A UNION OF STATES
TO A CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT
By: John Bender
There is growing talk among,
and about, people in some States who want to secede from the United States. This has statists and the people who believe the
myth created by Lincoln cultists that Lincoln saved the union claiming that there is no
right to reclaim the powers delegated to the central government. The truth is Lincoln destroyed the union and
replaced the limited federal government created by the Founding Fathers with a
consolidated government and set it on course to become the bloated, intrusive, centralized
government we live under today.
This article will not examine
the reasons people in various States want to reclaim the powers their States previously
delegated to the union. That subject
requires a far larger document than this one to examine in any meaningful way.
The subject at hand is the
legal right of the States to withdraw from the union and dissolve the political ties
binding them to the States that remained in that organization as well as the fundamental
change in the relationship of the States to the central government caused by the War
Between the States.
THE STATES FORMED THE UNION
Lincoln tried to justify
forcing the States that withdrew from the union to return by the preposterous claim that
the union created the States rather than the historical fact that the States created the
union. Lincoln cultists continue to make this
Lincoln and his idolaters
claim the Declaration of Independence created the union.
This claim ignores the fact that the Declaration of Independence states
quite clearly, That these United Colonies
are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States
and that as Free and
Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances,
establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of
Note the Declaration says the
colonies are by rights States, plural. It does
not say they are a State, singular. It claims
sovereignty of the individual States not of a singular State composed of subservient
political subdivisions. So the first document
created by the Founding Fathers clearly contradicts Lincolns assertion.
The original thirteen States
became internationally recognized as sovereign, independent States when they won their
independence from Great Britain. The Treaty of
Paris in Article 1 recognized the former colonies as individual, independent sovereign
States. It reads:
His Brittanic Majesty
acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island
and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland,
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent
states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors,
relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same
and every part thereof.
The text is clear. The former colonies were not a sovereign and
independent State, singular, but free
sovereign and independent States,
plural. The former colonies were then thirteen
States, or countries not a single State.
Those who argue as Lincoln
did that the States were never States outside of the Union and only have those powers
expressly granted them by the union have to ignore historic fact or try to explain it
away. The original thirteen States were by
international law free sovereign and independent states.
was a slick trial lawyer and as such well-practiced in oral deception. Cohen's Law For Lawyers states: What really matters is the name you succeed in
imposing on the facts -- not the facts themselves. Lincoln
imposed the name rebellion on the States withdrawal from the union and his apologists try
to maintain that deception.
the Treaty of Paris isnt the only historical fact that exposes Lincolns
contention as false. Federalist 45 makes clear
that the Founders considered the federal government the creation of the States and its
only powers those delegated to it by the States.
the Father of the Constitution assured the people that the federal government
was only the deputy or agent of the States possessing only the powers delegated to it by
the States. Nothing in the writings of the
Founders believed the federal government created the States and delegated powers to them.
and his apologists would have us believe that Lincoln knew more about the powers delegated
to the federal government than Madison who wrote the document. It appears that trial lawyer Lincoln was a
practitioner of the trial lawyers doctrine; If the facts are on your side
argue the facts. If the law is on your side
argue the law. If neither the facts nor the
law are on your side . . . lie.
can also look at the name of the union the States created.
Under the Westphalian system created by the Peace of Westphalia, signed in
1648, the major European countries agreed to respect the principle of territorial
integrity. States became the primary
institutional agents in an interstate system of relations. States
were countries. In the eighteenth century when
educated people used the word State they meant an independent country. By naming the
organization the Founders formed, The United States, they were recognizing
that the organization was a group of countries organizing in a pact or group to secure
certain mutual benefits.
the War Between the States the word state took on the added meaning of a
political subdivision under the rule of a higher power.
However, even today, the word means a sovereign country to most English
instance, when the Palestinian people demand their own State, they are demanding their own
sovereign country and not a political subdivision under the control of the Israeli State.
