Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pre-Disposition to Statehood

I hear a lot (a LOT) about how the Constitution of the US was written to give more authority to states than to the federal government.

I don't usually argue against this...because I believe it is true. But apparently, it has NEVER been very clear which gets more power - state or nation?

I've been to Washington DC like 2x a year for the last 3 years. I love it there...I enjoy it immensely. My sister recently bought a house all the way out in Warrenton, VA, SW of DC. I went to visit this last weekend. You take I-66 all the way out to SR-29... The traffic was SOOO bad when we headed out there, though, that we got off an exit early (Exit 44) and as I was directing my boyfriend down roads and consulting my map, one of my glances out the window afforded me the view of an ancient blue (lead?) cannon sitting at the top of a hill. I squealed and searched the map. Sure enough, we were in the middle of the National Bull Run/Battle of Manassas Park. I don't know WHY I never thought to look for Civil War stuff while visiting DC, but you usually think Revolutionary War...and stick with Smithsonians, the Capitol, and White House tours (I got a tour of my sister's White House this year). But out in the outskirts of DC, in the countryside of VA, you will find Civil War (and Revolutionary War) parks.

So, I scheduled a day out there :) It was wonderful. And I was reading one of the plaques in the little museum visitor center...

Essentially, that little sign said that since the beginning of the nation, the country has debated who gets more authority - state or nation? Up until the Civil War, the primary authority was given to States. But upon secession, and Abe Lincoln's unwillingness for this country to be divided ("A divided house can not stand"), he fought for the country's wholeness. By the end of the war, I'm going to take a wild guess and say that a lot of the states' authority was removed from them...one being the ability to secede.

So...is it worth giving states the authority that they used to have if they can secede at any time? Will that help keep our nation's leaders more accountable? Or will it be another monster waiting in the wings, abiding its time to devour unsuspecting trustees of the "original" purpose of the Constitution of the United States of America?

1 comment:

Lost in Academia said...

That's funny about the civil war, That war was fought near the district, the revolution was largely in New England (DC wasn't created until after the revolution, silly).

States never had the right to secede. The Constitution specifically gives Congress in Article I section 8, the power, "To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water...To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions..." Insurrection is the key word as that implies people are rebelling against the US government. Further Art I, Sec 10 specifically states "No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation...lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state"

Every few years someone will write a book to try to convince you that states had the right to secede. Don't listen to them, Chica. There is a term we in the legal profession use for these people. That word is moron.

You're definitely right though, Abe Lincoln, what ever his intentions, destroyed the original balance (Well, technically it was the South's little temper tantrum that did that).

But American's helped take the 17th amendment which took the state's last voice out of the Federal government. We took that away, not the feds.