Tag

Federalism

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Left Libertarians, Dobbs, and the Ninth Amendment

Interest in the Ninth Amendment has been renewed with the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022), in which the Court held that the Constitution contains no fundamental right to abortion.  Many abortion proponents have turned to the Ninth Amendment in criticizing the decision.  For example, Damon Root at Reason described the decision as “an   …
William J. Watkins
November 16, 2022
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Dark Age Patriotism

“Now at the height of modern progress, we behold unprecedented outbreaks of hatred and violence; we have seen whole nations desolated by war and turned into penal camps by their conquerors; we find half of mankind looking upon the other half as criminal. Everywhere occur symptoms of mass psychosis. Most portentous of all, there appear diverging bases of value, so…
Lafayette Lee
October 28, 2022
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Southern Resistance to the European Concept of Sovereignty

From the 2004 Abbeville Institute Summer School. So, our friend Don Livingston asked me to bring a European perspective on the problems of the Southern decentralist tradition. Today, I want to address what I would call, “What They Were Up Against: The Modern State and Federalism.” One of the greatest errors of mainstream Anglo-American political studies, from the history of…
Marco Bassani
October 3, 2022
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Old State Rights

From Thomas Ritchie: A Study in Virginia Politics by Charles Henry Ambler Ritchie was not a genius. Either of the others of the great "Democratic Triumvirate" of political editors, Francis P. Blair of the Washington Globe, or Edwin Croswell of the Albany Argus, was his equal in natural ability. Possibly John Hampden Pleasants, Duff Green, and even others surpassed him…
Abbeville Institute
September 6, 2022
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The Federalists and the Philadelphia Convention

We have before us The Federalist Number 10. I'd like to say a word about The Federalist. As you know, it was here (in Philadelphia) that the Constitution, that infamous document, was signed. It was a document that was already well on its road to destruction in my mind. When people ask me, “Well, when did the Constitution die?” I…
Ross Lence
August 17, 2022
BlogClyde Wilson Library

A View of the Constitution

From the 2004 Abbeville Institute Summer School. St. George Tucker is a significant member of the Revolutionary generation, the Founding Generation, and he was looked to by Jefferson and Madison as the judge of Jeffersonian democracy, the man who saved the judiciary from false doctrines in his View of the Constitution and his other writings. Tucker’s View was published in…
Clyde Wilson
July 18, 2022
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The Nullification Crisis

Going back to Jefferson, you can say that Jefferson’s vision of radical Federalism was of a libertarian Federalism, based on the rights of local self-government circumscribing and limiting their agent, the Federal government, whose referent is not a single people, but the peoples of the various States. It’s strange that in the writings from the Founding period, the plural of…
Marco Bassani
June 1, 2022
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A New Civil War?

By 1860 our country was so hopelessly divided that it broke up, and only by force was it kept unified. While the North and South had profound political, economic, and moral differences, institutional slavery being paramount, the two halves had a great deal in common, so much so that after the bloodletting and rage subsided, we were able to come…
M.C. Atkins
November 17, 2021
Review Posts

Spencer Roane: The Forgotten Founder

A review of Irreconcilable Founders: Spencer Roane, John Marshall, and the Nature of America's Constitutional Republic (LSU Press, 2021) by David Johnson Of all the leading Jeffersonians of the early Republic—Jefferson, Madison, John Randolph of Roanoke, and John Taylor of Caroline—Spencer Roane is arguably the most obscure. This obscurity is lamentable because while Jefferson and Madison built and led their party,…
Aaron N. Coleman
September 30, 2021
Review Posts

Chaining Down Leviathan

A review of Chaining Down Leviathan: The American Dream of Self-Government 1776-1865 (Abbeville Institute Press, 2021) by Marco Bassani How is it that America became a “strong but limited” government, and the world’s richest and most free country? That is the central question both considered and answered by Luigi Marco Bassani in his new work, Chaining Down Leviathan: The American…
Dave Benner
August 10, 2021
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A Cascadian Confederacy?

