Dr. Brian McClanahan continued his speech at the Alabama Division SCV Education Conference.
In 1861, the South left the Union which was recognized by those in 1788 as possible and permissible. In 1794, just six years after ratification some in Northern states considered secession.
The preamble to the Constitution actually doesn't have a lot of meaning even though it is the most well known part of the Constitution. "We the people of the several states" was the original verbiage and they even originally listed all the states but Rhode Island didn't attend so they didn't know which states would ultimately ratify the Constitution. So, they substituted, "We the people of the United States". The Constitution is a compact between states. The Constitution is for and not "of" the United States.
The Declaration of Independence states the thirteen united states of America. It is a Nationalist myth that we are a union of people when we are a union of states. All legislative powers shall be vested in the Congress, not with the President or the judicial branch. The states granted these powers to the central power (Congress). A granted power can be taken back by the sovereign powers and the ultimate withdrawal of of power is secession. There were some states including Virginia which had specific statements regarding the resumption of power in their ratification documents and they would not have ratified the Constitution otherwise.
When the Constitution was ratified the apportionment of representation in the U.S. House was 30,000 citizens to one representative. This was actually reduced from an original conceptualized ratio of 40,000:1. George Washington himself argued for the lower ratio as required for effective representation. Today we would have a 10,000 seat Congress with this same effective ratio of representation. Reapportionment was attempted up until the 1820s when the U.S. House was capped at 435 representatives. The state of Alabama interestingly has this very 30,000:1 representation ratio. The state sets districts and qualifications for their state per the Constitution.
Ratification of the Constitution was helped by the formation of the Senate which preserved relative power between each state. The states could abolish the entire federal court system save the Supreme Court which they could resize and reshape given their enumerated powers in the Constitution. Article 3 established the Supreme Court; Congress created all the rest.
The states granted the federal government control of commerce and defense originally and that was it. Article 1, Section 8 lists the powers of Congress. The general welfare clause often cited is of the states, not individuals and the powers of commerce and defense were to promote this general welfare. The EPA and Department of Education are not. The commerce clause was designed originally to ensure free trade without tariffs between states and somehow today it is used to pass Obamacare.
The original framework was of a Union which had general purposes of commerce and defense only. It was assured and sold to the states that the Executive would be no king with no legislative power who simply executes laws. This went awry in Washington's second term due to Alexander Hamilton's erroneous advisement. There rests no absolute power with the Executive branch. Even a veto can be overridden.