Skip to comments.What did the Declaration of Independence Establish
Posted on 04/15/2012 5:31:13 AM PDT by mek1959
This Friday, April 13th is the birth day of Thomas Jefferson. In recognition of his birthday I thought wed revisit the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. On the surface the meaning of the Declaration may be self-evident, but the true meaning of many of the sentences and phrases escapes most people.
The Declaration of Independence stated to the world that the thirteen colonies were separating from Great Britain. In other words the colonies were seceding from Britain. The first paragraph says When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Natures God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
(Excerpt) Read more at foundersrevolution.net ...
James Madison's letter to Nicholas P. Trist of December 23, 1832
The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them lies in confounding a single party, with the parties to the Constitutional compact of the United States. The latter having made the compact may do what they will with it. The former as one only of the parties, owes fidelity to it, till released by consent, or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power created.
It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, vol. 2,1 with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force; and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion; and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.
Letter to Daniel Webster of March, 15, 1833
I return my thanks for the copy of your late very powerful speech in the Senate of the U. S. It crushes nullification and must hasten an abandonment of Secession. But this dodges the blow by confounding the claim to secede at will, with the right of seceding from intolerable oppression. The former answers itself, being a violation without cause, of a faith solemnly pledged. The latter is another name only for revolution, about which there is no theoretic controversy.
It is fortunate when disputed theories, can be decided by undisputed facts. And here the undisputed fact is, that the Constitution was made by the people, but as embodied into the several States, who were parties to it; and therefore made by the States in their highest authoritative capacity. They might, by the same authority; & by the same process, have converted the confederacy, into a mere league or treaty, or continued it with enlarged or abridged powers; or have embodied the people of their respective States into one people, nation or sovereignty; or as they did by a mixed form make them one people, nation or sovereignty, for certain purposes, and not so for others.
It might have been added, that whilst the Constitution, therefore, is admitted to be in force, its operation, in every respect must be precisely the same, whether its authority be derived from that of the people, in the one or the other of the modes, in question; the authority being equally competent in both; and that without an annulment of the Constitution itself its supremacy must be submitted to.
But whilst the constitutional compact remains undissolved, it must be executed according to the forms and provisions specified in the compact. It must not be forgotten, that compact, express, or implied is the vital principle of free Governments as contradistinguished from Governments not free; and that a revolt against this principle, leaves no choice but between anarchy and Despotism. Such is the Constitution of the United States de jure & de facto; and the name, whatever it be, that may be given to it, can make nothing more or less than what it actually is.
Letter to Alexander Rives, January 1, 1833
It is not usual to answer communications without the proper names to them. But the ability & motives disclosed in the Essays induce me to say in compliance with the wish expressed, that I do not consider the proceedings of Virginia in 98-99 as countenancing the doctrine that a State may at will secede from its constitutional compact with the other States. A rightful secession requires the consent of the others, or an abuse of the compact, absolving the seceding party from the obligations imposed by it.
The course of reasoning in the Report on the Resolutions required the distinction between a State & States It surely does not follow from the fact, of the States or rather people embodied in them, having as parties to the compact, no tribunal above them, that in controverted meanings of the Compact, a minority of the parties can rightfully decide against the majority; still less that a single party can decide against the rest, and as little that it can at will withdraw itself altogether, from a compact with the rest.
The characteristic distinction between free Govts. and Govts. not free is that the former are founded on compact, not between the Govt & those for whom it acts, but among the parties creating the Govt. Each of these being equal, neither can have more right to say that the compact has been violated and dissolved, than every other has to deny the fact, and to insist on the execution of the bargain. An inference from the doctrine that a single State has a right to secede, at its will from the rest is that the rest wd. have an equal right to secede from it, in other words to turn it, against its will out of its Union with them. Such a doctrine would not, till of late, have been palatable any where, and no where less so than where it is now most contended for.
A careless view of the subject might find an analogy between State secession, and personal individual expatriation. But the distinction is obvious and essential. Even in the latter case, whether regarded as a right impliedly reserved in the original Social compact, or as a reasonable indulgence, it is not exempt from certain condition It must be used without injustice or injury to the Community from which the expatriating party separates himself. Assuredly he could not withdraw his portion of territory from the common domain. In the case of a State seceding from the Union its domain would be dismembered, & other consequences brought on not less obvious than pernicious.
