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Lincoln Revives a Dying Party

It was a commonly held opinion by 1860 that the western territories were not conducive to large plantation and the black labor required to make it economically feasible. It was Lincoln in his “House-Divided” speech who fanned the flames of sectional discord and set the South on its path toward political independence, and the North on its path to war. Washington in his farewell address warned of the dangers of sectionalism – the same that Lincoln and his party created and nourished.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln Revives a Dying Party

“The defeat of the slave-State constitution in Kansas made it certain that none of the land [Stephen] Douglas had opened to slavery north of 36-30 [latitude] would become slave. In view of the economic circumstances it was becoming more and more evident that unless the Republican party acquired new tenets there was no reason for continuing its organization.

[William] Seward, one of the leading lights of the party, and [Horace] Greeley, the leading editor of the party, were willing at this time to dissolve the party, but Lincoln was unwilling for the Republicans to disband their distinctive anti-slavery [expansion] organization and have nobody to follow but Douglas, who did not care whether slavery was “voted up or voted down.”

Accordingly, in his debate with Douglas, [Lincoln] had to supply additional material for the sustenance of his party’s life; for the time was rapidly approaching when it would become obvious to everybody that the extension of slavery into the territories had been checked permanently by prevailing economic conditions.

In order to win victory at the polls in 1858 it would be necessary for a Republican candidate not only to hold persons already enrolled in the moribund political organization, but also to gain recruits to the cause of prohibition of slavery in the territories by federal law.

The two groups from which new members could be drawn were the bona-fide abolitionists and the Henry Clay “Whigs” who had hitherto refused to enroll themselves in a sectional political party. The abolitionists supplied the soul of the anti-slavery movement of the North, but they had in general refused to vote for anybody who compromised on anything less than a declaration in favor of abolition of slavery in the slave States.

The Henry Clay Whigs of the North opposed further acquisition of territory which could be devoted to slavery but desired ultimate abolition of slavery only under conditions equitable to the South. They had most kindly feelings toward the Southern whites and like Clay they preferred the liberty of their own race to that of any other race, although they were no friends of slavery.

Lincoln so skillfully calculated the wording of his famous House-Divided speech that it won converts to his following from both sides of the above-mentioned groups. It carried water on both shoulders, so to speak, for it was so constructed that it was acceptable to both radicals and moderate conservatives. [The speech] contained bait for abolitionist consumption . . . and [it also] veils the radicalism . . . and makes of the whole what many Henry Clay Whigs even in the South hoped.

The idea presented . . . to the effect that the advocates of slavery intended to push slavery forward into the Northern States unless the system was checked . . . contained a powerful cement for amalgamating the heterogeneous elements of the North into one sectional party opposed to such extension. [Lincoln’s speech] was sufficiently nourishing to the party’s life to have “all free” enshrined as an ultimate ideal and to spread the idea that the South would be satisfied with nothing less than “all slave.”

(The Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861, A Study in Public Opinion, Mary Scrugham, Doctoral Dissertation, Philosophy, Columbia University, 1921, excerpts, pp. 18-21)

Fairy Tale Coalition of Two Hostile Camps

Frank Chodorov railed against conservatives who and businesspeople who supported special government privileges for themselves, and referred to the US as a “nation of panhandlers.” He went on to state that “in America it is the so-called capitalist who is to blame for the fulfilment of Marx’s prophesies. Beguiled by the state’s siren song of special privilege, the capitalists have abandoned capitalism.” He saw the United Nations as no guarantor of world peace.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Fairy Tale Coalition of Two Hostile Camps

“Five years ago the organization of the United Nations was ushered into the world as the guarantor of peace. It has failed. Despite that obvious fact, there are many whose faith in some sort of superstate as an instrument of peace in unshaken, and who lay the failure of the UN to the limitations put upon it by the autonomy of the members. That is to say, they believe in peace through authoritarianism; the more authoritarian, the more peace.

History cannot give this faith the slightest support. The glory that was Rome did not prevent its parts from coming into conflict with one another, or from rising up against the central authority. Even our American coalition of commonwealths came near breaking up in war, and uprisings have all but disintegrated the British Empire.

Centralization of power has never been a guarantor of peace. On the contrary, every such centralization has been accomplished by war and its career has been one long preoccupation with war.

