The Instigator
Con (against)
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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Is the USA truly "One nation, indivisible--" i.e. a national republic? Or did Lincoln Lie?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/21/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 10 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 533 times Debate No: 82906
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
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This isn't a question of opinion, but simple fact of history-- i.e. whether or not the Founders and People of of each American state, wanted their state to become--and remain-- a sovereign nation to itself, like Italy or France? Meanwhile the Constitution was similiar to the UN Charter, i.e. simply forming a voluntary federal association of sovereign nations.

Virtually all experts today agree that the states were separate, sovereign nations to themselves prior to ratifying the Constitution, which was likewise authorized by the People of each state, not a governing body; and so each state was a true democracy, where its People could overrule their government, being the supreme ruling power over their respective nation.

However individual Americans are also indoctrinated by government schools, that the USA is a national republic, by the Pledge of Allegiance; and this causes them tobelieve that the Constitution made the states INTO a single nation, whereby each state deliberately GAVE UP its status as a separate nation, to merge into a SINGLE nation, called "The United States of America," rather than simply forming a voluntary federal republic OF sovereign nations, where states only held certain "rights" that the federal government was upposed to respect-- but which the individual states had no means to enforce, other than violent revolution, like "the American Civil War."

However this notion is absolutely false, for several reasons:

1. To begin with, sovereign nations not not automatically lose their status simply by failing to expressly retain it; that's a "conqueror's Dream" i.e. it would allow any other nation to claim that another nation gave up its sovereignty, and then proceed to "settle it in war". Clearly, this would preclude all national soveregnty as a matter of law, but reduce all national sovereignty to a question of simple brute force and a global "popularity contest." And that is clearly not the case. National sovereignty is absolutel

2. Accordingly, a sovereign nation can only surrender its sovereignty, by expressly stating its INTENTION to do so. This is exemplified in the 1707 "Treaty of Union" between the kingdoms of England and Scotland, which became estranged by accident, and sought to re-unite. This was EXPRESSLY STATED to be a merget between the two kingdoms, as shown here:

"That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England shall upon the first day of May next ensuing the date hereof and forever after be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain And that the Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint and the Crosses of St Andrew and St George be conjoined in such manner as Her Majesty shall think fit and used in all Flags Banners Standards and Ensigns both at Sea and Land."

As shown, the two soveregn nations EXPRESSLY declared their INTENTION to merge into the one single sovereign nation of Great Britain.

In contrast, the Constitution NEVER expressly merged the 13 American sovereign nations, into a single nation called "The United States of America. On the contrary, they were promised expressly in Federalist No. 39 that this would NOT happen:

"Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a federal, and not a national constitution."

So it's clear that the People of each state expressly intended NOT to form their states into a single sovereign nation, but that each state would remain a sovereign nation o ITSELF, ruled by its People. Meanwhile the "more perfect union" would be 100% VOLUTNARY among the People of each state; and they simply ordered that only state OFFICIALS were bound by the Constitution.

However since Americans were forced from childhood to Pledge Allegiance to the US Flag, and to "the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible," then they tend to see "proof" everywhere they look. They are also taught that the war against the SECEDING states was a "civil" war, so they believe that as well.
But as a result of this, there is no more democracy: i.e. the People cannot consent to their government, since they cannot REFUSE it; the voting-process does not allow for this, but only extremely limited effet-- and limited consent, is NO consent.

As a result: while the People of each state were originally able to overrule their government to establish a NEW government via the Constitution, this government now tells us that we can never do so AGAIN-- i.e. that THEY are the master now, and WE the servant.

And yet the government tells us that we are "free," but we do not consent it it.
This is an Orwellian nightmare in which we have been trapped for 150 years by falsehoods regarding history and logic.

FACT: The USA is NOT "one nation, indivisible," or a national republic; rather, each STATE is a sovereign nation, which is a DEMOCRACY; and the USA is simply a FEDERAL republic, like the UN.

That is the only way that the People can consent to their government-- not jumping through hoops regarding election-campaigns.

Americans must wake up to these facts, if they EVER want to be free. If they People do not consent to their government-- i.e. having the power to REFUSE it-- then they are its PROPERTY; either the People rule their government, or the government rules the People; there cannot be more than one final authority. That's just a mind-game that the federal government plays with its fake history-- claiming that "Lincoln preserved the Union and freed the slaves;" in reality he enslaved EVERYBODY.

There is no such thing as benevolent dictatorship.

Each state is a sovereign nation, and the People of each state are the ruling sovereigns. PERIOD.
This is a very challenging concept for most pople, and they'll reject it at first, knee-jerk style, since they've been brainwashed to believe the government's falsehoods.
But it's a FACT: a fact so plainly obvious, that the government schools have dedicated themselves to lying to the public from childhood through adulthood, just to make them think that they are free, and will continue to serve the "nation" WITHOUT question.
There is also no way to ENFORCE the Constitution, without state national sovereignty, since the majority will simply pass the laws and stack the courts; and then, like Lincoln, the federal government will simply say that it DOESN'T violate the Constitution; and that will be the LAW: i.e it would be entirely subjective, since no state has any recourse against the majority.
But again, as Jefferson wrote in The Kentucky Resolutions:
"Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes " delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress."

