Skip to comments.What Americans Used To Know About The Declaration Of Independence
Posted on 07/04/2013 7:32:01 AM PDT by blam
What Americans Used To Know About The Declaration Of Independence
Politics / US Politics Jul 04, 2013 - 05:58 AM GMT
By: Thomas J DiLorenzo
"During the weeks following the  election, [Northern newspaper] editors of all parties assumed that secession as a constitutional right was not in question . . . . On the contrary, the southern claim to a right of peaceable withdrawal was countenanced out of reverence for the natural law principle of government by consent of the governed." - ~ Howard Cecil Perkins, editor, Northern Editorials on Secession, p. 10
The first several generations of Americans understood that the Declaration of Independence was the ultimate states rights document. The citizens of the states would delegate certain powers to a central government in their Constitution, and these powers (mostly for national defense and foreign policy purposes) would hopefully be exercised for the benefit of the citizens of the "free and independent" states, as they are called in the Declaration.
The understanding was that if American citizens were in fact to be the masters rather than the servants of government, they themselves would have to police the national government that was created by them for their mutual benefit. If the day ever came that the national government became the sole arbiter of the limits of its own powers, then Americans would live under a tyranny as bad or worse than the one the colonists fought a revolution against. As the above quotation denotes, the ultimate natural law principle behind this thinking was Jeffersons famous dictum in the Declaration of Independence that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that whenever that consent is withdrawn the people of the free and independent states, as sovereigns, have a duty to abolish that government and replace it with a new one if they wish.
This was the fundamental understanding of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence that it was a Declaration of Secession from the British empire of the first several generations of Americans. As the 1, 107-page book, Northern Editorials on Secession shows, this view was held just as widely in the Northern states as in the Southern states in 1860-1861. Among the lone dissenters was Abe Lincoln, a corporate lawyer/lobbyist/politician with less than a year of formal education who probably never even read The Federalist Papers.
The following are some illustrations of how various Northern-state newspaper editors thought of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence in 1860-1861:
On November 21, 1860, he Cincinnati Daily Press wrote that:
We believe that the right of any member of this Confederacy [the United States] to dissolve its political relations with the others and assume an independent position is absolute that, in other words, if South Carolina wants to go out of the Union, she has the right to do so, and no party or power may justly say her nay. This we suppose to be the doctrine of the Declaration of Independence when it affirms that governments are instituted for the protection of men in their lives, liberties, and the pursuit of happiness; and that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government . . .
On December 17, 1860 the New York Daily Tribune editorialized that "We have repeatedly asked those who dissent from our view of this matter [the legality of peaceful secession] to tell us frankly whether they do or do not assent to Mr. Jeffersons statement in the Declaration of Independence that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . . We do heartily accept this doctrine, believing it intrinsically sound, beneficent, and one that , universally accepted, is calculated to prevent the shedding of seas of human blood." Furthermore, the Tribune wrote, "[I]f it justified the secession from the British Empire of Three Millions of colonists in 1776, we do not see it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861."
The Kenosha, Wisconsin Democrat editorialized on January 11, 1861, that "The founders of our government were constant secessionists. They not only claimed the right for themselves, but conceded it to others. They were not only secessionists in theory, but in practice.. The old confederation between the states [the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union] was especially declared perpetual by the instrument itself. Yet Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and the hosts of heroes and statesman of that day seceded from it." And, "The Constitution provides no means of coercing a state in the Union; nor any punishment for secession."
Again on February 23, 1861, the New York Daily Tribune reiterated its view that "We must not, in behalf of either of the Union of Freedom, trample down the great truth that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed."
The Washington, D.C. States and Union newspaper editorialized on March 21, 1861, that "The people are the ruling judges, the States independent sovereigns. Where the people chose to change their political condition, as our own Declaration of Independence first promulgated, they have a right to do so. If the doctrine was good then, it is good now. Call that right by whatever name you please, secession or revolution, it makes no sort of difference."
This last sentence was a response to the Republican Party propaganda machine of the day that invented the theory that the Declaration allows for a "right of revolution" but not a right of "secession." The States and Union recognized immediately that this non-distinction was nothing more than a rhetorical flimflam designed to deceive the public about the meaning of their own Declaration of Independence. It is a piece of lying propaganda that is repeated to this day by apologists for the American welfare/warfare/police state, especially the Lincoln-worshipping neocons at National Review, the Claremont Institute, and other appendages of the Republican Party.
