December 22nd, 2008

Sovereignty and Secession


photo credit: Stuck in Customs

Abraham Lincoln is revered in most historical accounts—most notably those in public school textbooks—as the savior of the Union. Quelling southern rebellion, he prevented a deepening division amongst countrymen and ultimately was able to hold the country together. What his fans and followers fail to realize, though, is that Lincoln’s actions resulted not only in an eventual abolition of slavery, but also a complete abolition of the voluntary association that had, up until that point, defined the union of sovereign states.

Under Lincoln’s war campaign, the voluntary, federal union of states saw its relationship drastically change to a national, central relationship. Sovereignty gave way to subservience. Since that time, the identity of being American has, in most cases (Texas, being one of the notable exceptions), far surpassed the identity that anybody cherishes with their home state.

In this national relationship, those who entertain notions of seceding are labeled as traitors. The general attitude towards this scenario might possibly be represented by a statement by Steve Benen in Washington Monthly who, referring to Sarah Palin’s affiliation with the Alaska Independent Party, said:

Advocating secession is, practically by definition, un-American.

It should be noted that there wouldn’t even be an “America” had the colonists not seceded from the British empire. To argue, then, that secession should in all cases be treated as treason only lends credence to the assessment that there no longer exists any voluntary union of participating states.

A union of states under which participants may not at any time leave is in fact not a union, but a forced syndicate of subservient states. Sovereignty—the ability to choose your own future—requires the ability to self-determine and choose with whom you will (and will not) affiliate. The threat of secession serves as a restraint on the union itself, thus ensuring that the majority agree on every action taken. Using the threat (and action) of force to mandate participation opens the way for inappropriate action on the part of the union, since the chances of people quitting in frustration are non-existent.

What this country needs is not a dominant, authoritarian government coercing the states into a false union, but a federation of states that allows for the proper restraint upon its actions so as to ensure the ongoing voluntary participation of those who desire to be involved.

31 Responses to “Sovereignty and Secession”

  1. Clumpy
    December 22, 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    Good point with the Lincoln stuff. I suppose it’s difficult for people to acknowledge because people, including myself, prefer to see events and people in terms of either good or evil. We see the abolition of slavery as an unconditionally-positive thing, so it’s difficult for us to admit that there may have been some negative consequences (whether greater or not) to the actions Lincoln took.

    Still, in a sense nationalism is better than town or state “patriotism”, if only because it’s a step closer to identifying oneself as a citizen of Earth with six billion brothers and sisters.

  2. Connor
    December 22, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    We see the abolition of slavery as an unconditionally-positive thing, so it’s difficult for us to admit that there may have been some negative consequences (whether greater or not) to the actions Lincoln took.

    Keep in mind that the Civil War was not primarily and fully about the abolition of the slaves. Rather, it was about terminating the threat of the seceding south, as DiLorenzo argues here (and expounds in more detail in his books):

    Neither Lincoln nor the US Congress at the time ever said that slavery was a cause – let alone the sole cause – of their invasion of the Southern states in 1861. Both Lincoln and the Congress made it perfectly clear to the whole world that they would do all they could to protect Southern slavery as long as the secession movement could be defeated.

    Rothbard also commented as follows:

    For secession need not, and should not, have been combated by the North; and so we must pin the blame on the North for aggressive war against the seceding South. The war was launched in the shift from the original Northern position (by Garrison included) to “let our erring sisters depart in peace” to the determination to crush the South to save that mythical abstraction known as the “Union” – and in this shift, we must put a large portion of the blame upon the maneuvering of Lincoln to induce the Southerners to fire the first shot on Fort Sumter – after which point, flag-waving could and did take over.

    The slavery issue was later seen an used as an emotional tie to rally support for a massive war, just as “spreading democracy” and “liberating a downtrodden people” have come to excuse our military adventurism in the Middle East, though they had nothing to do with the false excuses given as reason to begin the campaign.

    Still, in a sense nationalism is better than town or state “patriotism”, if only because it’s a step closer to identifying oneself as a citizen of Earth with six billion brothers and sisters.

    One might extend this argument all the way up to the United Nations, where sovereignty is obliterated through committee actions on the whole. It is important, I believe, to understand the differences between patriotism and nationalism; brotherly love and localized patriotism (and sovereignty) are not in any way mutually exclusive.

  3. Connor
    December 22, 2008 at 3:50 pm #

    Another portion of DiLorenzo’s article is worth highlighting:

    In an August 22, 1862, letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley [Abraham Lincoln] explained to the world what the war was about:

    My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.

    Of course, many Americans at the time, North and South, believed that a military invasion of the Southern states would destroy the union by destroying its voluntary nature. To Lincoln, “saving the Union” meant destroying the secession movement and with it the Jeffersonian political tradition of states’ rights as a check on the tyrannical proclivities of the central government. His war might have “saved” the union geographically, but it destroyed it philosophically as the country became a consolidated empire as opposed to a constitutional republic of sovereign states.

  4. David
    December 22, 2008 at 3:53 pm #

    I’ve been struggling with this issue for some time now. Thanks for putting it into words. While I vigorously applaud the fact that slavery was ended by the actions of Lincoln, and I hold him in very high regard, yet I wonder if the identity as a collection of sovereign states that we gave up in the process might prove to be a much greater loss than we have previously realized. I don’t have any desire to see a secession (although I have joked about letting California go) but I am convinced that our belief in the absolute supremacy of the Federal government in all areas of political or social importance is leading us down a path that I would rather not go.

  5. Clumpy
    December 22, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    “Keep in mind that the Civil War was not primarily and fully about the abolition of the slaves.”

    I wasn’t trying to reinforce that misconception, but merely pointing out that we see abolition as such a monumentally good thing that everything associated with it must also be good, leading us to subscribe to the idea of the Civil War as a struggle between a grand, principled leader and a racist, backward half of the country.