Nearly two weeks ago, five counties in Oregon voted to approve a measure to secede from the state and join its neighbor Idaho. The counties of Malheur, Sherman, Baker, Grant, and Lake joined Jefferson and Union county who had already voted in favor of similar measures last year. According to greateridaho.org, “the ballot measures are a part of an effort…
Cole Branham
June 4, 2021
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Conservative as “Defender of Liberty”

In 1960, the great Southern political philosopher Richard Weaver penned an essay titled “Conservatism and Libertarianism: The Common Ground.” Most people considered Weaver to be a “conservative,” and he accepted the term, but he also thought American conservatives and libertarians had much in common and should work together for a common goal: liberty. The current internal warfare in both conservative…
Brion McClanahan
May 7, 2021
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The Atlantic Gets It Wrong, Again

I don’t have time to detail everything the piece in question gets wrong, because it's a lot. I’m sure this will be fodder for Abbeville posts for a long time, so I’m going to focus on the Constitutional issues. Stephanie McCurry writes: “In late February 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama, the seven breakaway states formed the C.S.A.; swore in a president,…
Aaron Gleason
July 28, 2020
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Expertitis

Watching events unfold as the non-pandemic/pandemic worked its way across the fruited plain has been an eye-opening experience.  For those of us who have been warning Americans that the Constitution is nothing but a paper barricade against tyranny, we are vindicated—but this is not a source of joy.  Many years ago, I had a good friend who loved cigarettes and…
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Blackstone’s Influence on American Political Philosophy

The question before us, ‘how did the writings of Blackstone influence American political philosophy, and what evidence for this influence is seen in Tocqueville's observations of American political life?’ is perhaps best quantified with qualifiers such as influence ‘upon whom’, ‘for how long’, ‘to what extent’. If we accept a genealogy of ideas from Blackstone’s conception of positive law reinforcing…
Barry Clark
May 13, 2020
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Poison Under the Wings

The beginning of the American political order goes much further back than the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.  Political scientists and political theorists are understandably fixated on the Constitution and the convention that produced it.  Eric Voegelin, Willmoore Kendall, and a few others go even further back searching for a continuity in the political symbolization present in some certain select, but…
John Devanny
November 20, 2019
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Taylor and Jefferson on Secession

One of the most enduring myths of American history centers on the “compact theory” of the Constitution. According to the standard interpretation, Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Republicans invented the “theory” to challenge Federalist control of the general government in the 1790s. This implies that Jefferson and the other Republicans acted in bad faith by playing fast and loose with…
Brion McClanahan
November 6, 2019
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“My Countrymen”

Charles Francis Adams was the grandson and son of former-Presidents John and John Quincy Adams. It ​is therefore of little surprise he himself embarked on career and life of public prominence as an educator, ​newspaperman, politician, statesman and historian. Yet, while he never assumed the high offices which the ​chieftains of his famed family did, the great contributions which Adams…
Gerald Lefurgy
October 18, 2019
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Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

The 150th season of college football serves as a reminder of the intersection between sports and local communities. While the nationalization of sports media outlets brings games and analysis to every living room in America, fan culture retains a very distinct regional and local flavor. College football is one of the greatest testimonies to the endurance of localism in America…
Brian Koss
October 2, 2019
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Is it Time for America to Break Apart?

There is a question that increasingly arises, uncomfortably, in our conversations…from brief exchanges at work at the water cooler, at home with family, after church on Sunday, with our email messages to friends and associates. To watch any amount of television news these days, to switch back and forth between, say, CNN and Fox, and to listen to their interpretations…
Boyd Cathey
August 2, 2019
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The United States is Not a Nation

Earlier this month, prominent names in the conservative movement gathered in Washington, DC, for a conference on “National Conservatism.” Speakers included such luminaries as Tucker Carlson, Peter Thiel, J.D. Vance, John Bolton, Michael Anton, Rich Lowry, Yuval Levin, and Josh Hawley. Representing the academy were F.H. Buckley, Charles Kesler, Amy Wax, and Patrick Deneen. Other conservative writers and thinkers participated…
Allen Mendenhall
August 1, 2019
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Make America States Again

I am honored to speak at the graduation from high school of these young men and women who were once my students and who are now my friends. We’ve grown so close, in fact, I’ve decided to graduate with them! Over the last few weeks, as the day of my departure grew near, many of these dear friends have thanked…
Joe Wolverton
June 21, 2019
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Washington’s Money

Congress has a far greater number of wealthy people than the general population.  Consequently, the bureaucrats that Congress has created by their legislation also have brought unto themselves great wealth. Much of their wealth comes prior to serving in Congress it can be said. But much more from assets to the immediate temptation of graft and corruption euphemistically referred to…
Paul H. Yarbrough
June 20, 2019
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A “Republic of American Values?”