Our own State Department does not deal with the 50 subservient states that are under the
thumb of the central government. Our State
Department deals with other countries (States).
concept is reinforced by the wording used in the Constitution and other official
government papers. The official documents
produced by the government of the union always use the plural when the union is acting on
behalf of all the States. That is they say
the United States ARE doing thus and so. After
the War Between the States the usage of the singular started being used until it became
the exclusive usage. In other words,
government documents after the War said the United States is doing thus and so
rather than are doing thus and so.
This grammatical shift is
significant because it indicates the change in status of the States and the central
government. The union was no longer a
voluntary organization of sovereign States. The
states were now the subjects of the ruling consolidated government and held in that
position by force of arms.
fact that shows the absurdity of Lincolns claim that the union created the States is
that North Carolina and Rhode Island did not join the union until after it was up and
running and Mr. George Washington was elected President and serving in that office. From the date the government, under the Articles of
Confederation was dissolved until states joined the union, they were separate countries
unaffiliated with the other countries that had joined the group.
fact was recognized by the union and Congress who imposed duties on a variety of goods
produced in North Carolina and Rhode Island when these goods were brought into the United
States just like goods imported from any other foreign state or kingdom. The union also threatened to impose higher tonnage
and tariff duties on ships registered in these independent States. The Senate of the new union even passed a bill that
would have banned all commercial intercourse between Rhode Island and the United States.
these States already been part of the union even without ratifying the Constitution as
Lincoln claimed, these acts would have been unconstitutional.
THE CONSTITUTION IS A
cultists and other statists like to point out that the Constitution is a contract between
the States and that States may only get out of the contract if every party to the contract
agrees that a State or States may get out of the contract.
To make this claim they have to work around the fact that Virginia, New York
and Rhode Island only ratified the Constitution with the condition that they could later
withdraw from the union if they chose to do so.
order to explain away this fact some in the Lincoln cult claim that these conditions were
not conditions. They claim that only
unconditional ratifications were acceptable to the union. They base this claim on a letter
from James Madison to Alexander Hamilton stating that the Congress would not accept
powerful as Mr. Madison was, he was only one member of Congress. He didnt have the
unilateral power to accept or reject ratifications submitted by the States.
Madison was also an astute political realist. Ideally
all the States would join the new union unconditionally.
The political reality was different. Politicians
frequently accept conditions they earlier said they would not accept in order to get most
of what they want.
Rhode Island was inconsequential to the success of the union, without New York, Virginia,
and North Carolina there was no realistic expectation the new union would hold together
for more than a very short time. Without these
powerful States, South Carolina and Georgia would be separated from the other union
members by Virginia and North Carolina, and New England members would be separated from
Pennsylvania by New York. The members of the
union would be separated by independent nations that were at least as powerful as the
individual members of the union.
reality also included the fact that Georgia, South Carolina, and Maryland had more in
common both culturally and economically with Virginia than they had with the New England
or Mid-Atlantic States. Pennsylvania and New
Jersey had more in common with New York than with New England. The odds were good that without New York, Virginia
and North Carolina, the union would break apart in very short order.
with this political reality, it is no wonder the Congress accepted the conditional
ratifications Virginia and New York passed.
Add to these political
realities Mr. Madison and the supporters of ratification faced, is the fact that Madison
and the other Founding Fathers believed that ratification did not preclude a State from
withdrawing from the union at a later date. Madison
clearly said as much in a speech to the Virginia ratification convention of 1788: In
response to fears that Virginia might be giving up too much sovereignty by joining the
union, Mr. Madison said; "If we be dissatisfied
with the national government, if we choose to renounce it, this is an additional safeguard
to our defense."
in James Madisons mind, the Constitution he wrote did not prohibit the States from
renouncing the central government and reclaiming the powers they delegated to that
organization. Lincoln and his apologists never
mention this assurance from the man who wrote the Constitution that a State could later
renounce membership in the central government, i.e., secede from the union.
The conditional ratifications
are also a death blow to the claim that the contract between the States can only be voided
if all parties agree.
A contract only becomes a
contract when all parties agree to all parts of the contract. Prior to all parties accepting all parts of the
contract it is an offer not a contract. When one party agrees to the contract but with
conditions, the agreement becomes a counteroffer not an executed contract. The parties making the original offer at that point
have the option of accepting the counteroffer, rejecting it, or making a counter,
counteroffer. If the parties making the
original offer accept the counteroffer it becomes a contract with the conditions in place
as part of the contract binding the parties to all parts of the contract, including the
terms put forth in the counteroffer.
This was the case with the
unions accepting the contingent ratifications from Virginia, New York, and Rhode
Island. The conditional ratifications were
counteroffers to the Congress original offer to the States. The acceptance of the counteroffers made the
conditions part of the contract between the States.
acceptance of these counteroffers made them a part of the contract. Under Article IV of the Constitution, the rights
enjoyed by one state are enjoyed by all the States in the union. The right to withdraw from the union, should a
State decide it is in the best interest of that State, is therefore enshrined in the
contract between the States. All the parties
to the contract agreed on that point when they accepted the conditional ratifications of
those three States.
the theory that the Constitution is a contract between the States, Lincoln and the
Northern States violated the contract by refusing to accept the Southern States peaceful
withdrawal from the union. Unless one wishes
to argue that the War Between the States voided the Constitutional contract, the right of
any State to withdraw from the union is still an operative part of that contract.
RIGHT TO SECEED WAS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED
northern States were the first to threaten secession.
Starting in 1800, the New England States were seriously threatening to
secede. Jeffersons election brought
calls for various New England States to secede. When Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase
in 1803, more New England politicians and newspapers joined the call for secession. In 1803 U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Timothy
Pickering wrote; I will rather anticipate a
new confederacy, exempt from the corrupt and corrupting influence and oppression of the
aristocratic Democrats of the South."
that time there was no suggestion that the States had no right to secede. All arguments against secession recognized the
States had that right, but rather, that secession was unwise at that time for one reason
or another. In fact, President Jefferson, in a
letter to W. Crawford dated June 20, 1816 said that "If any state in the Union will
declare that it prefers separation... to a continuance in union... I have no hesitation in
saying, 'let us separate.'
England Federalists continued to threaten to secede including the threat to secede during
the War of 1812. During the war the Federalist Massachusetts Governor went so far as to
secretly send word to England to broker a separate peace accord between England and the
seceded New England confederacy. No one
claimed that the States didnt have the right to withdraw from the union, and make a
separate peace with England.
to the War Between the States secession was recognized as a right possessed by the
individual States. From1825 until 1841 the
U.S. Military Academy at West Point taught the Constitution to the cadets using a text
written by William Rawle, of Philadelphia, who had been the U.S. District Attorney for
Pennsylvania under the Washington Administration. Although, in his text Rawle strongly
argued against secession, he recognized it as a right
Chapter 32, of that textbook, entitled On the Permanence of the
Union, contains the following text:
The Union is an association of the people of
republics; its preservation is calculated to depend on the preservation of those
republics. The people of each pledge themselves to preserve that form of government in
all. Thus each becomes responsible to the rest, that no other form of government shall
prevail in it, and all are bound to preserve it in every one. ...If a faction should
attempt to subvert the government of a state for the purpose of destroying its republican
form, the paternal power of the Union could thus be called forth to subdue it.
Yet it is not to be understood, that its
interposition would be justifiable, if the people of a state should determine to retire
from the Union...
It depends on the state itself to retain or abolish
the principle of representation, because it depends on itself whether it will continue a
member of the Union. To deny this right would be inconsistent with the principle on which
all our political systems are founded, which is, that the people have in all cases, a
right to determine how they will be governed.