See previous posts concerning the concept of 'morally justified by the extremity of oppression'
See previous posts for actions 'absolving the seceding party from the obligations imposed by it.'
From Samuel Johnsons dictionary of 1785:
Separation: n. the act of departing; disjunction. 2. The state of being separate, disunion. 4. Divorce, disjunction.
Secession: s. a act of departing
Declaration of Independence:
"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
"We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
Without the "opinion" of an inconsistent Madison...what's the distinction between the words secession and separation by the body-politic in the Declaration viewed through the lens of Natural Law and laws ordained by our Creator referenced in the document? In your own words please.
We’re not ‘sposed to use our own words or mama get mad ;-)
Anyway, as you know, back in 1776, the people of the Colonies plainly, clearly, and simply stated in the Declaration that Natural Law and transcendent law of our Creator supersedes all other laws. They then assumed equal and separate standing leading to separation "at pleasure." They did not seek the approval of Parliament, the King or anyone else...they just declared it. This is the nonsense of it taking all parties to agree before a contract can be broken. In fact, I'm about to "withdraw" from one by declaration tomorrow in my business and I'm not waiting for the other party in the contract to agree to it. How absurd. Contracts are not perpetual, if so, then let's get the paddy-wagons out, round up all the people who walked away from their mortgages, deliver them back to their houses and MAKE THEM PAY! As unpleasant as it is, these people broke their contract without asking permission from all parties. Again, how absurd to think otherwise. In fact, the national government (sadly) is even helping these people "withdraw" from their contracts! Now, I/we may suffer consequences, may lose my business, may pay legal fees. But I'm not staying in it. So the war between the States was not settled by some profound legal mumbo jumbo related to universal law, perpetuity, unbreakable contracts without permission from all parties, etc. The war was settled because Lincoln decided to break his oath and act unconstitutionally. One person on this thread who I respect now for his honesty conceded that Lincoln had no authority to do what he did. He followed it with a "so what?" Fair enough, at least he was forthright enough not to hide behind what Lincoln did as somehow Constitutional. No, Lincoln won because he was willing to kill 700,000 fellow citizens. But in this case, might doesn't make right...it just means he won an unconstitutional war. That's all.
Fortunately, more and more people are awakening to the notion that a State can secede in 2012 at pleasure and hopefully some will in the near term. Though I fear some on this thread who are very Lincolonian will shoot people like me who may want to honor our Natural Rights and transcendent and Inalienable Right to self-governance without the "permission" of Congress. I only ask, that if you're going to shoot me for trying this, please make its a head shot and not a gut shot; I'm not fond of agony.
Back to contracts. Following Lincoln's notion of contracts in his 1st Inaugural Address, the 13 States should have waited for permission from England before the seceded! And this is the inconsistency of big-government pro-arbitrary Anybody But Obama so-called conservatives. They pound their chests about the moral superiority of declaring separation from England without "permission" and at their "pleasure;" but when the South decides to separate, all kinds of new theories about Universal law, perpetuity, odd contract law, with pleasure vs. injury emerge. They seem to be unable to see the inconsistency.
So, I'll end with the Voltaire quote I posted a few posts ago: "It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere."
Gad what a drama queen. You’re not gonna cry, are you?
Yea, I’m all torn up over that.
Thanks, though I don’t think pro-arbitrary power, anti-constitutional authority conservatives live rrocker share your sentiments.
As a Constitutionalist, I’m not well liked by the conservative living constitution crowd...even though I used to be one. Dr. Walter Williams helped me take off the blinders in 2000. And the pilgrimage continues.
There’s a sort who always like to attach themselves to those who wield arbitrary power. Russia was full of them, and some people are surprised to see the likes of Stalin still celebrated there, despite the death and destruction that followed in his wake. But people often overlook the same tendency here.
One of the more amusing aspects of modern life is to watch people behave like Romans without being aware of it.
The Romans engaged in a form of state-worship; they regarded their caesars as deities, according them god-like prerogatives, and built temples to them.
