The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia


Among the more melancholy aspects of the genteel world we live in is a slow decline in the enjoyment that men once found in the combat of ideas, free and unrestrained. Competition of any sort, indeed, seems to be regarded these days, in our schools and elsewhere, as somehow not in very good taste. Under the curious doctrines of the Fair Trade Act, vigorous salesmanship is "unfair," and retailers are enjoined against discommoding their fellows. Mr. Stevenson's criticism of the administration's foreign policy, during the last presidential campaign, was not that the policies were so very wrong: They were not "bi-partisan." With a few robust exceptions, our writers paint in pastels; our political scholars write a sort of ruffled-sleeve, harpsichord prose. We duel with soft pillows, or with buttoned foils; our ideas have lace on them; we are importuned to steer, with moderation, down the middle of the road.

These chamber music proprieties I acknowledge, simply to say, now, that the essay which follows should not be misunderstood. May it please the court, this is not a work of history; it is a work of advocacy. The intention is not primarily to inform, but to exhort. The aim is not to be objective; it is to be partisan.

I plead the cause of States' rights.

My thesis is that our Union is a Union of States; that the meaning of this Union has been obscured, that its inherent value has been debased and all but lost.

I hold this truth to be self-evident: That government is least evil when it is closest to the people. I submit that when effective control of government moves away from the people, it becomes a greater evil, a greater restraint upon liberty.

My object is not to prove that the powers and functions of government have grown steadily more centralized, more remote from the people, for that proposition requires no proof; it requires only . . .

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