Monday, March 22, 2010

The Origins and Causes of the U.S. Civil War

Despite the fact that it has been over for 143 years, the American Civil War's causes, the motives behind the secession of the Deep South, and even the legality of secession itself are still matters of hot debate in historical circles. There has been so much historical revisionism on the subject (on both sides, no less), that it has become difficult to get a clear account of the reasons behind it, although the facts of the actual events are widely available.

In this post, I'm going to lay out the facts as I see them. I freely admit to being a Unionist and ardent anti-Confederate, but feel that these are positions borne out by the objective facts of the matter rather than damaging biases. Make of that what you will.

First, the motives behind secession.

Too often, you will see apologists for the Confederacy claiming that the South did what it did because they saw that Abraham Lincoln was a despotic tyrant in the making, that he would subjugate the rights of the people and crush the states beneath the boot of the federal government. "Lincoln the Tyrant" is a popular trope, spurred onward by the usual grain of truth that gives such things their lasting appeal: Abraham Lincoln did, as President, suspend habeas corpus, raise an army without the consent of Congress, and, yes, ordered the forfeit of property on the part of Confederates (i.e. freed the slaves, though it's not often put like that in a criticism for obvious reasons). You see this repeated over and over in neo-Confederate and anarchocapitalist circles; for instance, a look through the titles of Thomas DiLorenzo's essays shows an obsession with writing extensive character attacks on President Lincoln, and while probably the most prolific, he's not the only one.

There are obvious problems with this approach, however. The most glaring is that none of the things that Lincoln did that earn so much scorn could have been done outside the context of the Civil War. In other words, far from predicting Lincoln's behavior and seceding to avoid it, the southern states were the catalyst for his behavior! After all, had there been no insurrection, there would have been no need to arrest insurrectionists, raise an army to suppress the insurrection, and emancipate the slaves in Confederate-held territory as a war measure. (More on the scope of the Emancipation Proclamation later.)

The other problem, of course, is that there is no shortage of primary source documents from the Confederate governments themselves stating exactly why they seceded. These documents are occasionally selectively quoted, but not often, since the discerning Confederate apologist realizes that quoting from one invites the reader to find the rest of the declaration, which utterly destroys the secession-as-proof-of-tyranny argument.

Common quotations used to argue that secession was prompted by northern tyranny and aggression are:

By the disloyalty of the Northern States and their citizens and the imbecility of the Federal Government, infamous combinations of incendiaries and outlaws have been permitted in those States and the common territory of Kansas to trample upon the federal laws, to war upon the lives and property of Southern citizens in that territory, and finally, by violence and mob law, to usurp the possession of the same as exclusively the property of the Northern States.

The Federal Government, while but partially under the control of these our unnatural and sectional enemies, has for years almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico; and when our State government has expended large amounts for such purpose, the Federal Government has refuse reimbursement therefor, thus rendering our condition more insecure and harassing than it was during the existence of the Republic of Texas.

These and other wrongs we have patiently borne in the vain hope that a returning sense of justice and humanity would induce a different course of administration.


Well, here we have Texas accusing the federal government of incompetence and dereliction of duty in defending its territory. Seems a reasonable complaint, doesn't it? After all, if the federal government were truly remiss in its duties in defending its territory, then Texas, having once been a sovereign republic itself and having agreed to become one of the United States presumably with the assumption that it would be defended, might actually have legitimate cause to question continuing as part of the Union.

However, a summary reading of the full text quickly shows that the "property" referenced in the first paragraph was, in fact, slaves, and that the bulk of the document is dedicated to railing against abolitionist sentiment.

South Carolina also chimes in, with this gem.

We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely: the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.

In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.


A noble sentiment; after all, if several parties to an agreement are flouting that agreement with abandon, why continue it?

Of course, the statutes referred to all involved the treatment of escaped slaves.

And most egregiously, Mississippi:

Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity.


