About revisedhistory

I do historical research to find material that "historians" frequently leave out of our history books. I am the co-author, along with Walter Kennedy, of the book "Lincoln's Marxists." Although born and raised in the North, I have always loved the South and the West. My family and I currently live in Louisiana, where we have been for almost a decade now and we love it.

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights?

by Al Benson Jr.

A lot of years ago now, when I first became involved in conservative and patriotic endeavors, I can recall many patriotic folks saying that we needed to get our government “back to the Constitution.” While I believe that would be a step in the right direction, away from the rogue government we have now with its Marxist proclivities, I am not sure that, in the long run, this would solve all our problems. Although for a little over a decade I believed that myself, so I am not faulting in any way those that believe it. However, over the years, events have changed my thinking.

For many years, when I first got involved in all the events that have shaped the direction I have gone in, I had a good friend, and sometimes mentor, Pastor Ennio Cugini, of the Clayville Church in North Scituate, Rhode Island, half a country and a whole culture away from where I am now. Pastor Cugini had a radio broadcast in Rhode Island called “The Victory Hour” which he used effectively and vigorously to expose the machinations of Communists, socialists, and various New World Order types, both in government and in the churches (yes, they were and are in the churches). He was also an avid reader of history. You have to be in order to deal effectively with what has gone on in this country for over two centuries. This is where so many Evangelicals fall by the wayside. Their grasp of our history is like the Platte River in our West, a mile wide and an inch deep.

I recall talking with Pastor Cugini on the phone one time, way back in 1980. My family and I were living in Indiana at the time. Pastor Cugini was telling me about a book he had just read, Patrick Henry–Patriot and Statesman by Norine Dickson Campbell, published all the way back in 1969. It was basically a biography of Patrick Henry, but towards the end of the book, actually starting on page 322, she delved into Mr. Henry’s views on the U.S. Constitution and why he was such an ardent foe of the ratification of that document in Virginia. Just that fact alone startled me, because none of the history books I could recall reading ever went into any of that. Nowadays, I am not surprised, but then I was. I had yet to grasp the truth the the “winners write the history books.” In fact, the “history” books never mentioned much at all about Patrick Henry. About all you ever got from them was a brief commentary about his “liberty or death” speech and then they pretty much dropped him out of the historical narrative (if you can call it that).

After hunting around I managed to find a copy of Miss Campbell’s book. It was the last copy the bookstore had, and over the years I have only seen one other copy. If it hasn’t been reprinted it should be. After reading her book I can understand why it didn’t get lots of coverage. In a nut shell, even in 1787, Patrick Henry was politically incorrect! And many of the Federalist mentality (it’s still out there) have never forgiven him.

Pastor Cugini told me something in that phone conversation I have never forgotten. He said that, while political conservatives wish we could simply get back to following the Constitution, he had concluded, from Henry’s comments included in the book, that “the Constitution is the problem.” Miss Campbell’s book gave a lot of Henry’s reasons for his opposition to it, as he put them forth in Virginia during his opposition to ratification.

Henry was downright prescient in his predictions of what would happen to this country if the Constitution was ratified. One of his most prophetic statements was that the Union that was cobbled together by the Constitution would not last 100 years. He was right on–it didn’t It didn’t last ninety years.

Henry had a problem with the wording of the Preamble, where it said “We the People” which he felt should have read “We the States” because it was the states that eventually ratified the document. He also noted, correctly, that the delegates from the various states that assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 did not have instructions from their states to form a new government–all they had been delegated to do was to amend the Articles of Confederation–and so they far overstepped their instructions in what they ended up doing. Miss Campbell’s book on Patrick Henry is excellent. If you can find a used copy in a book store or on Amazon.com grab it before someone beats you to it.

