Date Original

1835 September 19


Editorial in the Arkansas Times discussing whether or not Arkansas Territory can form a constitution without the consent of the United States Congress.


Mr. Editor: I have no wish to ob-
trude my views or opinions upon the
question of the power of the people of
Arkansas to form a Constitution and
State Government, without the express
authority of Congress for that purpose.
You heretofore promised to open your
columns to a temperate discussion of the
subject, and I have presumed upon that
invitation to offer a few suggestions. In
answer to the comments which have
been submitted by the various writers
upon the subject, I shall content myself
with requesting you to publish the fol-
lowing extracts from speeches delivered
in Congress, (by some of the most dis-
tinguished statesmen and jurists of the
day) when the bill was pending before
Congress to authorize the people of Mis-
souri to form a Constitution and State
Government. In relation to the ex-
tracts published in the Advocate, it must
be borne in mind, that the speakers, in
urging upon congress the right to admis-
sion for Missouri, all considered that it
was to be effected by means of the bill
to authorize her to form her Constitution
and State Government. It was only in
case of extremity, and after a second
failure (a bill to that effect having once
failed in Congress) that mention was
made that a right was in the people,
(clearly revolutionary,) to form a Consti-
tution upon their own authority.
I would respectfully ask, from whence
do the people of this Territory derive
all their political rights? Is it not from
our organic law? a law made for us by
the Congress of the United States? Did
not Congress form our Constitution and
Government? And is it not most clear
and conclusive, that we must obtain their
authority, (unless indeed their's has been
an act of usurpation,) before we can
lawfully destroy the force of our organic
law or Territorial Constitution? Will
not an act of our Legislature to authorize
the people to form a State Constitution
be an act of nulification?
[Page 2] But some writers have contended that
we have a right to propose, and that
upon its approval by Congress, we will
become a State. Now, this is what is
vulgarly called putting the cart before
the horse. A Constitution is not a Trea-
ty; it is the fundamental law, and, as
such, can only be made by the people
in their soverign capacity. And it is
also said by some, that the people of Ar- kansas are sovereign. As a communtiy
they certainly are not soverign, or else
why are they governed by a fundamen-
tal law or Territorial Constitution, form-
ed by the parent Government for their
adoption and use? In a state of nature
I will admit that man is sovereign; but
upon going into society, he surrenders
up his sovereignty into the whole body
politic or community of which he be-
comes a member. In a Republic, that
sovereignty is in the people. In Des-
potic Governments, it is surrendered to
the Rulers, and in Territories or Pro-
vinces, it is retained by the parent Gov-
erment. These dependencies or pro-
vinces must become independent and
sovereign before they can assume the
right of self government and adopt a
Constitution of fundamental law of their
own. Nothing to my mind seems more
conclusive. This may be done either
by an acknowledgment of their indepen-
dence by the mother government and by
surrendering their authority to erect a
Government for themselves; and it may
also be done by an act of revolution on
the part of the dependency; and in this
way, the bonds which connect and bind
them together may be severed.
Even a monarchy may give to its pro-
vinces republican institutions: such was
the course of Great Britain towards the
American Colonies; and it is (partially)
from this source that the citizens of the
United States derived that proud spirit
of freedom which burned throughout
the land, and was by the acts and im-
prudence of the mother country, kin-
dled into a flame, burned the bonds by
which we had been bound to her, and
caused the Colonies to become sove-
reign and independent Republics --
now united into one great confederacy.
I will now submit the extracts referred
to, and leave it with the people to judge.

Physical Description




Geographical Area





MFILM NEWS 000420 Roll 01


Newspaper microfilm collection


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

"For the Times, Arkansas Times," September 19, 1835, Newspaper microfilm collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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