Proclamation of Gov. Robert Hayne of SC concerning State's Rights

Andersonh1

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ROBERT YOUNG HAYNE was born in St. Paul’s Parish, Colleton District, South Carolina. After attending private schools and studying law, he was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1812. During the War of 1812 he began as an infantry Lieutenant in the Third South Carolina Regiment and rose to the rank of Captain of the Charleston Cadet Riflemen and then Quartermaster General of South Carolina. He was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1814 to 1818-speaker in 1818; Attorney General of South Carolina from 1818 to 1822; and a member of the U.S. Senate from 1822 until 1832, when he was elected governor by the state legislature. Hayne defended the South Carolina Nullification Ordinance that was adopted in 1832 to nullify federal tariff laws, and in response to President Andrew Jackson’s Proclamation to the People of South Carolina, he called for the state to furnish 10,000 troops to repel a federal invasion. - source: https://www.nga.org/governor/robert-young-hayne/

Hayne engaged in a famous debate with Daniel Webster on the nature of the Union while both men were serving in the Senate. A lot of Hayne's views on State's rights and sovereignty can be found there.


Following his election as governor of South Carolina in 1832, Hayne issued a proclamation in response to Andrew Jackson, and here he had much to say again on the nature of the Union and the extent of State sovereignty. I wanted to post a few excerpts, and the full speech can be found at the following link, published by the Phenix Gazette.


The SC General Assembly denounced the idea of a President coercing a state through military means:

Whereas, the President of the U. States has issued his proclamation denouncing the proceedings of this State; calling upon the citizens thereof to renounce their primary allegiance, and threatening them with military coercion, unwarranted by the Constitution, and utterly inconsistent with the existence of a free State, be it therefore​
Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be requested, forthwith, to issue his proclamation, warning the good people of this State against the attempt of the President of the United States to seduce them from their allegiance, exhorting them to disregard his vain menaces, and to be prepared to sustain the dignity, and protect the liberty of the State, against the arbitrary measures proposed by the President.​
Hayne did so, calling President Andrew Jackson's views "dangerous and pernicious doctrines" intended to mislead people as to the true nature of the Union and to "seduce them from their allegiance" to the State.

I would earnestly admonish them to beware of the specious but false doctrines by which it is now attempted to be shown that the several States have not retained their entire sovereignty....​
Hayne questions whether the Federal Government can either be the final judge of the extent of its own powers, or the final judge of the Constitutionality of its own acts, and if either is true, is it not a government of unlimited power, contrary to the limited powers spelled out in the Constitution?

Hayne asserts that the states began as "free, sovereign and independent" and "at every subsequent change of their condition... the States preserved their sovereignty."

South Carolina holds the principles now promulgated by the President (as they must always be held by all who claim to be supporters of the rights of the States) "as contradicted by the letter of the constitution - unauthorized by its spirit - inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded - destructive of all the objects for which it was framed" - utterly incompatible with the very existence of the States - and absolutely fatal to the rights and liberties of the people."​
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S Carolina has never claimed (as is asserted by the President) the right of repealing at pleasure, all the revenue laws of the Union," much less the right of "repealing the Constitution itself, and laws passed to give it effect which have never been alleged to be unconstitutional." She claims only the right to judge of infractions of the Constitutional compact, in violation of the reserved rights of the State, and of arresting the progress of usurpation within her own limits, and when, as in the tariffs of 1828, and 1832, revenue and protection - constitutional and unconstitutional objects, have been so mixed up together, that it is found impossible to draw the line of discrimination - she has no alternative, but to consider the whole as a system, unconstitutional in its character, and to leave it to those who have woven the web, to unravel the threads.​
More to follow, but it strikes me that much of this line of thought is nearly identical to what will be found thirty years later during South Carolina's secession before the Civil War, establishing a long tradition of belief in South Carolina of which the 1860 secessionists were the inheritors, not the originators.
 
