Are We Citizens or Subjects?


In 2011, Constitutional scholar Judge Andrew Napolitano spent five minutes of his Fox News show asking a series of questions, one after the other, that strike to the heart of the issues facing our nation. You know, bringing up things that make people think. It doesn’t matter if you agree with him or not. Or even if we agree with him or not. What matters is that every question he posed deserves attention.

That’s where we come in. The Judge’s first question was, “Does the government work for us, or do we work for the government?” Here’s our take on it.

In order to address this question fully, we have to revisit 1861, when that Great Emancipator, Ole Abe, decided to completely ignore the Constitution of the United States and invade the Confederacy. The outcome of Lincoln’s War of Aggression decided that question. The government works, not for us, but for itself. It does not work for the people, and hasn’t for a long time.

Abraham Lincoln’s decision to revoke the ultimate right of the people as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to give, or to withdraw, their consent to be governed, reduced the states to nothing more than administrative provinces, and their citizens to subjects of the central authority. Before 1861, the government was truly a servant of the people. Even though it was sometimes reluctantly, from the beginning, to an ever-lessening degree, the government worked for the good of its constituent states and their citizens. It was by no means a perfect Union, just as no large family is perfectly content with its siblings – or with its parents. But each member of the family knew that, if conditions became too intolerable, if compromise or accommodation finally became impossible, it could divorce itself from the family and go its own way.

What? Wait. Are you saying…? Yes, that’s exactly what we are saying. The states that seceded from the Union had every right to do so, and Lincoln did violate the Constitution many times. Those states seceded individually, as a truly sovereign State had every right to do. They then voluntarily joined with the other sovereign states to form a new Confederation – dissolving their ties with their former association –  just like the colonies did, and like the Declaration said they had the right to do. All of this was embodied in the principle of State sovereignty, of the concept that the States had willingly and voluntarily entered into the compact as free agents, and could withdraw if they believed the conditions warranted. (No, we are not saying that the states that seceded had a right to keep slavery alive. Besides, anyone who has seriously studied history knows that slavery was not the real reason for that war, so put that argument away. Put it away.)

Lincoln, with his egregious violations of the Constitution, his willingness to force brother to kill brother to achieve his purpose, accomplished his goal of negating the principle of State sovereignty. His ruthless campaign set us on the inevitable path to where we are today: a centralized, autocratic, self-serving ultimate authority. That authority is an amoral, infinitely avaricious behemoth that treats its subjects no better than it must to maintain its own existence and progression. The 17th Amendment, ratified less than 50 years later, was merely the final blow, silencing the states’ last feeble voice in their, and their citizens’, own destinies. On May 31, 1913, the rulers in the royal province, the District of Columbia, declared itself the unlimited, absolute authority of its subjects. From that day until this, and for the foreseeable future, the government works, not for us, but for itself.

“Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail.” – John C. Calhoun


One thought on “Are We Citizens or Subjects?

  1. Aside from the simple fact that the seceding states did so, in large part, to preserve their aristocratic interests (a foundational excuse for the original revolution) I’d say your comments are largely spot on tonight.


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