Hamilton, the Founding Father who was most in favor of a strong central government, did
not support the concept of a central government that assumed powers not specifically
delegated to it by the proposed Constitution. He
believed that the proposed Constitution gave the central government no power to infringe
on the rights not specifically enumerated as delegated to it. Because of this he believed the Bill of Rights was
unnecessary. He wrote:
I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the
sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the
proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions
to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colourable
pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done
which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of
the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be
imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it
is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for
claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the constitution
ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority,
which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press
afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it,
was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the
numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the
indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.
even Hamilton didnt believe that the central government that the States were
creating had any power not specifically enumerated in that document. According to him, those who would later argue that
the central government had powers not specifically enumerated in the Constitution were
men disposed to usurp. It is,
therefore, illogical to believe that Hamilton would have supported using force of arms to
keep States from withdrawing from the union since no such power is enumerated in the
Constitution or in any States ratifying document.
Henry speaking against ratification of the proposed Constitution said: The honorable gentleman who presides told us
that, to prevent abuses in our government, we will assemble in Convention, recall our
delegated powers, and punish our servants for abusing the trust reposed in them. O sir, we
should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble
Governor Randolph and James Madison had earlier assured the delegates to Virginias
ratification convention that the State could later hold another convention and reclaim the
powers the State had previously delegated to the central government. Reclaiming the delegated powers is another way of
saying the State could dissolve the political bands which connected them to the other
States in the union.
Henry wasnt buying that assurance. He
prophetically said: Will the oppressor let go
the oppressed? Was there even an instance? Can the annals of mankind exhibit one single
example where rulers overcharged with power willingly let go the oppressed, though
solicited and requested most earnestly? The application for amendments will therefore be
fruitless. Sometimes, the oppressed have got loose by one of those bloody struggles that
desolate a country; but a willing relinquishment of power is one of those things which
human nature never was, nor ever will be, capable of.
himself, when he was in the House of Representatives, said there was a right to secede. The Congressional Records for 1847 quote Lincoln as
having said, Any people whatever have the
right to abolish the existing government and form a new one that suits them better." On January 12, 1848, Lincoln said, "Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having
the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new
one that suits them better."
can find no record of him ever explaining what brought about his change of mind, but
within days of the beginning of his regime he no longer held this view.
neither the Founding Fathers nor the people of the original States thought that the
Constitution forbade a State from dissolving the political bands that tied it to the other
States. Nor did the generations immediately
following the founding generation believe that. There is no legal prohibition against
secession. The only basis for denying the
States their right to dissolve the political bands connecting them to the other States is
the invasion, defeat, and occupation of the States that exercised that right by men
disposed to usurp.
idea that the union should be held together by force of arms was repugnant to even the
most enthusiastic proponents of a stronger central government than existed under the
Articles of Confederation. The anti-Federalists fears were well founded. Indeed, they were prophetic. The destruction of the union and the replacing it
with of a consolidated central government created the very thing the Founders feared, and
sacrificed blood and treasure to fight against; an all-powerful central government that is
bloated and intrusive and tramples the rights of the people.
Lincoln invaded, conquered and occupied the States that exercised their right to reclaim
the powers they had delegated to the union, he created a new relationship between the
States and the central government. By force of
arms he established the supremacy of the federal government over the formerly sovereign
new relationship between the central government and the States, established by Lincoln,
gave other men disposed to usurp the power to assume ever more power not
delegated to the central government by the States. Because
of this new unbridled power of the central government, in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court
could ignore the Constitution that its members took an oath to uphold, by striking down
the laws of all 50 states against killing babies in the womb. By 2012 the central government was so powerful that
it could demand by force of law that people purchase a specific product whether they want
it or not.
Thomas Jefferson said; When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when
the government fears the people, there is liberty.
isnt realistic to think that the current regime is any less despotic than the
Lincoln regime. So it is highly unlikely that
the regime will honor any States right to peacefully reclaim the powers it delegated
to the central government and dissolve the political bands which connected them to the
other States in the union. However, that does
not mean that the States do not have that right. It
just means that it is one more right that has been usurped.
John Bender is a
freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas. He is a former staff writer for EtherZone and his columns have
appeared in various print and internet publications.
"Published originally at EtherZone.com :
republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."
John Bender can be reached at: email@example.com
the November 27, 2012 issue of
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