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John Taylor.

Construction construed, and constitutions vindicated online

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duty of particular states to defend an invaded state, except
for this stipulation ; and a previous application for assistance is
required, to prevent one state from obtruding itself into the
affairs of another. *' The United States shall guarantee and pro-
tect on application^^ The same power was to do both, and if I
have proved that the latter undertaking referred to states, it fol-
lows that the former has no reference to, nor confers any power
on congress, as to the constitution or form of government of any-
state. It would have been a tremendous power, considering the
scope given by the unsettled signification of the word "repub-
*< lican," and quite sufficient to lash any state into an humble
subserviency to the will of congress. Between the states them-
selves, an agreement in interest rendered such a |!>ower both
safe and useful; but between congress and the states, who
would be often in collision, it would be a scourge in the hands
of a rival. The United States must be the parties, both to the
guarantee and to the union, or to neither, as the United States
constituted both.

But it is not in this pai*ticular case very important, whether
the guarantee is a duty imposed upon the states, which con-
tracted to perform, or upon congress, which did not contract to
perform. Its end is " a republican form of government.'^ The
meaning of this expression is not so unsettled here as in other
countries, because we agree in one descriptive character, as
essential to the existence of a republican form of government
This is representation. We do not adnut a government to be
even in its origin republican, unless it is instituted by represen-
tation, nor do we allow it to be so, unless its legislation i^
also founded upon representation. Now, this condition pro^
hibiting slavery, both as constitutional and legislative, des-
troys these radical and necessary qualities, without which
no government can be republican. Congress is not a represew-
tation of Missouri, either for legislation or foxTning ft constiia-

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iioii. Iff fherefore» fhe guarantee be imposed on the states^ it
is the duty of all to resist an obvious violence to republican
principles ; if on congress, it can never be its dutjr, or its rig^t»
to commit an act, which the guarantee was intended to prevent.
One other argument remains, apparently sufficiently strong of
itself to settle the^question. Even allowing to congress a degree
of sovereignty, equal to the regal, yet the plenary sovereignty
of kings did not empower them to annex conditions subsequent
to gifts or grants of land, much less to sales for a pecuniary
consideration. Such arbitrary attempts have been frequently
adjudged to be void in the English courts. Had the English
kings, after having granted or sold lands upon specified terms,
. prescribed new conditions as to the mode of their cultivation,
their own courts would have decided it to be an unwarrantable
imposition. Does congress possess a higher species of sove-
reignty than the kings of England, able subsequently to con-
troul the mode of cultivating lands previously sold, and to di-
minish their v^ue to the purchaser, after having received the
price ? Whatever may be the power of a state legblature in
this case, the same power does not extend to congress. The
power given to it by the constitution is *' to dispose of the ter-
^ ritory of the United States." Having disposed of it by sale8»
the power is at an end, because it is executed ; and no power
remains with congress in relation to the lands sold, beyond
what they possess over the lands, or the mode of their cultiva-
tion in the oldest state of the union. Ex post facto laws, and
laws impuring contracts, are recognized as contrary to repub-
lican principles, because they are inconsbtent with the freedom
of property or of labour, the preservation of which is an essen-
tial object of those principles ; and thence arose the positive
prohibition upon both the federal and state governments to
enact, them. Thence also the powers delegated to congress are
all prospective. I cannot, therefore, believe, that it will per-
severe in legislating retrospectively, locally^ and contrary to
the genuine principles of representation, as preferable to that
republican moderation, which never witiih<dds from others the
rights enjoyed by itself.

In contending for political liberty, I have not meddled with
the sutjects of slavery and emancipation, because it was suffi-
cient to prove, that they belong to the local powers reserved to
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the states, and have been so considered by every state in the
union. Inheritances and the regulation ai property are not
powers more local than slaTOry, and if congress can legislate
as to the last, and also regulate property by corporations, it
may as correctly insist, that an uniform system of inheritances,
and for distributing wealth, is comprised within the scope of its
powers. But, although the absurd enthusiasm as to the sulqectB
of slavery and emancipation, recently excited, needs no fuel«
an endeavour to abate it is not reprehensible ; and for this pur-
pose it would be well for moderate men to consider, whether
emancipation in the slave-holding states does not appear by
the census to be proceedii^ as fast as their circumstances will
justify, and as the general interest of the community of states
can require.

