The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 16
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
It may by its terms have a sanction or penalty for its breach or
it may not. If it contains no sanction, it may be broken with no
other consequence than moral guilt: if it have a sanction, then
the breach insures the designated or implied penalty.'0
He argued that every government has a sanction,-the right of
self-preservation. The implication is, also, that the government
of the United States has the power to enforce the fulfillment by
the States of the obligations incident to the contract. In his
special message to Congress in December of 1832, Jackson restated
his position in the following expressive terms:
The right of the people of a single State to absolve themselves at
will, and without the consent of the other States, from their
solemn obligations, and hazard the liberties and happiness of the
millions which compose this Union, cannot be acknowledged.
Such authority is believed to be repugnant both to the principles
upon which the general government is constituted, and to the ob-
jects which it is expressly formed to attain."1
The contract theory was one of the strongest and most popular
arguments against the action of the Southern States, in 1860-1861,
when they seceded from the Union. Lincoln recognized its force,
and employed it in his inaugural as an argument in rebuttal of
the State sovereignty doctrine asserted by the seceding States.
He put it in the form of questions--'
If the United States be not a government proper, but an associ-
ation of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a con-
tract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made
it? One party to a contract may violate it-break it, so to speak;
but does it not require all to rescind it?
Such was the theory which the court adopted. Since the other
States did not consent to its renunciation of the Union, the court
was of the opinion that despite the actions of Texas,
the obligations of the State, as a member of the Union, and of
every citizen of the State, as a citizen of the United States, re-
mained perfect and unimpaired. It certainly 'follows that the
State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens
of the Union. If this were otherwise, the State would have be-
"1MacDonald, Select Documents, op. cit., 279.
"Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, II, 621.
xsNicolay and Hay (editors), Lincoln's SWorks, II, 3.
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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/m1/24/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.