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THE CRISIS:

OR,


ESSAYS

ON THE


Usurpations

OF THE


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

BY

BRUTUS



[Robert James Turnbull]
Magna est veritas, et prevalebit.
Brutus had rather be a villager,

Than to repute himself, a son of Rome,

Under such HARD conditions, as THIS TIME

Is like to lay on us. — Julius Caesar


CHARLESTON

PRINTED BY A. E. MILLER,

NO. 4 Broad-Street.
1827

"All policy is very suspicious, (says an eminent statesman) that sacrifices the interest of any part of a community, to the ideal good of the whole; and those Governments only, are tolerable, where, by the necessary construction of the political machine, the interests of all the parties are obliged to be protected by it." Here is a district of country, extending from the Patapsco to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Alleghany to the Atlantic; a district, which, taking in all that part of Maryland, lying South of the Patapsco, and East of Elk river, raises five sixths of all the exports of this country, that are of home growth. I have in my hand, the official statements which will prove it, but which I will not weary the House by reading. In all this country! Yes, Sir, and I bless God for it; for with all the fantastical and preposterous theories about the rights of man, (the theories, not the rights themselves, I speak of) there is nothing but power that can restrain power. I bless God, that in this insulted, oppressed, and outraged region, we are, as to our counsels in regard to this measure, b[]' man; that there exists on this subject, but one feeling, and one interest. []scribed, and put to the ban; and, if we do not feel, and feeling, do not act, [] bastards to those fathers who achieved the Revolution: then shall we deserve to make bricks without straw.

There is no case on record, in which a proposition like this, suddenly changing lite whole frame of a country's polity, tearing asunder every ligature of the body politic, was ever carried by a lean majority of two or three votes, unless it be the usurpation of the Septennial act, which passed the British Parliament, by, I think, a majority of one vote, the same that laid the tax on Cotton Bagging. I do not stop here, Sir, to argue about the constitutionality of this Bill. I consider the Constitution a dead letter. I consider it to consist, at this time, of the power of the General Government, and the power of the States — that is the Constitution. You may entrench yourself in parchment to the teeth, says Lord Chatham, the sword will find its way to the vitals of the Constitution. I have no faith in parchment, Sir; I have no faith in the Abracadabra of the Constitution; I have no faith in it. I have faith in the power of that Common wealth, of which I am an unworthy son; in the power of those Carolinas, and of that Georgia, in her ancient and utmost extent to the Mississippi, which went with us through the valley of the shadow of death, in the war of our independence. I have said, that I shall not stop to discuss the constitutionality of this question, for that reason, and for a better; that there never was a Constitution under the sun, in which, by an unwise exercise of the powers of the Government, the people may not be driven to the extremity of resistance by force For it is not, perhaps, so much by the assumption of unlawful powers, as by the unwise or unwarantable use of those which are most legal,that Governments oppose their true end and object; for there is such a thing as tyranny as well as usurpation. If, under a power to regulate trade, you prevent exportation: if, with the most approved spring lancets, you draw the last drop of blood from our veins; if, secundem artem, you draw the last shilling from our pockets, what are the checks of the Constitution, to us? A fig for the Constitution? When the scorpion's sting is probing us to the quick, shall we stop to chop logic? Shall we get some learned and cunning clerk to say, whether the power to do this, is to be found in the Constitution, and then, if he, from whatever motive, shall maintain the affirmative, like the animal whose fleece forms so material a portion of this bill, "quietly lie down and be shorn!” John Randolph.

[Extract from Speech, delivered in the House of Representatives, on the Tariff Bill, April 15th, 1824.


TO

THE PEOPLE

OF

The “Plantation States



THESE ESSAYS

ARE


DEDICATED

AS A TESTIMONY OF RESPECT,



For their Rights of Sovereignty,

BY

THE AUTHOR



ADVERTISEMENT
THE numbers of "The Crisis" appeared a few weeks since in the columns of the "Charleston Mercury," and having attracted more attention than was anticipated, they are now re-published, together with eleven additional numbers, the publication of which, was prevented from a cause not now necessary to be noticed. The new numbers are No. 22 and No. 24, to No. 33, both inclusive. The two numbers signed "Philo-Brutus," which appeared at the same time, are not herewith published. They were not written by Brutus.

The Author was fully aware when he commenced these Essays, that they would meet with the marked displeasure of certain native gentlemen of Charleston, and he has not been mistaken. These gentlemen have freely bestowed upon them the harshest epithets; but as their influence does not actually extend beyond their own little coteries, their opinions are disregarded. From all other quarters of the State, they have met with a reception flattering to the Author. Brutus may possibly be wrong in his opinions. If he be so, let him be corrected by fair argument; but let him not be abused for vindicating the rights of his native Southern country to which he is attached by no ordinary ties; and in which his dust is likely to be mingled with that of father, mother, children and friends.

