previous next

[10] General Government and expressly prohibited to the States, and so far from reserving a right of secession to the latter, on any ground or under any pretence, it ordains and establishes in terms the Constitution of the United States as the Supreme Law of the land, any thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

It would seem that this is as clear and positive as language can make it. But it is argued, that, though the right of secession is not reserved in terms, it must be considered as implied in the general reservation to the States and to the People of all the powers not granted to Congress nor prohibited to the States. This extraordinary assumption, more distinctly stated, is that, in direct defiance of the express grant to Congress and the express prohibition to the States of nearly all the powers of an independent government, there is, by implication, a right reserved to the States to assume and exercise all these powers thus vested in the Union and prohibited to themselves, simply in virtue of going through the ceremony of passing a law called an Ordinance of Secession. A general reservation to the States of powers not prohibited to them, nor granted to Congress is an implied reservation to the States of a right to exercise these very powers thus expressly delegated to Congress and thus expressly prohibited to the States!

The Constitution directs that the Congress of the United States shall have power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, and that the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall make treaties with foreign powers.

These express grants of power to the Government of the United States are followed by prohibitions as express to the several States:--

“ No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation, grant letters of marque or reprisal: no State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.”

These and numerous other express grants of power to the General Government, and express prohibitions to the States, are further enforced by the comprehensive provision, already recited, that the Constitution and Laws of the United States are paramount to the laws and Constitution of the separate States.

And this Constitution, with these express grants and express prohibitions, and with this express subordination of the States to the General Government, has been adopted by the People of all the States; and all their judges and other officers, and all their citizens holding office under the government of the United States or the individual States, are solemnly sworn to support it.

In the face of all this, in defiance of all this, in violation of all this, in contempt of all this, the seceding States claim the right to exercise every power expressly delegated to Congress and expressly prohibited to the States by that Constitution, which every one of their prominent men, civil and military, is under oath to support. They have entered into a confederation, raised an army, attempted to provide a navy, issued letters of marque and reprisal, waged war, and that war,--Merciful Heaven forgive them,--not with a foreign enemy, not with the wild tribes which still desolate the unprotected frontier; (they, it is said, are swelling, armed with tomahawk and scalping-knife, the Confederate forces;) but with their own

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (4)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: