North and South
The Conflict Between the North and the South
Who was in the Right?

(This article is abridged from the larger work of the same title, soon to be published by Marian Publications.)


       The great conflict that occurred between the North and the South in the middle of the 19th century left the greatest scar that the people of this nation has ever known. The United States of America was forever changed as a result of this conflict and the measures taken by Lincoln and the North. Just which side was justified in its efforts? Who was legally (i.e., constitutionally) right? Was there a morally just side? Were the Southern States radical and would they have destroyed the Union had they withdrawn successfully? Was Abraham Lincoln the real hero that he has been portrayed as? We will answer these and other questions with much information that has been suppressed and left out of establishment history texts and main-stream media outlets. Before we get into the specifics of why the Southern States wanted to depart from the Union, and whether or not they had the right to do so, we must take a quick look at the general characteristics of the people of each region. (This is the first part of a four part series.)

The Conflict of Cultures and Influence
The South

       During the early decades of the 19th century the differences between the South and the North had multiplied. Friction between them increased as a result. A large part of the cultural and social differences came from the fact that the Catholic religion, and the culture that results from its influence, had a greater impact in the South than it did in the North. This was true, even though: 1) there were many more Catholics in the North than there were in the South, and 2), there were many more non-Catholics in the South than there were Catholics. (This has always been the case in both the North and the South.) However, the Catholics in the South tended to be more in positions of influence than those in the North. For example: The Chief Justice of Louisiana from 1836-1846 was a Catholic, Francis Xavier Martin; William J. Gaston was an influential justice for the State Supreme Court of North Carolina from 1833-1844. It was because of him that in 1836 the anti-Catholic laws of the States were dropped from the books. Roger Taney, born on a tobacco plantation, was the U. S. Attorney General under Andrew Jackson from 1831-1836, and then became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1836-1864. Stephen p. Malloy was Secretary of the Navy in President Jefferson Davis' Cabinet. All were Southern Catholics. No Catholics held influential positions like this in the North. The best educated Catholics of the country also were, for the most part, in the South. Catholics in the North for the most part were either poor or simply among the working class.

       Even those Protestant sects which originated in the North, like the Church [sic] of Christ, Scientist, Christadelphian, Spiritualist, Unitarian, and Universalist sects did not gain ground in the South. They had too much of a “New England Feel” about them. These new religions were based on the late 18th century rationalism and 19th century skepticism. Most of these sects doubted the divine inspiration of Sacred Scripture. None of them recognized the divinity of Christ, and thus rejected the truth of the Blessed Trinity. Such liberal radicalism was never acceptable not only to Catholics, but to Southern Baptists, Virginia Episcopalians or Methodists. Thus, in general, Protestantism in the South had a different character about it than it did in the North.

       The South was predominantly an agricultural society. Such a society is one where the cultivation of land, the breeding and raising of livestock, producing food crops, and farming in general is a way of life, not simply a necessity for obtaining food by which to live. Such a way of life is dependant upon the cycles of the seasons, upon understanding God’s creation and how it works. Men who lead it are often more aware of how dependant they are upon God’s laws of nature than do those who do not live an agrarian life. Such a way of life encourages and better fosters a greater respect for our place in creation than does an urban-oriented life.

       The South had a society that was some-what hierarchical, one in which there was order and respect for authority. We might say that it had a social hierarchy. It was structured in a way that reflected the old Catholic European society. Many of the large Southern plantations were in fact like the old Europeans Medieval manors. Even though most of the South was Protestant, Southerners in general had a deep respect for their European heritage, whether or not they knew that heritage, culturally speaking, was influenced by the Catholic Church. The ideas of chivalry, honor, and duty were not merely respected and given lip-service, but were central to Southern upbringing and the way of life. The formation of gentlemen and ladies and the virtues connected with proper behavior and modesty in both appearance and manners also were central. There were official codes of honor published to assist this effort. For example: the “Code of Honor” of New Orleans stated that “among the refined, virtue with women and honor with men are more valuable than life – are more worthy of the last defense.” This is clearly a Catholic principle.

       There was more ceremony and pageantry in the life of a Southerner. (So much of that is lost today because of the Northern victory and its subsequent influence.) Beauty and art were not only more important for many Southerners, but these were part of the very fabric of such a semi-aristocratic society. Many slaves often had more free and leisure time than “free” blacks and whites who worked and slaved in Northern factories. These leisure hours produced art and songs and so much more. “Culture” did not just happen, but was a conscious effort.

       The passing down of family and cultural traditions was much stronger in the South than it was in the North. Southerners, because they respected the past, knew they were connected to it, and had the values they possessed because they had been passed down as sacred. As God has revealed: “Remember the days of old, think upon every generation, ask thy father; inquire of the former generation, and seek into the memory of the fathers” (Deut.32:7; Job 8:8). Staying connected with the past and continuing family and cultural traditions was one of the influences the Church had upon society. The South retained such a devotion to this heritage. As friction increased with the North, Southerners were fearful of being cut off from their connection to the past. The student needs to know that an entire culture and heritage was threatened, not simply how cotton and tobacco were to be picked and gathered.

       In the South, where many of the best educated Catholics lived, the support of Catholics was whole and complete for the Southern cause. It was quite clear to Catholics that Southern society and culture had a Catholic dimension which the North lacked. With its hierarchical order, its efforts to cultivate and develop those virtues and characteristics proper to the formation of gentlemen and ladies, respect for our old European heritage, and other aspects, Southern society was imbued with a Catholic spirit that did not exist in the North and that Northerners even despised.

       Catholic influence in the South can be seen in a number of ways. The most famous Southern anthem, Dixie (or Dixie Land) was composed by a Catholic, Daniel Emmet. Other popular Southern songs, Bonnie Blue Flag by Harry McCarthy, and Maryland, My Maryland, by James Randell, were composed by Catholics. The man known as the “Poet of the Confederacy” was a Catholic priest, Fr. Abram J. Ryan. He was the Confederate Army’s best known chaplain. The good priest composed one of the South’s most famous poems, The Conquered Banner. His influence was so strongly felt that there is a stained-glass window at the Confederate Museum in New Orleans that depicts Fr. Ryan. Another poem of his, The Sword of Robert E. Lee, was so popular that it could be recited by any dedicated Virginian in days gone past. Father Ryan was a chaplain for General J. E. B. Stuart.