He regrets that an idea has gone forth, that he has received assistance in these numbers; and fearing that the odium (which some have attached to them) might fall on some unoffending and innocent person, he feels it to be his duty, distinctly to state, that whatever of patriotism or of treason, of merit or of blame, moral or literary, the present publication may be supposed to contain, it belongs to one. person alone. The pieces are all written by Brutus. Between him and any other person there is no participation of authorship, and particularly as regards the fifteenth number. The design, the research, the arrangement and the argument, all belong to an individual who has no pursuit but Agriculture; and who, if he has a knowledge of his own heart, has had, from the beginning to the end, no other view than the good of his country.

Charleston, l22nd October, 1827.
THE CRISIS.

Magna est Veritas, et prevalebit.

NO. 1.


IT is amongst the invaluable privileges of the citizen, as secured to him by the Constitution, that he has the right, at all times, to address his fellow-citizens, on the subject of their rights, their interests, or their safety. It is a right which has been freely exercised since the foundation of the government; and it is no trifling eulogy on the Constitution itself, and on the attachment of our citizens to those principles of civil liberty for which our patriots toiled in the Cabinet and bled in the field, that in almost every period of our history as an independent nation, no attempt has been made by Congress, or any disposition manifested by the people, to interrupt or abridge the freedom of the press. The sedition law of the elder Adams, it is true, was a memorable exception; and to this might be added some hasty proceedings on the part of the people, as in the case of the Baltimore mob in 1812. But these examples were of such short duration, and their occurrence so odious generally to the public feeling, that they rather serve to strengthen than to impair my position: that freedom of the press, is the universally recognized right of our people, and that in the uninterrupted practical enjoyment of this species of civil liberty, the United States stand pre-eminently distinguished above all the nations of the earth.

Undoubted, however, as is the right, and as unlimited generally as has been its exercise in our happy land, yet who can look back upon our history, and not deeply lament that it has often been productive of much public evil. Under the dominion of the press, private character has been wantonly assailed; the purest patriots have been denounced as traitors; and noisy and worthless demagogues have been elevated to power. But these were evils inseparable from this great palladium of our liberties; and amidst the devastation that has been made by the licentiousness of the American press, it is a consolation to reflect, that there were circumstances in some periods of our history, which may never again occur, and which, whilst they did exist, were calculated to give the bitterest character to political discussions.

Happily, however, these times have now passed away, never again to return. We now hear of no odious distinctions between one set of our citizens and another. The second war with Britain had the happy effect of uniting many, who before were divided, and at the last treaty of peace, all good men were as astounded, as they were delighted, at the unexpected and abundant harvest of glory which was gathered for us in that war; and party and political animosity, in the aggravated forms in which they once existed, to the reproach of our country, has ever since gradually subsided and settled down into better feelings. The last Presidential election was of a character to revive and to excite party feeling, and the approaching one indicates, that there will be abundance of it brought to the contest. But yet it is not the envenomed feeling which once divided our people; and when we consider the, magnitude of the contest and the exalted station and the pre-eminent honor, we ought to rejoice that there is not more of excitement. To us, in South-Carolina, it is an especial cause of congratulation, that on the subject of the last and the approaching Presidency, we have been nearly unanimous, and that we are able, for the first time in our history since the inauguration of Gen. Washington to the first honors of the Republic, to view men and measures with a dispassionate and an unprejudiced eye. The present is an era amongst us, in which we are all satisfied to forget and forgive our old bitter dissentions as Federalists and Republicans, and to regard merit and long services as the only legitimate claim to the favour and patronage of the people.

