John Taylor.

Construction construed, and constitutions vindicated online

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Bs IT mBOMBBBBD, Thftt Oil the (]iirteeB<h dtr «f Novembw.
gi XXXXXX * in ^e forty-fifth year of the independenoe of the United States of
^' SE.SL- Sk America, Tliomas Bitehie and Company, of the laid dittriet, hate
^ XXXXXXO deposited in this offioe the title of a book, the pght whereof t^
eUim as proprietors, in the words fottowin|^ to wit ; ** ConrtraetiQa
'* construed, and eonstitatigos vindicated. By John Taylor, author of the Eq.
^ qniry, and Arator." In conformity to ^ act of the coopress of the United
States, entitled, *< An act for the eneonngement of leamiBf , by semniBf the
** coptes of maps, charts, and books to the anthon and proprieton of such copies^
« diuiof the timet thereiii meatioaed.*

Cierk of ^ JMitri^ qf Flf^^Ma.

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The crisis has C011169 wben the foHowing i¥ork ^ may do
the state some service/*

The MsBowri ^lustum b probably not yet closed. The
prindpU, on which it turns, is certainly not settied. Farther
attempts are to be made^o wrest from the new states, about
to enter into the American confMeracy, the power of regu-
lating their own concerns. — ^The Tart^ question is again to
be agitated.^ — It is time to bring the policy and the power of
a legislature's tnterfering with the jvdicial functimis to the
bar of publick opinion.^— The usurpation of a federal power
over roads and canals is again to be attempted, and again to
be reprobated.-— That gigantick institution, the Bank of the
United States, which, while yet in the green tree, was pro-
datmed by tiie republicans a breach of the constitution,
M stands now upon its bond f* but that charter, bad as it is,
has been justified by the supreme court of the United States,
on prittdples so bold and alarming, that no man who loves
the 'constitution can fold his arms in apathy upon the sub-
ject. Those principles, so boldly uttered from the highest
judicial tribunal in the United States, are calculated to give
the tone to an acquiescent people, to change the whole face
of our government, and to generate a thousand measures,
which the framers of the constitution never anticipated,
lliat decision

■ will be recorded fiar « preeedent^

And many an error by the same example
May nub into the itate. Iteannotbe.

Againist such a decision, it becomes every man, who values
the constitution, to raise his voice.

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In trnfht we have ftnired at acrisisy when the first pita*
ciples of the governinent and some of the dearest rights of
tbO' states are threatened with being utterly ground into dust
and ashes. When we look to the original form of the
g^vemmentt we are struck with its novelty and beauty. It
presents to us one of the grandest experiments that ever was
made in political science. We see in it an attempt to asoer-*
tain, how far power could be so distributed between two
govemmeats, as to prevent an txcesmroe concmtraHan and
consequent abuse of it in one set of hands } at the sune
time, that 9o much power was conveyed to each^ as to enable
them to accomplish the objects to which each of them was
best adapted. The federal governnieat was to watch over
our foreign relations ; that of the states, was particularly
to take care of our internal concerns. The great secret
was> to have these functions so wisdy regidatedt as to pre«
vent the general government finom rushing into conscrfida-
ti<m ; and the states, into a dissolution of the union. The
first extreme would infallibly conduct us to great tippres*^
sion^ and probably to monarchy : the last would subject us
to insults fuid injuries from abroad, to contentions and
bloodshed at home. To avoid these extr^nes^ we sboidd
never have lost sight of the true spirit of the federal con«
stitution. To interpret it wisdy» we should have rigidly
adhered to the principle^ laid down by Cko^ge Clinton^
when he, fhnn the chair of the senate of the United Stfttes»
gave the casting voice against the renewal of the first bank
charts : << In the course of a long life^ I have found tiiat
f< government is not to be strengthened by the asswrnpHon
** of doubtful powers, but a wise and energeti^k execution of
^ those which are incontestable; the former never fails to
«< produce suspicion and distrust, whilst the latter inspires
<< respect and confidence. If, however, on fair experience,
'< the powers vested in the government shall be fownd in<^
^< competent to the attainment of the objects for which it
<^ was instituted, the constitviion happU^f furnishes the means
**for remedying the evil by amcndmentJ^ This maxim

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dcserros to be written m k/tban of goM ipoa tlie wall of
the capitol in Wasbington.

