VITAL SIGNSrnPOLITICSrnOne NationrnIndivisiblernbyrnDonald Livingston andrnThomas H. NaylorrnI pledge allegiance to the flag of thernUnited States of America and to thernrepublic for which it stands, one nationrnunder God, indivisible, with libertyrnand justice for all.rnThere is irony in the fact that althoughrnprayer has been banned inrnour public schools, millions of Americanrnschoolkids are required to recite thernpledge to the flag each day whether theyrnbelieve it or understand its implications.rnOur quibble with the pledge is not withrnits use or misuse of God, but rather withrnthe phrase “one nation indivisible.”rnWhat are the historical origins of thisrnpatriotic creed with the mistaken notionrnthat the United States is indivisible? Is itrnbased on either the Constitution or thernDeclaration of Independence? Is it attributablernto cither George Washington,rnThomas Jefferson, or James Madison?rnThe answer is—none of the above.rnFew Americans realize that thernpledge, popularized by the AmericanrnLegion and other patriotic organizations,rnis the work of two little-known Bostonrnwriters who published it in 1892.rnCongress codified it in 1942 duringrnWodd War II and added “under God”rnin 1954. Pictures of Washington’s armyrndisplaying the Stars and Stripes are fantasies.rnThe flag was not used then.rnTroops advanced under their state andrnlocal flags, and the flag did not becomernpart of U.S. Army regulations until thern1830’s. It was perceived during the antebellumrnperiod as the flag of a federation,rnnot the flag of a unitary nation state, justrnlike the European Union flag.rnWhen children in communist Russiarnused to recite mindless Marxist-Leninistrncreeds, we called it brainwashing. WhenrnAmerican kids say the Pledge of Allegiance,rnit is patriotism.rnFrom the outset Americans have disagreedrnover two contrary theories ofrnwhat it was our Founders founded—therncompact theory and the nationalist theory.rnThe compact theory first put forthrnbv Thomas Jefferson and James Madisonrnholds that the Constitution is a compactrnof sovereign states which have delegatedrnenumerated powers to a central governmentrnas their agent. This theory wasrndominant throughout the antebellumrnperiod. Indeed, no nationalist theory appearedrnuntil the I830’s. As a result ofrnwidespread adherence to the compactrntheory, secession was viewed as a lawfulrnform of resistance available to any Americanrnstate. The region that most oftenrnconsidered secession was New England.rnManv Abolitionists urged secession ofrnthe Northern states.rnAs Thomas Jefferson said in the Declarationrnof Independence, “Wheneverrnany form of government becomes destructive,rnit is the right of the people tornalter or abolish it, and to institute a newrngovernment.” Just as a group has a rightrnto form, so too does it have a right to disband,rnto subdivide itself, or secede fromrna larger unit.rnIn sharp contrast to the compact theoryrnis the nationalist theory championedrnby Abraham Lincoln which holds thatrnthe states were never sovereign. Afterrnsplitting with England, the people of thernvarious colonics were spontaneouslyrntransformed into the American polity.rnThis body was sovereign and created arncentral government called the ContinentalrnCongress that authorized the formationrnof the states. The contract, oncernmade, between the people and the governmentrnwas irrevocable; a political marriagernfrom which there was no divorce.rnEariy in his career Lincoln supportedrnthe right to secede: “Any people anywherernbeing inclined and having thernpower have the right to rise up and shakernoff the existing government, and form arnnew one which suits them better.” Laterrnhe had a change of heart. To justifv hisrninvasion of the South and his scorchedrnearth policy toward 11 dissident states,rnhe made preservation of the Union thernmoral imperative of the United States:rn”If I could save the Union without freeingrnany slave I would do it, and if I couldrnsave the Union by freeing some and leavingrnothers alone I would also do that.rnWhat I do about slavery, and the coloredrnrace, I do because I believe it helps savernthe Union.” Lincoln claimed that hernhad taken an oath to preserve the Union.rnBut he had taken no such oath; rather hernhad sworn to preserve the Constitution,rnand the Constitution did not in 1861,rnand does not now, prohibit the secessionrnof an American state. When it becamernpolitically expedient to do so, Lincoln issuedrnthe Emancipation Proclamation,rnl i e also enshrined in the minds of allrnAmericans the notion that what itrnmeans to be a good American is to ensurernthe survival of the Union at allrncost—one nation indivisible.rnLincoln lived in an age of unabashedrnempire building and of coercion of independentrnpolitical societies into consolidatedrnunions. What Bismarck was accomplishingrnin Germany with his policyrnof “blood and iron,” what Garibaldi wasrntrying to achieve in Italy, and what Leninrnwould later accomplish in Russia, Lincolnrnachieved in America through thernbloodiest war of the 19th century. Lincolnrndid not preserve an indivisiblernunion from destruction because he didrnnot inherit one; rather, like Bismarck andrnLenin, he created one.rnThanks to Lincoln, Wodd War I, thernGreat Depression, Wodd War II, and thernCold War, most Americans—whetherrnthey be Democrats, Republicans, or Independentsrn—are firmly ensconced inrnthe nationalist political camp. Whilernmany conservatives give lip service to Jeffersonrnand the dccentralist model of government,rnmost behave as world-classrncentralists. Liberals have never tried tornhide their affection for the nationalistrnapproach.rnIn his first Inaugural Address RonaldrnReagan flatly rejected the nationalistrn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn