Browsing "Withdrawing from the Union"

A More Perfect Union Formed in 1861

A More Perfect Union Formed in 1861

“The congress of delegates from the seceding States convened at Montgomery, Alabama, according to appointment, on February 4, 1861. Their first work was to prepare a provisional constitution for the new confederacy, to be formed of the States which had withdrawn from the Union, for which the style “Confederate States of America” was adopted.

The constitution was adopted on February 8, to continue if force for one year, unless superseded at an earlier date by a permanent organization. On the next day [February 9] an election was held for the chief executive offices, resulting, as I afterward learned, in my election to the Presidency, with the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia as Vice President.

President Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address [excerpt]:

“Our present political position has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established. The right solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the United States, and which has been solemnly affirmed and reaffirmed in the Bill of Rights of the States subsequently admitted into the Union of 1789, undeniably recognizes in the people the power to resume the authority delegated for the purposes of government.

Thus the sovereign States here represented have proceeded to form this Confederacy; and it is by abuse of language that their act has been denominated a revolution. They formed a new alliance, but within each State its government has remained; so that the rights of person and property have not been disturbed. The agent through which they communicated with foreign nations is changed, but this does not necessarily interrupt their international relations.

We have changed the constituent parts, but not the system of government. The Constitution framed by our fathers is that of these Confederate States. In their exposition of it, and in the judicial construction it has received, we have a light which reveals its true meaning. Reverently let us invoke the God of our Fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which by his blessing they were able to vindicate, establish, and transmit to their posterity.”

(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Jefferson Davis, DaCapo, 1990, pp. 197-203)

Lack of Northern Devotion to the Union

The North’s incessant slavery agitation caused the South’s peaceful secession from the Union in 1861, though this did not warrant a war waged against it. When eleven States seceded from the Articles of Confederation, Rhode Island and North Carolina did not wage war to bring the eleven back into that Union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lack of Northern Devotion to the Union

“As, then, the North has the absolute control over the government, it is manifest that on all questions between it and the South where there is a diversity of interests, the interest of the latter will be sacrificed to the former, however oppressive the effects may be, as the South possesses no means by which it can resist, through the action of the government.

[The] relation between the two races in the Southern section [constituted] a vital portion of her social organization . . . [and] Every portion of the North entertains views and feelings more or less hostile to it. Those most opposed and hostile regard it as a sin, and consider themselves under the most sacred obligation to use every effort to destroy it . . . While those who are least opposed and hostile regard it as a blot and a stain on the character of what they call the nation, and feel themselves bound to give it no countenance and support.

On the contrary, the Southern section regards the relation as one which cannot be destroyed without subjecting the two races to the greatest calamity, and the section to poverty, desolation, and wretchedness, and accordingly feel bound, by every consideration of interest and safety, to defend it.

This hostile feeling on the part of the North . . . long lay dormant, but it only required some cause to act on those who felt most intensely that they were responsible for its continuance to call it into action. The increasing power of this [federal] government, and of the control of the Northern section over all its departments, furnished the cause. This was sufficient of itself to put the most fanatical portion of the North in action, for the purpose of destroying the existing relation between the two races in the South.

The first organized movement towards [slavery agitation] began in 1835. Then, for the first time societies were formed, presses established, lecturers sent forth to excite the people of the North, and incendiary publications scattered over the whole South, through the mail. [By Congress refusing to hear antislavery petitions] . . . That was the time for the North to have shown her devotion to the Union; but unfortunately both of the great parties of that section were so intent on obtaining or retaining party ascendancy that all other considerations were overlooked or forgotten.

With the success of their first movement, this small fanatical party began to acquire strength, and with that, to become an object of courtship to both the great parties. The necessary consequence was a further increase of power, and a gradual tainting of the opinions of both of the others parties with their doctrines, until the infection has extended over both, and the great mass of the population of the north, who, whatever may be their opinion of the original abolition party . . . hardly ever fail [to] cooperate in carrying out their measures.

Instead of being weaker, all the elements in favor of abolition are stronger now than they were in 1835, when it first commenced, while all the elements of influence on the part of the South are weaker. Unless something decisive is done, I again ask, what is to stop this agitation . . . if something is not done to arrest it, the South will be forced to choose between abolition and secession? Indeed, as events are now moving, it will not require the South to secede, in order to dissolve the Union. Agitation will of itself effect it, of which its past history furnishes abundant proof . . .”

(The Life of John C. Calhoun, Gustavus M. Pinckney, Walker, Evans & Cogswell, 1903, excerpts, pp. 180-187)

Lincoln's War Against Right, Reason, Justice and Nature

Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens asked for what reason the North arrayed its armies against the South, and why the North denies the spirit and essence of Jefferson’s Declaration to them. Stephen’s said the struggle for independence by the South was not Lincoln’s “idle and absurd assumption of the existence of a riot which was to be dispersed by a posse comitatus,” but the birth of a new American republic with the consent of the governed, and a more perfect American union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s War Against Right, Reason, Justice and Nature

In a speech delivered during the second year of the war, [Mr. Stephens] said:

“The States South had done nothing but what was their right – their inalienable right to do, the same as their ancestors did, in common with the North, when they severed their connection with the British Government.

This war was waged by the North in denial of this right, and for the purpose of conquest and subjugation. It was therefore, aggressive, wanton, and unjust. Such must be the judgment of mankind, let its results be what they may. The responsibility, therefore, for all its sacrifices of treasure and blood, heretofore and hereafter to be made in its prosecution, rests not upon us.

What is all this for? Why this array of armies? Why this fierce meeting in mortal combat? What is all this carnage and slaughter for? Why the prolongation of this conflict? Why this lamentation and mourning going up from almost every house and family from Maine to the Rio Grande, and from the Atlantic and Gulf to the Lakes, for friends and dear ones who have fallen by disease and violence in this unparalleled struggle?

The question, if replied from the North, can have but one true answer. What is all this for, on their part, but to overturn the principle upon which their own Government, as well as ours, is based – to reverse the doctrine that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed?”

What is it for but to overturn the principles and practice of their own Government from the beginning? That Government was founded and based upon the political axiom that all States and peoples have the inalienable right to change their form of government at will.

This principle was acted on in the recognition by the United States of the South American republics. This principle was acted on in the recognition of Mexico . . . the struggle of Greece to overthrow the Ottoman rule . . . the recognition of Texas, when she seceded, or withdrew, from the Government of Mexico.

Well may any and every one, North and South, exclaim, what is all this for? What have we done to the North? When have we ever wronged them? We quit them, it is true, as our ancestors and their ancestors quit the British Government. We quit as they quit – upon a question of constitutional right. That question they determined for themselves, and we have but done the same. What, therefore, is all this for?

It is a war, in short, on their part against right, against reason, against justice, against nature. If asked on our side what is all this for, the reply from every honest breast is that it is for home, for firesides, for our altars, for our birthrights, for property, for honor, for life – in a word, for everything for which freemen should live, and for which all deserving to be freemen should be willing, if need be, to die.”

(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 1861-1865, James D. Richardson, Volume I, US Publishing Company, 1906, pp. 175-176)

The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War

Major-General Fitzhugh Lee simply and methodically described why the Southern soldier fought in 1861, and under what privations and suffering these Americans fought outnumbered by 5 to 1 odds for four years — and came close to success. He sums up why the war and reasons for it will not go away. He prophesied that the time would come when the world would recognize that the failure of the Confederacy was a great misfortune to humanity.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War

“An impartial study of the early history of the American republic from the period of a band of patriots, following on the wave of Washington’s sword, transferred power from king to people, will demonstrate that when Colonies were transformed into States, the latter delegated, in a written Constitution, the powers to be conferred on the United States, but all powers not so delegated were reserved to the States themselves, because they had never parted from them. Hence, sovereign power belonged to a State, while only derivative, and not primitive, power was possessed by the general government.

