Thomas Jefferson, Secession, and States Rights

MattL

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The people who actually wrote the language of the 10th amendment, which was presumably someone in the 1st Congress.



The preamble originally listed the states by individual name, and the Committee on Style wasn't supposed to change the meaning of anything, just the wording.... so I'm not so sure the Preamble hasn't been used in ways that, again, wasn't originally intended. Just a thought. Obviously at this point, after centuries of legal rulings, "We the People" does refer to the people of the United States collectively, but I'm not sure that's what it was supposed to mean when written, unless Governeur Morris was being sneaky.

Well the 9th amendment reads:

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The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
----

I'm pretty sure that applied to the entire people the Constitution applied to and not just on a State by State level. Other examples

1st amendment
----
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
----

2nd amendment
----
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
----

4th amendment
----
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
----

Seems like pretty common language.

I think a better question would be, are there any examples were "the people" is used and obviously implied to mean the people of a State without clarification. I can't find any, in later on in the 17th amendment I see:

----
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

----

Both cases very clearly have given context of the State.

Honestly the 10th amendment seems pretty clear

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The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
---

the powers are reserved for the "states respectively" or "to the people." I honestly don't see how any reading of "the people" cannot be applied to the people of the United States. If they wanted it to apply to the people of the States they would've either put

"the people of the states"

or

"the people thereof"

or of course they would have gone into a longer paragraph setting the context specifically. They specifically contrasted the "states" and "the people." I think this is very consistent with the entire message of the Constitution, of a more perfect union and any power not specifically given to the Federal government should either fall to the States or the people of the US.
 

MattL

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Well the 9th amendment reads:

----
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
----

I'm pretty sure that applied to the entire people the Constitution applied to and not just on a State by State level. Other examples

1st amendment
----
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
----

2nd amendment
----
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
----

4th amendment
----
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
----

Seems like pretty common language.

I think a better question would be, are there any examples were "the people" is used and obviously implied to mean the people of a State without clarification. I can't find any, in later on in the 17th amendment I see:

----
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

----

Both cases very clearly have given context of the State.

Honestly the 10th amendment seems pretty clear

---
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
---

the powers are reserved for the "states respectively" or "to the people." I honestly don't see how any reading of "the people" cannot be applied to the people of the United States. If they wanted it to apply to the people of the States they would've either put

"the people of the states"

or

"the people thereof"

or of course they would have gone into a longer paragraph setting the context specifically. They specifically contrasted the "states" and "the people." I think this is very consistent with the entire message of the Constitution, of a more perfect union and any power not specifically given to the Federal government should either fall to the States or the people of the US.

I'll add of course "to the people" is immensely vague and somewhat of a cop out by them. Of course it could also be seen as a safe guard too, maybe exactly for scenarios like unilateral secession. Where a State may selfishly push it's own agenda under the guise of the 10th amendment when consent by "the people" is needed in some fashion.

My guess is "the people" would usually mean congressional consent or at least some sort of mutual consent.
 

jgoodguy

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I'll add of course "to the people" is immensely vague and somewhat of a cop out by them. Of course it could also be seen as a safe guard too, maybe exactly for scenarios like unilateral secession. Where a State may selfishly push it's own agenda under the guise of the 10th amendment when consent by "the people" is needed in some fashion.

My guess is "the people" would usually mean congressional consent or at least some sort of mutual consent.
I agree with that.

If we assume that the people refers to the people of a State, it appears to me to revert back to the AOC where any State could veto anything. If the people of a State have the authority to nullify, they also have the power to unilaterally amend the constitution by default. Goodness knows the limits if we say the power of the people of a State What if the people of a Southern State demands the Yankees send all their virgins south, is that legit? What says that the people of a State's power is limited to a State.
 

48th Miss.

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Location
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Well the 9th amendment reads:

----
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
----

I'm pretty sure that applied to the entire people the Constitution applied to and not just on a State by State level. Other examples

1st amendment
----
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
----

2nd amendment
----
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
----

4th amendment
----
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
----

Seems like pretty common language.

I think a better question would be, are there any examples were "the people" is used and obviously implied to mean the people of a State without clarification. I can't find any, in later on in the 17th amendment I see:

----
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

----

Both cases very clearly have given context of the State.