       This Catholic influence was apparent among some of the most well-known leaders of the South. A nephew of General Robert E. Lee was a Catholic priest who became the founding pastor of the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C. General James Longstreet, known as Lee's "Old Work Horse" for his tireless efforts in the war, converted to Catholicism at the war's end. Admiral Rahpael Semmes, a Confederate navy hero who captured 64 Union vessels, was from one of Maryland's original Catholic colonist families. Some Southern leaders, though not Catholic, received Catholic education when they were young and its influence remained with them. They then sent their own children to Catholic schools. Confederate President Jefferson Davis is an example of this.

       The influence of Catholicism could also be seen in the most common symbol used by the South: the Confederate flag. The first Confederate flag adopted was the first flag in America to give explicit recognition to God: It had emblazoned on it the words “In God We Trust.” This was adopted in 1861. The flag used by the 6th Louisiana Irish Catholic Volunteers had stitched on it: “Let us alone trust in God.” The flag by which the South is best known is the Confederate Navy Jack and the battle field flag. It consists of a blue X cross with white stars along the columns against a red back ground. The X-shaped cross was the Cross of St. Andrew the Apostle. St. Andrew was crucified upon an X-shaped cross. The X-chaped cross was chosen because many of the Southern leaders during the early and mid-nineteenth century were of Scottish descent, and St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. So the flag had a religious, as well as a political, significance. Known as the Southern Cross, it was designed by a Catholic who also was a Confederate general, Pierre G. T. Beauregard.

The North

       The North was different in culture, economics, politics and social values. It was increasingly industrial. Factories were everywhere. Life for many individuals and families was based on the local factory and its work shifts. Production was based not on the cycles of nature, but on man’s desires for more and more material gain. The industrial revolution was to a far greater extent not only welcomed in the North, but was expanded and strongly pushed by Northern industries and bankers.

       There were plenty of farms in the North, it is true, particularly in the Midwest (Ohio, Indiana Illinois), but the general life-style was not agrarian. The New England farms were too small to need slave labor. The student should know that one of the reasons that black slavery had for the most part ended in the North by the mid-1820s was not necessarily for moral reasons. A big factor was the colder climate of the North. The slaves came from the hot parts of Africa and could not survive in the colder North. When this was discovered as the reason many were dying, slavery simply died out in the North.

       The Northern mentality and work ethic were still heavily influenced by Puritan ideals. Beauty and aesthetics were not as important as practicality and usefulness. The teaching of working skills had priority in the upbringing of children than the training in behavioral or moral virtues. Thus, to better one-self did not necessarily mean to grow in virtue and grace, but to improve skills for the sake of increased production and growth in material success. Sadly, this distorted understanding of “bettering oneself” influenced many Catholic immigrants who settled in the North. In fact, the Catholics in the North, at least the English-speaking ones, tended to assimilate themselves more into Northern culture, rather than stand out as salt to the earth. This desire to “fit in” was often caused by a fear of persecution. In fact, the numerous persecutions of Catholics and the destruction of Church property that occurred in the 1840s and 1850s all took place in the North. (See U.S. History Myth Busters: Part 3, Myth #29) The desire to “fit in” is one reason why the Catholic influence in the Northern culture was very minimal, if at all. This Northern-Puritan work ethic continues to permeate our land today.

       The North had continued to a greater degree the revolt from the Mother Land in terms of culture and traditions. Where Southerners in general tried to keep the heritage and traditions of their fathers, those in the North considered American independence as just that: a break from the past, a separation from their traditional Christian European heritage. Unfortunately, outside of most ethnic parishes, Catholics in the North tended more often than not to adapt to this cultural/social change rather than explicitly maintain their traditional Catholic culture.

       The economic and cultural differences were so severe that the union between the North and the South had been artificial for some time. The severity of the differences was recognized before the end of the 18th century. While attending the Continental Congress in 1774, John Adams of Massachusetts described in a letter to his wife the stark differences between those of the Southern and Northern colonies. He said that the two peoples were so different that the political union the states had just formed could not be held together "without the utmost caution on both sides." Basically, the North and the South were two different worlds, even though the same language was spoken. As will be demonstrated, the facts show that the Northern dominated Congress threw caution "to the wind."

       Around 1861, Anthony Trollope, an English citizen who travelled throughout the North and the South, recognized these differences immediately:

"The South is seceding from the North because the two are not homogeneous [i.e., not of the same character]. They have different instincts, different appetites, different morals, and a different culture... They had become a separate people, dis-severed from the North by habits, morals, institutions, pursuits, and every conceivable differences in their modes of thought and action... Beyond the tie of language they had no bond but that of a meagre political union."

       The incompatibility between the two regions that resulted from these differences had always been brewing under the surface. But when one side attempted to dominate, if not change, the other –at first using the legislative powers of the government to accomplish such- then the predictable result was conflict.

The Conflict of Economy

       Northern industry was under the controlling influence of big bankers. The independent spirit of the American Revolution which rejected and despised old Europe and its customs (influenced by the Catholic Church) was strongest in the North. The ideas of the revolutions that occurred in Europe in the 1830s and 40s were welcomed in the North. Northern bankers, some of whom helped finance the revolutions, had great influence on some leaders in Congress, and this often resulted in laws being passed which hurt the Southern economy. The economic needs of the South were often in conflict with the financial interests of the Northern bankers. They wanted control of the Southern economy. They could only obtain it by changing it (or destroying it). Most importantly, the Catholic influence on Southern culture was why many Northern leaders wanted to win control of the South and change it. The Northern bankers wanted to establish more industry in the South. They found a way to weaken it by legislating tariffs.

