A reader posted a comment in my previous post that deserves a thoughtful reply. In his comment, he pointed out that I am actually making the case that the North was and remains in the wrong for its aggression against the South in the War of Northern Aggression (i.e. Civil War). He is correct: the North initiated force, therefore, according to the principles of Natural Law, the North was in the wrong. And since the War of Norther Aggression nullified the Constitution (at least in spirit), the North remains in the wrong today. However, if the South were to suddenly take up arms against the North, it would then be in the wrong, as well. This is because the South would be violating the principle of self-defense and that is lawlessness. However, if the South were to first secede — an action that is permitted by both the Constitution and Natural Law — and the North again initiated force against the South, then the South would be justified in defending itself — because it would be acting in accord with the Natural Right of self-defense.
Now, I understand that there are many who take issue with my position about the initiation of force. More than one reader tried to tell me I was wrong in the comments of my last post. But I would ask them to study the founders a lot more closely. Our founders never acted lawlessly. They clung to the law every step of the way because they knew they had to if they were to hold the moral high ground. And although the Crown claimed the Colonists were in rebellion to the law — as with the federal government today — it was the Crown and Parliament who were acting lawlessly. the Colonies were created by Charter with the King, which meant Parliament had no authority over and no place seeking authority over the Colonies. The Charters were contracts between the Colonies and the King, and as such, they granted both sides certain rights. The King repeatedly violated the terms of these Charters, placing him in the wrong. But even when the British dissolved the Colonial governments, the Colonies continued to do everything they could to seek redress of the wrongs done to them by using the law! And when they were finally pushed to declare independence, how did they do it? By first forming State governments which then authorized delegates to act on their behalf in the drafting of eventually became the Declaration of Independence.
Now, let’s look at another aspect of how our founders dealt with an oppressive government. The Boston Tea Party was lawless in that it destroyed property, but it did not attack the British with force of arms. The Boston Massacre was the result of another act of civil disobedience, only, this time, the British killed several Colonists. There were many such incidences where the British killed or executed individuals, but the founders did not use these events as an excuse to act in a lawless manner and retaliate. They understood the difference between vigilante actions and true justice. It is why, when all other recourse had been exhausted, the appealed their case to the Highest Court in the universe:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Notice what the founders did and how they did it. Even though they no longer had access to British courts, they were still seeking a legal redress, so they appealed to the Highest Court known to man — the Creator. And even then, they first formed legitimate governments so they could legally act in the name of the people.
Now look at how this played out leading up to the Revolution. When the British murdered Colonists in Boston or executed them in other cities, the Colonists did not respond with war. This is because, even though they are wrong and lawless, acts against an individual do not legally justify war between nations. However, when the British fired on the militia, a duly authorized representative of that State, then the Colonists did respond with force — because now they were legally authorized to defend themselves as a community or State. they were an organized body acting under the direction of a legitimate representative authority.
So, taking this to America today: if individuals take it upon themselves to attack the government, then they act lawlessly. We still have legitimate governing bodies to fall back on before we devolve into Anarchy. I concede that the States are no longer bound to obey the Federal government. It has violated its part of the Social Contract known as the Constitution. But the Constitution is between the Federal and State governments, not the American People in general. So long as the States retain authority over their land and people, then the people are bound to obey the States. If the people were to attack the Federal government without the authorization of their State, they would be acting lawlessly — period! And lawlessness is never justified.
This is why we must do everything we can to keep individuals from taking things into their own hands. If this happens, then the Federal government can claim authority to put down the rebellion in that State or States — and it will. When this happens, man will lose his last grip on liberty forever. Instead, do everything you can to put pressure on your State government, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Explain this to them: make sure they understand why they must seek redress in this way. Make sure you tell everyone you know that we must cling to the law because — eventually — we may have to appeal to the Supreme Judge of this world. If that time comes, and we are not in line with His Natural Law, then — as Perfect Justice — we will not be happy with His verdict. You see, God is on no one’s side but His own. It is up to us to get on His side, and that means we must remain lawful.