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Andersonh1

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The Compact Theory can be found early in this proclamation, and it's as concise and clear a definition of that theory as I've seen:

South Carolina insists, and she appeals to the whole political history of our country, in support of her position "that the Constitution of the United States is a compact between sovereign States - that it creates a confederated republic, not having a single feature of nationality in its foundation - that the people of the several States as distinct political communities ratified the Constitution, each State acting for itself, and binding its own citizens, and not those of any other State, the act of ratification declaring it to be binding on the States so ratifying - the States are its authors, their power created it - their voice clothed it with authority - the government which it formed is composed of their agents, and the Union of which it is the bond is a Union of States and not of individuals - that as regards the foundation and extent of its power, the government of the United States is strictly what its name implies, a Federal Government - that the States are as sovereign now as they were prior to entering the compact - the the Federal Constitution is a confederation in the nature of a treaty - or an alliance by which so many sovereign States agreed to exercise their sovereign powers conjointly upon certain objects of external concern in which they are equally interested, such as war, peace, commerce, foreign negotiation, and indian trade; and upon all other subjects of civil government, they were to exercise their sovereignty separately.​
 

Andersonh1

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Further elaboration of the Compact Theory:

For the convenient conjoint exercise of the Sovereignty of the States, there must of necessity be some common agency or functionary. This agency is the Federal Government. It represents the confederated States, and executes their joint will, as expressed in the compact. The powers of this government are wholly derivative. It possesses no more inherent sovereignty, than an incorporated town, or any other great corporate body - it is a political corporation, and like all corporations, it looks for its powers to an exterior source. That source is the States.​
Hayne goes back to the Declaration of Independence as the source of State Sovereignty:
South Carolina claims that, by the Declaration of Independence, she became and has ever since continued a free, sovereign, and Independent State.​
What does Hayne say that sovereignty empowers the State to do?
That as a sovereign State, she has the inherent power, to do all those acts, which by the law of nations, any Prince or Potentate may of right do. That like all independent States, she neither has, nor ought to suffer any other restraint upon her sovereign will and pleasure than those high moral obligations under which all Princes and States are bound before God and man, to perform their solemn pledges. The inevitable conclusion from what has been said therefore is, that in all cases of compact between independent sovereigns, where from the very nature of things, there can be no common judge or umpire, each sovereign has a right "to judge as well of infractions, as of the mode and measure of redress" so in the present controversy between South Carolina and the Federal Government, it belongs solely to her, by her delegates in solemn Convention assembled, to decide whether the Federal compact be violated and what remedy the State ought to pursue.​
One of the sources Hayne cites here is Thomas Jefferson and the Kentucky resolutions, which he describes as Kentucky declaring the principle that in this case, Nullification is the rightful remedy.
 

Andersonh1

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Hayne has this to say about the Constitutionality or not of nullification:

It is a vain and idle dispute about words to ask whether this right of State interposition may be most properly styled a constitutional, a sovereign, or a reserved right. In calling this right constitutional, it could never have been intended to claim it as a right granted by, or derived from, the Constitution, but it is claimed as consistent with its genius, its letter and its spirit; it being not only distinctly understood at the time of ratifying the Constitution, but expressly provided for, in the instrument itself, that all sovereign rights, not agreed to be exercised conjointly, should be exerted separately by the States. Virginia declared, in reference to the right asserted in the resolutions of '98, above quoted, even after having fully and accurately re-examined and re-considered these resolutions, "that she found it to be her indispensible duty to adhere to the same, as founded in truth, as consonant with the Constitution, and as conducive to its welfare;" and Mr. Madison himself asserted them to be perfectly "constitutional and conducive."​
Hayne goes on to assert, again quoting, that all this being the case, the parties themselves must be the rightful judge in the last resort whether the bargain made has been pursued or violated. The States formed the Constitution and are parties to the compact.
 

Andersonh1

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Hayne sees the danger not in States exercising sovereignty too often and endangering the Union, but in not using them enough to protect their rights. He accuses Andrew Jackson of mischaracterizing South Carolina's response up to this point, and of abusing his power by claiming a right not given to the President by the Constitution, to use force of arms to coerce a State.

The annals which record the struggles of freedom, show us that rulers in every age and every country, jealous of their power, have resorted to this very same means to extinguish in the bosom of man that noble instinct of liberty which prompts him to resist oppression. The system by which tyrants, in every age, attempted to obliterate this sentiment, and to crush the spirit of the people consists in the skilful employment of promises and threats....​
South Carolina will stand, he says, and perform its duty to maintain the sovereign authority of the State, or else be buried beneath its ruins. He believes the other free, sovereign and independent States around SC share the same interests and will take a similar stand. However....