The Tariff Wars

       Between 1820 and 1850 the U.S. government passed a number of tariff laws. These tariffs were extra taxes placed on goods brought into the U.S., that is on imported goods from other countries. The tariffs had the most damaging effect on the Southern economy, because the South imported most of the manufactured goods it needed. The Northern factories and industries were more involved with exporting products, so the tariffs had little effect on them. The increase in prices, resulting from the tariffs, accrued mainly to the benefit of the manufacturer. The Northern- dominated Congress was well aware of this fact.

       The South had few factories. It could not produce clothing, for example, out of the cotton it grew. So Southerners did what any good business would do. They looked for those who would give them the best deal for turning their cotton into clothing. Those who usually gave them the best deal for manufacturing the goods they needed were not Northern manufacturers, but foreign ones in countries like France, England, and Germany. These and other European countries heavily imported from the South for use for clothing materials. The Southern plantation owners, and thus the Southern States which benefited from them, had a great market for this European demand.

       The Northern manufacturers and the banks which financed the factories, did not like the fact that they were not making money off the Southerners. But that was their own fault. The Northern factories charged far more for the very same job done by manufacturers in foreign countries. The Northern manufacturers charged so much more that even after the cost of shipping cotton across the sea to have clothing manufactured and then shipped back, it was still less expensive for the South than to send cotton to Northern factories. So Congress, many of whose members were influenced (if not controlled) by Northern banking interests, passed tariff laws on imports which hurt the South and had hardly any negative effect on the North.

       Southern farmers and plantation owners did not think they should be taxed so that Northern manufacturers could make more money. They had valid reasons for finding that these tariffs were unjust. Think of it this way. The average Southern farmer or plantation owner would ask himself: Why should I be made (by the government) to pay more money (to the government) so that some Northern manufacturer (who, because of his greed, is unwilling to do the same job for less money) can make more money? It made no sense, except as an effort to weaken the Southern economy. It was as if the government was penalizing the South for making wise business decisions.

       These heavy taxes which clearly burdened the agricultural South, but not the industrial North, were in fact contrary to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, wherein it is decreed that Congress is given the power: "To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises... But ALL" these "shall be uniform throughout the United States." Clearly, the Tariffs passed at this time were not uniform throughout the nation, and discriminated against the South.

       The student of history can justly conclude that the tariffs were primarily directed at the South and were used by the North to weaken it. The student of history might also ask himself what the government was doing interfering in private business in the first place, particularly when the act of seeking the lowest price is not simply ethical, but is usually quite wise and responsible. One might even conclude that the Northern-dominated U.S. Congress began an economic and legislative (law-passing) war against the South well before the South was forced to fight for its independence.

       Tariff laws were passed by Congress in May of 1822, May of 1824, April-May of 1828, July of 1832, August 1846 (which was a reduced tariff), and in 1850. These taxes resulted in great burdens upon the Southern people and its economy. In response to the Tariff of 1828, on December 19, South Carolina declared the right of state nullification of federal laws, opposing what they called the “Tariff of Abominations.” In recognition that the Tariff of 1832 was contrary to Section 8, Article I of the Constitution, the South Carolina convention again passed an Ordinance of Nullification, threatening to withdraw from the Union. Congress responded in February, 1833, by passing a compromise tariff act, whereupon South Carolina also repealed its act. But the comprimise only lessoned the percentage. It did not address the fact that the tax burdened the South, and hardly affected the North. Other Southern States also met and declared the tariffs unfair.

       Just as worse, if not more so, was what occurred in 1833 in an act of Congress. By that year the U. S. government had a surplus revenue of millions of dollars in the public treasury (without any income tax!). Yet, by an act of legislation by the Northern-dominated Congress, the entire amount was distributed among the Northern States alone. Not one cent of this public suplus went to any Southern State. Yet, much of this extra revenue came from the heavy tariff-taxes burdened by the South! By this deed the South was being treated as if it was not part of the United States of America. Numerous protests by Southern representatives went unheeded. Concerning this incident, President Buchanan said in a speech to Congress in 1858: "The South had not had her share of the money from the treasury, and unjust discrimination had been made agasinst her."

       One of the other ways in which the North-dominated Congress weakened the South was by a number of compromise bills over the geographical expansion of the nation. The Bills passed in 1820, 1850, and 1854, were structured in such a way whereby the vast majority of the territory became Northern States. This created an imbalance in Congress, resulting in more Northern seats in Congress and thus greater voting power. This in turn destroyed the original equilibrium between sections.

       The result of these bills also meant that Congress had passed as law a prohibition that a large population of the United States was not allowed to live in half the land (i.e. the slave-holding families and their slaves). In other words, here was the legislative branch of the U. S. government (supposedly legislating for the benefit of all U. S. citizens) saying that many of its own people, of a certain status, could not live within more than half of the territory of the United States -either as slave-holder or as slave. Obviously, such legislation favored the North and was prejudiced towards many Southerners and their servants.

       One can see that it appears that the North and the Northern-dominated Congress had begun a type of war upon the South without declaring such. This war did not involve armies and battles. It was what could be called an economic and legislative war against the South well before the South was forced to fight for its independence. Clearly the South was weakened by these acts -as if by design. By 1860, it had become clear to many Southerners that there was no Congress or government for the entire United States, but a Congress and government for the North and against the South. It appeared to them that the South was already being treated as if it were a foreign country.

The Southern Cause: No Legal Coercion To Join or Stay

       The war between the North and the South brought out the issue of whether or not the Union of States was to be held by coercion and force, or by free consent. The fact is, the union of the States with each other had always been considered a union by consent, not coercion. This idea was one of the fundamental principles of the Constitutional Convention. During that Convention in Philadelphia a proposition was made to give the Federal Government power to use military force against a non-complying State. However, it was unanimously voted down, and, as a result, no such power was ever given to the Federal Government in the Constitution. James Madison, called “the father of the Constitution,” stated in response to this proposal: “the use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would probably by considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might have been bound.” Clearly, then, the authority to coerce a state was rejected by the founders of our constitutional government. (One may also notice Madison’s suggestion of the possibility of secession if such an occasion arises.)