    “One might extend this argument all the way up to the United Nations, where sovereignty is obliterated through committee actions on the whole.”

    The U.N. isn’t motivated by a respect for sovereignty but an attempt by nations to stroke their ego by being part of something big, and for smaller nations to break off resources for themselves and talk for hours to people who would never listen to their idiot ramblings otherwise (here I caricature). I’ve read the motions and reports on their gatherings (I highly recommend P.J. O’Rourke’s accounts).

    The U.N. isn’t primarily motivated by human respect and humanitarianism, or at least not enough, to work as an agent of unification. Policy or establishment of great projects won’t bring this change about; it has to occur on a personal level when we stop thinking the guy over the hill is suspicious because he builds his house a different way than us and speaks a language we can’t understand.

  6. Mike
    December 22, 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    Hi Connor,

    Nice post. Another item of equal note is that Lincoln violated the Constitution on many, many occasions in his obsession to ‘save the Union’ which as you note in fact destroyed the voluntary nature of the Union. In fact, Lincoln issued an arrest warrant for a Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney because he ruled against Lincoln regarding one of his many abuses of power.

    The warrant was never served, and many deny its existence, but it does exists and appears to be legitimate. Despite the deification of Lincoln that occurs in State Education Centers, he did more to set the stage for our current woes than any president before him, although he was hardly the first to violate the Constitution. I would argue that Jefferson was the first president to do so when he approved the Louisiana Purchase on his authority while Congress was out of session, but others would say that Washington over stepped his Constitutional bounds during the Whiskey Rebellion. It seems our poor Republic has a long and storied history of being trodden down if ever a momentary need arises.

  7. Mark N
    December 22, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    Does this mean I’m not going to be allowed to bring any rotten tomatoes with me the next time I visit Disneyland’s “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln”?

  8. Reach Upward
    December 22, 2008 at 8:48 pm #

    Nicholas Cage’s character in National Treasure 2 rightly notes that prior to the Civil War, nobody said, “The United States of America.” Rather, they always said, “These United States of America.” It was only after the war that people began referring to the USA as “The United States of America.

    Many people in the run-up to the war weren’t sure whether to let the South go or to strive to preserve the Union. Lincoln himself questioned this. However, he ultimately appears to have sincerely felt that he had to preserve the Union to be on God’s side, as he put it.

    With the Union preserved, states rights (which had become a code phrase for slavery) were obliterated. Today we see a continuation of the centralization of political power as governors beg the federal government to cover their spendthrift budgets and to further reduce sovereignty.

    But the libertarian view that conditions would have been better had secession been permitted is rather naive and utopian. The south and the north would have continued to compete for both newer territories and established states. It is highly likely that this would have resulted in war anyway, even without a Lincoln that believed so fervently in the necessity of preserving the Union.

    Thus, it matters little what we think might have been better. We are in fact stuck with what we have. We need to learn to make lemonade out of the lemons fate has handed us.

  9. Clumpy
    December 23, 2008 at 3:55 am #

    One question I have, a mere fancy:

    Without bringing Constitutional law into it (meaning from a philosophical standpoint), what is the benefit of more autonomous states? Note that my question isn’t “Why wouldn’t it be bad to have Washington controlling everything” but “What direct benefit do we get from autonomous state governance?”

    Yes, states would have the right to enact their own Constitutional laws without interference from the Feds, but I can’t imagine the interstate conflicts and occasional ridiculous laws we’d see. I can’t imagine that oil and other resource exploration would be very subdued as every state would have more of an ego to maintain, and the legal tape merely to ship something across the country would be insane as every state takes its cut of everything that passes through it. I mean, this doesn’t necessarily rule out a Republic, but how can it be managed? Can we just take a fatalistic “Well, this is how they used to do it so let’s get it going and let the cards fall” attitude?

  10. Yin
    December 23, 2008 at 4:42 am #

    Connor

    You use the comparison of the colonies seceding from the British empire. But what did the British do when this ocurred? The same thing Lincoln did. Attack.

    Is it just the idea of sovereignty that makes a difference between the two? Did it exist in “these” United States of America, but not in the British empire? I’m just trying to understand my political history a little bit better.

  11. David
    December 23, 2008 at 6:15 am #

    Clumpy,

    You asked “what is the benefit of more autonomous states?” but your example is of absolutely autonomous states. Which one did you want to know about? States could be more autonomous without being absolutely autonomous. Absolutely autonomous states would mean that there was no functional meaning to the “United” in United States.

    The advantage of autonomous states is that, to the degree of their autonomy, the citizens of each state would be free to make their own choices about the laws they wanted in their states without being bound by the laws passed in other states. As tightly bound as the states are now, we have to genuinely expect that laws passed on one state can be forced upon other states through federal court rulings etc.

    Obviously there are advantages to being united or else the founders would not have formed a stronger republic when they met to alter the Articles of Confederation but that is one of the primary advantages of maintaining a degree of autonomy for each state.

  12. Adrien
    December 23, 2008 at 8:54 am #

    Maybe it is just semantics, but the name “America” refers to all the land mass from Canada to Chile, and the non-U.S. citizens tend to take offense when we steal the adjective for ourselves. The point is, that this country is called the United States of America and will always be called the United States because that is what we are supposed to be. By calling our country America, we emphasize the unity that is our federal government.

    In my opinion, the federal system is welfare on the state level – you tax a state like California to subsidize projects in other states, even though California might have different values than the other state. Though I no longer live in California, I still think California would do well without the other states. It could keep its federal tax dollars and make its own policy.

  13. David
    December 23, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    It is natural for those who pay more in federal taxes than they receive to feel entitled to set the social/political agenda for the rest of the nation. Those that receive more in federal money than they give in taxes usually want to money from those who pay in, but they often want that money without allowing for any influence.

