any action affecting the creation of the Union; at every juncture, the people acted solely as people-of-States. Had the States abandoned this proud characteristic of individual sovereignty, it is reasonable to believe that their act of divestiture would have been set

-186-

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The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Part 1 - The Sovereign States 1
  • 3 - The Articles of Confederation 8
  • 4 - "We the People" 10
  • 5 - The States in the Constitution 13
  • 6 - The Prophetic Mr. Henry 18
  • 7 - The States Ratify 28
  • Part 2 - The Right to Interpose 49
  • 3 - Debt Assumption 53
  • 4 - The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions 58
  • 5 - Mr. Madison's Report of 1799 62
  • Part 3 - The States Fight Back * 99
  • 1 - The Olmstead Case 101
  • 3 - The Embargo Crisis 118
  • 4 - Matters of the Militia 132
  • 6 - The Hartford Convention 136
  • 7 - The Bank of the United States 139
  • 8 - Internal Improvements 144
  • 9 - Kentucky Vs. the Court 158
  • 10 - Georgia Vs. the Court 161
  • 11 - Calhoun and Nullification 174
  • 12 - The Case for Nullification 186
  • 14 - The Obligation of Contracts 199
  • 15 - After the War 216
  • 16- The Reconstruction Cases 222
  • 17 - The Commerce Clause (commenced) 231
  • 18 - Interlude in a Speakeasy 242
  • Part 4 - The States Today 253
  • 1 - The Southern States 255
  • 3 - Some Notes on Police Power 258
  • 4 - The Transcendent Issue 277
  • Notes 309
  • Table of Cases and Index 331
  • Table of Cases 333
  • Index 337
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