So, assuredly they saw Lincoln's tyranny coming, with a statement such as that, right?

Wrong.

At least not the "tyranny" so often complained about in the modern day. Here's what it is they saw: Quote:
In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.


Source.

And just to give the "escaping tyranny" falsehood its death-blow, here is an excerpt from an address given by Alexander Stephens, member of Georgia's secession convention (where he argued against seceding on the grounds that the Union would militarily crush the South) and vice president of the Confederate States of America:

But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other-though last, not least: the new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions-African slavery as it exists among us-the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the Constitution, was the prevailing idea at the time. The Constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly used against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it-when the "storm came and the wind blew, it fell."


From the Cornerstone Address. And to expand further on it, the following is from a post-war passage in Stephens' memoirs:

Slavery was without doubt the occasion of secession; out of it rose the breach of compact, for instance, on the part of several Northern States in refusing to comply with Constitutional obligations as to rendition of fugitives from service, a course betraying total disregard for all constitutional barriers and guarantees.


So, I should think that this lays to rest claims that the southern states were benevolently attempting to avoid general oppression; they rather acted in order to keep a large segment of their own populations oppressed.

Ah, but regardless of their reasons, moral or immoral, it was the right of the states to end the compact of the Constitution, cries out the Libertarian circle! It was never the intention of the Founders to forever bind the states against their wills, and they intentionally left the door open to secession by not explicitly banning it in the Constitution! Lincoln's actions, therefore, forever and improperly removed a natural right of the states, a safeguard against future tyranny.

Well, no. Let's look at the intentions of the Founders. Secession did indeed occur to them; after all, many were still alive during the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s. There are therefore many writings from several Founding Fathers to draw from. At random, let's start with James Madison. From this letter to William Rives.

The milliners it appears, endeavor to shelter themselves under a distinction between a delegation and a surrender of powers. But if the powers be attributes of sovereignty & nationality & the grant of them be perpetual, as is necessarily implied, where not otherwise expressed, sovereignty & nationality according to the extent of the grant are effectually transferred by it, and a dispute about the name, is but a battle of words. The practical result is not indeed left to argument or inference. The words of the Constitution are explicit that the Constitution & laws of the U. S. shall be supreme over the Constitution & laws of the several States, supreme in their exposition and execution as well as in their authority. Without a supremacy in those respects it would be like a scabbard in the hand of a soldier without a sword in it. The imagination itself is startled at the idea of twenty four independent expounders of a rule that cannot exist, but in a meaning and operation, the same for all.

The conduct of S. Carolina has called forth not only the question of nullification, but the more formidable one of secession. It is asked whether a State by resuming the sovereign form in which it entered the Union, may not of right withdraw from it at will. As this is a simple question whether a State, more than an individual, has a right to violate its engagements, it would seem that it might be safely left to answer itself. But the countenance given to the claim shows that it cannot be so lightly dismissed. The natural feelings which laudably attach the people composing a State, to its authority and importance, are at present too much excited by the unnatural feelings, with which they have been inspired agst their brethren of other States, not to expose them, to the danger of being misled into erroneous views of the nature of the Union and the interest they have in it. One thing at least seems to be too clear to be questioned, that whilst a State remains within the Union it cannot withdraw its citizens from the operation of the Constitution & laws of the Union. In the event of an actual secession without the Consent of the Co States, the course to be pursued by these involves questions painful in the discussion of them.


Madison actually considered the idea of secession so preposterous that until it actually came up when South Carolina first threatened it he felt there was no need to even mention it, and was astonished that he should have to. He also references the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution as proof positive that the states had no such ability, something that modern neo-Confederates tend to deny. Given that he wrote the thing, I should think I trust Madison's interpretation of it.

And now for the thoughts of the man commonly referred to as the father of our country, George Washington, chairman of the Constitutional Convention and first President. This is from his Circular to the States.

