Notes on John Remington Graham, a constitutional History of Secession

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NOTES on John Remington Graham, A Constitutional History of Secession (Pelican, 2002)


Published in 2002, this book summarizes all the reasons the individual US states may freely contemplate secession from the United STATES of America. It crucifies both Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton for impeachable offenses against the constitution as well as unjusfied inhuman predations upon the South. It opened my eyes. Everything we have been taught about Lincoln and the War of Secession (not a Civil War, the South was not seeking to own the North) is wrong. The author has special authority apart from his scholarship—he was among those who served as counselors to the high court of Canada that decided in 1998, irrevocably, that Quebec has the right to secede.


Two things about this book really impressed me apart from its obvious value in confronting our present reckless, arrogant, and more often than not criminal central government: first, slavery was on the way OUT in the South, and everyone knew it; and second, the North used slavery as a strategic deception, a form of public deception acutely similar to the 935 lies Dick Cheney orchestrated on Weapons of Mass Destruction, to violate the Constitution multiple times over, and ultimately ruin the South for the benefit of Northern capitalists and the European banks behind them.


The introduction is by David Livingston, whose Wikipedia page is worth reading and opens with: “Livingston has developed some renown as a constitutional scholar and is an expositor of the compact nature of the Union, with its concomitant doctrines of corporate resistance, nullification, and secession. The doctrine coincides with federalism, states' rights, the principle of subsidiarity. His political philosophy embodies the decentralizing themes echoed by Europeans such as Althusius, David Hume, and John Acton and Americans such as Thomas Jefferson, Spencer Roane, Abel Parker Upshur, Robert Hayne and John Calhoun, which holds the community as the basic unit of political society.”


The author makes the point early on that secession is about RESTORING the rule of law, and that it is a uniquely peaceful form of revolution, a rational and orderly process with antecedents in the “Glorious Revolution” and the accession of William and Mary.


British antecedent found in US Constitution: right to petition, Army in peace is unlawful, conscription is unlawful, right to bear arms of the sovereign individual is fundamental.


Blackstone 101: when the princes subvert the agreed-upon Constitution, they abdicate their power and negate the pact.


As the author explains it, fully documented and going back to the precursor Magna Carta and all British constitutional law and practice that followed, the constitution right of secession is based in natural law and was THE animating principle of American constitutional thought until 1860, when Northern bankers were directed by the Rothchilds and Morgan banking families in Europe to create a war.


The author’s research is deep and compelling (see the other books I cite below, all support his view). The States delegated LIMITED powers to the federal government (which they explicitly refused to call a “national” government), and at no time did they surrender their individual sovereignty, many of them sovereign from England well before the Declaration of Independence.


1775: Continental Congress authority was derived from the States, not the people.


1778: Articles of Confederation, “Every State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.” Further on, Union is perpetual UNLESS—and later of course, by compact of the States, this version was dissolved.


Citing James Madison: a breach of any article by any party leaves all other parties at liberty to consider the whole dissolved.


The new Union, a “more perfect Union,” was a new mix of national and federal concepts, but the States explicitly refused to endow the federal government (a corporation of common concern) with any sort of “national” character.


George Mason of Virginia is highlighted as true patriotic and intellectual hero who was responsible for the clause that specified that all powers not expressly DELEGATED to the federal government were reserved for the States.


The author demystifies the confusion between the Union created by the States and the Union confirmed by the People. While each State still retained its own sovereignty, the Constitution, unlike the Articles of Confederation, was confirmed by a Convention of People in each state, and thus achieved a new status as a republic in form—this does NOT, however, remove the sovereign rights of each STATE.


Rhode Island and Virginia separated from England early on, and in Virginia a new form of republican government was installed that focused carefully on the separation of powers among legislative, executive, and judicial. Similarly California was a republic in its own right and volunteered to join the Union, without relinghishing its sovereignty as a state.


In examining the history of the American Revolution the author concludes that the East India Company, not the benevolent King George, was the primary source of injustice—a precursor to Wall Street abuses, if you will, but much more destructive in its time. The Navigation Acts, the Tea Act, the Currency Acts, the exclusive and hence unlawful right to convert silver to gold via India, all destroyed Colonial Commerce.


In discussing the nullification crisis the author illuminates the distinction between the States’ sovereignty power—the power to make and unmake Constitutions—and the day to day powers DELEGATED to the federal government, hence not to be interfered with absent a need to nullify, or in extremis, to secede.


1798: Nullification is a precursor to selection. This matters today as the federal government seeks to place CEILINGS on State control of corporations and pollution. Such mandates can be nullified by the States if their leaders rediscover their heritage. Virginia and Kentucky passes resolutions specifying that the federal government was created for SPECIAL (i.e. limited) purposes and was not the exclusive and final judge of its own powers, which are derived from the States.


We learn that the North almost seceded over the issue of conscription, and the author takes us back to the details. Bottom line: conscription is illegal, the militia is sacred. He goes back to “Tota communa Aliberorium hominium,” or the whole body of Freemen by King Henry II in the First Assize of Arms in 1181. An Army can be raised only by the order of Congress, and only by recruitment and salary, not by conscription. However, all citizens should be trained, not just bearing arms, in the words of George Washington, “so thast the total strength of the country might be called force at short notice.


As the author documents, the Civil War was a war for the control of resources, territory, and revenue. Slavery was a pretext, and I learn for the first time of the deep documentation on both Lincoln’s use of the Emancipation Proclamation as a military tactic, nothing more, and his and others knowledge that the South was already well on its way to abolishing slavery.


