- Jul 2012
The South actively supported increased federal power and suppression of States Rights so long as it was in their own sectional interests. For example, the Gag Rule, the Fugitive Slave Law, the LeCompton Constitution, and the Dred Scott Decision. The Confederacy was at least as centralized as the Union. In The Confederacy as A Revolutionary Experience, Emory Thomas noted that "...by 1863 Confederate civil servants were 70,000 strong. Ironically the Richmond government employed more civil servants than its s counterpart in Washington." Historian Gary Gallagher, history professor at the University of Virginia notes in the following video (at about 45:25) - "There's a whole literature now about how Abraham Lincoln can best be understood as someone whose main goal was to create a big central government that could bedevil people for the rest of American history. Well here's a little flash for you - Lincoln didn't do anything that Jefferson Davis didn't do, and he didn't do nearly as much. In many ways, the biggest, most intrusive central government in our history until deep into the 20th century is the Confederate government."The collapse of States Rights has not been the universal good that some believe. Probably the biggest wound the United States and constitutional government ever suffered was when the South sought to use the incredibly important concept of distributed political power that Jefferson and Madison had enunciated to defend what could not be defended – human slavery. We have seen a massive centralization of political power and a diminution of what Ortega y Gasset called “social power” ever since.