In 1935 Lyon Gardiner Tyler – descendant of 10th President John Tyler – wrote:

“The old Union was a union of consent; the present Union is one of force. For many years after the war, the South was held as a subject province, and any privileges it now enjoys are mere concessions from its conquerors, not rights inherited from the Constitution. The North, after the war, had in domestic negro rule a whip which England never had over Ireland. To escape from it, the South became grateful for any kind of government. The present Union is a great Northern nation based on force and control by Northern majorities, to which the South, as a conquered province, has had to conform all its policies and ideals. The Federal authority is only Northern authority. As of today, the Executive, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the Ministers at foreign courts are all Northern men. The South has as little share in the government, and as little chance of furnishing a President, as Norway or Switzerland.”

Of course, a so-called “Southern” president was elected even before Tyler’s statement—Woodrow Wilson. But “Southern Presidents” like Wilson, LBJ—who murdered his way into the White House—and Bill Clinton embraced policies and ideals that were those of the Northern conqueror. And as for so-called “Southern conservatives” who bemoan Federal tyranny and point to the likes of FDR, LBJ and Obama for bringing about the present tyranny, the fact is, they must look much further back in history to understand when the control of the “National” over the union of States created by the Founders was put into final and complete effect. Even Lincoln’s war was only the culmination of an ongoing contest between the Founder’s representative republic with its limited government acting with the “consent of the governed,” and a centralized national “democracy,” a contest that began before the ink on the Constitution had dried. No wonder men like Virginia patriot Patrick Henry rejected the Constitution! Henry could see the seeds of tyranny within the fine words and sentiments expressed in that now virtually defunct document!

And to show how far we have come from the understanding of the Founders regarding the government of this country, consider that in the above statement by Mr. Tyler, he speaks of “rights inherited from the Constitution!” In so doing, he indicates that the original understanding of the rights of the people emanating from God had already been lost in 1935. Now it is the Constitution that guarantees our rights. Of course, if a man-inspired document bestows rights, then a man-inspired document can remove them as well. Hence the entire understanding of the representative republic created by the Founders is lost and replaced with a humanist understanding of State-created rights and obligations. Is it any wonder then, that the rest of the nation had—and has—no problem with the treatment of the people of the South?

Valerie Protopapas

Valerie Protopapas is an independent historian and the former editor of The Southern Cavalry Review, the journal of The Stuart-Mosby Historical Society.

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