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And if they are
name for a law) relieve them from the obligation?
The clause of the Constitution providing for amendments adds another to the arguments which show it to have the character of an organic law, and not of a compact. Whether regarded as the one or the other, it is clear that it could not become obligatory upon a State, or the people of a State, until adopted by them. The people of one State could not ratify and adopt it for the people of another State. But, being adopted by all, it contains a clause binding upon all, providing that "the Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to the Constitution, or, on application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress."
Now, considered as an organic law, the Constitution may be altered and amended in any mode which may be agreed upon and prescribed by the instrument itself. . . .
But if the Constitution is a compact between the States, any amendment which becomes a part of the Constitution is also a compact between the States, and the question arises, How is it that three fourths of the States, voting in favor of an amendment, are to make a compact with the other fourth, voting at the same time against it, and thus refusing to enter into the compact? How is it that the States voting to adopt, represent the States refusing to adopt, so that, by the vote of adoption, they make a compact between themselves and the others, against the will of the others expressed at the same time. Those voting to adopt act in their own behalf, thereby being one party to the bargain, and thus far it is well; but, on the compact theory, they must at the same time represent those who vote against the adoption, and thus make them another party to the bargain; when the others at the same time represent themselves, and refuse to make the bargain. . . .
Will the advocate of the compact theory say that the provision relative to amendments, in the Constitution as first adopted, constitutes the States agents of one another, so that three fourths of the whole number may thus make an agreement for all, against the will of their principals,
acting at the same time and dissenting? If this is so, we must add a new chapter to the law of Agency.
The Articles of Confederation expressly, explicitly, and in the most emphatic manner, established a "Perpetual Union" between the States.
The Articles of Confederation which established this "perpetual," "permanent," "indissoluble" Union, proved to be inadequate to the purpose for which they were adopted. . . The history of the change by which a Union under the Constitution was substituted for that under the Articles of Confederation, need not be set forth at this time. . . . The reasons for its adoption, summarily set forth in the preamble of the instrument itself, are “to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
Now it appears to be preposterous to contend that this more perfect Union, established for posterity as well as for the existing generation, and thus substituted for the perpetual, indissoluble Union under the Articles, is one which was to exist only at the pleasure of each and every State, and to be dissolved when any State shall assert that it is aggrieved, and repeal the act of ratification. The Union could not be made "more perfect" in relation to its endurance. It certainly was not intended to be made less perfect in that particular.
[Joel Parker], The Right of Secession, in North American Review, July, 1861 (Boston), XCIII, 221–244 passim.
57. "Let Us Alone" (1861)
BY HENRY HOWARD BROWNELL
Brownell abandoned the law for literature, and wrote popular histories and war lyrics. The title of the verses given below was derived from Jefferson Davis's first message to the Confederate Congress. - Bibliography as in No. 53 above.
S vonce I valked by a dismal svamp,
There sot an Old Cove in the dark and damp,
A stick or a stone this Old Cove throwed.
And venever he flung his stick or his stone,
Just then came along, on the self-same vay,
Put down that stick! (You may well look skeered.)
You must hev a lesson to stop your tricks,
The Old Cove stopped, and the t'other Old Cove
And he looked at his stick, revolvin' slow
Vether t'were safe to shy it or no
And he grumbled on, in an injured tone
[Henry Howard Brownell], Lyrics of a Day (Hartford, 1863), 16–17.
CHAPTER X-PRACTICE OF SECESSION
58. Secession Spirit in Mississippi (1860)
BY REPRESENTATIVE REUBEN DAVIS (1889)
Davis was a member of Congress from 1857 to 1861, and later a member of the Confederate Congress; but his life was spent chiefly in Mississippi, where both before and after the Civil War he was very prominent as a lawyer. This extract is from his recollections, written over twenty-five years after the event. - Bibliography: Channing and Hart, Guide, § 206.
say that the nomination and election of Lincoln caused the war is to make a mistake. It was the signal for battle, but the troops were marshalled and war declared, long before. During the long contest for speaker, passion on both sides had been intensified, and the excitement and danger of collision continued to increase until the last hour of the session.
Lincoln's nomination took place about two weeks before adjournment. The intelligence came like a thunderbolt. Members from the South purchased long-range guns to take home with them. The unthinking among them rejoiced that the end was in sight, but those who considered more deeply were dismayed by the prospect.
It was regarded almost certain that Lincoln would be elected, unless Breckenridge or Douglas could be withdrawn from the field, and it was idle to hope that this could be done. . . .
The presidential campaign was, as was inevitable, one of extraordinary violence. In all my speeches in Mississippi, I broadly asserted that war was unavoidable. For this I was often blamed, but I replied that it was our duty to deal frankly with the people, who had confided such vast interests to our hands.
Governor John J. Pettus issued a proclamation, by which he called upon the legislature to meet, in extra session, upon the third Monday in November, 1860. He also invited the senators and representatives to meet him in Jackson, some days before the meeting of the legislature,
in order that he might counsel with them in regard to his message and what he should say upon the subject of secession.
We met there upon this invitation. Congressman John J. McRae was not present. There was much discussion, in which divers opinions were maintained. Some opposed separate state action in secession. Some were opposed to secession, unless eight other States would consent to go out at the same time.
As these discussions were prolonged without seeming to lead to anything definite, I at last proposed a resolution that the governor should recommend the legislature to call a convention to secede the State of Mississippi, by separate action, such action to take effect eo instanti.
This resolution was voted for by Governor Pettus, O. R. Singleton, William Barksdale, and myself. It was practically a declaration of war.
Governor Pettus then showed us a telegram which he had received from the governor of South Carolina, requesting his opinion whether the South Carolina secession convention, which was then about to meet, should make their ordinance of secession take effect instantly, or on the 4th of March.
Being called upon for a resolution upon this point, I offered one that the reply should advise the ordinance to take effect instantly. The same four votes adopted this resolution also, and our work was done. If a convention was called, and delegates in favor of secession elected, there would be no pause or tarrying.
Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar and General Ethel Barksdale were invited by the people of Brandon to make addresses at that place, the day after these resolutions had been adopted.
Returning home, it was necessary for me to pass immediately through Brandon, and Lamar and Barksdale, with their accustomed courtesy, sent me an invitation to arrange my journey with reference to joining them. It was with great pleasure that I accepted this invitation, knowing that I should hear from both gentlemen speeches of unusual eloquence.
Mr. Lamar made the opening address, speaking with even more than his wonted fluency and beauty. It is useless to attempt to describe his peculiar style. His fame is national, and he stands upon a pedestal wrought out by his own great gift of words. It was remarked that in this speech he made no reference to the possibilities of war, or the horrors that must result from disunion.
As soon as the applause which greeted the conclusion of Lamar's