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A Short History of the Confederate States of America

de Jefferson Davis

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A Short History of the Confederate States of America is a memoir written by Jefferson Davis, completed shortly before his death in 1889. Davis wrote most of this book while staying at Beauvoir along the Mississippi Gulf Coast near Biloxi, Mississippi.The book is much less a Davis memoir than an articulation of the secession argument. In Davis' earlier work, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, he had written what is probably the most thorough exegesis of the compact theory of the United States Constitution in existence, devoting the first fifteen chapters of the book to that topic. Fearful that his readers might not understand, or might forget, he repeated the explanation every second or third chapter after that. Still concerned that people might not understand the compact theory of the Constitution, he wrote A Short History of the Confederate States of America shortly before his death.Jefferson Finis Davis (1808 - 1889) was an American politician who served as the President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865.He was a member of the Democratic Party who represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives prior to becoming president of the Confederacy.He was the 23rd United States Secretary of War, serving under U.S. President Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857.… (més)
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CHAPTER XIV.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES.

WHILE the limits assigned to this volume do not permit a full presentation of the arguments, or an adequate exposition of the historical facts that justified the secession of the Southern States, and entitled them to be regarded not as "rebels" or "traitors/' but as defenders of the original principles on which the fathers founded our system of government, or a full demonstration of the fact that the essential truths which they declared "unalienable" are the foundation-stones on which rests the vindication of the Confederate cause, yet, before proceeding with the narrative of the events of the war between the States, it is essential that the candid student should know and bear in mind that the intelligent people of the South were practically unanimous in the belief:

That the States of which the American Union was formed, from the moment when they emerged from their colonial or provincial condition, became, severally, sovereign, free, and independent States-not one State or Nation;

That the Union formed under the Articles of Confederation was a compact between the States in which these attributes of sovereignty, freedom, and independence were expressly asserted and guaranteed;

That in forming "the more perfect Union" of the Constitution afterward adopted, the same contracting powers formed an amended compact, without any surrender of these attributes, either expressed or implied; but, on the contrary, by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, limiting the authority of the Federal Government to its express grants, with a distinct provision against the presumption of a surrender of anything by implication;

That political sovereignty, in contradistinction to the natural rights of man, resides neither in the individual citizen, nor in unorganized masses, nor in fractional subdivisions of a community, but in the people of an organized political body;

That no "republican form of government," in the sense in which that expression is used in the Constitution, and was generally understood by the founders of the Union—whether it be the government of a State or of a Confederation of States —is possessed of any sovereignty whatever, but merely exercises certain powers delegated by the sovereign authority of the people, and subject to recall and resumption by the same authority that conferred them;

That the "people" who organized the first Confederation, the people who dissolved it, the people who ordained and established the Constitution which succeeded it—the only people known or referred to in the phraseology of that period —were the people of the respective States, each acting separately and with absolute independence of the others;

That, in forming and adopting the Constitution, the States, or the people of the States, formed a new Government but no new People, and that, consequently, no new sovereignty was created; for sovereignty, in an American republic, can belong only to a People, never to a Government; and that the Federal Government is entitled to exercise only the powers delegated to it by the people of the several States.

That the term People in the preamble to the Constitution and in the tenth Amendment, is used distributively; that the only "People of the United States" known to the Constitution are the people of each State in the Union ; that no such political community or corporate unit as one people of the United States then existed, has ever been organized, or yet exists ; and that no political action by the people of the United States in the aggregate has ever taken place, or ever can take place under the Constitution.

These principles, although they had come to be considered as peculiarly Southern, were not sectional in their origin. In the beginning and earlier years of our history they were cherished as faithfully and guarded as jealously in Massachusetts and New Hampshire as in Virginia and South Carolina.

It was in these principles that I was nurtured.

Jefferson Davis, A short history of the Confederate states of America (1890), pages 48-49.

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A Short History of the Confederate States of America is a memoir written by Jefferson Davis, completed shortly before his death in 1889. Davis wrote most of this book while staying at Beauvoir along the Mississippi Gulf Coast near Biloxi, Mississippi.The book is much less a Davis memoir than an articulation of the secession argument. In Davis' earlier work, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, he had written what is probably the most thorough exegesis of the compact theory of the United States Constitution in existence, devoting the first fifteen chapters of the book to that topic. Fearful that his readers might not understand, or might forget, he repeated the explanation every second or third chapter after that. Still concerned that people might not understand the compact theory of the Constitution, he wrote A Short History of the Confederate States of America shortly before his death.Jefferson Finis Davis (1808 - 1889) was an American politician who served as the President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865.He was a member of the Democratic Party who represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives prior to becoming president of the Confederacy.He was the 23rd United States Secretary of War, serving under U.S. President Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857.

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