We the People of the United States,
in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence,
promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty
to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America. Preamble
This is the Preamble of The United States Constitution. It is the first evidence that the Founding Fathers meant that government was established by the people and for the people, not by the states or for the states.
There is no mention of state's rights or confederacy. In the letter below to the London Times, American historian and diplomat, John Lothrop Motley (1814-1877) details the chaos that existed before the ratification of The Constitution by the supreme power (the people, not the states). He said there always existed two parties, "one who advocated states rights and local self-government," and another who "favored national government (see page 9).
"A permanent, consolidated government was established, a single commonwealth" (not a confederacy).
Motley claims that states had not right to secede because The Constitution was not a compact (a promise) but law, and it is worded as such. It specifies what shall and shall not be done (law). In this commonwealth, more states could be added, but the Union was not meant to be dissolved, hence, "for ourselves and our posterity."
Any move to overthrow the Union or to take Federal property would be considered treason.
Secession is, in brief, the return to chaos from which we emerged three-quarters of a century since. No logical sequence can be more perfect. If one state lias a right to secede to-day, asserting what it calls its sovereignty, another may, and probably will, do the same to-morrow, a third on the next day, and so on, until there are none to secede from. Granted the premises that each state may peaceably secede from the Union, it follows that a county may peaceably secede from a state, and a town 'from a county, until there is nothing left but a horde of individuals all seceding from each other. The theory that the people of a whole country in their aggregate capacity are supreme is intelligible; and it has been a fact, also, in America for seventy years. But it is impossible to show, if the people of a state be sovereign, that the people of a county or of a village, and the individuals of the village, are not equally sovereign, and justified in "resuming their sovereignty" when their interest or their caprice seems to impel them. The process of disintegration brings back the community to barbarism, precisely as its converse has built up commonwealths—whether empires, kingdoms, or republics—out of original barbarism. See page 13.
Motley also asserts that there was no wrongdoing to warrant rebellion only because Abraham Lincoln had won the election in 1860, and there was a fear that he would end slavery even though he had not campaigned on the premise of ending slavery.
The great secession, therefore, of 1860-61 is a rebellion, like any other insurrection against established authority, and has been followed by civil war as its immediate and inevitable consequence. If successful, it is a revolution; and whether successful or not, it will be judged before the tribunal of mankind and posterity according to the eternal laws of reason and justice.
Time and history will decide whether it was a good and sagacious deed to destroy a fabric of so long duration because of the election of Mr. Lincoln; whether it were wise and noble to substitute over a large portion of the American soil a confederacy of which slavery, in the words of its Vice-President, is the corner-stone, for the old republic, of which Washington with his own hand laid the corner-stone. See page 33.
It should be noted that South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union in December 1860, and the following states suceded: Mississippi, Jan. 9; Florida, Jan. 10; Alabama, Jan. 11; Georgia, Jan. 19, Louisiana, Jan. 26; Texas, Feb. 1.