Prager University has a video presentation, “American values” which is no more than historical fiction. These values, Dennis Prager claims in the video, are a result of America’s unique position as not being defined by race and ethnicity. He claims America is defined by three values: 1. E Pluribus Unum 2. Liberty 3. In God We Trust. Such claims redefine…
Paul H. Yarbrough
May 17, 2019
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The Procrustean Constitution

We have seen how Mississippi, with its campus free speech bill, totally ignored its own State constitution in favor of federal 1st Amendment arguments.  Now Texas is doing likewise in response to the San Antonio City Council’s decision to reject Chick-fil-A’s request to be a vendor in the San Antonio International Airport.  The opposition to this decision rests mostly on…
Walt Garlington
May 15, 2019
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The Crisis of the Electoral College

A decisive moment is coming for the peoples of the States, especially for those who consider themselves conservatives yet belong to the cult of Lincoln:  Will the Electoral College system for selecting the federal president continue on, or will it be scrapped for a purely national vote?  At the State and federal level, attempts to change it are ongoing: Calls…
Walt Garlington
April 10, 2019
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Mississippi’s Free Speech Confusion

Some lawmakers in Mississippi, obviously alarmed at the violent demonstrations and restrictive measures at college campuses intended to silence what passes for conservative viewpoints, have come up what they consider a fitting solution in their legislative kitchen, House Bill 1562, ‘Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act’.  But the result is far from enticing. The heart of the bill…
Walt Garlington
March 20, 2019
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Progressive Neo-Confederates?

Greetings fellow neo-Confederates. You have been right all along. How do I know this? Hillary Clinton said so, and if the smartest woman in the world said it, then it has to be true. Of course, she did not directly call herself a "neo-Confederate," but the progressives have rediscovered federalism and by default have vindicated every evil "neo-Confederate" in America.…
Brion McClanahan
October 29, 2018
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What if We Listened to the Southern Founders?

Mel Bradford's outstanding tome A Better Guide Than Reason lifted that phrase from a speech John Dickinson made during the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. Dickinson worried that the delegates to what we now call the "Constitutional Convention" were insistent on crafting a document that would reinvent the government of the United States, something James Madison proposed with his now famous…
Brion McClanahan
October 10, 2018
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Fractured Federalism

Proposals to turn national programs over to the states are abound in Washington. The failure of federal programs over the past 60 years demonstrates that centralized solutions to local problems are ineffective. Federalism—the constitutional distribution of power between the states and national government— is once again on the agenda. Lessons regarding centralization have been learned the hard way. For example,…
William J. Watkins
September 17, 2018
Review Posts

The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson

A review of The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson by David N. Mayer (University of Virginia Press, 1994). Thomas Jefferson’s reputation is that of a great thinker. He is popularly (and I believe wrongly, but that is a different matter) believed to have been the greatest thinker among American’s Revolutionaries. It is as a writer and as an unofficial pontifex…
Kevin R.C. Gutzman
September 4, 2018
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Why the South Needs the Electoral College

The Electoral College, a bulwark of federalism,  is under attack.  Straightforward abolition of the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment, which is most unlikely to be passed in the foreseeable future.  But the Electoral College now faces a more serious,  insidious threat from the so-called  National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC,) which purports to operate through the Electoral College…
Michael Arnheim
June 28, 2018
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The Only Way to Drain the Swamp

“When you are up to your hindquarters in alligators—it is hard to remember that your intentions were to drain the swamp.”  This old country-boy saying seems most appropriate for President Trump as he attempts to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. The continuing efforts of the ruling elite in Washington to destroy a lawfully elected president because “their” anointed candidate…
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A State of Mind

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia offered a resolution to the Second Continental Congress, then meeting in Philadelphia, which began with the epic demand, “ That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”   After a month of heated deliberation, the Congress finally adopted Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence which…
John Marquardt
January 5, 2017
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Save Federalism, Save the Electoral College

Discussing immigration and sanctuary cities, Bill O'Reilly began speaking of the coming clash of two "sovereignties", the States individually and the national government, but never got to finish his sentence. Speaker Gingrich interrupted to say, "there is one sovereignty" in America and that's the national government. "The Civil War settled the sovereignty question." Unfortunately, the Speaker is correct. We need…
Vito Mussomeli
December 1, 2016
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The Sovereign States

This essay is the introduction to Mr. Kilpatrick's The Sovereign States (Regnery, 1957). AMONG the more melancholy aspects of the genteel world we live in is a slow decline in the enjoyment that men once found in the combat of ideas, free and unrestrained. Competition of any sort, indeed, seems to be regarded these days, in our schools and elsewhere,…
James J. Kilpatrick
April 8, 2016
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Real Federalism: Switzerland

With each visit to Switzerland, my understanding and appreciation of the political economy of the country becomes deeper and more nuanced. The Swiss people have been incredibly successful in evolving a philosophy, culture and political structure which, limits the potential power of a centralist, nationalist and statist administration through the adoption of a federal system and other policies which distribute…
Harry Teasley
March 11, 2016
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Scalia, the Constitution, and the Court