The best that can be said of any coalition of states is that it can keep smoldering fires from breaking out as long as none of its members can exercise control over the others. It can maintain an armed truce. The UN has not even done that, simply because no one state has shown sufficient strength to take control.

The two most powerful members [the US and Soviets] have been in contention since its beginning and are now poised for a test of arms to determine the issue. Nothing else is more certain than that the rivalry of these two powers will shortly reach the breaking point, that the UN shall collapse or shall be succeeded by another coalition in which one or the other will be on top.

The UN – it is moonshine to think otherwise – consists of two hostile camps, one held together by the American dollar, the other by fear of the Soviet army. Neither law, morality, nor ideology is a cementing influence. If the American dollar is withdrawn the West will break up, its members entering into new alignments dictated by expediency; if the Soviet power shows weakness, Titoism will splinter the Red empire.

In short, it is evident now – even as it was to anyone with some familiarity with the history of alliances – that the high moral purpose written into the charter of the UN is but a fairy tale. World peace is not achieved through this monstrosity.

Like the League of Nations which it succeeded, or the Holy Roman Empire, or any of the political coalitions in the history of the world, the UN is incapable of giving the world peace simply because it rests on the unsound assumption that peace is a function of politics. The fact is that peace and politics are antithetical.

Peace is the business of society. Society is a cooperative effort, springing spontaneously from man’s urge to improve on his circumstances. It is voluntary, completely free of force. It comes because man has learned that the task of life is easier of accomplishment through the exchange of goods, services and ideas. The greater the volume and fluidity of such exchanges, the richer and fuller the life of every member of society. That is the law of association; it is also the law of peace.

The only condition necessary for the growth of society into one worldism is the absence of force in the marketplace; which is another way of saying that politics is a hindrance, and not an aid, to peace. Any intervention in the sphere of voluntary exchanges stunts the growth of society and tends to its disorganization.

It is significant that in war, which is the ultimate of politics, every strategic move is aimed at the disorganization of the enemy’s means of production and exchange – the disruption of the marketplace.

Likewise, when the state intervenes in the business of society, which is production and exchange, a condition of war exists, even though open conflict is prevented by the superior physical force the state is able to employ. Politics in the marketplace is like a bull in the china shop.”

(One Worldism, Fugitive Essays, Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov, Charles H. Hamilton, editor, Liberty Press, 1980, excerpts, pp. 120-123)

Fourteenth Amendment a Disgrace to Free Government

David Lawrence, editor of the US News and World Report, argued in late September 1957 that the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was never ratified by the requisite number of States, and is therefore null and void. This amendment has been used since 1865 as the basis for federal intervention into the constitutionally-specified authority of the individual States, both North and South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Fourteenth Amendment a Disgrace to Free Government

“A mistaken belief — that there is a valid article in the Constitution known as the “Fourteenth Amendment” — is responsible for the Supreme Court decision of 1954 and the ensuing controversy over desegregation in the public schools of America

No such amendment was ever legally ratified by three-fourths of the States of the union as required by the Constitution itself.  The so-called “Fourteenth Amendment” was dubiously proclaimed by the Secretary of State on July 20, 1868. The President shared that doubt.  There were 37 States in the union at that time, so ratification by at least 28 was necessary to make the amendment an integral part of the Constitution. Actually, only 21 States legally ratified it.

So it failed ratification.  The undisputed record, attested by official journals and the unanimous writings of historians, establishes these events as occurring in 1867 and 1868:

