STATE RIGHTS AND STATE PRIDE
Secession apologists had argued that the writers of the Constitution of 1787 had precisely divided the powers of government between the states and the nation, and that each was sovereign in its own sphere. They maintained that they had supported the Union as long as the Constitution had been interpreted in the spirit of Jefferson and Madison; but that sacred compact had become so distorted by interpretations beneficial to the North and injurious to the South that the latter had been forced to exercise the ultimate state right--secession. The Confederate Constitution incorporated a few safeguards to prevent future misinterpretations, but radical alteration seemed unnecessary for presumably the South would never again be threatened by aggressive nationalism.
But paradoxically the only president of the Confederacy was one of its strongest nationalists. Jefferson Davis had used state rights arguments and rhetoric throughout his political career but probably had never fully believed in them. Now that he was Confederate president he found them impractical. He was convinced that the disparity of resources between the contestants made centralism vital to Confederate survival. For this reason he was quite willing to establish as powerful a central government as was needed. Neither the rights of a state nor of its citizens should be allowed to endanger the war effort.
Until the Conscription Act of April 1862, the extent of the Confederacy's authority in North Carolina was not seriously argued, for the moderate war measures of the first year posed no threat to state authority or individual freedom. For the most part North Carolina's grievances stemmed from the neglect of its defenses. Typical of Governor Clark's many letters to the War Department was his plea "I cannot refrain from referring you again to the urgent necessity . . . for more arms and munitions . . . for the . . . defense of the coast."1 The North Carolina____________________