It is in this delightful,and comparatively calm state of the public feeling, as calm as it can ever be expected to be, consistently with the freedom of our institutions; when we are in the full enjoyment of the blessings of peace, and with no prospect of their being interrupted from abroad; when each State has every motive to attend to its own local concerns, and when men are more disposed to look rationally and dispassionately into every subject connected with the welfare of the State; it is this period which I seize to address you on subjects of most vital importance to you. as citizens of South Carolina, and to arouse you to a just and lively sense of the dangers that threaten your temporal prosperity and your domestic quiet; And in so doing, I ask of all who may peruse this and the succeeding numbers, to believe me sincere when I say, that I am not hitched to the car of any one set of politicians. At the last election, I was the advocate neither of Adams, or Crawford, or Clay, and when I gave my free and unbiassed vote for the hero of New-Orleans, it was not because I thought even this man, who has so "nobly filled the measure of his country's glory," as likely to avert the dangers that have long thickened around South-Carolina; but my vote was on political grounds totally distinct. The opinion I then held, I entertain at the present moment. But I beg in the outset to repeat, that as clear and as distinct as is my preference for Gen. Jackson, yet my honest conviction is, that it will make no difference in the deplorable situation and prospects of the Southern States, whether Jackson or Adams shall be called to preside over us. The dangers that threaten us are not attributable to Mr. Adams. They come from a period more distant than the recent era of his inauguration into power. They are dangers Which will approach nearer and nearer to us, under every future Administration, and unless we take some decisive measures to shield ourselves, they must, in due time, bring us to ruin. In my remarks on this subject, I shall fearlessly speak the truth and the whole truth — I have no motive beyond my country's good. I never did, nor do I now, seek office or honors. My feelings, I confess, are more sectional than they are national. "Not that I love Caesar less but that I love Rome more." Not, because I am insensible to the glory and the proud distinction of the American name, but because I believe that to the predominance of these feelings above all others, we are in future to look for the preservation of Southern interests and Southern safety.



NO. 2.

The subject which ought at this moment, to claim the attention of every South-Carolinian, is the tendency of the government towards a firm consolidated national government. This is no idle speculation. It is not a phantom which exists in the distempered minds of the weak, the timid, or the suspicious. It is not even the cry by which aspiring demagogues would climb into popular favour. But it has been for years past, the rational and the well settled apprehension of sober and reflecting men amongst us; of men who soar far above the unworthy, and the selfish motives of office hunters. It will be found to exist in the minds of some of our best and wisest men, and daily becomes to our citizens generally, a source of much inquietude. Perceiving that the Congress claims and exercises powers, never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution of the United States,'they are alarmed, and justly alarmed for the situation of the Southern country, whose safety they feel to consist in the integrity and sovereignty of the individual States. And well may they be alarmed. Within the last six or seven years, Congress has made more rapid strides towards consolidation, than in the thirty previous years. During the whole period of the Federal Administrations, and of the Administrations of Messrs. Jefferson and Madison, nothing ever occurred, of a nature similar to the attempts now made, to extend the powers of Congress, to almost every subject, which relates to the internal order and government of the States. Anxious as were the Federalists, to give strength and efficiency to a government then in its infancy, and to diminish the embarrassment which they erroneously thought it would experience from the State sovereignties, yet no decided system of measures was ever brought forward, threatening such results to the Southern States, as those now pursued by Congress. When the Bill to establish the first Bank of the United States, was before Congress in 1791, and the implied powers of Congress in relation to this subject considered, there was then no settled design amongst its friends, to lay a foundation, upon which they were to commence and continue to raise, great and extensive powers to the government. Had there been any such design, the manner in which the subject was discussed, and the great division of sentiment in Congress and in the Cabinet, was of itself sufficient to forbid a hope of continued and constant success. There were specious arguments to shew the expediency, at that time, of a Rational Bank, and the necessity of such an institution, as a means adapted to the end of the government in the collection and distribution of its revenue.

The decision, however, has been a most unfortunate one for the country; for thus was the foundation laid for augmenting, by construction, the powers of the general government, and upon this example, has a superstructure of implied powers been recently commenced, not by a Federal, but strange to say, by the Republican Administration of Mr. Monroe, which, if continued to be carried on, with the spirit and the industry manifested within the last five years, will very soon place our National Councils on an eminence of power, that will cause the Southern States to tremble for their safety.