A more recently published biography of Patrick Henry has been written by David J. Vaughan and is entitled Give Me Liberty. Mr. Vaughan echoed much of what Miss Campbell had earlier stated. He wrote: “Although the federal Convention that met in Philadelphia in May of 1787 was authorized only to revise the existing Articles of Confederation, the delegates devised an entirely new constitution that was subsequently sent to the states for ratification. Those that favored the new Constitution were named ‘Federalists’ while their opponents were called ‘Anti-Federalists.’ These labels were apt to be misleading, however. In fact it would be more accurate to name the pro-Constitution faction as ‘nationalists’ and the opposing group as the true ‘Federalists.’ For it was Henry and those of similar sentiments who espoused the true sentiments of federalism–a federation of independent and sovereign states…”

Vaughan also noted that the pro-Constitution group, led by James Madison, felt a stronger national government was needed. He said: “The national government, they believed, needed the power to tax and to regulate commerce…The way to give energy to the national government was to give it power, but this required a change in its form. The Anti-Federalists, (or Federal Republicans as they often called themselves) were led by Henry of course. In general the Republicans were united on the principle of confederation…In effect, Henry charged the Constitutional Convention with illegal proceedings. And he was right.”

Compact or Collectivism

By Al Benson Jr.

Underneath all the national anger in the country over Comrade Obama’s supposed ineptitude (I think much of it is by design rather than ineptness) there also simmers a strong disagreement over just how we should interpret the Constitution. Now I have to admit up front that I have some problems with the Constitution. I find myself much more in line with the thinking of Patrick Henry that I do with that of Alexander Hamilton. In fact, a couple years ago I did a whole series of articles on the Constitution for a blog spot that pulled the plug awhile back. Even though the original blog spot that carried them has gone by the wayside, other sites picked them up and they are still out there. You can find them on http://www.dixienet.org and http://www.spofga.org and I even found one on sonsoflibertyandamericanrevolution.blogspot.com Some of these will probably shock some folks because you never read anything like this before, but if you can, plow through them a little at a time anyway.

In my “huntin’ and peckin’” for some of this material I came across a brief article posted by the Ludwig von Mises Institute simply entitled United States Constitution. It stated that: “By the early 19th century, two schools of thought regarding interpretation of the Constitution had developed, commonly referred to as the ‘Nationalist’ theory and the ‘Compact’ theory. The Nationalist theory argues that the Constitution formed a sovereign nation, under which the states are subordinate in power to the federal government. Thus, the powers of secession and nullification, according to the theory, are unconstitutional. Prominent advocates of the Nationalist theory include Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, Daniel Webster, and Abraham Lincoln.”

The article then went on to define the other theory, the Compact theory, by saying that: “The Compact theory argues that the Constitution was a compact, that is, the voluntary agreement of thirteen sovereign states to create a general government to take on specific roles. According to the theory, the compact was voluntary and the states retain their sovereignty, so any state has the right, under the Constitution, to secede from the Union. Some proponents of the Compact theory also argued that nullification, that is, a state’s refusal to obey a law of the general government, was also constitutional. Prominent advocates of the Compact theory include Thomas Jefferson, Abel P. Upshur, and Jefferson Davis.” That briefly sums up the two positions and as long as we live under this Constitution (which the federal government almost totally ignores except at swearing in ceremonies) my natural choice would be the latter rather than the former.

I have been told that most of the founding fathers were of the Nationalist persuasion, Hamilton, Madison, Washington, and this may be somewhat accurate. If so, then there is all the more reason for the articles I wrote that are previously mentioned regarding the Constitution. However, that is not where Thomas Jefferson was coming from. In an article on the Tenth Amendment Center website, writer Gennady Stolyarov II wrote of Jefferson that: “Jefferson portrayed the Union as voluntarily entered into by the states; the states were ‘not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government’ (KR 153).”

He continued: “The Union was created by the ratification of the Constitution, which served as a ‘compact’ by which the states ‘delegated…certain definite powers’ to the general government (KR 154). The government’s exercise of powers not expressly granted to it by the Constitution was thus illegitimate . For Jefferson, the Constitution both defined and limited the Union’s nature and essence.”