With the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, folks are writhing in fear over the prospect of Obama appointing a new SC Judge. "This", they say, "could be the most monumental appointment in history and could drastically change our political landscape" and this "is especially true with regards to how the 2nd Amendment is interpreted." This is all…
Carl Jones
February 25, 2016
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Another Look at the Confederate Battle Flag

Recently Mr. Donald Fraser wrote a column in my hometown newspaper, the Northeast Georgian, titled “Battle Flag Promotes Hate, Not Heritage.” He opened his article expressing a twinge of fear that he would probably not make many friends. I am glad, however, he is willing to say what he believes even at the expense of offending others, a luxury often…
Samuel C. Smith
August 7, 2015
Review Posts

The Danger to Governments, Founded on Written Constitutions, of Being Gradually Revolutionized by the Construction Placed on the Provisions of the Constitution by Those Who Administer the Governments

This may be done by enlarging and extending the powers conferred by a liberal construction, based upon the supposed reason and spirit of its provisions, so as to meet emergencies not anticipated and specifically provided for; by using the powers granted in such a manner as to accomplish objects incidentally, which were not embraced in the Constitution, and could not,…
Oran Milo Roberts
July 14, 2015
Review Posts

Abel P. Upshur

This essay is published in honor of Abel P. Upshur's birthday, June 17, 1790. Today, States’ rights are remembered as a legalistic excuse for the preservation of slavery – a part of the past best forgotten. One historian scoffs at the notion of “loyalty to the South, Southern self-government, Southern culture, or states’ rights,” declaring that “slavery’s preservation was central…
Review Posts

The Old and the New South

Delivered as the commencement address for South Carolina College, 1887. What theme is most fitting for me present to the young men of the South, at this celebration of the South Carolina Col­lege ? What shall one, whose course is nearly run, say to those whose career is hardly begun ? In my retrospect I deeply sym­pathize with you in…
Review Posts

Lectures on the Constitution of the United States

Lecture I Having presented to you, young gentlemen, in some former lectures, my views of the character and principles of the several forms of government, and particularly of the representative and confederate, we will now proceed to a more accurate examination of our own political system, which has been professedly constructed upon the combined principles of popular representation and an…
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The Tuckers of Virginia

If any American today were to listen to the nationalists in charge of either the political class or American education at large, they would get the sense that it is settled science that the American Union is comprised of one people held together by a national government with uncontested sovereignty over all matters foreign and domestic.  Certainly, States and local…
Brion McClanahan
June 8, 2015
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We Are All Jeffersonians

Thomas Jefferson is perhaps the greatest enigma of the American age. He wrote and spoke on so many topics that he has become the symbol of virtually every strain of uniquely American political thought. Jefferson is the democrat, the agrarian, the federalist, the republican, the radical, the conservative, the statesman, the planter, the intellectual, the philosopher, the educator. Volumes have…
Brion McClanahan
April 13, 2015
Review Posts

German Federalism as Punishment or Fiction

Is Germany Sovereign? In the wake of revelations of pervasive NSA snooping in Germany, Germans have been asking whether or not their country is actually sovereign. In a country filled with foreign armies since 1945, this seems a reasonable question. There is a related constitutional question: Was the 1949 Grundgesetz (Basic Law) any kind of constitution (Verfassung) at all? Barely…
Joseph R. Stromberg
February 10, 2015
Clyde Wilson Library

Cincinnatus, Call the Office!

“. . . a republican government, which many great writers assert to be incapable of subsisting long, except by the preservation of virtuous principles.” — John Taylor of Caroline The United States Senate, one summer morning near the end of the session in 1842, was busy with routine reception of committee reports. The Committee on the Judiciary reported favorably on…
Clyde Wilson
December 31, 2014
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The Political Wisdom of John Taylor of Caroline

In honor of John Taylor's birthday, December 19. From Tyranny Unmasked: “The rival remedy for our troubles, so insignificant in the eyes of the Committee as to be wholly suppressed, although it has been often enforced by a multitude of able writers, and some patriotick statesmen; and although it was the basis of two federal administrations, which diffused more happiness and…
W. Kirk Wood
December 19, 2014
Review Posts

John Taylor and Construction

States’ rights may have been the defining force in Antebellum America, but modern, mainstream historians would have you believe that they were nothing more than a wicked creed cooked up by a few corrupt slaveowners. A review of a recent biography of John Taylor of Caroline referred to his “opprobrium” as the “premier states’ rights philosopher.” It would have been…
James Rutledge Roesch
December 19, 2014
Review Posts

