America seems to be more divided these days than they have ever been since the days of the War Between the States. It is deemed as the War Between the States as that is what it was. Lincoln, very good at jailing any who dared to dissent, despite legal protection to the contrary, incorrectly labeled it as a “Civil War” and the name stuck, even in the voices of those people in that day. To begin with, no war is ever civil, especially one fought in such a manner as was common in the tactics of the day. At the time, as is amply evidenced within the Anti-Federalist Papers and other documents of the founding fathers, if the States did not feel as if they were receiving any viable benefit in their contract with the federal system, they had every lawful right to end that contract … to secede from the Federal Union.
The War Between the States was in fact a war between two separate and independent nations, but that is not the point of this article. Lincoln did not do anything to support or to end slavery, only to preserve the union. Lincoln did not do anything to support or oppose the Constitution, only to preserve the union. Every blatant violation of the Constitution that took place during these years was done so only in order to protect the union, nothing whatsoever to do with his more famous misstatement about it being “of the people, by the people and for the people” but what it actually was, “by the union, of the union and for the union” … or what we know today as the centralized, intrusive, often oppressive federal system of governance.
If America is to be divided again, so be it. If America is ever to be truly unified, it is imperative to discover what is the source of this division and what America was founded as, and perhaps most importantly, to decide what America is going to be today.
At the time of this writing, there is a great national battle about whether or not the individual states, California in this particular case, have a right to ignore what they perceive to be unjust federal laws. I find it not only worrisome, but downright frightening that not only so many republicans, but so many actual Conservatives are challenging the rights of the States to contest federal law. The true conservative should be all about the limitations of government, especially blanket solutions by a centralized federal system implemented by Lincoln after the War Between the States.
While it is my opinion that much of this is substantially covered by historical precedent regarding the enforcement of authority within the few and well-defined powers of the federal government, this is not the active cry from republicans and conservatives. Just as odd and disturbing however, is how the leftist political movement that demands full and complete control by the federal government over the state in so many other areas, is suddenly decrying state’s rights and the ability of the state to enact State Nullification. It would seem as if indeed, we are beginning to come full circle in the short history of our nation.
To gain a better understanding of this however, it is important to have a basic understanding of some of the inner-conflict between the founding fathers regarding the (re)establishment of these independent but united States of America after the dissolution of the American Confederacy as defined by the original Articles of Confederation.
There were many alliances and adversaries made among the founding fathers. Two very fierce and staunch opponents of one another were Jefferson and Madison. For those who may be unaware of such trivial facts, Thomas Jefferson was the ultimate author of the Declaration of Independence while James Madison was the ultimate author of the Constitution of these independent but united States of America. It is absolutely no accident that Jefferson “happened” to be (forced to be) in Paris during the writing by Madison of the Constitution. It was feared that were they left together, the document would never have been completed to the satisfaction of anyone.
The best that Jefferson managed to get in the way of a compromise was the inclusion of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, or what is now referred to as the Bill of Rights. Jefferson, by nature, was mistrustful of a centralized federal body of governance, whereas Madison, as evidenced by his prevalent writings in the Federalist Papers, was a staunch supporter of such a system, believing, perhaps naively, that the general population would have a vested interest in their own governance and serve as the fourth and ultimate system of checks and balances on the federal government … which leads to the question, why the division between Jeffersonian and Lincolnian America and why not the division between the Jeffersonian and Madisonian visions of America?
Within ten years after the full and complete ratification of the American Constitution, James Madison became appalled at what the “American Aristocracy” (as the Anti-Federalists referred to them) and “Career Politicians” (or what we commonly know as the “Establishment Elite” these days) had done to “his” constitution. When efforts were made by the federalist system to unlawfully usurp the rights of the States to contest federal law that was unjust or perceived to be unjust by the states, Madison and Jefferson because as staunch and loyal as allies as they had been fierce opponents.
The very first Nullification Acts by the States were written in Kentucky and Virginia, with Jefferson writing the Nullification Act for and on behalf of Kentucky and Madison writing the Nullification Act for Virginia. Not only did these acts vehemently deny the lawful ability of the federal system to impose laws on the independent States, but threatened (or more accurately, guaranteed) any federal officer with a criminal charge meriting the Death Penalty for trying to enforce such laws within the boundaries of the State(s).
