Published by America’s Remedy.
Written by Cliff Muncy and Milo Townsend.
“Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine – the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke.
“But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someones death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this […] – a day that is sadly no longer remembered – by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.”
– V, from V for Vendetta
This month of March marks the 150th anniversary of one of the most controversial and politically significant events in America’s history; however, chances are good that, to most, it will pass unobserved. In fact, this may likely be the only timely reminder of its preeminent political significance that you’ll see in your news feed.
On March 2, 1867, the 39th United States Congress initiated the first in a series of legislative Acts intended to forever alter American government. These Acts, the Reconstruction Acts, would prove not only to open a battleground which would ultimately reverse the relationships between the federal and state governments, but it would also set the stage to dramatically change the very nature of citizenship itself. Just two short years after America’s most bloody war, this event, commencing the Congressional plan of Reconstruction, marks Congress’ declaration of yet a second political war, distinct from the one that had only lately ended, most notably in its character as a war of overt conquest.
You may recall from those old history lessons what you were taught about the Civil War: likely something about Kansas and Nebraska, some dates, some battles, some names of Generals and heroes, something about “ironclads,” and a great deal about slavery and emancipation and the greatness of Mr. Lincoln. But if you’re anything like I was, you probably don’t recall – or were never even taught – much about the few years which immediately followed that tragic but pivotal war. To say that the “political” events which happened afterward were important is putting it mildly. Those events altered American government and law in a radical and fundamental way, and in a way which affects all Americans today in nearly every facet of their lives, whether they realize it or not. It changed our federal constitution, and in doing so thereby changed our government. It changed the legal definition and character of citizenship, and the obligations and benefits attendant upon the status, and therefore changed our people. Was this dramatic change necessary merely to bring freed slaves into a just and equal standing in the view of the law? Or, was it driven also by ambitions for something more?
Therefore, “in the spirit of commemoration” – in remembrance of the day that truly marks the birth of the American nation – we thought we should mark this March 2nd (a day that is also sadly no longer remembered) by sharing a few ideas on the occasion.
Our timeline begins in 1865. The vicious war drew to a close during the months of April and May as the Confederate army surrendered to overwhelming opposition. By the time the winter cold of that December had settled upon the ravaged landscape of the late war, the eleven previous Confederate States were considered back in the Union – equal parties to the Constitutional compact – as evidenced by their participation in the amending of the federal Constitution with the Thirteenth Amendment. In effecting the lawful abolition of slavery, the freemen citizens of these sovereign states of the Union had taken a significant step toward the more perfect realization of the ideals exalted by Jefferson’s Declaration over 90 years prior. But whether the ratification of the 13th amendment was brought about by a moral epiphany in people’s hearts and minds that slavery was unconscionable and wrong, or if it was merely a conciliatory political move to hasten the mending of a war-torn federation, it was not in either case destined to be recognized or rewarded in the end.
As winter turned to spring, President Andrew Johnson issued his proclamation, “that peace, order, tranquillity, and civil authority now exist in and throughout the whole of the United States of America.” Amidst his proclamation, Johnson also made reference to two “substantially identical” resolutions which had been adopted by both the House and Senate, respectively, in July of 1861, just prior to the war. As the important text of the latter revealed…
“…this war is not prosecuted upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and all laws made in pursuance thereof and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired; that as soon as these objects are accomplished the war ought to cease.”(1)
This will be important to remember as we proceed.
Two months later, in June of 1866, Congress proposes a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution: the Fourteenth Amendment. It is said to give blacks civil rights, but many believe it does much more than that. The amendment is sent to all states, including the southern states who are now lawful participating members of the Union. Unfortunately for congress, all southern states, with the exception of Tennessee, reject the amendment. Even northern and western states like Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland and California reject the amendment. Others like Ohio, New Jersey, and Oregon will come to rescind their ratifications. The adequate number of ratifying states, north and south, per constitutional requirement, are not available, and the Fourteenth Amendment is not adopted.
