The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 4
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
ences. Examples of this usage are to be found in the prohibitions
of power to the States, such as those depriving them of the right to
make treaties with foreign governments, of emitting bills of credit,
or of laying tonnage duties. Each use of the term here mentioned
has' the sanction and approval of the Constitution, and any defini-
tion agreed upon by the court, if it be comprehensive, must em-
brace each sense. Proceeding, therefore, from these particular
usages, the Chief Justice announced the following definition:
A State, in the ordinary sense of the Constitution, is a political
community of free citizens, occupying a territory of defined
boundaries, and organized under a government sanctioned and
limited by a written constitution, and established by the consent
of the governed.
Chase was not the first to grasp the various meanings given by
the Constitution to the word "state." His statement is practi-
cally identical with that submitted, in 1800, by James Madison.
At that early date, there was recognition of the fact that the Con-
stitution employs the term in different senses. After acknowledg-
ing a lack of consistency in this usage, Madison said,
Thus it sometimes means the separate sections of territory occu-
pied by the political societies within each; sometimes the particu-
lar governments established by those societies; sometimes those
societies as organized into particular governments; and, lastly, it
means the people composing those political societies, in their high-
est sovereign capacity.3
Madison, as did Chase, noticed that the uses of the word were
often conflicting and regretted that the language is not more
rich in words to convey the shades of meaning desired in the treat-
ment of scientific matters. "Although it might be wished," he
said, "that the perfection of language admitted less diversity in
the significations of the same words, yet little inconvenience is
produced by it where the true sense can be collected with cer-
tainty in the different applications.4 It is almost impossible to
escape the conclusion that the Chief Justice, who was a profound
student of Democratic legal and political literature, was conversant
with the constitutional exegesis of Madison.
8Hunt (editor), Madison's Works, VI, 348.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916, periodical, 1916; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101067/m1/12/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.