There remains a right, anterior to every political power what<-
soever, and alone sufficient to put the subject of slavery at
rest; the natural right of self-defence. Under this right, so-
cieties imprison and put to death. By this right, nations aro
justified in attacking other nations^ which may league witb
their foes to do them an injury. And by this right, they are
justified, if they see danger at a distance, to anticipate it by
precautions. It is allowed on all hands, that danger to the
slave-holding states lurks in their existing situation, however
it has been produced; and it must be admitted, that the right
of self-defence iqpplies to that situation, of the necessity for
which the parties exposed to the danger are the natural judges :
Otherwise this right, the most sacred of all possessed by men,
would be no ri^t at all. I leave to the reader the application
of these observations.



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SECTION 16.

THE DISTRESSES OF THE UNITED STATB^



The previous attempts to ascertain the principles and con-
struction of our constitutions have beeh made with a view of
unfolding the ultimate causes of the distresses experienced bj
fte United States. If they have flowed from false construe -
tionSy and real violations of constitutional principles, the re-*
medj must lie in a return to those principles, and no where
else ; because good principles are useless, iVithout practical
extracts; and indeed pernicious, if thej ins[nre a confidences
which serves as a cloak for abuses.

Let us previously take a glance at the causes which have
produced the existing distress in Britain, as a mirror by which
those which have operated here, will be visibly reflected. I
premise, that the distresses of Britain cannot have been caused
by a deficiency of manufactures, because she makes a super-
fluity of thend, beyond the demands of home consumption, and
a surplus for exportation. The best authority for facts within
my reach, is the Edinburgh Review. It states, that the
publick burdens of that country amount to the annual sum of
£ 106,084,£03 sterling. This total is compounded of taxes,
£ 64,506,£03. Poor rates and county levies, £ 12,000,000*
Tithes, £ 5,000,000. And an enhancement of grain by the
protecting corn-laws, £ 24,578,000. But the acquisitions by
banking, and by all other exclusive privileges, are left out of
the computation ; and the total of the national burden is there-
fore stated at considerably less than it ought to be. Neverthe-
less, from this reduced total, the distresses of Britain al*e very
clearly deduced. Estimating the profits of capital at three per
centum, somewhat under the interest of money, but about the
rate at which land sells, it requires a capital of three thousand
millions of pounds sterling, to supply ninety millions annually^
being about sixteen millions less thaa th^ annual expenditure;



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and ike craclnsion is uresistilde, ibat tbe di^titises of Btiim
arise from the condemnatioii of this vast mass of natiiod
capital to eleemosynary parposes. As I shall make some.iu»
of the com prohibition when I come home* it is necessary jkf
borrow a reas<m from the Review, to prove that it ia a tax <sf
this character* This tax arises from an enhancement of ilm
price of bread beyond what it would cost» if importation waft
free. Now the Reviewers prove, that which is indeed obvious^
that this tax is paid by consumerSi and received by landlords |
because, by increasing the value of agricultural products, or to
speak more correctly, of agricultural manufactures, rents will
be correspondently increased, and thus the protecting com*
laws must augment the income of ci^italist land-owners. This
transfer, though indirect, of the profits of labour to liiose who
do not labour, is strictly of the eleemosynary character^ and
the tendency of every eleemosynary measure to produce na-t
tional distress, in whatever garb it a[^ears, is well established,!
both by the existing state of England, and also by all experf
rience* We have universally seen national distress graduated
by mortgaging national capital, for the gratuitoua benefit of.
idle or unproductive individuals. Though some people are ridi
enough to be idle, it is an evil both corrected and more than
counteii>alanced, by the great productive right of the freedom
of labour or of property; but when a nation is robbed by laws,
of this productive right, and forced to buy idleness, the best
edrreclive of idleness is destroyed, and its prolifick procreator
is created. Idleness is encouraged by beiug pensioned. Indus-
try is discouraged by being subjected to the payment of these
pensions. Capital becomes less productive by being taken
away from its owners. And therefore, every increase of the
eleemosynary family produces a correspondent degree of na-
tional distress, as in the case of England*

