Perpetual Union

(If you can bamboozle enough people into believing it.)

Al Benson Jr.
23 February 2011

In his rather convoluted thinking, Abraham Lincoln stated that “The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774.” Historians have noted that this association of the colonies before the Articles of Confederation was adopted was a body that could only suggest certain courses of action, none of which had the force of law. That made no difference to Lincoln. As far as he was concerned it was all “the Union” even though his ethereal vision of it existed, in his mind, before the documents existed which founded the Union.

This was noted in Red Republicans and Lincoln’s Marxists, on page 65. In other words, in Lincoln’s thought processes, the Union “existed” before it existed.

Sad to say, this seems to be a rather strong tack in the Yankee-Marxist mindset. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the 1860s, Salmon P. Chase, seems to lean in this direction with his view of the Union.

John Niven, in his book Salmon P. Chase—A Biography, noted:

Had the Confederate States by their secession from the Union given up their former identity as Sumner, Stevens and other radical politicians argued? If they had, then it would logically follow that secession was a lawful act and the Union had existed only at the sufferance of the states, an argument Lincoln dismissed as an abstraction.

It has been argued that the “South never really understood the Union.” That may be true—at least the people of the South never understood it in the sense the Yankee did. Had they truly done so, I would submit that the Southern states never should have ratified the Constitution to begin with. Patrick Henry warned his fellow Virginians with common-sense arguments of the dangers of Virginia’s ratification of the Constitution. Virginians did not heed his words. They should have. And yet, in Virginia’s ratification ordinances it was stated:

We the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected…do, in the name and 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, whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.

New York’s ratification statement pretty much says the same thing. And the ratification ordinances were accepted with this language included in them. In other words, some states ratified the Constitution with the proviso that should things not work out in this new Union they had the right to leave. That was the Southern understanding of this Constitution, and it would seem that some Northern folks also had this understanding. I agree with them. Yet, suffice it to say, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, after the War of Northern Aggression, took a view totally opposed to that truth. Should anyone be surprised? The winners always get to redefine history.

Chase noted, in 1869, that the Constitution “in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.” He felt that once a territory or state got into the Union that was it. It was there for eternity unless its status was determined by a revolution, or “consent of the states.” Chase noted the language in the Articles of Confederation about a “perpetual Union.”

That term did not appear in the new Constitution but rather the new document referred to “a more perfect Union.” Chase took that to mean more perpetually perfect it would seem. If Chase was aware of Virginia’s or New York’s ratification terminology he kept silent about it. After all, it contradicted his “indestructible Union” tomfoolery.

And Chase was, apparently, more than ready to accept more broad, sweeping powers for the federal government. In 1866 he observed that “the war had changed the government and the powers of government were essentially different from what they were before the war.” Now there’s an understatement if ever I saw one, and yet it is a revelation as well. He’s telling you right flat out that the war gave the federal government more and expanded powers—probably not constitutional ones—but not to worry, Chase’s Supreme Court would remedy that little problem.

So Chase followed in the same vein as Lincoln had—the Union existed before the states and it was indestructible and irrevocable. And once you were in, you were still in, even if you seceded—in fact you didn’t really secede, you only thought you did. Of course, then, to get back into this “Union” you had never really been out of, you had to ratify certain amendments.

At this point, Yankee logic defies description.

Where do these people get their notions of an indestructible Union?

When the group assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 gave us the Constitution what they did, in effect, was to secede from the Articles of Confederation and give us a whole new government—one which did not use the words “perpetual Union” and one which did not forbid secession. When the New England states sent delegates to Hartford, Connecticut, in 1814 to consider New England secession, no one said anything. Admittedly, they ended up not seceding, but they were strongly considering it, else they would not have met in Hartford. In those days you didn’t take trips like that just to pay political visits. Yet no one complained.

Why was it okay in New England in 1814 but so terrible, sinful, and rebellious in the Deep South in 1861? Slight double standard here?

Contrary to Chase’s “indestructible Union” theory, Professor Donald W. Livingston has written in Secession, State & Liberty:

There was a time, however, when talk about secession was a part of American politics. Indeed, the very concept of secession and self-determination of peoples, in the form being discussed today, is largely an American invention. It is no exaggeration to say that the unique contribution of the eighteenth-century American Enlightenment is not federalism but the principle that a people, under certain conditions, have a moral right to secede from an established political authority and to govern themselves.

Livingston further wrote:

The Constitution of the United States was founded as a federative compact between the states, marking out the authority of a central government, having enumerated powers delegated to it by sovereign states which reserved for themselves the vast domain of unenumerated powers. By an act of philosophical alchemy, the Lincoln tradition has transmuted this essentially federative document into a consolidated nationalist regime….In this version, the reserved powers of the states vanish, and the states themselves are transformed into resources for and administrative units of a nationalist political project.”

That is exactly where we find ourselves today, thanks to the views of men like Lincoln and Chase who, in a political sense, “Changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1).

The Southern states, and some Northern ones, always considered the Constitution to be a compact between sovereign states. Had it been understood by them as anything but that, it is highly doubtful that many of these states, a mere thirteen years after the end of our War for Independence, would have entangled themselves within the clutches of an indissoluble union from which they could never withdraw. The Declaration of Independence was, after all, a secession document.

If the Constitution is looked to as a document which forms an “indestructible” Union, then the states which ratified it have been lied to—sold a bill of goods, bought a political “gold brick” as it were—a brick made not of gold, but of iron—the iron to forge the chains of those states whose people may finally realize they have been lied to and want out.

Secession was not illegal, was not rebellion, as the Northern politicians claimed, and, as author James Street has said, “The South got a raw deal.” Now, thanks to nationally instituted “reconstruction,” the whole country is getting a raw deal. And the Lincoln-Chase concept of perpetual Union is what is taught in the government schools in this country—to make sure no one ever again concludes that secession might be an answer for the problems of an ever-expanding socialist regime in Washington.

If secession was legal in 1860 and the Confederate government which came out of those state secessions never officially surrendered, then we may need to consider the ramifications of that. If the Southern states were “readmitted” to the Union under duress, (you pass these amendments or else) is their re-admittance under those conditions even legal?

That might be an interesting question to deal with in a real court of law and not these charades that pass for courts in our day. Something to think about for the future.

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