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STATE SOVEREIGNTY AND SECESSION.

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On the question of the ultimate course to be pursued, Jefferson's voice gives no uncertain sound. And we cannot doubt that George Mason would have been equally explicit. After anticipating the “longer and greater sufferings which would justify secession, he adds: “We must have patience

• and separate from our companions only when the sole alternatives left are the dissolution of our union with them, or submission to a government without limitation of powers. Between these two evils, when we must make a choice, there can be no hesitation."So John Randolph in 1814, when New England had serious thoughts of putting in practice the principle of secession, wrote of the possible “Southern Confederacy” that would remain, and while deprecating such an issue in his letter to the inhabitants of the Eastern States, he maintained that if there was hostility between the States of the Union they should separate : "For with every other man of common sense,” he adds, “ I have always regarded union as the means of liberty and safety ; in other words, of happiness, and not an end to which these are to be sacri. ficed."* In this connection, the words of Hamilton in The Federalist may be noted. Replying to the supposed case of a combination of States refusing to appoint Senators, he says, “it is not from a general and permanent combination of the States that we can have anything to fear.” But granting the existence of such a combination of States, it “ would suppose a fixed and rooted disaffection in the great body of the people, which will either never exist at all, or will in all probability proceed from an inaptitude of the general government to the advancement of their happiness, in which event no good citizen could desire its continuance. The principle of community independence and sovereignty, proclaimed first by George Mason in the Virginia Bill of Rights, reiterated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, asserted in the Articles of Confederation, and acknowledged by Great Britain in the treaty of peace, it remains for the modern exponents of the American political system to disavow. One of them gravely writes:

1 Ibid., p. 427. * Garland's “ Life of John Randolph," vol. ii., p. 51. 3 The Federalist, No. 59.

“There is no power granted or ‘ reserved' to the local States or its people which may not be taken away without their consent. They possess no power which is not held at the will of a power higher and outside of themselves. This view may not conform to the intent of the framers of the Constitution or to later opinion as to the effect of their work, but what is of more importance, it conforms to actual facts as they exist. We have now reached a point where we can afford to see these facts as they are, and we shall escape much confusion of thought if we cease to talk of Sovereign States and a divided sovereignty." I

If this be so, then have we realized the worst fears of the Antifederalists. But if such was not“ the intent of the framers of the Constitution," it is expedient that the people who profess to live still under the institutions of 1787-89, should see that the “actual facts” conform to the theory of the fathers. A Democratic Executive has sought in the exercise of the veto power to restrain the centralizing legislation of Congress; and recent decisions of a Republican Supreme Court tend in the same conservative direction, declaring against the dangerous principle that the Federal Legislature can supersede that of the States.' The doctrine of State sovereignty is indeed the anchor to which we should cling as the only hope of political liberty. To quote again from that wise Southern statesman who has just gone from us, the President of the Confederate States :

By all that is revered in the memory of our Revolutionary sires, and sacred in the principles they established, let not the children of the United States be taught that our Federal Government is sovereign ; that our sires, after having by a long and bloody war won community independence, used the power, not 1 Letter on

“ American Sovereignty,” E. Burritt Smith, The Nation, Feb. 4, 1886.

* Decision of Supreme Court on Civil Rights Act, 1883, etc., etc.

COMMUNITY INDEPENDENCE.

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for the end sought, but to transfer their allegiance, and by oath or otherwise bind their posterity to be the subjects of another Government, from which they could only free themselves by force of arms.

The early Federalists loved to compare the Union to a house with its thirteen compartments and its one roof sheltering all. The Antifederalists might have suggested that a fit motto over the door of this house would be the words which Dante saw inscribed over the entrance to the Inferno:

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CHAPTER IX.

THE PHILOSOPHER AND SEER.

1788–1790.

Upon the adjournment of the Convention George Mason returned to “Gunston Hall," and the following letters to his son in France, written at this time, contain characteristic allusions to public events:

VIRGINIA, FAIRFAX COUNTY,

GUNSTON Hall, July 21, 1788. DEAR JOHN:

I have been so ill for these two days past that I have been unable to sit up, and now write in great pain. You must therefore excuse the shortness of this letter.

I enclose you the two or three last days' proceedings of the Virginia Convention, by which you will see the small majority which has ratified the new project. The minority are as respectable for their weight and influence as their number, and it will require their most prudent exertion to keep the people quiet in some parts of the country.

The debates are not yet published, nor is there any cause to expect that they will be authentic. The short-hand man who took them down being a Federal partizan, they will probably be garbled in some such partial manner as the debates in the Pennsylvania Convention have been by Lloyd.

I have desired Captain Fenwick to send you some patterns of sundry coarse articles which being in great annual demand in all the States that have many slaves, if they could be made in France and furnished upon equal or better terms than in Great Britain, it would contribute greatly to increase the commercial intercourse LETTERS TO JOHN MASON IN FRANCE.

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between the two countries ; and would be an inducement to the country gentlemen as well as merchants here to ship tobacco to France. I enclose you a letter to Mr. Jefferson upon the subject, left open for your perusal, which you will please to seal and forward. You will perceive by it, that I have some expectation the French ministry will patronize the manufacturers in imitating these articles for the American trade. If they do, and the hint originates from your house, it may prove very advantageous to its credit, especially if the attempt succeeds. You will therefore, if you find occasion, confer with Mr. Jefferson upon the subject. I have desired Capt. Fenwick to send with the patterns, the British sterling first cost of each article. You can easily compute and accommodate the difference between the English and French measure &c. The fault of all the coarse French woolens I have seen is their being stiffened and battered up with paste or glue. The nearer the coarse woolens which our negroes have been accustomed to are imitated the better ; and particular attention should be paid to the width, which should be full three fourths of an English yard.

The hoes and irons should be made of good iron, the blades of the hoes hardened, and the axes well steeled and tempered. The workmen should be informed that tar is not put over the hoes and axes to conceal cracks or flaws, but to preserve them from rusting. I am not able to sit up longer at present, than to wish you health, and success in your business, and to desire you will let me hear from you, as often, and as particularly as you can.

I am, dear John,
Your affectionate father,

G. Mason.

VIRGINIA, GUNSTON HALL,

September 2, 1788. DEAR JOHN :

This will be delivered you by Capt. Gregory, commander and owner of the ship Commerce, who brings a load of tobacco for the Farmers General to Bordeaux ; and was so obliging to call upon me, a day or two ago, to know if I had any commands to the port to which he was going, and to assure me they should be delivered with his own hands.

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