[Note: My son, Tim (who turned 30 yesterday), writes today's column. He is an attorney who received his Juris Doctor degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a former prosecutor for the Florida State Attorney's Office and now owns his own private law practice. He is married to the former Miss Jennifer Hanssen.]
On July 10, 2009, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin became the second governor in these States United (Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee is the other one) to sign into effect a State Sovereignty Resolution. (See http://www.tenthamendmentcenter.com ). These Sovereignty-type bills, resolutions and laws are an obvious and rightful response that the super-majority of the States in the Union is expressing to and against the usurping powers of the federal government. While the effects of federal tyranny are being felt more seriously than ever, history and human nature prove that the people of a society do not respond or revolt immediately against tyranny–though they have a right to. America’s resistance is no different. Fortunately, the sleeping giant is being awakened, to the dismay of our Centralist-worshipers today.
An observer of history and these current events cannot help but draw strikingly similar comparisons to America’s political struggles during the early to mid-1800s, where there was a serious threat to our original form of constitutional government by the Centralists of that day. During the presidency of John Adams, the people of the States realized and rejected the pro-centralist view of Adams and his ilk (e.g., Alexander Hamilton), and a battle between the ideology of centralism and federalism thrust itself into the forefront of political concern.
On the heels of the Adams administration, the people of the States United spoke clearly and loudly through their election of Presidents Thomas Jefferson in 1801 through James Buchanan in 1857. All of these Presidents (through either political expediency or conviction) rejected the centralists’ philosophy and confirmed the fundamental political ideology that the Constitution of the United States of America was a compact assented to by the individual Sovereign States of America, and that the Federal government’s authority only extended to the specific and enumerated grants acceded to it by the sovereigns of each State. It was not until 1861 that this understanding of Constitutional government and State Sovereignty was seriously challenged.
Since the Reconstruction period after the War Between the States, the philosophical acknowledgements of what State Sovereignty means, implies and mandates has been flipped on its head, to where the States seem to believe that they are powerless over the demands of the federal government. This concept is completely contrary to the original principles of our Confederated Republic, which was overwhelmingly acknowledged from 1787 to 1860.
Those who adopted the views of the Centralists during the twentieth century, of course, had their heyday: from the implementation of the sixteenth and seventeenth amendments, to the implementation of our fiat currency system; from the assumption of all federal laws as superior to all state laws, to the Federal Supreme Court being considered the only arbitrator of issues regarding political sovereignty; from excessive federal borrowing and spending, to tyrannical federal mandates and directives imposed on the people of the States. Now, their heyday is turning into our payday and we the people are fronting the bill.
What Governor Palin acknowledged on July 10, 2009–as have thousands of men and women in their State government capacities across these States United–is what America’s Founding Fathers and statesmen pre-1861 accepted, acknowledged and proclaimed: (1) that each of the States is independent and sovereign possessing a natural right to govern itself according to the will of its people reflected in its own constitution; (2) that each of those States has a natural and compactually agreed-upon right to defend, secure and protect the freedoms and liberties of its own people; and (3) that any powers not acceded to by those people through their States to the Federal government by the expressed intent and purposes understood and explained in the US Constitution are void and unenforceable. Indeed, most would have argued that each Sovereign State had all powers of nationhood (pursuant to the natural laws of nations, as understood by philosophical and political statesmen), with exception of those powers granted to the federal government in the United States Constitution, which was ratified and acceded to only for the WELL-BEING–not the suppression–of those sovereign peoples and those Sovereign States.
Most students of history would agree that Daniel Webster was one of America’s most referred-to proponents of the Centralist view of our form of government. In the 1820s and 1830s, Webster ardently held the position that most Americans hold today: that the Federal government, through the “supreme laws of the land,” is independent and shielded from the States’ Sovereign powers and has an inherent political right to be its own judge regarding all matters that it unilaterally assumes to itself. In other words, they believe the US Constitution does not allow the States to independently judge the constitutionality of the federal government’s actions as it affects their independent sovereignty, and the US Supreme Court, alone, must make any such determination. Webster was (and still is) the “hero” of many who would (1) presuppose that the effect of the US Constitution somehow dissolved the independence and sovereignty of each State regarding matters of political sovereignty and, (2) suggest that each State has no power to resist the federal government.