And as Madison concurred in The Virginia Report:
"The other position involved in this branch of the resolution, namely, "that the states are parties to the Constitution," or compact, is, in the judgment of the committee, equally free from objection. It is indeed true that the term "states" is sometimes used in a vague sense, and sometimes in different senses, according to the subject to which it is applied. Thus it sometimes means the separate sections of territory occupied by the political societies within each; sometimes the particular governments established by those societies; sometimes those societies as organized into those particular governments; and lastly, it means the people composing those political societies, in their highest sovereign capacity. Although it might be wished that the perfection of language admitted less diversity in the signification of the same words, yet little inconvenience is produced by it, where the true sense can be collected with certainty from the different applications. In the present instance, whatever different construction of the term "states," in the resolution, may have been entertained, all will at least concur in that last mentioned; because in that sense the Constitution was submitted to the "states;" in that sense the "states" ratified it; and in that sense of the term "states," they are consequently parties to the compact from which the powers of the federal government result."
" The states, then, being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity that there can be no tribunal, above their authority, to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and consequently, that, as the parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition."

Here, the same Peoples of each state who RATIFIED the Constitution AS the supreme rulers of their respective state, must therefore REMAIN the supreme rulers of their respective individual state, by fact and logic.

NOT GOVERNMENT-- that's just our SERVANT, not master.


As I listen to the “Hamilton” soundtrack, I am inspired to accept this debate in honor of one of the most vehement defenders of a strong national government. The Founding Fathers were not a monolithic intellectual entity with a clear unified vision for the government they were building. As represented by the Cabinet battles in the aforementioned musical, there were deep and longstanding divisions amongst the architects of the American government concerning the roles of the federal and state governments.

In Federalist #9 Hamilton describes the federalist system:

The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power.”

History has long since resolved the Founding Father's disputes; the states are bound together as indivisible pieces of a single sovereign state.

The Resolution

My opponent articulates a number of loosely related ideas concerning state rights, but the fundamental proposition of this debate has been put forward as:

“The U.S. is one nation, indivisible”

This is further clarified by Con as the claim that:

the Constitution made the states INTO a single nation, whereby each state deliberately GAVE UP its status as a separate nation, to merge into a SINGLE nation”

The burden of proof in this debate is shared, as both sides are presenting a case that claims to best account for the legal and political history of the United States.

Thus, to win this debate I must prove that on balance the Resolution is more likely true than false.


Central to this debate is the question of whether the States retained national sovereignty after ratifying the Constitution.

The question here is not whether states retained a capacity for self governance, but whether the states retained “national sovereignty” in the sense of a modern Westphalian state. This captured by Con’s claim that states are “a sovereign nation to itself, like Italy or France…”

I posit the following criteria for sovereignty. If Con disagrees with my criteria he should propose his own competing criteria.

i) Legal supremacy over a given territory

ii) Legal equality with other sovereign states

iv) Right of non-intervention of internal affairs

If the individual states fail to meet any of these criteria, they are not sovereign states.

1. States are not sovereign in the Status Quo

Regardless of the desire of states at the time of Constitutional ratification, the facts of today are that states are not sovereign.

There may have been legal ambiguity in the early 1800’s, but this ambiguity has long since been resolved by the state and federal courts and legislatures.

Con may believes this to be just or unjust, but these are facts which clearly show that states do not exercise sovereignty.

2. Constitutional Powers

The Constitution explicitly gives the federal government authority to regulate interstate commerce. This demonstrates that the federal government exercises legal supremacy over the territory of the US.

The Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, declare war, and establish treaties with foreign governments. The Constitution PROHIBITS state governments from these international relations. This demonstrates that the federal government has legal equality with foreign sovereign states with state governments do not.

The prohibition of states from creating import duties, keeping troops, etc. without the consent of the federal government indicates that states do NOT have the right of non-intervention. The internal affairs of states are subject to the approval of an external power-the federal government.

Finally the Constitutional prohibition of states keeping troops or entering war precludes their ability to violently secede under the auspices of the law.

3. The Confederation Counterfactual

History demonstrates that the Constitution was not written to preserve the sovereignty of the states.

The Constitution was drafted to replace the Articles of Confederation, which explicitly did preserve the sovereignty of the states as follows:

Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled."

The Founding Fathers did NOT include a clause establishing the sovereignty of states. Instead, the tenth amendment was drafted:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Is it Con’s position that the Founding Fathers simply forgot to include this sovereignty clause in the Constitution? The Constitution establishes a delineation of power between state and federal government, but does not preserve sovereignty of states.