The United States, by associating themselves with several,
of this family, have found a degree of national distress, which
they are gravely told was caused by futurity ; for this is the.
amount of the doctrine, that our distresses have been caused
by our having neglected to make our protecting duties high
enough. If the affairs of a merchant, a farmer, or a mechanick^.
go on badly, he looks back for the cause, should he be a man of
good understanding; but if He be a weak man, he rejects the



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gndeace of ei^iierience, and trusts to some fature speculation
fei^ amenditig hte circuradtaiices. This mode of discoyering the
omiKS of dtetresSy that is» by shutthig our eyes upon them, and
tftking a new leap in tiie daric, to core the wounds already bus*
tained from such chivalry, is constanfly recommended by all
abuses ; because Hiey abhor the prudence of looking back, as it
would lead to det^stion; and therefore they assure us, that
fdthou^ we have hitherto felt nothing but thcnms in the elee*
Btosynary road, a-head it is strewed with flowers.

It is really wonderfiil that the most lively imagination should
be persuaded, that out distresses have been produced by what
we have not done; or that the effect has preceded the cause.^
lUs, however, is the doctrine of the protecting-duty panacea.
IVe are ruined, it says, for want of more protecting duties and
c»bStructions to commerce : but as causes precede effects, it is
more probable that we have had too many. Instead, therefore,
rf ascribing the dtetresses of tiie United^ States to things which
they have not done, I shall look for them in things which they
have d<me; to whidtl am induced by considering, that the
national distresses of Britain and (tf the United States could
not botii have been caused by the manufacturing occupation,
because abundance and scarcity could not have produced the
same effects; and a similarity in the distresses does not indir\
cate a contrariety in their causes.

llie creation of a nest-egg for rearing an eleemosynary^ > ,
&mily was almost the first act of the federal government. It ^^
received tiie people of the states with the pre-existing relations '^
produced by a paper-currency intercourse, prescribed by una-
voidable necessity. This currency was called by two names,
** certificates" and ^ paper money," both offsprings of the same
necessity, botii sanctioned by publick faith, and both transfer-
able ; but one species had been collected into a few hands, and
the other was more equally distributed among the people.
These currencies, whilst passing, had gradually depreciated ;
and each tempolBiy occupant had sustained the losses thereby
occasioned during his occupation. In this state of things, jus-
tice called for some consistent remedy, equally applicable to
all the currency and to all the sufferers. Either all the inter*
mediate losses sustained between the emission and termination
the whole currency* or ikont, should have been reimbursed^



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91S

Both the <mrreiieiei should have been redeemed «t Ibeir tmmi*
nal Tilue, or neither ; or both should hare been redeemed i^
their depreciated ralue. The last rule would bare perfecfiy
corresponded witii the right of free will in contract or ex-
changes, to risque gain or loss ; but it was directlj adrerse to
legislatiye interferences with this right» for the introdacttoh of
the eleemosynary system, to get rid of which the states had
recently passed through a long war. Instead of an equal and
consistent rule, according with the publiek interest, and recom*
mended by justice, an exclusive eleemoSjmary capitalist interest
was created by a partiality, unjust as it regarded indirtdualff,
and highly impolttick as it regarded the United States, if such
an interest be oppressive and dangerous to liberty. No recom-
pense was made to tiiose who had sustained losses of property
and labour by depreciation, during the circulation of these
credit papers. If the right of free will in exchanges be sound,
BO recompense was due or practicable, and each individud
ought to sustain its consequences ; but by no principle could M
be right, that these losses, instead of being thus mei^ged into
the national capital, should hare been seized by law, and be-
stowed upon a selected class, in order to introduce the elee-
mosynary system. The looses inflicted upon individuals by
depreoiation, during the circulation of these currencies, were
either property or not property. As prq)erty, they were cither
transferred with the paper, or not transferred. If they were
transferred, they passed with both the paper certificates and
the paper money, to the last holder of each species' of credit
paper ; and the right of all such holders to the value of the
paper, when issued, was the same. But if these intermediate
losses did neither pass, nor constitute a just claim to compen-
sation on the part of the last holders, both the certificate aiid
paper-money holders were equally excluded from advancing
such a demand against the pnblick. However, disregarding
consistency, the partiality was committed, of considering certi-
ficates as carrying to the last holder all intermediate losses,
and paper money as carrying none. One sect of holders being
a minority and influential, obtained the vidue i^its paper when
issued, with interest ; and the other sect, including the body of
the people, was put off with depreciated value without interest.
This was the more glaringly unjust, as the receipt of dcpr^