Today we can sit back and enjoy a hymn to the state, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, as we gaze upon the marble image in the Lincoln Temple, I mean Memorial, and reflect upon the unfettered power he exercised as he laid waste to about half of the country. But of course it was done for a high moral purpose so in our national religion he occupies a position about equal to Christ.
“See the problem was the slave owners wanted to run not just their states, but also the other states.”
That’s what Karl Marx wrote- are you ‘borrowing’ his ideas again?
One of the more interesting cases of secession conveniently ignored by the neo-yankee Lincoln cult is that of the Vermont Republic.
Vermont was disputed territory claimed by both New Hampshire and New York. The people of Vermont, including Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, didn’t choose to belong to either so they declared their independence of NH and NY and formed their own country. Vermont remained independent from 1777 to 1791, at which point it was admitted into the Union.
Even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then.
“I don’t want it explained, I want it PROVEN by historical documentation that anyone prior to 1850 said secession was unconstitutional.”
In a proclamation in December 1832, Jackson declared that the nullification movement was aimed at the destruction of the Union — that it led “directly to civil war and bloodshed” — and that, therefore, it was
incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.
Jackson insisted that individual states had no right to invalidate federal laws, or secede from the Union, at their own pleasure. He derided “the strange position that any one State may not only declare an act of Congress void, but prohibit its execution; that they may do this consistently with the Constitution; that the true construction of that instrument permits a State to retain its place in the Union and yet be bound by no other of its laws than those it may choose to consider as constitutional.” “Look for a moment to the consequence” of this position, Jackson admonished. If any state can declare a law oppressive and unjust, and therefore null and void — for any reason, however specious — then “every law operating injuriously upon any local interest will be perhaps thought, and certainly represented, as unconstitutional, and, as has been shown, there is no appeal.”
As for secession, Jackson declared that the Union could not be sundered by any individual State, because the Union pre-dated the States themselves. He pointed out that the “decisive and important steps” to declare America a nation were made jointly, not by the whim of separate states. “Under the royal Government” of Great Britain, Jackson reminded us, “we had no separate character; our opposition to its oppressions began as united colonies. ... Leagues were formed for common defense, and before the Declaration of Independence we were known in our aggregate character as the United Colonies of America.” Even under the weak Articles of Confederation, the States “agreed that they would collectively form one nation ... We were the United States under the Confederation, and the name was perpetuated and the Union rendered more perfect by the Federal Constitution.” Therefore, any State, which constitutes with the other states a Federal Union,
can not, from that period, possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation; and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union is to say that the United States are not a nation, because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense.
President Jackson went on to warn, in dark and forbidding tones, the citizens of the state of South Carolina — the state in which he was born. “Disunion by armed force is treason,” he declared. “Are you really ready to incur its guilt? If you are, on the heads of the instigators of the act be the dreadful consequences; on their heads be the dishonor, but on yours may fall the punishment. ... The consequence must be fearful for you, distressing to your fellow-citizens here and to the friends of good government throughout the world.”
So the short answer as to one person who asserted that secession was unconstitutional is “Andrew Jackson”.
That would be Davis who was willing to kill to preserve slavery and oppression. Lincoln’s fault in your eyes is that he was not willing to die to preserve slavery.
Rather like the “Lost Cause Losers” odd affection for the incompetent pretender to the false position of so called confederate president.
Yes, those Romans. They were so stupid. Compared to the clever confederates who also liked slavery.
In 1842 Prigg v Pennsylvania the Supreme Court struck down Pennsylvania's Fugitive Slave Law, proving yet again that the Slave Power was in firm control of the Federal Government.
There was some ambiguity in the Supremes' language, which lead several northern states to rewrite their Fugitive Slave Laws forbidding enforcement of Federal law by state authorities.
The bottom line here is that as of the 1850s, the Federal Government and even most Northern state governments had done everything required to comply with the Constitution's fugitive slave provision.
So the South in general, and South Carolina specifically, had no legitimate claim of "breach of contract".
That's why the claim of "breach of contract" by South Carolina secessionists was just bogus.
Their real reason for secession was the 100% constitutional election of Abraham Lincoln's anti-slavery Republicans, a reason secessionists fully acknowledged.
It means they seceded not constitutionally "for cause", but rather unconstitutionally "at pleasure".