What is States Rights

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Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights? - Part Eight

Al Benson, Jr.

Thomas Jefferson envisioned an agricultural republic of confederated states. Several years ago I read an interesting book called The Jefferson Conspiracies written by David Leon Chandler (now deceased). He dealt at some length with some of the political intrigue that went on during the early days of the republic, and the picture he gives us of some of the Founding Fathers is, shall we say, less than pristine. In fact some of what he describes almost sounds like politics in Chicago. You have to wonder, reading some of this stuff, how much has really changed in the last two centuries. The happy fables we've been told about some of our founders are just that--fables.

Chandler comments on page 52 of his book, about the debates over the Constitution, observing that: "To a large degree, these debates concerned the merits of a strong, urban-based central government versus a weaker, rural-based confederacy. Had Jefferson been present it is likely that his arguments would have shifted the scales toward the rural view. As it was, the centralist ideas of Alexander Hamilton carried the day."

In regard to a national bank, he wrote: "The national bank was clearly designed to favor not only Federalists but mercantile over agricultural interests, and Jefferson attacked it immediately as unconstitutional. There was no authority anywhere in the Constitution, he said, to charter such a bank. Nevertheless, with Washington's backing, Hamilton prevailed and by doing so established an enduring nation-defining doctrine, 'implied' powers. In reply to Jefferson, Hamilton said the Constitution gave Congress authority to pass any laws 'necessary and proper' to carry out designated powers. One of the designated powers was to levy taxes and coin money." Seems like the checks and balances for which the Constitution is supposed to be so famous didn't work out too well here, except in favor of the centralizers. You can see from Chandler's comments that Mr. Hamilton had a rather loose view of what he could use the Constitution to get by with.

Reading further in Chandler's book, it seems that Hamilton also had a rather loose view of several other things. He was caught in an adulterous situation with another man's wife, which he admitted, when confronted, even presenting those questioning him with the correspondence between himself and the other man's wife. Interestingly enough, his questioners had pity on him and admitted that "the affair had no relation to Official Duties." Pardon me if I disagree, but I think that mindset is representative of one of the highest grades of bovine fertilizer known to man. If a man will cheat on his wife in the most sacred of human relationships, marriage, then he will not hesitate to cheat others in his performance of his "official duties" if doing so will benefit him or his friends. For that day and age his questioners had an amazingly modern mindset--and that not to their credit!

Looking at the limitations on "progressive" politicians which were present in the Articles of Confederation, you can see why the most aggressive of them, in concert with their sinful human natures, wanted more power. "Power corrupts" and sometimes even the mere thought of it corrupts.

Norine Campbell, in her biography of Patrick Henry (previously mentioned) noted: "The provisions left Congress no room for doubt as to where sovereignty lay under the Articles of Confederation, for they pointedly declared that each state retains its 'sovereignty, freedom, and independence.' Congress in a sense was merely an assembly of diplomats to whom had been entrusted the control of certain common problems. It derived its authority wholly from the states, as whose agent it acted. It was in no sense responsible to the people of the United States, nor could any of its actions bear directly upon them." A slightly different situation than we have today, where, Congress, in the name of "serving the people" has, in fact, become part of the ruling elite that controls the people and restricts their freedom.

Campbell observed that at the Constitutional Convention, the Virginia Plan, (previously noted) was introduced. She said "This proposed that the Articles of Confederation be put aside, and in their place, 'a National government, consisting of a supreme legislative, executive, and judiciary' be established. (The word National was later stricken out)." The word may have been stricken out, but the intent remained, and it remains until this day.

Although a strong opponent of the new centralizing document, Patrick Henry was not the only one. The well-known George Mason of Virginia was also a vocal opponent. In commenting on the proposed new Constitution, Mr. Mason said: "I thought it wrong, Mr. Chairman--I thought it repugnant to our highest interests--and if with these sentiments I had subscribed to it, I might have been justly regarded as a traitor to my country. I would have lost this hand before it should have marked my name to the new government." You have to admit that Mr. Mason told folks how he really felt. Such candor in our day would be a rarity. But, then, Mason was a statesman. Today we only have politicians.

When the opposition to the new Constitution in Virginia was perceived, George Washington came to the fore and began a letter writing campaign stating that it was either adopt the new Constitution or end up with anarchy. No other options available! And James Madison, centralist Alexander Hamilton and John Jay started cranking up their propaganda machine with a batch of articles that eventually morphed its way into the well-known series The Federalist Papers. These were geared to show the people how well the proposed Constitution would work out for everyone.