       Another fact is that the 11th amendment to the Constitution forbids the judicial power of the Federal Government to even place any State before the court and prosecute it. Therefore, the Constitution itself, and those who framed it, recognized the principle that the Federal Government cannot even prosecute a State, let alone force it to join or stay.

       Recognition by U.S. presidents of this fact (i.e. the Union of States which comprises the United States was never intended to be held together by coercion or force) has been expressed on numerous occasions.

       -James Madison stated during the constitutional convention itself that:

“any government for the United States, formed upon the supposed practicability of using force against the unconstitutional proceedings of the States, would prove fallacious.”

       -John Quincy Adams, who recognized the serious difference between the North and the South, wherein he actually used the term "disunited," stated in 1833 concerning secession that whenever the time arrived:

“It would be better for the people of these disunited States to part in friendship from each other rather than to be held together by constraint.”

       -Andrew Jackson, in his 1837 farewell address to the people of the United States, stated once again this recognized principle of the nature of the Union of the States:

"The Constitution cannot be maintained, nor the Union preserved, by the mere exertion of coercive powers confided to the General Government."

       -In December, 1860, just following the secession of South Carolina, President James Buchanan addressed Congress with these words:

"The question fairly stated is, has the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to coerce a State into submission which is attempting to withdraw, or has actually withdrawn from the Confederacy? If answered in the affirmative, it must be on the principle that the power has been conferred on Congress to make war against a State. After much serious study [of the Constitution], I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power has been delegated to Congress, or to any department of the Federal Government. It is manifest upon an inspection of the Constitution, that this is not among the specific and enumerated powers granted to Congress. So far from this power having been delegated to Congress, it was expressly refused by the convention which framed the Constitution."

       -Future president Andrew Johnson, while still a member of the Senate, declared during this time:

“I do not believe the Federal Government has the power to force a State; for by the eleventh amendment to the Constitution of the United States, it is expressly provided, that you cannot even put one of the States before one of the courts of the country as a party.”

       Consider this fact: By 1789, 11 of the States had ratified the Constitution and thus formed the United States of America, North Carolina and Rhode Island not having yet ratified the Constitution. In fact, as soon as nine of the original thirteen ratified it (June, 1788), the United States, under the Constitution, was formed. This means that during 1789-1790, neither North Carolina nor Rhode Island were part of the Union. They were entirely independent States. But no one at that time –and all the framers of the Constitution were still alive- even thought that the federal government had the authority to coerce any of these states to join the Union.

       Not a single State would have became a member of the Union had it thought that the Federal government would ever attempt to hold it by force or arms. One must recognize that when States that are forced to stay together at gun point, the government is no longer a Union, but a Despotism. It becomes a tyranny like the Soviet Union became wherein it forced such neighboring states as the Ukraine and Georgia into submission. In fact, as just pointed out above, the very framers of the Constitution explicitly voted down the idea that the federal government could have any authority to coerce a state into submission. Why? Because the States were recognized as “free and sovereign,” that is why. Yet no state (or person for that matter) is free if it is coerced by force of arms to either join or remain with the Union. This proves that the Union of States had always been understood to be a voluntary compact.

       Even as late as 1850, no one in the Federal Government, with a rare exception here and there, –North or South- claimed the right of the Federal Gov’t to apply coercion to a State, let alone armed force. Wasn’t this country founded on the belief, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, that it was to be a government which derived its just powers from the consent of the governed?

       Unfortunately, Lincoln and North acted against this principle and that of State sovereignty upon which our nation was founded, and so forced the Southern States at gun point, after demolishing the region, to submit and return. Maybe the Bolsheviks-Soviet Communists obtained the idea of forcing neighboring states to submit by means of a gun from Lincoln and the North. This is not so far fetched. What may come as a shock to many is that both Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Frederick Engels (1820-1895), the two men who developed the ideas and practical goals of Communism in the political realm, were very interested in the situation here in America. They recognized that Lincoln and the North were employing the very tactics that were recommended in The Communist Manifesto. (We will discuss Marx and his approval of the actions of Lincoln and the North in Part III.)


       The issue of who has sovereignty in the American system of government was a focal point in the years leading up to the war. A few facts must be taken into account when considering this issue. First, our Federal government was formed by a convention, wherein each State acted as equals and without coercion, let alone force, and only as such can this system be continued (i.e. each State acting without coercion and as equals). Second, the Constitution did not coming into being except by the consent of the States (i.e., by the representatives of the States). Third, this means that the States were the creators of this government. Therefore, the Federal government’s creation and existence was (is) dependent upon the consent of the States. By definition, this can only mean that the States, as the creators of the Federal government, are greater than it, and thus have sovereignty.

       George Washington, writing to Count Rochambeau on January 8, 1788, stated that the proposed constitution “is to be submitted by the people in the several states, and by them approved or rejected. Now, that party which approves or rejects something, by definition, has sovereignty over that which it is establishing. In regards to the issue of retaining sovereignty, Washington, in a letter to Lafayette on April 28, 1788, wrote that the States “retain everything they do not, by express terms, give up.” So, the States did not derive their power from the Federal government, but rather, the Federal government was created by the States in convention, and thus, as the creation of the States, is subordinate to State sovereignty. Consequently, the States retain everything they did not delegate to the Federal government. This is no mere theory, this is both what the framers of the constitution had in mind, and also the very nature of authority.

       James Madison, who obviously knew what the Constitution says, since he authored its main portion, explained in the Virginia convention of 1788: “We, the people,” who were to establish the Constitution, were the people of “thirteen sovereignties” (Elliot’s Debates, Vol. III, p.114, edition of 1836).

       Near the end of the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin advocated equality of suffrage in the Senate as a means of securing “the sovereignties of the individual States” (Elliott’s Debates, Vol.V, p.266).