  1. Outside the South, six States — New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, California, Delaware and Maryland — failed to ratify the proposed amendment.
  2. In the South, ten States — Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana — by formal action of their legislatures, rejected it under the normal processes of civil law.
  3. A total of 16 legislatures out of 37 failed legally to ratify the “Fourteenth Amendment”.
  4. Congress — which had deprived the Southern States of their seats in the Senate—did not lawfully pass the resolution of submission in the first instance.
  5. The Southern States which had rejected the amendment were coerced by a federal statute passed in 1867 that took away the right to vote or hold office from all citizens who had served in the Confederate army. Military governors were appointed and instructed to prepare a roll of voters. All this happened in spite of the presidential proclamation of amnesty previously issued by the president. New legislatures were thereupon chosen and forced to “ratify” under penalty of continued exile from the union. In Louisiana, a General sent down from the north presided over the State legislature.
  6. Abraham Lincoln had declared many times that the union was “inseparable” and “indivisible”. After his death and when the war was over, the ratification by the Southern States of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery had been accepted as legal. But Congress in the 1867 law imposed the specific conditions under which the Southern States would be “entitled to representation in Congress.”
  7. Congress, in passing the 1867 law that declared the Southern States could not have their seats in either the Senate or House in the next session unless they ratified the “Fourteenth Amendment”, took an unprecedented step. No such right — to compel a State by an act of Congress to ratify a constitutional amendment — is to be found anywhere in the Constitution. Nor has this procedure ever been sanctioned by the Supreme Court of the United States.
  8. President Andrew Johnson publicly denounced this law as unconstitutional. But it was passed over his veto.
  9. Secretary of State [William] Seward was on the spot in July 1868 when the various “ratifications” of a spurious nature were placed before him. The legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey had notified him that they rescinded their earlier action of ratification. He said in his official proclamation that he was not authorized as Secretary of State “to determine and decide doubtful questions as to the authenticity of the organization of State legislatures or as to the power of State legislatures to recall a previous act or resolution of ratification”.

He added that the amendment was valid “if the resolutions of the legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey, ratifying the aforesaid amendment, are to be deemed as remaining of full force and effect, notwithstanding the subsequent resolutions of the legislatures of these States.”

This was a very big “if.” It will be noted that the real issue therefore is not only whether the forced “ratification” by the ten Southern States was lawful, but whether the withdrawal by the legislatures of Ohio and New Jersey — two northern States — was legal.

The right of a State, by action of its legislature to change its mind at any time before the final proclamation of ratification is issued by the Secretary of State has been confirmed with other constitutional amendments.

  1. The Oregon Legislature in October 1868 — three months after the Secretary’s proclamation was issued—passed a rescinding resolution, which argued that the “Fourteenth Amendment” had not been ratified by three-fourths of the States and that the “ratifications” in the Southern States “were usurpations, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void” and that “until such ratification is completed, any State has a right to withdraw its assent to any proposed amendment.”

This is the tragic history of the so-called “Fourteenth Amendment” — a record that is a disgrace to free government and a “government of law.”  Isn’t the use of military force to override local government what we deplored in Hungary?

It is never too late to correct an injustice. The people of America should have an opportunity to pass on an amendment to the Constitution that sets forth the right of the federal Government to control education and regulate attendance at public schools either with federal power alone or concurrently with the States.

That’s the honest way, the just way to deal with the problem of segregation or integration in the schools. Until such an amendment is adopted, the “Fourteenth Amendment” should be considered null and void.  There is only one supreme tribunal — it is the people themselves.

Their sovereign will is expressed through the procedures set forth in the Constitution itself.”

(There Is No Fourteenth Amendment” David Lawrence, Editor, US News & World Report, September 27, 1957, inside rear cover)

 

Liberal Republicans versus Liberal Democrats

From its inception, the Republican Party was purely sectional and required only five years to bring on a constitutional crisis that destroyed the Founders’ Union. By the mid-1930s when FDR had adopted a collectivist platform and utilized labor unions to funnel money and votes to him, an increasingly dominant liberal wing of the Republican Party chose to be equally collectivist. Conservative Robert A. Taft was in line to be the GOP nominee in 1952, until the party selected Eisenhower who appeared to have no demonstrated political principles.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Liberal Republicans versus Liberal New Dealers

“In their profound suspicion of the New Deal’s motives and ideological passion, nearly all eminent Republicans were at one with Taft; yet not all Republican leaders were ready to take, by Taft’s side, a forthright stand against the collectivist assumptions upon which the New Deal had been erected

The liberal, or anti-Taft, element of the Republican Party acted upon the assumption that the New Deal was irrevocable. Concessions, therefore, must be made to public opinion, allegedly infatuated with Roosevelt’s programs . . . Victory at the polls, rather than the defense or vindication of principles, seemed to most of the liberal Republicans the object of their party.