The States did not confer upon the Government they were then forming a right to coerce one of their number for any purpose, for it is not natural that the creator should create either executive, judicial or legislative authority anywhere which should be potent to destroy its life or diminish or alter the power it had reserved for its own purposes. A State speaks through its representative bodies, and the majority of delegates in a convention direct its course.

The people of the original thirteen States believed in State sovereignty, and Pennsylvania and the New England States are upon record as primarily holding such opinions. The Southern people were educated in the belief that the allegiance of the citizen was first due to his State, and that in any conflict between his Commonwealth and the United States, or other country, his place was at her side — at her feet he should kneel and at her foe his gun should be pointed.

This is the only explanation of the great and enthusiastic response by the masses of the people to the actions of their State Conventions, when they decided their States should no longer be members of the Federal Union, but, resuming their original independence, be free afterward to make such other alliances they might deem best to protect their rights and promote their growth and glory.

The Southern masses were the private soldiers of the armies; they may not have understood all the public questions involved, or the gravity of secession, or the importance of pending issues as thoroughly as the statesmen of the period, but they must have been thoroughly impressed in a conscious manner with the right of secession and with a fidelity and loyalty to the commands of their respective States.

It has been said that the man is under no circumstances so independent as he is when the next step is for life or death. The men who were to be enrolled as the soldiers of the new Confederacy of States, to battle for its existence, knew they were taking a step which might bring to them a hostile bullet and a soldier’s grave.

The existence of the slightest doubt as to the justice of the course of their States, or the presence of the smallest suspicion that their bayonets would glisten with treason, would have surely brought that independence of action spoken of, against which the pleading eloquence of their leaders would recoil as the waters are dashed back from a great rock.

No earthly mandate can compel men to leave their firesides, families and friends, and embrace death with rapture, unless their God-given consciences stamp with approval the motives which control their conduct.

With a free, fair and honest ballot, undisturbed by extraneous influences, and untouched by the modern methods of bribery and corruption, the masses of the people, from which came the unbroken ranks of gallant men, voted with practical unanimity to ratify the decision of their State Conventions. The movement to change the map of North America and make two republics grow where only one grew before, was enthusiastically received by the great body of the Southern people.

When I see the battle-scarred soldiers and sailors of the Confederacy, with uncovered head and profoundest reverence I bow before those dauntless heroes, feeling that if the greatest suffering with the least reward is worthy of the highest honor, these deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with their greatest army commanders in the brotherhood of glory.

It was a wonderful exhibition of courage, constancy, and suffering, which no disaster could diminish, no defeat darken. The soldiers went to battle from a sense of duty, and were not lured into the ranks by bounties or kept there by the hope of pension. The records show 600,000 Southern men were enlisted during the whole war, while 2,700,000 represent the total enlistments of their opponents during the same period.

“It would be difficult to convince the world,” General Lee would often say, “of the numerical superiority of our opponents.” And yet, for four years success trembled in the balance, though fate denied the Confederate soldiers the final victory, it “clothed them with glorious immortality.”

There was no “passion-swept mob rising in mad rebellion against constituted authority,” but armies whose ranks were filled by men whose convictions were honest, and whose loyalty to the Southern cause was without fear and without reproach — men who remained faithful to military duty in the conflict between fidelity to the Confederate banners or adherence to the trust assumed in the marriage vow, who resisted the pressures of letters from home, and whose heart-strings were breaking from the sad tale of starvation and despair at the family homestead.

As the hostile invasion swept over more territory the more frequent the appeals came, marked by the pathos and power which agony inspires,  until at last the long silence told the soldier his home was within his enemies’ lines, and the fate of his family was concealed from his view.

