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The History of American State Sovereignty in Antebellum America

3 years 10 months ago - 3 years 8 months ago #1 by stonewalljackson

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  • State Rights

    “Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself...each party has equal right to judge for itself”
    -Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

    "The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the states; and these, in uniting together, have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. -Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America

    While it was not the universal opinion of the founders, it was the majority that dominated politics in early American life. Known often as Jeffersonian democracy that flowed from the state ratification conventions, especially the Virginian ratification convention. Other times called the compact theory of the union. This political stance dominated with Jefferson first election [his re-election in 1804 was the most lopsided in American history] when the issue of the union came up with the Alien and sedition acts. The nationalist view held by men like Danial Webster, Joseph Story and John Jay, was the minority view. The compact view of Jefferson and James Madison, the “principles of 98” expressed in the Virginia and Kentucky resolution of 1798. This view [that went back to even before the ratification conventions] would dominate the political landscape for decades, and the Virginia conventions understanding of the union would dominate American life before the civil war.

    "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."
    -Thomas Jefferson

    Today the federal government has the authority over all peoples and states. Everything is subject to its authority. This is not how it has always been or intended by the founders. The federal government only had power and authority that was delegated it by the states. That authority was only within the limits specifically stated in the Constitution.

    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.”
    -James Madison Federalist Papers #45

    The states were to govern the rest.

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”
    -10th amendment U.S Constitution

    “Everything not expressly mentioned will be presumed to be purposely omitted”
    -James Wilson Pennsylvanian Ratification convention

    The powers that the federal government had, were not Superior to the states, but inferior. Since deriving its delegated powers from the states, who existed before the constitution.

    “Our government is not to be maintained or our union preserved by invasions of the powers of the several states... its true strength consists in leaving individuals and states as much as possible to themselves ..not in binding the states more closely to the center”
    -President Andrew Jackson

    Even Federalist at the state conventions assured the people that if the federal overstepped its clear delegated powers, these actions were unconstitutional and void.

    “no legislative act, therefore contrary to the constitution, can be valid”
    -Alexander Hamilton federalist #78

    “Congress cannot assume any other powers than those expressly given them. Powers of congress are all defined and clearly laid down. So for they may go, but no further”
    -Samuel Johnston North Carolina convention

    “Every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by the said constitution clearly delegated to the united states of America, or or of the government thereof remains to the people of the several states, or to the representatives state governments”
    -New York ratification convention

    Sovereignty lied with we the people represented by elected officials of our states.

    “The attributes of sovereignty are now enjoyed by every state in the union”
    -Alexander Hamilton 

    “The thirteen states are thirteen sovereign bodies”
    -Oliver Ellsworth 

    States Rights in Action

    “The duty of state governments, to protect themselves from encroachments”
    -Joseph Desha Kentucky Governor 1825

    “The true barriers of our liberty...are the state governments”
    -Thomas Jefferson

    It was the states in their sovereignty that did almost all the governing “State authority was the rule, federal the exception.” As president Pierce said in 1855 “the power is in states alone.” The federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it in the constitution. If the federal government assumed such powers, its acts could be declared unconstitutional by the states. States could decide the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress. At North Carolina’s ratifying convention, James Iredell told the delegates that when “Congress passes a law consistent with the Constitution, it is to be binding on the people. If Congress, under pretense of executing one power, should, in fact, usurp another, they will violate the Constitution.” In December 1787 Roger Sherman observed that an “excellency of the constitution” was that “when the government of the united States acts within its proper bounds it will be the interest of the legislatures of the particular States to Support it, but when it leaps over those bounds and interferes with the rights of the State governments they will be powerful enough to check it.”

    “Unconstitutional [laws] void and of no effect. It is the right and the duty of the several states to nullify those acts”
    -John Breckenridge Kentucky

    “Sir they [the states] ought not to submit, they would deserve the chains which there masters are forging for them, if they did not resist”
    -Edward Livingston NY house of representatives

    Before Lincoln states determined their own outcome. They were not forced by an all powerful authoritative federal government to comply to its standards. States could nullify unconstitutional rulings and laws from the federal government. One of the first times the federal government, in this case the supreme court, tried to force itself on a state, in the court case Chisholm V Georgia 1793. The state of Georgia declared that to submit to a federal court would destroy the “Retained sovereignty of the state.” The federalist supreme court voted 4-1 that Georgia must comply with the federal court ruling. So the Georgia legislature passed a bill that any federal agent in the state that attempted to enforce the federal supreme court ruling, should be hanged. So no federal agent dared enter the state. This resulted in the passing of the 11th amendment as congress itself supporter state sovereignty against the supreme court. In 1850 a dispute in Texas almost led to secession of Texas. The fight was over a land claim between the federal government and the state of Texas. Texas called for force to be used to maintain its integrity. South Carolina nullified the tariffs of 1828 and 1832. States rights were more common in the north, descendants of the federalist party some examples are below.

