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efficacy of the treaty-making power, has also been definitively established, after a struggle against it on the part of the house of representatives, which, at one time, threatened to disturb the very foundations of the constitution.
The comprehensive claims of the judicial power, as being co-extensive with all cases that can arise under the constitution, and laws, and treaties of the Union, have, in several instances, been powerfully and successfully vindicated. The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, over the judgments and decrees of the state courts, under certain circumstances, was defined with great accuracy and precision in the 25th section of the act of 1789, establishing the judicial courts; and the free and independent exercise of that jurisdiction, so essential to the maintenance of the authority and efficiency of the government of the United States, in criminal as well as in civil cases, has been hitherto happily sustained. The means of enforcing obedience, when not voluntarily rendered, to the decisions of this appellate jurisdiction, have not been required to be practically applied; and therefore it is a question, which the court has not thought it incumbent on them, as yet, to decide, whether the exercise of that jurisdiction would permit compulsory process to the state courts, with the ordinary methods of enforcing process. The act of Congress provided only that on appeal from the judgment or decree of a state court, the writ of error should have the same effect, as if the judgment or decree had been rendered or passed in a Circuit Court, and the proceeding upon a reversal should be the same, except that the Supreme Court, instead of remanding the cause for a final decree, may, at their discretion, if the cause shall have been once remanded before, proceed to a final decision of the same, and award execution. And, with respect to other branches of the judicial power, it may
be generally observed, that the extensive sway of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; the character of the parties necessary to give cognizance to the federal courts; the faith and credit which are to be given in each state to the records and judicial proceedings in every other state; the sovereignty of Congress over all its territories, without the bounds of any particular state; and the entire and supreme authority of all the constitutional powers of the nation, when coming in collision with any of the residuary or asserted powers of the states, have all been declared (as we have seen in the course of these lectures) by an authority which claims our respect and obedience.
In the first ten or twelve years after the institution of the national judiciary, or from 1790 to 1801, the scanty decisions of the Supreme Court are almost all to be found in the third volume of Dallas's Reports. The first great and grave question which came before them, was that respecting the liability of a state to be sued by a private creditor; and it is a little remarkable, that the court, in one of its earliest decisions, should have assumed a jurisdiction which the author of the Federalist had a few years before declared to be without any colour of foundation. During the period I have mentioned, the federal courts were chiefly occupied with questions concerning their admiralty jurisdiction, and with political and national questions, growing out of the revolutionary war, and the dangerous influence and action of the war of the French revolution upon the neutrality and peace of our country. It was during this portion of our juridical history, that the principles of the doctrines of expatriation, of ex post facto laws, of constitutional taxes, and of the construction and obligation of the treaty of 1783 upon the rights of British creditors, were ably discussed and firmly declared.
The reports of Mr. Cranch commence with the year 1801, and the nine volumes of those reports cover the business of a very active period, down to the year 1815. The
Supreme Court was occupied with many great and momentous questions, and especially during that portion of the time in which the United States had abandoned their neutral, and assumed a belligerent character. It is curious to observe in these reports, the rapid cultivation and complete adoption of the law and learning of the English admiralty and prize courts, notwithstanding those courts had been the constant theme of complaint and obloquy in our political discussions for the fifteen years preceding the war. In the last three volumes of Mr. Cranch, the court was constantly dealing with great questions, embracing the rights and the policy of nations; and the prize and maritime law, not of England only, but of all the commercial nations of Europe, was suddenly introduced, and deeply and permanently interwoven with the municipal law of the United States. We perceive, also, in these volumes, the constant growth and accumulation of cases on commercial law generally, and relating to policies of insurance, negotiable paper, mercantile partnerships, and the various customs of the law merchant. The court was likewise busy in discussing and settling important principles growing out of the limited range of other matters of federal cognizance, and relating to the law of evidence, to frauds, trusts, and mortgages. They were engaged also with the doctrine of the limitation of suits, the contract of sale, and with the more enlarged subjects of domicil, of the lex loci, of neutrality, and of the numerous points of international law.
By the time of the commencement of Mr. Wheaton's reports, in 1816, the decisions of the Supreme Court had embraced so many topics of public and municipal law, and those topics had been illustrated by so much talent and learning, that, for the first time in the history of this country, we were enabled to perceive the broad foundations and rapid growth of a code of national jurisprudence. That code has been growing and improving ever since, and it has now become a solid and magnificent structure; and it seems destined, at no very distant period of time, to cast a shade
over the less elevated, and perhaps we must add, the less attractive and ambitious systems of justice in the several states. The most interesting parts of Mr. Wheaton's Reports are those which contain the examination of those great constitutional questions which we have been reviewing; and I cannot conceive of any thing more grand and imposing in the whole administration of human justice, than the spectacle of the Supreme Court sitting in solemn judgment upon the conflicting claims of the national and state sovereignties, and tranquillizing all jealous and angry passions, and binding together this great confederacy of states in peace and harmony, by the ability, the moderation, and the equity of its decisions.
There are several reasons why we may anticipate the still increasing influence of the federal government, and the continual enlargement of the national system of law in magnitude and value. The judiciary of the United States has an advantage over many of the state courts, in the tenure of the office of the judges, and the liberal and stable provision for their support. The United States are, by these means, fairly entitled to command better talents, and to look for more firmness of purpose, greater independence of action, and brighter displays of learning. The federal administration of justice has a manifest superiority over that of the individual states, in consequence of the uniformity of its decisions, and the universality of their application. Every state court will naturally be disposed to borrow light and aid from the national courts, rather than from the courts of other individual states, which will probably never be so generally respected and understood. The states are multiplying so fast, and the reports of their judicial decisions are becoming so numerous, that few lawyers will be able or willing to master all the intricacies and anomalies of local law, existing beyond the boundaries of their own state. Twenty-four independent state courts of final jurisdiction over the same questions, arising upon the same general
code of common and of equity law, must necessarily imp r the symmetry of that code.
The danger to be apprehended is, that students will not have the courage to enter the complicated labyrinth of so many systems, and that they will, of course, entirely neglect them, and be contented with a knowledge of the law of their own state, and the law of the United States, and then resort for further assistance to the never failing fountains of European wisdom.
But though the national judiciary may be deemed preeminent in the weight of its influence, the authority of its decisions, and in the attraction of their materials, there are abundant considerations to cheer and animate us in the cultivation of our own local law. The judicial power of the United States is necessarily limited to national objects. The vast field of the law of property, the very extensive head of equity jurisdiction, and the principal rights and duties which flow from our civil and domestic relations, fall within the control, and we might almost say, the exclusive cognizance, of the state governments. We look essentially to the state courts for protection to all these momentous interests. They touch, in their operation, every cord of human sympathy, and control our best destinies. It is their province to reward, and to punish. Their blessings and their terrors will accompany us to the fireside, and be "in constant activity before the public eye." The elementary principles of the common law are the same in every state, and equally enlighten and invigorate every part of our country. Our municipal codes can be made to advance with equal steps with that of the nation, in discipline, in wisdom, and in lustre, if the state governments (as they ought in all honest policy) will only render equal patronage and security to the administration of justice. The true interests and the permanent freedom of this country require, that the jurisprudence of the individual states should be cultivated, cherished, and exalted, and the dignity and reputation of the state authorities sustained with becoming