If in spite of our common kindred, and common interest, the glorious recollection of the past and the proud hopes of the future, South Carolina should be coldly abandoned to her fate, and reduced to subjection, by an unholy combination among her sister States - which is believed to be utterly impossible - and the doctrines promulgated by the President are to become the foundations of a new system cemented by the blood of our citizens, it matters not what may be our lot. Under such a Government, as there could be no liberty, so there could be no security either for our persons or our property.​
South Carolina desires no disunion, and will only fight to repel invasion. Secession enters the proclamation here as Hayne notes that the President denies any right of a State to secede from the Union under any circumstances. He reduces States to a "petty corporation" subject to the "uncontrolled will of the federal government."

If these principles could be established, then indeed would the days of our liberty be numbered, and the republic will have found a MASTER.​
 

Andersonh1

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Hayne closes his proclamation with an appeal:

Fellow citizens, In the name and behalf of South Carolina, I do once more solemnly warn you against all attempts to seduce you from your primary allegiance to the State. I charge you to be faithful to your duty as citizens of South Carolina, and earnestly exhort you to disregard those "vain menaces" of military force, which, if the President, in violation of all his constitutional obligations and of your most sacred rights, should be tempted to employ, it would become your solemn duty, at all hazards, to resist. I require you to be fully prepared, to sustain the dignity and protect the liberties of the State, if need be, with your "lives and fortunes." And may that great and good Being, who, as a "father careth for his children," inspire us with that HOLY ZEAL IN A GOOD CAUSE, which is THE BEST SAFEGUARD OF OUR RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES.​
Of the many things I take away from this is that there is great consistency of belief between 1832, 1852 and 1860. State sovereignty is front and center, the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution and the Founders are cited and appealed to for inspiration, and there is a fighting spirit very evident in the governor's tone. So much of what is said here could be transplanted to 1860 and it would fit right in. It also demonstrates that John C. Calhoun was not alone in expressing these beliefs, and that there was a long tradition in South Carolina of asserting State sovereignty.

Another thing that we can take away from this is that it speaks against the canard that no one before the war talked about State's Rights, and that they only turned to that afterwards rather than talk about slavery. Three decades before the war, South Carolina's chief executive speaks almost entirely about that topic.
 
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Quaama

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Further elaboration of the Compact Theory:

For the convenient conjoint exercise of the Sovereignty of the States, there must of necessity be some common agency or functionary. This agency is the Federal Government. It represents the confederated States, and executes their joint will, as expressed in the compact. The powers of this government are wholly derivative. It possesses no more inherent sovereignty, than an incorporated town, or any other great corporate body - it is a political corporation, and like all corporations, it looks for its powers to an exterior source. That source is the States.​
Hayne goes back to the Declaration of Independence as the source of State Sovereignty:
South Carolina claims that, by the Declaration of Independence, she became and has ever since continued a free, sovereign, and Independent State.
What does Hayne say that sovereignty empowers the State to do?
That as a sovereign State, she has the inherent power, to do all those acts, which by the law of nations, any Prince or Potentate may of right do. That like all independent States, she neither has, nor ought to suffer any other restraint upon her sovereign will and pleasure than those high moral obligations under which all Princes and States are bound before God and man, to perform their solemn pledges. The inevitable conclusion from what has been said therefore is, that in all cases of compact between independent sovereigns, where from the very nature of things, there can be no common judge or umpire, each sovereign has a right "to judge as well of infractions, as of the mode and measure of redress" so in the present controversy between South Carolina and the Federal Government, it belongs solely to her, by her delegates in solemn Convention assembled, to decide whether the Federal compact be violated and what remedy the State ought to pursue.​
One of the sources Hayne cites here is Thomas Jefferson and the Kentucky resolutions, which he describes as Kentucky declaring the principle that in this case, Nullification is the rightful remedy.

Jefferson Davis also referred to the Declaration of Independence (and the earlier Articles of Confederation) in The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government when he said in Part II, Chapter I:
"That this [that the States were free and independent] was not merely a foreign view is evident from the second of the "Articles of Confederation" between the States, adopted subsequently to the Declaration of Independence, which is in these words: "Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled."
 

Andersonh1

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This thread was not about the debate per se, but I have no objection if you want to introduce quotations from their debate into the discussion. I was primarily looking for reporting on how South Carolina responded to Jackson's declaration on nullification when I found Hayne's resolution and thought it would make a good thread for the State's Rights forum, but I assume his debate with Webster contains similar thoughts. I plan to read more about it.
 

Andersonh1

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One side does not a debate make. It takes two and the context in which those two debate to make sense of the matter.

Just a personal quirk of mine.

And as I said, I have no objection if you want to present some of what Hayne and Webster had to say on this topic. Feel free to post some opposing points, it might lead to interesting discussion.
 

