Maryland has never recognized secession as a constitutional right or constitutional remedy. The Constitution of the United States is incorporated with and made part of the organic law of the State. Her Legislature has no power to change that fundamental law, and an act of secession if passed would be a nullity.
Maryland has been always true to the Union as a fosterer and assurance of national dignity, strength and prosperity. When Massachusetts proclaimed the admission of Texas as just cause for secession; when those who profess now to be its most loyal defenders reviled it as a covenant with hell and were willing to let it slide; when unconstitutional legislation in other States struck at vital interests here she never faltered in her faith; never looked for redress beyond the constitutional tribunals nor appealed to a higher law than the Constitution. In this time of peril and distress it is here right to demand the strict observance in peace or war of every constitutional provision, the recognition of all rights secured by those provisions and of all reserved to her as a sovereign State when she entered into the Federal compact.
The States are sovereign except as to those attributes they agreed to confer upon their appointed representative, the General Government. As such they achieved the Revolution. Combining their several resources for a common and they fought for and established the great American principle that governments are formed for the benefit of the people and all authority emanates from the people. The rights perfect and ample as the rights of all. They derived none from the constitution but formed it, their creature, and through it the Union, not to acquire more but as the chosen means of securing and defending what each already possessed.
Their continued sovereignty is essential to the theory and success of our Government; but for its recognition the Constitution would never have been adopted. When opposed by those who feared probable aggression it was declared by Mr. Hamilton, its ablest advocate, that "it may be safely received as an axiom in our political system that the State governments will in all possible contingencies afford complete security against invasion of the public liberty by the national authority. " What mockery, if the Stats be as the president asserts mere municipal division! How ridiculous in his own Illinois to emblazon on her shield as the essence of her political faith the motto "State Sovereignty, National Union!"
The General Government is in no true sense of the term sovereign. It is not the source but the recipient of delegated powers. Within its prescribed sphere it is made paramount; beyond that powerless and non-existent. Its official are the servants not the masters of the people; agents with limited authority and with none beyond the written grant; to exceed which is usurpation in them and a wrong against every State and every citizen. The submission of many States or individuals may prevent redress but cannot justify the transgression nor impair the rights of those who maintain the fundamental law.
If any administration arrogates to itself powers not delegated or without law harasses or oppresses the humblest of her citizens it is the duty of the State to hold up the Constitution, and in its name and in behalf of civil liberty and republican institutions to declare the usurpation and invoke its vindication. A free sovereign State she entered the Union through the Constitution she adopted. To this only she assented. She cannot be coerced into a new Constitution or a different Union by executive interpolation. When the compact is by force or fraud abrogated and the Union disrupted she stands freed from here compact, free to choose and establish a new national position.