The nine states that ratified the Constitution on June 21, 1788, created an entirely new government. This government was not patterned after the one established under the Articles of Confederation, which was created by the 13 states just seven years before. The Articles actually transferred very little power to the agent they called the “central,” or “general,” government and readily recognized that the attempt by 13 sovereign nations to act in unison was an untried experiment. For example, it was well understood that if these states were to defeat Great Britain in the Revolutionary War, it would take a unified effort of all 13 acting as one, as well as “a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence.”
The Revolutionary War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783. The states’ newly won independence was acknowledged when Great Britain, in the first paragraph of the Treaty, conceded that the former colonies were now not only what they claimed to be in the Declaration of Independence, “Free and Independent States,” but were now “Free, Sovereign and Independent States.”
When the war ended, relations between the states soon deteriorated. They exercised their sovereignty as individual nations by, for example, raising tariff barriers against each other’s imported goods. By 1786 relations between the states were so chaotic that it became obvious to many that if peace or stability were to be maintained, something must be done.
In fact, as early as 1782, Alexander Hamilton had asked his own state. New York, to adopt a resolution calling for a constitutional convention, but the other states would not support it. After Hamilton was elected to Congress in 1783, he campaigned for such a convention, but Congress would not listen. As W. Cleon Skousen relates in The Making of America, “When Washington discovered that some of his officers were planning to abandon the Articles of Confederation and set up a monarchy with Washington as ruler, he vehemently denounced the plot and sent a letter to every state in the Union pleading with them to call a convention as soon as possible. Nothing happened.”
On March 28, 1785, Washington invited his own state, Virginia, and Maryland, to send delegates to meet with him at his home at Mount Vernon. A compact was written and ratified by both states. A trade conference took place at Annapolis in September 1786, but delegates came from only five states. Nothing happened, but it was agreed that they should campaign for a constitutional convention.
On February 21, 1787, Congress sent an invitation to each of the states to send delegates to Philadelphia on May 14. Congress said the convention was “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.” Because of latecomers, the convention finally opened on May 25, 1787. Rhode Island refused to send delegates.
On September 17, the convention finished its work, and 39 of the remaining 42 delegates signed their approval of what would become an experiment with a new government by a confederation of nations, should the required number of states called for in the proposal, nine, actually ratify it. With the approval of the ninth state. New Hampshire, the old Union under the Articles of Confederation was dissolved and the nine states seceded from the remaining four. What has been known ever since as the Constitution of the United States not only formed our present government, but was the most subtle secession in the history of the world. So subtle, in fact, that few Americans, even yet, realize or comprehend the silent revolution which took place on June 21, 1787. Nor have contemporary states’ rights advocates discovered the power and authority by which Founders made the Constitution effective. The last paragraph of Article VII says: “The ratification of the conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this constitution between the States so ratifying the same.”
Because the Founders’ experiment with a new government had lasted such a short time under the Articles of Confederation, in spite of the fact that those Articles had declared in four places that the 13 states were a “union in perpetuity,” no mention of perpetual union was made in the Constitution. The Founders realized the foolishness of their first mistake and refused to repeat it. And even if they had declared the present Constitution as binding us in a perpetual union, they knew that one generation cannot bind the next to its laws and constitution.
Virginia, which came into the new union only four days after New Hampshire, was not about to take any chances on anybody claiming “perpetuity” of this newest and latest experiment in government. She reserved the right to secede in her written ratification of the Constitution. So did the 11th state. New York, and the 13th, Rhode Island, as they followed Virginia’s lead. Rhode Island did not bother to join the new experiment in government for almost two years, well over a year after George Washington became President, and then only by a 32-30 vote of her delegates. Rhode Island, in other words, remained outside the new Union under the Constitution and operated as an independent nation.
The above sketch of history is crucial to understanding the right of states to form a second confederacy in violation of the requirement of the first compact. The Articles of Confederation could be amended only by unanimous consent, and they also required that the union of the former colonies be perpetual. Not only did the present Constitution violate these two requirements, but it delegitimized any future claim, such as President Lincoln’s during the Civil War, to the perpetuity of the union.
The single rule that made the proposed Constitution effective, to bring it to life and make it binding on the ratifying states, was its last paragraph. Article VII. It simply said that if, or when, nine states adopted the proposal, those nine would have formed a new government, regardless whether the remaining four states in their current union ever joined.