Honestly the 10th amendment seems pretty clear

---
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
---

the powers are reserved for the "states respectively" or "to the people." I honestly don't see how any reading of "the people" cannot be applied to the people of the United States. If they wanted it to apply to the people of the States they would've either put

"the people of the states"

or

"the people thereof"

or of course they would have gone into a longer paragraph setting the context specifically. They specifically contrasted the "states" and "the people." I think this is very consistent with the entire message of the Constitution, of a more perfect union and any power not specifically given to the Federal government should either fall to the States or the people of the US.
Would it not be implied since it was the people of each state that were to ratify the Document as People in individual states. The people of NC did not ratify the document for SC. What do you think??

Can somebody tell me when all this became collective verses individual. Honest question, Have been reading the Brownson Book on the founding written in 1866
He at first believed in states rights and secession but changed his mind just prior to the War. I have not yet found his earlier writings that might detail the reasoning for his prior belief. Actually his early stuff is out there I just have not found this information in the years of his published bulletins.
 

jgoodguy

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We the people or we the people of a state?
Decided in 1819.

McCulloch v. Maryland - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com
This case, decided by the Supreme Court in 1819, asserted national supremacy vis-Ã-vis state action in areas of constitutionally granted authority. Maryland had placed a prohibitive tax on the bank notes of the Second Bank of the United States. When the Maryland courts upheld this law, the Bank, in the name of its Baltimore branch cashier James W. McCulloch, appealed to the Supreme Court. Daniel Webster, with William Pinkney, argued the case on behalf of the Bank.

McCulloch v. Maryland
In discussing this question, the counsel for the State of Maryland have deemed it of some importance, in the construction of the Constitution, to consider that instrument not as emanating from the people, but as the act of sovereign and independent States. The powers of the General Government, it has been said, are delegated by the States, who alone are truly sovereign, and must be exercised in subordination to the States, who alone possess supreme dominion. [p403]
It would be difficult to sustain this proposition. The convention which framed the Constitution was indeed elected by the State legislatures. But the instrument, when it came from their hands, was a mere proposal, without obligation or pretensions to it. It was reported to the then existing Congress of the United States with a request that it might be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each State by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification.

This mode of proceeding was adopted, and by the convention, by Congress, and by the State legislatures, the instrument was submitted to the people. They acted upon it in the only manner in which they can act safely, effectively and wisely, on such a subject -- by assembling in convention. It is true, they assembled in their several States -- and where else should they have assembled? No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States, and of compounding the American people into one common mass. Of consequence, when they act, they act in their States. But the measures they adopt do not, on that account, cease to be the measures of the people themselves, or become the measures of the State governments.

From these conventions the Constitution derives its whole authority. The government proceeds directly from the people; is "ordained and established" in the name of the people, and is declared to be ordained, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure [p404] the blessings of liberty to themselves and to their posterity.

The assent of the States in their sovereign capacity is implied in calling a convention, and thus submitting that instrument to the people. But the people were at perfect liberty to accept or reject it, and their act was final. It required not the affirmance, and could not be negatived, by the State Governments. The Constitution, when thus adopted, was of complete obligation, and bound the State sovereignties.
 

jgoodguy

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More on who we the people are.
Chisholm v. Georgia 2 U.S. 419 (1793)

No part of the Law of Nations can apply to this case, as I apprehend, but that part which is termed "The Conventional Law of Nations;" nor can this any otherwise apply than as furnishing rules of interpretation, since unquestionably the people of the United States had a right to form what kind of Union, and upon what terms they pleased, without reference to any former examples.

"The PEOPLE of the United states" are the first personages introduced. Who were those people? They were the citizens of thirteen states, each of which had a separate constitution and government, and all of which were connected together by Articles of Confederation. To the purposes of public strength and felicity, that Confederacy was totally inadequate. A requisition on the several states terminated its legislative authority. Executive or judicial authority it had none. In order therefore to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to ensure domestic tranquillity, to provide for common defence, and to secure the blessings of liberty, those people, among whom were the people of Georgia, ordained and established the present Constitution. By that Constitution legislative power is vested, executive power is vested, judicial power is vested.

