Centralism Trumps “Checks and Balances”

by Al Benson

Well, we’ve just had an election and it looks to most people like the good guys won for a change. However, voters need to be discerning enough to realize that not all those who appear to be good guys (Republicans) really are. Some of them are no better than the Democratic socialists, the only difference being the party label. Remember that the first two Republican candidates for president in this country, John C. Fremont and Abraham Lincoln, were both socialists in their worldviews even if they may not have officially belonged to any socialist ” Party.” You can check out the backgrounds of both of these individuals in the book Lincoln’s Marxists.

Now that we have a Republican majority in both houses Comrade Obama has stated that he will just take “executive action” in regard to making illegal immigrants part of the national culture. Will the checks and balances that are supposed to operate with our current Constitution be enough to stop him. Will Congress do what it should do or will Obama just continue to get away with his lawlessness? Most of us know the answer and it’s not pretty. Congress will fume and fuss and make great pontifications about who should do what and that will be it.

The checks and balances that one branch of government is supposed to employ under the Constitution to check the usurpations of another branch will amount to nothing. It’s all, as one Christian pastor once said–“meaningless drivel.” Always has been.

Interestingly, one of the most insightful of the Anti-Federalists in the beginning was Robert Yates, a judge from New York who was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. At some point Judge Yates withdrew because he felt the convention was exceeding the instructions it had been given. Yates later wrote as “Brutus” about the debates over the Constitution. Given that he had expertise as a judge he claimed that the Supreme Court was destined to become a source of almost unlimited federal over-reaching, and his insight in this area has proven correct.

As “Brutus,” he observed that the Supreme Court, as envisioned under the Constitution, would end up becoming a source of growing abuse because they were beyond the control of both legislatures and ordinary citizens and they were in no way subject to being “corrected by any power above them.” Who is there out there that will correct them regarding their farcial ruling that Obamacare is constitutional? Where are the checks and balances in this situation? If any are present they are hidden under the political rug, never to be seen. Yates thought that the power the Court would command would be so irresistible that the judiciary would use it to make law. Gee, when has that ever happened? (Let us count the times).

That being the case, the Court could then proceed to interpret the Constitution according to the “spirit” of the law rather than the letter of the law. Looking at some of the “decisions” the Court has handed down in our lifetime, can anyone seriously doubt the concerns that Robert Yates had? In fact, if anything, his concerns could have been labeled as optimistic, because in his day, he could have had no possible concept of just how far the Court would go in promoting the agendas of radical, activist judges who would shamelessly promote their version of what they wished the Constitution had really said.

I can recall author and columnist, the late Joseph Sobran, writing on this subject years ago when he noted that the Court had found many “enumerated penumbras” in the Constitution that justified abortion, the murder of unborn babies. Many folks will ask “what’s a penumbra?” Good question. For want of being able to explain it legally, I will note that it is nothing more than the judicial version of “seeing through a glass darkly.” The lawyers see “rights” there that are never spelled out anywhere, except in their own minds. So there are no real checks and balances in play regarding the Supreme Court. It is truly a law unto itself.