Under such conditions the private soldier of the South promptly fell into line. If saved from the dangers of the contest, his reward was the commendation of his immediate commanding officers and the conscientiousness of duty faithfully performed. If drowned amid the hail of shot and shell, his hastily buried body filled a nameless grave, without military honors and without religious ceremonies.

No pages of history recounted in lofty language his courage on the field or his devotion to his country, or described how, like a soldier, he fell in the forefront of battle. His battle picture, ever near the flashing of the guns, should be framed in the memory of all who admire true heroism, whether found at the cannon’s mouth, or in the blade of the cavalry, or along the blazing barrels of the infantry.

There he stood with the old, torn slouch hat, the bright eye, the cheek colored by exposure and painted by excitement, the face stained with powder, with jacket rent, trousers torn and the blanket in shreds, printing in the dust of battle the tracks of his shoeless feet. No monument can be built high enough to commemorate the memory of a typical representative private soldier of the South.

Very truly yours,

Fitzhugh Lee”

(The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War, Major-General Fitzhugh Lee, Ben La Bree, 1895, excerpts, pp. 7-8)

 

New England Federalist Secession Doctrine

An irony of history has the doctrine of secession originating in the South when it was first advanced by New England over the issue of Louisiana’s admission to Statehood. Jefferson and Madison, both Southerners, opposed secession; New England Federalists demanded it.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

New England Federalist Secession Doctrine

“The final political phenomenon to arise out of the North-South competition of the 1790s was the doctrine of Secession. It represented the death rattle of the Federalist party. The pivotal year was 1800 when the Democratic leaders Jefferson and Burr succeeded in putting together a coalition of the have-nots of the country – the agriculturalists of the South and the proletarians of the Northern cities. They won control of the nation.

The Federalist party survived another sixteen years, although it never again won control of the House, Senate or presidency. It did not take defeat well.

Barely three years after the Democratic rout, Northern Federalists began arguing for the secession of the New England States from the Union. There was nothing understated about their secessionist position. It was widespread, and if it could not be done peaceably, they said, it should be done violently.

Listen to one of the many secessionists, Josiah Quincy III, scion of the New England Quincy’s, future mayor of Boston and future president of Harvard University. In 1811 he was a thirty-eight-year-old congressman standing opposed to the admission of Louisiana as a State:

“It is my deliberate opinion,” he said, “that if this bill passes, the bonds of this union are virtually dissolved, that the States which compose it are free from their moral obligations, and that as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some to prepare, definitely, for a separation; amicably if they can; violently if they must.”

One man who listened carefully that year was a freshman congressman from South Carolina. He was John C. Calhoun, who had been taught the secessionist doctrine in the law schools of New England, who had listened to it in the Congress, and who would one day carry it back down South . . . . Meanwhile, it is an unfair stroke that history has identified the South with secession when in fact the earliest and clearest arguments against it were proposed by Jefferson and Madison.

The creators of secession doctrine, and the teachers of it from 1800 to 1817, were New England Federalists.”

(The Natural Superiority of Southern Politicians, A Revisionist History, David Leon Chandler, Doubleday & Company, 1977, pp. 114-116)

Casting Out Yankeeism

The author below predicted that had the American Confederacy won its independence, “it would have undoubtedly developed more toward a conservative aristocracy” and more like the Founders’ intended republic. The aversion to the mob-rule democracy of the North was a fundamental reason the South left the Union, and with the Founders’ Constitution firmly in hand.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Casting Out Yankeeism

“There was a growing opinion among Southerners that a proper concept of eternal law was the bulwark of all liberty. Universal suffrage would never be able to discover and conserve this law. Universal suffrage in the North was “organized confiscation, legalized violence and corruption . . . a moral disease of the body politic.”

