The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 13
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Texas v. White
3. The Contract Theory and Secession
Returning from this search for the location of sovereignty in
the American Union, which has led the discussion somewhat far
afield, attention must now be directed to the conclusions of the
court as to the character and status of Texas before and after the
attempt at secession. The court argued that the union of Texas
with the United States was something more than a compact. It
was the irrevocable incorporation of "a new member into the politi-
cal body. And it was final." When Texas accepted the terms of
annexation, a union was formed in which there "was no place for
reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or the
consent of the States." There was in this last sentence a curious
inconsistency of reasoning which destroyed the logical finality of
the conclusions which Chief Justice Chase had drawn from the
preambles of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution
respecting the perpetuity and indissolubility of the Union. There
was after all a way by which this Union could be broken up:
through consent of the States.
The idea that the States, in 1787, consciously and deliberately
made a contract with each other, that this contract is irrevocable
and binding on the parties entering into it, and that, to be ab-
rogated, it must have the consent of all the contracting parties, is
here adopted. This conception of the Union found its earliest
and ablest exponent in Madison, who claimed that it was the
philosophical basis upon which he framed the famous Virginia
Resolutions. There the doctrine is set forth that the Union is a
compact to which the States severally were parties.13 The politi-
18The following extract from the Virginia resolutions is pertinent: "That
this assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare that it views the
powers of the Federal Government, as resulting from the compact to which
the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the
instrument constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are
authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case
of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not
granted by the said compact, the States, who are parties thereto, have the
iight, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of
the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authori-
ties, rights, liberties, appertaining to them." See MacDonald's Select Doc-
uments. Illustrative of the History of the United States, 1776-1861,
p. 156. The Kentucky Resolutions are much stronger in their sentiment
for the rights of the States to interfere, and there is even the word
"nullify"; but Madison stated that Jefferson had the same idea when he
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916, periodical, 1916; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101067/m1/21/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.