Back in 2008, Dr. Clyde Wilson wrote an article called Nathaniel Macon and The Way Things Should Be in which he dealt with the career of Nathaniel Macon, the man that Macon, Georgia was named after. Macon and others in his family were quite discerning. He served with North Carolina troops in the War for Independence. Dr. Wilson noted of him that: “He was offered but refused a commission and he refused also the bounty that was paid for enlisting…In the next few years he was offered a place in the North Carolina delegation to the Continental Congress which he declined. It is noteworthy that his brother, John, voted against ratification of the new U.S. Constitution in both conventions of the sovereign people of North Carolina to consider that question; and that our State did not ratify until the first ten amendments, especially the 9th and 10th, were in place to limit the federal government.” And he commented on the new government, saying “As soon as the U.S. government went into operation, Hamilton and his Yankee friends, claiming that they were acting in behalf of ‘good government’ began to turn the government into a centralized power and a money-making machine for themselves by banks, tariffs, government bonds, and other paper swindles that would be paid for out of the pockets of the farmers who produced the tangible wealth of the country. To oppose this Macon accepted election to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Second Congress.” However, Dr. Wilson noted that “By the end of his life Macon had realized that the cause of republicanism was lost at the federal level, and also that the North was determined to exploit and rule the South. South Carolina tried in 1832 to use ‘nullification,’ state interposition, to force the federal government back within the limits of the Constitution. After he read Andrew Jackson’s proclamation against South Carolina, Macon told his friends that it was too late for nullification. The Constitution was dead. The only recourse was secession–…” These folks had it figured out by the 1830s that the Constitution was not going to work because no one was staying within the sphere of authority that was delegated to them. The checks and balances that were supposed to keep everyone where they belonged were just not being practiced. Each branch of the new government was doing what it wanted to do with no resistance from the other branches save a little breast-beating. It was only to get worse during the Lincoln administration, and worse yet during the “reconstruction” period, when Congress basically just did whatever they wanted. Johnson vetoed their indiscretions but they overrode that while the Supreme Court did little. Now we have a president (a would-be dictator for life if he could get away with it) who doesn’t even bother to consult Congress anymore. He just issues “executive orders” and rules like a Muslim potentate, so where are the checks and balances?

It’s all rhetoric, folks, that’s all it is. We have been lied to by so many for so long about so much, we wouldn’t recognize the truth if we saw it floating amongst all the political swill out there.

Three years ago, Mike Crane of Morganton, Georgia did a series in six parts called What Is States Rights? which you can still find on the Internet. Check out the website for the Southern Party of Georgia and read his comments. If that one is gone you can still find these articles on the League of the South website, probably in their archive. He observed: “In the very early days of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the delegates, the framers of the Constitution, made a deliberate and conscious decision to discontinue a federated form of government and to replace it…let me emphasize…REPLACE IT…with a national form of government in their deliberations. Let me emphasize what this means for the concept of States Rights…By the votes of May 30, 1787 the framers of the Constitution began debating the ultimate elimination of States Rights.”

There’s a lot more to all this and I would encourage everyone to check out Mike’s articles and see what he has to say. You can bet the farm that you will never get this material from what passes for history books today.

Christian Opposition, Checks & Balances, Etc.

by Al Benson Jr.

Having read several insightful articles by Al Cronkrite, a freelance Reformed Christian writer who lives in Florida, I usually pay attention when I see his name on an article because I know I will get something that goes beyond the usual “patriotic” chatter that is so prevalent on the Internet. Mind you, I am not against patriotism, but lots of what floats around out there today is not real patriotism but merely a shallow brand of nationalism–sort of like “My country, right or wrong–rah, rah, rah.” In its own way it’s just as bad as liberalism because it leads sincere Americans down the garden path to Nowheresville when they should be on the cultural path removing the thorns.

Having said that, I recall reading an article by Mr. Cronkrite in The Covenant News back in July of 2009 where he observed that most folks today view our founders as mostly Christian men “…who produced documents that, if they were not expressly Christian, contained Christian principles. Others find it strange that Christian men would fail to encode the name of the Savior or refer to His dominion.” Regarding the Constitution that brings a different dimension to the topic, one that Gary North has referred to more than once in his writings.

Mr. Cronkrite, along with others, also observed that: “The Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in the Summer of 1787, was a secret gathering convened for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation. It was an elite group that Jefferson described as ‘demigods’. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and probably President George Washington had no intentions of abiding by the instructions from congress to revise the Articles. Their intention was to form a new federal government which they believed the states would accept in order to solve the problems they were having in conducting their inter-state affairs. They were conspiratorial and dishonest in their actions but right in their political assessment…Patrick Henry of Virginia claimed he ‘smelled a rat’ and refused to attend.” Time has shown how foul the rat Henry smelled really was, and is.

It has been duly noted by Mr. Cronkrite that almost nothing has been written about Christian opposition to the final results of the Constitutional Convention. And I have to admit that none of the history I have come across has mentioned any of this, even the home school material. He observed that: “The shift from a reformation to a substitution was successful and in the exuberant pride that characterized the birth of a new nation the still small voice of the Creator was drowned out and a grave error was made. Several prominent clergymen expressed their dissatisfaction. Rev. John Mason of New York wrote, ‘Should the citizens of America be as irreligious as her Constitution, we will have reason to tremble, lest the Governor of the universe, who will not be treated with indignity, by a people anymore than by individuals, overturn from its foundations the fabric we have been rearing, and crush us to atoms in the wreck’.”

