Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/496
486 Southern Historical Society Papers.
in New York the following winter. The great aim of the work was to show that Davis and the other Confederate leaders were not traitors, and could not be lawfully punished as such. The author in his introductory statement styled his work " Advance Chapters, to declare and show that no gibbet can be erected for Davis and Lee and the other Confederate Chiefs, except on ground that is composed solely of falsehood and fraud y
In 1866, Professor Bledsoe published his work entitled: "Is Davis a Traitor," making substantially the same argument, and presenting, in a large measure, the same authorities.
Judge Charles E. Fenner, in an admirable discourse delivered at the unveiling of the Lee statue in New Orleans on the 22d of Feb- ruary, 1884, credits Professor Bledsoe's work with being the first to explain why the phrase, " We, the people of the United States," in- stead of "We, the people of the States," became the phrase of the Constitution.
To correct this error, which is based on a seeming claim of Pro- fessor B. himself, and at the same time to refute the base and baseless heresy that ours is a National instead of a Federal polity, I beg leave to quote the following passage from the aforesaid work of Mr. Centz, pp. 65, 68 :
"a few conclusive historical facts.
- ' But this is not, and it never was, a case of doubt or ambiguity requiring
hermeneutics. The facts are so plain and decisive against these advocates, that, as is evident, they have labored to evade or suppress them. They knew that the phrase, 'the people,' so far as political action of the highest nature was concerned, must have meant the people of the then existent political or- ganizations, and not a mass or nation with unified power and modes of acting, because the same people that they would fain consider as a nation, was just then, and was always, divided into thirteen most distinct political bodies, which were acknowledged by Great Britain to be respectively sove- reign, and were at the moment of final action on the Federal Constitution, described as follows : ' Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and inde- pendence.' Hence, 'We, the people of the United States' meant, we, the people of the States that are united.
" Now we are prepared for the historical fact well known to but not men- tioned by Dane, Story and Webster, viz: that the preamble, unanimously adopted by the Federal Convention for the proposed Constitution, was as follows : ' We the people of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Dela- ware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, do ordain, declare, and establish the following Constitution for the govern- ment of ourselves and our posterity: Article I. The style of the government