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[247]

Was the Confederate soldier a Rebel?

Was the Confederate soldier a Rebel?

In The Green Bag for December, 1899, and January, 1900, this question is answered by Bushrod C. Washington. His argument is clean-cut, strong and convincing. His conclusion agrees with that of all southern men, and must be the verdict of posterity. He argues the legality of the course pursued by the seceding States, and plainly shows that the people of that section were not Rebels. No fairminded man can read history and deny the correctness of his conclusions. Quoting from unquestioned authority, he makes plain, beyond all controversy, that there was never any intention of any of the States in the original compact of union to give up the reserved rights not expressly delegated to the general government under the constitution. His argument, than which nothing can be clearer, is, that the North broke the compact and that the South, for that reason and that alone, sought to withdraw.

Candid men must admit that the compact was broken by the North. Admitting this, they must justify the South in the course taken by her people. The union was a union of political societies upon an agreed basis, and that basis was the constitution. Hamilton, as quoted by Mr. Washington, expresses this clearly, ‘If a number of political societies enter a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact pursuant to the powers entrusted to it by its constitution must necessarily be supreme over those societies. But it will not follow from this that the acts of the larger which are not pursuant to its constituted powers but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such.’

That Congress committed these acts of usurpation cannot now be denied, and the election of Mr. Lincoln in 1860, upon a platform pledged to override the constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States, was an unmistakable expression on the part of the people of the North of a determination to disregard the solemn mandates of that instrument which formed the bond of union between the sections. This determination once formed and expressed, the South had the legal right to withdraw from the compact,

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