The United States Constitution provides that States cannot be forced, invaded, or their republican form of government changed; and the Constitution itself cannot be amended unless three-fourths of the States freely ratify the change or changes. The three postwar amendments which tremendously increased federal authority were forced upon subjugated States – ironically by the same federal agent they had granted strictly limited power to in 1787.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com The Great American Political Divide
Duress and Trophies of the Victor
“Time had indeed shown – a mere decade of it, from 1858 to 1868 – a Civil War and an attempted overturn of the American form of government. The South had been charged, she would “rule or ruin”; but it is shown the North, “taking over the government,” as [South Carolina Senator Hammond] stated, did “rule and ruin” nigh half a great nation.
As the truths of 1861-65 emerge, we see but a barren Pyrrhic victory won on false pretenses, and memorialized on labored perversions and obscurities, a Lincoln of fabulous creation and facultative dimensions, a false god of idolatrous devotees, and “Olympian” that never was!
In his last address Washington had cautioned against “any spirit of innovation upon the principles of the Constitution, however specious the pretexts . . . Facility in changes upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion exposes to perpetual change from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and, in any event, should a modification of the Constitutional powers be necessary, it is to be made in the way the Constitution designates . . . but no change by usurpation.”
What but “usurpation” of the rights of three fourths of the States by making such changes were those three postwar amendments? Eleven States had no say whatever, except the raw pretenses of seizure of power, about their own ratifications; and these States were those most intimately and immediately affected. It would seem as if efforts to abolish republican forms of government or to destroy equality (e.g., in the Senate) should not be subject to deliberation.
Three unconstitutional amendments, incorporating the final results of the so-called “Rebellion,” are in summary the treaty between the belligerents – a duress. In them are the trophies of the victors, but no mention of the cause, the real cause, of the conflict – States’ rights. One observer commented that “. . . of the war waged ostensibly to maintain the integrity of the Union, and in denial of the dogma of State sovereignty, the future historian will not fail to note that the three amendments are silent on this subject . . .
What was to be the government and who were to comprise the constituency – hence the sovereignty – in 1866, of eleven American States? Was it proposed to take these endowments away and to install the tyrant’s whim and rule? No wonder chaos reigned in all departments of the federal government in 1865! Nothing was said then about the right of secession; if that right existed, it exists now, so far as any declaration in the organic law is concerned. It has not been renounced, and the supremacy of the “nation” has not been affirmed in the Constitution. Truth crushed to earth will rise again . . .
Determination of such a constitutional question as the permanence of the Union can never be decided by four justices [Texas vs White, 1869] of the Supreme Court, leaving unheard about forty million citizens. By the Constitution, seven men could not abolish the States of the Union, but three-fourths of those States could abolish that court and all its judges. And, along with it, all the Lincolns that ever sat in the White House and all the Sumner’s and Stevens that ever sat in the House or Senate.”
(The Constitutions of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, A Historical and Biographical Study in Contrasts, Russell Hoover Quynn, Exposition Press, 1959, pp. 45-49)