Stevenson addresses ‘Northern Aggression’ remarks

Brennan Stebbins

One day after making remarks many found offensive during a debate on the House floor, Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R-Webb City) was in damage control mode.

During a debate concerning a state resolution opposing the federal Freedom of Choice Act, which those opposed say could undo Missouri’s abortion laws, Stevenson shocked lawmakers in attendance with a statement concerning the Civil War.

“What we are dealing with today is the greatest power grab by the federal government since the war of northern aggression,” Stevenson said.

That name is used to suggest the North was unconstitutional in its war against the South, and is still used today by some Southerners who believe the North’s war against the South was illegal.

“I certainly did not mean in any way for my remarks to be offensive,” Stevenson said. “I mean, I think as was noted in The Joplin globe, it was a historically accurate statement that was one common term used for the Civil War, the war in which we lost more troops than any war in the history of the United States, including World War II and World War 1. But I mean, that’s not the issue. The issue is what we’re dealing with is a huge expansion of federal power, it’s a huge expansion of federal power at the expense of freedom of individuals and at the expense of authority in states. It’s a violation of the Tenth amendment.

“The point I was trying to make, that I’m still trying to make, is I’m very sorry that my word choice was offensive, that certainly was not my intent, but I think it’s very clear that over the history of the U.S. the power and authority of the federal government has expanded way beyond what the founding fathers intended,” he added. “It was expanded during the Civil War, it was expanded during FDR’s time, under President Bush it was greatly expanded since 9-11 and this is an attempt to expand the authority and power of the federal government even father.

The resolution later passed with a 116-40 majority.