What is States' Rights? Part 5
by Mike Crane Morganton, Georgia
"Our Rights are like a cookie, no matter how big the cookie and how small the bites, eventually you run out of cookie"
In Part 1 of this series a concept was presented that runs a bit contrary to current public conception that the term States' Rights can be used more for partisan benefit than a true effort to protect the God-Given Rights of the people. Part 2 demonstrated that as early as 1801 incursions attacking American Liberty and State's Rights had already started and have continued to this day. Part 3 gave details on an obvious expansion of central government powers (authority) by legislative action. Part 4 began listing the causes of the failure of State's Rights.
Part 5 is a continuation of: Cause # 2: Misconceptions about original
Constitution of 1787 (prior to Bill of Rights) from Part 4.
Most of us especially myself have
believed most of our lives the intent of the Framers of the Constitution was
to give us a "federated" form of government. If you too have believed this
during your life you will either find this series of articles educational or will
dislike them very much.
The italicized portions below are quotes from the historical record of the
Constitutional Convention 1787:
On May 29, 1787
Mr Randolph, one of the Deputies of Virginia, laid before the House, for
their consideration, sundry propositions, in writing, concerning the american
confederation, and the establishment of a national government.
[Bold added][See Note 1 Edmund Randolph]
Since Virginia was instrumental in first the calling of the Annapolis
Convention and later the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Virginia
delegation submitted the first plan to be debated as the "model" of the proposed
new government, which became known as the Virginia Plan. Mr. Randolph was the delegate submitting the Virginia Plan
which was the main subject of the debate in the convention.
In the Virginia Plan, the word "national" was used frequently. National Legislature is used 6 times. National Executive, National Judiciary, National Officers, National Revenue, National Peace and Harmony and National Laws are all used once. National is
one of the most frequently used words in the document.
This was a plan for a national government a consolidated government;
it was not a plan for a federated form of government with shared sovereignty
with the States. In this plan the States were reduced to a very subordinate
Ladies and gentlemen, like myself I am sure that you have been told
throughout most of your life that the intent of the Framers of the Constitution
was to create a federated or federal form of government. The Framers were
educated men and here in the words of the delegates from Virginia, mostly
crafted by James Madison, is a plan for a national government a
consolidated government NOT A FEDERATED government.
Some or many will say that the word "national" was just a casual
reference to the central government. I truly wish that were true. But it isn't
as the historical record will demonstrate:
The Virginia Plan was a national form of government, one designed to
create a consolidated government. Three parts of this Plan tell the story:
1) The first is item number 5 from the stated objectives of the Virginia
Read carefully: "to be paramount to the state constitutions."
2) The second is Resolution 6 of 15 in the submitted Virginia Plan
"moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are
incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted
by the exercise of individual Legislation; to negative all laws passed by the
several States, contravening in the opinion of the National Legislature the
articles of Union; and to call forth the force of the Union agst. any member
of the Union failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof."
3) The third is Resolution 15 of 15 in the Virginia Plan
"Resd. that the amendments which shall be offered to the Confederation,
by the Convention ought at a proper time, or times, after the approbation of
Congress to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of Representatives,
recommended by the several Legislatures to be expressly chosen by the people,
to consider & decide thereon."
These are attributes of a "national", not federated form of
- The objective was for the National Constitution to be paramount to the
- that the National Legislature would be Supreme and be able to repeal State
- that ratification not be by the governing bodies of the States, but by
conventions other than the legitimate government of the States!
This Ladies and Gentlemen is the draft plan or model used to start their
debate on what became our Constitution. Let's look at these three points:
- National Constitution to be paramount to the State Constitutions.
In a federated form of government the National Constitution would be
paramount to the State Constitutions in those areas that were mutually agreed.
This was not the objective of the Virginia Plan, the National Constitution was to be paramount to the State Constitutions period.
- That the National Legislature would be Supreme and be able to repeal
State laws. It was the intent of the Virginia Plan for the National Legislature to have a direct "veto" of ALL laws passed by State Legislatures
and there were NO provisions to over-ride the veto. The "veto" power proposed
was very broad "the opinion of the National Legislature."
