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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)

Southern Historians Sapping and Mining the Northern Myth

Historian and author Frank L. Owsley dedicated his professional life to righting the revisionist history of postwar Northern textbooks and relating an honest appraisal of why the War was fought between North and South. He viewed the conflict of 1861 as a struggle between Southern agrarian culture versus Northern industrialism intent upon political and economic control of the entire country.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southerners Sapping and Mining the Northern Myth

“In describing the writings of one New Southerner, Frank Owsley wrote Allen Tate on February 29, 1932: “He is the typical “New Southerner,” the defeated [and] conquered . . . American. Dodd [William E. Dodd, Frank’s major professor at Chicago] remarked to me that it did not hurt him so much to be whipped! Or to see the South whipped! What broke his heart was to see the South conquered . . . he says it is the most completely defeated and conquered people of all history.”

Frank continued: “I believe that the spiritual and intellectual conquest of the South, which Dodd laments, is superficial. The leadership is in the hands of [these New Southerners] . . . and the history textbooks have been written by Yankees.

The purpose of my life will be to undermine by “careful” and “detached,” “well-documented,” “objective” writing the entire Northern myth from 1820-1876. My books will not interest the general reader. Only the historians will read them, but it is the historians who teach history classes and write textbooks and they will gradually, and without their own knowledge be forced into our position. There are numerous Southerners sapping and mining the Northern position by objective, detached books and Dodd is certainly one of the leaders.

By being critical first of the South itself, the Northern historian is disarmed, and then Dodd hits where it will do the most good . . . [Dodd told Davidson] that the younger Southern writers were making the Northern writers look unimportant.”

Frank’s essay in I’ll Take My Stand, “The Irrepressible Conflict,” concerned “the eternal struggle between the agrarian South and the commercial and industrial North to control the government, either in its own interest, or negatively, to prevent the other section from controlling it in its interests.”

At the time the Union was formed, the two sections were evenly balanced both in population and in number of States. The conflict worsened as the balance of power began to change. Slavery was an element of the agrarian society, but not an essential one. Even after the war, when there was no slavery, the South was an agrarian section. The irrepressible conflict was not a conflict between slavery and freedom, nor was it merely a protest against industrialism. It was equally a protest against the North’s brazen and contemptuous treatment of the South “as a colony and as a conquered province.”

(Frank Lawrence Owsley, Historian of the Old South, Harriet C. Owsley, Vanderbilt University Press, 1990, pp. 78-81)

Audacious Caesars and Test Oaths

On December 7, 1861, former Governor William A. Graham of North Carolina spoke in Convention in opposition to his State requiring a test oath for its citizens. In April 1865, after being overwhelmed by military force,  North Carolinians were forced to swear an oath to the government of the United States, and could not conduct business nor public affairs without taking this oath.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Audacious Caesars and Test Oaths

“Mr. President, if this Convention, like a French National Assembly, were to declare itself in permanent session, and abrogate all the powers of government, it would give no greater shock to public sentiment, and make no more dangerous stride towards despotism, than would be effected by this [test oath] ordinance.

What, then, will be their surprise, not to say indignation, if this ordinance shall pass, and they are told that no man can ever vote again – nay, that no man will be allowed to remain in the State, but everyone will be exiled who does not take an oath that the Convention has ordained?

Sir, every North Carolinian rejoices in the idea, that, like St. Paul, he was free-born. And, although his freedom was purchased at a great price, no less than the blood of his fathers shed in every battle-field of American independence, from the shores of the Hudson to the everglades of Florida, it came to him as an inheritance, the more valued, because of its association with his ancestral pride and glory.

His right to dwell in and breath the pure air of the land of his birth; his right to participate in the election of rulers, and, if it suit his inclination and the will of the majority, to be himself invested with a portion of the powers of the republic, he will suffer neither to be taken away nor trifled with.

He did not acquire them by an oath, and he will spurn any oath offered to him as a condition of their continued enjoyment. It is one of those blunders characterized by Talleyrand as worse than a crime, for statesmen by their measures will encroach upon and offend so sacred a feeling as the pride of nativity – the self-respect and manhood of a high-spirited and free-born American.

Sir, the people when presented with this oath, will turn upon this Convention, and inquire “upon what food have these our Caesars,” at Raleigh, “fed, that they have grown so great?” We thought they were our servants; how have they become our masters?

We had a free election according to the usages and Constitution of our fathers when we chose them as our representatives; by what legerdemain, by what audacity, do they declare that we shall never vote again . . . nor inhabit our present homes, but shall be driven out as fugitives and vagabonds, unless we take an oath that they have dictated?

We render to the government our loyalty and duty, as we cherish and support our wives and children, and perform other obligations as members of society; but we will take no oaths upon compulsion, to bind us to those duties, and least of all, an oath that is accompanied by the polite alternatives of exile or degradation.

Mr. President, the very mention of a test oath carries us back to the “bigot monarchs and the butcher priests” of the days of the Tudors and Stuarts, and beyond these, to the Inquisition itself. It is a device of power in Church and in State, to perpetuate itself by force, against free discussion and inquiry, and in defiance of what in more liberal times we call public sentiment.”

(The Papers of William A. Graham, Volume V, 1857-1863, J.G. Hamilton, Max Williams, editors, NCAH, 1973, excerpts, pp. 314-317)