Andersonh1

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I like Hayne's comments on taxation. His concerns about a national treasury are valid too, and tie back into the States rights arguments.

Sir, an immense national treasury would be a fund for corruption. It would enable Congress and the Executive to exercise a control over states, as well as over great interests in the country, nay, even over corporations and individuals—utterly destructive of the purity, and fatal to the duration of our institutions. It would be equally fatal to the sovereignty and independence of the states. Sir, I am one of those who believe that the very life of our system is the independence of the states, and that there is no evil more to be deprecated than the consolidation of this government. It is only by a strict adherence to the limitations imposed by the Constitution on the federal government, that this system works well, and can answer the great ends for which it was instituted. I am opposed, therefore, in any shape, to all unnecessary extension of the powers, or the influence of the Legislature or Executive of the Union over the states, or the people of the states; and, most of all, I am opposed to those partial distributions of favors, whether by legislation or appropriation, which has a direct and powerful tendency to spread corruption through the land; to create an abject spirit of dependence; to sow the seeds of dissolution; to produce jealousy among the different portions of the Union, and finally to sap the very foundations of the government itself. . . .​
 

Andersonh1

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More from Hayne's debate with Webster:

In the course of my former remarks, I took occasion to deprecate, as one of the greatest of evils, the consolidation of this government. The gentleman takes alarm at the sound. “Consolidation,” like the “tariff,” grates upon his ear. He tells us, “we have heard much, of late, about consolidation; that it is the rallying word for all who are endeavoring to weaken the Union by adding to the power of the states.” But consolidation, says the gentleman, was the very object for which the Union was formed; and in support of that opinion, he read a passage from the address of the president of the Convention[3] to Congress (which he assumes to be authority on his side of the question.) But, sir, the gentleman is mistaken. The object of the Framers of the Constitution, as disclosed in that address, was not the consolidation of the government, but “the consolidation of the Union.” It was not to draw power from the states, in order to transfer it to a great national government, but, in the language of the Constitution itself, “to form a more perfect union;” and by what means? By “establishing justice,” “promoting domestic tranquility,” and “securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” This is the true reading of the Constitution. But, according to the gentleman’s reading, the object of the Constitution was to consolidate the government, and the means would seem to be, the promotion of injustice, causing domestic discord, and depriving the states and the people “of the blessings of liberty” forever. . . .​
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Who, then, Mr. President, are the true friends of the Union? Those who would confine the federal government strictly within the limits prescribed by the Constitution—who would preserve to the states and the people all powers not expressly delegated—who would make this a federal and not a national Union—and who, administering the government in a spirit of equal justice, would make it a blessing and not a curse. And who are its enemies? Those who are in favor of consolidation; who are constantly stealing power from the states and adding strength to the federal government; who, assuming an unwarrantable jurisdiction over the states and the people, undertake to regulate the whole industry and capital of the country. . . .​
The senator from Massachusetts, in denouncing what he is pleased to call the Carolina doctrine,[5] has attempted to throw ridicule upon the idea that a state has any constitutional remedy by the exercise of its sovereign authority against “a gross, palpable, and deliberate violation of the Constitution.” He called it “an idle” or “a ridiculous notion,” or something to that effect; and added, that it would make the Union “a mere rope of sand”. . . .​
Sir, as to the doctrine that the federal government is the exclusive judge of the extent as well as the limitations of its powers, it seems to be utterly subversive of the sovereignty and independence of the states. It makes but little difference, in my estimation, whether Congress or the Supreme Court, are invested with this power. If the federal government, in all or any of its departments, are to prescribe the limits of its own authority; and the states are bound to submit to the decision, and are not to be allowed to examine and decide for themselves, when the barriers of the Constitution shall be overleaped, this is practically “a government without limitation of powers;” the states are at once reduced to mere petty corporations, and the people are entirely at your mercy. I have but one word more to add. In all the efforts that have been made by South Carolina to resist the unconstitutional laws which Congress has extended over them, she has kept steadily in view the preservation of the Union, by the only means by which she believes it can be long preserved—a firm, manly, and steady resistance against usurpation. The measures of the federal government have, it is true, prostrated her interests, and will soon involve the whole South in irretrievable ruin. . . .​
 

Potomac Pride

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This thread has brought up some interesting points. The southern states had a different view of the Constitution than the north. The southern politicians traditionally believed in the Compact Theory of the Constitution. The Compact theory maintains that the Constitution was a compact which consisted of a voluntary agreement among the 13 sovereign states to create a federal government. The compact was voluntary and the states retained their sovereignty and had the right to secede from the Union if the compact was violated. However, the northern states believed in the contract theory which argues that the Constitution was established directly by the people, not by the states, and that it constitutes supreme law, not a mere compact. This difference in political philosophy was one of the reasons for the war.

