This treatise was the first comprehensive study of the United States Constitution, and one of the most important. Originally published: Philadelphia: Philip H. Nicklin, 1829. viii, 349 pp. Though concise, Rawle provides a systematic analysis of the Constitution's articles, as well as its historical background and philosophy. It is also a historically significant work because it suggests that states have a right to secede from the Union. A popular textbook used in schools with large numbers of southern pupils, such as the U.S. Military Academy, it and is generally considered to have influenced the leaders and supporters of the Confederacy).
"Though admittedly a valuable and able study, Rawle's View of the Constitution stirred up controversy. Rawle himself was a Federalist, but his studies in government had led him to the judgment that the Union was not irrevocable. His final chapter on "The Union" includes a detailed statement that the right of secession was necessary to the fundamental right of a people to choose their own form of government. (. . .) In several ways, Rawle may be considered as providing the transitional step between the North and the South. His View was published midway between the inauguration of the Federal Government and the outbreak of the War Between the States." --Elizabeth Kelley Bauer, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1790-1860 63).
WILLIAM RAWLE [1759-1836] was a pillar of Pennsylvania's legal establishment and a highly regarded attorney and educator. In 1791 President George Washington appointed him the U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania. In 1830 Rawle helped revise the civil code of Pennsylvania.
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