- That ratification not be by the governing bodies of the States,
in the Virginia Plan as submitted the existing States and their governing
bodies were given as little status as possible. In a federated form of
government ratification would be by the legitimate current seated government
of the States.
At this point some still cling to the opinion that the usage of the term
"national" was just a casual reference to make it distinctive from the State
governments. The debate on May 30, 1787 will clarify precisely what the Virginia Plan meant:
Mr. Govr. Morris explained the distinction between a federal and
national, supreme, Govt.; the former being a mere compact resting on the good
faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation.
He contended that in all Communities there must be one supreme power, and one
[See Note 2 - Gouverneur Morris]
This certainly should remove any doubt about a casual use of the word "national."
"compleat and compulsive operation" is very obvious and certainly not
compatible with the concept of State's Rights or a federated form of government.
"one supreme power, and one only." certainly does not sound like shared
sovereignty and a lot like what we have in Washington DC today and in the
colonies in 1776!
What these terms meant was explained by Mr. Morris to the delegates of the
Constitutional Convention of 1787 on May 30, 1787 as documented above. That is a direct quote from the historical
record on the Convention of 1787. What these terms mean should be obvious to
each and every one of you reading this article; just it was obvious to each and
every sitting delegate.
The definition of a federated form of government (The Columbia Electronic
Encyclopediaฎ Copyright ฉ 2007):
The distribution of powers between the federal and state governments is
usually accomplished by means of a written constitution, for a federation does
not exist if authority can be allocated by ordinary legislation.
A federated form of government was clearly NOT the intent of the Virginia
Plan. Without a doubt the Virginia Plan proposed the capability for "authority
to be allocated by ordinary legislation
But many will ask, "How can this be?"
If you ask that question or if you just don't believe that the model for what
became the Constitution of 1787 was based upon a national government with
"compleat and compulsive operation." - You should find the debate and
votes immediately following the submission of the Virginia Plan of great
interest and possibly educational.
To be continued
[Note 1] Edmund Randolph, then governor of Virginia, who submitted the
Virginia Plan refused to sign the resulting convention report or proposed
Constitution. He claimed in October 1787 - that it did not contain sufficient
checks and balances. But then flipped again and voted for the proposed
Constitution at the Virginia Ratification Convention. He was a member of the
Federalist Party and was appointed the First Attorney General of The United
States by President George Washington.
[Note 2] Gouverneur Morris, a delegate from Pennsylvania. In 1779, was
defeated for re-election to Congress in New York, largely because his advocacy
of a strong central government was at odds with the decentralist views prevalent
in New York. Defeated in his home state, he moved to Philadelphia to work as a
lawyer and merchant. He was a member of the Federalist Party. In an era when
most Americans thought of themselves as citizens of their respective states,
Morris advanced the idea of being a citizen of a single union of states.
Continue to Part 6
States' Rights - Part 1
What is States' Rights - Part 2
What is States' Rights - Part 3
What is States' Rights - Part 4
What is States' Rights - Part 5
What is States' Rights - Part 6
What is States' Rights - Part 7
What is States' Rights - Part 8
Mike Crane is a member of the League of the South Board of Directors and LS
Communications Coordinator. Mike has a long track record as a hard worker
within the Southern Heritage and Independence movements including being
first chairman of the Florida League of the South, serving on the board of
the Georgia League of the South, and an enthusiastic member of the Georgia
Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Additionally, Crane is a
Georgia Delegate to the Southern National Congress. Mike has been
politically active since 1965. Within that time, he has run for the Georgia
Senate twice and the Fannin County, Georgia Commission Chairmanship. Mike is
also one of the principle founders of the Southern Party of Georgia.
Mike is a member of Morganton Baptist Church and active in local church and local interdenominational benevolence efforts.
Mike will be a speaker at the 2013 League of The South Conference:
Learn more about the League of The South:
What is The League of the South?
by Dr Michael Hill - LS President
New League of The South Website