If the Constitution established the United States as a decentralized federation, unfortunately federal aggrandizement of power in the long run prevailed. In an incisive essay, Thomas DiLorenzo explores the steps by which the old order was upset.
As he makes clear, from the beginning of our national history, Alexander Hamilton, whom Cecelia Kenyon aptly termed the “Rousseau of the Right” p. 72, and his followers, dissatisfied with the decentralized government of the Constitution, endeavored to substitute for it a regime of centralized power. In this endeavor, Hamilton had the very considerable help of Chief Justice John Marshall, whose nationalist opinions often echoed Hamilton’s words. Marshall also repeated Hamilton’s bogus theory of the American founding, claiming that the “nation” somehow created the states. He amazingly argued that the federal government was somehow created by “the whole people.”…
In the name of “the people,” Marshall said, the federal government claimed the right to “legitimately control all individuals or governments within the American territory.” p. 70Readers of DiLorenzo’s outstanding books on Lincoln will not be surprised to learn that he assigns Lincoln a large measure of responsibility in the drive toward national consolidation. Marshall DeRosa is entirely in accord: Lincoln rhetorically explained [at Gettysburg] that he launched the U.S. into a war of aggression against the C.S.A. in order to re-found America without the Southern defilement; this is what he meant by a “new birth of freedom.” The physical evidence lay all around him in Gettysburg that Southerners were not to have a government of, by, and for the Southern people but a coercive government based in Washington, D.C. p. 94
For the contributors to this book, secession is not an issue confined to the past. They regard it as an essential remedy for the ills of today’s overly large America. In this connection it is interesting to note that secession had the backing of the renowned American diplomat and historian George Kennan, who, in a manner that would have delighted Thomas Jefferson, called for America to be broken up into a number of regional commonwealths.
“To begin the debate, and without being dogmatic, Kennan suggests that the Union could be divided into ‘a dozen constituent republics'” pp. 21–22.Rethinking the American Union for the Twenty-First Century repays careful study by anyone interested in political philosophy or in American history. In their bold defiance of contemporary orthodoxy, the contributors deserve great praise……………….