- Aug 16, 2015
Thanks for your response.Lincoln is being very clear, and I'm not misreading it. There is no difference between counties and states ("If a State, in one instance, and a county in another, should be equal in extent of territory, and equal in the number of people, wherein is that State any better than the county? Can a change of name change the right?"), they are just administrative subdivisions of the larger "nation". Notice his dismissive notion that the difference between the two is just a difference in what they're named. One has no more power than the other. It's a very clear comparison and very clear intent on Lincoln's part.
In Lincoln's view, the states have no power that the Constitution doesn't grant them within the Union ("that position assumed, that a State can carry with it out of the Union that which it holds in sacredness by virtue of its connection with the Union"), which contradicts the ninth and tenth amendment notion of "retained" powers that the states and the people still had from before ratification of the Constitution. The reality is that it's the Federal government that has no power that the Constitution doesn't grant, but Lincoln is standing Constitutional reality on its head.
Lincoln was very clear what point he was making- you even included his 'setup' in the text you provided:
I speak not of that position which is given to a State in and by the Constitution of the United States, for that all of us agree to---we abide by; but that position assumed, that a State can carry with it out of the Union that which it holds in sacredness by virtue of its connection with the Union. I am speaking of that assumed right of a State, as a primary principle, that the Constitution should rule all that is less than itself, and ruin all that is bigger than itself.Some here may not like it, often objecting to the word: but context is everything.