On Friday, 26 January, Slate magazine ran a piece entitled “GOP Governors Invoke the Confederate Theory of Secession to Justify Border Violations.” Slate has an interesting definition of “border violations.” A sensible, normal person would think that meant crossing the border illegally. Slate uses the phrase to refer to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has taken steps to guard his State’s border and turn back the torrential flood of foreign migrants pouring over the Rio Grande.

The Slate article’s author, Mark Joseph Stern, clearly doesn’t know his history. He is quick to cite Abraham Lincoln’s opposition to the Compact Theory, and throws in Daniel Webster for good measure. Stern also mentions the Nullification Crisis of 1833, when evil South Carolina had the temerity to defy unconstitutional federal edicts. He also incorrectly characterizes the Confederate South as “totalitarian.” This would have been news to the totalitarian Adolf Hitler, who espoused the centralization of Abraham Lincoln, not the federalism of Jefferson Davis, in Mein Kampf.[1] Stern also conveniently ignores the history of the Constitution’s origins – specifically its writing and ratification. The Compact Theory (or, rather Compact Fact) was not invented by the Confederates. It was the true nature of the Union, understood by the vast majority of the Founding Generation, North and South. Thomas Jefferson and John Taylor of Caroline elucidated it best, but they were not alone. Roger Sherman and John Dickinson, among a multitude of others, knew and spoke and wrote the truth. Even men who were actually nationalists in their inclination had to argue that the Constitution was a federal compact in order to get the States to ratify it – James Wilson and Alexander Hamilton spring immediately to mind (see Wilson’s Statehouse Yard speech and Hamilton’s remarks to the New York ratification convention). How often do the authors of The Federalist, even Hamilton and John Jay, repeat that the Constitution establishes a federal compact? The Constitution itself recognizes this by referring to “the United States” in the plural throughout – e.g., Article Three, Section 3: “treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” (emphasis mine)

All Slate has done (albeit inadvertently) is illustrate a great historical truth: Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, Joseph Story, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and Abraham Lincoln were liars who created a nationalist myth and interpretation of the Constitution which is entirely false and totally contrary to the spirit of 1776. The Confederates, rather than manufacturing a false theory of Constitutional interpretation, were the ones defending the truth of history, the Constitution as ratified, and whatever remnant of Christendom yet remained extant on the face of the earth. Western Civilization died at Appomattox. We are merely living through the death throes. (Though one might argue the suicide of the West began in 1789 with the French Revolution and concluded with either of the World Wars). Of course, in doing this, Slate has exposed the elephant in the room – Abraham Lincoln established an empire on the ruins of the old federal republic, and it is now his party appealing to a truth he himself rejected. The irony of the GOP appealing to Jefferson’s truth rather than Lincoln’s lie should not be lost on any of us, but let us take it as a positive sign. Perhaps this represents a sea change. Perhaps more Americans are beginning to rediscover the truth of what Jefferson called “our confederated fabric.” Perhaps necessity will spur a rejection of Caesar and a return to Cincinnatus.

In actively refusing to enforce a constitutional law, Joe Biden has violated his oath of office. So have the five Supreme Court justices who ruled in his favour. They should be impeached and removed from office. But that is not all. The Union is being invaded at the southern border. The federal government has abdicated its responsibilities. Texas has the right to step into the breach. The fact that the federal government is actively attempting to thwart Texas in her acts of self-defense only makes the betrayal ten times worse. This is not mere dereliction of duty. It is the aiding and abetting of a foreign invasion. Had the founding generation thought that any future President would have avoided his constitutional responsibility to defend the United States, the Constitution never would have been ratified. As James Madison made clear during the Philadelphia Convention, “negligence” constituted an impeachable offense. No one can see the flood of migrants and conclude the border laws are being enforced.

There is no constitutional crisis here. The original thirteen States created the Union for the common trade and defense. Texas joined the Union for the sake of common trade and defense. If the government of the Union fails to provide for the common defense, the States absolutely have the right and the duty to protect themselves. Case closed.


[1] Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. 1933. Reprint.  515-519.


The views expressed at the Abbeville Institute blog do not necessarily represent the views of the Abbeville Institute.

Earl Starbuck

A native of East Tennessee, Earl Starbuck is an independent historian and a descendant of soldiers on both sides of The Late Unpleasantness and of Governor John Sevier. His father, who was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, taught him to love history and the South. Starbuck holds a BA in History and Political Science from Carson-Newman University and an MA in History from Liberty University. He has no connection to the coffee company.


  • Lafayette Burner says:

    Is it ironic that as symbols of our founding confederation and secession are disappearing that secession is physically manifesting? I don’t think so.

  • James Persons says:

    An excellent column!! I find it humorous, in a sort of perverse way, how the brainwashed tools of Northern public education, and culture, reflexively cry “Confederates, Secession” any time anyone resists modern federal action/inaction. We, Southerners, live rent free in the paranoid brains of the Statists. They can’t help themselves. Overwhelming angst grips them when Americans stand up for traditional culture and the long standing laws of land. Their panic mode equals schadenfreude for me.

  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    Our Governor here in Texas has taken up the cause of halting the invasion of the State of Texas and by extension an invasion of the “Nation.” This isn’t typical courage from our Governor as he usually walks the moderate line with the best of them. He’s got the political war chest of money to prove it, too. But you take what you can get, even if you have to rely on a former political weakling who could turn around again. But, maybe not.
    We also have a Lt. Governor (in Texas, the strongest politician due to our constitutional structure) who goes by the name of Dan Patrick. He came to Texas many years ago from Maryland after (for his own reasons) changing his name from Dannie Scott Goeb. My opinion: He is as reliable and as honest as Nikki Haley
    But who knows? Maybe a couple of blind hogs (Republicans) rooted out some integrity.
    But a great article.

    • TL says:

      The standoff there on Eagle Pass etween federales and Texians is interesting. More interesting, however, is if one travels a mile down the road from the ‘park’ where the drama unfolds, along side the ‘wall’, one comes to two very wide double gates that are/were wide open.

      Don’t quite know what to make of that…

  • Steve Lee says:

    Another great article. Why does the editor place a caveat following this column, saying the author’s views do not necessarily represent the views of the Abbeville Institute? Mr. Starbuck seems to reflect the views of most of the articles on this site.
    Also, I am grateful for this site and the authors who boldly remind us of our heritage and what true freedom we can enjoy if we would but return to it. It grieves me to think of what we have lost as states and as a people.

  • sachaplin says:

    Bravo Earl Starbuck and ditto to Gov. Abbott!

  • Billy P says:

    ‘The values for which they fought would be fought again another day in another form’. We are witnessing some of it right now.
    It gladdens me that so many states are standing up and telling the globalist, child sniffing, sellout tyrant in Washington that they stand with Texas. He has neglected his duty to defend our borders….no, let me try that again…. he has purposely defied it! Yet, he preaches about the importance of defending Ukraine’s borders and spends us into oblivion in the process, likely reserving a small commission out of it for himself.
    The true purpose for this non-stop invasion of the US is truly evil and sinister. Given the extent to which the leadership on both sides of the aisle have sold us out to global interests, it will take bold state and local leadership and….eventually…. another legal separation to right this ship.

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