Sovereign, independent States.
The States constituting the Union
had rebelled against George III as States.
They had fought through the war of that rebellion as States.
did not join the confederation until March 1, 1781, and Virginia
had declared her independence long before the confederated States had declared themselves ‘free and independent States.’
The treaties with France
and the foreign powers during the war had been made with the States by name; the treaty acknowledging their independence had recognized each State by name.
The Constitution was formed by States, each having an equal vote.
It was adopted and put in operation by States.
and North Carolina
refused to consent to it, and remained out of the Union
for two years as independent States.
If any historical fact ever has been established, or ever can be settled, it is that the Union
was formed of equal, independent, sovereign States by the act of those States themselves.
This being so, the whole course of English history shows that our ancestors have invariably at all times redressed wrongs and reformed abuses in government by armed resistance to illegal power when necessary.
It had long been an axiom of our race that ‘resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.’
Our ancestors had rebelled against King John and wrung from him the great charter; they had rebelled against Charles I when he attempted to govern them without a Parliament of their own representatives; they rebelled against the Commonwealth
when it attempted to rule them contrary to ancient institutions of the realm; they rebelled against James II when he was suspected of intending to overthrow their laws; they rebelled against George III when he tried to deprive them of the rights of their ancestors—never to be taxed except by their own consent.
The right of rebellion, then, was one of the inherited and inalienable rights of a free-born race.