The Constitution and the theory of nullification[ edit ] Provisions of the Constitution[ edit ] The Constitution does not contain any clause expressly providing that the states have the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional. They have argued that before the Constitution was ratified, the states essentially were separate nations.
The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions ofwhatever their whole purpose, were designed primarily as a protest against the infringement of this principle by the recently enacted Alien and Sedition Laws. Incidentally they gave expression to a theory concerning the nature of the federal union which was of equal or perhaps greater significance than their protest against all interference with freedom of speech.
It is singular that a controversy which involved an expression of opinion by the whole American people upon two questions of so much importance should have been treated by historians as this one has been.
Enough and more than enough has been written about the authorship of the resolutions and their ultimate object; but little if any serious effort has been made to ascertain what the people of the United States thought about them.
When Jonathan Elliot compiled his now celebrated Debates he was content as regards the Resolutions of and merely to reprint a pamphlet published in by direction of the Virginia legislature, adding the Kentucky Resolutions for both years.
From this material one can learn next to nothing of the public sentiment in the two states which induced the passage of the resolutions and but little of the temper in which these resolutions were received in other states.
None of the memorials addressed by the county courts to the two legislatures appear in the pages of Elliot; and of sentiment outside of Virginia and Kentucky one can judge only by the answers of the seven states  whose legislatures sent to the Virginia legislature replies disapproving of its resolutions.
Believing that these seven replies are not sufficient to represent adequately the public opinion of the entire country, I have attempted to extract from contemporary pamphlets and newspapers some account of such reported actions and expressions as will reveal the state of public opinion relative to the resolutions.
Prior to the A review of the virginia and kentucky resolutions of the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky, ina number of large public meetings, in both states, had denounced the recent measures of the federal government, and particularly the Alien and Sedition Laws.
Most of these meetings drew up memorials on the subject and addressed them to the legislature of the state. A comparison of these memorials with the resolutions makes it plain that the passages in the resolutions which arraign the policy of the federal government merely epitomize the memorials on that point.
But in respect to the remedy, some of the memorials use only vague and general expressions; others call upon the legislature to formulate the appropriate remedy and pledge the memorialists to accept it. Satisfied that the resolutions of represent the voice of Virginia and Kentucky in their protest, and the ideas of Thomas Jefferson in the remedy hinted at, let us see how they were regarded in the other states.
Maryland, from its proximity, had the first opportunity to express an opinion upon the resolutions. The opportunity was not neglected; before the resolutions of Virginia were received and even before the probable action of that state could have been known at Annapolis, a committee of the House of Delegates was appointed to consider the resolutions of Kentucky.
Four days after Virginia had passed her resolutions the report of this committee was agreed to by the House of Delegates by a vote of 58 to This report is very brief and its dissent is expressed in vague and general terms: It is therefore only a rejection of the Virginia remedy, not an assertion of a more appropriate one.
Unfortunately the debates upon this report and resolution have not been preserved, but the proceedings so far as recorded are worthy of consideration.
Prior to the final vote upon the report and resolution five votes were taken upon questions involving some portions of the whole; two of these presented only the question of the expediency of the Alien and Sedition Laws; the other three dealt with the remedy suggested by Virginia. The final vote was forty-two to twenty-four; this would seem to indicate that the endorsement of the Alien and Sedition Laws was made more prominent than the condemnation of the Virginia remedy.
Philadelphia, as was natural from its commercial, social, and intellectual prominence, enjoyed the best newspapers published in the United States. These papers, taking notice at an early date of the agitation in Virginia and Kentucky, reported its progress with considerable promptitude and fullness.
Unlike most of the papers elsewhere, the Philadelphia press was not content to merely print a portion of the news; resolutions like those of Virginia and Kentucky called for comment, and the kind of comment made is significant.
Fenno in the Gazette of the United States presented to his Federalist readers the resolutions of both states together with portions of the speech of Governor Gerrard to the legislature of Kentucky, under the title: One portion of it he pronounced "a most atrocious train of misrepresentation and falsehood;" another he characterized as "too weak and contemptible to merit much attention;" the whole is an "abominable speech, distinguished no less by the depravity of its sentiments, than the most desperate folly.
It was the possibility of resistance to federal government rather than the cause of that opposition or the proposed method of resistance that seemed to Fenno the important side of the affair. The resolutions seem to have had upon him an effect similar to that produced upon other Federalist editors, strengthening his already implicit belief in the rapid approach of disaster.
On March 4,  he pointed out to his readers four "indications of approaching convulsion"; number one is "the imbecility of our frame of government," and allusions make it plain that the imbecility referred to was that which made possible such opposition to the federal government as that of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.
The present system he characterized as "a mere experiment," "a jangling and chaotic confusion of federal and state governments, which can compare to nothing more nearly than a farrow of pigs, who have so strengthened and increased on the nourishment she has afforded them, as to be able to insult her authority and resist her controul.
At one moment the reader is surprised by a touch showing remarkable insight into some problem then facing the American people; the next moment his admiration is excited by a prophecy since actually realized, or falsified only by circumstances which no man could then have anticipated; meanwhile he is constantly amused by bits of sophistical reasoning, by Cobbett's ignorance of American history or his failure to appreciate some of the most obvious traits of American character.The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, initially drafted by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, respectively, were issued by the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures in response to the federal Alien and Sedition Acts of The Resolutions declared that the several states are united by compact under the Constitution, that the Constitution.
Memory Palaces are a new way to review US History! Check them out! (will open to nationwidesecretarial.com) COMPROMISES. Constitutional = The Great Compromise (Virginia (bicameral on population) vs.
NJ Plan (equal representation), 3/5 Compromise, and Commercial Compromise. Search the world's information, including webpages, images, videos and more.
Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you're looking for. Kentucky: Kentucky, constituent state of the United States of America.
Rivers define Kentucky’s boundaries except on the south, where it shares a border with Tennessee along a nearly straight line of about miles ( km), and on the southeast, where it shares an irregular, mountainous border with.
Archives and past articles from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and nationwidesecretarial.com Also see the Virginia Resolution of , authored by James Madison, for the same purpose, and a followup Kentucky Resolution of adopted by the Kentucky Legislature a year later.