We the People . . . or
A follow up to Mark’s post regarding the oath and the ramifications for the question of what the United States was/is, and the discussion that followed.
There is an argument, advanced by contemporary Calhouns and Vallandinghams, that a state rights, limited federal power spirit animated the Founding Fathers when the U.S. Constitution was written in the 1780s and that the Constitution was written by and for a confederation of states, sort of like the UN, rather than a nation. (And in light of how well the UN works, I find it curious that anyone who cares about this country would want to have THAT as our way of doing business. But that’s a matter for perhaps another post.)
Yet, if this was the case, why did Founding Fathers of the Confederacy deem it necessary to modify the preamble of their Constitution, eschewing the “We the People of the United States” in favor of “We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character”? By doing this, where they not conceding a nationalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, that it was written by the people of the United States rather than the states? Otherwise, why would they have felt the modification was necessary? Moreover, by forsaking their Constitution and submitting to the authority of the U.S. Constitution after the superiority of a government that embraces centralized power run amok (their stated view) was demonstrated by the war, were not the people of the South de facto submitting to what by their own preamble they had declared a centralist Constitution?