There are four things, which I humbly conceive, are essential to the well being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an Independent Power:

1st. An indissoluble Union of the States under one Federal Head.

2dly. A Sacred regard to Public Justice.

3dly. The adoption of a proper Peace Establishment, and<

4thly. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly Disposition, among the People of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the Community.



Under the first head, altho' it may not be necessary or proper for me in this place to enter into a particular disquisition of the principles of the Union, and to take up the great question which has been frequently agitated, whether it be expedient and requisite for the States to delegate a larger proportion of Power to Congress, or not, Yet it will be a part of my duty, and that of every true Patriot, to assert without reserve, and to insist upon the following positions, That unless the States will suffer Congress to exercise those prerogatives, they are undoubtedly invested with by the Constitution, every thing must very rapidly tend to Anarchy and confusion, That it is indispensable to the happiness of the individual States, that there should be lodged somewhere, a Supreme Power to regulate and govern the general concerns of the Confederated Republic, without which the Union cannot be of long duration. That there must be a faithful and pointed compliance on the part of every State, with the late proposals and demands of Congress, or the most fatal consequences will ensue, That whatever measures have a tendency to dissolve the Union, or contribute to violate or lessen the Sovereign Authority, ought to be considered as hostile to the Liberty and Independency of America, and the Authors of them treated accordingly, and lastly, that unless we can be enabled by the concurrence of the States, to participate of the fruits of the Revolution, and enjoy the essential benefits of Civil Society, under a form of Government so free and uncorrupted, so happily guarded against the danger of oppression, as has been devised and adopted by the Articles of Confederation, it will be a subject of regret, that so much blood and treasure have been lavished for no purpose, that so many sufferings have been encountered without a compensation, and that so many sacrifices have been made in vain.


Ouch. That one's got to sting, especially since many neo-Confederates actually hold Washington as a hero. There was in fact a portrait of him dominating the front wall of the hall in Montgomery where the Confederate Constitution was drawn up.

Well, if Washington wouldn't support dissolving the Union, then surely Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, that man who more than any other spurred the sundering of the American colonies from British rule, who called for regular revolutions to avoid tyranny, would!

Hate to disappoint, but Jefferson wrote to George Washington in 1794:

I can scarcely contemplate a more incalculable evil than the breaking of the union into two or more parts.


And in another letter, this one addressed to a third party and talking about a discussion Jefferson had had with Washington that day:

That with respect to the existing causes of uneasiness, he thought there were suspicions against a particular party, which had been carried a great deal too far; there might be desires, but he did not believe there were designs to change the form of government into a monarchy; that there might be a few who wished it in the higher walks of life, particularly in the great cities, but that the main body of the people in the eastern States were as steadily for republicanism as in the southern. That the pieces lately published, and particularly in Freneau's paper, seemed to have in view the exciting opposition to the government. That this had taken place in Pennsylvania as to the Excise law, according to information he had received from General Hand. That they tended to produce a separation of the Union, the most dreadful of all calamities, and that whatever tended to produce anarchy, tended, of course, to produce a resort to monarchical government.


But... but... Whether they intended it or not, secession isn't disallowed in the Constitution, and the 9th and 10th amendments allow the states to do things that they aren't specifically barred from doing, one might say. And for that, we turn to the Constitution itself. You may recall Madison's letter bringing this up. United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 15:

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions


Insurrection and rebellion are obviously illegal; otherwise there would be no provision for suppressing it. United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.


Again, if rebellion is legal, why the injunction against it? United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.


Again, if you need the consent of Congress to raise an army, then it would seem that just leaving would be out; after all, if you can just leave, why bother having such a restriction? United States Constitution, Article 3, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Speaks for itself, I think. United States Constitution, Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2:

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.


This one's the kicker. When taken in the context of the Supremacy Clause, we see that the states cannot violate the territorial sovereignty of the United States. Secession is such a violation. Here is that Clause, which is the one Madison referred to in his letter to Senator Rives. United States Constitution, Article 6, Clause 2:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.


