The Rightful Remedy

There are many fallacies concerning States’ Rights, and how one views them depends largely on their perspective of the makeup of the union. Those with a nationalist viewpoint may see States’ Rights as an act of usurpation, with states acting as rogue provinces going against the larger government. However, those who have studied the formation and construction of the union understand that nullification is a normal exercise of a state’s power and sovereignty.

In the following educational materials, the history of nullification is explored, with a focus on the contributions of two of our founders, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. These materials draw from their participation in the ratification convention of the U.S. Constitution, showing how they created the state’s defense mechanism. Understanding this history is essential to appreciating the balance of power between the federal and state governments in our federal system of government.

The States Rights Tradition Nobody Knows

The term “States’ Rights” has been used by many, but it is a misnomer because states do not actually have rights in our political system. Only individuals have rights. However, the term has been used to express the idea that individuals within their states can exercise their sovereignty through their state as an instrument.

But what happens when the federal government encroaches on a state? This encroachment is also an encroachment on the individuals within that state who are exercising their sovereignty. In this video, Dr. Thomas E. Woods Jr. explains how the exercise of state sovereignty has been used in the past to push back against the encroachment of the federal government on individual states. Understanding this history is important to appreciate the balance of power between the federal and state governments and the protection of individual rights.

Available for download as Mp3.

The States' Rights Tradition Nobody Knows


States’ Rights in Theory and Practice

The Compact Theory maintains that self-governing sovereign states have the right to protect themselves, while the Nationalist Theory argues that nullification or secession would be considered insubordination. Nationalists view states as a single entity with no boundaries and a single aggregated people, while the Compact Theory sees states as individual entities with their own sovereignty.

The First Continental Congress was established in 1774 and was an advisory body that created resolutions, but not laws. In 1775, they met again and continued to do so until 1781, but they had no powers of coercion. Multiple colonies sent delegates on occasion. Nothing done by this Congress is inconsistent with the idea of separate and sovereign states. Interestingly, “We the people” was originally “We the states” in the Constitution.

Available for download as Mp3.

States' Rights in Theory and Practice


Thomas Jefferson And The Principles of 98

(The History of State Nullification)

The Supremacy Clause in the Constitution states that the Constitution and laws in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme law of the land. This means that the Constitution and constitutional laws shall be the supreme law of the land. However, what if the federal government exceeds its powers outside of the Constitution? Powers that the framers never intended for them to have. What are the states response?

Thomas Jefferson encountered this exact scenario while he was Vice President of the United States, just 11 years after the Constitution was officially signed. Thomas Woods Jr. explains the history of this event and how it laid the groundwork for how a government that doesn’t recognize the limits placed on it by its own law (the Constitution) should be kept in check.

Available for download as Mp3.

Thomas Jefferson and the Principles of '98


The audio above is from lectures given by award winning author Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Dr. Woods holds his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and bachelor’s from Harvard. he’s written numerous books, including The Church Confronts Modernity (Columbia University Press) and two New York Times bestsellers — Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. His two latest books are Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse and Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century. His full biography can be found at

Nullification: The Rightful Remedy

When the federal government oversteps its Constitutional limits, what can be done? Is it enough to simply vote out those in power and hope for self-limitation? Should we rely on federal judges to keep the government in check? According to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the answer is no. Instead, the power to push back against federal tyranny lies in the hands of the people and the states that created the federal government. This power is known as nullification, and its time has come. This documentary explores the history of state nullification and how it is currently being used to resist the encroachment of federal power.