PoP's Southern Thangs: Southern Opposition to the Constitution


Southern Opposition to the Constitution

The ratification of the Constitution was a difficult and contentious process, and the American South saw it primarily to the benefit of the North. Rawlins Lowndes declared in South Carolina’s 1788 convention that he was satisfied with the Articles of Confederation, [and] assailed the Constitution because it would lead to monarchy, that Northern majorities in Congress would cause injury to South Carolina’s interests. Mr. Lowndes was prescient.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

Southern Opposition to the Constitution:

“It is a little strange, but the textbooks in general American history and political science used in American colleges and universities do not say that ratification of the Constitution was opposed in the South on sectional as well as other grounds. This even though the historians of Virginia have pointed out time and time again that fears for Southern interests played a most important role in the convention of 1788 of that State.

Perhaps the narrators of the nation’s history, being often Northerners, are not acquainted with the chronicles of the Old Dominion. Perhaps they are not so familiar even with their Jefferson as they would have us believe, for Jefferson declared that the struggle over ratification was sharper in the South than elsewhere – because of the fact that Southerners believed the Constitution did not offer sufficient protection against Northern domination.

Perhaps they have relied too much upon the Federalist Papers, which refer only briefly, although pointedly, to Southern sectionalism, saying that failure to put the Constitution into effect would probably lead to the formation of a Southern confederacy.

George Mason, sending to Northern Anti-federalists arguments against the Constitution, carefully omitted his Southern dissatisfactions, which would hardly have given strength to the enemies above the Mason-Dixon line. In Virginia he was ardent, and in Virginia the great decision regarding the Constitution was made. The issue was long doubtful in the Old Dominion; and had Virginia said nay, North Carolina would have persisted in her negative vote.

It is hardly necessary to say that an American union without the two States could hardly have been formed, could hardly have endured.”

(The First South, John Richard Alden, LSU Press, 1961, pp. 99-100)


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The Southern American