In The Union Essay, Research Paper
By the 1850 s the Constitution, originally framed as an instrument of national unity, had become a source of sectional discord and tension and ultimately contributed to the failure of the union it had created. It is true that the Constitution was seen as a source of conflict. This was felt by both the presidents, the leaders of the time, and common people. One reason why the Constitution brought all of that trouble was because of the difference of the interpretations of the Constitution between the north and the south. Many people and each president of the time period of 1850-1861 made direct statements about how and why the Constitution was the source of the problem.
The presidents had a lot to deal with. Conflict between the north and south was high, and there were other worries, like the panic of 1857 to worry about. President Davis, in his message to the Confederate Congress stated that the Constitution was unable to prevent the growth of a political school that was wrong in his opinion. This was a problem in the interpretation of the Constitution- the northerners were supportive of a federal government and the southerners favored state s rights. President Buchanan pointed out that the southern states were backed up by the Constitution were allowed to decide if they wanted to withdraw, or to keep slaves, because matters not in the Constitution were left up to them. The Constitution is the conflict here because it is again about the interpretation of the Constitution whether the states are allowed to decide if they could secede, because there was nothing saying that they could, but also nothing stating that they could not. President Lincoln s problem was like Buchanan s. The problem was that the south felt they could destroy the union, because it is within their so-called state rights . But Lincoln argues that no state has a right to destroy the Constitution or the union. Since this secession conflict affected not only the presidents, but everyone in the entire union as well, the more common people had an opinion about this.
A normal, ordinary citizen of Georgia brought up the point that the Constitution did not contain the issue of slavery and where it was allowed to exist. It contained nothing about deciding if territories or new states were free or enslaved, which lead to bitter arguments between the northerners and southerners. He points out that the south is even willing to compromise a little, and allows for popular sovereignty, but that the north won t even allow that in the new territories. He claims the equilibrium that holds the Constitution together is destroyed. William Lloyd Garrison argues that the words slaves and slavery do not exist in the Constitution, but yet the Constitution gives protection to the slave lobby. This was a major point of conflict because both the north and the south could justify themselves through this same interpretation, which is not a good thing. Ralph Waldo Emerson attacked the Constitution because it allowed for such a change in the law of slavery, which changed from it being illegal to enslave a man to illegal to not reenslave a man. It was a contradiction, which the Constitution allowed that lead to discord.
The Constitution did lead to discord and tension, and it was prolonged by the arguments of the opposing viewpoints, north and south, of how the Constitution should be interpreted. The north favored a loose interpretation, and the south had a more literal interpretation because it literally says matters not in the Constitution are a matter left up to the states, and slavery is not in there. The failure of the union that was created is a reference to the Civil War, which was inevitable with things going as they were.