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be trusted without restraint, then the latter ought not to be trusted without the same restraint. It is not enough to deny the power of a religious test to the one and leave it to the discretion of the other. It is not enough to say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and then leave the States to make as many such laws as they please. On this great subject we should be absolutely one people in our policy and assert this policy in our organic law. No State should deem it a hardship to be deprived of the power to impose a religious test, or to establish a religion, or to prohibit the free exercise thereof, any more than it is to be deprived of the power to impair the obligation of contracts, or to do various other things forbidden to the States by the Constitution. All persons who are not short-sighted bigots must see that all the people have a common interest in extending to the religious liberty of all the highest possible security.
The population of this country, religiously considered, and considered in reference to the question of race and nativity, is exceedingly mixed in its constituent elements, and such it will remain for many years to come. It contains a large amount of foreign-born persons. Roman Catholicism, representing the ignorance, the poverty, the bigotry, and superstition of Catholic countries, and owing spiritual allegiance to a foreign hierarchy, has become not only a strong ecclesiastical, but also a strong
political power on this soil. Some of our large cities, looked at with reference to the voting power that controls their local administration, are already foreign, if not Catholic cities. The population of the Southern States is made up of two races that cannot readily, if at all, be fused into each other. European immigration pours in upon us on the Atlantic seaboard, and the prospect is that in the future we shall receive a very considerable Asiatic immigration on our Pacific coast. We are but a young nation, and have hardly yet, as a whole, acquired a distinctively national character. It is by no means certain that we have finished our growth in the acquisition of territory. There is nothing improbable in the supposition that we may add Mexico, the States of Central America, and a part if not all of the adjacent islands to the territory of the United States.
No one looking at the spectacle of our national life as it now presents itself to the eye, is to-day wise enough even to conjecture the possibilities and contingencies that lie in the bosom of the unrevealed future. What is before us we do not know. Let us, then, as germane to the purpose of this article, indulge in one or two suppositions that may
Suppose that in a given State there should arise an intense and bitter politico-ecclesiastical struggle between Catholics and Protestants, and that the former should constitute the majority of the people. This would only be what has often happened in other countries and what may happen here. Is there anything in the Constitution of the United States to protect the religious rights of Protestants in such an event ? Nothing whatever. The Catholics, being the majority, might alter the constitution of the State, make Catholicism a State religion, tax the people to support it, exclude all but Catholics from office, and enforce the Catholic faith by legal sanctions.
The whole range of possibilities in reference to religious preferences, discriminations, and proscriptions would be entirely open to their choice, without any limitation imposed by the National Constitution or any corrective remedy in the powers of the General Government. This is but a. supposition : yet nothing is wanting but voting power and the disposition, with suitable attendant circumstances, to convert it into a reality in any State of the Union, and it is by no means insupposable that the requisite conditions might be supplied in at least some of the States. The Constitution, as it is, would not meet such an order of things with any remedial power.
We may also suppose that Protestants, in such a religious contest, would, by reason of their number, be the political victors. What, then, would prevent them from making the State a Protestant State and committing all its legal functions and powers exclusively to Protestants, and even establishing a religious test in respect to the right of
suffrage? Nothing but their own choice. The religious rights of Catholics, in every State of the Union in which they are in the minority, are today completely at the disposal of a majority that is non-Catholic ; and if those rights are not invaded, it is not for the want of power to do so. The constitution of New Hampshire now provides that no one, unless he is of “the Protestant religion,” shall be eligible to the office of governor or to either house of the State legislature. The principle of this provision, so far as the National Constitution is concerned, may be incorporated into every State constitution and put into practice to any extent
One of the territories of the United States is inhabited chiefly by a Mormon population, gathered from various countries. Let us suppose this territory to be organized into a State and admitted into the Union, and, consequently, clothed with the autonomy and powers of every other State. Whatever its constitution might be at the time of admission, it would, like the constitutions of all the other States, be subject to any change within the limits of a republican form of government which the majority might choose to make; and by such a process Mormonism, being the religion of the majority, might be made the religion of the State. Nothing is needed to make this supposition real but the admission of Utah into the Union. Congress would have no power in the terms of the admission to establish a permanent guaranty against such a result. It can refuse to admit a State; but it cannot govern an admitted State or dispossess it of the powers common to all the States. If Protestants, being the majority in any State, could establish Protestantism as a State religion, then Mormons, being the majority, could establish Mormonism as such a religion ; and in neither case would there be any remedy in the Federal Constitution. Once in the Union, every State is selfgoverning, except as limited by this Constitution ; and in respect to religion no State is thus limited at all. State constitutions are purely the creatures of State public sentiment and are what that sentiment makes them.
We give these suppositions—which in kind might be indefinitely multiplied—simply as illustrations of what is possible under our present constitutional system. It is possible that an Asiatic and heathen population may acquire the control of one or more of the Pacific States. It is possible that Mexico and the States of Central America, with their almost exclusively Catholic population, may become members of the Union. We do not now know where the doctrine of “manifest destiny" in these and other respects will ultimately conduct us as a people. We do not know what shape the School question will finally take, or to what collisions it may yet lead. What we do know is that our National Constitution, except as against encroachments by the General Government, does not stand