  14. Chris
    December 23, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    I believe that Connor has a good point in this blog but what apparently he and Mr. Rothband forget is that the war was started by the South. First with the blockade and then their attack on Ft. Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. So to completely blame the North for their ‘aggressive’ war and to excuse the South who started the war is a bit of revisionist history in my opinion.
    Lincoln while it can be argued that he centralized the government and got rid of the ‘voluntary’ Union one must understand the why. Lincoln knew that if the US split up then we’d be weak and Europe would pounce. While this is admittingly only opinion the reality of the danger was real.

  15. Connor
    December 23, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    Reach,

    Nicholas Cage’s character in National Treasure 2 rightly notes that prior to the Civil War, nobody said, “The United States of America.” Rather, they always said, “These United States of America.” It was only after the war that people began referring to the USA as “The United States of America.

    Indeed. Additionally, the Declaration of Independence has a lowercase ‘u’ for “united States of America” (whereas there is a capital ‘u’ for “United Colonies”), so Jefferson no doubt had some sort of emphatic distinction in mind there.

    But the libertarian view that conditions would have been better had secession been permitted is rather naive and utopian. The south and the north would have continued to compete for both newer territories and established states. It is highly likely that this would have resulted in war anyway, even without a Lincoln that believed so fervently in the necessity of preserving the Union.

    I’m not so sure that an alternative future can be predicted with that much accuracy. Who knows what other events might have occurred which would have changed the outcome you here predict? But regardless of what way or may not have happened, I think it’s best (and I would hope you would agree) that liberty should be preserved and maximized, come what may. There will always be war and conflict (until Christ’s second coming), so I don’t think it should be used as a pretext to force people or wage war over an association.

    Clumpy,

    What direct benefit do we get from autonomous state governance?

    To answer your question, I believe it’s first important to clarify who the “we” in your question is. Certainly it’s more convenient for those in power to have a conformity (degenerate version of unity) in place, thus making it easier to implement and uphold the laws they want to pass. So if the “we” in your question is the national government, then there are not many direct benefits to speak of.

    But if the “we” is “we the people”, then I believe that the benefits far outweigh and exceed the potential annoyances that result from having diversity in law and governance. The genius of the Constitution was that it pulled down power and allowed the people—through their states—to retain as much political power as possible. It was then up to the states to determine on their own what power would then likewise be disseminated down to the various municipalities.

    In short, the direct benefit gained from (semi-, as David notes) autonomous state governance is the ability for the individual to determine his own destiny. That, in my opinion, can never be a bad thing.

    Yin,

    Is it just the idea of sovereignty that makes a difference between the two? Did it exist in “these” United States of America, but not in the British empire?

    Just as we favor the separation of the States from the British Empire, what I’m arguing is that we likewise should favor secession in other cases where the participants no longer want to be ruled by the governing authority. It’s hypocritical, I think, to think it’s okay to break from one and not from the other.

    Chris,

    I believe that Connor has a good point in this blog but what apparently he and Mr. Rothband forget is that the war was started by the South. First with the blockade and then their attack on Ft. Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. So to completely blame the North for their ‘aggressive’ war and to excuse the South who started the war is a bit of revisionist history in my opinion.

    Reading your rebuttals is like reading a school textbook, sometimes… You’re once again looking at the obvious above-the-surface event without seeking to understand what is not immediately seen. In this case (as in many other “first fire” events), the side being attacked first enticed and hoped for it to happen, as DiLorenzo here writes (anybody wanting to know the reality of Lincoln’s actions must read DiLorenzo’s books):

    In “Lincoln and the First Shot” (in Reassessing the Presidency, edited by John Denson), John Denson painstakingly shows how Lincoln maneuvered the Confederates into firing the first shot at Fort Sumter. Northern newspapers all recognized this at the time, but Winik seems to know nothing at all about it. As the Providence Daily Post wrote on April 13, 1861, “Mr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing in the character of an aggressor” by reprovisioning Fort Sumter. On the day before that the Jersey City American Statesman wrote that “This unarmed vessel, it is well understood, is a mere decoy to draw the first fire from the people of the South.” Lincoln’s personal secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, clearly stated after the war that Lincoln successfully duped the Confederates into firing on Fort Sumter. And as Shelby Foote wrote in The Civil War, “Lincoln had maneuvered [the Confederates] into the position of having either to back down on their threats or else to fire the first shot of the war.”

    After Fort Sumter Lincoln wrote to his naval commander Gustavus Fox thanking him for his assistance in drawing the first shot.

    …one must understand the why. Lincoln knew that if the US split up then we’d be weak and Europe would pounce.

    And this justifies waging an aggressive war and mandating participation in the Union how…? This fear of attack propels every neoconservative action, justifying whatever is deemed necessary to prevent a “likely” attack. Yawn.

  16. Adrien
    December 23, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    The more I think about this as an economist, there are advantages to having a union – the lowering of transactions costs improve efficiency in the market. But from a libertarian perspective, this is negated when the federal government implements regulation that strips liberty and increases transactions costs overall.

    The argument that we need to be united in order to stand against an attack from Europe is a little dated. I don’t think invasion and occupation work anymore – we haven’t been able to influence the countries we occupy today so who in the world would be able to occupy any individual American state?

    Lastly, how are we to invoke the federal constitution while making the case for the federal government let the states be sovereign? This is very tricky footwork!

  17. David
    December 23, 2008 at 12:13 pm #

    The footwork is not that tricky – the Constitution was designed specifically to limit the power of the federal government and the 10th amendment specifically states that all powers not specifically enumerated in the Constitution as belonging to the federal government were reserved to the individual states and the people. In other words, intent to letting the states be sovereign is specifically spelled out in our originally ratified Bill of Rights.

  18. Adrien
    December 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    If each state is to be sovereign in its own right, is the constitution more or less a treaty between the states?

