Mandeville, LA – [Editor’s note: This passage from Bledsoe was never answered by any Republican at the time, indeed, remains unanswered. Bledsoe’s assertion is that the States formed the Federal government BY their accession and if this formation required their “accession” then the Union can be unmade by withdrawing that consent.] In like manner Gouverneur Randolph, who was also a member of the Convention of 1787, and who had just reported the form of ratification to be used by the State of Virginia, said, “That the accession of eight States reduced our deliberations to the single question of Union or no Union.” “If it (the Constitution,”) says Patrick Henry, “be amended, every State will accede to it.” “Does she (Virginia) gain anything from her central position,” asks Mr. Grayson, “by acceding to that paper,” the Constitution? “I came hither,” says Mr. Lines, “under the persuasion that the felicity of our country required that we should accede to this system,” (the new Constitution.) “Our new Constitution,” says Franklin, who next to Washington was the most illustrious member of the Convention of 1787, “is now established with eleven States, and the accession of a twelfth is soon expected.” And, finally, George Washington himself, who, watching the States as one after another adopted the new Constitution, says:— “If these, with the States eastward and northward of us, should accede to the Federal Government,” &c. Thus, while the transaction was passing before their eyes, the fathers of the Constitution of the United States, with the great father of his country at their head, described the act by which the new Union was formed as “the accession of the States;” using the very expression which, in the resolution of Mr. Calhoun, is so vehemently condemned as “unconstitutional language,” as “a new word,” invented by the advocates of secession for the vile purpose of disunion.
To these high authorities, may be added that of Chief Justice Marshall; who, in his Life of Washington, notes the fact, that “North Carolina accedes to the Union.” This was many months after the new Government had gone into operation. Mr. Justice Story, is, in spite of his artificial theory of Constitution, a witness to the same fact. “The Constitution,” says he, “has been ratified by all the States;” “Rhode Island did not accede to it, until more than a year after it had been in operation;” just as if he had completely forgotten his own theory of the Constitution.
If it were necessary, this list of authorities for the use of the word in question, and for the precise application made of it by Mr. Calhoun, might be greatly extended. But surely we have seen enough to show how very ill-informed was “the great expounder” with respect to the language of the fathers. Not only John C. Calhoun, but Washington, Franklin, Wilson, King, Morris, Randolph, Madison, and all the celebrated names of the great Convention of 1787, came under the denunciation of this modern “expounder of the Constitution.” – Albert Taylor Bledsoe, Is Davis A Traitor-Was There A Constitutional Right To Secession Previous To The War of 1861