And Jefferson gave a warning which has almost been totally ignored when he warned that the federal government should never be “the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself (KR 154), since that would allow the government to define the scope of its powers…”

The Future of Freedom Foundation has a website that carries different articles relating to freedom. In one that was posted on December 20, 2011, author Tom Woods Jr. reviewed a book written by Luigi Marco Bassani called Liberty, State, & Union: The Political Theory of Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Woods observed that: “To assess Jefferson’s endorsement of the Constitution we need to bear in mind the very limited consequences that its ratification entailed in his view. In an era in which ‘Tenther’ (i.e., a supporter of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution ) has, absurdly enough, become a term of derision, Jefferson’s approach to the Union is a splash of cold water: The true theory of our constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, & united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization, & a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants…

Woods then observed that Bassani turned to the discussion of states rights. He says: (“States’ rights,” a phrase Jefferson himself used, is of course a shorthand term; Jefferson understood as well as anyone that states do not have rights in the sense that individuals do.) Jefferson was a principal architect of the compact theory of the Union, which conceives the states as a collection of self-governing, sovereign communities (the states)). (More precisely, it is the peoples of the states who are sovereign; no governmet is sovereign in the American system.) These communities, according to the compact theory, have not forfeited their sovereignty by delegating a portion of their sovereign powers to a central government that is to act as their agent…That it is the peoples of the states (often referred to in shorthand merely as ‘the states’), rather than the American people in the aggregate, who are sovereign is evident from history…The British acknowledged the independence of those states by naming them individually. Article II of the Articles of Confederation declared, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence”; the states must have had that sovereignty to begin with in order to retain it in 1781,when the Articles took effect. And when the Constitution was to be ratified, it was ratified by each state separately, not in a single national vote. This simple historical overview establishes a very strong prima facie case that the states remained sovereign and were never collapsed into a single whole…What that meant for Jefferson and many of the thinkers who followed in his footsteps was that in the last resort the states, the constituent parts (and creators) of the Union, had to have the power of nullification, the refusal to allow the enforcement of unconstitutional federal laws within their borders.” The states do, indeed, need some kind of protection by which they can prevent the abuse of federal power from destroying the very system they themselves created.

Bassani noted that “…the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 which vindicate the compact theory—and which countless historians have tried to run away from—contain ‘the whole of Jefferson’s theory of the federal union.” He stated also that Jefferson’s draft contained the term “nullification” which was later taken out by chicken-hearted legislators, but in Jefferson’s thinking it was an integral part of the whole.

So all of the statesmen of that period did not buy into the “perpetual Union” theory. The “perpetual Union” folks are free to believe in that. It’s probably what their history professors taught them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the gospel.

Part 2–More About Secession the “History” Books Haven’t Told Us

by Al Benson Jr.

It has been accurately asserted by author Gene H. Kizer Jr. that: “The arguments for the right of secession are unequivocal. There is the constitutional right based on the Compact Theory, and the revolutionary right based on the idea that a free people have a right to change their government anytime they see fit. The Compact Theory views the Constitution as a legal agreement between the states–a compact–and if any one state violates the compact, then the entire agreement becomes null and void. Northern states unquestionably violated the Constitution on a number of grounds including Personal Liberty Laws on their books, as well as by deliberately harboring fugitives from justice by protecting the sons of John Brown who were wanted by Virginia for murder at Harpers Ferry. Northern states also made a mockery of the Constitution’s Preamble which states clearly that the Constitution was established to ‘insure domestic tranquility’ and ‘promote the general Welfare.’ Certain prominent Northern leaders with the acquiescence of states like Massachusetts were utterly at war with the South and doing everything they could to destroy the domestic tranquility of the Southern states by encouraging slaves to murder white people, poison wells, destroy property and commit other acts of rapine. John Brown himself had been encouraged and financed by the North.”

