Article 3, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2

[Volume 4, Page 435]

Document 16

Luther Martin, Genuine Information

1788Storing 2.4.96--98

By the principles of the American revolution, arbitrary power may and ought to be resisted even by arms if necessary-- The time may come when it shall be the duty of a State, in order to preserve itself from the oppression of the general government, to have recourse to the sword--In which case the proposed form of government declares, that the State and every of its citizens who act under its authority are guilty of a direct act of treason; reducing by this provision the different States to this alternative, that they must tamely and passively yield to despotism, or their citizens must oppose it at the hazard of the halter if unsuccessful--and reducing the citizens of the State which shall take arms, to a situation in which they must be exposed to punishment, let them act as they will, since if they obey the authority of their State government, they will be guilty of treason against the United States--if they join the general government they will be guilty of treason against their own State.

To save the citizens of the respective States from this disagreeable dilemma, and to secure them from being punishable as traitors to the United States, when acting expressly in obedience to the authority of their own State, I wished to have obtained as an amendment to the third section of this article the following clause: "Provided that no act or acts done by one or more of the States against the United States, or by any citizen of any one of the United States under the authority of one or more of the said States, shall be deemed treason, or punished as such; but in case of war being levied by one or more of the States against the [Volume 4, Page 436] United States, the conduct of each party towards the other, and their adherents respectively, shall be regulated by the laws of war and of nations."

But this provision was not adopted, being too much opposed to the great object of many of the leading members of the convention, which was by all means to leave the States at the mercy of the general govenment, since they could not succeed in their immediate and entire abolition.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 3, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2, Document 16
The University of Chicago Press

Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000