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Last session, when a bill repealing a judiciary act was under consideration, we were told that the eastern States would withdraw themselves from the Union, if it should obtain; and we are now informed, that if we do not accede to the proposition before us, the western States will hoist the standard of revolt and dismember the empire. Sir, these threats are calculated to produce the evil they predict, and they may possibly approximate the spirit they pretend to warn us against: they are at all times unnecessary, at all times improper, at all times mischievous, and ought never to be mentioned within these walls. If there be a portion of the United States peculiarly attached to republican government and the present administration, I should select the western States as that portion. To represent a people so republican, so enlightened, and so firm in their principles, as ready, without any adequate cause, (for no government could watch over their interests with more paternal solicitude than the present, upon the present question,) to violate their plighted faith and political integrity, to detach themselves from the government they love, and to throw themselves under the protection of nations, whose political systems are entirely repugnant to their own, requires an extent of credulity rarely equaled, certainly never surpassed.
EXTRACT FROM MR. MADIS SPEECH ON THE FEDE
Mr. Speaker-It is urged, that the consolidated nature of the federal constitution, joined to the power of direct taxation, will give it a tendency to destroy all subordinate authority ; that its increasing influence will speedily enable it to absorb the State governments. I
cannot bring myself to think that this will be the case. If the general government were wholly independent of the governments of the particular States, then, indeed, usurpation might be expected to the fullest extent: but, sir, on whom does this general government depend ? It derives its authority from these governments, and from the same sources from which their authority is derived. The members of the federal government are taken from the same men from whom those of the State legislatures are taken. If we consider the mode in which the federal representatives will be chosen, we shall be convinced, that the general will never destroy the individual governments; and this conviction must be strengthened by an attention to the construction of the Senate. The representatives will be chosen, probably under the influence of the members of the State legislatures : but there is not the least probability that the election of the latter will be influenced by the former. One hundred and sixty members representing this commonwealth in one branch of the legislature, are drawn from the people at large, and must ever possess more influence than the few men who will be elected to the general legislature. Those who wish to become federal representatives, must depend on their credit with that class of men who will be the most popular in their counties, who generally represent the people in the State governments: they can, therefore, never succeed in any measure contrary to the wishes of those on whom they depend. So that on the whole, it is almost certain, that the deliberations of the members of the federal House of Representatives, will be directed to the interests of the people of America. As to the other branch, the Senators will be appointed by the legislatures, and though elected for six years, I do not conceive they will so soon forget the source from whence they derive their political existence. This election of one branch of the federal, by the State legislatures, secures an absolute dependence of the former on the latter. The biennial exclusion of one
third, will lessen the facility of a combination, and preclude all likelihood of intrigues. I appeal to our past experience, whether they will attend to the interests of their constituent States. Have not those gentlemen who have been honored with seats in Congress, often signalized themselves by their attachment to their States? Sir, I pledge myself that this government will answer the expectations of its friends, and foil the apprehensions of its enemies.
ON THE DISSOLUTION OF THE IRISH PARLIAMENT.
Mr. Speaker-I ask the minister what there is in the theory he has advanced to be set against the proof from experience, that a common king and separate parliaments produce a good practical system of liberty and connexion ? The two parliaments may clash! So in Great Britain may king and parliament; but we see they never do so injuriously.
This proposition to transfer our legislative rights to England is, under all its circumstances, the most extravagant demand ever made by one nation from another. Ireland, a happy little island, with a population of between four and five millions of people-hardy, gallant, and enthusiastic-possessed of all the means of civilization-agriculture and commerce well pursued and understood-laws well arranged and administered-a constitution fully recognized and established; her revenues, her trade, her manufactures thriving beyond the hope or example of any other country of her extent, within these few years advancing with a rapidity astonishing even to herself; not complaining of her deficiency in any of these respects, but enjoying and acknowledging her prosperity, is called upon to surrender them all to the control, of whom? To a great and powerful continent, to whom nature intended her as an appendage ? To a mighty people, totally exceeding her in all calculation of territory and population ? No--but to another happy little island, placed beside her in the bosom of the Atlantic, of little more than double her territory and population, and possessing resources not nearly so superior to her wants; and this too an island, which has grown great and prosperous, and happy, by the very same advantages which Ireland enjoys a free and independent constitution, and the protection of a domestic superintendent parliament. The wealth, and power, and dignity of Great Britain, (in which no man rejoices more sincerely than I do) are the most irresistible arguments against an union--a little clod of earth, by the enjoyment of freedom, has generated strength and wealth, and majesty; she has reared her head above the waters, and has dictated to the unwieldly, lethargic despotisms, and to the unripened, servile dependencies of Europe.
For the present constitution I am ready to make any sacrifice--I have proved it. For British connexion I am ready to lay down my life--my actions have proved it--But why? Because I consider that connexion essential to the freedom of Ireland ? I do not hesitate to declare, that if the madness of the revolutionist should tell me you must sacrifice British connexion, I would adhere to that connexion in preference to the independence of my country; but I have as little hesitation in saying, that if the wanton ambition of a minister should assault the freedom of Ireland (and compel me to the alternative,) I would fling the connexion to the winds, and I would clasp the independence of my country to my heart. I trust the virtue and wisdom of the Irish parliament and people will prevent that dreadful alternative from arising--if it should come, be the guilt of it on the leads of those who make it necessary.
SPEECH OF MR. PLUNKET, ON THE COMPETENCY OF THE
IRISH PARLIAMENT TO PASS THE MEASURE OF UNION BETWEEN IRELAND AND ENGLAND.
Sir-I in the most express terms deny the competency of Parliament to abolish the Legislature of Ireland. I warn you, do not dare to lay your hand on the constitution—I tell you, that if, circumstanced as you are, you pass an act which surrenders the government of Ireland to the English parliament, it will be a nullity, and that no man in Ireland will be bound to obey it. I make the assertion deliberately--I repeat it, and I call on any man who hears me, to take down my words ;--you have not been elected for this purpose--you are appointed to make laws and not legislatures--you are appointed to act under the constitution, not to alter it--you are appointed to exercise the functions of legislators, and not to transfer them—and if you do so, your act is a dissolution of the government-you resolve society into its original elements, and no man in the land is bound to obey you.
Sir, I state doctrines which are not merely founded in the immutable laws of justice and of truth. I state not merely the opinions of the ablest men who have written on the science of government, but I state the practice of our constitution as settled at the era of the revolution, and I state the doctrine under which the house of Hanover derives its title to the throne. Has the king a right to transfer his crown? Is he competent to annex it to the crown of Spain or any other country? No-but he may abdicate it; and every man who knows the constitution knows the consequence; the right reverts to the next in succession--if they all abdicate, it reverts to the people. The man who questions this doctrine, in the same breath, must arraign the sovereign on the throne as an usurper. Are you competent to transfer