In some matters, it might be possible to outbid the New Dealers; in most, to offer nearly as much as Roosevelt offered. Hoover and Landon had fallen before a public repudiation of the old order; and the liberal Republicans assumed that the public’s mood had not altered much since 1936, and would not alter. They accepted “the inevitability of gradualism,” for the most part.

For [Wendell] Wilkie, [Thomas] Dewey and [Dwight] Eisenhower, with their campaign managers and chief supporters, campaigned on the explicit or implicit ground that Republicans were better qualified to administer those national programs which the Democrats had happened to initiate. This amounted to a confession, perhaps, that the Democratic party was the party of initiative, of ideas, of new policies, of intellectual leadership. These rivals of Taft did not venture, very often, to challenge the basic assumptions of New Deal and Fair Deal.

Even today, the attitude of many Republicans toward the New Deal remains ambiguous . . . [but] the theoretical basis of the New Deal, however modified and chastened by hard experience, remains a force in American politics.

For that matter, Franklin Roosevelt was by no means content with the Democratic party he had led to victory; his unsuccessful endeavor to “purge” the Democratic party of conservatives, just before Taft entered the Senate, was the consequence of the belief that “the Democratic Party and the Republican Party . . . one should be liberal and the other conservative . . . [as] this has been the division by which the American parties in American history have been identified.

Later in 1944, Roosevelt was to propose to Wendell Wilkie (who had lost the Republican presidential nomination) that he and Wilkie should unite to form a new, “really liberal party.”

(The Political Principles of Robert A. Taft, Russell Kirk & James McClellan, Fleet Press, 1967, excerpts, pp. 46-48; 51)

 

Wilson Schemes for the Big Idea

Claude Kitchin was born near Scotland Neck, North Carolina in 1869, and served in the US House of Representatives from 1901 until his death in 1923. In 1916, he witnessed US munitions manufacturers preening for war, and a proposal for an enlarged standing army that many saw as “a long step toward the Prussianization of America.” Kitchin stated that the only possible excuse for the army’s increase in strength “was a contemplated war of aggression.” Further, he said of the battleship building proposals: “If this program goes through, it will no longer be a question of whether we may become a nation given over to navalism and militarism, but we shall have become one.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wilson Schemes for the Big Idea

“In July, 1916, Great Britain announced the most high-handed of all her blockade [of Germany] policies – that of the Black List. Neutral firms alleged to be German-owned, or friendly to Germany, or to have been “trading with the enemy” or with other neutral firms having “enemy” connections were subjected to a ruinous boycott. Even [Woodrow] Wilson was momentarily incensed by thus extreme course.

Colonel House had slipped in and out of belligerent capitals, seeking to draw out diplomats as to the prospect of a settlement through American mediation. He had naively drunk deep of British and French propaganda, flattering himself the while that he was being treated to the frankest intimacies of the mighty.

It was bad enough that he disclosed to the Allies in this way the [Wilson] Administration’s bias in their favor, thus making Wilson more impotent in dealing with their transgressions; but it was worse that he inveigled the President into backing his ill-advised schemes.

The most notorious of these was the House-Grey agreement [which intended that the US government] might secretly reach an understanding with the Allies as to peace terms which they would be willing to accept. Whenever they thought to time opportune, Wilson, as arbiter, might submit such a proposal to both sides. The Allies, for effect, might appear reluctant at first, and then accept.

If the Central Powers agreed, the war would be ended by Wilson’s mediation; if they refused, as they almost certainly would, the United States would enter the war on the side of the Allies to force a “righteous” settlement. Though hesitant at first, Wilson came embrace the scheme. Aware, however, that only Congress could actually declare war he inserted the word “probably” in the clause that promised intervention on the side of the Allies.

When [Sir Edward] Grey inquired whether our Government would participate in a proposed League of Nations to maintain the post-bellum status and to prevent future wars, Wilson’s interest quickened. Here was a Big Idea.

Was it really possible that this horrible slaughter might be turned to purposes benign? A war to end war! Destroy German Militarism, — therefore all militarism; — redraw the map of the world on lines of justice and right (such as the Allies would agree upon) . . . and to punish any Power that sought to alter the new order. Even a world war – even American participation – might be justified as the price of such an outcome.