  19. Carborendum
    December 23, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    When Madison outlined the Constitution, he modeled it after two previous systems, the English system, and the Mosaic system. He found that this separation of powers was essential to preventing power from being concentrated and that only in LARGE republics was good government even possible. Thus the States had to unite if they were to provide good government to their citizens.

    But as the Convention moved forward two major issues came up:

    1) Representation by population or by state?
    2) How much power should be given to the federal government to divide amongst the three branches?

    The difficulty they found was that they were trying to balance the level of power required to keep the nation from falling into either tyranny or anarchy. To put some arbitrary numbers to it — they came to a consensus that level 7 authority was required to avoid anarchy, but level 5 was all they were willing to risk to stay away from tyranny. What to do with the intermediate 2?

    The solution was actually found in the solution to the representation issue. If we allow the House to represent the people directly to the federal government and allow the Senate to represent the State governments directly to the federal government, we are in effect giving some of the power to the states (that intermediate level 2 power).

    Madison was initially against this type of representation. But when he got rid of his anger, he realized that this was a type of government of which he had never before conceived. He likened it the centaur – neither man nor horse, but an amalgam of the two – where a federal government is strong and powerful, but the states are also strong and powerful. Thus not only is the federal government divided into three branches, but the will of the people is divided up between the People, the States, and the Federal government.

    The civil war through use of force established that the federal government was superior to the will of the People or the States. Eventually the 17th amendment was passed taking State power out completely.

    Thus we have not only the level 7 power concentrated in the federal government, but even more. It is only a matter of time before it is as tyrannical as King George was prior to the revolution.

    Madison declared of the “centaur”: I do not know if such a creature can survive the rough and tumble of the world. But I am willing to hazard the try. I am for the United STATES of America.

    Connor, I’m not sure what the common usage was of “the” or “these”. But the Preamble says “the United States of America”.

  20. Clumpy
    December 23, 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    Connor, good point. That’s about all the philosophical justification I needed.

    @David:
    “You asked ‘what is the benefit of more autonomous states?’ but your example is of absolutely autonomous states. Which one did you want to know about? States could be more autonomous without being absolutely autonomous.”

    Considering that some stripes of Constitutionalist and libertarian thought strip Federal power to next-to-nothing, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to consider the ramifications of a group of nearly-autonomous states bound by a loose ideology and a Constitution but incorporating their own laws and local identity (I’ve even seen debate as to whether material covered in the Bill of Rights should be left to the states). Certainly our present system has proven that taking things to their logical conclusion isn’t necessarily faulty logic.

  21. David
    December 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    You are right Clumpy, there are those who take this idea to extremes. I think the experience with the Articles of Confederation should already serve to deter us from stripping the Federal government of all its power.

  22. Brennan
    December 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm #

    To Adrien:
    Obviously your not in CA, we are projected to be broke in two months!! Not only that but our deficit I think last figured was between 40-50 billion!! uhh?

  23. Chris
    December 23, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    The internet at my parents house doesn’t work very well so you can all shout for joy because I won’t be able to join in on much of the discussion. I’ll take the school textbook remark as a compliment. I agree that Lincoln might have been hoping for the war and might have ‘backed them into a corner’ but they did fire the first shot. The same can be said of many wars but that still doesnt’ excuse the initial perpetrators. They could have allow the fort to be resupplied. Why didn’t they? You have to resupply your troops. If not they will eventually starve. Look at how Germany came into being. Bismark manipulated Denmark, Austria, & France to begin the wars that led to Germany’s unification but they still began them. If they were so dense as not to see the other’s ingenious plan that’s their fault. They hold a large percentage of the blame for giving the enemy exactly waht they wanted.
    I will chose for the sake of time, energy, and slow interent not to rehash our old arguements Connor.

  24. Jay
    December 29, 2008 at 1:12 pm #

    There never was a Civil War. A civil war is a war between two factions within the same country. This was a war between two different countries–the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. Lincoln declared war against a foreign country contrary to his authority as president. He violated the constitution in dozens of ways and is no hero of mine.

    Jay

  25. J. Max Wilson
    December 30, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    Connor,

    I’m sorry but you are dead wrong on this one. I disagree completely with DiLorenzo’s neo-confederate revisionism. The loosely confederated group of sovereign states that libertarians envision never existed. It is a libertarian myth. The anti-federalists lost that battle when the Constitution was ratified (http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Federalist-Constitutional-Convention-Debates-Classics/dp/0451528840/).

    As Lincoln himself asserted in his first inaugural address, the Articles of Confederation created a “perpetual union” and then the Constitution replaced the Articles with “a more perfect union.” That union could not be more perfect and less perpetual.

    The analogy between the colonial revolution and the confederate rebellion is completely false. As the colonists stated in the Declaration of Independence, governments should not be changed for “light and transient causes.” It was a “long train of abuses and usurpations” by the English government, enumerated by the colonists, that justified their rebellion to throw off the despots. But they had no illusions about it: it was rebellion; justified rebellion, but still rebellion.

    The South, on the other hand, had no just cause for rebellion. Seven of the southern states declared unilateral secession after Lincoln was elected, but _before he took office_. Lincoln hadn’t even been president yet, and so their rebellion could not be justified by anything he could have done. They seceded merely on the results of an election. The fundamental contract of a republic is that revolution by bullet will be replaced by revolution by ballot. The constitution represented a contract between the states, and such contracts cannot be unilaterally dissolved. No individual state was free to unilaterally dissolve the contract because they disliked the results of an election. They knew that Lincoln was anti-slavery, but he had also declared that he would uphold the slavery protection of the constitution until the constiution could be properly amended to end slavery. And since he hadn’t even taken office, the South had no just cause for rebellion.

