"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed,will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."In the wake of the Texas resolution affirming state sovereignty under the 10th amendment, it is important to revisit the reasons why the United States was formed in the first place. I do not mean to explore the reasons why the colonists sought independence from Britain, but to revisit the reasons that drove the states to passage of the U.S. Constitution in 1789. After the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Continental Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation:
The Declaration of Independence
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, commonly referred to as the Articles of Confederation, was the first constitution of the thirteen United States of America. The Second Continental Congress appointed a committee to draft the 'Articles' in June 1776 and proposed the draft to the States for ratification in November 1777. The ratification process was completed in March 1781, legally federating the sovereign and independent states, allied under the Articles of Association, into a new federation styled the "United States of America". Under the Articles, and the succeeding United States Constitution, the states retained sovereignty over all governmental functions not specifically relinquished to the central government.At this time, unlike today, each state was effectively like its own country. After the end of the Revolutionary War in 1782, the states continued to coexist under the Articles of Confederation. There were many problems that resulted from this arrangement related to commerce, legal disputes over land and contracts, the maintenance of a military, and how best to deal with foreign relations which prompted activists known as "the federalists" to advocate for a new constitution that would give the federal government more power. Naturally, there were grave concerns that any federation of the states might lead to the kind of tyranny the colonists had just fought in the form of the British monarchy.
In a previous post ("It will wait upon the ladies at their toilett...") I wrote the following:
Some of the greatest writing in the history of political science occurred between 1787 and 1789 during the debate over the ratification of the federal Constitution. A series of famous essays known as the Federalist Papers were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay and expounded the principal arguments in favor of it. These writings have provided perhaps the most important primary source for constitutional interpretation. Not as widely known but just as important are the Anti-Federalist Papers, a collection of writings and speeches opposed to ratification authored by among others Robert Yates, Richard Henry Lee, George Clinton and Patrick Henry. Quoting the link:
"[The Anti-Federalist Papers] contain warnings of dangers from tyranny that weaknesses in the proposed Constitution did not adequately provide against, and while some of those weaknesses were corrected by adoption of the Bill of Rights, others remained, and some of these dangers are now coming to pass."
I recommend The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates edited by Ralph Ketcham to be read alongside the Federalist Papers (this link is an excellent way to understand the chronology and read the pros and cons). As I argued in my previous post, the writers of the Anti-Federalist Papers were incredibly prescient. In light of all that we know and although this may land me on the federal government's watch list, the entire purpose and function of the federal government needs to be revisited. If it is indeed necessary to have a federation of the states, the U.S. Constitution is in dire need of amendments to once again properly affirm and delimit the power of the federal government which has now clearly, egregiously, and dangerously overstepped the limited role for which it was intended by the Founders and by any rational standard of individual freedom.
Hopefully, with the action taken by Texas, a general movement towards reassessing the function of the federal government vis-a-vis the states will begin.