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III - Daniel Webster, Daniel Webster on the Draft: Text of a Speech delivered in Congress, December 9, 1814 
Daniel Webster on the Draft: Text of a Speech delivered in Congress, December 9, 1814 (Washington, D.C.: American Union Against Militarism, 1917).
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The Secretary of War has favored us with an argument on the constitutionality of this power. Those who lament that such doctrines should be supported by the opinion of a high officer of government, may a little abate their regret, when they remember that the same officer, in his last letter of instructions to our ministers abroad, maintained the contrary. In that letter he declares that even the impressment of seamen, for which many more plausible reasons may be given than for the impressment of soldiers, is repugnant to our constitution.
It might, therefore, be sufficient answer to his argument, in the present case, to quote against it the sentiments of its own author, and to place the two opinions before the House, in a state of irreconcilable conflict. Further comment on either might then be properly forborne, until he should be pleased to inform us which he retracted and to which he adhered. But the importance of the subject may justify a further consideration of the argument.
Congress having, by the Constitution, a power to raise armies, the Secretary contends that no restraint is to be imposed on the exercise of this power, except such as is expressly stated in the written letter of the instrument. In other words, that Congress may execute its powers by any means it chooses, unless such means are particularly prohibited. But the general nature and object of the Constitution impose as rigid restriction on the means of exercising power as could be done by the most explicit injunctions. It is the first principle applicable to such a case that no construction shall be admitted which impairs the general nature and character of the instrument. A free Constitution of government is to be construed upon free principles, and every branch of its provisions is to receive such an interpretation as is full of its general spirit. No means are to be taken by implication, which would strike us absurdly if expressed. And what would have been more absurd, than for this constitution to have said, that to secure the great blessings of liberty it gave to government an uncontrolled power of military conscription? Yet such is the absurdity which it is made to exhibit under the commentary of the Secretary of War.