But, we have bem aUoort deaf to the voice of wMom;
We have neariy forgotten the prioci|4e8 of our fathem.
In repeated instanceo^ we have auffered the eonotHotion to
he trodden under foot. We hare been lately rosfaiNg rapidly
towanb the gulph of consoKdation. We have even seen the
purest triumphs of the repoUican party in 1800-*1 , (when an
alien and sedition law were rtiivered into atona by an in*
dignant people,) almost forgotten. We hare seen a deci-
9ion promulgated from the federal bench, wbtGh is calcu-
lated to sweep down the dearest rights of the states. The
infatuation of the day has been carried so far, that we have
just seen an attempt made, and bolstered up by the seriatim
opinion of five, eminent counseUers, to hnmble the powers
(^ the state governments at the feet of the District of Co-

The period is, indeed, by no means an agreeable one. It
borrows new gloom from the apathy which seems to reign
over so many of our sister states. The very sound of State
Rights is scarcely ever heard among them ; and by many
of their eminent politicians, it is only heard to be mocked
at. But a good citizen wiH never despair of the republick*^
Among these good citizens, is John Taylor, of Caroline.
Penetrated by the conviction, that the constitution is in
danger; that the balance has seriously inclined towards
the side of consolidation ; he comes forward to commune
with his countrymen, and to stote to them frankly his im«
pressions and his fears.

If there be any book that is capable of rousing the peo-
ple, it is the one before us. Bold and original in its con-
ceptions, without passion, and with an admirable ingenuity
to recommend it, it is calculated, we should think, to make
a deep impression. Its author is far removed from the
temptations of ambition. He holds no ofiice. He wishes for
none. He writes, for he has thought much; and the present
is a sort of last legacy to his countrymen. It is unnecessary

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to dwdl Qpon tiie particdar traits of tbis work; yet tho
finger upon ttie wall is not to be mistaken. We bere see
the spirit wbicb breatbes in tbe pages of << Arator/' and ci
tbe <^ Political Enquiry/' Tbe first bas made bim known
tbrougbout America : The last is less generally read ; but
unless some intelligent men are mucb nusteken^ it is yet to
win its way to distinguisbed reputation. Tbey bave all
one trait, witbout wbfeh genius exists not The man, v>h0
wnUi ihemrdarcM to tinhikfor himulf.

EiGsofoRii^ Novetaber, 18S0.

v\ w^V / ■

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Tub anthor of the foUowhig wmrk eunesfly irishad to
ranain imknowii ; but circuBMlanoes having rendered it im-
possible, his altematire 'was reduced to an avowal, or aa
aflfoctation of concealment : he hopes, however, that no one
will belieye him to have been iidUmiced by money^ or fame,
or any personal consi^ration, excqit that kind of feeling
experienced when about to take a last leave of our friends^
ire say to tbem << Gk>d bless yon.^

He does not solicit the indidgence of his readers, as he
wishes his errors to be corrected ; nor does he expect any,
exc^t from those whose interest is not disunited from that
of the society.

