Neil H. Cogan



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Edited by Neil H. Cogan, who is a well-versed legal scholar of constitutional law, civil rights, and civil and criminal procedures, this volume is a collection of papers on a central issue of governance in the United States; namely, what is the power of the States to object to and cancel Federal law with which they disagree. For eighty-one years, from the ratification of the Constitution to the end of the Civil War, this issue of State power was the central issue of governance. Chapters address the history and legal arguments for three assertions of such State power: interposition, nullification, and secession. Scholars approach the assertions from the perspective of the "original understanding" of the Union; the antebellum arguments against the assertion of Federal power and in favor of concerted action; and contemporary viewpoints. Although both interposition and nullification were disruptive to the concept of union, the act of secession was an almost fatal assertion of State power against the Union. Now, 150 years after South Carolina's secession from the Union, it is appropriate to reconsider the arguments made for interposition, nullification, and secession. Currently In several states, nullification measures are before the legislatures. During the recent Texas Gubernatorial campaign, secession was discussed by two of the major candidates. The Tea Party Movement is reflective of a broader movement to limit Federal intervention in State matters. The publication of this collection provides an intelligent voice to the national debate.



Publication Date

Fall 8-28-2013


University of Akron Press


Akron, Ohio


Law, Secession, States' Rights


Constitutional Law | Legal | United States History


Union and States’ Rights…delivers a rare treat for American historians: thoughtful considerations on the abstruse but important ideas of interposition, nullification, and secession by leading constitutional scholars. Any historian who would like to have a thoughtful answer for the perennial student questions relating to states’ rights and southern history—Was secession constitutional in 1861? Is nullification legal today? What did the Founders think of interposition? and so on—will do well to consult Union and States’ Rights. Every essay brings forth interesting observations, startling facts, and greater understanding of the three states’ rights ghosts that have haunted the Union since 1787.

From The Journal of Southern History, Volume LXXX1, No. 1, February 2015.

Union and States’ Rights: A History and Interpretation of Interposition, Nullification, and Secession 150 Years After Sumter



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