The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798
|2 July AD 2009
Feast of the Visitation
When Americans actually read the the United States Constitution and consider what it means—possibly for the first time in their lives, or for the first time since the fifth grade—they begin to ask how such a tangled web of legal enactments as we have today could have possibly been formed and enforced by the men and women—Senators, Representatives, and Judges—who have sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” (“preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” in the case of Presidents). How could the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to all Americans be so completely disregarded? How could the limited powers delegated to the federal union by the States have grown to virtually unlimited proportions? Have not the vast majority of the oath-takers committed perjury? The questions are more moral than political, and every citizen who recognizes the existence of God's natural moral law must ask them in the context of the eternal struggle between good and evil.
The question that follows, is usually something like “Well, what can we do about it?”
The following resolutions were adopted by the Kentucky Legislature on November 10, 1798, as a protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Congress. They were authored by Thomas Jefferson, but he did not make public the fact until years later.
1. Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.
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