    While southern propagandists tried to draw comparisons to the colonists, they knew that they had no just cause for rebellion. So instead, they promoted a theory of peaceful, unilateral secession. That theory was based in theories of government developed by John C. Calhoun, who believed that the Constitution and the theory of government of the founders was fundamentally flawed (not unlike Woodrow Wilson), and sought to replace it with his own. Calhoun rejected both the Lockean concept of Natural Rights and the Enlightenment’s optimism concerning human nature and human societies, both of which were key influences on the founders. Calhoun’s developed his theory of government in his “Disquistion on Government” (http://www.constitution.org/jcc/disq_gov.htm) in which he specifically argued against Hamilton, Jay, and Madison’s Federalist Papers. In the Disquisition , he challenges Federalist #1’s assumption that institutions can be a product of reflection and reason; #10’s theory of the compound republic; #22’s doctrine of the numerical majority; and #51’s separation of powers. According to Calhoun, man’s evil tendencies must be controlled by the state; there are no natural rights and liberty is a reward.

    It was Calhoun that introduced and popularized the idea that, contrary to the intention of the founders, the United States was not a nation, but a confederation of nations. In 1832, when under his influence, South Carolina attempted to nullify congressional laws, and President Jackson sent federal troops to quell the rebellion, there was little remonstration from the other states, or threats of secession. That is because his pernicious ideas had not yet spread widely enough. However, prompted by Calhoun’s nullification crisis, Joseph Smith prophesied that the latter-day wars would start with the rebellion of South Carolina (Section 87).

    It took nearly 30 years more, but Calhoun’s anti-founding theories gained a hold, and the South tried to use them to support their unilateral secession.

    Lincoln did want to abolish slavery, but he wanted to do it through constitutional amendment. But Lincoln did not go to war over slavery. He went to war to keep the union together and to defeat Calhoun’s false theory of government. The South, on the other hand, did not go to war for states rights. They rebelled because they did not want slavery abolished. (They even wrote slavery as a perpetual institution into their new constitution) Thier rebellion was unjustified (based solely upon Lincoln winning the election), and Lincoln acted correctly to supress their unconstitutional and unjustified rebellion (also suspending habeus corpus, as the constitution permits in the case of rebellion).

    Let’s not forget too, that a number of the southern states were established on lands purchased by the Federal Government, with national money, by the Jefferson Administration’s Lousinana Purchase. How could these states unilaterally withdraw from the union, and take lands with them that had been purchased by the union as a whole? They couldn’t. Not justifiably. Unilateral Secession was never a right of any of the states in the union, except for perhaps Texas.

    Don’t forget that Calhoun himself used his “states rights” doctrines to justify his and others in the federal government’s refusal to help the Saints.

    Remember that President Buchanan had no problem sending federal troops to depose the duly elected governor of the Utah Territory and replace him with a federal appointment, without any complaints about states rights from elsewhere, but he refused to put down the southern rebellion in his lame-duck season (and many blame him for the results).

    Now, if you believe in Secret Combinations, and I know you do, we know that they succeeded in a conspiring to murder Jospeph Smith. Joseph predicted that the rebellion would start in South Carolina, and this prophesy was specifically in relation to Calhoun’s manufactured test of his theories of government with the 1832 nullification crisis. So how is this for a conspiracy:

    The democrats could have easily won the 1860 election. They had much more support and the republicans were a new party, rising out of the ashes of the whigs. Lincoln could not win. But then the southern democrats split the party and ran their own candidate against both Lincoln and the main candidate of the democratic party. By splitting the party with their own candidate, they virtually guaranteed that Lincoln would win. Then, when Lincoln did win, they declared that they were withdrawing from the union, because he won, even before he took office. So, from a conspiracy point of view you could say that they purposefully manufactured a Lincoln win, and then used it as an excuse to withdraw from the union, when their real objective was to destroy the Constitution, and establish Calhoun’s pernicious ideas of government; ideas that, had they been able to get hold, could have threatened the Church.

    I recommend that you throw away DiLorenzo’s “The Real Lincoln” and read “A New Birth of Freedom” by Harry Jaffa (http://www.amazon.com/New-Birth-Freedom-Abraham-Lincoln/dp/0847699528).

    I know, Jaffa was a student of Leo Strauss (Oooh Nooo! :) ). But I have read a lot of his writing, and he is brilliant, and spot on on a number of issues, in my opinion.

    (Sorry for the essay… but you needed a dissenting voice on this one.)

  26. Connor
    December 30, 2008 at 9:20 pm #

    As Lincoln himself asserted in his first inaugural address, the Articles of Confederation created a “perpetual union” and then the Constitution replaced the Articles with “a more perfect union.” That union could not be more perfect and less perpetual.

    I’m not entirely convinced that perfection necessitates perpetuity. A perfect union cannot in my mind be a forced Union. Would the Celestial Kingdom by perfect by mandating admission of all of God’s children? Perfect unity only arises from mutual cooperation and trust. Lincoln’s assertion that the union was “mystic” was at odds with most Americans who tended to believe that the union was voluntary. You no doubt are aware that the words “perpetual union” do not exist in the Constitution; to infer that the “more perfect union” clause implicitly demands perpetuity is foolhardy. The “more perfect” description of the union was in reference to the many improvements the Constitution facilitated over the Articles of Confederation.

    Washington said, in his Farewell Address, “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government”—correctly noting the individual (and hence collective) sovereignty inherent in each citizen who wishes to determine his own future course and affiliation.

    The Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention specifically reserved the right to withdraw from the union at a later time if they so chose, with these words:

    We the delegates of the people of Virginia … Do, in the name and behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them at their will…

    New York and Rhode Island had nearly identical conditions for ratification.

    James Wilson of Pennsylvania, at his state’s constitutional ratification convention, and as the only member of that convention who had also been a delegate at the Constitutional Convention, defended the Constitution by comparing the new union it would create to the Lockean theory of natural rights:

    The states should resign to the national government that part, and that part only, of their political liberty, which, placed in that government, will produce more good to the whole than if it had remained in the several states.