It was mob government, radical democracy, “the willing instrument of consolidation in the hands of an abolition oligarchy,” which had perverted the old Union. It was this the South was fighting against. The individual must be buried in the institution. The mob did not know what it was voting for, except to obtain money for doing it or to get a drink of whiskey. [John C.] Calhoun had recognized the tyranny of majorities and had sought remedies against them.

The South had never believed in democracy; it had worked with the Democrats in the North only to secure a place of power in the government. Most [government] positions should be appointive and not remunerative. Officers would serve without pay, if they were patriots. Now every petty sheriff, whiskey-drinking constable, and justice of the peace must be elected and get a fee. All of this is Yankeeism, which the South should cast out – all this universal suffrage – elective Judges – biennial Legislatures – and many other features of policy – all tending to degrade government and corrupt the people.”

In line with its conservatism, the Confederacy debated much the abolition of the naturalization laws which it had inherited from the old Union and which made possible the infiltration of masses of foreigners with their “dangerous European radical ideas.” Especially they would exclude Yankees. Representative John B. Clark of Missouri declared that he would “as soon admit to citizenship a devil from hell.” He advocated a law banishing any Southerner who should marry a Yankee. “

(A History of the South, Volume VII, The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1950, pp. 64-67)

 

Canny Theorist in the White House

Author Simkins observed that the South’s leaders “had committed a crime against the dominant patriotism of the nineteenth century” by “preaching national disintegration” – Lincoln the nationalist responded with “You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect and defend it.” He would not recognize the right of Americans in the South to create a more perfect union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Canny Theorist in the White House

“Southerners were convinced that what they lacked in military and naval equipment would be outweighed by their superior intelligence, bravery and hardihood. Had not the American colonies, who were weaker than the South, defeated England, a nation stronger than the North? The Confederacy need only stand on the defensive, win a few victories, and the unheroic Yankees would quickly withdraw from the hornets’ nest. Jefferson Davis and other thoughtful leaders, however, did not share such popular fallacies; they believed there would be a long war against a merciless foe.

It was true that in Abraham Lincoln the Confederacy had an implacable enemy. Behind the white face and black beard of a St. John the Baptist was the statesmen willing to use the methods by which great leaders of modern times have built or maintained empires. This meant nothing less than imposing forcibly the will of the strong upon the weak. With Lincoln the word was “charity to all men,” the reality “blood and iron.”

The President’s objective was clear: the complete destruction of the Confederate government, and the restoration of its constituent States to the Union. In his opinion the contest was not a war, but an attempt to put down domestic insurrection which had become too formidable for ordinary officers of the law.

The withdrawal of the Southern States and their subsequent organization into a new nation was declared illegal. To come to terms with the new Confederacy necessitated a great war, but the canny theorist in the White House called it an endeavor to re-establish constitutional authority. Accordingly the President mobilized armies and inaugurated a military struggle without asking Congress for a declaration of war.

He launched an invasion against powerful armies without extending to them the formal belligerent rights customary among civilized warmakers. The Confederacy was blockaded to deprive it of basic necessities. The Federal armies moved forward not to come to terms with a legal enemy, but to possess militarily and politically the territory of outlawed rebels. When the policies of blockade and invasion were not immediately successful, novel methods of warfare were employed.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued after Lee’s advance into the North had been stopped at [Sharpsburg], at least by implication, was designed to demoralize Southern Society and to give the war the character of a crusade in which righteousness was buttressed by vengeance. Provinces were devastated to break their will to resist.

When victory and the cessation of hostilities came, there was no armistice or peace treaty with [a] humbled foe, but surrender by an adversary who had been cut to pieces. The Confederacy was dissolved and its constituent parts re-incorporated into the United States.”

