Through a Southerner’s Eyes
Sovereign States, Nullification, Etc.
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ratified by the Congress of the Confederation on January 14, 1784, and by the King of Great Britain on April 9, 1784 (the ratification documents were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784), formally ended the American Revolutionary War between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States of America, which had rebelled against British rule. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of these, and the negotiations which produced all four treaties, see Peace of Paris (1783). (SOURCE)
The American Revolutionary War formally ended with the signing and ratification of the Treaty of Paris. That treaty may prove to be as important today as it was in 1783-84.
I am now in my seventh decade on this earth. I am what we call in the US – a “southerner.” My generation of southerners has a strong sense of exactly who we are.
In our youth we were drenched in Western History, American History, the history of our state, and our southern history and heritage, most of which came from our Scot-Irish ancestors who flocked to these southern shores early on.
We are a proud, independent, freedom loving people with little hesitation to challenge anyone when our liberties are threatened.
You may recall, having heard somewhere, that our ancestors were actually forced to go to war to defend our freedom after legally seceding from the United States after the US Congress nearly succeeded in bankrupting our economy -- much as they are doing the US today. (It WAS the ECONOMY – even then!) The US could not afford the loss of the southern states -- because — the southern states were paying the bills for the US.
But our southern ancestors, many of whom had grandfathers who had fought the British for our freedom, remembered something very important -- the Treaty of Paris signed in 1783 and ratified in 1784.
As noted above, the treaty of Paris officially ended the American Revolutionary War with Great Britain. But – it also did something else, which few remember today.
Article one of the treaty acknowledges the Thirteen Colonies to be free, sovereign, and independent States. (SOURCE) To this day – the states have never given up their sovereignty!
Last Friday, we southerners celebrated the day when the delegates from six southern states, which had already seceded from the Union, met in Montgomery, Alabama to officially create the Confederate States of America (February 4th, 1861) -- one hundred and fifty years ago. See, they remembered Article One of the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
The southern states had been nullifying those harsh laws, aimed directly at the southern states, whose gross national product at the time far, far, exceeded that of the “northern” states. Those laws, which had crippled the southern economy, and were sucking the life out of the southern states, would no longer be tolerated. Why? Because the southern states WERE sovereign and they did not have to put up with it any longer.
The US government refused to accept the sovereignty of the states and vowed to crush them and force them back into the Union, much as Saddam Hussein attempted to do with the so-called 19th Province of Kuwait.
After four of the bloodiest years in the history of this country, the Union DID succeed in forcing the southern states back into the Union – at bayonet point.
Today, one hundred and fifty years later, we face another hostile government bent on foisting laws on ALL the states that the states do not like, do not want, and are vowing to nullify. Many of those laws come in a neatly wrapped package we call ObamaCare. We have come full circle.
I am continually amazed at the professionals in the news media, and even in the blogoshere (both left and right), who do not seem to know, or understand, that the fifty states of the United States have always been sovereign “states.” Literally interpreted, they are 50 countries that have joined together for their common interest.
The original 13 colonies (states) decided to form a central governing body that would do their bidding and speak for all 13 (now 50) of them. It made sense, and it made for “good order.”
Forgotten, somewhere, somehow, is the fact that the federal government was created to act as an agent of the states. I cannot stress that enough. The states were never to be subordinate to the federal government. To even consider that, meant taking the states right back into subservience again, only to their own government instead of King George’s government. It would have made NO SENSE. They knew that. They did NOT DO THAT!
So -- for the federal government to mandate, to compel, to demand, to order “sovereign states” to carry out edits from the federal government bears no weight, at all, with those states that do not agree with the terms of those edits, those mandates.
Example: Suppose the pastor your congregation hired simply announced next Sunday morning that Sunday morning worship services would be held at 1 PM instead of the traditional 11 AM hour and all those who did not attend the 1 PM service would have their tithes doubled for the first month, and if their behavior did not change to comply with the new worship service hour, they would be unceremoniously tossed from the church’s membership role, or some such punishment.
Remember, this is a pastor your church membership had hired. He is on your payroll. Yet, the church belongs to the membership … not the pastor. He is your hireling – to put it bluntly. (I know many of you, not of the evangelical faiths, and not of the independent denominations, may have trouble with this analogy, but – there it is, nonetheless.)
The board of deacons, or elders, or whatever the governing body of the church is known as, is elected to their positions by the membership and serves at the pleasure of the congregation.
If, then, the membership decided, NO WAY – and continued to assemble for the Sunday morning worship service at the 11 AM hour -- what will the pastor do about it? What CAN he do about it? Well, he has two options: He can deliver his sermon at 11 AM -- or – he can leave that church. What he CANNOT do – is force the membership to attend worship services at 1 PM.
The analogy above describes what happens when states get their backs up about something the federal government is mandating THEY do. It is called “NULLIFICATION.” States can do this because they are, and have been since the formation of this country, free, sovereign, states.
Over the next couple of years, expect to hear the word “nullification” tossed about, rather much. If the Supreme Court does not overturn ObamaCare as unconstitutional, I predict you will actually get to see nullification in action.
Most worrisome to me, is the possibility that the Supreme Court will eventually rule nullification as unconstitutional. Then America will have a very real tyrant cracking the whip over her – the federal government.
J. D. Longstreet