In addition, the Compact Theory existed before slavery even became a national issue. Some of the early proponents of the Compact Theory included Thomas Jefferson and later on Jefferson Davis. However, most northern politicians such as Lincoln considered the Union as something permanent, in fact, a perpetual Union. Lincoln claimed that the states had accepted unconditionally the sovereignty of the national government with the ratification of the Constitution. Therefore, the states did not retain their sovereignty when they became part of the Union and had no right to withdraw from it.
 

unionblue

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This thread has brought up some interesting points. The southern states had a different view of the Constitution than the north. The southern politicians traditionally believed in the Compact Theory of the Constitution. The Compact theory maintains that the Constitution was a compact which consisted of a voluntary agreement among the 13 sovereign states to create a federal government. The compact was voluntary and the states retained their sovereignty and had the right to secede from the Union if the compact was violated. However, the northern states believed in the contract theory which argues that the Constitution was established directly by the people, not by the states, and that it constitutes supreme law, not a mere compact. This difference in political philosophy was one of the reasons for the war.

In addition, the Compact Theory existed before slavery even became a national issue. Some of the early proponents of the Compact Theory included Thomas Jefferson and later on Jefferson Davis. However, most northern politicians such as Lincoln considered the Union as something permanent, in fact, a perpetual Union. Lincoln claimed that the states had accepted unconditionally the sovereignty of the national government with the ratification of the Constitution. Therefore, the states did not retain their sovereignty when they became part of the Union and had no right to withdraw from it.

I am of the opinion that this thread and it's repeated speeches are more of an echo chamber, repeating arguments that were opposed and decried in it's time, right up until the present time on this forum.

I understand the idea of presenting one side of an argument/view, without the messy interference of opposition, but it should always be remembered, presenting the one side without the other is pretty much having the same effect as one hand clapping.

If these arguments were so good, so persuasive, where stands the Confederacy? Why were such views so decried and found to be so wanting? Because such views carried a message of self-destruction to the nation. There's no other way to present these views. Because those who presented them were more concerned with the past and preserving their power and their institutions over the greater good, the entire population of the nation. It is, in my own view, the constant looking down of the mass of citizens, thinking them ignorant and unable to decide for themselves what sort of nation they wanted to create, that only those who held power and their own visions had a right to decide for the majority.

The few wanted the many to have as little say as possible in their own futures and to ensure they kept control via the states over the nation.

Just an opinion of one of the many.

Unionblue
 

Andersonh1

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I understand the idea of presenting one side of an argument/view, without the messy interference of opposition, but it should always be remembered, presenting the one side without the other is pretty much having the same effect as one hand clapping.

And you presented an opposing point of view, so mission accomplished.
 
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Potomac Pride

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I am of the opinion that this thread and it's repeated speeches are more of an echo chamber, repeating arguments that were opposed and decried in it's time, right up until the present time on this forum.

I understand the idea of presenting one side of an argument/view, without the messy interference of opposition, but it should always be remembered, presenting the one side without the other is pretty much having the same effect as one hand clapping.

If these arguments were so good, so persuasive, where stands the Confederacy? Why were such views so decried and found to be so wanting? Because such views carried a message of self-destruction to the nation. There's no other way to present these views. Because those who presented them were more concerned with the past and preserving their power and their institutions over the greater good, the entire population of the nation. It is, in my own view, the constant looking down of the mass of citizens, thinking them ignorant and unable to decide for themselves what sort of nation they wanted to create, that only those who held power and their own visions had a right to decide for the majority.

The few wanted the many to have as little say as possible in their own futures and to ensure they kept control via the states over the nation.

Just an opinion of one of the many.

Unionblue
I believe that threads on this subject only accentuate the fact that there was a fundamental disagreement on constitutional principles that existed between the different sections of the country. The argument over the rights of the states versus the power of the federal government was a source of controversy decades before the Civil War even began. Uncertainty as to what the federal government could and could not do began at the moment the Constitution was first adopted. This particular controversy was one of the reasons for the Civil War.
 
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