What Jefferson Davis Would Tell Us Today (And Why It Matters)

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By Boyd Cathey on Oct 28, 2019

In ourturbulent times it is increasingly evident that our government is disconnectedto the citizens of the republic. Rather, what we behold is a zealous managerialclass, an elite buried deep in an aggressive bureaucracy which is, essentially,a “government within a government.” It is an unelected, self-perpetuatingoligarchy that offers the illusion of popular participation, and the chimericalmirage of two political parties which tussle back and forth, each claiming torepresent the wishes and views of the citizenry. Voting takes place, of course;and then one party or the other claims victory to implement its agenda. Yet, inWashington D.C. (and in many state capitals) the administrators who actuallyrun government and its agencies—those dour faces—remain the same, and verylittle changes at all.

In fact,for some time now as detailed by acute observers, including most notably thelate Dr. SamFrancis (and before him James Burnham), and more recently by authorssuch as ProfessorPaul Gottfried, the current American political system has beenlargely a charade, parading as a “democracy,” but in reality an insatiable andruthless oligarchic Behemoth…a caste system more severe, moreself-aggrandizing, and more domineering than anything traditional aristocraciesever envisaged or dreamed of.

Thetotally unexpected—and totally unplanned—election of Donald Trump in 2016unleashed an immense revulsion and violent push-back by this ManagerialState—by what we are now accustomed to call the Deep State and its agents andminions in both political parties, who saw that Trump in the White House mightin some manner, even in a small way, endanger their power and prerogatives. Itcould not stand, and thus we have witnessed since November 2016 a steadyattempt to reverse and nullify the results of 2016, and by any means availableexpel the “rabble rouser” from office. And return things back to normal.

The rootsof this situation go back some distance in our history. There have beenhistorical markers along the way—the enormous Federal seizures of power duringthe Great Depression and during the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and RichardNixon, or earlier, during the two terms of Woodrow Wilson. And the Federal courts have echoed andcanonized this growth by the managerial state by confirming its authority andreach in such judicial acts as the Supreme Court’s Everson decision(1947), which essentially perverted and abrogated the Framers’intent in the Bill of Rights on the relations between church and state.Subsequent seriousresearch has demonstrated just how ideological, ahistorical, andanti-constitutional that decision was. But the critical damage was done,inflicted, and chances for repairing it seem scarce to none.

Thenfollowed the Brown v.the Board of Education ruling of 1954, which was a major blow againstthe original understanding of the Constitution on the rights of the individualstates respecting education. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, in his volume The New Color Line: How Quotas and PrivilegesDestroy Democracy, has provided a detailed account of how this decision andothers similar to it and since it have all but destroyed what remained of theinherent and retained rights of the states—creators of the AmericanConstitution—as guaranteed to them by that Constitution.

Thesemore recent events, critical presidencies, and pivotal court actions, however,all lead back to the War Between the States and its outcome which set ourrepublic on the road to the Managerial State. For there is a direct, ifsometimes partially obscured line from the defeat of the Southern Confederacyin 1865 to the events swirling along the Potomac in our day. And it is something that all citizens of theAmerican republic should be deeply concerned about, not just traditionalSoutherners devoted to their heritage and traditions, or honoring theirancestors.

In a veryreal sense all Americans, if they aretruly exercised by what is happening to and what has happened in the countryshould proudly proclaim themselves “Copperheads,” for it was the arguments ofthe great Southern solons, writers, and authors during those crucial years thatindeed represented the Framers’ designs; they were pledged to defend them, evenat the cost of ending the precarious union once so hopefully erected by thosesame Framers.

In June 2014The Abbeville Review republished a remarkable essay which had beenoriginally published (posthumously) by President Jefferson Davis in thedistinguished journal, the NorthAmerican Review in 1890. The title of Davis’ long essay was “TheDoctrine of State’s Rights,” but it is far more than just a panegyric for thedefeated Confederate cause or a recapitulation of pro-Secessionist arguments.In it Davis, a veritable constitutional scholar of evident profundity and firstrank, examines in some detail both the founding and nature of the American system,just how the Constitution came to be, what the Framers explicitly intended, andwhy the concept of “states’ rights”—so reviled today as “racist” orreactionary—was in fact the view on which this country was founded.

JeffersonDavis is often pilloried and criticized in our time for his actions aspresident of the Confederacy, in particular for his military decisions. Much ofthis criticism is unfair. But in his profound understanding of the nature ofthe American confederation as the Framers devised it and of the doctrine ofstates’ rights, so essential to the successful and beneficial operation of thecountry, he was in many ways unparalleled and prescient.

As withauthors such as Robert Lewis Dabney, Davis’ writings demand our attention, forthey have much to say to us, much to teach us in an era when the demonic DeepState, unleashed upon the corpses of hundreds of thousands of young men on thebattlefield 158 years ago, threatens to completely overwhelm us.

About Boyd Cathey

Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations. More from Boyd Cathey