    “The solemn duty of the state interpose”
    -Federalist/ Nationalist Daniel Webster

    The Embargo of 1807-1809 

    Thomas Jefferson as president declared an embargo on all American ports. Massachusetts nullified the federal law and replied 

    “While this State maintains its sovereignty and independence, all the citizens can find protection against outrage and injustice in the strong arm of the State government..not legally binding on the citizens of this State.”

    Connecticut responded with the resolution of the general Assembly

    “Resolved, That to preserve the Union, and support the constitution of the United States, it becomes the duty of the Legislatures of the States, in such a crisis of affairs, vigilantly to watch over, and vigorously to maintain, the powers not delegated to the United States, but reserved to the States respectively, or to the people; and that a due regard to this duty, will not permit this Assembly to assist, or concur in giving effect to the aforesaid unconstitutional act, passed, to enforce the Embargo”

    The war of 1812

    When Connecticut was called to bring out its militia to guard the cost they replied 

    "It must not be forgotten, that the state of Connecticut is a FREE SOVEREIGN and INDEPENDENT state; that the United States are a confederacy of states; that we are a confederated and not a consolidated republic. The governor of this state is under a high and solemn obligation, “to maintain the lawful rights and privileges thereof, as a sovereign, free and independent state,” as he is “to support the constitution of the United States,” and the obligation to support the latter, imposes an additional obligation to support the former."

    and the Governor stated

    “It is their right, [states] it becomes there duty, to interpose their protecting shield between their rights and liberty of the people, and the assumed power of the general government”
    -Governor Jonathan Trumbull Connecticut

    1813 Embargo 

    In response to the embargo Massachusetts General Court approved

    "A power to regulate commerce is abused, when employed to destroy it; and a manifest and voluntary abuse of power sanctions the right of resistance, as much as a direct and palpable usurpation. The sovereignty reserved to the states, was reserved to protect the citizens from acts of violence by the United States, as well as for purposes of domestic regulation. We spurn the idea that the free, sovereign and independent State of Massachusetts is reduced to a mere municipal corporation, without power to protect its people, and to defend them from oppression, from whatever quarter it comes. Whenever the national compact is violated, and the citizens of this State are oppressed by cruel and unauthorized laws, this Legislature is bound to interpose its power, and wrest from the oppressor its victim."

    In 1820, when Ohio was fighting against the unconstitutional Bank of the United States, it recognized and approved "the doctrines asserted by the Legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky, in their resolutions of November and December, 1798, and January 1800 — and do consider that their principles have been recognized and adopted by a majority of the American people"

    Fugitive slave laws

    Many northern states nullified the fugitive slave laws or passed liberty laws that nullified the federal law. Wisconsin nullified the law supreme court law.

    “Resolved, That this assumption of jurisdiction by the federal judiciary, in the said case, and without process, is an act of undelegated power, and therefore without authority, void, and of no force. Resolved, That the government, formed by the Constitution of the United States was not the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; but that, as in all other cases of compact among parties having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress... that the general government is the exclusive judge of the extent of the powers delegated to it, stop nothing short of despotism, since the discretion of those who administer the government, and not the Constitution, would be the measure of their powers; that the several states which formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a positive defiance of those sovereignties, of all Unauthorized acts done or attempted to be done under color of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.”

    States rights held the federal government in check and held it to only what it was granted to do in the constitution. So from the American revolution until The civil war, you had the same constitutional republic. The states doing the self governing in there state sovereignty.

    From Union to a Consolidated Nation

    ”The several states bound loosely in a federal union under a weak central government into a new nation forged by the fires of war”
    -James McPherson Battle cry of Freedom Oxford U Press

    “In saving the union, I have destroyed the Republic.”
    -Abraham Lincoln

    “Before the war a union a collection of states... after the war we began to speak of a nation”
    -Ken Burns

    “Before the war, it was said "the United States are." Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always "the United States is," as we say today without being self-conscious at all. And that sums up what the war accomplished. It made us an "is."
    -Historian Shelby Foote author of “The Civil War: A Narrative.”

