Goodhart on “States’ Rights”

Posted on December 5, 2010 by


Some readers might already be familiar with the story of the Loudoun Rangers… but, just in case… in short, they were Virginia’s only organized Union unit (though many a Virginian joined Union units from other states). Briscoe Goodhart was a member of Company A. In his History of the Independent Loudoun Virginia Rangers, Goodhart wrote the following in regard to some of Loudoun County’s citizens and their views on States’ Rights:

While neither the Quakers nor the Germans favored slavery, their interpretation of State rights was uncompromising allegiance to the Union of States and the flag of their country, purchased and made sacred by the blood of their Revolutionary sires, and, as a sequence, their descendants grew up to oppose secession with all their might and main. Out of the loins of this people grew the Loudoun Rangers.

The question of States’ Rights is the rock upon which so many misguided State crafts have stranded, and it is deemed important to states the position of the Rangers on this all-important subject in the beginning. They were believers in States’ Rights to the fullest acceptation of the term. They believed each State a part and parcel of the National compact that found a fuller and more permanent recognition of the United States of America as the supreme and governing power of this country, and it was the “State’s right,” and duty of the individual citizen, to render unfaltering allegiance to that power. They even went farther than this – they believed that when a State insisted on the right to secede from the National Government it is the duty of the parent government to proceed with due solemnity and take the rebellious State across the right knee and administer a spanking that would bring the adventurous and misguided member back to full recognition of the authority of the parent government.