The History of We the People - Part 6



by Walter Giddings

February 27, 2022

Does secession break the American Covenant of Perpetual Union?

Greetings Kindred, Fellow Sheep and Neighbours.  We are on a 1st name basis here.  My name is Walter.  I am not your real Teacher.  The Holy Spirit, the Comforter Jesus sent in His Name is your real Teacher.  My job is to bring you to Him.  In our previous Lesson, Enemies, we asked ourselves this question: 

Have Americans, We the People, become the Enemies of The God of The Bible?  What made this question so alarming is that the behavior of We the People in succeeding generations precisely mirrors the behavior of IsraelIsrael, in succeeding generations, rejected the Covenant they made with The God of The Bible!  We the People, in succeeding generations, rejected the American Covenant of Perpetual Union our forefathers made with The God of The Bible?  Did The Framers of The Republic believe The God of The Bible to be a Covenant God?

Acts 3:24-25

24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 

Is Jesus one of “the prophets … that follow after” Samuel?  Is Jesus the Greatest of all The Prophets of The Bible?  What are “these days” in which the Apostle Peter is announcing fulfilled Prophecy Are “these days” the season of Pentecost and Peter’s two sermons?  Were the number of believers about five thousand when Peter and the apostles “preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead”? 

25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, AND IN THY SEED  SHALL ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED. 

Did our forefathers who framed The Republic believe The God of The Bible to be a Covenant God?

How did We the People in succeeding generations arrive at The War of Secession, the not so civil Civil War?  Is this a natural question to ask?  What evidence do we have in The History of We the People?  The next time the term Secession appears prominently in our political discourse is immediately after the reelection of President Andrew Jackson in 1832. 

Shall we study the event that occurred November 24th, a fortnight following the reelection of Andrew Jackson in 1832?  On November 24th 1832, South Carolina, claiming to be assembled in convention in the name of the people, made an “Ordinance” in the words of the Title, to wit: 

Ordinance: An Ordinance to nullify certain acts of the Congress of the United States, purporting to be laws laying imposts and duties on the importation of foreign commodities. 

If we look no deeper than the surface of this nullification ordinance it has major problems.  On page 6 of your Constitution booklet, 1st full paragraph where it says Section 8. let us read together in unison Clause 1:

Section 8.  The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;  but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;   Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, The Constitution for The United States of America.    

South Carolina is on record as having Ratified this Constitution May 23, 1788.  It was one of the 13 Original States that did so unanimouslySection 8, Clause 1 is the States’ contract provision authorizing Congress to lay Duties and Imposts.  Why did S.C. risk the appearance of nullifying a Federal Power?  Did S.C. claim the Duties and Imposts amounted to “direct Taxes”

Benton stresses the importance of this historical event: 

“That ordinance marks an era in the history of our Union, which requires to be studied in order to understand the events of the times, and the history of subsequent events.”  Benton.  Thirty Years’ View.  1854.  Chapter LXXIX, page 297. 

Did South Carolina say why in their “Ordinance”

“… the Congress of the United States, by various acts, purporting to be acts laying duties and imposts on foreign imports, but in reality intended for the protection of domestic manufactures ... and by wholly exempting from taxation certain foreign commodities, such as are not produced or manufactured in the United States, to afford a pretext for imposing higher and excessive duties on articles similar to those intended to be protected, hath exceeded its just powers under the Constitution, which confers on  it no authority to afford such protection, and hath violated the true meaning and intent of the Constitution, which provides for equality in imposing the burdens of taxation upon the several states and portions of the confederacy:  And whereas the said Congress, exceeding its just power to impose taxes and collect revenue ... hath raised and collected unnecessary revenue for objects unauthorized by the Constitution.”  Ibid.  

What do we make of South Carolina’s claims? 

Does The Constitution authorize Congress to “lay and collect ... Duties, Imposts”?  Is South Carolina complaining about Congress laying and collecting Duties, Imposts?  Does South Carolina appear to be complaining about the concept of Protective Tariffs?  Is South Carolina objecting to Inequality that results from Tariffs designed to Protect domestic productions from International Competition?! 

Duties and Imposts are Terms of Civic Government.  Shall we ask: What were the meanings of these Terms when the Constitution for the United States of America was unanimously ratified? 

DUTY n.  [from due, Fr. du.]  That which a person owes to another;  that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay, do, or perform  ... reverence, obedience and prayer to God are indispensable duties;  the government and religious instruction of children are duties of parents which they cannot neglect without guilt. 

