Be a great discussion for a different thread. Not here.Not so fast. Can we consider my prior post for a minute. You originally offered some ideas that are based on compact theory. I presented some points that refute the theory. What in my post do actually disagree with? That SCOTUS had rejected compact theory in favor of a sovereign nation three times before the ACW, the first of which was just 4 years after enactment. That Morris posed a crystal clear question before the Constitutional Convention, and they chose a national government over another compact among the states. That the Convention addressed the issue of sovereignty in the transmittal letter. Have I misinterpreted the historical evidence? I would not presume that’s impossible, but if I have, where exactly did I go wrong? If not, how do you support secession without compact theory?
Isn’t that a distinction without a difference. Congress represents the sovereign people of the US. And in certain cases, as proscribed by the Constitution, the state legislatures, acting collectively, represent the sovereign people of the US? Within your own statement, ‘the States’ is plural, and there lies the key. Also, it’s a representative system, not a direct democracy, so of course the people do not directly govern themselves, they do so via their elected representatives. The Constitution specifies proscribed roles for the people, Congress, and even the states, but in all three cases, they can only act collectively. It doesn’t matter that the Framers gave the states (collectively) a role in the process. In either case, Congress, or the legislatures of the collective states (or ratifying conventions of the collective states), the people represented are still ALL of the people of the US. The process does not allow for 11 out of 33 states to alter the Constitution or the Union. Are either the state legislatures (collectively) or Congress going to act against the wishes of the people of the US?
The secessionists saw what they saw because they were a shrinking minority desperately looking for an out from the agreed upon process: majority rule in accordance with the Constitution. Same for the minority Anti-federalists, lead by Jefferson and Madison, seeking a way to oppose the Alien and Sedition Acts in the 1790s, acts passed by the majority Federalists. Same for the Federalists in New England in 1815, seeking to oppose the War of 1812 and enbargoe, which was crushing commerce. Same for the nullifiers, lead by Calhoun, c1830, who opposed tariffs that they felt were crushing their economy. These are the groups you want to rely on, instead of three SCOTUS decisions, and some pretty clear language in the Constitutional Convention.
Whether 'the United States' refers to states plural or nation singular, the result is the same, ALL of the people of the US, acting collectively in accordance with the Constitution, via their representatives, who they elect. Those representatives may be Congress or, in certain limited cases, the legislatures or special conventions of all of the states. I will certainly agree the people’s conceptual picture of the US changed, from ‘the United States are’ to ‘the United States is’ (a la McPherson, I think). They did after all keep the same terminology: the Union. But a Union of the individual states was replaced by a more perfect Union of the collective states, because the former utterly failed to meet the needs of the country.
I respectfully disagree. Perhaps the line between state powers and national powers changed (it could not be precisely defined in 3 or 4 month, not even by 40 or so of the best political minds in the world. They basically created a grey area that required further definition, the details of such a complex and revolutionary system had to be worked out over time. Perhaps nationalism (the centralization of political authority) became increasingly prominent. But the US was a sovereign nation from the time the Constitution was enacted, a condition clearly pursued by the Constitutional Convention, and confirmed by SCOTUS in 1793, 1816, and 1819, and surmised by Story in 1833. What the ACW decided was that the Union was strong enough in the 1860s to resist a rebellion by 11 states.
Consider this, nation and state are, in general, interchangeable terms. The individual states had established their own individual national governments during the Revolution. Sovereignty resided in the individual people of each individual state. In 1789 they (the people of each state) decided to surrender their independent sovereignty to established a sovereign nation. They (the people of the collective states, aka the United States) then enacted a Constitution that established a national government that would govern them collectively. Doesn't matter if they (or you) thought of themselves as the people of a nation, or the people of the collective states. The country now had a national government too.