Madison had seen that Anti-Federalist position had been absolutely correct, and took it as a personal affront that they should dare to pervert “his” constitution. Imagine his shock today if he could see how the centralized federal bureaucracy has perverted the Commerce Clause in order to regulate virtually every aspect, not only of the states, but of each and every individual within these independent but united States of America. (Add in the Seventeenth Amendment and he would likely be even more appalled as the Senate was originally supposed to be State protection against the federalized system and not merely an extension of the federal Congress as it is now)
How likely is it that the very person who authored the Constitution, and who was directly responsible, as an active and very vocal Federalist, would go against the Federalist System that he had effectively built?
The only obvious conclusion to be drawn from his writings on the Nullification Process and the rights of the States to nullify unlawful and unjust federal laws is that one of the most prominent of the Federalists (James Madison), saw the Federal system unlawfully seeking to usurp the rights and powers of the States to regulate themselves.
In short, he saw the Federal System start down the road that would ultimately lead it to the introduction of the Lincolnian vision for America. The very author of the Constitution, the over-riding, purportedly omniscient law of the land that was designed specifically for the purposes of reigning in a federal bureaucracy, saw that the federal system was trying to unlawfully usurp the powers of the states and expand the “Few and well-defined” powers of the federal system into an omniscient, malignant master of the people rather than as the servant of the people that it was supposed to be.
More concisely, one may, in a rather jaded fashion, determine that Madison had indeed become one of the very Anti-Federalists that he expressed such scorn and contempt for during the foundation of our current national structure! The Founder of the Federalist System itself, was one of two of the first people to challenge and shoot down the authority of the federal government to interfere in the affairs of the State.
If one were to read the Nullification Act(s) with an unbiased eye, it would be very easy to believe that such a document were written by the likes of George Clinton, Patrick Henry or even the virulent Sam Adams or any of the other prominent anti-Federalists of the day. Underneath all of that lies the fact that the very author of the Constitution believed that it should severely inhibit the intrusion of the federal government into matters of these independent but united States of America.
When I see conservatives today stand up and laud the intrusion of the Federal System into the rights of the States, I am reminded of Boston after the tragedy that was the Marathon Bombing. In that case, the city openly enacted Martial Law without so much as a declaration … and the people stood and cheered as their rights were blatantly violated and a police state was put in place! (At least until the final “exchange of gunfire” with the unarmed suspect when he was ultimately wounded and captured)
The “Conservatives” who are cheering as the federal government seeks to once again interfere in the rights of the states, need to seriously stop and reconsider their positions. (The republicans doing the same, I can actually kind of understand as the vast majority of them in office seem to be either part of the “Establishment Elite” or the new “American Aristocracy”! … but I do not understand actual Conservatives in support of such matters!)
In the case of illegal intrusions into our country, there is ample legal precedence for the federal government to enforce its rule of law, merely for the sake of the defense of our nation and the protection of American citizens … if that is indeed its goal.
This matter may perhaps proceed to the Supreme Court, where sitting judges have time and again blatantly ignored the Constitution and looked to international law and foreign laws to settle matters of “constitutionality”, at least insofar as they will even hear controversial cases after the decision in 76 to allow them to selectively and arbitrarily select which cases they will hear, but it will at least be an unlawful usurpation of powers that is there on the books for our posterity to see … even if they do question our fortitude and apathy for allowing such a blatant attack on our people by our very own government … or perhaps it may even be seen as a rightful intervention by the federal system for the protection of all people who are here lawfully.
Standing and cheering as the already bloated and inefficient federal government moves into even more local areas and further cements its newfound powers, unlawfully gained, is beyond frightening and should cause great concern for those that really do believe in a limited federal government with “Few and Well-Defined” powers.
In the Jeffersonian vision of America as it was founded, the rights of the individual were first and foremost. Cities and Counties could be as oppressive as they wished to be, based on their current standards of foolishness … I mean social norms and abnormalities. Blue laws could be enacted at the local level and those that did not like it were quite free to move elsewhere to be free from such madness. In the Lincolnian vision of America, the Constitution is merely a formality, wherein each and every act of the federal government, seeks only to exert further authority into the control (and ultimate oppression) of the people, the citizens of the individual states, and of the States themselves to determine their own future and their own regards for whatever best suits the needs of the citizens of that State.
In the Lincolnian view of America, it is indeed “Of the federal system, by the federal system and for the federal system”, the people be damned! Even James Madison could see that long before Lincoln ever came on to the political scene!
Not only do the individual States have a right to contest federal law(s), they have a sworn obligation in their defense of the Federal Constitution to stand up against an intrusive, often oppressive, centralized federal system and any law(s) that may be perceived to be unjust in nature!!!
Let us know what you think please!