As a lifelong resident of California I have watched this state go from one of the best to live in to one of the worst due to the liberal policies being enacted by the government in Sacramento. California politics is driven by the huge population centers; cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose; which all happen to be south of where I currently live.
For the longest time I’ve heard the complaint that those living in the more rural communities do not have a voice in what laws come out of Sacramento. I’ve also heard, and suggested it myself, that California ought to split into two States; with the division between north and south being somewhere around Sacramento. I’ve also been told that the powers that be would never let that happen because we control the water that the southern part of the State depends upon; and they’d never relinquish control of that.
In more recent years I’ve seen the State of Jefferson movement that proposes that counties from southern Oregon and northern California separate from their respective states and form a completely new state. That too has little chance of coming to pass.
Since the election of Donald Trump as president, left leaning California has talked of seceding from the Union over political differences of opinion between those held by Trump and the predominantly Democratic State government in Sacramento.
I’ve had discussions with people who support this movement for California to secede and take its place in the world as a free and independent state; yet these same people denigrate and condemn the 11 states of the Confederacy for doing so in 1860. It seems that facts, history, and critical thinking no longer come into play when people formulate their opinions anymore; all that matters is how they feel about something.
When one mentions secession, or the Civil War, what’s the very first thing that comes to mind? Most likely it is slavery; because that’s what we are taught the Civil War was all about; with the North fighting to end it, and the South fighting to preserve it.
Was slavery an issue in 1860? Yes, of course it was. The Northern states had, for the most part, abandoned the use of bonded Africans as a labor source, and they sought to both end it in the South and to prevent its spread westward as the nation grew. Yet slavery was not the only issue that led to the Southern States seceding.
The imposition of protective tariffs by the government, (tariffs designed specifically to benefit Northern business and manufacturing interests), were also a huge concern to those living in the South, as they were paid primarily by those living in the Southern States. In 1828 Senator Thomas Hart Benton addressed the Senate as follows, “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.”
If people could just put aside their antagonism towards the institution of slavery for a minute and examine the political climate in both the North and the South, they might come to a better understanding as to why we had a ‘civil war.’
From the outset, those who wrote the Constitution, and those who pushed hardest for its adoption, had one thing in mind; establish a government that could benefit business and commerce and push America to become a world economic power that could compete against the established powers in Europe. From the earliest years of our government’s existence this led to a schism in political thinking, with the Northern States being predominantly Federalist, and later Republican, and the Southern States being comprised of those who felt government should be constrained to certain limited powers, while leaving the States alone to regulate their own affairs.
The South, being mostly agrarian, or agricultural, did not see a rise in population to continue to produce the goods grown there. They did see, however, a need for bonded labor; i.e. slaves. But slavery was LEGAL under the Constitution, and the Supreme Court had affirmed that in the Dred Scott case. So regardless of whether slavery was a sin against humanity, under the existing government it was legal, and the government had no authority to abolish it, or prevent it from spreading westward. If you cannot accept that fact, then I may as well stop typing right now.
The North, however, saw a rise in population as immigrants came looking for work in the factories and huge centers of business and commerce. So what happened is that the schism in political philosophy between the two regions shifted in support of Northern interests; leaving the South to feel that they had no say in what laws and taxes were being imposed upon them by Washington D.C.
The Nullification Crisis of the 1830’s was a prime example, as the sitting Vice President resigned his position to help his State, South Carolina, oppose the tariffs being imposed upon the South by Congress.
I know that I’ve already mentioned this in previous articles, but it is worth repeating. In 1794 two Northern Senators, Rufus King and Oliver Ellsworth, approached John Taylor of Caroline with a proposal to divide the Union into two segments; justifying this by saying that the North would never go along with the policies of a Southern president and that a peaceful division of the Union was better than the alternative.
Think about that for a minute; that was only 5 years after the government under the Constitution had been in effect, and already there was a hint at disunion, or a peaceful division of the Union into two sovereign and independent political entities.
So if it was proposed in 1794 by the North, and if it is currently being discussed by the citizens of California today, why was it so wrong that the South actually attempted it in 1860; regardless of the reasons that led them to do so?
So what is secession? Secession is defined as the formal separation from a federation or political body. If that is true, then the American Revolution was the secession of the 13 Colonies from the British Empire. The difference between what happened in 1776 and what happened in 1860 is of great importance to the subject currently being discussed.
