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Stood for the Federal Union.

Virginia stood for the Federal Union; a union, as the name imports, which is created by treaty and reposes on the terms of that treaty. An involuntary Federal Union—a Federal Union extorted by force is a solecism. Every government, it is said, should contain within itself the means of its own preservation. Therefore, a Federal Union should contain the means of preserving the only basis of federation, the rights of the component States. A Federal Union which could readily be turned into a consolidation would be provided with the means of its own destruction.1 A Union, by naming itself Federal, expresses its ligament to be, not coercion, but convention. A Federal Union is the first and noblest agency of that growing force of which, not [288] universal subjection, but universal emancipation is the dream. The great transition of the latter centuries is the transition from the feudal to the Federal age, and from force to compact—that is, from force to freedom, which is the free dominion of the law—the coercion of ideas instead of the coercion of arms. To convince is to conquer. The flower of hope, which springs eternally, is the hope to change the law of power into the power of law; and in this strife of opposites the first-born son of mediation is Federal Union; the union of choice and affinity in place of constraint; the union of force in place of the union by force. As the tie is willing it is real; as it is real it is strong. It is through federation, not through centralization, that the true synthesis of the people comes.

1 ‘A union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.’—Madison.

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James Madison (1)
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