       Roger Sherman, the other delegate from Connecticut at the Constitutional Convention declared that the government “was instituted by a number of sovereign States (Letter of Sherman to John Adams, 1788 in Writings of John Adams, Vol. VII).

       James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Convention stated that “thirteen independent sovereignties” did “make the Constitution, and remains in them” (Elliott’s Debates, Vol.II, p.443)

       In conjunction with both John Jay (future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) and James Madison, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist (no.81) that:

“One of the attributes of sovereignty is now enjoyed by the government of every state in the Union. Unless, therefore, there is a surrender of this immunity in the plan of the Convention, it will remain with the States…. The contracts intimated between a nation and individuals [States] should have no pretensions to a compulsive force… and to ascribe to the Federal courts, by mere implication the destruction of a pre-existing right of State governments would be altogether forced and unwarranted.”(Italics added)

       Well, the “surrender of this immunity” (i.e., each State’s own sovereignty) never occurred during the framing of the Constitution. So here we have from the actual framers of the Constitution, first: the recognition that the State was the “sovereign;” second, that this sovereignty was not lost unless by express surrender; third, that no such surrender had been made in ratifying the Constitution; fourth: that the idea of applying coercion to a state was “altogether forced and unwarranted.”

       Madison made clear elsewhere by asking whether in the establishment of the Constitution “the States should be regarded as distinct and independent sovereigns?” He answered in the affirmative. “They are so regarded by the Constitution” (Federalist Papers, no.40).

       During the convention, a change was made to an early draft of the Constitution, wherein the term “national government’ appeared. This term was objected to by many and a motion was made to strike it from the document, and it was agreed without any opposition. As a consequence, the word “national” was striken out wherever it occurred, and nowhere does it appear in the Constitution. As Jefferson Davis remarked: “The unanimous rejection of this word is a clear expression of the intent and purpose the authors of the Constitution than its mere absence from the Constitution would have been.” The Union of the States and the Federal government formed by the States was never intended to destroy State sovereignty and establish a strong national (read “central”) government, but rather to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” as is stated in the preamble.

       It was not just the delegates and framers of the Constitution who held to State sovereignty. The States themselves held this and either explicitly stated so or at least held it implicitly.

       -The State of Massechusetts, before it would ratify the Constitution, insisted:

“… that it be explicitly declared, that all powers not delegated by the aforesaid constitution are reserved to the several States, to be by them exercised.”

       -The State of Pennsylvania, before it would ratify the constitution, demanded as an amendment to the Constitution:

“All the rights of sovereignty which are not, by the said Constitution, expressly and plainly vested in the Congress, shall be deemed to remain with, and shall be exercised by the several States in the Union.”

       Other Northern States such as New York, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire made similar declarations in their own State constitutions. So that I will not be accused of redundancy, one quote will suffice. In her constitution, the state of New Hampshire made a clear declaration concerning State sovereignty:

“The people of this Commonwealth have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do and forever hereafter shall exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them, expressly delegated to the United States.”

       No one can accuse the South, then, of drumming up the idea of State sovereignty as an excuse for secession. It should be pointed out that no one accused New Hampshire or any of the other states which explicitly expressed State sovereignty of being in error, let alone of treason. In fact, Article III, section 2 of the Constitution admits that “the laws of the United States shall be made under their [i.e., the States’] authority.” So the Constitution states that laws made by the legislative branch of the (federal) government are still made under the authority of the States.’ That is why the Constitution uses the plural in reference to the established authority (i.e. a reference to the States), and not the singular, as a reference to the government. (Such reference to the States and their authority are numerous: see Art.I, sect.9, clause 8; Art.II, sect.1, clause 6; Art. II, sect.2 and 3.)

       Lincoln and the North disregarded all of these facts.

The Right to Secede

       But what about the question of whether or not there was a right to secede. Was there such a right? Well, as demonstrated above, since the States were considered free and sovereign, and since the federal government was considered as not having any authority to coerce, let alone force any state to join or stay, then secession was considered a right. Specifically, it was considered one of the rights NOT delegated to the federal government, and therefore was retained by the States.

       The South held with a profound conviction:

• that the Union of states formed under the Constitution was a Union of free and conditional consent and neither of force or unconditional;
• that the original States were not the creatures but the creators of the Union and the Federal Government;
• that these States had gained their independence, their freedom, and their sovereignty from the mother country, England, and had not surrendered these when establishing the Federal government and when entering the Union;
• that by the express terms of the Constitution all rights and powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved to the States; and the South challenged the North to find one trace of authority in that Constitution for invading and forcing a sovereign State to submit to it.

       The North, on the other hand, maintained with the utmost confidence in the correctness of its position:

• that the Union formed under the Constitution was intended to be perpetual; that sovereignty was a unit and could not be divided (even though the term “perpetual union” is not contained in the Constitution, and was deliberately left out);
• that whether or not there was any express power granted in the Constitution for invading a State, the right of self-preservation was inherent in all governments (of course, the Southern States never threatened the preservation of the Federal gov’t);
• that the life of the Union was essential to the life of liberty; or, in the words of Webster, "liberty and union are one and inseparable."

       The student of history needs simply to ask: If a union is forced and maintained at gun-point, how can there be any liberty involved in such a union? Is not our republican form of government based upon the consent of the governed? How can “free and equal” States be free, if coerced by force of arms to stay? There is no true union, let alone democracy, when it is forced or maintained at gun-point. Yet this was precisely what the North was doing to the South, even though many, if not most, of the common folk in the North were against a war that was supposedly being waged in preservation of the Union.

       What may be a surprise to many is that one of Lincoln’s greatest obstacles in preserving the Union was anti-war sentiment from folks not in the South, but in the North. Many Americans of the North saw no reason why states could not withdraw peacefully, if they wanted, from a political union freely entered into. These persons were called “Copperheads” by abolitionists and all others who supported Lincoln’s war policy. What is not well-known is the fact that the four living former presidents of the time (Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan) all supported the Southern cause and disagreed with Lincoln’s aggressive policies. (John Brechinridge, Vice-President under Buchanan –1856-60, became a Confederate General in November of 1861.) They all recognized the Constitutional principle mentioned above: that the Federal Government does not have the authority to force a State to stay in the Union.

