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[493] can have no signification except in relation to the true sovereign. To say, therefore, that the agent of the sovereign people, the representative of the system they have organized to conduct their common affairs, composed the real sovereign, and that loyalty or disloyalty is of signification in relation to this sovereign alone, is not only a perversion of language, but an error that leads straight to the subversion of all popular government and the establishment of the monarchial or consolidated form. The government of the United States is now the sovereign here, says President Lincoln in this proclamation, and loyalty consists in the maintenance of that sovereignty against all its foes. The sovereignty of the people and of the several and distinct states, in his mind, was only a weakness and enthusiasm of the fathers. The states and the people thereof had become consolidated into a national Union. ‘I appeal,’ says President Lincoln, ‘to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our national Union.’

The Confederate States refused thus ‘to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of a national Union.’ They not only refused to aid, but they took up arms to defeat the consummation of such a monstrous usurpation of popular rights and popular sovereignty. It was evident that, if no efforts for a rescue were made, the time would soon come when the rights of all the states might be denied, and the hope of mankind in constitutional freedom be forever lost. This was the usurpation. This lay at the foundation of the war. Every subsequent act of the government was another step in the same direction, all tending palpably to supremacy for the government of the United States, the subjugation of the states, and the submission of the people.

This was the adversary with whom we had to struggle, and this was the issue for which we fought. That we dared to draw our swords to vindicate the rights and the sovereignty of the people, that we dared to resist and deny all sovereignty as inherently existing in the government of the United States, was adjudged an infamous crime, and we were denounced as ‘rebels.’ It was asserted that those of us ‘who were captured should be hung as rebels taken in the act.’ Crushing the corner stone of the Union, the independence of the states, the federal government assumed toward us a position of haughty arrogance, refused to recognize us otherwise than as insurrectionists and ‘rebels,’ who resisted and denied its usurped sovereignty, and who were entitled to no amelioration from the punishment of death, except such as might proceed only from the promptings of mercy.

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