    After the civil war meaningful states rights ended, and our constitutional republic along with it. Lincoln and the civil war began a new American empire that said states and the people, no longer decided their fate, were no longer sovereign, and no longer self governing people [a principle the American revolution was fought for] but were now subject to the almighty federal government. Who was willing to force the people into its mold, or destroy them. Walt Witman said the result of the war was “Consent to our mandates or be shot.” A major transformation from the founders view that “governments are instituted among men” to protects man's unalienable God given rights and liberty.

    The war “Destroyed voluntary union of the founders and made all Americans servants rather than masters of their own government... transformed the American government from a constitutional republic to a consolidated empire”
    -Thomas Dilorenzo author of The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked

    Lincolns northern opponent Stephen Douglas said of Lincolns political goals as wanting to impose “On the nation a uniformity of local laws and institutions and a moral homogeneity dictated by a central government” That election was said by historians to be a contest between “One consolidated empire [ Federalist/Whigs] and “confederacy of sovereign and equal states of Jefferson and Jackson”, “Lincoln goes for consolidation and uniformity in our government while I go for maintaining the confederation of the sovereign states.” said Douglas.

    “State sovereignty died at Appomattox”
    -Supreme Court Justice Salmon P Chase 1864-73

    “States rights, which prior to 1860 had been an important northern belief as southern. Were overturned by Lincolns war
    -Dean Sprague Freedom under Lincoln

    Changes to the Constitution

    The civil war marked the beginnings of an all powerful federal government in America, something the founding fathers did all in their powers to stop. With the Lincoln administration and with the passing of the 14th15th amendment soon after the war. We moved further to a more centralized government and denied states sovereignty. It destroyed the concept of delegated and reserved powers, gone was the concept of government authority voluntary from the people. It changed America from a constitution of states to promote common interest, to a national cohesion controlling states by a centralized government. In antebellum America each state acted for the most part as its own country. People saw themselves as citizens of the state first, country second. Under Lincoln it is said the reverse happened. Northern states objected as well to this transformation as new Jersey said of the amendments and changes in government philosophy

    “Transfers to congress the whole control of the right of suffrage in the state.. a power which they [the states] have never been willing to surrender to the general government, and which was reserved to the states as a fundamental principle on which the constitution itself was constructed the principles of self government”

    Later the federal government would take more power from the states with the passing of the 17th amendment, it was said than we went from a complex republic to a simple republic. Today the tenth amendment is completely ignored. Senators instead of being appointed by the states, know do the bidding of fund raisers from around the country and political party allies in D.C

    “The civil war called forth a new constitutional order...the principles of this legal regime are so radically different from our original constitution drafted in 1787, that they deserve to be reorganized as a second American constitution”
    -Columbia University Law Professor George R Fletcher 

    You will not be able to find any historian who will claim the government we are under today in America, is similar to that of Americans under the antebellum government.

    “Today's federal government is considerably at odds with that envisioned by the framers of the constitution”
    -John Olin George Mason University

    “Many think our present federal government is the same one our founders fathers established. Nothing could be further from the truth....after the [civil war].... government power over the people underwent a radical change in the limits of government authority”
    -James and Walter Kennedy The South Was Right

    Supreme Court Reigns Supreme

    “The war between the states established.. this principle, that the federal government is, through its courts, the final judge of its own powers”
    -President Woodrow Wilson

    “The federal government made itself the sole arbitrator of constitutionality, through the supreme court. Not surprisingly the federal government has used this role to decide that there are in fact no limits to its power. Consequentially Americans are no longer sovereign over their government... they fought a war of secession against just such an empire. To than turn around and create a similar empire of their own would have been the height of absurdity”
    -Thomas J Dilorenzo Lincoln Unmasked

    In the antebellum period the supreme court did not have the final say in any matter but was to simply judge its opinion. To imagine the founders as fighting the largest military in the world [Great Britain] to create a new government to protect life and liberty to than entrust everyone's liberty to a few politically appointed judges stretches the imagination. There was no three coequal branches. [ Won't be found anywhere in constitution] In antebellum America judges could not create policy, it had nor authority to enforce its rulings, they did not have lifetime appointments, were not independent, and did not have final say on constitutionality of a law. As the federalist papers say the legislative has the most authority and the Judiciary “Is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of may be truly said to have neither force nor will.” When President Jackson was informed the supreme court decision went against his policy he said “Thank you for your opinion, but my opinion is different and equally valid.” The sovereign states courts had the right to review and judge federal court rulings and law when they overstepped and could override unconstitutional rulings.