This goes along with comments by Gary North in his Conspiracy in Philadelphia where he noted: "The federal Constitution was created to apply equally to every age, never running down, wearing out, or falling into disrepair. As far as these Federalist writers were concerned, the new republic should continue in this perfect state forever...Throughout the debates, Federalists would continue to argue that the Constitution was a theoretically perfect instrument. As the state conventions went on, however, they came to admit the cold hard truth so often propounded by the Antifederalists--that the Constitution, however excellent in theory, might well be flawed in practice."

Campbell informs us that: "Madison was solicitous, nay eager, in his efforts at putting the plan over to the people, and there were certain methods in his exertions." Campbell's next comment is quite revelatory. She said: "However, everyone of consequence understood the issue. It was strict Federalism, with new and nationalistic attributes, against a loose union of local governments. Everyone of clear comprehension understood the binding effect of the final yea and nay. Madison was blunt, but not too blunt, when he declared: 'The Constitution requires an adoption in toto and forever'." The salient point of all this was centralism vs. local self-government. In that day the astute understood that issue. Campbell understands it, else she would not have written as she did. How many people today understand it?

To be continued.

Also see the other parts of this series by Al Benson, Jr.:
Part 1
| Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 |
Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14

If you found this article interesting, you might also like:
What is StatesRights by Mike Crane


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Al Benson, Jr. is a veteran columnist and activist. He is publisher of the Copperhead Chronicle newsletter which features commentary and analyses of history, culture, education, and faith. Mr. Benson, is author of the Homeschool History Series," a collection of booklets that discuss ignored facts about the War to Prevent Southern Independence. Additionally, he and Walter D. Kennedy are co-authors of Red Republicans and Lincoln's Marxists: Marxism in the Civil War. Mr. Benson's columns can be read at: AlBensonJr.Com, Mr. Benson's Blog, and FireEater.Org



The Virginia Plan, introduced May 29, 1787

On May 29, 1787 Edmund Randolph, Convention delegate and governor of Virginia

Mr Randolph, one of the Deputies of Virginia, laid before the House, for their consideration, sundry propositions, in writing, concerning the american confederation, and the establishment of a national government.

[Bold added][See Note 1 – Edmund Randolph]

Since Virginia was instrumental in first the calling of the Annapolis Convention and later the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Virginia delegation submitted the first plan to be debated as the "model" of the proposed new government, which became known as the Virginia Plan. Mr. Randolph was the delegate submitting the Virginia Plan which was the main subject of the debate in the convention.

In the Virginia Plan, the word "national" was used frequently. National Legislature is used 6 times. National Executive, National Judiciary, National Officers, National Revenue, National Peace and Harmony and National Laws are all used once. National is one of the most frequently used words in the document.

This was a plan for a national government a consolidated government; it was not a plan for a federated form of government with shared sovereignty with the States. In this plan the States were reduced to a very subordinate role.

Ladies and gentlemen, like myself I am sure that you have been told throughout most of your life that the intent of the Framers of the Constitution was to create a federated or federal form of government. The Framers were educated men and here in the words of the delegates from Virginia, mostly crafted by James Madison, is a plan for a national government – a consolidated government – NOT A FEDERATED government.

Some or many will say that the word "national" was just a casual reference to the central government. I truly wish that were true. But it isn't as the historical record will demonstrate:

Virginia Plan in Madison handwritingThe Virginia Plan was a national form of government, one designed to create a consolidated government. Three parts of this Plan tell the story:

1) The first is item number 5 from the stated objectives of the Virginia Plan

Read carefully: "to be paramount to the state constitutions."

2) The second is Resolution 6 of 15 in the submitted Virginia Plan

"moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual Legislation; to negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening in the opinion of the National Legislature the articles of Union; and to call forth the force of the Union agst. any member of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof."

3) The third is Resolution 15 of 15 in the Virginia Plan

"Resd. that the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation, by the Convention ought at a proper time, or times, after the approbation of Congress to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of Representatives, recommended by the several Legislatures to be expressly chosen by the people, to consider & decide thereon."

These are attributes of a "national", not federated form of government.

Source: What is States Rights - Part 5 (http://spofga.org/build/2010/states_rights_part_5.php)

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