Buck Springs, February 9, 1833
“Sir: I have received your letter of the 24th ulto. There can be no doubt that the United States are in a deplorable situation, and that the publication of the opinion you desire would be useless. My opinion has never been a secret,
and I have always stated it to those who wanted to know it.
In the year 1824, the Constitution was buried. The Senators who were then present will, it is believed, recollect the fact, and was never afterward quoted by me while I continued in the Senate. The opinions of General Washington, Mr. Jefferson and Governor Clinton were known but not respected.
I never believed that a State could nullify and remain in the Union, but always believed that a State could secede when she pleased, provided she would pay her proportion of the public debt. This right I have considered the best guard to public liberty and the public justice that could be desired, and it ought to have prevented what is now felt in the South – oppression.
A government of opinion established by sovereign States cannot be maintained by force. The use of force makes enemies, and enemies cannot live in peace.”