So where is the right to secede? I'm certainly not seeing it. Incidentally, if that was such a big deal to the Confederate States, you would think they would have seen fit to include it in their own constitution. They did not. In fact, the only change they made which affects the ability of states to leave their union is the Preamble:

We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity...


So much for the right of secession.

Now, none of this is to say that the North was all sweetness and light. It was not. While slavery was the proximate cause of the initial secessions, and therefore the ultimate cause of the war, freeing the slaves was not the North's motive in prosecuting the war. Rather, the North was motivated primarily to preserve the Union; while Lincoln was personally an abolitionist, he did not believe it within his power as President to free the slaves. (Ironic, since he did take several powers normally reserved for Congress - namely, suspension of habeus corpus and calling out the militia to suppress insurrection - upon himself.)

The Emancipation Proclamation was indeed a great step, but it was first and foremost a war measure. Slave states which did not secede from the Union were permitted to keep their slaves until the passage of the 13th Amendment. In fact, prior to the Proclamation, Lincoln rescinded orders by General John Frémont and General David Hunter freeing the slaves in areas of the Confederacy they had captured; he dismissed Frémont when the general refused the President's orders to reverse his decision.

It was political reality that making the war about slavery would likely have cost Lincoln the war (Ulysses S. Grant said he would resign if he thought the war's objective was to free the slaves, and the border states would likely have simply seceded themselves), but that doesn't change the fact that the Union's prosecution of the war was not to free the slaves; it just makes it more excusable.

However, what is not excusable is the South's behavior prior to and during the Civil War. The initial secessions were without doubt motivated by a desire to continue chattel slavery (secessions after Lincoln took office were motivated by an unwillingness to contribute troops to fight the South, but again, without slavery none of it would have happened), and that is what matters to the causes of the war.

I apologize if some of this essay seems incoherent; it was written in one draft in the post form. I may revise it at a later time.

26 comments:

Renegade Paladin said...

Racist spam eliminated. I'll answer any actual argument, no matter how ill-reasoned, but if all you're going to do is ctrl-v a racial epithet over and over again, I will not let it stand.

EvilElitest said...

My family is from North Carolonia but i grew up in NY so this has some interest to me. Have you ever read Confederate's in the atic or watched North and South btw? Because i get equally annoyed by Northern Moralists and Southern...well racists.
Nice job explaining how both sides are a little right, but mostly wrong :)
Do you think however that the war would have happened over State's Rights if nobody cared about slavery?
from
EE

Renegade Paladin said...

No, I don't think the war would have happened anyway, at least not the way it did. The major, fundamental difference between North and South was the slave question; states' rights (or indeed, individual rights) were not a major concern of the South, later apologism to the contrary. The legislation contrary to both state and citizen rights pushed through by Southern lawmakers in the interest of protecting the "peculiar institution" show that clearly enough, primarily in the Fugitive Slave Act (which denied states the right to employ their legal systems to determine if an accused black person was in fact a fugitive slave, effectively giving bounty hunters the right to point at any black citizen, say "that was my slave," and cart him south to sell) and the so-called Gag Rule, which was a Senate rule denying abolitionists their clearly defined constitutional right to petition Congress, but also in laws prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from carrying abolitionist literature and a litany of other less well known anti-rights laws.

James Evarett said...

Sir, It matters not what the opinion of Madison, Washington or anyone else has to say concerning secession. The only thing of importance is the law, absent a law, secession is, and was a legal option for the States. As many times as secession was broached, and opinions rendered, even by Madison, no bill was ever drafted nor moved forward through the Houses of Congress: Why? Because the States, NORTH or South, nor the people would have allowed such an amendment. For all Madisons assurances the The 1787/1789 U.S. Constitution was NOT a consolidation of the States, To put such a law as forbidding secession would clearly be a Consolidation of the States, a back door avenue was taken by passage of the 17th amendment, however secession is a legal remedy until a bill is written and passed into law preventing such.

