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several days, when the legislature passed a resolve, in agreement and support of the opinion of the governor.* The resolution was as follows: "That a power claimed, or which might be claimed, of compelling a state to become a defendant in a court of the United States, at the suit of an individual or individuals, is unnecessary and inexpedient; and, in its exercise, dangerous to the peace, safety and independence of the several states, and repugnant to the first principles of a federal government." The representatives and senators in congress from the state were requested and instructed by the legislature to endeavor to obtain an amendment to the constitution of the United States, with a view to prevent a construction of any clause or part of it, which should go to compel a state to answer in a civil suit, before any federal judicature.
An article was accordingly soon after added to the constitution denying the authority of the United States courts to oblige a state to answer before it, to the civil suit of an individual. The article is as follows:- The judicial power of the United States shall not be constructed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States, by citizens of another state."+
This was a singular proceeding of an individual state in opposition to the federal government, or in interfering with a branch of that government, as to its power, or the meaning of the constitution whence that power was claimed. It was, in effect, a refusal to obey the authority of that government, until the voice of the people could be obtained on the subject. It was a single state undertaking to say, that the constitution had been misconstrued, and the judiciary had exceeded the power given to it by the constitution; and a resolution not to submit to the authority which it assumed, until it was ascertained, by an appeal to the states, that the authority was given by that instrument.
I have, in this case, done no more than my duty, as a servant of the people. I never did, and I never will deceive them, while I have life and strength to act in their service."
*The vote in the house, was 107 to 19.
The preamble to the resolve was-" Whereas a decision has been had in the supreme court of the United States, that a state may be sued in that court by a citizen of another state, which appears to be grounded on the clause of the constitution, giving authority to the federal judiciary, in cases between a state and citizens of another state." And the governor said, in his message," that he could not conceive, when the constitution was adopted, that it was expected by the people that a state should be held to answer on compulsory civil process to any individual."
If the general government is not a federal, but a national or consolidated government, the conduct of Massachusetts would have been condemned as
After the death of Governor Hancock, Samuel Adams, who was Lieutenant Governor, filled the office of chief magistrate for the remainder of the political year; and was then elected governor for three years, successively; when he was induced, by the infirmities of age, to retire from public life.* Mr. Adams was one of the most firm and determined assertors of constitutional liberty, during the controversy with the British ministry, which was maintained for ten years before hostilities began in 1775. He was among the first few intelligent and resolute men, (in some respects, perhaps, the most firm among them,) who opposed the claims set up and the measures adopted by the administration in England, which tended to abridge the liberties of the colonists, and to subject them to a distant government, in which they were not represented. He was opposed to arbitrary principles, even more than to the oppressive measures of ministers in the parent country. His object always seemed to be to contend for constitutional principles, and to show that the conduct of administration was in violation of them. And in this he succeeded, in the opinion of his fellow-citizens generally. He had much of the puritan in his character and manners; and yet was not very different, in this respect, from his contemporary, Governor Bowdoin ; or from Governor Strong, of a little later period.†
Mr. Adams was one of those who had objections to the constitution of the United States, as giving too much power to the general government, and as encroaching unduly on the rights and authority of the individual states. He was opposed to the constitution, in the convention of Massachusetts, on that ground. But he voted for it, with the articles proposed in that convention, most of which were afterwards adopted by the other states. He retained a jealousy of the accumulation of power by the federal government, and of its tendency to consolidation. He was in favor of a federal, but opposed to a national government. It is important to know the views of such a man as Governor Adams, of the federal government, especially at this early period. In January, 1794, after referring to the origin and cause of the new government, which had far more extensive power, than under the old confedera
altogether improper and dangerous. And it is to be considered, also, that the case was not referred to the people by conventions to decide, but to the legislatures of the several states.
* Governor Adams was 76 when he resigned the office of chief magistrate, in 1797.
