Defending Lincoln
In our hearts, we know he’s right

(Broadside Books)


There is nothing in the text of the Constitution to suggest that it is a treaty among independent nations, and the right to secession shows up nowhere. You don’t need to embrace Lincoln’s robust nationalism — he thought the Union had existed prior to the Constitution and the states, and argued that “perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments” — to reject nullification and secession. You need only go to the Father of the Constitution, James Madison.

Madison held something of a middle position. He explained in Federalist 39 that we have “neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both,” or, as he said elsewhere, “a new Creation — a real nondescript.” That didn’t mean that the union wasn’t a nation. “What can be more preposterous,” Madison asked, “than to say that the States as united, are in no respect or degree, a Nation, which implies sovereignty; altho’ acknowledged to be such by all other Nations & Sovereigns, and maintaining with them, all the international relations, of war & peace, treaties, commerce, &c.” In the 1869 case of Texas v. White, the Supreme Court nicely stated a Madisonian view of the question: “The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.”

June 17, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 11

Special Energy Section
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Jonah Goldberg reviews The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure, by Kevin D. Williamson.
  • Theodore Dalrymple reviews Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience, by Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld.
  • Galen Mac Caba reviews Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century, by Christian Caryl.
  • Jay Nordlinger discusses James Levine, one of the great conductors of our age.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Star Trek: Into Darkness.
  • Richard Brookhiser discusses summer weeds.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .