The South did not rebel.
The impartial voice of history will declare that the Southern States
in asserting the Constitutional right of secession, did not enter upon ‘rebellion,’ or create a new doctrine, but followed the logic of the history of the Constitution
, and interpretations of that instrument by some of the most illustrious of the fathers, maintained, regardless of section, at different times, by many of the foremost statesmen of the republic.
All know that the revolution wrung from the mother country the solemn recognition of the ‘thirteen United States of America
,’ and ‘each of them,’ as ‘free and independent States.’
They and ‘each of them’ then became possessed of absolute sovereignty.
As ‘free and independent States,’ each acting for its sovereign self, they formed the Confederation, and then, by virtue of the same sovereignty as States, formed the Union
We need not detail subsequent history, and the numerous debates which have exhausted argument, except to say that the public mind vibrated like a pendulum between two opinions at different eras of the republic, as to the power and rights of the States.
If we may judge by the action of the people of the United States
, for a considerable period after Washington
's death, a majority of them believed the Constitution
‘a compact to which the States were parties, and that, as in all other cases of compact between parties having common judges, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of the infraction as the mode and measure of redress.’
The Virginia and Kentucky
resolutions which proclaimed this doctrine were written respectively by Madison
; and the latter, though not avowing his authorship, was known to concur fully in them.
These resolutions were immediately denounced by some of the States as ‘inflammatory and pernicious.’
, in a bitter struggle between the opposing ideas, two years afterwards, was elected President
of the United States
, and then re-elected in 1804; and his successor was Madison
, upon whose motion a proposed clause in the Constitution
‘authorizing the exertion of the force of the whole against delinquent States,’ was unanimously postponed.
, who scouted any idea of any government for the United States
, ‘framed on the supposed practicability of using force against unconstitutional proceedings of a State.’
had said, ‘to coerce a State was one of the maddest projects that was ever devised. * * * But can we believe ’