[On January 31, 1917] Germany announced [unrestricted submarine warfare]. An exception was made whereby American merchantmen might go to and from Falmouth England through a designated lane without hindrance, provided they were marked on hull and superstructure with three perpendicular stripes, a meter wide, of alternating white and red, and displayed from their masts large red and white checkered flags.

Three days later the Wilson Administration severed diplomatic relations with Germany. This was an almost certain prelude to war. Armed neutrality was the next move of the Administration [as it armed merchant ships].

One of the most condemnatory letters which Kitchin received with reference to his pacific stand came from a Methodist parson in Wilson, North Carolina. On the other hand, from the town of Littleton, also in his district, he received a petition from the ministers of the Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Protestant, Christian and Presbyterian churches, stating:

“1. A war that could be averted is murder on a national scale. 2. This war could be averted on the part of the United States. 3. There is not sufficient justification. 4. We are dealing with a nation which in a desperate struggle for existence has become exasperated and war mad. To arm our merchant vessels will tend to promote war. Hence [we are] opposed to any such measure.

Perhaps [Kitchin] took the President at his word when, asking Congress for the right to arm merchantmen, he pledged that he was not moving toward war. And he promised that, if granted this sanction, he would do all in his power to prevent actual hostilities.

In yielding the point, Kitchin said to the House [of Representatives]: “I shall vote for this bill but not without hesitation and misgiving . . . The nation confronts the gravest crisis . . . Already the European catastrophe threatens the faith of mankind in Christianity – in civilization. Clothed with the powers given him by the Constitution, a President of the United States can, at his will, without let or hindrance from Congress, create a situation which makes war the only alternative for this nation.”

(Claude Kitchin and the Wilson War Policies, Alex Mathews Arnett, Little, Brown and Company, 1937, excerpts, pp. 202-207; 212-217)

The Northwest Sacrifices a Valuable Ally

The excessive emphasis on African slavery obscures the many economic and cultural causes of the War Between the States, though it was clear that two Americas that had developed by the 1850s: one industrial and seeking government protection – and the other agricultural and opposed to protectionist tariffs and government subsidy.  The war between the two Americas had more to do with economics and culture than with the residue of a British colonial labor system that the American South would deal with — as the New England States had done earlier — and without war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Northwest Sacrifices a Valuable Ally

“Lincoln and his contemporaries interpreted the victory of the North as primarily a triumph of nationalism over States’ rights. That the Union was now in fact “one and indivisible” . . . was generally acknowledged . . . [but] Whether a long civil war was necessary to secure the triumph of nationalism over States’ rights and of abolitionism over slavery may well be doubted. Probably, with more skillful handling of a few crises, both ends might ultimately have been achieved without resort to war.

A factor not fully understood at the time, and possibly overemphasized today, was the commanding importance that the new industrial interests won during the course of the struggle. War profits compounded the capital of the industrialists and placed them in a position to dominate the economic life, not only of the Northeast where they were chiefly concentrated, but also of the nation at large.

With the Southern planters removed from the national scene, the government at Washington tended more and more to reflect the wishes of the industrial leaders. The protective tariff, impossible as long as Southern influence predominated in national affairs, became the corner-stone of the new business edifice, for by means of it the vast and growing American market was largely restricted to American industry.

Transcontinental railroads, designed to complete the national transportation system, were likewise accorded the generous assistance of the government, while a national banking act and a national currency facilitated still further the spread of nation-wise business.

The Northwest, where industry was definitely subordinate to agriculture, profited less from the war than the Northeast . . . [though by] assisting in the defeat of the South, however, the Northwest had unknowingly sacrificed a valuable ally. Before the war the two agricultural sections had repeatedly stood together, first against the commercial, and later against the industrial, Northeast. Now, with the weight of the South in the Union immensely lessened, the Northwest was left to wage its battles virtually alone. For more than a generation after the war, with eastern men and eastern policies in the ascendancy, American industry steadily consolidated the gains it had made.”

(The Federal Union, A History of the United States to 1865, John D. Hicks, Riverside Press, 1937, pp. 686-688)

Achieving Southern Destiny

Washington warned that sectional animosity would endanger the new Union; by 1826 both Jefferson and Adams deplored the loss of republican direction provided by the revolutionary generation. The tariff controversy of the early 1830s ignited the fire that would not be quelled until 1865, though the Constitution and the Union were destroyed in the process.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Achieving Southern Destiny

“[Henry] Clay’s campaign for his “American System” drew fire mainly from the South Carolinians.

