State Sovereignty

October 26, 1868


Talk about two Northern historians who agree with the South in rebelling against the North. Article goes no to say that these are the true smart men of the north who are being suppressed by the radicals. Article says at the end that years from now when the current government is failing, people will look to the hero


State Sovereignty. The Round Table of October 10th, in a review of two books which treat of the nature of the Federal Government, avows in the plainest language its opinion that the several States were intended to be sovereign. It scouts the notion that sovereignty can be divided, declaring that tho signification of the word is superlative. It likens the States to the owner of land, and the Federal Government to his agent. It declares that the powers granted to the Federal Government are the powers of a mere agent ; and that while the agent may be authorized to do many acts similar to those of the owner of the land, the latter never loses his own right to do the same. The theory of such superficial observers as Sumner, Motley, and the rest of the consolidation, is held up to merited contempt. It concedes that Mr. Stephens book proves all this too plainly to admit of a doubt ; yet says the doctrine is so manifestly true that he might have produced in the framers of the Constitution better witnesses than those he so largely quotes. Whilst there is in the review nothing new to us of the South, nor to any person who has investigated the subjects, it is remarkable as coming from a northern man, and appearing in the leading weekly of the country - a paper which stands second to none on this side of the Atlantic for the breadth of its views, its literary ability, its absolute independence of all parties and all cliques, and its sterling worth. The illustration of the relative powers of the Federal and State governments by comparing them to the landlord and his agent is not unobjectionable. Southern statesmen never went to this length, let it shows how strong a hold upon the mind of the reviewer the doctrine of States' rights has taken. The contempt which he feels for those who compare a State to a county, as the great Boston historian, Mr. Motley, does, is expressed in choice but strong language. The people of the North, if the Government lasts long enough, will be educated up to the true idea of a free government by its thinking and reading men. They have been led astray by poetasters, such as Sumner ; men of little education, such as Wilson ; pedagogues, such as Seward ; and demagogues, such as Greeley. -They have too little State pride. They keep down their men of first-rate talents, and send fourth-rate ones to Congress. They prefer a blatant pedagogue to a clearheaded lawyer. But they cannot always remain in this condition. They will yet learn the true principles of constitutional government if papers such as the Round Table will continue to treat of them. If the Government does not too soon run into a military despotism, they will go beyond the southern people in their advocacy of the rights of the States. It is manifestly absurd to call that a government of consent which relies for its perpetuity upon the power of the bayonet. It is equally absurd to claim that the Federal Government is to judge as to whether in passing any law Congress exceeds its granted powers. The States formed the Union, and they alone can say when their rights are abridged. John Hampden was a traitor in his day, yet no man's fame is more enviable than his. Cromwell's bones were dug up and hung at Tyburn, yet only a few years elapsed after this silly act was performed before James II. was driven from England, and the principle for which Cromwell fought was established as the fundamental law of England. So it will be with the great leaders of the American " rebellion," as it is now called. Posterity will regard them as the champions of the true principles of republican government, whether our government runs into a hereditary despotism or is brought back to its original form - the only two events which are possible.
About this article

Contributed By

Jacob Markman




“State Sovereignty,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 24, 2022,