Mr. Strong was first chosen governor in 1800, and he manifested particular respect towards the venerable patriot, ex-governor Adams.
tion, Mr. Adams said, "it was judged that the great affairs of the United States, which before were entire sovereignties, could not be well conducted under the direction of several distinct governments. They therefore formed a federal constitution; by which certain powers of sovereignties are delegated to the persons chosen to administer the general government, to be exercised conformably to and within the restrictions of the constitution; and all powers not vested in congress, remain to the states individually. Great caution is necessary, lest any degree of infringement take place, either on the rights of the federal government, or on those of the several states." Such were the views of most of the friends of the federal constitution and government at that period. Consolidation was avowed and advocated by very few. While it was admitted and contended, that the full powers of the federal government should be exercised, as essential to the welfare and prosperity of the United States, it was insisted, that the power, not clearly given, must remain with the individual states; otherwise the compact would be violated, and the liberties of the people be in danger.*
In the same speech, Mr. Adams referred particularly to the principle of civil and political liberty, recognised by the constitution of Massachusetts, "that all men are born free and equal; and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights;" which he said, "he considered to be guaranteed by the author of nature and implied by the christian revelation." He referred to these first principles, he said, "because he fully believed, that on them depended our free republican institutions, and the social welfare of the people."
* Because, in the several state constitutions, there was a bill of rights, limiting the powers of the government and rulers; and, if the federal government was not amenable to the states, by which it was formed, and could exceed the authority delegated, it would be responsible to no controlling power, and would exercise authority to an indefinite and unlimited
Dispute with France;-and with England-Formation of parties-Attachment to France-Antipathy to England-Censures of the conduct of the federal Executive-Treaty with England, 1794—Objections to it— Causes of party opinions-Views of federalists and of anti-federalists— Governor Adams-His political opinions-His recommendations of support for schools and teachers of religion.
AT this period, (1794,) there was a general and strong feeling prevailing through the United States, on the subject of the French revolution. This feeling it was natural for the American people to possess, as the French nation had afforded great assistance to the United States in their struggle for freedom and independence, and as that people were then believed to be seeking a more mild and free government. These considerations operated with all classes of people in the United States, in favor of the revolution in France in 1792 and 93. But when, under the pretence of seeking for political freedom and of merely opposing despotic power, as exercised by the king and his ministers, it appeared, that factions and cabals had taken their place, and that the greatest cruelties and outrages were committed in the name of liberty, the friends of government and order in America were alarmed, and withheld their approbation, which before had been fully expressed. Many citizens of the United States not only strongly condemned these excesses, but they began to doubt the favorable result of the French revolution. And in their condemnation of these excesses and cruelties, spoke with less severity against the former government of France and against monarchy in general. Others were ready to apologize for these excesses, as unavoidable in a revolution of an old and despotic state; and to censure the factions less severely than was reasonable. It was not, however, a mere abstract question, or one addressed
solely to the sympathy of the people of the United States. The citizens of France, who assumed power, on the deposition and execution of the king, interfered with the government of this country, made demands on it, and assumed to dictate what measures it would be proper for it to adopt, in a manner incompatible with the sovereign rights of the United States. It became, therefore, a queston of practical importance what course to pursue. General Washington, then chief magistrate of the union, though justly sensible of the assistance of France in the war of the revolution, and desirous of a reform in the French government, which would be favorable to the liberties of the subjects, was not disposed to compromit the peace and welfare of the United States, by joining that nation in a war with other European powers. He issued a proclamation of neutrality, forbidding the citizens of America to engage in the contest, in any way, between France and the other powers of Europe; and prohibiting French agents from fitting out armed vessels in the ports of the United States.
This policy of the federal administration was generally approved by the people; but there were some who condemned it, as ungrateful to France, and as deficient in that decided spirit in favor of liberty, which became the American republic, towards the new republic in Europe. That portion of the citizens of Massachusetts, who were of the latter character, gave their support to Governor Adams, and claimed him as their political friend. But he never justified the excesses and cruelties committed by the revolutionary factions in France, though he was not so early in condemning them, or in despairing of civil liberty in that country, as some others were. Afterwards, he reprobated their conduct as expressly and as severely as others. And, at the time the feelings of the country were most excited, by the improper interference of the French minister to the United States, whose conduct was justified or excused by some of the people, Mr. Adams publicly declared his confidence in the wisdom and patriotism of General Washington, then the chief magistrate of the United States.
From this period is to be dated the origin of two great political parties, into which the state and country were divided, for several subsequent years. The parties, indeed, began rather at the formation of the federal government, in 1789; for then the people were divided in opinion, as to the excellence, and expediency even of that government. By those who made great professions of republicanism, it was objected that the federal government approached too nearly to monarchy. But the