I have, in the past, written about a group called The Secret Six, which financed Brown’s terrorist activities in both Kansas and Virginia. Of this group all, save one, was from New England and that one was from New York. An excellent book to read regarding this dismal period in our history is Otto Scott’s The Secret Six–The Fool as Martyr which is a biography of John Brown, and therefore deals with those that financed him in some detail. Another good work in this area worth reading, if you can find it is The Road to Harpers Ferry by J. C. Furnas. A couple years ago in my little newsletter The Copperhead Chronicle I did a series of biographical sketches on the Secret Six. Quite an interesting little group. One of them, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Unitarian minister made the statement “I am always ready to invest money in treason…” I mention all this to demonstrate that the North had indeed broken the Constitutional Compact.

Walter Williams, a distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University has written on the secession question on a number of occasions. In his understanding secession is indeed legal. He noted at one point that before the War Between the States a constitutional amendment was proposed by some Northern congressman that would prohibit secession. He then points out that there would have been no point in offering such an amendment if secession had already been unconstitutional. You do have to admit that he has a point.

A few years ago the late Joe Sobran, (whom I assume that most people who read have heard of), wrote an article that appeared on http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org in which he noted that: “Our ultimate defense against the federal government is the right of secession. Yes, most people assume that the Civil War settled that. But superior force proves nothing. If there was a right of secession before that war, it should be just as valid now. It wasn’t negated become Northern munitions factories were more efficient than Southern ones.” And Sobran further observed, and I have to agree with him, that: “The original 13 states formed a ‘Confederation’ under which each state retained its ‘sovereignty, freedom and independence’.” The Constitution didn’t change this; each sovereign state was free to reject the Constitution. The new powers of the federal government were ‘granted’ and ‘delegated’ by the states, which implies that the states were prior and superior to the federal government. Even in The Federalist, the brilliant propaganda papers for ratification of the Constitution…the United States are constantly referred to as ‘the Confederacy’ and a ‘confederate republic,’ as opposed to a single ‘consolidated’ or monolithic state. Members of ‘a confederacy’ are by definition free to withdraw from it.”

Sobran noted that while Hamilton and Madison sincerely hoped secession would never happen, they didn’t deny that it was a possibility, and even if Madison didn’t like or agree with it, that doesn’t make it illegal.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816: “If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation…to continuance in union…I have no hesitation in saying, ‘let us separate’.” Donald W. Livingston, a professor of philosophy at Emory University, and president of the Abbeville Institute, wrote in an article published in Chronicles magazine in October, 2010, that: “A state cannot retain sovereignty unless it has it, and in joining the Union no state renounced sovereignty. What motivates the nationalist theory is not an honest look at the historical founding of America, but political ambition legitimated by the philosophical theory of the modern unitary state. This ambition appears forcefully in Hamilton, who argued at the Philadelphia Convention for a president for life, a senate with members for life, appointed by the president, and state governors appointed by the president–in other words, monarchy by another name.” You have to wonder if any of those “you can’t get out of the Union no matter what” folks have something of this sort in mind. Those that seek to deny people their rights usually do have an agenda.

More About Secession the “History” Books Haven’t Told Us

by Al Benson Jr.

There are some that continue to claim the Southern states had no right to secede just before the War of Northern Aggression. And it seems that as more truth continues to surface about the right of secession the more loud and strident their denials become.

I recently read an article on the Internet by Gene H. Kizer Jr., author of the book Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States. Mr. Kizer noted some interesting facts. He wrote about the Hartford Convention that I have written about previously. He observed: “The States’ Rights Hartford Convention of New England, aggrieved by the financial losses of New Englanders in shipping during the War of 1812, met in 1815 and seriously discussed seceding from the Union. The Convention selected representatives to go to Washington to present its grievances to the government. It even chose a military leader should its grievances be ignored, and made arrangements for a second convention, if necessary, to make specific plans to secede. Commissioners were sent to Washington but upon arriving found that the War of 1812 had ended, therefore it was not necessary to air their grievances. The Journal of the Hartford Convention bristles with references to state sovereignty, and uses States’ Rights language such as the right of a state to decide for itself when a violation of the Constitution occurred.” As little as our “history” books deal with all of this, you’ve got to admit these folks were serious.

