One of the hottest topics in our current political climate is “States Rights.” Members of the American Continental Congress were appointed by their state's governors to guard their state's rights as much as they were to form a union while writing the “Articles Of Confederation.”
Therefore, it is not surprising that the Declaration of Independence which they adopted stated very clearly “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to altar or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”
Josiah Tucker, a British expert on political thought, understood that there were many factions in America's political leadership. He opined that ‘Their difference of governments, habitudes, and manners, indicate that they will have no centre of union and no common interest.”
The first of two main groups was led by Alexander Hamilton. Known as the “Federalists,” they argued for a strong central government with very limited states rights. The other group was led by Thomas Jefferson. Known as the “Anti-Federalists,” they wanted the independent states to be associated under a very limited “Federal Authority.”
Leading the New England clamor for the creation of a separate New England Confederacy during the War of 1812, the "Boston Centinel" reasoned in 1814 that “The Union of the Northern and Southern States is not essential to the safety, and very much opposed to the interests, of both sections. ”
The Centinel explained that “The commercial and non-commercial states have views and interests so different, that I conceive it to be impossible that they ever can be satisfied with the same laws ... each section will be better satisfied to govern itself.”
In fact, in the pre-Civil-War 1850's, New Englanders once again held a convention to determine whether they should separate from the Southern States in direct response to the lowering of protectionist trade tariffs pushed by southern Democrats in Congress.
In South Carolina, by 1860 the actions of the federal government had convinced its state legislature that the much-discussed idea of secession was the only peaceable alternative to South Carolinians being forced to remain in the Union under coercion by this same central government.
The nation's largest newspapers responded to this looming crisis. In November of 1860 the New York Tribune editorialized “If the cotton states unitedly and earnestly wish to withdraw peacefully from the Union, we think they should and would be allowed to do so.”
One month later, the Chicago Tribune declared “If peaceable secession is possible, the retiring States will be assisted to go, that this needless and bitter controversy may be brought to an end. If the Union is to be dissolved, a bloodless separation is by all means to be coveted.”
However, New England newspapers were not happy. The New Hampshire Union Democrat thundered in February of 1861 “The Southern Confederacy will not employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping without it? Literally nothing...No, we MUST NOT let the South go!”
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger firstname.lastname@example.org