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 of the Federal government that in the ratification of the Constitution Virginia expressly stipulated and asserted that ‘the powers granted should be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to her injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will.’ And even under these conditions it was only adopted by a recorded vote of 89 to 79, a majority of ten only in its favor. Had the advocates of the Constitution declared their intention to create a centralized government, from which the States could not withdraw when their rights were jeopardized, of which the people of each State were to be the judges, the Constitution would never have been ratified by the States, certainly not by Virginia. Mr. Madison, ‘the Father of the Federal Constitution,’ would never have voted for it, for in the Convention he declared that ‘the use of force against a State would be 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; a Union of States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction.’ In one of the debates in the New York State Convention, Hamilton, the great Federalist, said: ‘To coerce a State would be one of the maddest projects ever devised.’ And yet we have lived not only to see the attempt, but the complete consumation. The cause the ill-fated Confederacy undertook to defend was that of constitutional liberty and fidelity to law and covenants. Slavery was not the cause, but only the occasion, of the late Civil War. The existence of the institution was always the occasion of grave alarm. Jefferson prophesied that slavery would be the ‘rock upon which the old Union would split.’ Mr. Lincoln declared in 1858 that ‘this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.’ Mr. Seward asserted that the antagonism between freedom and slavery was ‘an irrepressible conflict.’ The concensus of opinion of the best men North and South was that it was a great evil, both morally and politically. Nearly a century and a quarter has elapsed since these debates occurred, which eventuated in the adoption of the Federal Constitution. Let us, with retrospective eye, glance down the pages of history and we shall see that with prophetic ken
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