Mr. Kizer also mentioned an article written by Mr. H. Newcomb Morse, which appeared in the Stetson Law Review. Mr. Morse’s article was entitled The Foundations and Meaning of Secession. Mr. Morse wrote that the War of Northern Aggression didn’t prove that secession was illegal, and the reason was that: “…many instances both preceding and following the War support the proposition that the Southern states did have the right to secede from the Union. Instances of nullification prior to the War Between the States, contingencies under which certain states acceded to the Union, and the fact that the Southern states were made to surrender the right to secession all affirm the existence of a right to secede.” You have to ask yourself the question–if there had been no right to secession then how could they surrender it?

And Kizer noted that: “Morse argues that because the Constitution did not forbid secession, then every state acceding to the Constitution had the implied right to secede from it. He says that if men of the caliber of Madison, Hamilton, Wilson and the others meant to forbid secession they definitely would have said so, and the omission of a prohibition on secession in the Constitution is strong proof that the right of secession existed and was presumed.”

And, again, you have to ask yourself, how, only 13 years after the end of the War for Independence, would the founders again lock themselves into a political situation identical to the one they had just fought a war with Great Britain to extricate themselves from? If you think about that, it doesn’t make much sense.

Then there is something I have written about in the past–the reason the North did not put Jefferson Davis on trial after his two years of unnecessary imprisonment. They wanted to try him for treason, but the best legal minds in the North realized, after looking at the evidence, that secession was not treason and that David would probably be found not guilty and they’d all end up with political egg on their faces and so they backed off.

Albert Taylor Bledsoe wrote a ground-breaking book called Is Davis A Traitor? In that, he dealt with the Constitution as a compact which he said the states had acceded to, or agree to. Bledsoe made this point to show that if the states acceded to the terms of a compact, they could secede from that compact if the terms of it were broken by one of the other members. That word “accede” is one lots of folks of the “perpetual Union” theory really dislike. Basically the word accede means to agree with, not to surrender to. Bledsoe stated that at one point, Daniel Webster had said that “the states acceded to the Constitution was’unconstitutional language’.” And Bledsoe said that was Webster’s position because if states had acceded to the Constitution then it was only logical they could secede from it. So he noted that discrediting the one word “accede” became very important to Webster. However, the word “accede” was not unconstitutional language.

Mr. Kizer, in his article, stated that: “Webster had attacked the word ‘accede’ as something invented by proponents of the Constitution as compact. His intention was to discredit his opponents by discrediting the language they were using, but his plan backfired. Bledsoe points out that Webster’s attack on the word ‘accede’ by calling it a ‘new word’ was ill-founded and incorrect because’accede’ had precisely been ‘the word of the fathers of the Constitution’ with Washington ‘at their head.’ They had all used the word ‘accede’ in reference to states joining the Constitution, and of course, the converse of the word ‘accede’ is secede’.” I can remember when I did the research for my booklet The Theological and Political Implications of the Doctrine of Secession several years ago I came across several quotes by Washington where he mentioned this or that state acceding to the Constitution.

To be continued as the Lord allows.

Perpetual Union–If you can bamboozle enough people–Part Two

by Al Benson Jr.

So Chase followed in the same vein that Lincoln had–the Union existed before the states and it was indestructible and irrevocable. And once you were in, you were still in, even if you seceded–in fact you really didn’t secede, you only thought you did. Of course, then, to get back into this “Union” you had never really been out of, you had to ratify certain amendments. At this point, the logic (and I use that term loosely) of the Yankee/Marxist absolutely defies description.

You have to wonder where these people got their notion of an “indestructible” Union. Did it have anything to do with what they were smoking? When the group assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 gave us the Constitution (when it was really beyond their instructions to do so) what they did, in effect, was to secede from the Articles of Confederation and give us a whole new government–one that did not use the words “perpetual union” and one that did not forbid secession, even though I have been informed that it really did.