The end of fostering eleemosynary families has evidently
suggested a mode of construing our constitutions, which
requires that such phrases as the fdlowing should be recon-
ciled : << Sovereign servants. Supreme equality. Unlim-
ited UmitaUons. Cons<didated divisions. Inferior superi-
ority. And desirable misery.*^ Thus, representative power
may be made despc^ick ^ a co-ordinate sphere may be made
supreme ; convenience, like the waves produced by a pebble
tiirown on smooth water, may be made to undulate indefi-
nitely ; a subordinate judicial power may start up into a
dictatcHT to the state governments ; divisions and limitations
of power may be confounded and abolished $ and English
lollies are converted from objects of our abhorrence, into
models for our imitation. Under a reconciliation between
rq^ublican and despotick princijdes, eflTected by the new idea
of <^ sovereign servants,'' our legidatures are converted into
British partiaments, daily new-modelling the substance of
oar government, ^y bodies politick, exclusive privileges^
pensions^ bounti^y imd judicial acts, conq^ing an arbi-

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trary power of dispensing wealth or poverty to individmds
and combinations^ at their pleasure. .

If our system of government produces these bitter fruits
naturally, it is substantially European; and the world,
after having contemplated with intense interest and eager
solicitude the. experiment of the IJnited States, will be
fiurprised to find, that no experiment at all has been made,
and that it still remains to be discovered, wh^ber a poli-
tical system preferable to the Britisii be within the scope
of human capacity. But, if these fruits ^e not its legitir
mate offsprings, but of foreign knportation, we ought iq
fulfil the hopes of mankind, by returning to tliose princple|(
in construing our system, by which it was dictated. Let
us remember, that the lucrative partialities of a governr
ment, instead of being destroyed by use, like the splendid
fabricks of the loom bespangled with gold and silver to
gratify pride and luxury, become richer and stroniger, tb^
longer they are worn by ambition and avarice.
^ The habit of corrupting our political system, by the iur
»strumentality of inference, convenience and necessity, witb
an endless series of consequences inched to them, is t^e
importer of contraband principles., and the bountiful gnm^-
tor of powers not given, or withheld by our coiistitutioi«9t
It is, therefore, the natural enemy of our home-bred form oi
government and ought to awaken the resistance of ^11 legis*
lative and judicial departments, and the detestation of ev^y
person not enriched by this ruinous comm^^ce. Every
lover of our institutions ought to be a vigilant custom-bouse
officer, and do his utmost to prevent a heavy governpeot
from being brought in gradually by these seemingly light
skiffs. It is convenient for the tranepiissio& of tas^s, tbi^
congress should create banks; but the constitutioa does
not del^ate to the federal government a power to create
political combinations, invested with a power to. regidate
. the wealth and poverty of individuals. This new pqm&c of
indefinite magnitude is, however, said to be conveyed, as %
consequence ^ the convenient mode of rMievbg mraiey.

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Agsdn: c6ngre68 bave a power to r^ulate commerce ; but
tiie coMlitiitioii doesBol dd^ate to the federal government
m power to make several statos tribiitary to one, nor a
poww^ to make the peojde of all the states tributary to a
combination of capitdists, constituting in fact a body poii*
tick, materially i^ecting the interests of all persons. In
tiiis case also^ the inference is made to bestow a far greater
pom&Tf than that from which it is extracted.

Hie nourishment of exclusive interests^ in all its forms^ is
tibe universal cause which obstructs the progress of politi-
cal science, and has placed that which ought to be the first,
in the rear of human improvements. The emoluments, at-
tached to flie administi*ation of civil government, are un-
iQippily a sufficient suggestion to avarice and ambition, that
firaud and ofqpresirion may aflTord them gratifications. EveA
this excitement was viewed by Doctor Franklin as so dan-
gerous to liberty, that he wished for its suppression, and re-
fused to receive any compensation as president of Pennsyl-
vania ; and Washington would only receive his expenses for
all his services. However impracticable these speculations^
may be, yet the opinions of these great men are weighty
antborities against the policy of superadding to an unavoid-
able temptation, a host of unnecessary solicitors in behalf
of avarice and ambition, retained by exorbitant fees pmd
by the people, whilst no reward whatever is offered to the
idvocates for integrity and moderation. By this pernicious
policy, an union is formed between flie administrators of go-
vernment and corrupted combinations, creating an impulse
towards oj^ression, which abstract principles, however
good, have hitherto been unable to withstand. As the
brightest beacon may^ be extinguished by throwing some
ho^le dement on the flame, so the best principles are des-
troyed by fostering theik* foes.