       Was President Lincoln right when he said that secession was illegal? If you remember, when the Constitution was adopted a number of states ratified it with the condition that they reserved the right to “resume” at any time the powers they had “delegated” (i.e. given) to the federal government. As mentioned above, along with Massechusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, as quoted above, this included other northern states like New York and Rhode Island.

       Nobody said that they had no right to do this. When other states accepted these conditional ratifications, they also implicitly recognized this right. It was always assumed that the right of secession could be exercised, and it was assumed to be a right. We need also remember that when the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, the term "perpetual union" was specifically left out. This was a deliberate choice by the framers of the Constitution. Lincoln knew all this. But he acted against it.

       Lincoln was in fact hypocritical in this matter. The right of secession was so well established as a part of the political doctrine of America that Lincoln himself had given a positive commentary on it in the House of Representatives on January 12, 1848 (First Session, Thirteenth Congress).

Irrevocable Consent?

       Were (are?) the States perpetually bound to the Union when they ratified the Constitution, or subsequently joined with their consent? The Constitution itself uses no such word as “allegiance, “loyalty,” “subject,” or any other term that is used by other governments to signify fidelity, obedience or any other obligation or duty. Why not? The reason is simple, because it, and our system of government, rest wholly on consent. (At least as designed by our founders.) Both the Constitution and the Federal government are creations of the States, as demonstrated above in the section on sovereignty. And thus the union between the States is voluntary. This means no State owes allegiance or any duty except with its own consent. And there is nothing in the Constitution that says this consent, once given, is forever irrevocable, or that it can never be withdrawn. Otherwise, it would not be a voluntary union of States. Thus, there is nothing within the Constitution prohibiting secession, and such terms and the ideas behind them were deliberately left out. (If there was any binding at all, it was each State voluntarily binding itself to the other States -as equals- but not to some greater entity called the Federal government, which itself was the creation of the States.)

       Some may point out that no provision for secession was explicitly provided in the Constitution. This is true. However, it also should be pointed out that not making such a provision is not the same thing as prohibiting it. The 10th Amendment, in addressing the powers of the federal government, makes clear that whatever is not authorized or delegated (to the federal government) is therefore forbidden. And the federal government is not authorized anywhere to prevent a state from seceding. This amendment also declares that those “powers… not delegated [to the Federal government] are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.” (Of course, there are no “people of the United States” independent of or separate from a particular State.) At the same time, the Constitution refers to the states as “sovereign states.” Neither the power to coerce any State, nor prevent it by force from withdrawing was ever granted the Federal government. These facts, and what they implied, were always recognized.

       The student of history should remember that the 1783 peace agreement with England (Treaty of Paris) left 13 sovereign states. Sovereignty meant that no other state or country had authority over them. The states came together in 1787 as principals, that is, they were in charge to create a federal government, as their agent, giving it specific delegated authority -specified in the Constitution. Now, principals always retain the right to fire their agent. The federal government was the agent of the sovereign states. It was delegated certain and limited powers for specific purposes, all for the benefit of the States.

       However, the Northern dominated Congress-government not only failed in its duty towards an entire region (i.e., the Southern States), it had acted aggressively against the South in legislating unjust and burdensome tariffs and other taxes, in passing Compromise Bills that ultimately favored the North and created an imbalance in Congress (i.e. more Northern seats in Congress and thus greater voting power), and withheld funds rightfully belonging to the South, then distributed public money only to the Northern States that rightfully belonged to Southern States. Congress was dominated by the new Republican Party at the time. Yet, the Republican Party came into existence primarily, if not exclusively, as a sectional party, the first ever such party; and particularly as an anti-Southern party. As Wendell Phillips, a leading Abolitionist at the time, admitted in a letter, the Republican Party was “the first sectional party ever organized in this country. It is pledged against the South.”

       This anti-Southern prejudice was even encouraged among members of Congress. An inflammatory work known as the Helper Book was widely distributed by the Republican members of congress both before and after Lincoln was voted in. This book plainly threatened the people of the South with assassination and death. It is dominated with sentences such as the following: “Against slaveholders as a body we wage an extermination war.” Abraham Lincoln, though a moderate compared to its radical members, nevertheless, was a Republican. And he knew exactly why the party was formed. He did nothing to stop the distribution of this book among members of Congress.

       Basically, as previously mentioned, the U.S. Congress had engaged in a legislative, economic, and financial war against the South. Now it was dominated by a party that was specifically oriented to voting, legislating, and acting in any way against an entire section of the country. Thus, it had become clear to many Southerners that there was no Congress or government for the entire United States, but a Congress and government for the North and against the South. This itself was a breach of the Constitution. Even worse, after Lincoln became president, he raised the tariffs against the South from 18.8% to an astounding 47.5%! He not only continued the tariff war against the South, he intensified to proportions that would result in greater anger from Southerners. It was as if he wanted a conflict. He surely was not unaware of this possibility. As a result, most in the South came to the reasonable conclusion that none of this was going to get better. The only sound choice left was to secede from the Union.

       Remember, the government was formed specifically “to insure domestic tranquility, promote general welfare... and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” as is stated in the preamble of the Constitution. Yet, the Northern dominated Congress had legislated numerous bills and laws that greatly disturbed the domestic tranquility of the South, hacked away at the general welfare and, after the war started, did everything in its power to literally destroy the blessings of liberty to the people of the South.

       But here is the justification for secession: all the States, when ratifying the Constitution, recognized that if the Federal Government acted against the States, or simply failed in its sacred trust, then the States, according to the Constitution and the 10th Amendment, have the right to resume those powers delegated to the Federal government, and even to secede. The South simply acted on that right when it seceded. We saw this with the numerous quotes provided above. Here is another one. President Madison ("father of the Constitution"), when speaking of the States as the parties which formed the Union, stated:

The parties [i.e. the States] themselves must be the judges, in the last resort, whether the bargain made has been preserved or broken.”

