My last segment ended with the discussion of dissolving the Union hanging in the air. Up until now everything I’ve discussed has been from a theoretical viewpoint, meaning it has all been on paper or from speeches given by others. Now I suppose it’s time to see what happens when these ideas and beliefs are put to a practical test.
First, let’s recap. I began segment one by discussing the fact that I believe the American Revolution was fought, not so much over taxes or other things, but to establish the concept of self-determination in America; the idea that we have the right to decide what form of government we shall have, and what powers that government shall exercise. Then, in my second segment, I discussed the fact that there had been instances when prominent men had discussed either seceding from the Union, or dissolving it altogether.
The birth of America as an independent country is based upon one simple belief; that the Colonists would not be governed by tyrants; that as sovereigns they would decide for themselves whether they would submit to the authority of any system of government. While it did take a war against their government to assert that right, it remains the bedrock principle this country was founded upon.
For awhile after the Revolution things were good in America. Sure, the government they had instituted during the Revolution may have had some faults, but it could easily have been fixed had they just revised, or amended the Articles of Confederation to give government the necessary powers to regulate trade and impose taxes.
But no, James Madison had other plans; not only the abolishment of the existing system of government, but a complete consolidation of the States into a single republic under a federal head. Regardless of what type government Madison & Company produced it still took the consent of the people to see it put into operation. Therefore it is safe to assume that our system of government is the creation of the people; for it was by the consent of the people that life was breathed into the words written during the Convention of 1787.
Does this mean that once established, we must submit to the authority of this government until the end of time? Is this system of government like the Mafia, once a part of it you can never leave but by death? I don’t know, but it seems like that concept goes against everything the Declaration of Independence stands for.
Each State, acting as a sovereign entity, held a convention where the people argued whether or not to adopt this new system of government given them by the Convention of 1787. If each State did so under their own sovereign capacity, does it not make sense that each State retains the right to say that they no longer wish to be governed by the entity they had a hand in establishing? After all, if we truly have consent of the governed in this country, doesn’t that imply that at any time one segment of the country can revoke their consent and return to being free and independent from the authority of the central government? Or do you believe that we must be forever bound to this system of government, regardless of how evil and tyrannical it may become?
From the moment the Constitution went into operation those in power sought to use government as a tool to promote and protect business and industry in America. Protective tariffs were imposed upon imported goods which gave young American industry a fighting chance against foreign competitors. Subsidies were given to business and industry to help them grow America into a booming economy.
While on the surface that may sound well and good, it came at a cost. You see, most of this business and industry was located in the North, and the South remained, for the large part, an agricultural economy which required little to no help from the government. This is one of the reasons why, when Thomas Jefferson was elected, there was talk of secession in some Northern States; they feared what his ‘limited government’ policies would do to the growing business interests in the North; so they threatened to secede to stave off the effects of those policies.
Nonetheless, out of the first 15 Presidents 9 of them were Democrats; meaning they followed pretty much the Jeffersonian train of thought regarding the powers government should exercise. Yet still government was able to impose almost crippling tariffs which primarily affected those living South of the Mason Dixon Line. Yet nary a penny of these confiscatory taxes were being spent on internal improvements to the South; all of it flowed Northward to benefit Northern business interests.
In a speech before the U.S. Senate in 1828, Thomas Hart Benton addressed how the South was being plundered of is wealth to finance Northern business and industry, “I feel for the sad changes, which have taken place in the South, during the last fifty years. Before the Revolution, it was the seat of wealth, as well as hospitality. Money, and all it commanded, abounded there. But how is it now? All this is reversed. Wealth has fled from the South, and settled in regions north of the Potomac; and this in the face of the fact, that the South, in four staples alone, has exported produce, since the Revolution, to the value of eight hundred millions, of dollars; and the North has exported comparatively nothing….Under Federal legislation, the exports of the South have been the basis of the Federal revenue….Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia, may be said to defray three-fourths, of the annual expense of supporting the Federal Government; and of this great sum, annually furnished by them, nothing, or next to nothing is returned to them, in the shape of government expenditures. That expenditure flows in an opposite direction—it flows northwardly, in one uniform, uninterrupted, and perennial stream. This is the reason why wealth disappears from the South and rises up in the North…taking from the South, and returning nothing to it.”
Finally, in 1860 a Republican by the name of Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency. It’s interesting to note that Lincoln did not carry one Southern State in the 1860 election. In fact, in 10 of the Southern States his name wasn’t even on the ballot. What the Southerners knew was that, if the government had been able to impose all those crippling tariffs upon them even with a Democrat President, then what would happen once Lincoln assumed the office of President? They realized, just as their ancestors did in 1776, that they had a choice to make; remain a part of the Union and suffer under a government that cared little about them, or to secede and form a government of their own creation that would better serve them.
They chose Option B. During the ratification process 3 of the States, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, had issued ratifying statements that said something along the lines of, “That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness.”
This wasn’t conditional upon acceptance of the government, it was the right as participants in the creation of a system of government to reassume their powers if that system of government ever became oppressive, or destructive of the ends for which it was instituted.
So, beginning with South Carolina, 7 States chose to reassume their powers; revoking their consent to being governed by the government established by the Constitution. In his Farewell Address to Congress, soon to be President of the Confederate States of America laid out his argument as follows, “It is to be justified upon the basis that the States are sovereign. There was a time when none denied it. I hope the time may come again, when a better comprehension of the theory of our Government, and the inalienable rights of the people of the States, will prevent any one from denying that each State is a sovereign, and thus may reclaim the grants which it has made to any agent whomsoever.”