In order to make the discovery at which we ultimately aim, a second previous enquiry will naturally be: did the people of the United states intend to bind the several states by the executive power of the national government? The affirmative answer to the former question directs, unavoidably, an affirmative answer to this.

Fair and conclusive deduction, then, evinces that the people of the United states did vest this court with jurisdiction over the State of Georgia.

If then it be true that the sovereignty of the nation is in the people of the nation, and the residuary sovereignty of each State in the people of each State, it may be useful to compare these sovereignties with those in Europe, that we may thence be enabled to judge whether all the prerogatives which are allowed to the latter are so essential to the former. There is reason to suspect that some of the difficulties which embarrass the present question arise from inattention to differences which subsist between them.
 

MattL

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Would it not be implied since it was the people of each state that were to ratify the Document as People in individual states. The people of NC did not ratify the document for SC. What do you think??

Can somebody tell me when all this became collective verses individual. Honest question, Have been reading the Brownson Book on the founding written in 1866
He at first believed in states rights and secession but changed his mind just prior to the War. I have not yet found his earlier writings that might detail the reasoning for his prior belief. Actually his early stuff is out there I just have not found this information in the years of his published bulletins.

A fair question, though in all the references I gave previously that preceded the 10th amendment "the people" are clearly meant as the people of the United States, also as explicitly identified in the preamble.

I find no mention in the Constitution where "the people" means the people of only a State except when explicitly laid out.

Additionally, on a different level

---
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
---

A question arrises is who decided whether such a power is reserved to the states or to the people? Clearly it cannot be just the states that decide whether they have authority, deciding who gets authority exclusively would be the same as in fact giving the authority to said party of they are one of the options.

I'm sorry but I just see no reasonable path to the 10th amendment that doesn't involve some sort of consent. This is indeed with Jefferson's own claims. In one instance he supports another faction seceding with his own endorsement (hence consent), then when New England held a secession convention he calls it "irregular & unconstitutional." The only difference I can find is talking and planning secession without consent is bad to him and with consent is ok.
 
Where in the 10th amendment does it say the only people that mattered were the people of the State?

----
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
----

This was an amendment to the United States Constitution, not a State constitution. Any application of the use of "the people" without specifically identifying a "States people" would apply to "the people" of the United States.

As the Marshall led SCOTUS ruled in a few cases.
Edit: I just now noticed that jgoodguy covered this in detail earlier this evening.
 

jgoodguy

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Original Intent and Chisholm v. Georgia 2 U.S. 419 (1793)
3 Founding Fathers on the court.
all 3 affirmed the decision.
ref
James Wilson (September 14, 1742 – August 21, 1798) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence.

ref
John Blair Jr. (1732 – August 31, 1800) was an American politician, Founding Father and jurist.

ref
John Jay was an American statesman, Patriot, diplomat, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, signatory of the Treaty of Paris, and first Chief Justice of the United States. Wikipedia

We have 3 Founding Fathers on the court, who voted for We the People as the People of the US, not We The People of the States.

No founding father on the court voted against it.
 

Rebforever

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Lordy I just spend hours researching and posted voluminous references including fathers and you can dismiss it in an 4 word incomplete sentence. I am overwhelmed.
To my way of thinking, no one but the people in Virginia voted to join the Constitutional Compact. All the people did not vote them in. Guaranteed to the states by this contract was to have a Republic form of Government. Under this guarantee then secession is voted on by the people of that state. IMO
 
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48th Miss.

First Sergeant
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Location
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A fair question, though in all the references I gave previously that preceded the 10th amendment "the people" are clearly meant as the people of the United States, also as explicitly identified in the preamble.

I find no mention in the Constitution where "the people" means the people of only a State except when explicitly laid out.

Additionally, on a different level

---
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
---

A question arrises is who decided whether such a power is reserved to the states or to the people? Clearly it cannot be just the states that decide whether they have authority, deciding who gets authority exclusively would be the same as in fact giving the authority to said party of they are one of the options.

I'm sorry but I just see no reasonable path to the 10th amendment that doesn't involve some sort of consent. This is indeed with Jefferson's own claims. In one instance he supports another faction seceding with his own endorsement (hence consent), then when New England held a secession convention he calls it "irregular & unconstitutional." The only difference I can find is talking and planning secession without consent is bad to him and with consent is ok.


Thanks Matt
 
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