CHAPTER XXVII
THE MADISON DOCTRINE AND NULLIFICATION

MADISON'S explanatory report of the Virginia resolutions having been given to the world and a solemn protest against the Alien and Sedition laws having been recorded by the Kentucky Legislature, the incident passed into history. John Adams never put the Alien law into operation, and no trial under the Sedition law took place in Kentucky; but in Virginia the wretched James Thompson Callender was peacefully tried for printing a scurrilous article against the President and other Federalists. The judge was Samuel Chase, who had declared before the trial came off his determination to root up a reed so rank, and at another of the sedition trials this judge said he did not see on what authority the Supreme Court could declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.* When the contest for the Presidency was being waged in 1800 Chase absented himself from the bench to stump Maryland for the Federalists, thereby leaving the court without a quorum; for Ellsworth, the Chief Justice, was absent as Minister to France. William Patterson, another judge, tried Matthew Lyon for sedition and showed clearly enough his thorough sympathy with the obnoxious law.

The Supreme Court was not at this time the calm, independent body it subsequently became, nor was it completely aloof from political or administrative affairs. John Jay, the first Chief Justice, acted as Secretary of State for nearly six months after his elevation to the bench. He was still Chief Justice when he negotiated the treaty with England which excited such furious party

____________________
*
Wharton "State Trials,"42, et seq.

-259-

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