       Well, it should be clear by now that the Northern dominated Congress broke the bargain, that is, its delegated duties specified in the Constitution, when it acted as it did against the Southern States for decades. The unjust legislations of bills and tariffs, the infringement of numerous State’s rights, withholding of rightful public funds, an anti-Southern political party holding numerous seats in Congress, AND the numerous times that a redress of grievances by that representatives from Southern States were turned down -all contributed to Southern leaders realizing that there was no other recourse. Thus, as Jefferson Davis stated in his inaugural address as President of the Confederate States of America, secession came as a “necessity, not a choice.”

       Because there is much misinformation concerning this matter, we shall examine a bit further. The fact that the federal government was delegated its powers from the states tells us that the authority of the federal government was secondary to that of the state governments, at least as the Founding Fathers envisioned it. When you delegate to someone it is because you have higher authority than the one to whom you are delegating. A greater agent always delegates to an inferior agent, not the other way around. That is the very nature of delegating. When you delegate power, you do not surrender it for all time; a delegation can always be denied and revoked.

       The South justly acted on these facts. Lincoln ignored these facts.

       The right to secede had always been recognized. Judge William Rawle, whom President Washington appointed as District Attorney of the U. S. in 1791, declared:

It depends on the State itself to retain or abolish the principle of representation, because it depends on itself whether it will continue as a member of the Union. To deny this right would be inconsistent with the principle on which all our political systems were founded… The States, then, may wholly withdraw from the Union, but while they continue, they must retain the character of representative republics.

       Most of the early threats of secession came not from Southern States, but from Northern States. But the first came from Southern States. In the late 1790s the legislatures of both Virginia and Kentucky had passed Resolutions which declared that the ‘Alien and Sedition Acts’ passed by Congress were void (i.e. had no legal force) in those states. They said that those laws were a violation of their sovereignty under the Constitution. Neither the President at the time (John Adams) nor Congress forbade these states to declare such. The sovereignty of the states was recognized by all at the time, including the drafters and signers of the Constitution (most whom were still alive). The aforementioned States threatened to secede, and in doing so, no one, not Congress, not the president, said they had no right to do such. In fact, President Jefferson in an 1804 letter to Dr. Priestly, declared a most revealing point that pertains to all that has been explained here:

If the States west of the Alleghany declare themselves a separate people, we are incapable of a single effort to retain them. Our citizens can never be induced, either as militia or as soldiers, to go there and cut the throats of their own brothers or sons, or to be themselves the subjects instead of the perpetuators of parricide.

       The right to secede had never before been denied, or even questioned. In 1804, secession was considered, but this time from a New England state. In 1803, the people of Massachusetts expressed themselves in favor of the principle of secession by the enactment of the following resolution in the Massachusetts Legislature: That the annexation of Louisiana to the Union went beyond the constitutional power of the Government of the United States. It formed a new Confederacy, to which the States united by the former compact were not bound to adhere.

       Again, in late 1814 and early 1815 prominent New Englanders who were opposed to the war against Britain gathered in Hartford, Connecticut, to consider seceding from the Union. But the war had just then come to its end, making the vote unnecessary. It is clearly shown by the history of the time that the people of New England were very pronounced in their view that the Constitution recognized the unquestioned right of a state to secede from the Union.

       In the 1850s there were numerous abolitionists in New England who wanted to secede from the Union because the U.S. and the Constitution had allowed slavery for so long. In fact, an anti-slavery group met in Boston and burned copies of the Constitution and declared that they had disavowed the Union. No action was taken against these men and women.

       The fight for states’ rights also existed in the North. In 1854, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court concerning the release of a prisoner from a state prison. The legislators of Wisconsin declared: “this assumption of jurisdiction by the federal court…is an act of undelegated power, void, and of no force.” Of course, Wisconsin had no intention of threatening to withdraw from the Union, but this instance does provide another example of a state denying the authority of the federal government where it was not delegated such and asserting its rights over an interfering central power.

       The Constitution is not a contract between any of the individual States and the Federal government, per se. It may seem so obvious to point out, but it must: the Federal government hadn’t come into existence yet when the States met in convention to draw up the Constitution and create the government. Thus, the Constitution is a contract between the States themselves who upon consent created the Federal government for specific purposes –to benefit the States. The addition of new States was never meant for the aggrandizement of the Federal government, but for more people –belonging to the States- to enjoy "domestic tranquility… general welfare, and the blessings of liberty."

       So, it should be asked, were the seceding States in rebellion? Should they have been and still be called rebels? With what was considered above, the answer is no. Consider also this: how can sovereign States be in rebellion against that which they created (i.e. the Federal government)? How can the creator be in rebellion against its own creator? It can’t be; this is impossibility. Since the Federal government was the creation of the States, and delegated certain and limited powers, then when that government failed in its sacred duty of securing liberty as the agent for the States which formed it in the first place, the States had the right, as all the framers of the Constitution recognized, to retain that which was delegated. The Federal government in the first place received approval –for its specific delegated tasks- from the individual States. This means it could have been rejected by those States. Therefore, the separation of certain States from the others with which they freely joined in a union can not be considered a rebellion. At worse it could be considered a breach of contract, but that is where the Federal government was guilty. (Sadly, many of those who are pro-South/Confederate have caved in to accepting the moniker of “rebel,” even proudly so. But, constitutionally speaking, this is a misnomer.)