The Colonies were established under charters granted them by the King of England; making them British holdings, subject to the laws passed by the British government. As subjects of the Crown the Colonies were, in fact, committing treason when they attempted to separate. The Colonies only came into being because the Crown had granted its citizens the right to move to America; with the caveat that they remain loyal to the government and subject to its jurisdiction. So the act of declaring their independence was a rebellion against the authority of their legitimate government.
However, once they gained that independence the Colonies became independently sovereign States; each with the ability and authority to govern themselves internally as they saw fit. Therefore, it was by their authority as sovereign political States that they established the first system of government under the Articles of Confederation. It was also, although indirectly through fraud and deception, that the Constitution was adopted; establishing the existing government in 1860.
Before I continue, I need to make mention of the fact that numerous prominent men opposed the Constitution, for numerous reasons. One such man was Melancton Smith, who wrote under the pseudonym of Brutus. In his first essay Brutus writes, “If respect is to be paid to the opinion of the greatest and wisest men who have ever thought or wrote on the science of government, we shall be constrained to conclude, that a free republic cannot succeed over a country of such immense extent, containing such a number of inhabitants, and these encreasing in such rapid progression as that of the whole United States.”
He then goes on to quote from Montesquieu, “It is natural to a republic to have only a small territory, otherwise it cannot long subsist. In a large republic there are men of large fortunes, and consequently of less moderation; there are trusts too great to be placed in any single subject; he has interest of his own; he soon begins to think that he may be happy, great and glorious, by oppressing his fellow citizens.”
Isn’t that the case all across the country, from the State to the general government; that the large population centers, be they the larger States, or the big cities within those States, that determine what laws are passed; thereby oppressing and subjugating the less populous areas? Is it any wonder that the less populous regions become tired of laws being enacted, or taxes being imposed, that burden their lives and provide benefits only to those who supported them? If that truly is what government is all about, the majority oppressing the minority, then we truly are a democracy, with only the pretense of being a Republic founded upon the principle of liberty for all.
Getting back to what happened after the Revolution, a constitution was written, then adopted by the people of the States. In yesterday’s rant I discussed the consent of the governed, and that applies directly to what I’m discussing now.
This government we have, the same one that was in existence in 1860, derives its authority by the consent of the governed. Now the question that arises is, did those who consented to this system consent to remaining citizens of sovereign States with a central government for certain specific purposes, or did they act to consolidate the States into a single indivisible Union for all time?
Now I could be wrong, but I think it was the former; for if it was truly an act of consolidation, then why didn’t they hold a national ratification assembly, with delegates from all the States attending to vote in unison; why did they hold individual State Ratifying Assemblies? I think the people who voted to ratify the Constitution did so as representatives of their respective States; meaning that the Constitution was put into effect by the authority of the people as citizens of sovereign and independent political entities.
Therefore, if this government came into being by the voice of those people, could they not undo what they had done; revoke their consent to being subject to the authority of the government they had a hand in creating?
Three of the States that originally voted in favor of ratifying the Constitution made that point clear in their declarations of ratification. Virginia stated it thusly, “We the Delegates of the People of Virginia duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly and now met in Convention having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us to decide thereon Do in the name and in 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 whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression…”
That statement makes numerous points evident. First of all, the delegates were acting on behalf of the people of Virginia, and Virginia only; not of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or New York. Secondly, they were acting based upon them having been chosen by their State Legislature; meaning they were also acting on behalf of authority granted them by their State government.
Finally, and of more pertinence to the subject under discussion, is the fact that they made it clear that should this new system of government ever prove to be oppressive, they retained the right to withdraw their consent and resume their status as a free and independent State.
Article 4, Section 2 of the Constitution states, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” So if 3 of the States, Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York said that they could, at any time, resume their status as free and independent States, then any or all of them could; and there wasn’t a damned thing to government could lawfully do to stop them.
The government was a creation of the States, and each State formally granted their consent to being subjected to the laws enacted by said government; so long as those laws were in accordance to what the State Ratifying Conventions had been promised would be the extent of those powers. As the creators of this system of government, it was left to them to decide for themselves what circumstances warranted their determining that the government had overstepped its authority.
In 1798 Thomas Jefferson expressed that sentiment in his Kentucky Resolutions, wherein he wrote, “Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government . . . . and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force. . . . that the government created by this compact [the Constitution for the United States] 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; . . . . that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; . . . and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorised by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.”