7.  Tax, toll, impost, or customs; excise; any sum of money required by government to be paid on the importation, exportation, or consumption of goods.  An impost on land or other real estate, and on the stock of farmers, is not called a duty, but a direct taxU. States.  1828 Webster. 

Did South Carolina object to Congress laying duties or imposts on land or other real estate, or on the stock of farmers?  No.  Did South Carolina object to duties and imposts in the nature of protective tariffs?  What did Senator Thomas Hart Benton say about South Carolina’s Nullification Ordinance? 

“.. the whole question of the American system,  and especially its prominent feature of a high protective tariff, was put in issue in the presidential canvass of 1832; ...”  Thomas Hart Benton.  Thirty Years’ View. Chapter LXXVIII, “Nullification Ordinance in South Carolina.”  pp 297-298. 

Benton writes, “that issue (election) was against the system; and the Congress elections ... were of the same character.  ... it was naturally expected that all the States, dissatisfied with that system, would be satisfied with the view of its speedy and regular extinction, under the legislation of the approaching session of Congress;  ...”

The one disappointment to that expectation, Benton noted, was South Carolina.  She failed to temper her apprehensions, or her passion for violent remedies, and seemed to be inflamed from the success of the election. 

“She had held aloof from the presidential election --- throwing away her vote upon citizens who were not candidates --- and doing nothing to aid in the election of General Jackson, with whose success her interests and wishes were apparently identified.”  “... the election decided the fate of the tariff.” Ibid., p 297. 

South Carolina issued her “Nullification Ordinance” a fortnight after the election.  She declared all attempts to enforce the collection of the duties, by promises, contracts, obligations, or judicial proceedings null and void.  The Convention ordered the South Carolina legislature to do its duty to enforce the Nullification Ordinance by enacting legislation to prevent the enforcement, and arrest the operation of the said Acts of Congress from and after February 1st. 

The Convention also ordained that State citizens were barred from making any appeal of its Nullification to the United States Supreme Court, barred the courts from sending any record of appeal, and ordered South Carolina courts to put persons attempting such Appeal in contempt proceedings. 

And the Convention ordained that all public officers, civil or military, members of the State Legislature exempted, must take an oath to obey, execute, and enforce the Ordinance.  Anyone failing to take the Oath made their Office vacant, as if they were dead or had resigned.  No Juror in South Carolina courts could be “empannelled” without the Oath. 

The Convention concluded its Nullification Ordinance ordaining that any Federal attempt of any character to coerce the People of South Carolina to obey the Null and Void Acts of Congress and enforce the collection of the duties would be “inconsistent with the longer continuation of South Carolina in the Union”. 

“ ... the people of this State will thenceforth hold themselves absolved from all further obligation to maintain or preserve their political connection with the people of the other States, and will forthwith proceed to organize a separate government,  and do all other acts and things which sovereign and independent States may of right do. Done in Convention at Columbia, the twenty fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty two, and in the fifty-seventh year of the declaration of the independence of the United States of America.”  Ibid., p 298. 

Benton wrote this about the South Carolina Convention’s Nullification Ordinance

“This ordinance placed the State in the attitude of open, forcible resistance to the laws of the United States, to take effect on the first day of February next ensuing.”  Ibid.  

Benton noted that the date of February 1st left the outgoing Congress no realistic time frame to amend or repeal the obnoxious legislation, and was a month prior to the opening of the 1st Session of the newly elected Congress pledged to correct the tariff system.    

“This ordinance, signed by more than a hundred citizens of the greatest respectability, was officially communicated to the President of the United States; and a case presented to him to test his patriotism, his courage, and his fidelity to his inauguration oath---an oath taken in the presence of God and man, of Heaven and Earth, ‘to take care that the laws of the Union were faithfully executed.’ ”Ibid. 

President Andrew Jackson was just completing his first term as our 7th President.  Benton said :  

“Without calling on Congress for extraordinary powers, he merely adverted in his annual message to the attitude of the State, and proceeded to meet the exigency by the exercise of the powers he already possessed.” Ibid., page 299. 

President Jackson received the ordinance of nullification in the first days of December. If we were President of the United States, how would we answer Nullification and what powers would we use to defend and preserve “the perpetual Union”?  When I first read the nullification ordinance I did not know either!  I consider that prima facie, in your face evidence, I have been disabled from thinking constitutionally.  How do we recover from this Disability?