In 1827, Robert J. Turnbull, under the pseudonym of Brutus, published a series of thirty-three articles in the Charleston Mercury, and promptly issued them in a pamphlet entitled “The Crisis: Or Essays on the Usurpation of the Federal Government,” which he dedicated “to the people of the “Plantation States” as a testimony of respect, for their rights of sovereignty.”

Turnbull vehemently urged the people of the South to face the facts, to realize that the North was beginning to use its control of Congress for Southern oppression by protective tariffs and otherwise; and he proposed as a remedy that South Carolina should promptly interpose her sovereignty, and safeguard Southern interests, by vetoing such congressional acts as she should decide to be based upon Federal usurpations and intended for Northern advantage at the cost of Southern oppression.

“. . . William H. Trescott’s “The Position and Course of the South” [was] an embodiment of the soundest realization of the sectional conditions of the Southern section in the closing decade of the ante-bellum period. The author, a leading, experienced, conservative citizen of South Carolina, states in his preface, dated Oct. 12, 1850, that his purpose is to unify the widely separated parts of the South.

He says his views are not new, but they are characteristically Southern: “We are beginning to think for ourselves, the first act toward acting for ourselves.” The essay begins with an analysis of industrial contrasts.

The political majority of the North represents labor; that of the South, capital; the contrast is violent. Free labor hates slave labor, and it will overturn the system if it can. The two sections with many contrasting and conflicting characteristics are combined under the United States Constitution, but they are essentially irreconcilable. Even in foreign relations the North is jealous of foreign powers for commercial and industrial reasons, while Southern industry is not competitive with, but complementary to European industry and commerce, and the South, if a nation by itself, would be upon most cordial terms with foreign powers.

“The United States government under the control of Northern majorities must reflect Northern sentiment, sustain Northern interests, impersonate Northern power. Even if it be conceded that the South has no present grievance to complain of, it is the part of wisdom to consider the strength and relations of the sections, and face the question, what is the position of the South? In case our rights should be attacked, where is our constitutional protection? The answer is obvious.

But one course is open to her honor, and that is secession and the formation of an independent confederacy. There are many men grown old in the Union who would feel an honest and pardonable regret at the thought of its dissolution. They have prided themselves on the success of the great American experiment in political self-government, and feel that the dissolution of the Union would proclaim a mortifying failure. Not so.

The vital principle of political liberty is representative government, and when Federal arrangements are discarded, that lives in original vigor. Who does not consider the greatest triumph of the British constitution the facility and vigor with which, under slight modifications, it developed into the great republican government under which we have accomplished our national progress. And so it will be with the United States Constitution.

We believe that Southern interests demand an independent government. We believe that the time has come when this can be established temperately, wisely, strongly. But in effecting this separation we would not disown our indebtedness, our gratitude to the past. The Union has spread Christianity, fertilized a wilderness, enriched the world’s commerce wonderfully, spread Anglo-Saxon civilization. “It has given to the world sublime names, which the world will not willingly let die — heroic actions which will light the eyes of a far-coming enthusiasm. It has achieved its destiny. Let us achieve ours.”

(History of the Literary and Intellectual Life of the Southern States (Vol. VII), Ulrich B. Phillips, Southern Historical Publication Society, 1909, pp. 193-198)

 

Theories of Conflict and Higher Law

Many in the antebellum South viewed the theories advanced by abolitionists and the new Republican Party as threatening the Union they wished to remain in and forcing their withdrawal. As South Carolina was threatened with coercion in 1832 over nullification, those in the South wondered why the Northern States which nullified federal laws were not threatened with coercion – which well might have impelled those Northern States to secede.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Theories of Conflict and Higher Law

“But whatever the real issue between the sections in the territorial dispute, there was no doubt, in the South at least, of the sectional objectives in defending or in opposing two new theories developed in the North during the decade of the fifties.

These were the theories of the “irrepressible conflict” and of the “higher law.”

Both were considered by the South to be incompatible [with the United States Constitution] . . . both were soundly denounced as a direct infringement of the principle of constitutional guarantees.