It is here to be remarked, that in the long interval between the establishment of the Bank, and the accession of Mr. Monroe to the Presidency, there were occasionally, exercises of power by Congress which were not constitutional, but they were not of a nature to alarm. The most prominent of these for its unconstitutionality, and about which there was no difference of opinion, was the remarkable vote of $100,000 for the relief of the distressed inhabitants of Caraccas, after its earthquake. No man would now rise in Congress, and say, that this appropriation was for "the general welfare of the people of the United States." The truth is, that it was done without reflection, and sprung from that laudable warmth of feeling and sympathy, which we all, in and out of Congress, possessed at the time the news of such an overwhelming calamity reached us. — There were also in the Administrations of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, appropriations for roads in the Western country; but with the exception of that for the great Cumberland road, these appropriations were trifling. Upon the last mentioned road, upwards of a million of dollars had been expended. It was in Mr. Jefferson's Administration, that this road was proposed to be opened, but the manner in which that measure was recommended by that statesman, evinced that he doubted the constitutional power of Congress to construct it. I pass over the sedition law — it caused the downfal of the men who passed it. But it was during the Administration of Mr. Monroe, that a bold and decided system was determined on in our country The subjects of tariffs and internal improvement being earnestly recommended by the President to Congress, and that body having nearly exhausted all the ordinary subjects of legislation, for which the Constitution had provided, and having, in fact, little or nothing to do, being in a state of peace and friendship with all nations, was glad to hear, of new subjects, on which to exercise its powers, and at length resolved, that it could construct military and other national roads, make canals, improve inland navigation, promote manufactures, and appropriate money to any extent, for. the purpose of promoting, what they would call, the general interests of the States. A new field of power has thus been opened to Congress, as boundless as space itself. All the guards which the framers of the Constitution, and the State Legislatures had cautiously provided, to keep the General Government within its prescribed and limited powers, have been discovered to be utterly useless. There is no measure which concerns the general welfare, immediately, or most remotely, which Congress does not feel itself at liberty to adopt.

To many it may appear a remarkable circumstance in our political history, that when these discussions on the constructive powers of the government first commenced in Congress in 1791, the opposition was not confined, as at present it is, to any particular section of the country. The solution; however, is not difficult. The new constitution at that time, had not long been in operation. Its adoption, it is well known, had been most zealously opposed in every part of the union, and particularly by the largest States in the North and in the South. The two parties which had divided the country on the question of the constitution, had not then entirely died away, but from them were furnished those elements, which, in connection with the effect of the French Revolution upon the public feelings of our citizens, gave rise in a very short time afterwards to those two political parties, the Federalists and Democrats of the United States. Distributed as were the friends and adherents of one or other of these parties, which were then in their infancy, but which afterwards became so distinct and tremendous, and whose convulsions we all remember, it was natural that the advocates and opponents of the Bank, or of any other national measure, should come from every quarter of the Union. But now that these political parties have passed away, and the people of each State begin to think of their own affairs, and in what way they can best promote their local prosperity by improvements amongst themselves, we observe, that in the Northern, Eastern, Middle, and Western States, the people have no fears whatever from the exercise of the implied powers of Congress on any subject; but it is in the South alone where uneasiness begins to manifest itself, and a sensitiveness prevails on the subject of consolidation. The cause is obvious. The more National, and the less Federal, the Government becomes, the more certainly will the interest of the great majority of the States be promoted, but with the same certainty, will the interests of the South be depressed and destroyed. Seeing, as we all do, the subject at this time, not through the mists of prejudice and embittered political animosity, but through the medium of truth, we must perceive at a glance, that the interests of the North and West, are diametrically opposed to the interests of the South, and that to this cause and this alone, are we to ascribe the general acquiescence of the great body of the people of the U. States, in the alarming progress of the General Government to consolidation.

NO. 3.


With all the advances of the government to consolidation, there is no man who at present apprehends, that it would venture, in our day, to encroach upon any of the acknowledged rights expressly reserved to the States. It would not presume to claim the appointment of the officers of the militia; or the authority to train them; or to infringe upon the right of the people in any state to bear arms; or to make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion; nor would it attempt to abolish the trial by jury. On these and other subjects, which they are forbidden to touch, there is not present danger of encroachment. The people of the North as well as of the South, are materially interested in the preservation of all these essentials of liberty, and in the present state of society and of public opinion, it would be difficult to conceive that the government could even feel the desire to encroach upon the rights of State sovereignty, expressly reserved. The flame that would instantly be excited from one end of the Union to the other, by the undivided feeling of the public, is the surest pledge for the security of all these.

But far different will be the public feeling, where no vital principle of State government, or individual liberty, is involved in the measures of Congress, however clearly unconstitutional such measures may be. Should it happen that the usurpation of the government solely operates upon great and important pecuniary interests, and is founded on no open, palpable breach of an article in the Constitution, forbidding the exercise of the particular power claimed, but claimed merely as a power naturally incident to, and necessarily resulting from other powers specially granted, the public feeling in each State will be formed and fashioned exactly as the measure shall affect its peculiar interests. If, by the usurped power, any new stimulus will be given to the internal commerce, enterprise or industry of any one State, or number of States, or great local interests are thereby to be promoted, their statesmen and politicians will not be astute to inquire, whether the measure will be in strict conformity with the acknowledged principles on which the compact of the States was founded, or within the clear intent and meaning of the compact itself, but will rather be disposed to overlook all considerations of the kind. The States, on the other hand, whose prosperity will be retarded or impaired by the contemplated measure, will be found in opposition to it.




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