When the New England states sent delegates to Hartford, Connecticut in 1814 to consider the secession of the New England states no one said anything. Admittedly, they ended up not seceding because the War of 1812 which had New England merchants so stirred up ended. However, they were strongly considering it, as they did two other times. In those days you didn’t take trips like that just to engage in political chit-chat. Yet no one complained. No one told the New Englanders that their secession was illegal or that the supremacy clause in the Constitution forbid them from ever seceding at any time unless all the other states were willing to let them go. The right of a state to secede was accepted. Remember the secession language in the New York and Virginia ratification ordinances? But some inform us that this was all meaningless, that once you were in you could never get out unless all the states were willing to let you go. You almost wonder if there was a slight double standard in operation here–it would have been okay if the New England states did it but not if the Southern states did it.

Contrary to Chase’s “indestructible Union” theory, Professor Donald W. Livingston has written in Secession, State & Liberty that “There was a time, however, when talk about secession was a part of American politics. Indeed, the very concept of secession and self-determination of peoples, in the form being discussed today, is largely an American invention. It is no exaggeration to say that the unique contribution of the eighteenth-century American Enlightenment is not federalism but the principle that a people, under certain conditions, have a moral right to secede from an established political authority and to govern themselves.” Livingston further wrote that: “The Constitution of the United States was founded as a federative compact between the states, marking out the authority of a central government, having enumerated powers delegated to it by sovereign states which reserved for themselves the vast domain of unenumerated powers. By an act of philosophical alchemy, the Lincoln tradition has transmuted this essentially federative document into a consolidated nationalist regime…In this version, the reserved powers of the states vanish, and the states themselves are transformed into resources for and administrative units of a nationalist political project…” That is exactly where we find ourselves today, thanks to the views of men like Lincoln and Chase, who, in a political sense, “Changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…” (Romans 1).

The Southern states, and some Northern ones, always considered the Constitution to be a compact between sovereign states. Had it been understood by them as anything but that, it is highly doubtful that many of these states, a mere thirteen years after the end of our War for Independence, would have entangled themselves in the clutches of an indissoluble union from which they could never withdraw. The Declaration of Independence was, after all, a secession document.

The Kennedy Brothers, in their groundbreaking work The South Was Right stated, on page 162: “In her act of ratification, Virginia drew a protective shield around the sovereign community and declared that sovereignty is derived from the people…The states did not intend to establish a supreme judge to rule over them. Before entering into the proposed constitutional contract, the state of Virginia (along with several other states, both north and south) declared the legal right of the sovereign community (the people of the state) to recall any delegated power if it is used in an act of oppression or injury against the people. The fact that the other states accepted the Virginia Act of Ratification without question is reason enough to maintain the assertion that they were in agreement with Virginia.”

If the Constitution is looked to as a document that forms an “indestructible” Union, then the states that ratified it have been lied to–sold a bill of goods, bought a political “gold brick’ as it were–a brick made not of gold, but of iron–that iron to forge the chains of those states that may finally realize they have been lied to and so they want out!

Secession was not illegal, was not rebellion as the Northern politicians claimed, and, as author James Street said: “The South got a raw deal.” And the Lincoln/Chase concept of “perpetual Union” is what is taught in the government schools in this country–to make sure no one ever again concludes that secession might be the answer to the problems of an ever-expanding socialist regime in Washington.

“Perpetual Union”–If you can bamboozle enough people into believing it

by Al Benson Jr.

In his rather convoluted thinking, Abraham Lincoln stated that: The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774.” Some historians have noted that this association of the colonies before the Articles of Confederation was adopted, was a body that could only suggest certain courses of action, none of which had the force of law–a deliberative body–nothing more. Such facts made no difference whatever to Abraham Lincoln. They didn’t fit his agenda and so he ignored them. As far as he was concerned, it was all “the Union” even though his ethereal version of it existed in his mind before the documents that founded the Union existed. Walter Kennedy and I noted in Lincoln’s Marxists on page 109 and following, which is chapter 5 entitled Lincoln’s Mystical View of the Union that this was Lincoln’s mindset.