It is this article that can give states’ rightists the best chance of reestablishing the Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land and eliminating the innumerable bad treaties and entangling alliances and agreements with other nations. In one fell swoop we could eliminate the unlawful and fraudulent 14th and 16th amendments and fix the flaw in the Constitution that gives Supreme Court Justices lifetime appointments.
Since the Civil War, or more correctly, the War Between the States, the federal government has become more and more abusive and tyrannical. All three branches of the federal government increasingly ignore the requirements of the Constitution. As our agents, elected officials and bureaucrats rule and regulate, hound and persecute, many of the people who elect them and pay their salaries. Federal agents are often soft on real criminals, even as they prosecute and jail law-abiding men. Such was the case in the prosecution and jailing of Randy Weaver, after federal agents murdered his wife and son. For this outrage, the federal government settled with him and his surviving children out of court for $3.1 million. And such was the case at Waco, where, after burning to death men, women, and children, our federal servants prosecuted and jailed the Branch Davidian survivors.
Our forefathers thought their taxes were unjustifiably high in 1776. They felt the heel of the tyrant upon them. In their worst nightmares, they never dreamed of surrendering to a central government the kind of power Washington currently wields. They would be shocked how we of “the noble birthright” now tolerate taxes many times higher than those under which they felt burdened. They would, without doubt, say to us as the great patriot Patrick Henry said to them: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
While many Americans have worked to keep freedom alive and to preserve the Constitution, most realize that nobody has come up with a plan which might have a chance of defeating the juggernaut of the rich and powerful men who control our country’s sovereignty. If there is a plan which, at this late and dark hour, has any possibility of saving the Constitution and our freedom, it is the same idea which our Fathers held in establishing the Constitution on June 21, 1788. That idea is to duplicate their simple and powerful proposal. Not with a constitutional convention, and not with a majority of the states. Just a single state willing to make the proposal to the rest of the states will do.
By duplicating and proposing Article VII, we will wake up the American people and their elected representatives to the fact that the states are, and always have been, in charge, if they simply choose to resist federal usurpations instead of playing the role of the pacifist and allowing their agent to assume undelegated powers.
Article VII reads: “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.” After making minor modifications to our Constitution of 1788, and eliminating the unlawful 14th and 16th amendments, I would suggest an amended Article VII to read: “The ratification of the conventions of 35 States, shall be sufficient for the establishment of the constitution between the States so ratifying the same.”
Twelve of the 13 states proposed the present Constitution. However, any number of states, even a single state, could have made the proposal. Because the Constitution was a mere proposal, not a declaration, even a private group, or even a single individual, such as George Washington, could have proposed it. However, the greater the perceived prestige or influence of those making the proposal, the greater the possibility of the proposal being seriously considered, at least in the beginning.
So today, if even a single state will propose an Article VII constitution, send it out to the legislatures of the other 49 states, and if the number of states as proposed in that state’s Article VII ratify the proposal, we will have formed ourselves a new government, essentially the same as we have now, and we will have rid ourselves of the entire federal establishment including Congress, the President, and all federal judges. Even if unable to convince a sufficient number of states to go along with the formation of a new government, a national debate among millions of Americans will follow, by a single state merely making the proposal. Even if there is not a second state which will go along with it, which is highly unlikely, the furious attack on the proposal by the rich and powerful in government and the media will be astounding. It will be a win-win situation.
For a modern constitution it seems wise to follow the precedent of the Founders in the percentage of states required to make ratification complete. Nine of 13 is 69.23 percent. The closest we can come to that same percentage with 50 states in the Union is 70 percent, which means our new Article VII would require ratification by 35 states. After two centuries of glorifying the work of the Founders in establishing the greatest document of freedom known to man, it will be difficult for detractors of a modern Article VII to argue with the number 35.
Some may wish to go with 38 states. Others might wish to go with a simple majority of 26. Even as few states as two could be specified in Article VII, and the retained sovereignty of each of the 50 states would lawfully allow those two states to form their own small confederation, though of course a lawful action is not necessarily a safe action. Two hundred years ago, nine of 13 assured safety. Thirty-five of 50 would assure safety today.