Just as their ancestors had tried all means of redress of grievances for injustices heaped upon them by the Crown prior to declaring their independence, the South had sought all means at their disposal to repeal the laws, the taxes, and the interference by the Northern States in their internal affairs. In 1861 Jefferson Davis signed a resolution, stating, “The argument is exhausted. All hope of relief in the [existing Federation] is extinguished, and we trust the [Southern States] will not be deceived by appearances or the pretense of guarantees…In our judgment, the Republicans are resolute in the purpose to grant nothing that will or ought to satisfy the [southern States]. We are satisfied the honor, safety and independence of the [southern States] people require the organization of a [Confederacy of Southern States] ― a result to be obtained only by separate State secession.” (January 14, 1861)
When the State of Mississippi voted on seceding, they stated, “That all the laws and ordinances by which he said State of Mississippi became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America be, and the same are hereby, repealed, and that all obligations on the part of said State doth hereby resume all the rights, functions, and powers which, by any of said laws and ordinances, were conveyed to the Government of the said United States, and is absolved from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred to the said Federal Union, and shall henceforth be a free sovereign and independent State.”
Not a single one of the seceding States declared war against any of the Northern States, nor did they seek to abolish the existing system of government that had been established in 1789. All they did is withdraw themselves from the Union; leaving the North to be governed by an entity that had been benefitting them for years, at the cost of the wealth and rights of the Southern States.
Abe Lincoln saw it differently. He felt that by allowing the States to leave it threatened the existence of the federal government; which in a way it did; for the federal government had been pillaging the South to fund itself for years, and if they allowed the South to leave peacefully they would, well I’ll let the words of the Northern Press speak for themselves, “”That either the revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states, or the port must be closed to importations from abroad is generally admitted. 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. There will be nothing to furnish means of subsistence to the army; nothing to keep our navy afloat; nothing to pay the salaries of public officers; the present order of things must come to a dead stop.” (Chicago Daily Times on March 2, 1861)
Ever hear of Charles Dickens? He’s the guy who wrote Oliver Twist, and the yearly favorite, A Christmas Carol; the story of how Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the 3 ghosts of Christmas. Well Dickens once wrote, “The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.”
Our country was established by secessionists; and it is in the blood of all who truly understand the principles which this country was founded upon. I may not agree with the internal politics of my home State of California, but I support them should a majority of her citizens decide that they want to separate from the Union; I’ll just move to a State where the government is not run by socialist fools.
You see, as co-creators of our system of government, each State has within its rights the ability to leave the Union it voluntarily agreed to become a part of. If you deny that, then you must be admitting that we live under a despotic government that has more authority than those who created it. If that is the case, then liberty and State sovereignty are truly dead in America.
I will go to my grave believing that, regardless of why they chose to do so, the Southern States had the right to leave the Union whenever they wanted, and to form a new system of government for themselves that would better secure their rights and liberty. I also, therefore believe, that the North unlawfully invaded and conquered them, all under direct orders handed down by Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln, therefore destroyed the principles this country came into existence built upon, he denied that government derives its authority by the consent of the governed, and that whenever any government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and institute a new one.
Lincoln did, as most politicians do, flip flopped on his own words, having said just 12 years before, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, most sacred right- a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to excercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own, of so much territory as the inhabit.” (War with Mexico Speech, Jan 12, 1848)
Our country was established by people who resisted tyranny and rose up and shook off the chains that bound them to it. All I see today are bootlickers; statists who believe in differing ideologies of how government should be used to tyrannize and oppress those they disagree with.
You think you’re free because you can choose what to eat or watch on TV every night. That’s not freedom; freedom is being allowed to do or say whatever you want so long as you do not deprive anyone else of their rights. What can you do without some law regulating, taxing, or restricting it? How much of your income are you allowed to spend for yourself without it being taxed for things the Constitution clearly does not authorize government to spend your money upon.
Try getting off this train though; try not paying taxes, or disobeying the laws that violate your rights and you’ll quickly find out how un-free you are. Ain’t no freedom left in this country anymore, except the freedom to choose which tyrant will govern you for the next few years.
Which is why Lyander Spooner was right, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”
The Constitution brought this monster we call government to life, and if the Constitution cannot keep that monster in its cage and prevent it from destroying the rights of the people and the States then it is unfit to exist. And if it, and the government it established, is unfit to exist, then it is the DUTY of every freedom loving American to speak out against it, and resist it whenever possible; not bow down and kiss its ass and beg that it give you back some of the freedom it has stolen from you.
John Adams once said, “Posterity! [That’s you and me by the way] You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
I wonder what Adams is saying now?