James Evarett said...

A couple of things that I did forget to mention.... The supremacy clause to which Madison referred is limited to the law itself/the delegated Constitutional authority that the States granted to the central government. The States and the central government operated in two separate spheres of power, to the central government was granted few and specific powers wherein it did hold supremacy, however the States held all power not specifically delegated to the central body, in this much larger sphere they were supreme. Again here we see that NO LAW WAS EVER ESTABLISHED TO PREVENT SECESSION, therefore that supremacy remained with each State individually. As far as the slavery issue, morally it was a wrong, however when it comes to law, breaking it for moral reasons is of no consequence s the law does not allow a moral excuse as an exception, IE stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, one cannot break the law by taking from a rich man and giving it to a starving man; the law is still broken even though it was for a moral purpose. There was no law against secession therefore any act to prevent it by the executive or Congress is a violation of the law, by its usurpation of a power not delegated to it by the States.

Anonymous said...

James, I'm glad I didn't have to post this to you on UMMM. Secession isn't specifically forbidden because any such action would have been considered rebellion, which IS Constitutionally illegal and actionable. You're using a specific word to frame an entire argument.

Renegade Paladin said...

Mr. Evarett, the Supreme Court decided to the contrary in Texas v. White, so clearly it was contrary to the Constitution, or they would not have done so.

Incidentally, bonus points if you know what Texas' argument in the case was without looking.

James Everett said...
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James Everett said...
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James Everett said...
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James Everett said...
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James Everett said...

This is to both Anonymous, and Renegade Paladin. First let us address Texas v White....Texas v White was a case over government Bonds, not secession. It is not a SCOTUS opinion on secession, further lets us look at the limitations on the SCOTUS...."The Judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this constitution etc... Now can either of you cite the law under the 1787/1789 U.S. constitution concerning secession? No law means no violation, one cannot violate a non-existent law. Next we have The Scotus decision being based on the Articles of Confederation wherein Justice Chase places a clumsy weld between the old Articles of Confederation and the United State Constitution. He notes that the Union "received definite form, and character, and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these the Union was solemnly declared to 'be perpetual.'" He then attempts to tie the Articles to the Constitution but in so doing contradicts himself: "when these Articles were found to be inadequate . . . the Constitution was ordained 'to form a more perfect Union.'"
Chase is implying that somehow a portion of the Articles survived the ratification of the Constitution. Yet this introduces another contradiction: If the Articles were "perpetual" then how could they have been replaced by the Constitution? Are the Articles still in force? Are they in full force, or did only two words -- "be perpetual" -- survive? So we see that Texas v White was NOT a decision on secession, but rather over Bonds, next we see the flaw in the bases of the SCOTUS decision, and its reaching beyond the bounds of rendering an opinion based in the laws under the 1787/1789 U.S. Constitution. Now let us get down to the nitty gritty so to speak....The charge of Rebellion and insurrection are also a flawed argument, in understanding the intent we must use the definitions at the time the 1787/1789 U.S. Constitution came into existence; Here we must turn to Johnson's dictionary of the English language 1755 edition wherein we can see the definition of Rebellion is as follows...
ReBe'llion. n, f. [rtbellion, French;
rcbellio, Latin ; from rebel j
Insurrection Against lawful authority.
And next we look at "Insurrection"
Insurre'ction. n.f. {injurga Latin.] A
feditious rifing ; a rebellious commotion.
So for there to be either an insurrection, or a Rebellion there would be required for a law to exist that makes secession unlawful and illegal, without such law, there can be NO Rebellion against lawful authority, as no law was ever passed to grant the central body AUTHORITY to prevent secession. No law, means no authority, no POWER delegated to the United States, by the Individual States, therefore the tenth amendment is in full force. Again opinion no matter from whom they are derived are irrelevant: Opinions are a dime a dozen, Law is Law. No amendment was then nor has since been passed, presumably because neither the people nor the States would allow it, as to do so would be to consolidate the States into a single State.

