Quote of the Day
Since this has come up in a comments section, I thought it would be worth quoting John Quincy Adams' comments, on moving some resolutions on the Louisiana Purchase.
By the treaty with
we have acquired all the rights of sovereignty over the inhabitants of Louisiana which France could impart; but as, to use the language of our declaration of independence, the just powers of a govern ment can be derived only from the consent of the governed, the French Republic could not give us the right to make laws for the people of Louisiana, without their acquiescence in the transfer. I never considered this as an objection against the ratification of the treaty, because I did not deem it indispensable that this consent of the ceded people should precede the conclusion of the compact. That would indeed have been the most natural and most eligible course of proceeding, had it been practicable, and such was the opinion of our own executive before the negotiation of the treaty. But theoretic principles of government can never be carried into practice to their full extent. They must be modified and accommodated to the situations and circumstances of human events and human concerns. But between those allowances necessary to reconcile the rigor of principle with the resistance of practice, and the total sacrifice of all principle, there is a wide difference. If in the France negotiation our government had insisted on obtaining the consent of the people before the conclusion of the treaty, in all probability the treaty itself never could have been concluded. A momentary departure from the inflexible rigor of theory was, therefore, perfectly justifiable, and in concluding the treaty we acquired a power over the territory and over the inhabitants which requires, so far as relates to the latter, one thing more to make it a just and lawful power. I mean their own consent. For although the necessity of the case right excuse us for not having obtained this consent beforehand, it could not absolve us from the obligation to acquire it afterwards. Louisiana
(My text is from elsewhere, but the only online link I can find is here. Goto p. 25 for the full thing.)