On December 10th President Jackson issued his “PROCLAMATION AGAINST NUlLIFICATION”.  In the 1st paragraph following his summary of the points identifying the nullification ordinance, he named the direct object of South Carolina’s Act:

“ ... the said ordinance prescribes to the people of South Carolina a course of conduct in direct violation of their duty as citizens of the United States, contrary to the laws of their country, subversive of its constitution, and having for its object the destruction of the Union.”  Benton.  Thirty Years’ View.  Chapter LXXIX  page 299. 

Jackson called the Perpetual Union “sacred”: 

“There are two appeals from an unconstitutional act passed by Congress --- one to the judiciary, the other to the people and the States.  There is no appeal from the State decision in theory, and the practical illustration (the ordinance) shows that the courts are closed against an application to review it, both judges and jurors being sworn to decide in its favor.”  Ibid., p 300. 

What follows is a Lesson on The Constitution from our 7th President Andrew Jackson which was eliminated from the only civics course (high school) I ever had.  I first read it with understanding December 2021.  We quote it here because it confirms almost every major point we have covered in Lessons 1-4 in The History of We the People

“But reasoning on this subject is superfluous, when our social compact, in express terms, declares that the laws of the United States, its constitution, and treaties made under it, are the supreme law of the land; and for greater caution, adds ‘that the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.’” Ibid. 

And Jackson said, “no federative government could exist without a similar provision.” In the 1st line of the next paragraph Jackson increases the weight of emphasis in saying, “If this doctrine had been established ... the Union would have been dissolved in its infancy.”  Jackson recited legal history reminding the country that Pennsylvania’s excise tax, Eastern States embargo and non Intercourse law, and Virginia’s carriage tax were deemed unconstitutional “and were more unequal in their operation than any of the laws now complained of;  but fortunately none of these States discovered they had the right now claimed by South Carolina.”

Jackson launched into a defense of “the Perpetual Union”:  

“In our colonial state, although dependent on another power, we very early considered ourselves as connected by a common interest with each other.  ... before the declaration of independence, we were known in our aggregate character as the United Colonies of America.  That decisive and important step was taken jointly.”  Ibid. 

“Jointly”.  Does that sound like “Unanimous”?  How often  do we have that?

“ ... our present happy Constitution ... was formed for important objects that are announced in the  preamble made in the name and by the authority of the people of the United States, whose delegates framed, and whose conventions approved it.  The most important among these objects, that which is placed first in rank, on which all the others rest, is ‘to form a more perfect Union.’  Ibid., pp. 300-301. 

 “ ...can it be conceived that an instrument made for the purpose of ‘forming a more perfect Union’ than that of the Confederation, could be so constructed by the assembled wisdom of our country, as to substitute for that confederation a form of government dependent for its existence on the local interest, the party spirit of a State, or the prevailing faction in a State?  Every man of plain, unsophisticated understanding, who hears the question, will give such an answer as will preserve the Union.”  Ibid., page 301.   

Jackson skewers the Nullification Ordinance on a spit for roasting with this summary.

“Here is a law of the United States, ...repealed by the authority of a small majority of the voters of a single state.  Here is a provision of the Constitution which is solemnly abrogated by the same authority.  ... the ordinance grounds not only an assertion of the right to annul the laws of which it complains, but to enforce it by a threat of seceding from the Union, if any attempt is made to execute them.”  Ibid. 

Jackson dissects South Carolina’s claim that the right to secede is deduced from “the nature of the  Constitution”.  Benton says the nullification Convention acted on the presumption that the sovereign states yielded none of their sovereignty in making the compact. As one of the makers they feel entitled to break it, when in their unappealable opinion other states have departed from it. 

“ ... Fallacious as this course of reasoning is, it enlists State pride, and finds advocates in the honest prejudices of those who have not studied the nature of our government sufficiently to see the radical error on which it [secession] rests.”  Ibid.     

Jackson pounds home a civics course by giving a history lesson on the framing of the Republic.  He reminds the Nation that The People formed The Constitution by acting through their State legislatures to send delegates to a national Convention to meet and discuss its provisions.  And The People ratified its provisions by acting again through their State legislatures to send delegates to their State Ratifying Conventions. 

Classmates, do we recall from our previous lessons on The History of We the People that “The Constitution for the United States of America” shares the same nature in its creation as “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of   America”What do both these Instruments of Government share? Are both Instruments Deeds of The American Covenant of Perpetual Union?  Is the Origin of both Instruments Unanimous? 

Collectively, how rare is this in the History of Adam?  How often do We ever do anything unanimously?  In our day is everything a vicious, no-holds-barred fight to the finish?  In the History of God’s People where do we find an Event of Equal Unanimity? 

