“I’m tired of states’ rights”

“The thought had occurred to him on the day that he took it, that this would make a lovely burying ground for the Union soldiers who had fallen, or were still to fall in the battles hereabout, and almost before the smoke of his involuntary assault on Missionary Ridge had cleared, he had a detail at work on the project.

When a chaplain, who was to be in charge of the project, inquired if the dead should be buried in plots assigned to the states they represented, as was being done at Gettysburg, where Lincoln has spoken a couple of weeks ago, the Virginian lowered his head in thought and then shook it decisively, and made a tumbling gesture with his hands. “No, no. Mix ’em up, mix ’em up,” he said. “I’m tired of states’ rights”.

That’s from the second volume of The Civil War. I’m currently listening to it on Audible, and that passage appealed to me. The Virginian General is Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas. Here’s what the place looked like in 1895.

7 thoughts on ““I’m tired of states’ rights”

  1. Juan Caruso

    I think many of us have grown disinterested in the civil war between the U.S. Union and Confederacy.
    Fortunately, said strife has not ended the sovereignty of our 50 seperate states. Neither should it have.

    I find it somewhat ironic that any state-licensed lawyer (would wish for open competition from out-of-state lawyers that would inevitably result from federal licensing of attorneys.

    What is that you say? Attorneys should be exempted from federal licensing ?

    1. Bryan Caskey Post author

      Well, I’m sure that some people have grown disinterested in our history, in favor of learning all about the Kardashians, or whatever else is going on in popular culture. Part of why I share my reading of history is in the hope that I might inspire someone to take an interest in something that I find interesting.

      However, the Civil War was one of the most defining points in the our country. As Foote said, “It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.” I’m still a proponent of federalism, and I think that we may have swung the pendulum too far back towards the centralized federal government these days, but the pendulum swings back and forth over time in almost all aspects of human life.

      As for having a state-licence to practice law, I’m not sure I understand your point/question, Juan. The reason that lawyers are licensed by state is that each state has their own set of laws. Federal law is all the same, from sea to shining sea (except when there are temporary circuit splits). Anyone can apply for any licence in any state. I don’t think there’s any sort of residency requirement. You just have this small little test we like to call the bar exam. And boy am I glad I passed it the first time. I sure wouldn’t have wanted to take it again. It was one of the most stressful tests I’ve ever taken. Back in my day, it was pencil and paper in the Cantey Building at the fairgrounds. Nowadays, these young kids take it on computers in the posh Convention Center downtown. They don’t know how easy they have it.

      Kids these days…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        and once applied for, pay, pay, pay….

        For transactional lawyers, state laws matter little, and are not testing much, if at all on the bar exams. Instead, we get the Rule Against Perpetuities and the writ of trespass de bonis asportatis.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      As someone who has taken and passed three states’ bar exams, including the SC three day nightmare, almost 20 years after graduating from law school, sure, federal licensing is mos def the way to go.


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