    Wilson suggested, as did Locke and many others, that it is often beneficial to surrender a portion of one’s natural liberty to create an environment of mutual prosperity, protection, and happiness. Inherent in this argument is the right to rescind that delegated authority and withdraw from the union; liberty cannot exist when one permanently joins himself to another entity without the ability to leave at a later time. Wilson said:

    If [the people] choose to indulge a part of their sovereign power to be exercised by the state government, they may. If they have done it, the states were right in exercising it; but if they think it no longer safe or convenient they will resume it, or make a new distribution, more likely to be productive of that good which ought to be our constant aim.

    Alexander Hamilton, one of the most Federalist of all Founders, also detested the idea of coercion in union, speaking thusly on the matter:

    It has been observed, to coerce the states is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised. A failure of compliance will never be confined to a single state. This being the case, can we suppose it wise to hazard a civil war?

    Suppose Massachusetts, or any large state, should refuse, and Congress should attempt to compel them, would they not have influence to procure assistance, especially from those states which are in the same situation as themselves? What picture does this idea present to our view? A complying state at war with a non-complying state; Congress marching the troops of one state into the bosom of another; this state collecting auxiliaries, and forming, perhaps, a majority against the federal head.

    Here is a nation at war with itself. Can any reasonable man be well disposed towards a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself — a government that can exist only by the sword? Every such war must involve the innocent with the guilty. This single consideration should be sufficient to dispose every peaceable citizen against such a government. But can we believe that one state will ever suffer itself to be used as an instrument of coercion? The thing is a dream; it is impossible.

    Nowhere in the Constitution was the federal government given the authority to coerce the states into remaining in the union.

    The analogy between the colonial revolution and the confederate rebellion is completely false. As the colonists stated in the Declaration of Independence, governments should not be changed for “light and transient causes.” It was a “long train of abuses and usurpations” by the English government, enumerated by the colonists, that justified their rebellion to throw off the despots. But they had no illusions about it: it was rebellion; justified rebellion, but still rebellion.

    I agree that it was generally thought to be justified rebellion, and that governments should not be abandoned for small, petty issues. What I’m arguing here, though, is that people have the right to self-determine. If the South thought that the North and the imposed tariffs were serious issues to be concerned about, is that not their decision? If they decided that their grievances were sufficient to throw off the despots of the North, are they not entitled to find some other union (or none) that secures to them the happiness and prosperity they desire?

    Would it have been appropriate for the King to say “sorry colonists, your list of my long train of abuses is not long enough to not be labeled as ‘light and transient’, and therefore I’m going to force you to remain under my control”? Clearly not, though he may have felt that way. But I think that we inadequately lack the ability to tell other people what is and is not a justified reason for rebellion (though the Lord has something to say on the matter…).

    The South, on the other hand, had no just cause for rebellion. Seven of the southern states declared unilateral secession after Lincoln was elected, but _before he took office_. Lincoln hadn’t even been president yet, and so their rebellion could not be justified by anything he could have done. They seceded merely on the results of an election.

    The secession had little to do with Lincoln himself, and thus it doesn’t much matter when its timing was in relation to Lincoln’s ascension to office. The first state to secede, South Carolina, listed its reasons for secession starting with this paragraph:

    The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

    The South wasn’t seceding because of Lincoln’s election, but because they were ticked off with the federal government overstepping its bounds time and time again.

    If one spouse breaks their marriage contract through repeated infidelity, it is generally agreed that the other spouse is justified in seeking a divorce. Why do we not apply that same principle to contracts involving the federal government? If the Constitutional contract is broken, are the participants not entitled to find another union that will serve their purposes and fulfill their desires?

    So instead, they promoted a theory of peaceful, unilateral secession. That theory was based in theories of government developed by John C. Calhoun, who believed that the Constitution and the theory of government of the founders was fundamentally flawed (not unlike Woodrow Wilson), and sought to replace it with his own.

    Calhoun wrote:

    Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail.

    The Civil War answered with the latter result of each question. Arguing for a federal, constitutional government that respected individual rights and only operated within the authority it was specifically granted is not in contrast with the government envisioned and crated by the founders—indeed, it was the federal government itself (like today) that in many ways grew to contrast what the proper role of government should be.

    I won’t defend many of Calhoun’s errant positions that contradict the Lockean theory of natural rights or anything similar, since he was way off base in those fields. But he was spot on in many other areas that merit attention to his words.

    …Lincoln acted correctly to supress their unconstitutional and unjustified rebellion (also suspending habeus corpus, as the constitution permits in the case of rebellion).

    This despite the ruling by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney pointing out that the suspension of Habeas Corpus can only be done by the legislative branch.

    I recommend that you throw away DiLorenzo’s “The Real Lincoln” and read “A New Birth of Freedom” by Harry Jaffa.

    Better yet is the debate between the two men.

    (Sorry for the essay… but you needed a dissenting voice on this one.)

    I welcome all respectful dissenting voices… blogging is boring without them. :)

  27. Gary
    January 2, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    I tend to agree more with what Max wrote. While we are free to enter into any contract, once a commitment is made we are committed so to speak. I am not in favor of disposable unions–(either in marriages or in nations). A unilateral disolution of a contract does not speak well for the value of contracts.

    The War Between the States was fought according to some because of the slavery issue. Others claim that the war was really fought because of government intervention in the economy that favored the north and oppressed the south. I claim that it wasn’t one or the other of these issues but the combination of both. Both are contrary to the principles upon which the Constitution was framed. Both are mortal enemies of freedom! When it comes right down to it, a country is either going to practice freedom or it will resort to some form of oppression by each of its laws and allowed practices.

    Frederic Bastiat, a French philosopher, in his book The Law written in 1850 makes this observation:

    “Is there any need to offer proof that this odious perversion of the law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord; that it tends to destroy society itself? If such proof is needed, look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person’s liberty and property. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country in the world where the social order rests on a firmer foundation. But even in the United States, there are two issues–and only two—that have always endangered the public peace.”

