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Old 08-24-2017, 12:28 PM
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Default Book Review: Forrest McDonald's "States Rights And the Union..."

Book Review: McDonald's "States Rights And The Union"
(Apollonian, 24 Aug 17)

Forrest McDonald's work, "States Rights and the Union, Imperium in Imperio, 1776-1876," U. Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 2000, viii, 296 pp, 233 text, notes, index, is outstanding work, true masterpiece, really essential reading for understanding of USA history. The work covers the subject of states rights and its history until even beyond the catastrophe of 1860s war and destruction of the republic, through Reconstruction, as place of rights of the states vs. the "general government" is always a most serious problem, and especially for the United States--even regardless the 1860s war--which war actually settled nothing aside fm setting-up an arbitrary imperial dictatorship which became evermore involved in military conquest in favor of fascist world dictatorship--as we see presently.

Thus one begins analysis of the American state-craft by observing the original colonies necessarily allied in order to successfully oppose the great English empire at the time, and the problem was for centralization of powers vs. integrity of the states. Note the nationalist unionists (imperialists) of the time (late eighteenth to nineteenth century), John Marshall, Joseph Story, and later Andrew Jackson, J Q Adams, Dan Webster, William Seward, and Lincoln, pretended and insisted these colonies made a nation--which then made the states.

"Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and, in turn, the Union threw off their old dependence for them, and made them States. . . . The Union, and not themselves separately, produced their independence and liberty. . . . The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States." -Lincoln, msg to Congress, Jul 4, 1861.

Note the original Constitutionalists (1787) agreed upon the basic division of sovereignty (coming fm the people) btwn state and nat. governments. Unfortunately there were areas of the Constitution and divided sovereignties which lacked precise clarity for the exact division of the sovereignties which then allowed for serious usurpations, though it's important to note it wasn't always only one way, as states sometimes usurped against the gen. gov.

But one thing above all ought to be mentioned: regardless anything else, the ECONOMIC part, element, or component of the new USA was an absolute resounding success, in practically every way--the country prospered greatly, everywhere, north and south. Soon enough the industrial element was introduced by the early 19th cent., and it quickly thrived, and as it thrived so naturally did the financial element. Hence the observation is that, economically, the country thrived greatly upon the general centralization of the legal element; hence there was great impetus for this centralization, against states rights, again for the purpose of the tremendous wealth which was produced.

Thus, aside fm the famous Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798-9, there was the New England Hartford Convention in 1814 whence the states of Mass., Conn., and Rhode Island considered secession. Then again, the southern states objected to the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 and led to the great nullification crisis--which boded quite ill for the states and proper understanding of the union.

But again, the overall trend was states and section featuring manufacturing and finance, in the north and east, were steadily and evermore running away w. the policy of the country, the north also dominating in population numbers, this despite the south being awarded a temporarily strong voice in the Supreme court and the presidential cabinets--which would finally all change in the 1860s. For example, the newly laid railroad trackage in the industrialized, manufacturing north was far greater than in the more agrarian-oriented south.

McDonald tells us that politically, states rights essentially won much of the battle, even despite the debacle of S. Carolina in 1830s, and that after Jackson's presidency there was a lull until 1846-8 and the Mexican war when USA won a tremendous mass of territory which thereupon stimulated the temporarily dormant states rights principle regarding slavery. Specifically, the northern states were now simply refusing to cooperate on the Fugitive Slave issue. The northerners understandably wanted to preserve as much territory as possible for white labor, and it's important to understand the aversion to slavery was for purpose of keeping out the blacks.

When the (1860s--it was not really a "civil war") war came, the typical hysteria much enhanced the authority of the Union general government, Congress and President, and indeed, this sort of domination of the general government continued until the Congress had fairly outrun its practical abilities to further enhance power of dictatorship over the southern states, extending after the war ended with the last heavily radical Congress elected in fall of 1866. These later radicals were now more outraged at and resentful of the horrific toll in lives and property the war had cost them, and their anger was motivated by revenge against the south who and which they treated as conquered provinces--thus rather confirming, even if only tacitly, the real secession which had taken place.

Yet even before the end of the "reconstruction" period in 1876, the Supreme Court, now beginning to exerting its own sort of dominance, began to reign in the Congressional power in greater favor of the states in general, again for practical purposes, and curbing the unnatural powers (under the circumstances) of the dominant northern-oriented dictatorship of Congress and bureaucracy.

So McDonald does outstandingly to explain the historical trends and events as he sees them, and illustrates his pt.s by means of the judicial decisions and policies, such is his general technique, and he deserves much credit even if he misses a few things, like the general satanic (hence extreme subjectivistic-moralist, general philosophic influence and emphasis, as of Kant, Hegel, and Marx) cultural take-over which accompanied the imperialism of the general USA government after the 1860s war, slowly at first, but ever-accelerating after WWI. McDonald's work is a tremendous achievement for historical exposition, and the further virtue is it is done in such relatively short and economic space of 233 pages text, so well and fluently written, a work extremely satisfying for the student.
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