Immigration into the North (expanding their power in the House of Representatives), and the bankers and railroad magnates intent on capturing the wealth of the West, were root causes for an imbalance of power between North and South that demanded either reconciliation (i.e. modification to the Constitution) or secession. The author concludes with certainty that Northern capitalists (backed by European financial families) demanded the war. He explicitly label Lincoln and Stanton extremists (as I so label Dick Cheney).


I studied the causes of the Civil War in high school and then again in College (an easy recycling of original advanced placement research) and I now recognize how much I missed. The root cause of the War Against Secession was Lincoln’s ill-informed but perhaps well-intentioned desire to keep the Union together, and t he Tariffs of Abominations that was never intended to pass but when it did, saw the Northern tariffs rapidly repealed while the South was on a path to ruin.


We learn that incendiary literature from the North led to a Southern concern that limited the education of the slaves (they were originally inclined to educate them), and that when the slaves were “freed” (at the same time that the South was “enslaved” to the North), their lack of education began the horrible cycle of perpetual poverty that has held back people of color for generations.


In discussing the South’s point of view we learn, among many other fascinating documented fact, that slavery was grounded in past civilizations; that it was permitted in the Bible, and that white Anglo-Saxons were feudal chattle until the Black Death led to an uprising. Later in the book we learn that many whites were shipped to the colonies as indentured servants and virtual slaves.`


I learn for the first time that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was used by the North to unleash intense hostility toward the South, despite the North itself despising people of color. The author is at pains to describe the “norm” of the slaves lot, vastly more gentile and Jeffersonian than the history books (written by the victors) would have us believe.


Only Congress can suspect Habeas Corpus. Abe Lincoln, and Dick Cheney, should be damned in American history for this impeachable offense.


The author suggests, and documents, that General George Brinton McClellan was not the incompetent that Secretary of War Stanton sought to libel and slander, but rather very respected by the South to the point that he could have won with minimal bloodshed, and reunited the Union rather than destroy the Southern half.


Costs of Lincoln’s impeachable decision to war with the south are itemized by the author as including dictatorship, bankruptcy, enslavement of the white population and looting of the south, and conscription on a scale that made death on a massive scale inevitable.


Stephen Douglas, although a servant of the financial powers, rose to great heights after Lincoln’s “election” (the author says Lincoln’s election was so rigged he did not bother to campaign), and proposed a withdrawal from forts in the south so as to avoid sparking a war. Lincoln refused. Similarly, General Winfield Scott advised Lincoln to let Fort Sumter go, and Lincoln instead ordered the provocative reinforcement of Fort Sumter.


The author notes that Article XIV, depriving the South of its leaders (no leader serving during the war could represent the South after the war) was illegally passed.


The author suggests that it was Stanton who arranged for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, leaving open the one escape route needed by the assassin, and subsequently executing several people privy to the details who could have testified to this effect.


White Rose is heraldry symbol for courage in the face of oppression.


The author is at pains to document that neither Congress nor the Executive may declare war on a member State; on four separate occasions the Founding Father explicitly denied this power to Congress.


In creating its new Confederacy, the South demonstrated its moral superiority and good intentions by forbidding the future importation of slaves; repeating the fugitive slave demands on the North, recognizing all Indian tribes its in western territories as sovereign unto themselves, and rejecting Alexander Hamilton’s imperial pretensions for centralized government.

Quote 13

Americans have yet to come to terms with the barbarism of Lincoln’s prosecution of the bloodiest war of the nineteenth century merely to preserve a federative union, itself founded on the right of secession. 13

Quote 19

Secession is “indispensable because it serves to counterbalanced and discourage excessive concentration of power in the general government—indispensable because it induces moderation and justice which, by operation of moral causes, strengthens a federal Union with Patriotic sentiment—and indispensible because, when all else fails, it provides an escape from central authority so concentrated as to be dangerous, or so corrupted and implacable as to be irreformable by the ordinary course of law.” 19

Quote 211

Massachusetts Constitution as adopted on 25 October 1780: “the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasiable right to institute government, and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.” 211

Quote 216

On 3 January 1838 the U.S. Senate passes a resolution which proclaimed: “That, in the adoption of the Federal Constitution, the States adopting the same acted severally as free, sovereign, and independent States.” 216

Quote 277

“Slavery was dying more rapidly in the South upon the election of Abraham Lincoln than t he feudal system was dying in England upon the accession of Henry VIII.” 277

Quote 288

President James Buchanan is lionized in this book. One quote, speaking to Congress: “The fact is that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it cannot live in the affectioins of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possesses many means of preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was not placed in their hand to preserve it by force.” 288

Quote 293

“The right to make this judgement [of the need to secede] was reserved by the United States Constitutioin in Article VII and Amendment X for each of the several States of the Union. And in denying the right of the Southern States to exercise this judgement in peace, Lincoln urged on by his partisans denied the most evolved principle of the American Revolution and the Glorious Revolution [the peaceful ascension of William and Mary in England]. The price of this error was catastrophic, and is still being paid.” 293

Quote 303

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, in the author’s view, unleashed the passion that destroyed the Union (in order to own it from the North). “The rudimentary cause was a deluded and fatal attachment to a political fiction of ‘national unity’ which has never had any foundation in reality, and was at the time only an effusion of war propaganda. This fixation now serves mainly to sedate and silence the conscience of Americans over the injustice produced by the war against the South. And it has produced imperial power, imperial militarism, imperial conquest, imperial oppression, and imperial ruin. It is hard to understand what necessity there has been for it, or what the compensation might be.” 303
This was written before the Bush-Cheney era or lies to the public, demagoguery, the destruction of the federal policy process, elective wars, warrantless wiretapping, and rendition for torture.

Quote 309

The author concludes: “There can be no fair doubt that, by his lawlessness, Lincoln was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors for which he could and should have been impeached.” 309

By Robert David STEELE Vivas, 11/10/2008

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