Yet tl» argument in favour of exclusive privileges is, that
it is the best mode by which knowledge can be advanced,
iRrf arts, perfected. Under colour of this assertion, it is
mii, tb^t maidu^tures havte never been introduced into any

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cMiantiy, eieeptbytheeoerdioii«f tiMgO¥unm«^ Thm
a degpotiek powei' of dlstrHrating wealtib mA pov^ety* §§
tiie caprices and vtees of indiTidaals laay dietete» ia arttill j
covered by the pretext^ that it is tiie best modo of advanci*
ing arts and semceei but the troth is^ that ttifgr have
flotiridied in p-oportkni as iadiisfay has been feoe and
property safe. The gratitude of knowledge iSf th(N?^oi«b
due to that pow^, wbicfa has sheeted iodnstry and phBoaA*
pliers fin* its comnranicatioB. The ckiin of govemneirf»
to be considered as the apostles of knowfedge* is preeiaa^
ly the same witii their claim to rdigious apostoliek poiwer^
and experience baa sofficie^y proved^ tlmt both powers
b^get oppression.

l%is is a sabject which ^qM fill a book of no small mm^
and^ therefore, a limited plan would not admit of its firitt
applicatk>n to the manufacturing ar^ sdected to estabUuA
the pernicious general principle^ that governments ought to
have a power of granting exclusive privileges. Yet, it is
highly worthy of publick consideration Privileges im^
a general depriyation. To take away in order to bestow^
is merdy to pull down with one hand for the purpose of
building up with flie other, if the d^-ivation discouragesaa
orach industry, as the privttege will excite. Hiese politi-
cal contradictions would then neutralize each dfcher. Bu^
if the discouragement operates upon greato* numbers than
fte privily, as is alwfQrs the case, a balance arises unfiiM*
vourable to indimtryf arts and sdences. Hjenco, they have
flourished as exclusive privH^es have decreased, and dwin*
died where fliey abound. The abolition id a vast numheff
of feudal and hierarchical privil^;es gave them a great in*
pulse in England, and a gradual multiplication of pecunia-
ry privfl^ges since has brought the same Qoontry to a sti^
of misery, which may involve them in some gmiCNral c<mvuk
^ion. Is this misery, or the mystsrioos advances of know*
ledge and liberty, the best bostage for their ki^rovemeat 3
These have co-extensively pushed forward all arta aoA
acmwip aided <Mr aamded by Ao patriotimn of govem*

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ttaetfmtt^ and wtbmift bMnttas* Thk concoodtucjr i
Mm a ooBMDOB canae, eateUiBiiMi tha aacandancy of know^
laigi^ and ex^adea the meearily for tba partbliliaa oi go^
ttMmeatB) or tka paliey of diqienng geaeral evily to cm-
ridi selected aecta. After the Atfk aya> a manaflictoytog
sajpertority i^tMared ia Italy aad France, wlflioiit any.q^
dal pati*ottage fipom tiieir ^^Mrgamaed goTemmeatB, be*
cause those eoontrksaorpassed the rest nfEnrope IB know*
\adgb ; and several English kii^ Med ansnccesaftilly to
rtval it by \6gti coercions. The revocation of ^ edict of
Nantes at lengtti expelled a great mass of manafadnrrag
knowledge from France, and stqqAied Enf^aad with the
leattngcanseof maan&ctaringprQi^rity; from this qpoch^
she dates hers. The hnpravenmits of machinery in E^
hand were the woiiuof bi^fidaal knowledge and indastry,
after her prohibitory qrstem had becooM nottunaL The
wonderfiil art of sbip-bnSdingy carried to such forbdMrn
in "ttie United States, prc^osed to be checked by coaiiaer*
dal restrictions) proves, Ihat when the knowledge of an art
is obtained, it is only necessary ttat it shoold correspond
^th the interest of individuals. Compute and compare the
progress of the United States in the arts and sciences, in
about thirty years, with the ingress of Europe during a
sin^ar spa/te, and anticipate its reach in six centuries^
during which Europe has been «i^oyed in effecting her
attainments. To what can the vast difference in velocity
toward exceUence be ascribed, but to a greater freedom of
intdlect and industry i Why, then, should we substitute for
these, avarice and fraud, as better teachers of arts and
sciences i

