I hope you understand the uniqueness of Rod and my examinations of the Confederacy. (And now Mitchell has decided to join in as well) He has issued his first of many postings in this arena, here, so now, it is my turn to respond. I want to do so by examining the Preambles of the respective Constitutions. I am not sure how Rodney feels, but I do think that in 1861, States had a right to secede. So, if you see me referring to the Confederacy as an independent nation, you’ll have to excuse that.
We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
One other document which we must consider is the perpetual union as created by the Articles of Confederation, which in its preamble, reads,
To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.
Whereas the Delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled did on the fifteenth day of November in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy seven, and in the Second Year of the Independence of America, agree to certain articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, in the words following, viz:
Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
One of the problems with the Articles is that it gave to the States the status of sovereign nations, the errors of which we saw during the intervening years between the end of the American Revolution and the call for the Constitution. Several states almost went to war with one another. The U.S. Framers sought to remedy this by circumventing the States and appealing directly to the people for their authority. You have to further understand the notion of ‘people’ in the U.S. Constitution. People were white people. Further, they were the ones which needed to be protected – corporations, landed gentry, and the such. And whom did they need protecting from? The rabble. Us. Further, in appealing to the people, instead of the States, the U.S. Framers were able to get around the Articles of Confederation as a perpetual document. The Confederate States remedied that. The people, in the States, were now acting as States. In truth, this was the way it almost was in the U.S. as well, but it was not codified in the preamble and thus was rapidly changing.
It also calls to mind the Lockean theory of social contracts which was codified in the Articles of Confederation, Article II –
Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
How does this reach us today? Those who are for a decentralized form of Government is only doing what both Confederacies had tried to do before them – keep government control as local as possible without making it a democracy. Therefore, the States, which were the successors to the Colonies, where the natural body-politick and those was the only thing people could rightfully act within. The U.S. Framers actually sought to centralize the government, bypassing much of the sovereignty of the States. The Confederates sought to decentralize government and give the sovereignty back to the people acting within the States. For a continued look at the role of States as originally thought of by the actual Founders of the united States of America, read the Articles of Confederation.
Returning to the preambles, however, we do note, as Rodney did, that the Confederacy invoked the favor of Almighty God, something the U.S. Constitution never did. This was because of the high standing of traditional (American) Christianity which was used in the South at the time – which had seen a revival since the American Revolution. I note as well that there is a philosophical difference, not just a polemic one, between forming a ‘permanent federal government’ and a ‘more perfect Union.’ The Confederate States were fighting for the right to leave the Union. To then form another union would be to actually validate the previous one, which could not happen. Further, a union would erase the sovereignty of the States, but a federal government would actually allow for the States to be states. Gone now is the issue of ‘promoting the general Welfare’ which gave the U.S. Government, and still does mind you, the right to interfere in the internal issues of the States when it becomes necessary. Further, the Confederate Constitution actually forces the Government to protect the commerce and internal politics of the States from outside influence because anything which upsets the balance will not insure domestic tranquility. What we have, then, is the decentralizer’s dream of high State sovereignty, low federal involvement unless the social structures of the State is at stake.
Imagine how that would have played out in the 1960’s? Or even the 1920’s when women were finally given the right to vote? Or today, when social media is playing a large role in the way we interact with our Government. Further, and as we will get to later, the lack of Union actually helped to destroy the Southern effort. Would it have been possible to withstand the Communistic onslaught without a strong Federal Government? Or the social upheavals if the General Welfare was not promoted?
What is also noticeably missing as well is the clause of common defense. The U.S. Constitution was framed during a time of external peace, but internal division. The Confederate Constitution was framed during a time of grave external threats. Why wasn’t the issue of a common defense raised? Could it have something to do with the ‘independent character’ of the sovereign States? We do know from Confederate history that there really was not a common defense.
How does this connection with religion, theology and the such? Because as Jim says, you don’t just read theology, you live theology. Examining history and politics helps us to do that. This is a current issue – Davis was correct – and will continue to be from time to time.
- The Confederate States of America (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- COLUMN: Hundreds of Iredell veterans died in Civil War – Statesville Record & Landmark (news.google.com)
- How are unionist and confedrate views different (wiki.answers.com)