While Webster may have classified himself as a proponent of such a view during the time of his life described above, his stated belief and position later in his political life certainly indicates that he recanted this Centralist position, as he became wiser and more mature to the true nature and character of our form of government. In 1851, Webster states the following concerning the States’ right, through their independent and sovereign status, to resist the Federal government’s usurpation of its constitutionally limited and delegated authority:
“How absurd it is to suppose that when different parties enter into a Compact for certain purposes, either can disregard any one provision, and expect, nevertheless, the other to observe the rest! I intend, for one, to regard, and maintain, and carry out, to the fullest extent, the Constitution of the United States . . . A bargain cannot be broken on one side and still bind the other side . . . I am as ready to fight and to fall for the Constitutional rights of Virginia, as I am for those of Massachusetts.” (Alexander Stephens, A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States, vol. 1 [Philadelphia, PA, National Publishing Co., 1870], 404-405.)
Webster’s dogmatic view of State Sovereignty cited above certainly sheds light and perspective on the limits, character and nature of federal power and is in stark contrast to the Centralist view of our federal government. The vast majority of the people of the States through their State legislatures and Congressional Representatives in the House and Senate from 1776 to 1861, of course, repeatedly confirmed this view of State Sovereignty. And while the end of the War Between the States in 1865 may have seemed like a victory for the doctrines of the Centralists and believers in monstrosities of government control over the lives of the people and the States, evidence now proves that the truly American doctrine of freedom has not died with war or time.
Instead, the spirit of a free, confederated and republican form of government, based upon the principles and maxims of Natural Law, lives on and is brewing like hot magma from what most would have classified as a dormant volcano. Very clearly, the spirit of freedom lives on. Even the famed French historian, Alexis De Tocqueville, in his book, “Democracy in America” recognized that “the fate of the republic should not be confused with that of the Union. The Union is an accident which will last only as long as circumstances support it, but a republic seems to be the natural state for Americans . . . The Union’s principal guarantee of existence is the LAW WHICH CREATED IT.” (Tocqueville, Alexis De, Democracy in America, Translated by Bevan, Gerald E., [Strand, London, Penguin Books, 2003], 464.) (Emphasis added.)
What can be dogmatically stated is that freedom-lovers in America should be more concerned about guaranteeing the existence of the LAW that made America free. (For now, I withhold my comments regarding those who reject the Natural Laws that created the Union.) The Centralists’ view of “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable” (expressed by Daniel Webster on January 26, 1830, before his conversion to the correct view of our Confederate Republic) is not the true understanding of the nature and character of our government or our federal Constitution, which was built upon the notions expressed in the Declaration of Independence. (Webster, Daniel, Constitutional Doctrines of Webster, Hayne and Calhoun, [Lovell & Co., New York, NY, 1897], p. 23.) To the contrary, our Confederate Republic was built upon the law which states: the People have a natural right “to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
What freedom-loving American would ever advocate the idea that a group of freeborn persons in Sovereign States should be forced to be governed by a government that was initially created by the will and assent of those people in their sovereign and independent capacities, especially where that artificial creation (i.e., the federal government) has usurped the powers originally granted to it by the sovereigns of the States? Such a thought is repugnant to free society, free government, and American ideology, and mirrors more of the hereditary-right-to-rule notion argued by monarchs of yesteryear and forced upon its not-so-loyal subjects.
Not likely realizing the significance and effect of his words and not knowing how he would later change his political understanding of State Sovereignty, Webster admits in 1833 that “the natural converse of accession is secession; and therefore, when it is stated that the people of the States acceded to the Union, it may be more plausibly argued that they may secede from it.” As seen in his statement in 1851 above, Webster certainly reached the conclusion that the States actually did accede to the Union and did in fact retain their Sovereign powers, which they have a duty to use to protect their citizens.
While few are advocating secession (at least not yet), the battle for State Sovereignty against Federal usurpation and expansionism has clearly begun. Americans should not fear the movement for State Sovereignty. Rather, we should embrace it; because it is the only saving grace and vehicle for freedom left in this Confederate Republic we call the United States of America. Unless we stand for State Sovereignty, freedom will most certainly fall. Therefore, Americans everywhere should encourage their State governors and legislators to follow the example of Alaska in boldly declaring their State’s autonomy and sovereignty.
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© Chuck Baldwin