Alexander of Russia, a few years past, asserted the right
of all states to internal self-government, and entered into
a treaty with the cortes of Spain, to guaranty the constitu*
tion they had made. Now, to advance the interest of a
cembinaticm of monarchs, he renounces his principles and
his honour, and even forbids the penitent Ferdinand to

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acknowledge what he had asa^-ted, and to confirm what he
liad guarantied. The federal constitntion as esqiready
guaranties to the states the right of kit^mal sdf-gov«m-
nent ; but a mode of construction is introduced to advance
the interest of mercenary combinations. Is not the analogy
between the Russian and this mode of constenctiony appa-
rent? The differences arefttmt Alexander proposes to over-
turn princi^es and a compact by force^ and construction
acts by sap; he adheres to the interest of hereditary mon-
archs ; construction, to the interest of exclusive privileges.
The importance of these differences may be ascertdned by
comparing force with fraud, and a confederacy of foreign
kings, with a confederacy of domestic parasitical privileges.
Whatever may be the result of fliis comparison, it can DNffer
us nothing but the old alternative between monarchy and
aristocracy ; and almost dl writers have agreed, thi^ the
former is to be preferred.

Against all such modes of construction, as being adverse
both to republican principles, and our positive institutionSf
the humble reasoning of the following work is levelled.

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1. 2%e principles of our eonsHtutians, • - 9 ^

S. Construction, - -'-«>-•» £1

d. Sovereigntys - • - .. . . .£5

4. 2%e Vmmp d9

5. IHvinom and limUtsiion of power, - • -51

6. Fropertg, - - .^..67
r. Tfce tenfc decision,^^Corparatian, - • - . 79

8. 2%6 6anA: decision^^'''8overeignty of spheres, - 99

9. 2%« hank dedsUm^^Supremacy, - - - • 119

10. The bank deeisunu — Common defence and general

welfare. Mcessary and proper. Convenient.
J^aii&nal, 161

11. The hank dectsion^^Freeedents, ... 191

12. Protecting duties and bounties, .... soS

13. Jlssumption of judicial powers, and patronage by

legislaiures, 259

14. The laws of nations, 279

15. The Missouri question, 291

16. The distresses of the United States, - - - 315

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These are the keys of constntctioD> and the locks of liberty^
The question to be considered is, ivhetber our revolution was
designed to establish the freedom both of reli^on and proper*
ty, or only of the former.

It is Grange that the human mind should have been expanded
in relation to religion, and yet should retain narrow notions in
relation to property. Objects unseen, and incapable of being
explained by the information of the senses, afford less perfect
materials for the exercise of reason, than l^se capable of be-
ing investigated by evidence, within the scope of the human
understanding. As the difficulties opposed to the correction
of religious fanaticism seemed less surmountable, whilst its
effects were more pernicious, the zeal of philosophers was con-
densed in an effort to relieve mankind from an evU the most
distressing ; and their attention was diverted from another, at
this period the most prominent. But having wrested religious
liberty from the grasp of fanaticism, it now behooves them to
turn their attention towards pecuniary fanaticism, and to wrest
civil liberty from its tyranny also. Between an absolute pow-
er in governments over the religion and over the property of
men, the analogy is exact, and their consequences must there-

Online LibraryJohn TaylorConstruction construed, and constitutions vindicated → online text (page 1 of 34)