Nullification and Secession: Solutions or Talking Points?

Many of us in the South have maintained our faith in the Constitutional right of nullification and secession despite the efforts of massed, bloody, Yankee bayonets. But is the talk about nullification and secession an earnest effort to put forward solutions to an out of control, Deep State, supreme federal government or is it merely an exercise in heady political calisthenics?

I belong to the tribe that believes nullification and secession are the only real solutions to the current out of control supreme federal government. To demonstrate the validity of my belief, I will pose and answer three fundamental questions: (1) Are the concepts of state nullification and secession legitimate American political principles? (2) Is the current supreme federal government a legitimate governing authority? and (3) Would the modern-day acceptance of state nullification and secession be so unworkable that it would destroy the United States?

Lincoln answered the first question—whether state secession is a constitutional right—with a firm negative and enforced his opinion with legions of bloody bayonets. But Lincoln (1861) was not one of America’s (1776) founding fathers; therefore, his opinion pales to insignificance when compared to the actual words of the founding fathers. Even the High Federalist Alexander Hamilton was forced to admit that the Sovereign States had the right to protect their citizens from an abusive federal government: The South Was Right! James Ronald Kennedy, ... Best Price: $5.95 Buy New $11.97 (as of 02:05 EDT - Details)

It may be safety received as an axiom in our political system, that the State government…afford security…against the national authority. [1]

He based this upon the principle of State Sovereignty noting, “The State governments, by their original constitutions, are invested with complete sovereignty.” [2] James Madison expressed his agreement with the principle of State Sovereignty when he wrote:

Do they [the anti-Federalists] require that, in the establishment of the Constitution, the States should be regarded as distinct and independent sovereigns? They are so regarded by the Constitution proposed. [3]

These words from Federalist founding fathers stand in sharp contrast to Lincoln’s opinion. But the anti-Federalists speaking in the State ratification conventions were even more direct. Anti-Federalists in states such as Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island placed wording in their ratification resolutions declaring for all the world to see that the Sovereign State had the right to withdraw its consent to the Union formed by the Constitution should said Union become abusive or encroach upon the rights reserved to the Sovereign States.[4] Nullification and secession are based upon the American principle of State Sovereignty. As a Sovereign, the State may take whatever action it deems necessary to protect its rights and the liberty of its citizens. This includes the right to withdraw powers previously delegated by the Sovereign State to its agent—the federal government. Therefore, according to the founding fathers, nullification and secession are legitimate powers reserved to the Sovereign States. The founding fathers, who believed in liberty, were right—Lincoln, who believed in an all-powerful federal government, was wrong! Facts the Historians L... John S. Tilley Best Price: $5.64 Buy New $5.28 (as of 05:25 EDT - Details)

By answering the first question, we have raised a much more troubling second question: Is the current supreme federal government legitimate? What was the metric used by America’s founding fathers to determine if a government is legitimate? The metric is clearly stated in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes    destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…..

In 1893, agents of the federal government worked to overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii, and eventually, the United States invaded and deposed the legitimate government of Hawaii—a government with which, up to that time, the United States had diplomatic relations. The United States forced the people of Hawaii to accept a new constitution—one that was not based upon the free and unfettered consent of the people of Hawaii. The native people of Hawaii referred to the new constitution as a “bayonet constitution.”[5] According to the principle of consent as declared in the Declaration of Independence, the subsequent governments of Hawaii are illegitimate—because they are based not upon consent but upon coercion. If this is true for Hawaii of 1893, then it must also be true for the South of 1865.

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