The theory of the “irrepressible conflict” was the joint product of Abraham Lincoln’s address before the Republican State Convention in Illinois, delivered on June 16, 1858, and of William Seward’s “Irrepressible Conflict” speech delivered at Rochester, New York, October 25, 1858.

This theory was denounced by every legitimate agency in the South from county assemblies to State conventions. On December 2, 1859, the General Assembly of Tennessee resolved “that we recognize in the recent outbreak at Harper’s Ferry the natural prints of this treasonable, “irrepressible conflict” doctrine put forward by the great head of the Black Republican party and echoed by his subordinates.”

The second of these theories — the theory of the higher law – [was championed by] William Seward of New York.

This theory doubtless sprang from the ranks of the abolitionists in the latter thirties, for as early as June 15, 1841, Representative Kenneth Raynor of North Carolina attacked the position of John Quincy Adams on the slavery question because he “has thrown aside law and Constitution, and has dared to put the issue of this question upon the high and impregnable ground of the Divine law”, a position which Raynor declared “sweeps away everything like human compact and rests the mutual rights of men on what the imagination of fanaticism may picture to itself as a Divine requirement.”

In February 1851, Robert Toombs discovered that a “great question is rising up before us [to] become a “fixed fact” in American politics. It is . . . sometimes called the higher law, in antagonism to our constitutional compact. If the first (i.e, higher law) succeeds, we have no other safety except in secession; if the latter (i.e, the constitutional compact succeeds) “liberty and Union, may be forever one and inseparable.”

Before the end of the following year, the “fixed fact” had found definite expression from the pen of William Hosmer in a volume of some two hundred pages entitled, The Higher Law. Within those pages, the author makes the following contention: “Men have no right to make a constitution which sanctions slavery, and it is the imperative duty of all good men to break it, when made . . . the fact that a law is constitutional amounts to nothing, unless it is also pure . . .”

On February 18, 1861, Fulton Anderson, commissioner from Mississippi to Virginia, warned the Virginia Convention that an “infidel fanaticism, crying out for a higher law than that of the Constitution . . . has been enlisted in this strife”; and in the Alabama Convention of that year L.M. Stone maintained that the “triumph of a Higher Law party, pledged to the destruction of our Constitutional Rights, forced us to dissolve our political connection with [the] hostile States.”

(The South As A Conscious Minority, Jesse T. Carpenter, New York University, 1930, pp 157-160)

Moral Tormentors

Moral Tormentors

“Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of it victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.”  C.S. Lewis

 

 

Undermining the Constitution

Thomas J. Norton notes below in 1951 that Congress has no authority to “lend money or to give it away” – and cites James Madison’s warning of paper barriers being insufficient to stop evil persons in government. Jefferson Davis stated in 1881: “Of what value then are paper constitutions and oaths binding officers to their preservation, if there is not intelligence enough in the people to discern the violations, and virtue enough to resist the violators?”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865.com

 

Undermining the Constitution

“The Constitution gives power to Congress (1) “to coin money” and (2) “to borrow on the credit of the United States” — but not to lend money, or to give it away, either at home or abroad.

What is expressed in a Constitution is equivalent to a prohibition of what is not expressed. The powers over money mentioned are the only ones that the Constitutional Convention brought in from the world of inherent powers and fixed in the Fundamental Law.

Those specifications reject the theory of unlimited powers exercised by European monarchs in 1787. Not long before that, Louis XIV had kept Europe embroiled in wars by loans or grants of money to belligerent rulers. Did the Constitutional Convention, at least one member of which was born in his reign, intend to give that power to Congress? It did not say so. The power was therefore withheld by the people from their servants.

The United States is now, without authority — under a denial of authority — lending or granting money to Europe, and to the rest of the world. Postwar programs, twenty-two in number, for aiding foreign nations, in addition to the military aid program, have piled on top of the costs [330 billion] of [World] War II $30,757,000,000, according to Senator Byrd of Virginia, speaking in September 1949.

Thus, the limitations of the Constitution become what Madison gave warning of — “paper barriers.”

(Undermining the Constitution: A History of Lawless Government, Thomas James Norton, Devin-Adair Company, 1951, page 22)