The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

By James Jackson Kilpatrick | Go to book overview

resisting the Supreme Court's school decree, are wrong now. But if the Northern States were right then, in resisting and opposing what they regarded as encroachments upon sovereign rights, then it equally may be supposed that the South is right today.


14
The Obligation of Contracts

THE SLAVERY issue, and the hotly contested questions of personal liberty laws, were not the only constitutional issues in the ante bellum period to be involved in conflicts between State and Federal authority. Controversies arising out of a provision in Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution ("No State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts") persistently saw the States and the Supreme Court at loggerheads.

This prohibition was among the relatively few direct prohibitions laid upon the States by the original Constitution. It was first asserted by Marshall, in the Yazoo controversy.186 It was dramatically expounded in Webster's famed Dartmouth College case ("It is a small school, but there are those who love it").187 It was refined in the States' favor in a Rhode Island case,188 and again interpreted--a bit tremulously--in the States' behalf in a suit involving New York's bankruptcy law in 1827.189 But it was not until the years immediately preceding and following the War of 1861-65 that the provision led to seriously recurring conflicts between State and Federal authority. For the purpose of these notes, which are intended to sketch representative instances of official interposition by the States of their sovereign power, it will suffice to call attention to certain disputes in Ohio, and in the Midwest.

Here we may begin by observing that one of the greatest problems of the expanding American frontier lay in the establishment

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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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