(The South Old and New, A History, 1820–1947, Francis Butler Simkins, Albert A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 140-141)

Revolution and the Law of Necessity

In early 1850 Northern Ultras like Wendell Phillips trumpeted that “we are disunionists,” and Horace Mann admitted that Northern intransigence would produce a Southern rebellion against outrage and oppression. Daniel Webster could only produce useless Union speeches which had little effect upon Northern radicals who wanted revolution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Revolution and the Law of Necessity

“[Webster] had not been speaking long [on 7 March 1850] before a tall, emaciated figure, with deep, cavernous eyes and a thick mass of snow-white hair advanced with feeble step, and sank into a chair on the other side of the Chamber. Webster, who had not seen him enter . . . soon referred again to Calhoun. The latter nervously grasped the arm of his chair, his black eyes glared, and half-rising, he exclaimed in a feeble, sepulchral voice: “The Senator from South Carolina is in his seat.” Startled, Webster turned, bowed, smiled and continued his excoriation of disunion.

He turned to Calhoun and exclaimed with profound emotion: “Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility.” When Webster sat down the applause could not be stilled . . . But Calhoun checked the congratulatory chorus. In faltering tones he expressed vehement dissent.

“I cannot agree,” he shrilled, “with the Senator from Massachusetts that this Union cannot be dissolved. Am I to understand him that no degree of oppression, no outrage, no broken faith, can produce the destruction of this Union?”

“Why Sir,” he continued, if that becomes a fixed fact, it will itself become the great instrument of producing oppression, outrage and broken faith. No, Sir, the Union can be broken. Great moral causes will break it, if they go on, and it can only be preserved by justice, good faith and an adherence to the Constitution.”

As he took his seat, Webster arose to answer the question. “I know, Sir,” he said, “that this Union can be broken up – every government can be – and I admit that there may be such a degree of oppression as will warrant resistance and forcible severance. That is revolution – that is revolution! Of that ultimate right of revolution I have not been speaking. I know that the law of necessity does exist.”

(The Eve of Conflict, Stephen A. Douglas and the Needless War, George Fort Milton, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934, pp. 62-63)

South Sinned Following Massachusetts Example

During the period in which the Constitution was adopted, “it was taken for granted that any State becoming dissatisfied might withdraw from the compact, for cause of which she was to be her own judge.” One of the loudest voices during ratification concerning the encroachment of the federal agent upon the authority of the States was Massachusetts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

South Sinned Following Massachusetts Example

“I shall endeavor to entertain you for a brief space with the ideas and observations of occurrence as they appeared to a Southern man concerning the great civil war. It is proper that you should hear the inscription read upon the other side of the shield.

This generation is yet too near the great struggle to deal with it in true historic spirit. Yet it is well for you to remember that the South is quite as far removed from it as is the North; and the North has industriously undertaken from the beginning to write the history of that contest between the sections, to set forth its causes and to justify its results – and naturally in the interest of the victorious side.

It is both wise and considerate of you to let the losing side be heard in your midst. If you should refuse to do so it will nevertheless be heard in time, before that great bar, the public opinion of the world, whose jurisdiction you cannot avoid, and whose verdict you cannot unduly influence. Neither side acts wisely in attempting to forestall that verdict!

It is well to remember, too, that epithets and hard names, which assume the guilt that is to be proven, will not serve for arguments for [future historians] of the Republic, except for the purpose of warning them against the intemperate partiality of their authors. The modest action of the common law should be imitated in the treatment of historic questions, which considers every accused person as innocent until his guilt is proven. Murder is treated as simply homicide until there is proof that the killing was felonious.

In treating, for example, of all questions pertaining to the war, you assume the guilt of your adversaries at the outset. You speak of the secession movement as a rebellion , and you characterize all who participated in it as “rebels and traitors.” Your daily literature, as well as your daily conversation, teems with it. Your school histories and books of elementary instruction impress it in almost every page upon the young. Your laws, State and Federal, have enacted the terms. Yet every lawyer and intelligent citizen among you must be well aware that in a technical and legal sense there was no rebellion, and there were no rebels!

In attempting to withdraw herself from the Union of the States by repealing, on the 20th of May, 1861, the ordinance by the adoption of which she had entered the Union on the 21st of November 1789, against whom and what did North Carolina rebel?