Was the coronation of King Solomon, attended with unprecedented unanimity of all Israel

1 Chronicles 29:20, 22-23

20 And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God.  And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king. 

Did all Israel rejoice in God’s Choice of Solomon to be King of The Commonwealth of Israel? 

22 And did eat and drink before the LORD on that day with great gladness.  And they made Solomon, the son of David, king the second time, and anointed him unto the LORD  to be the chief governor, and Zadok  to be priest. 

23 Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father, and prospered;  ...

Classmates please read with me in unison the last phrase of verse 23:  ... “and all Israel obeyed him.” 

Look carefully at verse 23. Whose throne is Israel’s Throne? 

When a Father and a Mother see all their children dwelling as brethren in unity with each other, how does that make them feel?  What strong emotions would well up inside them?  When our Heavenly Father sees his children on earth dwelling as brethren in unity with each other, how would that make Him feel?  Who signs a blank check?  Did our Heavenly Father come to Solomon in a dream with a blank signed check and ask Solomon to fill in the amount? 

2 Chronicles 1:7 In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. 

Did Pastor Ramsey utter from his heart that which The Holy Spirit gave him when he counseled God’s Family in America? When we find we agree on the fundamental pillars of the Christian Faith, should we find where we disagree “interesting”?  Since that time have we found a multitude of things on which we disagree but there has been no fracture in the bonds between us as brethren who are in regular assembly? 

Is our prayer to The God of Israel that He would do it again ?!  Does that require a response on our part?  How well would we respond if we have become Enemies of The God of Israel?    

Did the 1832 People of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, reject The American Covenant of Perpetual Union?  President Andrew Jackson reminded the Nation of the History of the Framing of The Republic.  How did he instruct the people “who have not studied the nature of our government sufficiently to see the radical error upon which” secession “rests”?  If any of us were President of the United States what would we tell those who in ignorance reject The American Covenant of Perpetual Union to engage in Secession?  What could we say?  What did Jackson say? 

“The Constitution of the United States, then, forms a government, not a league.  ... It is a government in which all the people are represented, which operates directly on the people individually, not upon the States --- they retained all the power they did not grant.  But each State, having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute, jointly with the other States, a single nation, cannot, from that period, possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation;  ... any injury to that unity ... is an offense against the whole Union.  To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation. 

... Secession ... may be morally justified by oppression;  but, to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms. “  Benton.  page 301. 

Psalm 133

1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 

Did The Framers of the Republic bequeath to us, The Posterity, the Duty to keep The Covenant of Perpetual Union? 

2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard that went down to the skirts of his garments;

What does the Anointing of Aaron as Chief Priest of The Commonwealth of Israel have to do with The Unity of the Brethren?  Does it cause us to ask where are the Pastors to preach The American Covenant of Perpetual Union?

3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion:   for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. 

Does churchbuilding, building the Bonds of Unity, make us eligible to inherit Eternal Life?  Did John Adams write to his good friend Thomas Jefferson, What concerns me the most about Eternal Damnation is the word Eternal?  Do we have what it takes to cease being Partakers of Secession to become Partakers of Union?  Do we have what it takes to be Covenant keepers instead of Covenant breakers?

Does The Holy Spirit indwell us? 


Acts 3:24-25. 

Thomas Hart Benton.  Thirty Years’ View.   1854.  Chapter LXXVIII, “Nullification Ordinance in South Carolina”.  pp 297-298. 

Article I, Section 8, Clause 1.  The Constitution for the United States of America.  Constitution Booklet page 6. 

Benton.  p 297. 

An Ordinance to Nullify, South Carolina in Convention, 24 November 1832.  Ibid. 

1828 Webster.  First American Dictionary of the English Language.  [“Duty”]. 

Benton.  p 297.  [1832 election.]

Ibid.  [the fate of the tariff]. 

Ibid., p298.  [“absolved”]. 

Ibid.,  [“resistance”]. 

Ibid.,  [“inauguration oath”]. 

Ibid., p299.  [“meet the exigency”]. 

Ibid., p300.  [“the destruction of the Union”]. 

Ibid.  [“the supreme law”].  

Ibid.,  pp 300-301.  [“the preamble”]. 

Ibid.,  p301.  [“preserve the Union”]. 

Ibid.  [“threat of seceding”]. 

Ibid.  [“the nature of our government”]. 

1 Chronicles 29:20, 22-23.  [“all Israel obeyed him”]. 

2 Chronicles 1:7.  [“blank check”]. 

Benton.  p 301.  [“a single nation”]. 

Psalm 133.  [“the blessing”].