    With No Check on Federal Government From the States = Rapid Growth and Power of Federal Government

    “The US government has grown into a monstrous tyrannical body that would not even by reorganized by its founders”
    -Lochlainn Seabrook The Constitution Of The Confederate States Of America Explained

    With the death of state sovereignty and transformation of the government by Lincoln. The federal government know has sole power to interpret its own power and forcing the states and American people to comply as it has no other authority. Not only have the states been reduced and put under authority of the federal government, but the 9th and 10th amendments are ignored almost completely in today's politics. Without that check on government, our checks and balances and separation of powers can only slow the federal expansion. With all power at the capital, elites and interest groups control politicians to their bidding. Than you end up with self serving politicians instead of servants of we the people. The true original conservative political party that was once the dominate party in America, Jeffersonian democracy is all but gone in American politics.

    “The war . . . has tended, more than any other event in the history of the country to militate against the Jeffersonian idea, that “the best government is that which governs least.”
    -Illinois Governor Richard Yates, January 2, 1865

    With no check from the states, President Lincoln violated the constitution in multiple ways, ran up 2.5 billion in national dept, distributed public lands, printed national currency, instituted a national bank, “Standardized fiscal transactions across state lines for the first time” collected numerous forms of taxes “Taxes on everything imaginable” [ From perfume, playing cards to bowling to going to the theater] , instituted a income tax, created the bureau of internal revenue [ Early IRS with 7,000 employees in 63] created the department of agricultural, instituted a federal draft, facilitated the industrial revolution in America at the exspence of agrarian lifestyle, laid massive rail, founded the transcontinental railroad, gave 58 million acres to rail companies etc.

    [The civil war was] “The fiery crucible which the old nation was melted down, and out of which modern America was poured”
    -Historian William Hess

    Deification of the State

    Starting with Lincoln and following generations of politicians led to what professor Delorenzo calls the “Deification of the state.” The civil war started in America the philosophy that the federal government is the ultimate authority. This has led to rapid growth in the federal government, because there is no higher authority, than the government thinks itself god. There is nothing it cannot touch. It can take away any right from anyone. It thinks it must not just solve all the ills in the country, it must control all modes of behavior and set its own standards. It will regulate the lives to conform to its own image that is beneficial to itself, resulting in more power to itself. People became servants of the state rather than the government servants of its citizens.

    “Liberty became less important than the well being of government”
    -Al Benson Jr and Walter Kennedy Lincolns Marxists

    This is in drastic contrast to the founders who's view was Governments are instituted among men to protect those unalienable rights that come from a higher authority than man [government] that is god. The founders constantly acknowledged that biblical higher power that they were accountable to. Man was not the ultimate authority in fact all men were created equal. This philosophy that reorganizes a creator, produces a limited government. Government is not the ultimate authority but is to protect all citizens god given liberty. It also believes that man should alter and abolish a government that is destructive to those rights of the people. This was stomped out by the civil war, the government is ultimate authority, not the citizens, nor even god.

    “The civil war was that the right to govern is paramount over the right to live, that man is made for government, rather than that government is made for man, and that for men to claim the right of self government is to deserve and incure the death penalty”
    -Charles L.C minor The real Lincoln 1928

    "What we call liberty our founders called bondage...we have not freed the slaves we have extended the plantation, know, we are all slaves"
    -Peter Marshall JR The Great War Debate

    Lincoln “Remade America”
    -Gary Wills

    “Overthrow the present form of Federal-republican government, and to establish a strong centralized government in its stead...national banks, bankrupt laws, a vast and permanent public debt, high tariffs, heavy direct taxation, enormous expenditure, gigantic and stupendous peculation . . . No more state lines, no more state governments, but a consolidated monarchy or vast centralized military despotism.” “instead of crushing out the rebellion,” the “effort has been to crush out the spirit of liberty” in the Northern states.
    -Northern Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham D-Ohio spoke of the reason for Lincolns war 1863

    Yet with government run education, the American people

    “Have been taught to celebrate this betrayal of the founding fathers..The vast bulk of Americans proceed through twelve years of government funded education [by an interesting coincidence] teaches them all about the wonders of federal government, how lost they'd be without it, and how foolish it would be to worry that the constitution might not authorize most of what it does. Portrayed as a benevolent force innocently pursuing the common good....cost less benefits granted by selfless crusaders for justice”
    -Tomas Woods Nullification How to Resist federal tyranny in the 21st Century

    "How do you like this are coming back into the union"
    Confederate solider to Pennsylvanian citizen before Gettysburg

    "No way sherman will go to hell, he would outflank the devil and get past havens guard"
    southern solider about northern general sherman

    "Angels went to receive his body from his grave but he was not there, they left very disappointed but upon return to haven, found he had outflanked them and was already there".
    northern newspaper about the death of stonewall jackson
    Last edit: 3 years 8 months ago by stonewalljackson.

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