What happens next is of crucial importance. Just shy of one year after Johnson’s declaration of peace, and fully two years after the war ended, Congress passes the very first of four Acts called the Reconstruction Acts on March 2, 1867. The opening paragraph of the First Reconstruction Act, which was passed despite President Johnson’s veto, reads as follows:
“Whereas no legal State governments or adequate protection for life or property now exists in the rebel States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas; and whereas it is necessary that peace and good order should be enforced in said States until loyal and republican State governments can be legally established: Therefore,…
The Act goes on in section five,
“…and when said State, by a vote of its legislature elected under said constitution, shall have adopted the amendment to the Constitution of the United States, proposed by the “Thirty-ninth Congress, and known as article fourteen [Fourteenth Amendment] and when said article shall have become a part of the Constitution of the United States said State shall be declared entitled to representation in Congress, and senators and representatives shall be admitted therefrom…” (2)
And so the story here takes a turn. Here we have the United States Congress nullifying (declaring invalid) member states of the union on the basis of nothing whatsoever besides Congress’ own decree. Now recall that these were, in fact, states who just two years earlier had helped to abolish slavery by deliberation upon a constitutional amendment! Moreover, Congress is doing this in peace time, over an opposing presidential veto, and is using military occupation to create new state governments loyal to Congress to supplant the organic state governments that had, only by this Act, been decreed insolvent and overthrown. This was monumental.
Why is Congress nullifying states during peace time? Why is an amendment being forced into a condition of “ratification” by overthrowing those states which had rejected it and creating “loyal” state governments in their stead? Why were northern state rescissions such as that of Ohio and New Jersey not later accepted as valid? The answer, simply, is that the 39th Congress used the Reconstruction Acts as a vehicle to coerce the certification of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the end game of the Fourteenth Amendment was to abolish state sovereignty and nationalize American citizenship.
James G. Blaine, a congressman from Maine from 1861-1881, was a staunch supporter of the Fourteenth Amendment which congress wanted so desperately to adopt. He wrote in his book, Political Discussions 1856-1886, regarding the intention of the amendment:
“And in making this extension of citizenship, we are not confining the breadth and scope of our efforts to the negro. It is for the white man as well. We intend to make citizenship National.” (emphasis added) (3)
He also elaborates in his autobiography, “Twenty Years of Congress” (1886):
“As the vicious theory of State-rights had been constantly at enmity with the true spirit of Nationality, the Organic Law of the Republic should be so amended that no standing-room for the heresy [of State-rights] would be left.”
“The first section of the [Fourteenth] Constitutional amendment which includes these invaluable provisions is in fact a new charter of liberty to the citizens of the United States; is the utter destruction of the pestilent heresy of State-rights, which constantly menaced the prosperity and even the existence of the Republic; and is the formal bestowment of Nationality upon the wise Federal system which was the outgrowth of our successful Revolution against Great Britain.” (4)
Up until this point, America’s constitutional foundation had been built around ideas and laws that assumed the United States of America was a federal alliance (styled as a “union”) of demi-sovereign states. Today, we use the terms national and federal as largely synonymous. However, these were two very distinct terms at the outset with two very different resulting systems of government. As Federalist 39 describes our original intent,
“the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one, since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only.” (5)
The founders were quite clear. America was not intended to be a nation of one people, but a federal union. America’s Constitution was originally set up to grant only very limited powers to the federal government. The rest was up to the states — each state being composed of its own unique body politic. Citizenship was a loyalty to one’s state, and states were composed of state citizens. This is where individual rights were determined. This was important in the aspect of “the great experiment” as it allowed states, each one as a unique people, to steer their own course, and it allowed competition and differences among the states. Today, we can see the significant advantage in this federal paradigm, as it would serve as a much needed ‘pressure relief valve’ whereby different policies and objectives could be realized in numerous smaller geographic areas and more localized communities. Ultimately, it would decentralize power. States could be more autonomous, able to govern according to the will and consent of those citizens that compose their respective political bodies.
