To war! To war!

Let the bugles cry out! Let the people once again kill each other! Onward, Christian soldiers, marching on to war. Let the men in frock coats write another constitution, a good one, Sir, for the Confederate States of America.

The newly written constitution of the Confederate States of America was good, indeed. In its very preamble it invoked the "favor" of God Almighty for the bloodshed and killing that was already taking place in order that what their ministers of the gospel called the divinely ordained institution of human slavery should not perish from this Earth. They also asked God for "guidance"—but they were careful to omit the General Welfare clause of the United States Constitution.

I do not say this to cast reflection on the men of the South. They were personally as good, or bad, as the men of the North. But they were writing with a dead hand, trying to perpetuate a system itself long dead. It was dead because it served the interests of but one-sixth of the white population of the South—the one-sixth that owned plantations and slaves. For the rest of the American people—for the other five-sixths of the Southern whites (with a living standard as low as, or lower than, that of the slaves); for the slaves themselves; and for the millions of Northern workers, farmers and merchants—the slave system spelled hopeless poverty. The Confederate Constitution was written not only in the name of God, but in the name of Liberty. Liberty for whom? Liberty for the slaveowners. And (Tragedy of Tragedies!) they got the illiterate bedeviled "poor whites" of the South to fight for them—for somebody else's liberty and somebody else's slavery.

The newspapers of the day contained demands by the slaveowners that the federal government "let them alone," precisely the demands of great personless industrial corporations today. The demands were, of course, couched in pious language, in the language of liberty, just as they are today.

States' Rights! was the battle-cry. It is still a grand-sounding one, but it meant (and means) that each state was a convenient division for those in power to exploit the people—poor white, or slave black—as they pleased. Hence the plea, States' Rights—not General Welfare.

The Southern leaders had always opposed "internal improvements"—government improvements, that is. Six presidents, five of them Southerners, but all six Democrats, vetoed bills for internal improvements. They were Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Tyler, Polk, and Pierce. The general opinion of the Southern Democrats was that any internal improvements were unconstitutional—they spoke of "concentration of power"—usually "dreadful"—the "destruction of liberty" and the "utter" destruction of state "sovereignty."

This talk of unconstitutionality in relation to internal improvements, however, had back of it the same real reason for the later adoption of the Confederate Constitution—a desire to preserve forever the South's agrarian character, keep intact the big estates, keep down the poor whites, hold the slaves in subjection, and prevent the spread of free industry and commerce.

Humorously or grimly enough, the South had the blessing of the Supreme Court of the United States in what the Court had ordered to be the Law of the Land—that is, slavery forever and its extension, whether the representatives of the people wanted to compromise the question or not. The Supreme Court forbade compromise, blessed slavery; and the South fought to uphold the Court and the Constitution. The political philosophy of the Confederate Constitution was simply that of the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, the Southern leaders felt, in many respects rightly, that they were not in rebellion. Since nearly all the states of the North and a majority of the people of the North had called for disobedience to the sacred-slavery-forever decision of the Supreme Court, the North and the West were the Rebels.

The Southern leaders maintained that their constitution was the real, true United States Constitution, which they were following and the North was violating. So the Confederates wrote theirs side by side with that of the United States, formally the same. But in the very first few words, the meaning was as different as life and death.

The United States was created to form a more perfect union of the people; the Confederacy to form a federated government of slave states, each acting in its wholly separate and independent character. The United States Constitution created a government of the people; the Confederate, a loose league which had no sovereignty, each state having the sovereignty and each being in effect a nation.

Of great importance is the fact that no provision was made in the Confederate for the general welfare (on which I have already commented), either in the preamble or Article I, Section 8. This section made the Confederacy in effect a mere military alliance, and (by provisions in other clauses) a very weak one. Specifically, it provided revenue for debts; no money to be spent for the benefit of the people; no bounties; no tariff; no internal improvements. Appropriations were made technically difficult.

Men frame and interpret constitutions (in the name of liberty) to preserve and protect their economic interests. The big plantation-owner considered the Constitution the guardian of King Cotton and slave labor. The big industrialist today considers it the guardian of unrestricted monopoly, and "free" labor. The interested parties, whether Plantation-Owner or Plant-Owner, have always fought for their interests—by Plantation Patrols or Plant Police, when "necessary."

A true living constitution springs from a harmony of land and people and water—from some fair distribution of the land, whether in the actual form of land or of jobs. Free men under a living constitution must have something to say about how long they work, how much they work for and under what conditions. They must have a government which protects these rights against any attempted infringement by private police. Thus, and thus only, do the people win security, dignity, and happiness.

A recent resurrection of Confederate political philosophy is the Supreme Court decision declaring the Agricultural Adjustment Act unconstitutional. Here Mr. Justice Roberts rewrote the American Constitution, and almost in so many words substituted the Confederate Constitution.

In polite phrases he virtually struck the general welfare out of the Constitution. He also wrote the "no-bounties" of the Confederate Constitution into ours by saying he didn't think the farmers were entitled to benefits or subsidies. Because Mr. Roberts did not like the law enacted by Congress, he said it was unconstitutional.

The theme, the basic idea of Justice Roberts' decision, was "states' rights," embodied in the preamble of the Confederate Constitution, but not the United States Constitution. The slaveowner claimed slavery was merely a local, or state matter; in the AAA opinion Mr. Roberts said farming was a local matter. What Mr. Roberts really did was to attempt to deny men the right to govern themselves, as Mr. Justice Taney did in the Dred Scott Case.

In so doing, he ignored natural geography as well as the national character of our economy—facts which were recognized even at the beginning of our republic. George Washington said in his first annual address to Congress, "The advancement of agriculture, commerce and manufactures by all proper means will not, I trust, need recommendation."

In spite of what George Washington took for granted 150 years ago, Mr. Justice Roberts still thinks that farming—in which a major problem is land washing from one state to another, over the face of the nation—is a mere local matter. And though the separate states cannot possibly contest such interstate forces, Justice Roberts commands them to do so. In all of this, Mr. Justice Roberts is following the philosophy of the Southern Confederacy to a T.

Of course, these comparisons are getting ahead of the story. I merely wanted to show how Mr. Justice Roberts slipped the Confederate Constitution over on us and, himself a Northerner, reversed the Civil War.

But let us get back to the Civil War itself. There are bugle calls, the sound of artillery, and the clatter of men's equipment. It is the second Battle of Bull Run, in Virginia, and the men's equipment that one hears rattling is that of the Northern troops, fleeing headlong into Washington, with the troops of the Confederate States of America relentlessly pursuing them.