Sad to say, this seems to be a rather strong tack in the Yankee/Marxist mindset in general. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Salmon P. Chase also seemed to lean strongly in this direction with his view of the Union.

John Niven, in his book Salmon P. Chase–a biography also noted: Had the Confederate States by their secession from the Union given up their former identity as Sumner, Stevens and other radical politicians argued? If they had, then it would logically follow that secession was a lawful act and the Union had existed only at the sufferance of the states, an argument Lincoln dismissed as an abstraction…

It has been argued that “The South never really understood the Union.” That may be true–at least they never understood it in the sense that the Yankee did. Had they truly done so, I would submit that the Southern states never should have ratified the Constitution to begin with. Christian statesman Patrick Henry warned his fellow Virginians with common sense arguments and logic of the dangers of Virginia’s ratification of the Constitution. Virginians did not heed his words. They should have. And yet, maybe some of the mud stuck against the wall, for in Virginia’s ratification ordinances it was stated: We the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected…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, whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression. New York’s ratification statement pretty much says the same thing. And their ratification ordinances were accepted with this language included in them.

In other words, some states ratified the Constitution with the proviso that, should things not work out in this new union, they had the right to leave. That was the Southern understanding of this new Constitution, and it would seem that some Northern folks had the same understanding. I agree with them. Yet, suffice it to say, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, after the War of Northern Aggression (or could we call it the War of Marxist Revolution?) took a view totally opposed to that truth, as had Lincoln. Should anyone really be surprised? After all, the winners always get to redefine the “history.”

Chase noted, in 1869, that the Constitution in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States. He felt that once a state or territory got into the Union, that was it. It was there for eternity unless its status was determined by a revolution, or “consent of the states.” Chase noted the language in the Articles of Confederation about a “perpetual Union.” That term, “perpetual” did not appear in the new Constitution, but rather the new document referred to a “more perfect Union.” Chase apparently took that to mean “more perpetually perfect.” If Chase was aware or either Virginia’s nor New York’s ratification terminology he kept silent about it. After all, those ratification ordinances contradicted his “indestructible Union” tomfoolery.

And Chase was, apparently, more than ready to accept more broad, sweeping powers for the federal government. In 1866 he observed: That the war had changed the government and the powers of government were essentially different from what they were before the war. Now there was an understatement if ever I saw one, and yet a revelation as well. He’s telling you, right flat out, that the war gave the federal government more and expanded powers–probably not constitutional ones–but not to worry, Chase’s Supreme Court would remedy that little problem.

To be continued.

Secession–Not Just Southern and Not Just Secular–Part Two

by Al Benson Jr.

Just before, and during, the War of Northern Aggression, the sentiment in favor of secession came from other areas of the country and not just from below Mason-Dixon.

In Douglas County, Illinois a meeting was held which announced that: “We regard the Emancipation Proclamation…as the entering wedge which will ultimately divide the middle and northwestern states from our mischiefmaking, puritanical, fanatical New England brethren…” Culturally, this has happened, even though Lincoln’s “mystical Union” has been held together with bayonets.

In Brown County, Indiana, a gathering was convened that put forth this sentiment: “…Our interests and inclinations will demand of us a withdrawal from political association in a common government with the New England states, who have contributed so much to every innovation upon the Constitution to our present calamity of civil war, and whose tariff legislation must ever prove oppressive to our agricultural and commercial pursuits.” Mind you, such secession sentiments are coming forth from Indiana and Illinois.

Other sources have cited secession sentiment in even the Middle Atlantic states–New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Author William C. Wright has written that: “The secession movement was prominent in the five Middle Atlantic states. Within these five states were three types of secessionists; first, those who wanted to join the Confederacy; second, those who wished to form a central confederacy, that is, to join with the other border states and divide the United States into three separate nations; third, those who preferred to let the South go in peace rather than to use force to save the Union.”