Also, “Rev. Samuel Austin said, the Constitution ‘is entirely disconnected from Christianity. It is not founded on the Christian religion.’ Rev. Samuel Taggart lamented the lack of Christian reference to be a national evil of great magnitude.’ ‘It is a great sin to have forgotten God in such an important national instrument and not have acknowledged Him in that which forms the very nerves and sinews of the political body,’ lamented Rev. George Duffield. Rev. Jedediah Morse thought that the secular Constitution meant that America, like ancient Israel was doomed. Rev. James Wilson considered its creation ‘a degree of ingratitude, perhaps without parallel’.”

Now, folks, stop and reflect for a minute. How much about this Christian opposition to the Constitution have you ever read about in “history” books? I’ll wager that about all you ever read what just about what I read–that almost no one was opposed to it but Patrick Henry and a mere handful of his friends, who must all surely have had charter memberships in the Flat Earth Society. Those folks were supposedly anachronisms that just couldn’t see the pressing need for consolidation–Henry and his dwindling number of friends were a bit shortsighted, so it’s a good thing no one listened to them (or Leviathan wouldn’t be where it is today) and that’s about all you get, if that. The anti-Federalist arguments against ratification are seldom, if ever, mentioned–and as anachronistic as I guess I must be, the ones I’ve read about I’ve agreed with.

Mr. Cronkrite informed his readers that one of the big selling points for the new Constitution was that old, mythical “separation of church and state” story–the so-called government “neutrality” in regard to religion. All you have to do is look at where we are today in this regard and ask yourself–how’s that “government neutrality” in regard to religion working out for you nowadays? Anything even remotely Christian is now constantly under attack, while all the other pagan faiths seem to be getting a poss. Folks, this is not by accident. I put that in bold letters because we need to grasp that. Muslims will get to do in many educational institutions what Christians couldn’t even dream about. Any perversion today is accepted, no matter how gross, as long as it flies in the face of Christian culture. It’s all “protected” except Christianity and it’s open season on us and that’s not by accident.

I read an article on LewRockwell.com for October 30th written by Martin Armstrong of Armstrong Economics, in which he noted a raid in Texas by a SWAT team on a community in which there was no probable cause. The inhabitants had done nothing wrong, did not use drugs; no weapons or anything illegal was found, but the SWAT team handcuffed people, destroyed their crops, and pretty much did what they wanted because they could.

In his article Mr. Armstrong observed: “Raiding such a community without probable cause is totally unconstitutional. This is my point about the Constitution–it is just a worthless scrap of paper with the purpose of providing propaganda and false hope. The Constitution protects nobody. It was supposed to be a self-restraint upon government. It fails in every respect. Government agents can do as they like and it is the BURDEN of the citizen to prove that they violated the Constitution.” I might not have said it quite the way he did, but he does have a point.

There are no real restraints upon government, no real checks and balances so that if one branch oversteps its bounds the others will bring it to heel. They all collude with one another to quash whatever rights the citizens have, all the while telling us we live in a “free country”–the freest on earth they tell us–and it’s all just so much bovine fertilizer. This government has gone rogue–it went that way noticeably when the Lincoln administration started, but it had been showing signs of major slippage before that. John C. Calhoun noticed it before he died in 1850.

It really appears to me that we have a government that is one thing when we have been told it was something else. Most of us who have followed the political situation realize that we have been shamelessly lied to by “our” government about just about everything in our lifetime. But what about our ancestors? Were they lied to in the same way about what went on in their day? What about the War of Northern Aggression, the Spanish-American War, World Wars 1 and 2, Pearl Harbor, the USS Liberty, the Kennedy Assassinaton, and a plethora of other things I could spend paragraphs on just listing? Where, in all of this and more, has there been “constitutional” protection for our citizens–from their own government?