On the eve of the war the Providence, Rhode Island Evening Press warned that "the employment of [military] force" against citizens who no longer consented to being governed by Washington, D.C. , "can have no other result than to make the revolution itself complete and lasting, at the expense of thousands of lives, hundreds of millions of dollars, and amount of wretchedness fearful to contemplate, and the humiliation of the American name."
The Evening Press then reminded its readers that in the American Revolution the colonists rejected "the Divine right of Kings" to do whatever they wanted to their subjects. "Our forefathers disputed this dictum," they wrote, and "rose against it, fought against it, and by successful revolution accomplished their independence of it. In its place they substituted the doctrine that to secure human happiness, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . ."
On this Fourth of July most Americans will not be celebrating or commemorating these founding, natural law principles. To the extent that they are celebrating anything but a day off work to overeat and overdrink, they will be celebrating the imperial warfare/police state with hundreds of parades featuring marching soldiers in camouflage, flags galore, military vehicles, jet fighter fly-overs, "patriotic"/warmongering musical anthems, etc. The symbol of all of this is King Lincoln himself, who rejected every single principle of the Declaration of Independence. His successors have reinterpreted the document to "justify" endless military interventionism all over the globe in the name of "making all men everywhere equal." To the neocons, this means perpetual wars for "democracy." This of course has nothing whatsoever to do with the real meaning of the Declaration of Independence and is in fact the exact opposite. No people in any country that has been invaded and occupied by the U.S. military have ever consented to being governed as such by Washington, D.C. As such, they can all be thought of as Neo-Confederates.
one nation,under surveillance with Obamacare and EBT for all .
Most pupils today can’t learn or won’t bother to learn excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. It has little meaning to them.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance, reads one of Jeffersons indictments against the king. An early American description of the monstrous govt we the people now live under---capable of extraordinary crimes against it s people.
<><> there's Benghazi
<><> state dept's coverup of sex scandals---obstructing justice---scrubbing investigations
<><> Holder's DOJ (labeling journo Rosen a criminal--monitoring AP, and USSC and Congress' Verizon blackberries)
<><> IRS targeting inoocents (enraging legions of IRS haters)
<><> IRS stealing 60 million private medical records
<><> HHS' Sibelius strong-arming Obamacare insurance providers for money
<><> NSA snooping---infuriating millions of young twitter/facebook users
<><> IRS sending $45 Million/that's 32,000 EITC refunds to illegals at ONE address.
<><> Letting Snowden globe-trot w/ US secrets
<><> EPA using phantom email accounts
<><> Fast and Furious gun-running; savage drug cartels kill two American border patrol agents
<><> Ohaha giving 5 million henchmen top security clearance---w/ no oversight WRT Ntl security implications
<><> govt wiretaps rose 71% last year alone
<><> O using drones to shoot down Americans
<><> monstrous TSA travesties.
<><> Solyndra and other green money-laundries
<><> sucking up to gays and other predator/perverts
<><> forcing the Boy Scouts to admit gays.
<><> vile Ohahacare--the tyrant forced to delay one onerous provision.
“What difference does it make?” - Hillary Clinton
” I am not, nor ever hsve been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races...” Abe Lincoln in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858.
“If I thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission and offer my sword to the other side.” Ulysses Grant
“Southern soldiers argued that the legacy of the Founding Fathers was not so much the Union as the principle of self-government.” The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Phd
Mr. DiLorenzo is not an historian. His version of US history is phony as a three dollar bill.
Oh, how can this be? I’ve gotten in many an argument with FReepers who tell me that states simply can’t withdraw from the Union, because it is indivisible. One of them even tried to assert that we might be able to secede, but only if we got Congressional approval first!
Ok, but are you disputing the historical documents cited in the article, the author’s interpretation of them, or do you just not like the guy in general, rather than something about this piece specifically?
I am not disputing that pro-secession editorials appeared in Democrat newspapers. That does change the fact that the Founding Fathers and the early Presidents all considered unilateral secession treason. None of those men were Jews or Republicans, by the way, despite Democrat Klansman DiLorenzo’s ranting against “neo-cons” and Republicans.
