before the 4th of July, 1776.
The preamble recited that, by reason of the oppression of the King
of Great Britain
, “all civil authority under him is necessarily at an end, and a dissolution of government in each colony has consequently taken place.”
The Constitution of July 2, 1776, with this preamble, remained the Constitution
of New Jersey
for more than sixty years, with only the alteration of a single word, which was made in 1777.
and New Jersey
were, therefore, separately independent, in fact, and by declaration, before the general declaration was made by the assembled delegates on.the 4th of July.
That declaration was consistent in comprising by a unanimous vote the concurrence of all in the proclamation of the same fact, and the joint resolve for maintaining it by the arms of all. In accordance with the same principles, Congress expressly and by resolution delegated to the colonial Legislatures, and subsequently to the States, as solely belonging to them, the duty of providing laws for the punishment of treason, and the right and duty which were exercised with a great deal of energy in some of the Middle States
, particularly New York, for confiscating the estates of adherents to Great Britain
The Fourth of July is, therefore, pre-eminently an anniversary to be preserved and commemorated by the adherents to the doctrine of State sovereignty.
It was the work of men who laid the corner-stone of constitutional freedom on that rock.
The confederation which followed the declaration was simply a league, and a very imperfect one, which, without any national strength, carried the country through the war. The confederation of the States which became, by the Constitution
of 1787, the Union of the States, reserved the individuality of the States, as the indispensable element of liberty and good government.
, after a long series of perversions and abuses, by which the forms of the Constitution
were made powerful to overthrow the rights of the South
, and establish over us a sectional despotism, with pretended authority against its original and essential provisions, has at last thrown off the appearances of respect for it, and is marching its armies openly to overthrow State authorities and State existence with fire and sword.
The Constitution of 1787 is superseded by a military despotism, and the authors of these usurpations avow without scruple that they have a mission to repair the errors of 1776, and establish institutions against which the independence and individuality of the States have been heretofore obstructions, which the Constitution
offered them too slow aids in overcoming.
The Secretary of State
proclaims that the war will never be ended until the “miserable” casuistry of State rights is effectually disposed of, and there shall be no longer any distinction of citizenship, according to State lines.
The confidential counsellors of the Administration, and the press, proclaim that it will be the chief duty of Lincolnism “to efface the old colonial geography
,” and to abolish “the admitted powers of States,” as “the source of all present evils.”
The creation of a nationality by the “removal of State power,” is the end proposed by this war, and the means are not less boldly avowed.
In the language of one of the foreign Ministers of Mr. Lincoln
, it is by “national unity and power,” “combined, condensed, and concentrated in army and navy.”
These are open war upon every principle of freedom which the Declaration of 1776 asserted and the Revolution won. They go further: they are war upon every principle of freedom which existed and was nurtured in the colonies before the war of independence, and by which the people had been trained up in the knowledge of virtue and heroism, which instructed them in the value of independence and enabled them to win it.
The Confederate States
, in resisting these abominable doctrines, and the atrocious acts by which they are sought to be enforced, are guarding with their swords the ancient British liberties, which educated and disciplined the original thirteen for the work of overthrowing the armed tyranny of a great empire, as well as the new and grander principles of human rights and popular self-government, which that independence achieved for themselves, their posterity, and mankind.
To them, therefore, belongs the most sacred right of property in the memories of Independence Day, as the loyal inheritors of its principles and its glories.
They will be so ranked in impartial history when the monument at Bunker Hill
, which was reared to commemorate the willing sacrifice of patriot blood for the noble cause of liberty, may stand in a land of willing slaves as a statue of Cato
might stand over the manger of the horse of whom Caligula
made a consul for debased Rome
.--New Orleans Picayune