       One last fact for this section: Lincoln and the U.S Government again disregarded its own Constitution when they allowed (if not encouraged) the formation of a new state –West Virginia- from what was simply the western part of the State of Virginia. Article IV, section 3, of the Constitution declares that “no new state shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state… without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned…” But this is exactly what was done with West Virginia. The federal government formed it without the consent of the Virginia state legislature. (One might say, but by this time, Virginia had already withdrawn from the Union. However, Lincoln considered the Southern States not as a separate country, and thus separated from the Union, but simply as States still part of the Union but in rebellion against the authority of the Federal Government.) Lincoln and the North would stop at nothing in the effort to weaken the Southern effort and force the Southern States into submission to the Union. This, in turn, reveals the North/Federal government as the section on the side of the conflict that continued THE Revolution against the traditional Christian social-moral order begun in the 1770s. (See the Tower of David articles on the Revolution and U. S. Constitution from a traditional Catholic view)

       It can be stated justifiably, then, that the Southern States were constitutionally, legally, and morally just in principle and effort to secede from the Union.

A Union Destroyed?

       What about the objection that secession of the Southern States would have destroyed the Union? Is there any merit to this accusation? No, there is no merit to this charge. The secession of the Southern states would not have destroyed the Union as has been claimed. The withdrawal of eleven states would have left 25 states left in the Union (Neither Kentucky or Missouri officially seceded). To believe that the Union would have been destroyed after the secession of eleven States would be equivalent to saying that when the United Stated of America had 25 states in the Union as late as 1846, that at that time and, obviously, the years previous, it was not a viable union. But this is absurd. The Union of States defeated powerful Britain with only 15 States back in 1812. It defeated Mexico with 25 States in 1848. If, when having 25 states in the Union in 1846 the United States was considered without any deficiency, let alone not destroyed, then why not 25 states in 1861?

       Consider this also: Other than the minimal number of nine States needed to ratify it in order to form the Union (Art. VII), there is nothing in the Constitution that requires a certain number of States in order for the Union to be viable and workable. There is nothing in it indicating that the withdrawal of States would destroy it. If nine States were enough to form the Union, then a reduction to 25 clearly would not have destroyed it. So, according to the Constitution, a reduction to less than nine States would have destroyed the Union. But, obviously, this was not the case. If one wants to speak of percentage, as the number nine was more than two-thirds of the original thirteen, then the Northern States still had more than a two-thirds majority in order to keep the Union intact. Therefore, either way, it is just plain erroneous thinking on the part of those who used (and still use) the argument that secession would have destroyed the Union.

       These facts also show that not only was the North NOT fighting to end slavery and free slaves (see Appendix), but it was not even fighting to save the Union; for the Union would not have been destroyed had it gone back to 25 states. Besides, three more states were added by 1870, and five more within the next decade. So the Union would have been back above 30 states in little more than two decades.

       One more fact demonstrates that falsity of this belief. When the Southern States did secede, it is clear that the Union was not destroyed. How is this demonstrated? It is shown by the fact that the Union won the war! Clearly, then, not only was the Union not destroyed, it was still the stronger of the two countries.A "Civil War" or a War for Independence?

       It should be pointed out that the war between North and South was not a “civil war” in the proper sense of the term. A civil war is defined as two or more groups (or factions) within a country or a government fighting to take control of the leadership or government of that same country. But this war was nothing of the kind. The South was not attempting to take control of the federal government; it was not seeking to conquer Washington, D.C. and govern the United States. The South was seeking separation from the Union which was attempting to destroy States’ rights, domestic tranquility, the Southern economic structure-stability, and unique culture of the South. Thus, the South was seeking independence, nothing else.

       Therefore, according to the facts, this war could rightly be called any one of the following:

• The War for Southern Freedom;
• The War for Southern Secession;
• The War for Southern Independence;
• The War Against Southern Secession (or Independence);
• The War of Northern Aggression

       Further, since the Southern states had already seceded and the Confederate States of America were formed, the Union was in fact invading and attacking a separate, and thus foreign, country with no just cause (the Confederate States did in no way threatened the security of the remaining United States or any of her citizens). The above assertion is supported by the fact that when the war was over, with the Union victorious, the Southern States were not treated as part of the United States of America. If they were not part of the United States, then they were in fact separate and thus foreign states. Indeed, it took years for each of the formerly Confederate States to be readmitted back into the Union and thus again belonged to the United States. For example, Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas were not re-admitted into the Union until March of 1870; Georgia not until July, 1870. In reality, therefore, the South had fought an invading and aggressive army. Put another way, the North invaded a land that was separate from it and forced it at gun-point to rejoin, but only after it completely destroyed the South.

       One final fact to expose the hypocricy of how this tragic situation has been portrayed: In order to be re-united to the Union, the Southern States were ordered to give up the right to secession. To be re-admitted, each Southern State had to add to its own constitution a clause whereby it would forever give up the right to secession. But if, as the North held, they did not have the right to secede, then why did the Southern States have to add this clause? How could a State give up what it (supposedly) never had in the first place? Of course this can't happen, because it was not the situation. By this act, the Federal government of the United States admitted that the Southern States were in fact separate and not a part of the Union. This demand on the part of the North (or U. S. government) proves that, since no such clause was written in the Constitution, secession was not prohibited as an exercise of those rights retained by the States. (I will cover further implications of this in Part IV: The "Reconstruction" of the South.)

       Once again, reason and the facts dictate the conclusion that: THE SOUTH WAS RIGHT.



-The Annals of America, Vols. 8 & 9, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, London, 1968;
-A Civil War Treasury: A Miscellany of Facts and Figures, Legends and Lore, Personalities and People, Albert A. Nofi, Castle Books,      Edison, NJ, 2003;
-The Constitution of the United States of America
-The Great Civil War in the United States, R. G. Horton, New York, 1868, reprinted by Invictus Books, Decatur, MI, 2003;
-The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Jefferson Davis, 1881, De Capo Press, 1990, reprint of Garret and Massie edition, 1938;
-The Southern Tradition at Bay, Richard M. Weaver, Arlington House, New Rochelle, NY, 1968;
-The South Was Right!, James R. Kennedy, Walter D. Kennedy, Pelican Press, Gretna, LA, 1994

Click to Part II:The Issue and Institution of Slavery Now On Line!


Part III: Lincoln and the War-Time Policies of the North
Part IV: The “Reconstruction” of the South

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