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League of the South New York State Chapter Members Forum

The Constitution and State Sovereignty

From section two of the "Rise and fall of the Confederate Government".


Jefferson Davis, 1st. President, C.S.A

Abridged by Mr. John Chodes, Director, N.Y.S. League of the South

Jefferson Davis' majestical work, "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," is a long, informative book (over 1,500 pages) about the political, social, economic and military realities of the Southern states prior to and during the War for Southern Independence.

Much of it is only of great interest to enthusiasts of that war; the campaigns, battles, the triumphs and tragic lost opportunities, the humiliating long-drawn out defeat of the Confederacy.

The book reveals the unraveling of the Confederacy's agricultural economy, its unprepardness for modern industrial warefare. Davis describes the desperate efforts to gain diplomatic recognition and aid in the courts of Europe. All this makes for fascinating reading, but not for the general reader.

Yet there is one section of "The Rise and Fall" that will be of significance to any American who seeks to understand the fundamental underpinings of liberty and that connection to the South's rationale for seceding from the Union. That section is called "The Constitution." It spans 112 pages of closely packed, small type.

In lucid and even dramatic terms, Mr. Davis describes the history of how the Constitution was created, the antecedent ideologies that allowed its ratification and how the fundamental issue of state sovereignty is at the very heart of this classic American document. Mr. Davis explains both sides of why and how the Constitution guaranteed our liberties, and how and why it no longer does. (Even in 1880, when this book was written, it no longer did.)

As a book within a book, "The Constitution" portion can stand alone. But it has flaws. The main one is excessive length and it is repititious.

19th century writers loved to ramble. Jefferson Davis is no exception, particularly since he was a politician. He uses ten examples to prove a point where one or two would be more than enough to convince the skeptical reader. Mr. Davis makes his point, moves on to another one and then returns to the first issue and gives still more examples. This is clearly too much.

This section is significant to contemporary Americans, yet in its original form, it is daunting. I have been able to cut it in half, at least, simply by eliminating the excessive examples that repeat the same truths over and over again. Now these truths are more accessible and clearer. They jump off the page instead of being buried under all that verbiage. Now the legitimacy of Southern secession makes perfect legal sense in the light of the Constitution and the concerns of the 1787 convention that created it.

I have cut but not altered Jefferson Davis' words. His frequent use of italics has been deleted. He used them to draw attention to the strength of his arguments. This leads the reader and loses its effectiveness through constant use. Wherever cuts have been made, ellipses(...) indicate them.

John Chodes

WEBMASTERS NOTE: Permission to copy, print, or distribute Mr. Chodes abridgement of Jefferson Davis' "The Constitution and State Sovereignty", is freely given with the provision that he and The NYS League of the South shall be credited with its origin. Looseleaf bound copies of the article may be purchased from the New York League of the South for a nominal fee. Send request via our e-mail address listed on our homepage.

The Constitution and State Sovereignty Table of Contents.

Chapter I:        The Articles of Confederation.

Chapter II:       The Convention of 1787.

Chapter III:      Ratification of the Constitution.

Chapter IV:       The Constitution is not Adopted by One People "In The Aggregate."

Chapter V:        The Preamble To the Constitution - "We The People"

Chapter VI:       The Preamble To the Constitution (Continued)

Chapter VII:      "Compact", "Confederacy", "Accession" (Deleted)

Chapter VIII:     Sovereignty.

Chapter IX:       Sovereignty (Continued)

Chapter X:        A Recapitulation.

Chapter XI:       The Right of Secession

Chapter XII:      Coercion, the Alternative to Secession.

Chapter XIII:     Coercion, the Alternative, etc. (Continued)

Chapter XIV:      Early Foreshadowings

The Constitution and State Sovereignty
Chapters 1,2, and 3.
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