    Bastiat goes on to explain that these issues are slavery and the protective tariff. In his words:

    “Slavery is a violation, by law of liberty. The protective tariff is a violation, by law, of property.”

    “It is a most remarkable fact that this double legal crime—a sorrowful inheritance from the Old World—should be the only issue which can, and perhaps will, lead to the ruin of the Union. ” [The Law pp 14-15]

    A decade later, the nation fought the worst war of self destruction in its history because we did not repair these two breaches in the paradigm of freedom. We had 2 wrongs being widely practiced, each claiming that all blame belongs on the other side. There are no winners in a war. One side only looses worse that the other. I think that the War Between the States was God’s way of letting
    this nation punish itself for both of these great evils.

    We have not yet properly addressed the protective tariff and other forms of socialism. I can only wonder what the outcome will be if we don’t make the appropriate changes.

  28. Jeff T.
    January 2, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Interesting discussion. One side comment: Let’s not compare marriage with union between states, as marriage is a covenant not a contract. The two are different things. Apples and oranges. The same rules do not apply.

  29. Carborendum
    January 3, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    Jeff, I believe your statement about covenant vs. contract is true today. I don’t know if it was always so.

    To illustrate my point, I’m going to use some definitions that may be arguable. But try to see it.

    A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that is enforceable by the government. A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties that is enforceable by God and/or Natural Law.

    I believe the Constitution was originally a covenant. Most of the founders were men of God. They were firm believers that what they were undertaking was being guided by God. Many hours of prayer preceded each session of the convention.

    In the end, they realized that what they put together was only adequate for a moral and religious people. But it was the best they could do, and they would trust in Divine Providence to show them the way.

    Of course it wasn’t a marriage. But in many ways, it fit the descriptions of what a covenant is supposed to be.

    At some point, we stopped looking to God to enforce the covenant and looked to guns. That was when it became a contract.

    (I’m still on the fence about the Civil War. I’m finding it difficult to refute the arguments I’ve read here. But I’m not 100% convinced either way yet.)

    One could argue that the whiskey rebellion was where we abandoned the covenant in favor of a contract. There are many other periods in our history where similar arguments could be made. But the idea that the civil war was the greatest example is difficult for me to refute.

    I see it as a sign of the times that whenever things went wrong in this country, people used to look to God for the freedom and security that we had lost. At some point (I place it around the 60s) we ceased looking to God and looked towards the government for the solution.

    When Pearl Harbor was hit, we looked to God. Roosevelt even prayed in public on behalf of the soldiers and the country as a whole. When 9-11 hit, Falwell said that our worshipping false idols has taken God’s hand of protection off of this country. He was derided and scorned.

    What happened in between?

    The Nephites went through the prosperity cycle until they finally ceased looking to God for the solutions to their problems. It was then that they were finally wiped off the face of the earth.

    How does that bode for us?

  30. J. Max Wilson
    January 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    Connor Said: “A perfect union cannot in my mind be a forced Union. Would the Celestial Kingdom by perfect by mandating admission of all of God’s children? Perfect unity only arises from mutual cooperation and trust.

    I think that you need to consider that “more perfect union” is a relative, not an absolute term. It is only more perfect than the previous union. No earthly government will ever be a perfect union. As Madison said in Federalist #51:

    “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

    The constitution was designed to be administered by men over men. It was never intended to attempt the kind of perfect union available only through God.

    Connor Said: “Washington said, in his Farewell Address, ‘The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government’—correctly noting the individual (and hence collective) sovereignty inherent in each citizen who wishes to determine his own future course and affiliation.

    You are misinterpreting Washington here. You are reading it through the lens of the false political doctrines that you have accepted. He correctly asserts that the people have the right to make and alter their government. But he is clearly referring to the mechanisms built into the constitution to alter the government: regular elections, checks and balances, and the ability to amend the constitution through an established and just mechanism. He statement in no way supports a supposed right to unilateral secession. In fact, the main theme of his farewell address contains some of the strongest anti-secessionist language to be found among the founders:

    “The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts…”

    Read the address as a whole, and not just the cherry-picked section you cite, and you will see that it decries the very doctrines you are espousing.

    Connor Said: “

    The Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention specifically reserved the right to withdraw from the union at a later time if they so chose, with these words:

    We the delegates of the people of Virginia … Do, in the name and behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them at their will…

    Again, you are reading through a lens that distorts the clear meaning of the text. Notice that they declare that the powers are derived “from the people _of the United States_” and can be resumed by them [the people of the United States] whenever those powers shall be perverted to oppress them and injure them. The people of the United States can collectively withdraw their powers from the country, but no individual state can unilaterally withdraw from the union.

    Connor Said: “Wilson suggested, as did Locke and many others, that it is often beneficial to surrender a portion of one’s natural liberty to create an environment of mutual prosperity, protection, and happiness. Inherent in this argument is the right to rescind that delegated authority and withdraw from the union; liberty cannot exist when one permanently joins himself to another entity without the ability to leave at a later time.

    The libertarian lens through which you read continues to distort the words. Wilson, Locke, et al, were only asserting the right of the people, as a collective, to rescind delegated authority. That is not the same things as advocating unilateral secession.

    The key word in Unilateral Secession is Unilateral. The Constitution is a contract of unification between the states. In order to be binding on the participating parties, the terms of the contract must be enforceable. No contract that permits one of the participating parties to withdraw unilaterally can be binding in any real degree. Even “at will” employment contracts can have binding non-complete clauses from which the party cannot withdraw unilaterally etc. Unless there is a specific clause permitting unilateral secession, then no such right can be assumed in the contract.