We had better start grappling with some of this folks, before the gates to the FEMA camps open wide and we all become “memory hole” material–naturally under the protection of the US Constitution, replete with its “checks and balances.”

Was Nationalism Sold To the Country As Federalism?

by Al Benson Jr.

It seems that, under the Articles of Confederation, there were states rights, as each state was considered sovereign and independent. However, with the ratification of the new constitution, that seems to have disappeared. Historian Clarence Carson has noted that, regarding the Articles of Confederation: “This bent, or tradition can be traced to many sources. Americans were, above all, a people of the book–the written word–the Bible. There was the Puritan idea, too, of the Covenant, an agreement between man and man and between man and God…Colonists had drawn their own political agreements, such as the Mayflower Compact and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut…Once the colonies had broken away from England, the only historical allegiances that remained were to the states and localities…At any rate, there should be no doubt that the government of the United States under the Articles of Confederation was brought into being by the states.”

Some delegates saw the new Constitution as potentially tyrannical and refused to sign it. It seems that statesmen in those days had a far clearer view of things than do our present politicians, who I will not dignify by calling them statesmen.

George Mason of Virginia was unwilling to sign. The major objection was that the new document did not contain a bill of rights and there were objections in several state conventions to ratification being enacted too hastily without such being made part of the document. Patrick Henry argued, and rightfully so, in the light of history, that a specific bill of rights was essential. He observed that governments regularly and automatically assumed powers that were not prohibited to them. Can anyone in our day deny this truth? We have a Commander-in-Chief that regularly rules the country by executive fiat when he can’t get a usually-willing Congress to go along with something he has been instructed to ram through. And Congress never seems to complain. They sit back and let him do it. In our day the Executive Branch of government regularly usurps powers denied to it and the courts ignore the whole situation, giving the Executive and Legislative branches a wink and a nod as our rights are stolen. So much for checks and balances–another bill of goods we have been sold.

Added to all this was the continuing problem of differing views of the Constitution, which seems to have been a major problem back before the War of Northern Aggression.

In his book The Confederate Constitution of 1861 Marshall DeRosa noted that: “Within the context of American federalism does sovereignty reside in the people in their national or state capacities? To be more precise, does the U.S. Constitution establish an association of sovereign individuals within their respective states or a national community of sovereign individuals the states notwithstanding?” It seems that within the ‘more perfect Union” there has always been this tension. DeRosa noted that by 1861 this tension had become a major cleavage so that the Constitution “rather served as a vehicle for dissension and separation.”

DeRosa observed that: “This was most certainly the case by 1861, as Northerners insisted on a model of federalism consisting of a national community of individuals, with sovereignty being a national phenomenon–that is, nationalism–whereas Southerners adhered to a model consisting of a community of states.”

John C. Calhoun, while he was still alive, (he died in March, 1850) noticed that a transition was taking place wherein the old Federal Republic was being transformed into a consolidated democracy, which placed sovereign authority at the national level while taking power away from the states. That trend continued, with William Henry Seward claiming that the Constitution had established a national community of individuals and not a community of states. Seward was from New York.

And this thought has occurred to me–is it just possible that what Calhoun observed as a transformation was, in fact, actually there in seed form at the very beginning?

According to DeRosa, Seward claimed that: “the States are not parties to the Constitution as States; it is the Constitution of the people of the United States. But even if the States continue as States, they have surrendered their equality as States, and submitted themselves to the sway of the numerical majority…” There is no way I can agree with Seward’s blatant nationalism, but, what if that was really the intent from the beginning? What if nationalism was sold to the Southern states surreptitiously as federalism and, outside of a few men like Patrick Henry, hardly any grasped that? While that may sound far out to some, is it any further out than the idea of a group of men eagerly signing up for a “Union” they could not secede from only 13 years after they had experienced the same situation with Great Britain?

You have to wonder what would make men yoke themselves and their states again to a bondage they had only recently fought a war of independence to get away from. You have to wonder if some of these delegates had in mind something other than the freedom and liberty for both states and individuals that Patrick Henry envisioned.

An educated pastor once said to me “You have to wonder if there were some anti-Christs in that (constitutional) convention.” At the time, I did not grasp the enormity of his assertion. Now I have begun to.

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.