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siftM ftsf9t mmtj^mB ^farced by tooder laws highly penal,
and tke receipt of dc^^ciated certificates was free and vdim-
taiy. Bjr this managemeBt* a certificate which had passed
feom A to.Z, depreciating as it traveUed» and purchased by Z
fw a twentieth part of its nonunal vidue^ resuscitated the inter*
mednite losses for the benefit of Z, and subjected the actual
sufferers to taxes for paying to Z what they had themselves
lost, with interest; whilst the certificate holders escaped the
burden of oontributuig for making good to the paper money
holder a claim of the same nature with his own. This exclu-
sive partiality transferred about one hundred millions of capi«
tal» from the peq>le of the United States to a capitalist sect
actificially created, and became the source of a stream of tax-
ation» which may perhaps run and increase down to another
nevojution. The wealth of tiiis sect was not derived from fair
industry, but from an unfitir law [for what law cfox be fair
which creates what indi^try never does, a rich eleemosynary
a0ct?3 which, under cover of a sovereign legislative power over
property, contrived to gratify the personal interest of a few
members of congress, and a sect of certificate holders, by
slicing off one hundred millions from the national capital ; a
paltry sum indeed compared with subsequent speculations, but
at that time considered as so very formidable, that it generated
two ammated parties. The certificate sect happened chiefly
to reside in particular states, and had the address to persuade
these states, that the trivial and transitory circumstance of per-
sonal residence was a sufficient reason to induce them to put
upon their own necks an interminable eleemosynary system, to
be transmitted with their other legacies to their children.

A greater speculation upon the national cajntal soon grew
out of the hutidred millions of capital thus created by law* The
artificial cafutsiist sect wanted more profit than funding inte-
rest, and taking into partnership meml^rs of legislative bodies,
it convinced the states collectively and individually, that they
would be enriched, by enabling certificate, now funded debt
holders, to convert their fictitious capital into bank stock,
without changing its capacity as funded stock. Thus, the same
paper transferred national capital to an eleemosynary sect, in
tfm characters; and the first acquisition of one hundred mil-
fitms became cooiiparatively inconsiderable. The locality of



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$90

Mppetredtis if proTideaoe d«rigKd to
te of the eleemosynarj policy, to enaUe
er the resideace of its diseiples woidd
tck good. Let m consider whether it
r banking.

lestion, I shall urge a new argnment to
I state and federal, destroj a princi[de
istitations, aiyl essential also to everj
r gorernment; and that this Tital deso-
of the pnblick distresses. The people,
hare delegated to their representatiyes
[rat b J none hare the j delegated to their

to delegate I^islative powers to per-
the pei^le, nor indeed by themselves.

have no power to appoint deputy or
nd if they had, they must do it thera-
tiiers to do it both for their constituenta
t positions bring to a fiiir test the doe-
reignty. If it be true, I admit that our

deputy legislatures, or enable stock-
they please to elect deputy legislature
elected with legulatire powers ; but if
egislatures cannot directly or indirectiy
ith legislative power, formal or substaii''
w^er of regulating the nationid currency^
Qishing its quantity at pleasure, is not
mtial legislative power ? What is legis-
ig able to dispense good or harm to a
ink directors do this? Some body has
ts the world. Have those who govern
«rer8? If they have any, are they legjis-
icial? The idea, that banking was an
I, has been hitherto inferred from its
ley in an exclusive mode ; but it is &r
ablishes a great body of direet(»«, in-
power of pecuniary legislation, and in
o the people. If tlus be not a formal
cal power, I am unable to conceive «ne.
England is an imperfect aristocratical
[Mtss no law without the concoirence if



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Jiime^amMmi talif itconldr^iilfttetikeciMrreiicyeftheeoiiii*
tr/ without the eoncurrence of the representatives of the peo*
,p)e» is there any one who can believe* that it would be less aris-
rtocratical wd less legislative than, it now is P In that case it
would be an exact portrait of our bank directors.

