“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.


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

  1. “I would submit that the Southern states never should have ratified the Constitution to begin with.”

    And yet they did, and by so ratifying joined a larger sovereign entity. That process of ratification made the Union perpetual, since the ratification was by We the People, and not We the States. You are very correct that Patrick Henry understood this instantly, and called attention to it, protested against it. But to no avail. Therefore, no states, then or now, can leave the Union unilaterally. You are right that Lincoln was wrong when he said in his First Inaugural that the Union was older than the states. The states clearly came into being when they drafted and ratified their own constitutions in 1776 and 1777. But Lincoln was right about everything else in that speech.

      • The mechanism of conventions was done at the state level, but the ratification itself was done by “We the People.” This is not a rhetorical flourish. Article VII clearly states: “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.” The Conventions were to ratify, not the states. Each state, then, had to hold special elections for the delegates that would argue and vote to enter the new Union, or reject and remain a fully sovereign state. And so when We the People did ratify, it altered the sovereignty of each state.

        You are correct in that “the people in the aggregate did not” ratify the Constitution. If they had, there would have been no states at all! But neither did they create a “new and improved” Articles of Confederation. They created a federal gov’t, in which the states remained sovereign, but that sovereignty was diminished. The new federal government would be supreme.

        Because We the People did indeed ratify the Constitution, We vested sovereignty into that new federal gov’t. This makes Calhoun’s “compact theory” wrong. A part of a true sovereign cannot calve off from the greater whole without some sort of permission from the rest of the sovereign entity. Today, a piece of a state cannot unilaterally secede from the rest of the state. Neither can a piece of the Union secede without some sort of acquiescence from the whole.

      • If “we the people” did it, we did it indirectly. Historian Clarence Carson noted that delegates to state conventions were chosen in an election.

        Another source, for the state of New York noted that “it be recommended to the people of this state to choose, by ballot, delegates to meet in Convention for the purpose aforsaid…”

        Yet another document, http://www.thisnation.com said: “ratification votes were to be held in special ratifying conventions, with the delegates selected by the state legislatures.” No matter how you look at it, it was an indirect vote by “we the people.” They were not just lining up at the polling places in their various states to vote it in. You can’t leave the states out of this process and just make it sound like a popular national vote. The standard system was to work through the states and that should still be true, even though it hardly is any longer.

  2. But the same source (http:www.thisnation.com) also says this:

    “The Constitution is considered the supreme law of the land both because of its content and because its authority is derived from the people. The concepts and ideas of the Constitution are the ‘higher law’ in the United States of America, things which a government cannot create or destroy. Among these concepts and ideas is the notion that the people are sovereign and that legitimate governments must be based on popular consent. Because the Constitution was ratified by the representatives of the people, it is a document, in both word and deed, created by and for ‘we the people.'”

    And this is exactly my point. In addition, this point was understood at the time by the Founders; it was also understood by Chief Justice Marshall, who elluded to the sovereignty of the federal government in no less than four SCOTUS decisions.

    And so it’s pretty clear: both contemporaries AND modern legal scholars understood unilateral secession to violate the Constitution. Mind you, I DO believe there should be a mechanism for states to leave if they want; but they cannot leave without the rest of the sovereign people of the United States’ approval.

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