The South did not invade the North. The South did not threaten any Northern State, nor did it seek conquest or glory. All that the South wanted was to be let alone to govern themselves in a manner that best protected their interests. Was interference in the institution of slavery a cause of secession? Probably so, but it was not the cause of the war. There would have been no war had Lincoln chose not to send troops into the South to demand that they remain a part of the Union.
It’s that simple, and if you can’t see that then you are incapable of any kind of critical thought.
If you’ll notice I said that, beginning with South Carolina, 7 States seceded from the Union. But Neal, there were 11 States in the Confederacy. Right you are, but 4 of them did not secede until AFTER Abraham Lincoln sent out a call for volunteers to build an army to force the South into adhering to the Union.
The response of Governor John Letcher of Virginia is very telling in why Virginia chose to secede, “I received your telegram of the 15th, the genuineness of which I doubted. Since that time (have received your communication, mailed the same day, in which I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia “the quota designated in a table,” which you append, “to serve as infantry or riflemen for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged.”
In reply to this communication, I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object — an object, in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the act of 1795 — will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited towards the South.”
Why did Lincoln do that, choose war over peace between two sovereign and independent countries? In his letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln states that he was not concerned with ending slavery, or freeing any slaves. In fact, in his Inaugural Address he supported a proposed constitutional amendment that would have made slavery permanent in the United States.
I almost pity Lincoln; he was elected to the presidency by primarily Northern votes to run the government that had been plundering the South to finance Northern growth. It was only a matter of time before the South decided enough was enough and sought to sever the ties which bound them to the Union; it just happened to come when Lincoln was elected. But, if you notice, I said I ALMOST pity him, for he could have chosen the other alternative – let the South go and avoid a horrific war.
But you see, Lincoln was motivated by something besides the mere preservation of the Union; he was motivated by the fear that if the South left the government he was at the head of would collapse from bankruptcy and he would be unable to fulfill the expectations of those who elected him.
The South had nothing to lose by leaving the Union and everything to gain. The North, on the other hand, had nothing to gain and everything to lose if they let the South go in peace.
If you want to know why Lincoln chose war over peace all you have to do is read the headlines and editorials in Northern newspapers after the Southern States began seceding.
-“… either the (federal) revenue from duties (protective tariff) must be collected in the ports of the rebel states or the ports be closed to importations from abroad… If neither of these things be done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe… Allow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten percent, which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York; the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. What, then is left for our government? (March 1861, the New York Evening Post)
-The Southern Confederacy will not employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping without it? Literally nothing… it is very clear that the South gains by this process and we lose. No…we must not let the South go. (Union Democrat Manchester, New Hampshire. 19 February, 1861)
The on the flip side, we have this, from an 1861 edition of the New Orleans Daily Crescent, “They (the South) know that it is their import trade that draws from the peoples pockets sixty or seventy millions of dollars per annum, in the shape of duties, to be expended mainly in the North, and in the protection and encouragement of Northern interest. These are the reasons why these people do not wish the South to secede from the union.”
No, Lincoln could not let the South go in peace, not if he wanted to ensure the survival of his government. So he raised an army and invaded them, when they did not revolt, they simply revoked their consent to the authority of the central government – just as the patriots did in 1776.
In one single blow Abraham Lincoln killed the idea of self-determination in America. Instead of the people being allowed to say what form of government they shall live under, Lincoln told them, “Either you accept our authority over you or face the consequences.” I don’t know about you, but that certainly doesn’t sound anything like consent of the governed; it sounds more like despotism to me.
John Calhoun once described the path the government was taking by becoming one which benefitted a particular class of business and industry at the expense of the more agricultural South, “If they (the North) prevail, the whole character of the Government will be changed, and instead of a federal republic, the common agent of sovereign and independent States, we shall have a central despotism, with the notion of States forever abolished, deriving its powers from the will, and shaping its policy according to the wishes, of a numerical majority of the people; we shall have, in other words, a supreme, irresponsible democracy.”
Abraham Lincoln trampled upon the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence to preserve a system of government that had increasingly become one which benefitted one class of people at the expense of another. Lincoln killed everything America was founded upon, and all we’ve done since then has been choosing despot after despot; with government continuing to grow in size and power.
Men like Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Robert Yates, George Mason, and a whole slew of others, would not recognize the government we have today. Not only that, they would be amazed at how readily and willingly we accept tyranny here in the country that was founded upon the principle of individual liberty.
If a country can truly be said to have a spirit, then our spirit was the spirit of liberty. When Lincoln sought to use force to compel obedience, he effectively murdered the spirit, and all that remains now is a lifeless corpse hooked up to life support.
Yet Lincoln is revered as a president; believed to be among the greatest this country has ever produced; when the truth of the matter is that he was probably the worst president America has ever seen. Because the truth of the matter is, Abraham Lincoln killed self-determination in America and firmly established in its place a centralized despotism that can, and will use force against its creators should they resist its authority.
And that should be the legacy every child in America is taught regarding Lincoln, but thanks to revisionist historians, you’re not going to get the truth in any public indoctrination centers. But that’s why there are people like me; those who have studied the true history of this country and are willing to share the truth with the rest of y’all. What you choose to do with this knowledge is entirely up to you.