The Transformation of American Citizenship via the Crucible of War

Citizenship in these United States has consistently been in a transformative mode. From early American settlers, through the colonial period to Statehood and nationhood, and through transition from territorial to Statehood status, citizenship was a phenomenon appreciated but not necessarily understood. It was loosely defined, but yet highly valued. This was tolerable within the framework of limited government and widely…
Marshall DeRosa
December 3, 2014
Review Posts

John Taylor on Federal and Constitutional Questions

Part II of a Five Part Series. Part I 1. Liberalism Taylor stood on liberal ground in holding that men were a mixture of good and evil. Self-interest was the only real constant in human action.43 He broke with archaic-republican ideas of mixed constitutions and social balance. His key idea was to divide power up so many ways, federally and…
Joseph R. Stromberg
October 14, 2014
Review Posts

A National or Federal Government

Part IV of a four part series. Part I, Part II, Part III. I come now to urge my objection to the jurisdiction of the court. It goes on the ground, that it is not competent to the general government, to usurp rights reserved to the States, nor for its courts to adjudicate them away. It is bottomed upon the…
Spencer Roane
September 15, 2014
Review Posts

On Implied Powers and the Bank of the United States

Part III of a Four Part Series by the Legal Scholar Spencer Roane written in 1819. Part I and Part II. I trust I have shown by the preceding detail, that the words "necessary and proper," contained in the Constitution, were tautologous and redundant, and carried nothing more to the general government than was conveyed by the general grant of…
Spencer Roane
September 8, 2014
Review Posts

On Granted Powers

To the Editor of the Enquirer: According to the regular course of legal proceedings I ought, in the first place, to urge my plea in abatement to the jurisdiction of the court. As, however, we are not now in a court of justice, and such a course might imply some want of confidence in the merits of my cause, I…
Spencer Roane
September 1, 2014
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Southerners Not Welcome

California AB 2444 has cleared all legislative hurdles by overwhelming majorities (71 to 1 in the Assembly and 33 to 2 in the Senate) and is now on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk awaiting his certain signature. The bill mandates that “The State of California may not sell or display the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, also referred to as the…
Marshall DeRosa
August 28, 2014
Review Posts

Rights of the States and of the People

This is Part I of four letters that originally appeared in the Richmond Enquirer in 1819 under the nom de plume Hampden. They could have been written yesterday. To the Editor of the Enquirer: By means of a letter to you, sir, I beg leave to address my fellow citizens. I address them on a momentous subject. I address them…
Spencer Roane
August 21, 2014
Review Posts

John C. Calhoun: Nullification, Secession, Constitution

"The confederation has been formed by the free will of the states. If today one of these very states wanted to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be quite difficult to prove that it could not do so. The federal government, in order to combat it, would not rely in a clear way on either force or law."…
Marco Bassani
August 8, 2014
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Nullification

I will be giving a talk to a large group of Oklahomans today (July 25) at the Reclaiming America for Christ Conference on nullification. This is a great event and will have thousands in attendance. In light of this, I wanted to republish a piece I wrote for LewRockwell.com in 2009 on the Tenth Amendment. Nullification and real federalism have…
Brion McClanahan
July 25, 2014
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Bellamy’s Pledge

The Pledge of Allegiance is neither a sacred American tradition nor a patriotic duty, but a relatively recent piece of propaganda penned specifically to eradicate the memory of America’s revolutionary heritage and to indoctrinate the American people into believing lies about their history. If General George Washington ever heard the Pledge, he would not have put his hand on his…
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1865 and Modern Relevance

"I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy....Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more…
Carl Jones
April 16, 2014
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Illegal, Unconstitutional, and Unjust

The historian Andrew C. McLaughlin in 1932 wrote that the British imperial system was characterized “by diversification and not by centralization....The empire of the mid-eighteenth century was a diversified empire” with power “actually distributed and exercised by various governments.” British colonies, including Ireland, “had long existed” as “bodies, corporate, constituent members of the Empire,” each with its own constitution and…
Brion McClanahan
April 15, 2014
Review Posts

State Sovereignty and Centralism in 19th-Century Argentina

Introduction: Centers and Peripheries A look at the early history of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata -- a political structure ancestral (partly) to the modern-day Argentine nation-state -- reveals many interesting parallels with our own experience in the United States. The European empires’ settler colonies in the New World had much in common: their European-derived populations…
Joseph R. Stromberg
April 14, 2014