The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 14
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14 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
cal result of this compact was the creation of the general govern-
ment of the United States to which certain specifically enumer-
ated powers were delegated. The exercise of powers was precisely
limited to those mentioned in the Constitution. In case of an ex-
ercise of power not granted, the resolutions contemplated an in-
terposition of the States to prevent a violation of the constitu-
tional pact. This guardianship of the Constitution was a solemn
duty imposed upon the States. During the Nullification period,
when Madison came to interpret these resolutions, he maintained
that he was speaking of the powers and duties of the States in
their plural and collective capacity, and not of those of a single
"State. Thus all the parties to the compact could challenge and
refuse compliance with the supposedly unconstitutional acts of the
general government, but this right and power were denied to a
single State, which could only initiate an inquiry or an agitation
of the matter that might lead to a redress of the injustice pro-
From the premise that the Union is a compact to which the
States are parties, Madison drew certain conclusions as to the re-
sponsibility of the United States and the States in the perform-
ance and observance of their mutual constitutional obligations.
There were occasions when it became the duty of the States to in-
terfere in order to check the encroachment of the general govern-
ment upon the limitations prescribed by the Constitution. Thus
the rights and powers of the States and the liberties of their peo-
ples would be preserved. On the other hand, the States had en-
gaged themselves in this compact, and must govern themselves
accordingly. They could not release themselves from the compact
at their own pleasure.
It is the nature and essence of a compact that it is equally ob-
ligatory upon the parties to it, and that no one of them can be
liberated therefrom without the consent of the others, or such a
violation of it, or abuse of it by the others, as will amount to a
dissolution of the compact. . . . Applying a like view of the
subject to the United States it results that the compact being
among individuals as embodied into States, no State at pleasure
can release itself therefrom, and set up for itself. The compact
can only be dissolved by consent of the other parties, or by the
was writing his resolutions, and that he would have repudiated any other
interpretation of them.
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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/m1/22/: accessed May 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.