To whom had she sworn allegiance? Certainly to nobody; to no government; to nothing but the constitution of the United States. Was she violating that oath when she thus withdrew?

When Virginia and New York reserved, upon their accession to the constitution, their right to withdraw from the same, and declared that the powers granted might be resumed whenever the same shall be perverted to “their injury or oppression,” did those States reserve the right to commit treason?

When Massachusetts openly threatened to separate from the union upon the admission of Louisiana as a State, was she conscious that she was threatening treason and rebellion? When her Legislature, in 1803, “resolved that the annexation of Louisiana to the Union transcends the constitutional power of the United States,” and that it “formed a new Confederacy to which the States united by the former compact are not bound to adhere,” was that not a declaration that secession was a constitutional remedy?

Again, the same principle was proclaimed by the authority of Massachusetts in the Hartford Convention, where it was declared “that when emergencies occur which are either beyond the reach of judicial tribunals or too pressing to admit of delay incident to their forms, States which have no common umpire must be their own judges and execute their own decisions.”

With such a record, to which might be added page after page of corroborating quotation from her statesmen and her archives, should not the ancient Commonwealth of Massachusetts be a little modest in denouncing as “traitors” those whose sin consisted in following her example?”

(Life of Zebulon B. Vance, Clement Dowd, Observer Publishing, 1897, pp. 431-433)

Sovereign States in a Federated Union

John Taylor of Caroline viewed the economic life of the country as being local in character and only under the jurisdiction of the individual States – that is, popular institutions. Therefore he concluded, “the entire nationalistic program of the Federal Government as to banking, funding, tariff, and internal improvements is unconstitutional.” If one sidesteps the victor’s claim that they fought to end slavery 1861-1865, one finds that the Hamiltonian drive for concentrated federal power was underlying reason for war.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Sovereign States in a Federated Union:

“The States, located in the center of the political landscape, perform a stabilizing function with sufficient power to protect the whole [federal] structure from the onslaughts of inimical forces that attack from two directions. They are essentially buffer States.

They represent a compromise between two types of concentrated power – one in the Federal Government, the other in the people, the turbulence of whom may lead to the reintroduction of monarchy such as followed the French Revolution.

Mobs and tyrants generate each other. Only the States can prevent the clashes of these two eternal enemies. Thus, unless the States can obstruct the greed and avarice of concentrated power, the issue will be adjudicated by an insurrectionary mob. The States represent government by rule and law as opposed to government by force and fraud, which characterizes consolidated power whether in a supreme federal government, in the people, in factions, or in strong individuals.

Republicanism is the compromise between the idea that the people are a complete safeguard against the frauds of governments and the idea that the people, from ignorance or depravity, are incapable of self-government.

The basic struggle in the United States is between mutual checks by political departments and an absolute control by the Federal Government, or between division and concentration of power. Hamilton and Madison presented an impressive case for a strong national government, supreme over the rights of States.

They are supported by all the former Tories who benefit from the frauds of the paper system. Those who take this view are referred to as variously as monarchists, consolidators, and supremacists. The basic fallacy of their way of thinking is that they simply refuse to recognize “the primitive, inherent, sovereignty of each State” upon which basis only a federal form of government can be erected.

They assume the existence of an American Nation embracing the whole geographical reach of the country, on which they posit their argument for a supreme national government. But this is merely a fiction….The Declaration, the [Articles of] Confederation, and the Constitution specifically recognize the existence of separate and sovereign States, not of any American Nation or consolidated nation or people of the United States or concentrated sovereignty in the Federal Government. The word “America” designates a region on the globe and does not refer to any political entity.”

(The Social Philosophy of John Taylor of Caroline, A Study in Jeffersonian Democracy, Eugene Tenbroeck Mudge, Columbia University Press, 1939, pp. 65-66)

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