I ask every candid man* whether the community has not|
suffered a great variety of calamities from the doings of banki
directors, in the exercise of their powers over currency. What V
are these doings ? Are they not powers, able to hurt very ma-
terially the whole United States ? If they are powers, do they
belong neither to the civil nor political classes of powers P But
if they belong to either, is not a body of men constituted as
bank directors are, and exercising powers either civil or politi-
cal, affecting a whole community, an aristocratical department*
as formal and as complete as can be imagined, and inlinitely
more so than the British house of lords P
, Need we go searching about for the causes of the publick
distress, after we have found a perfect aristocracy, exercising
an absolute power over the national currency P If there be any
. object of legislation, through which a nation can receive deeper
wounds, I hope it will never be discovered ; as those which
this can inflict, seem sufficient to punish us foi* all our political
sins. The secret, as to the distresses of the United States, lies
ii^ the difference between republi<;an and aristocratical legisla-
tion, upon the important subject of money. It is a power pro-
bably equal in its capacity of doing harm, to all other legis-
lative powers united. It can derange the fairness of all
exchanges between man and man ; it can tempt by legislating
an abundance of currency, and ruin by legislating a scarcity ;
it can raise and diminish prices according to its interest, its
caprices or its partialities, without controul, detection or respon-
sibility ; it can refuse when it suits its interest, to redeem its
own paper, and terrify the people and the government into
acquiescence, by a fear of losing their debts and salaries, an4
by the inconveniences of wanting a circulating medium; and
when it does not choose to pay its debts, it can put its funds in
its pocket, say that it has got nothing, and enjoy the fruits of
fraud beyond the reach of justice. Can any republican legis-
lature remedy these evils except by removing the cause P Dare
any republican legislature to produce the distresses, which have



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for jrears been nere sport, however emel, in the hands of their
aristoGratical deputies ? It is wonderfuU after mankind have
discovered the folly i^nd mischief of a single legislative maxi*
mum of price, to see them quietly submit to an eternal alterna-
tion between maximum and minimum, and bear injuries frooi
tile aristocracy by which they are imposed, which would be
indignantly resisted if imposed by a republican legislature. I
do not compute the power of an aristocratical legislation, with*
out responsibility, over national morals ; it is sufficiently seen
and felt, and it unfortunately operates most upon those classes
of society, whose integrity and patriotism are perhaps the onlf
hostages for the continuance of a republican form of govern**
ment. These aristocratical legislatures have even been abl#
to prescribe, not a test oath, but a test of honesty, to most or
all of our republican legislatures, by furnishing them first with
a pretext for raising their salaries, and then with a correspon-
dent reason for reducing them ; thus directly legislating upon
diat whole order of men, upon whose honesty and patriotism a
free and fair government immediately depends.

For this aristocratical legislation, the state and federal go-
vernments have appropriated a portion of the capital of ^ the
community, far exceeding that appropriated for all our rei^b-
lican legislatures. It is probable, that the dividends of banks
have sometimes amounted to twelve millions of dollars annually,
requiring a capital of four hundred millions to supply; but as
these dividends have sustained an occasional diminution pre-
paratory to an augmentation, nine millions only may now con-
stitute the total of the dividends received by all the banks ; yet
in contemplation of a prospective augmentation, twelve may be
assumed as a future probable amount, and four hundred millions
of national capital as appropriated to the use of bankers. It
would have been correct to have charged banki^ with a great
augmentation of salaries, expenses and taxation, which it has



Online LibraryJohn TaylorConstruction construed, and constitutions vindicated → online text (page 31 of 34)