    Stand back and consider what you are proposing. You are saying that any state in the union was free to unilaterally withdraw and become its own country, for any reason. If they didn’t like the results of an election, they could withdraw. If a bill proposed by their representatives to congress were defeated by a majority from other states, they could withdraw and form their own little country. The only judge of the rightness of their grudge was themselves. Under such a system, republican majority rule would quickly become meaningless. Under such a system, the Constitution becomes virtually meaningless, having no real power to bind the several states to its terms.

    James Madison himself called secession a “baneful practice” that is “subversive of all the principles of order and regular government; a practice which leads more directly to public convulsions, and the ruin of popular governments, than any other which has yet been displayed among us.” (Federalist #58)

    In an 1830 letter to Edward Everett, just 2 years before Calhoun’s engineered Nullification Crisis, James Madison wrote:

    “Should the provisions of the Constitution as here reviewed, be found not to secure the government and rights of the states, against usurpations and abuses on the part of the United States, the final resort within the purview of the Constitution, lies in an amendment of the Constitution, according to a process applicable by the states.

    “And in the event of a failure of every constitutional resort, and an accumulation of usurpations and abuses, rendering passive obedience and non-resistance a greater evil than resistance and revolution, there can remain but one resort, the last of all; an appeal from the cancelled obligations of the constitutional compact to original rights and the law of self-preservation. This is the ultima ratio under all governments, whether consolidated, confederated, or a compound of both; and it cannot be doubted that a single member of the Union, in the extremity supposed, but in that only, would have a right, as an extra and ultra-constitutional right, to make the appeal.”

    In other words, if the abuses of government cannot be remedied through proper constitutional channels (amendment) then the only remaining course is revolution (justified rebellion), as the colonists had done in 1776. There was not recourse to secession.

    Jefferson is the only founder that you can find who seems to have legitimately supported secession, and you need to remember that Jefferson was not directly involved in forming the Constitution. He had been sent away as ambassador to France at the time (some believe purposefully). But even Jefferson’s strict constructionist views faltered when he as President authorized the Louisiana Purchase without any clear constitutional power to do so.

    Could southern states created out of the Louisiana Purchase legitimately secede? No.

    In a letter to George Washington Jefferson wrote:

    “I can scarcely contemplate a more incalculable evil than the breaking of the Union into two or more parts.”

    In his writings that do seem to support unilateral secession, as in the quote you provide, Jefferson is clear that the reason why he believed it might be peacefully endured is that reasonable people would soon realize what a disastrous and foolish move it was, and submitting to reason, humble themselves and return to the union. He could not imagine that any rational group of people would long stay separated from the United States.

    But the southern desire to protect slavery was not rational. It was contrary to the very basis of their rights.

    If the reason why the South seceded was not Lincoln’s election and his position on slavery, then why did they then immediately write Slavery into their Confederate Constitution?

    The fact is that the “frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States” cited in South Carolina’s secession is referring specifically to slavery. They were referring to the fact that at times, the federal government had refused to enforce fugitive slave laws that were protected by the Constitution. They were not leaving because of too much national interference, they were leaving because the government had not enforced slavery enough, as the constitution demanded. They wanted the anti-constitutional Abolitionist punished. And they feared that with Lincoln as President, the constitution might actually get amended to forbid slavery.

    Connor said: If one spouse breaks their marriage contract through repeated infidelity, it is generally agreed that the other spouse is justified in seeking a divorce. Why do we not apply that same principle to contracts involving the federal government? If the Constitutional contract is broken, are the participants not entitled to find another union that will serve their purposes and fulfill their desires?

    But even a cuckold spouse must turn to a magistrate to justify his divorce. He cannot unilaterally divorce on self-judged claims of infidelity. He must appeal to a judge. Likewise, a state cannot withdraw unilaterally from the Constitutional Compact, but must take its case to the people either in congressional representation or directly, to judge the rightness of their cause.

    Secession is the no-fault divorce of constitutional government and would have had similar consequences for our nation.

    If the people of the union as a whole allow a state to secede, then so be it. But unilaterally it cannot be.

    Federalist Papers #8, #9, and #10 pretty clearly show that the founders did not believe in unilateral secession.

    If the south had been permitted to secede, then it would not have been long before they would have experienced their own secessions, and additional states would have seceded from the North over other issues. Every time there was a disagreement, the party who lost at the ballot box would threaten secession. Every time a new, smaller country was formed, the chances that it would continue republican principles would lessen. Eventually the U.S. would have become like Europe, with many tiny countries constantly at war with one another. And under such circumstances, freedom is always exchanged for security, as the Federalist warned. Allowing unilateral secession would have lead to the Balkanization of America and a loss of freedom more swift and severe than the Civil War ever caused.

    This was warned against in the Federalist papers listed above.

    The only right of secession is the kind practiced by Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers. The right to secede by leaving the U.S. to go to another country, or to try to form their own.

    A contract, once entered into, is binding, and there is no right to a self determination that allows for the unilateral breaking of contracts without consequence.

  31. Gary
    January 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    Max,
    Well said.
    The Constitutional Convention took place because the Confederation was not working and a stronger central government was needed. The anti-federalist fears of a totally consolidated government were genuine and in my opinion totally valid. The way I understand the federalists (defined in this context as those in favor of the Constitution), they were always reassuring the anti-federalists that they really weren’t trying to totally nationalize all government functions but to have a division of responsibility. The national government was to be powerful in things concerning the nation but the states were to have the power in things concerning the people.

    James Madison, the Father of our Constitution, clarified the authority of the federal government in the Federalist Papers #45:

    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

    I see it as an attempt to move the pendelum of government from one extreme (confederation) not to the other extreme(consolidation) but to the center. When it comes to the discussion of secession it seems that the proponents are reverting back to the confederation extreme and calling it the norm and trying to say it was the intent of the Constitution.

    Having said that, I must admit that there was too much national government involvement in the lives of people, which is the consolidation issue. The best solution would have been to return to the principles of the Constitution, but even by that time the people had strayed to where they probably couldn’t see it.

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