Talk:Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

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Central Government a member of the compact?[edit]

The way I read the resolutions, the compact is between the States. The General Government was created by the compact.

A few quotes from the Kentucky Resolution of 1798:

"they [the States] constituted a general government for special purposes"
"that the government created by this compact..."
"each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress."
"Congress being not a party, but merely the creature of the compact"

From the Kentucky Resolution of 1799:

"That the several states who formed that instrument..."

From the Virginia Resolution of 1798:

"the states who are parties thereto..."

Benn Newman 14:54, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree with newmanbe. blahThe resolution clearly recognizes the compact being between the states. From the 1798 Resolution, for example, Jefferson says "....nevertheless, this commonwealth, from motives and regard and blahrespect for its co-States, has wish to communicate with them on the subject: that blah with them alone it is proper to communicate they alone being parties to the compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort of the powers exercised under it, Congress being not a party, but merely the creature of the compact, and subject as to its assumptions of power to the final judgment of those by whome, and for whose use itself and its powers were all created and modified:..." As this passage clearly points out, and what is traditional social contract or compact theory reaffirms, is that the compact is an institutions of a political community (in this case the United States) prior to the agreed upon constitutional structure.blah The power emanates from this political community to whatever form or structure the community agrees upon, it's only important that ultimate sovereignty rests with those who instituted the compact. Congress, by this formulation, is merely an institution established by the Constitution, which itself is established by the political community of states.


Good, I am not going crazy. :) Now if you can just find me copies of the resolutions I have marked up. Benn Newman 23:18, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Article format[edit]

Is this article in the correct format because its kind of hard to follow? 18:28, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

It does not use sections. Benn Newman 23:42, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

I added sections and moved paragraphs around to fit the sections. I think it still reads the same, but will happily defer to anyone more knowledgeable. Robomanx (talk) 15:26, 11 May 2009 (UTC)


I don't have a problem with adding a section that deals with secession if it is linked well and historically, i.e., why does the right to secession exist because of nullification qua nullification, and how did the 1798 resolutions play a part in that discussion leading up to the 1860 war? In fact, such a discussion might be good, if it's not dealt with sufficiently in a War Between the States article. That said, I don't think that mentioning Abraham Lincoln is enough to link them. One could even argue that Jefferson himself stopped short of linking nullification and secession by dropping the threat to secede from the Union. What do you all think? --Dr. Elwin Ransom 03:21, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

The main references of secession are in the responses of the states. On this topic (and possibly avaliable from your library): State Documents on Federal Relations. Perhaps a short discussion and a link to the main article would be best. There are various whys, the ones that I am thinking of in my head right now are related to compact theory. Benn Newman 13:54, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I think we need something like that because the article as written with Jackson's quote about secession seems to be a nod to those already informed about matters of compact theory and secession and I think it should be addressed, if only in passing. --Dr. Elwin Ransom 22:29, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Origins of the American Civil War starts its chronology with talking about slavery (in the 1800s); Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War, however, starts in the 1700s; a bit better, but still only touches the events that are "popularly known." Part of the problem of documenting anything related to compact theory (as you noticed in interposition) is that "nobody cares" so nobody scholarly really writes about it (or if they do, it seems they write about people not writing about it). Even way back in 1911, when State Documents on Federal Relations was compiled/written, the primary source material was difficult to obtain. I also think this goes beyond this article. (I'll respond more about that on your talk page) --Benn Newman 00:03, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Marbury v. Madison?[edit]

I have not the confidence to immediately correct the page, but is it not worth noting here that the Resolutions contention that the individual states are the arbiters of constitutionality was challenged, if not overruled, in Marbury v. Madison? Marshall offered the rebuttal, now codified in practice if not in law, that the states have no such right because it is solely in the discretion of the federal judiciary. While, as the article makes clear, the argument was not settled in 1803 with Marbury, surely some comment on the connexion is valid.

Don't the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions argue this is exactly the sort of Supreme Court decision the states should ignore?


Someone please split this article up. I would, but I'm working on a project right now and I don't know how to.

ZestyMcHaggis 07:37, 8 May 2007 (UTC)


This page should redirect from Kentucky & Virginia Resolves. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:37, 16 January 2008 (UTC) (Has Membership, but cannot log in due to the fact that he cannot remember his account name or password.)


Not being an expert on this topic, I am reluctant to edit it, but it sorely needs editing. Several topics are mashed together in single paragraphs, threads of discussion wander about, sentences begin by implying one direction and end in another, ...

Also, I'm a bit concerned with the number of references to Kevin Gutzman works. He's not the most mainstream of authors. Robomanx (talk) 08:34, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Robomanx, your concern about Dr. Gutzman is unwarranted and unjustified. The articles he authored and are cited are from two of the most respected "mainstream" academic journals in the country. Im pretty sure if the editors of those scholarly journals found them ok then so should you. Besides unless Im mistaken I dont see any actual citation to him in the references. Zero. He's listed in the bibliography for sure. The references represents a balanced array of historical studies on the subject. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:51, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

The Virginia Resolution did NOT argue for nullification[edit]

Sfieldman (talk) 17:05, 15 August 2019 (UTC)I may go back and edit this page later, but I wanted to note for now that this poorly sourced page gets the Virginia Resolution completely wrong. Madison never argued in favor of nullification. Jefferson did in the Kentucky Resolution and Hamilton and others accused Madison of arguing for nullification, lumping the two together. However, a large part of the purpose of the Report of 1800 was to dispel this notion. He explicitly went through the sections of the Virginia Resolution that people claim to be talking about nullification and said he was talking about other tools, including (but not limited to) the Article V Convention. This didn't stop people from continuing to attribute an argument for nullification to his Virginia Resolution. John C. Calhoun did it in 1820, which prompted Madison to write another letter responding that this was not correct and telling Calhoun that if he wants nullification in the Constitution, he should push for an Article V Convention to get it proposed. Madison knew this would be unsuccessful, which suited him just fine, as he opposed nullification and always did. This whole story appears in the book Constitutional Brinksmanship by Russel Caplan, which is extremely well sourced. I may come back and update this page to include those sources, but for now I'm including this note to anyone else who wants to take on that task.

Unconstitutional law or unconstitutional enforcement of a constitutional law?[edit]

"Years later, the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 led anti-slavery activists to quote the Resolutions to support their calls on Northern states to nullify what they considered unconstitutional enforcement of the law.[1]"

I changed this to:

Years later, the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 led anti-slavery activists to quote the Resolutions to support their calls on Northern states to nullify what they considered enforcement of unconstitutional laws.[2]

@Robomanx: changed it back, saying "The change significantly alters the meaning of the sentence", which is what I was trying to do. It isn't "unconstitutional enforcement", whatever that is, it's that the law is unconstitutional so it shouldn't be enforced in any way.

Looking at it now, it might more clearly and concisely say "calls on Northern states to stop enforcing a law they considered unconstitutional".

Anyone agree with me? deisenbe (talk) 10:59, 19 March 2020 (UTC)