What was the status of the several states at the outbreak of the Civil War? Were they sovereign and free or bound by an indissoluble union? Confederate veteran, John Richard Deering, thinks thusly about the issue.
August Glen-James, editor
That they had enslaved themselves when they ratified the Constitution, was not dreamed of . . .
Knowing that these States, thus “united,” were free and sovereign when they were still separate colonies, when they won their independence, when they adopted severally and separately the Constitution, our statesmen supposed that they were still as legally and morally free to go out, as they had been to come in; and that it lay in their own breasts to abide in, or depart from, the Union. That they had enslaved themselves when they ratified the Constitution, was not dreamed of; that they had made unconsciously a great governmental machine of higher power than they themselves possessed, would have been scouted as nonsense, since the creature cannot be greater than its creator! If the power to do doesn’t imply the power to undo, they believed it did. That the Federal Government, the servant of all, of only delegated powers, for specific purposes, had become the sole sovereign, with inherent rights, superior to those of the States that gave it being, would have seemed to them absurd and impossible!
--John Richard Deering, Lee and His Cause: The Why and How of the War Between the States.