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cient knowledge of the circumstances in which they originated. It has been occasionally made a matter of reproach, that a people who fought for political and personal freedom, who proclaimed in their most solemn papers the natural rights of man, and who proceeded to form a constitution of government that would best secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, should have left in their borders certain men from whom those rights and blessings are withheld. But in truth the condition of the African slaves was neither forgotten nor disregarded by the generation who established the Constitution of the United States; and it was dealt with in the best and the only mode consistent with the facts and with their welfare. The Constitution of the United States does not purport to secure the blessings of liberty to all men within the limits of the Union, but to the people who established it, and their posterity. It could not have done more; for the slaveholding States could not, and ought not, to have entered a Union which would have conferred freedom upon men incapable of receiving it, or which would have required those States to surrender to a central and insufficient power that trust of custody and care which, in the providence of God, had been cast upon their more effectual local authority. The reproach to which they would have been justly liable would have been that which would have followed a desertion of the duty they owed to those who could not have cared for themselves, and whose fate would have been made infinitely worse by a consolidation

of all government into a single community, or by an attempt to extend the principles of liberty to all men. The case is reduced, therefore, to the single question, whether the people of the United States should have foregone the blessings of a free republican government, because they were obliged by circumstances to limit the application of the maxims of liberty on which it rests. On this question, they may challenge the judgment of the world.








THE power and duty of the United States to guarantee a republican form of government to each State, and to protect each State against invasion and domestic violence, had been declared by a resolution, the general purpose of which has been already described. It should be said here, however, that the objects of such a provision were two; first, to prevent the establishment in any State of any form of government not essentially republican in its character, whether by the action of a minority or of a majority of the inhabitants; second, to protect the State against invasion from without, and against every form of domestic violence.' When the committee of detail came to give effect to the resolution, they prepared an article, which made it the duty of the United States to guarantee to each State a republican form of government, and to protect each State against invasion, without any application from its 1 Elliot, V. 332, 333.

authorities; and to protect the State against domestic violence, on the application of its legislature.1 No change was made by the Convention in the substance of this article, excepting to provide that the application, in a case of domestic violence, may be made by the executive of the State, when the legislature cannot be convened.2.

It now remains for me to state what appears to have been the meaning of the framers of the Constitution, embraced in these provisions. It is apparent, then, from all the proceedings and discussions on this subject, that, by guaranteeing a republican form of government, it was not intended to maintain the existing constitutions of the States against all changes. This would have been to exercise a control over the sovereignty of the people of a State, inconsistent with the nature and purposes of the Union. The people must be left entirely free to change their fundamental law, at their own pleasure, subject only to the condition, that they continue the republican form of government. The question arises then, What is that form? Does it imply the existence of some organic law, establishing the departments of a government, and prescribing their powers, or does it admit of a form of the body politic under which the public will may be declared from time to time, either with or without the agency of any established organs or representatives? Is it competent to a State to abolish altogether that body of its funda

1 First draft of the Constitution, 2 Constitution, Art. IV. § 4. Art. XVIII. Elliot, V. 381.

mental law which we call its Constitution, and to proceed as a mere democracy, enacting, expounding, and executing laws by the direct action of the people, and without the intervention of any representative system constituting what is known as a government?

The Constitution of the United States assumes, in so many of its provisions, that the States will possess organized governments, in which legislative, executive, and judicial departments will be known and established, that it must be taken for granted that the existence of such agents of the public will is a necessary feature of a State government, within the meaning of this clause. No State could participate in the government of the Union, without at least two of these agents, namely, a legislature and an executive; for the people of a State, acting in their primary capacity, could not appoint a Senator of the United States; nor fill a vacancy in the office of Senator; nor appoint Electors of the President of the United States, without the previous designation by a legislature of the mode in which such Electors were to be chosen; nor apply to the government of the United States to protect them against "domestic violence," through any other agent than the legislature or the executive of the State. It is manifest, therefore, that each State must have a government, containing at least these distinct departments; and whether this government is organized periodically, under mere laws perpetually re-enacted, and subject to perpetual changes without reference to forms, or

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