4. Madison denied state sovereignty!

Con cites the Virginia Report as evidence that states believe themselves to be sovereign. We must note that a) the document was written a decade after the adoption of the Constitution and b) is not a legally binding document but merely one among many piece of political theory authored by the Founding Fathers and c) the Report was expressly rejected by three other states. The Report reflects the disagreement over federal powers that was widespread during the first century of the US. Today the issue is settled; the states are subordinate to the federal government.

Con misconstrues Madison’s position in the same way state nullifiers did in 1830. Writing during the Nullification Crisis, Madison attacked nullifiers that cited the Virginia Resolution. Madison did not believe that the Report supported the claim that individual states were sovereign. Madison’s position is subtle- he believed that the power of the Constitution is derived from the people and the states, but that so long as the states remained bound by the Constitution they were subordinate to the law of the federal government. I quote Madison:

...the presumption of such a forbearance in each of the States, or such a pliability in all, among 20 or 30 independent sovereignties, must be regarded as a mockery by those who reflect for a moment on the human character, or consult the lessons of experience, ... In a word, the nullifying claims if reduced to practice, instead of being the conservative principle of the Constitution, would necessarily, and it may be said obviously, be a deadly poison.”

The document I have linked is Madison’s detailed criticism of exactly the reductionist account of state sovereignty that Con espouses. Madison disparages the view that the Constitution is akin to an international treaty, a view Con articulates by comparing the US to the countries assembled under the umbrella of the UN. Con attempts to use Madison’s words against the federal government as the Nullifiers did- fortunately we also have Madison’s words to refute this misconstrual.

Con also misrepresents Madison’s Federalist 39, cherry-picking a quote so that it appears that Madison is arguing against a national government. In reality Madison argues that the Constitution is both national and federal. Madison concludes the paper:

“The proposed Constitution, therefore is... neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both.”

Federalist 39 explicitly argues that the Constitution creates a country of a nationally republican character, supporting the Resolution of this debate.

To my eye it appears the Con is either very lazy in his research or is deliberately misrepresenting source material. Madison does not at all argue that the states will remain autonomous components of a federation, he argues that the Constitution is a hybrid national and federal system due to the unique division of federal and state powers. But in affirming the national character of the Constituion, Madison affirms that the states are parts of a larger sovereign state:

5. Express Declaration of Sovereignty

Con argues a nation must expressly give up sovereignty:

  1. The Constitution deprives the states of the powers of sovereignty thus ratification was an express intention to relinquish sovereignty.

  2. The omission of a sovereignty clause from the Constitution indicates an expressed break with the previous Confederate government.

  3. Many states have lost sovereignty without expressly stating their intent. History is littered with states that no longer exist- does Con believe that the Kingdom of Bohemia still exercises sovereignty over Prague? The right of sovereignty shifts over a myriad of mechanisms including war, dissolution of state, secession and simple failure to maintain the rule of law.

  4. Con claims that a country failing to assert sovereignty does not indicates a loss of sovereignty - This is absurd. If Canada started taxing Alaska, drilling for oil, and expelling US citizens and the US remained silent- in what sense would the US retain sovereignty over Alaska?

6. Power, Force and Consensus - A Digression:

Con fails to differentiate between the normative and the positive (factual).

As a matter of fact, sovereignty is decided by brute force and international consensus. Regardless of whether this seems just or unfair, this is reality. The Ottoman Empire is no longer a sovereign nation, not because they articulated their intent to dissolve their sovereignty but because they were defeated in war.

There is a factual question:

Is a state sovereign?

And a normative question:

Should a state be sovereign?

The Resolution asks the factual question of whether the states are sovereign entities or subordinate entities to a sovereign federal state. The answer to this question, considering the legal tradition of the US and the current power relation of the states clearly indicates that the Resolution is affirmed.

Debate Round No. 1


sarah.goodwich forfeited this round.


As my opponent has forfeited this debate, I will not bore the judges with any further elaboration as to why Pro succeeds in upholding the Resolution.

There is no legal basis in centuries of US law for Con's claims, every aspect of our legal system demonstrates the truth of the Resolution. The Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution to replace a disfunctional Confederacy, to mend a broken system of sovereign states into a single sovereign federal government. This system was novel in that it delineated powers between the federal and state governments, but the fundamental powers of state- the ability to make war, to have the final say in the courts, to mint coin- all were ceded by the individual states to the newly created United States government.

IT thus stands that the USA is truly "One nation, indivisible."
Debate Round No. 2


sarah.goodwich forfeited this round.


Con has conceded, please vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 3


sarah.goodwich forfeited this round.


Opponent has conceded. Vote pro.
Debate Round No. 4


sarah.goodwich forfeited this round.


The united states is one nation, indivisible, a national republic saved by the candor and strength of Lincoln.

Vote Pro.

Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by JohnCCalhoun 11 months ago
Go Sarah! Mop the floor with this Lincoln cultist!
Posted by James.Madison 11 months ago
I'm calling it, the Con-side won!
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