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the recent nullification doctrine in South Carolina, are but
parts of the same general scheme, the oþject of which is to - elevate an exclusive State sovereignty upon the ruins of the
general Government. The opinions upon this subject have been yearly gathering strength, and the non-resistance and passive obedience to them exhibited by the rest of the Union, have encouraged, and indeed nourished them. If, when first uttered, they had been met by a decided opposition from the Legislatures of other States, they would have been obsolete before now.
But the indifference of some, the indolence of others, and the easy good-natured credulity of others, have given a strength to these doctrines, and familiarized them to the people so much, that it will not hereafter be easy to put them down.
As to the Law School, though I am sorry to have lost some of our best students, I have never thought we could safely calculate upon more than thirty students at a time. I am ready to do what I can to deserve as many, and I wish no better coadjutor for the law, or in the law, than now fills the chair. May God grant you, my dear sir, all the success you are entitled to. I am most truly and affectionately yours,
TO MR. PROFESSOR TICKNOR.
Washington, January 22d, 1831. MY DEAR SIR:
I received your letter a day or two ago, after a long delay on the road, occasioned, as you would naturally suppose, by the extraordinary snow storm, or rather storms, with which we have been visited. For a week past in this city there has been very good sleighing, a circumstance almost unparalleled in its annals.
The affair of Georgia, so far as Tassels is concerned, has probably passed by with his death. But we are threatened
with the general question in another form. At this moment, it would have been desirable to have escaped it; but you know‘it is not for Judges to choose times and occasions. We must do our duty as we may.
There has been an effort to procure a repeal of the twentyfifth section of the Judiciary Act. The majority of the Judiciary Committee have agreed to report in favor of the repeal. But there will be a counter report from the minority. And it is now whispered, that the demonstrations of public opinion are so strong, that the majority will conclude not to present their report. If the twenty-fifth section is repealed the Constitution is practically gone. It is an extraordinary state of things, when the Government of the country is laboring to tread down the power on which its very existence depends. You may depend that many of our wisest friends look with great gloom to the future. Pray read, on the subject of the twenty-fifth section, the opinion of the Supreme Court, in Hunter v. Martin, 1 Wheaton's Reports. It contains a full survey of the Judicial powers of the General Government, and Chief Justice Marshall concurred in every word of it.
Give my best regards to Mrs. Ticknor. I long to see you and her. Good night, I am faithfully,
TO MR. PROFESSOR ASHMUN.
Washington, February 13th, 1831. MY DEAR SIR:
You may, and probably do think my views in respect to the Union, and the fate of the Constitution too gloomy. It may be so.
The great difficulty is to make the mass of the people see their true interests, there being so many political demagogues, and so many party presses, that are in league to deceive them. We have long
been accustomed to think the press the great security of our liberty, and the great source of knowledge. But it seems to be forgotten that the same instrument which can préserve, may be employed to destroy. I know not how it is, but somehow it is a fact that, upon political questions, men are blind, and deaf, and dumb, when you attempt to disabuse them of their prejudices and mistakes.
I am astonished (if I ought to be astonished at any thing) at the proposition to establish a separate Criminal Court; it is a reform, exactly in the character of many of our day, all for the worse.
I hope the project will be defeated.
TO HON. STEPHEN WHITE.
Washington, February 25th, 1831. DEAR BROTHER:
I look with considerable interest at the doings of the Massachusetts Legislature.
My humble judgment is, that the course of Massachusetts, in always preaching moderation, and never expressing herself with the masculine force which belongs to her character, is one of the main causes of her little weight in the Union. She takes no resolute ground as if she were in earnest, when all around are active and decided in their course. There seems to me a great deal of mawkish sentimentality in preaching against meddling with the affairs of the national Government, when the Union is in danger; most of the States have for twenty years past assumed it as their right and prerogative. We weaken ourselves by such a policy, at home, and acquire no merit for it abroad. Give my love to the children, and believe me,
Most affectionately, yours,
TO MR. PROFESSOR ASHMUN.
Washington, March 10th, 1831. MY DEAR SIR :
We are drawing near the close of the term, and shall probably adjourn by the eighteenth, when I shall set my face eastward with all imaginable speed, intending no delay on the road. We have been sadly obstructed of late in our business, by very long and tedious arguments, as distressing to hear as to be nailed down to an old-fashioned homily. We are now upon the Charlestown Bridge Case, and have heard the opening counsel on each side, in three days. Dutton, for the plaintiffs, made a capital argument in point of matter and manner, lawyer-like, close, searching, and exact; Jones on the other side, was ingenious, metaphysical, and occasionally strong and striking. Wirt goes on to-day, and Webster will follow to-morrow. Six Judges only are present, which I regret; Duvall having been called suddenly away by the illness of his wife.
You will see, in the National Intelligencer, an article addressed to the people of the United States, on the late controversy between the President and Vice-President. It is able, and I doubt not comes from high sources. There is an answer to it in the Telegraph, coming (I conjecture) from the Vice-President, for it has his tone and manner. There is another article in the official paper (the Globe) in answer, which, I doubt not, is also from high authority. Read them all and consider. The Virginia Senators are dissatisfied with the course of the Administration, and it is rumored the State is itself somewhat at fault. But in political contests of this sort, strise is so mischievous to the common object, power, that the chances are always numerous in favor of a patched-up peace. Men 'separate strongly and widely on principles, but in personal attachments and private and selfish objects, are easily reconciled, if they can be taught to see any present interest in so doing. I am very truly and affectionately,
Your obliged friend,
Towards the latter part of March my father returned from Washington, and again devoted himself to his duties in the Law School. In addition to his conversational exercises in the different text-books, moot-courts were now instituted, in which fictitious cases, involving disputed questions of law, were argued by the students before the professors, who sat as judges, and delivered their judgments. These were at first held once a week, but they were found to be at once so beneficial and so interesting to the students, that they at last came to be held two or three times weekly. The questions were founded upon a statement of facts drawn up by one or other of the Professors, and my father took great delight in inventing new cases, and in so varying those tried before him in the Supreme Court and on his Circuits, as by excluding the collateral questions, to adapt them to the bar of the School. On his return from Washington, he always brought home a number of them, which he had prepared during the session of the Court, and which, at the time of his death, amounted to several hundreds. The duty, or rather the pleasure of arguing these cases, (for it was esteemed a privilege and not a task,) was assigned by the Professors to each of the students in rotation, according to their standing, — those in the younger classes taking the part of junior counsel, and those in the more advanced studies acting as leaders.