“If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.” Jefferson Davis: http://EzineArticles.com/1410827
"We feel our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of our honor and independence. We ask no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the states with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms." Jefferson Davis: http://EzineArticles.com/1410827
American citizens who know anything about United States history probably know that there once existed something called the Confederacy or more fully The Confederate States of America. Fewer, though perhaps still many, may know that during the first twelve years of its existence the entire United States was a also Confederacy. As it is commonly understood in application to politics and government, confederacy refers to a compact or league for mutual support or common action; a close synonym is alliance.
The Confederate States of America is the best-known American confederacy. The structure of its government bears a brief explanation. The CSA Constitution combined to a certain extent on both the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. Not surprisingly, it reflected a stronger philosophy of states’ rights, and contained explicit protections of the institution of slavery. It differed from the US Constitution in that the federal government was prohibited from issuing protective tariffs or funding internal improvements, and was required to protect the institution of slavery in the territories. Apart from these differences, the Confederate Constitution was largely a word-for-word duplicate of the US Constitution. At the drafting of the Constitution of the Confederacy, many radical proposals such as allowing only slave states to join and the reinstatement of the Atlantic slave trade were turned down. The CSA Constitution specifically did not include a provision allowing states to secede. The southerners believed secession to be a right inherent in the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, including it as such in the CSA Constitution would have weakened their original argument for secession. http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Confederacy
In American politics and Constitutional theory, only people have rights so the term, states’ rights, is a misleading misnomer. Governments hold power or authority and those who argue for states’ rights both historically and currently are challenging the supremacy clause of the U. S. Constitution as interpreted and applied by John Marshall in McCulloh v Maryland . In this case, Chief Justice Marshall asserted, based on the supremacy clause in Article VI, federal laws are generally predominant over state laws. Confederates both historically and currently persist in denying or discounting this landmark decision.
While it is the most widely known confederacy in American history, the CSA was not the first. The nation we now know as the United States of America began its existence as a confederacy. The governing charter of this nation was the Articles of Confederation. As a practical matter, this emergent nation was not a nation, but a “league of friendship.” Article 2 asserted, "Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated." Both the words and the sense of the words suggest that this document describes a voluntary association of equal entities rather than components of one unified government and/or nation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government's power was minimal. The Confederation Congress could make decisions, but lacked any enforcement powers. Implementation of most decisions, including modifications to the Articles, required unanimous approval of all thirteen state legislatures. The state governments had legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The national government was simply a legislature without the power to tax, to enforce its decisions, or to do much of anything else.
The Articles of Confederation went into effect with Maryland’s ratification in March of 1781. It was replaced by the Constitution went this charter went into operation in 1789. Therefore, the first confederacy lasted for roughly eight years. Contrary to Ronald Reagan’s assertion in 1961, the Constitutional Republic described in 1787 and activated in 1789 was a solution to the problem of weak and ineffective government under the Articles of Confederation. The chief interest of the Articles of Confederation now lies in the unacknowledged fact that this mere shadow of an effective government is what the Tea Partiers and their reactionary allies want to restore in the United States.
During the struggle to create our Constitutional Republic, the opposition faction became known as Anti-federalists. This stems from their desire to prevent the formation of a federation. This form of government often evolves from confederations when the confederacies undergo a crisis and choose to unite more firmly rather than fall apart. This is precisely what happened in American history although it was by no means an inevitable outcome.
A Confederacy typically has a number of free, independent and sovereign states joined in a cooperative league. The citizens of a confederacy generally distrust centralized power and jealously guard the authority of their particular states often calling this attachment – states’ rights. This means within the member states the government may do whatever it and the people choose about most issues. In the Ante-Bellum South, the governments and citizens of several states chose to maintain the peculiar institution of slavery. In a confederation, that was in line with the theory and practice. In a federation, however, the house could not survive half slave and half free.
The Confederacy [CSA] emerged in 1861 about 72 years after the Federal Republic began with the implementation of the United States Constitution. This second confederacy sought to protect the authority of individual states to institute, maintain, and extend peculiar institutions especially slavery. The leaders and citizens of the Confederacy had never fully internalized the arguments that had prevailed during the great debate over ratification of the Constitution. They asserted the Union was still a voluntary league from which they could withdraw rather than an indissoluble union. This is what Jefferson Davis meant when he said, “all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms.” In other words, the nineteenth century confederates denied the authority of the Constitution. They were subversive of the constitutional order; they were disloyal to the Republic. They felt so strongly about these differences, they went to war with the Federal Government and an estimated 620,000 Americans died. This is a greater number of fatalities than in all other American wars from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War. Therefore, the dispute between confederates and federalists can have hugely significant consequences.
In a fine irony, contemporary confederates lustily cheer at every mention of the Constitution. They wave it like some sort of talisman that will banish evil and bring good fortune. They ritualistically cite it and read it like scripture on ceremonial occasions. However, the priorities they assert – less government, low taxes, states’ rights, national security, and minimal spending are those most prominently featured in the Articles of Confederation, not the Constitution. This paradox reveals both the shallow understanding prevalent among the Tea Partiers and their sycophants and the persistence of theories of government that have twice proven inadequate and even disastrous in American history.
The defenders of the Constitution, the true patriots in the spirit of 1787 and the real “party of Lincoln” today are the progressives. The reactionaries who loudly proclaim their fealty to the Constitution espouse themes antithetical to it. Their theory of government and politics is incredible once it is clearly recognized. The ideas and ideals of Confederacy have been tried by the test time and by the fires of war. They have been found wanting in the past and they are inadequate to the stern demands of a troubled present and an uncertain future.
Let us see these fervent people for what they are misguided, angry individuals who refuse to learn from the past and want to condemn us all to repeat it. Let us unite and preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic. Let us give all for the Union and the Republic. Let us redeem our childhood pledge. Let us recall and affirm the words of Henry Clay – “The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity – unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity.” For these words of wisdom, let it be.