by George Rasley, ConservativeHQ.com Editor
“If we were wrong in our contest, then the Declaration of Independence of 1776 was a grave mistake and the revolution to which it led was a crime. If Washington was a patriot; Lee cannot have been a rebel.”
Wade Hampton III
Confederate General and Post-Reconstruction Democratic Governor of South Carolina
In the Leftist fever to remove any symbol associated with the Confederate side of the American Civil War it is Andrew Jacksonbeyond comical that yesterday, California’s liberal Democratic Governor Jerry Brown joined the Confederacy and signed laws that in effect nullify federal law by placing sharp limits on how private individuals, corporations and state and local law enforcement agencies can cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
California’s actions are highly reminiscent of the actions of the South Carolina legislature when it passed the so-called South Carolina Ordnance of Nullification on November 24, 1832.
According to theories propounded by South Carolina’s Senator John C. Calhoun, the federal government only existed at the will of the states. Therefore, if a state found a federal law unconstitutional and detrimental to its sovereign interests, it would have the right to “nullify” that law within its borders.
Like the leaders of today’s California, Calhoun advanced the position that a state need not be bound by the laws passed by Congress.
However, when South Carolina sought to nullify laws passed by Congress for the imposing of duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities President Andrew Jackson issued a lengthy rebuttal of South Carolina’s ordinance of nullification in which he made the point that “I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which It was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.”
Jackson’s Proclamation Regarding Nullification, issued December 10, 1832 is worth a read for its eloquent defense of the Constitution and for the supremacy of our federal system of government over the political whims and conceits of a small group of actors within any one state.
But what really made President Jackson’s Proclamation stick was not his eloquently argued brief – it was his commitment to upholding the Constitution, by force if necessary.
To deter the nullifiers from attacking the Unionists in their midst, Jackson warned a South Carolina congressman that “if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.”
When Robert Hayne ventured, “I don’t believe he would really hang anybody, do you?” Thomas Hart Benton replied, “Few people have believed he would hang Arbuthnot and shoot Ambrister . . . I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes!”
A weaker response might have allowed the Union to dissolve before it reached the half-century mark, but Jackson’s acknowledged toughness staved-off civil war for almost 30 years.
Proclamations and ordinances passed establishing so-called “sanctuary cities” and “sanctuary states” are the 21st century versions of South Carolina’s 19th century ordinance of nullification, and should be dealt with as President Jackson did – first by constitutional argument and then by exercising the political will to assert federal authority to enforce the laws Congress passes.
Reprinted with permission from ConservativeHQ.com
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