Whereas the alleged object of the war was “not for… conquest or subjugation,” Reconstruction was its antithesis. It was a military coup, unconstitutional at every level; a new revolution which employed military force and fraud, not to readmit original states back into the union, but to put them into abeyance, disenfranchise their electorates, and supplant the federal union with a new singular state – the American nation – defined by national citizenship which swore loyalty to a national government and supported its national agendas. From the perspective of current governance and recognized law, the states we know today are, in reality, little more than administrative territories of Congress, having differences only where the federal government continues to allow its territories to differentiate. “Rights” on an individual level, and “sovereignty” at the level of the states are technically misnomers; instead, the situation is more aptly described by speaking of the “privileges” of a subjugated people, and where the states are concerned there appears to be very little within their power that Congress cannot, at its discretion, prohibit or require of them, despite the scant vestiges of state autonomy which have been allowed to persist until now.
Forcing ‘ratification’ of the Fourteenth Amendment was chief among the primary goals behind the Reconstruction program. It placed the idea of “equal protection” as predominant over individual rights. Though, as we are seeing today, when protection is applied indiscriminately to a national citizenry, it doesn’t always work out on a case by case basis. Regardless of the great variation of specific needs across different localities, we are, all 320 million of us, lumped together as one people, and a national system that has unlimited power over smaller localities assumes the prerogative to compel everyone, everywhere, to conform equally to one-size-fits-all legislative and judicial perspectives emanating from a centralized (and out of touch) seat of government.
To cite an example of what the framers of our Constitution were not intending to create, Federalist 39 made quite clear the kind of power we could expect from a national system of government:
“The idea of a national government involves in it, not only an authority over the individual citizens, but an indefinite supremacy over all persons and things.”
Today, as we seek to understand where our individual rights and our state sovereignty have gone and where the so-called ‘federal’ government gets its seemingly-unlimited power, let us remember March 2, 1867. The states we know today are not continuations of the states we had before. They are new creations – themselves the creation of Congress, rather than the creators of it. We are no longer citizens of those original states, keeping government close to us and jealously guarding the rights that were once recognized as our inheritance from Nature’s God. We are now indeed a melting pot, a single state, where individual rights and sovereign states are forfeited and the new order is one in which we find ourselves “subjugated with privileges.”
Today, we remember a congressional act of treason; today, we remember the congressional declaration of war against the several free, sovereign and independent states of the constitutional federal republic. Today, we remember Reconstruction. We could mourn the loss of what we had, and what could have been, but what benefit is there in mourning when the law not only sanctions but veritably demands the re-establishment of these, our original states? What was done by force and fraud alone, without the permission of the law, and which stands even today as repugnant to the Constitution, is nothing besides a nullity. The Reconstruction Acts were undeniably unconstitutional acts, and all which followed from them, including the Fourteenth Amendment, are “in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though [they] had never been passed.” (Norton v Shelby Co., 118 U.S. 425 (1886)).
Those void acts confer no rights, impose no duties, afford no protection, and create no offices. Though they have been observed and obeyed for 150 years now, it is our lawful right and our duty, morally and legally, to shed our observance of them and disregard their terms entirely. The hope of our redemption from worldly subjugation, and of the restoration of our constitutional republic, rests upon our will to nullify, in the most complete sense of the term, the effect that we have allowed these illegal acts to have over our lives up to now. If remembrance of the coup of 1867 is the first step toward reclaiming lost liberty, then the second step involves rejecting it.
We, the authors, and America’s Remedy, invite you to stand with us as we turn our back on the fraud of nationalism and reclaim our lawful Republic. To find out more and become involved in the Counter-Revolution, please visit us at www.Americasremedy.com, subscribe to our social networks, and take some time to view our video channel. Let us stop begging for freedom and start asserting it. It’s time to reverse the effects of Reconstruction. It’s time to re-establish the states.
(1) Congressional Globe: The official proceedings of Congress; Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D.C., July 26, 1861; “Object of the War” (http://www.ncrepublic.org/lib_objectofwar.php)
(2) Reconstruction Acts of the Thirty-Ninth Congress (1867) (http://www.ncrepublic.org/lib_reconstruction.php)
(3) James Gillespie Blaine, Political Discussions, Legislative, Diplomatic, and Popular 1856-1886 (BiblioBazaar, 2010), 64.
(4) James Gillespie Blaine, Twenty Years In Congress: from Lincoln to Garfield, Vol 2 (Henry Bill Publishing Company, 1884), 30.
(5) Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Isaac Kramnick, The Federalist Papers (illustrated, reprint, revised by Penguin Books Limited, 1987)