This comprehensive study traces the quest, from Britain’s Glorious Revolution to Canada’s current situation, for peaceable and lawful methods of transferring power. Written by an American lawyer, residing in Quebec Province, who served as an adviser on British constitutional law and history to the amicus curiae for Quebec in the Quebec secession case decided in 1998, the text emphasizes the constitutional questions raised by the American Civil War.
As the British Constitution evolved, a need was seen for a civilized method of implementing governmental change without and destructive bloody revolutions. Impressed by the smooth transition in which the British Crown passed from James II to William and Mary without armed conflict, America’s founders incorporated similar ideas into the United States Constitution, establishing a republican confederacy of free, sovereign and independent States. Yet when the Southern States of the American Union of free and independent States exercised their legal right to peacefully secede, America erupted into war.
John Remington Graham addresses several of the most troubling aspects of that conflict, including the role of the Hartford Convention, Southern abolitionists, the South Carolina nullification crisis, the Missouri Compromise, the Southern Confederacy, and the Reconstruction Acts.
Donald Livingston of Emory University makes clear in his forward, “We have been taught to think of state ‘interposition’, ‘nullification’, and ‘secession’ as renegade principles made up by Southerners to justify unworthy sectional interests. Graham makes clear that this is simply not true.”
Dr. Clyde Wilson, Professor Emeritus of the University of South Carolina states, “Had I the power, I would require every professor of history, political science, and law in America to read Graham’s work. Nowhere is there a more truer and more thorough treatment of the origins and nature of freedom and self-government.”