Wright noted that Pennsylvania was the most pro-Union of these states, while New Jersey had strong economic and social ties with the South. New York was divided between the up-state region which supported the Union and the Hudson Valley and New York City areas that had ties to the South. New York City Mayor Fernando Wood had even made the proposition that New York City be made into a “free city.” Wright has duly noted that: “Together, the advocates of secession weakened the Lincoln administration’s ability to react to the Confederacy. At the same time, they offered the South hope of Northern support if war broke out.” In view of this, one might be led to wonder if this situation was the real reason for Lincoln’s actions in regard to Fort Sumter. I might also question why almost none of this type of material is ever presented in our “history” books, if such they can seriously be called. But that would be little more than a rhetorical exercise because I already know why.

The majority of people today, North and South, largely due to the abolitionist propaganda presented in our “history” books (whoever said history books had to teach real history?) and the rampant apostasy in the country as a whole, have viewed secession and the War of Northern Aggression in a strictly secular light. Many who have studied history will readily admit to the political and economic causes of the War, though some continue to persist it was all about slavery. However, most will not touch the theological reasons for secession.

However, there were many in the South that viewed secession in the same light that they viewed the biblical separation spoken of in Second Corinthians 6:14-18. They looked at an increasingly apostate and “progressive” North, while, in the main, most Southerners clung to orthodox Christianity. Informed Southerners watched much of the Northern clergy, no doubt influenced by the taint of Unitarianism, seek to deify man and to exalt the goodness of his human nature and his “free will.” It was the same sort of thing they did with abolitionist/terrorist John Brown in 1859 where Northern Unitarians claimed that Brown’s gallows was equal to Christ’s cross.

The late Professor M. E. Bradford, writing in the Southern Partisan magazine for the fourth quarter of 1991, noted that: “…Professor Bell Wiley observes, the Southern churches had always warned their communicants against ‘extreme confidence in human endeavor.’ The ordinary Southerner of 1860 did not approach the world as did those who had voted for Mr. Lincoln. They were…’as dubious of human ability in social and political matters as in the matter of salvation.’ The belief of the sovereignty of God and dependence of man was the whole of their thinking.”

In regard to Southern clergymen, Professor Bradford wrote: “Because most Southern clergymen were, during the years of sectional conflict within their denominations, convinced that apostasy and infidelity had become the dominant religions of the North.” You know something? They were right! Bradford observed that: “As the War approached, these (Southern) clergymen more and more tended to view the sectional controversy as a dispute between those who acknowledged the authority of the Scripture and those who set their own moral sense above it–in other words, between Christians and infidels.”

Thus we have another, seldom acknowledged, yet perhaps the most important dimension to the secession question–the spiritual and theological dimension. The majority probably have no interest in dealing with this aspect of the question. The “history” they’ve been taught tells them not to, but the spiritual dimension was and is here and needs to be dealt with. As someone with a Christian worldview, I believe all truth is educational and all things, ultimately, reflect someone’s theology. Everything eventually comes down to this–choose who you will serve, the Trinitarian God of the Scriptures or the World System. It has to be one or the other. Many Southern secessionists held to this view. For them, although political issues were prominent as were economic ones, their ultimate view of secession was a theological view. They viewed the doctrine of biblical separation and secession as one. In our apostate day, such a conclusion merits our serious consideration.


A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States
by Alexander H. Stephens (volume one)
Krause Reprint Company, New York, 1970

Democracy in America
by Alexis de Tocqueville (volume one)
Vintage Books, New York, July, 1990

The Hidden Civil War
by Wood Gray
Viking Press, New York, 1942

The Secession Movement in the Middle Atlantic States
by William C. Wright
Associated University Presses, Inc. Cranberry, New Jersey, copyright 1973

A Theological and Political View of the Doctrine of Secession
by Al Benson Jr.
The Copperhead Chronicle, Sterlington, Louisiana, copyright 1995, reprinted 2009
(booklet 30 pages)