Well I certainly wouldn’t try the murderous approach that the confeds tried.
Highly unlikely Grant ever said this. For one thing, its grandiloquence was not in his character.
Whatever else you may say about the man, he wasn't flashy.
True enough. But since SC was holding well over 50% of "the governed" in chattel bondage, it's unlikely they "consented."
I have a book entitled “The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History” by Thomas E. Woods Jr., Ph.D. I copied that quote from that book. If you know anything negative about the author or the book please let me know as I use the information in it.
Side note: On a TV show this AM it depicted Grant as a drunk, and quoted Lincoln as asking what he drank so he could give it to the rest of the Union army, because Grant was winning.
I’ve done a fair amount of research on Grant’s drinking. Several things became fairly clear.
Grant throughout his life had a real problem with alcohol. Not with constant drinking, but stopping once he got started. IOW, he was a binge drinker. He tended to drink when he was bored or unhappy, especially when away from his wife, who he adored.
His enemies used his past history of drinking as a cudgel against him during the war. Lincoln specifically sent a semi-undercover operative, Charles Dana, out to hang with Grant’s army to find out the facts. Dana said there was no truth to it and became a big fan of Grant.
There is no solid evidence of Grant ever being incapable or impaired by alcohol during a battle or other important event.
Don’t know anything about the book specifically, but any book with that title is by definition looking for controversial stuff to include.
If you’re going to use this as a quote from Grant, imo you should have a contemporary source, not just a recently published book.
I’ve read other things Grant did say about slavery, and basically it was that he didn’t care one way or the other.
FWIW, before the war, when he was in dire financial straits, Grant freed the only slave he ever personally owned. To put this into some perspective, freeing him rather than selling him was the rough equivalent of giving up a year or more of income.
In fairness, the TV show did say that Grant was drinking more because he missed his wife and young child.
Send a barrel of it to all my generals.....A Lincoln.
Murderous? Voting to secede via the state legislatures is murderous how?
“That does change the fact that the Founding Fathers and the early Presidents all considered unilateral secession treason.”
Well, that’s nice, but it really isn’t something that they had any authority to decide. Even if they had written into the Constitution that states couldn’t secede (which they didn’t, so the whole debate is pointless based on the 10th Amendment), the natural rights of men take precedence over even the Constitution.
That’s a valid point, but there was no universal suffrage at that time in any state, and since women are half the population in general, then you could say the same for every state.
I disagree with your premise that states cannot now secede. Who says they can’t? Just because the North won the War of Northern Agression does not mean that that victory was written in stone! If the popular will of the people of a state is to secede, then they can do it. The FedGov will try to force that state back into the union, which is an entirely different scenario, but a state can secede if it wants to. It is a false premise to promote the idea that “we can’t do it now.” We can do whatever the heck we want to and their task is to try to stop us! Reference the Revolutionary War, the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and King George. Didn’t work out so well for him, did it?
Good post Highball.
One of the pain-points of the continuing discussions on FreeRepublic regarding “states rights” and the supposed right of secession is that when you criticism the confederate secession southerners interpret that as a personal criticism of them. I’m sure that you have no intention of disparaging any fellow FReepers but some will likely get their noses out of joint.
I largely agree with your statements, “Unfortunately, that means the rights of states to secede is now largely invalidated. States can’t anymore, as the political question was settled on the battlefield” but would say that the issue of unilateral secession (as practiced by the confeds) is settled (prohibited) but the larger question of secession is still open. The agreement to dissolve must include all affected parties - not just the separating state(s).
Anything short of that guarantees conflict and confrontation.
Like I said, we can do anything we want. It is up to them to stop us. Granted, the cost to secede might be too high for some, but it is the cost, not the ***ability*** to do so. This “precedent” stuff is way over-rated. It stands only when someone wants it to stand. Look at all the people who are trashing the Constitution. They don’t care a whit about “precedent.”
All I’m saying is that peaceful succession might now be possible if the CSA hadn’t been an outright evil nation. The Confederacy forced the hand to preserve their slavery, and tarnished the concept of succession by association with it.
Now succession doesn’t have the moral high ground it once did, even in the North (see the editorials above), and will always be met with strong military force. That’s a vastly different reality than was once the norm in our nation.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.