James Everett said...

Renegade Paladin, I forgot to address your question concerning the Texas arguement..The problem here is that it was NOT actually the de jure government of Texas that brought suit, as the de jure texas government had been forced into exile under coercion and duress and subsequently replaced with a de facto institution.
Duress any unlawful threat or coercion used by person to induce another to act (or refrain from acting) in a manner he or she otherwise would not (or would). Subjecting person to improper pressure which overcomes his will and coerces him to comply with demand to which he would not yield if acting as free agent [Henry-Campbell: Black, Blacks Law Dictionary®, Sixth Edition, West Publishing Co. St. Paul Minnesota, 1990]
Something further for you to consider....Absent a law preventing secession, and as we see, by definition secession is not rebellion as absent a law, there is no lawful authority concerning the matter on the part of the U.S. This would in fact render Texas v White moot even were it a case over the power of secession because the States that seceded are no longer party to the 1787/1789 U.S. Constitution, therefore outside U.S. LEGAL jurisdiction.

James Everett said...

In the Federalist #32 Alexander Hamilton also states.....
“An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will. But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States. This exclusive delegation, or rather this alienation, of State sovereignty, would only exist in three cases: where the Constitution in express terms granted an exclusive authority to the Union; where it granted in one instance an authority to the Union, and in another prohibited the States from exercising the like authority; and where it granted an authority to the Union, to which a similar authority in the States would be absolutely and totally contradictory and repugnant.”
Again, no law or amendment exists to make secession an illegal or unlawful act, therefore when Mr. Hamilton gave this assurance....
"But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States."
No power concerning secession was ever delegated to the United
States. Next we see that the Southern Confederate States were recognized as no longer being a part of the United States by the U.S. Congress's refusal to readmit them unless they agreed to certain terms. If in fact they were recognized by the U.S. Congress, and stated as such in congressional records as being required to accept certain terms in order that they may be admitted once again to the union, then clearly they were no longer part of the United States, no longer party to the U.S. Constitution; therefore existed outside of the authority of the SCOTUS.

Anonymous said...

James Evarett, it won't accept my ID, but it's Margaret McCarty from various CW sites. I'm always trying to prove you wrong, lol. I thought this was a great article.

James Everett said...

Ms. McCarty, In spite of our disagreements, I believe most come from a lack of understanding of my intentions. My intentions are simply to see us return to the founders' intent.

Renegade Paladin said...

Not the de jure government of Texas? Please. Sam Houston was the duly elected governor of Texas in 1861, and the Confederates ran him out on a rail when he wouldn't go along with their scheme. Texas argued that its own secession was illegal under Article IV (which it plainly is).

James Everett said...
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James Everett said...

Sir, Texas did upon secession from the United States resumed its independent status, Texas then joined the Southern Confederacy of States. This was Texas de jure government.
The De facto institution was the result of invasion of Texas by a foreign government using Coercion and Duress.
Duress any unlawful threat or coercion used by person to induce another to act (or refrain from acting) in a manner he or she otherwise would not (or would). Subjecting person to improper pressure which overcomes his will and coerces him to comply with demand to which he would not yield if acting as free agent [Henry-Campbell: Black, Blacks Law Dictionary®, Sixth Edition, West Publishing Co. St. Paul Minnesota, 1990]
After the invasion the Texas government existed under occupation and martial law. The Senators chosen by the Texas Legislature, nor the House members elected by the people of Texas were not allowed to take seats in the U.S. Central government. Sir, You must return to the 1st cause.....Wherein you must cite the law that makes secession an illegal act, if you cannot do that then your entire case is lost. Article IV does not do help your case. Upon secession Texas was no longer party to the U.S. Constitution. Even your own SCOTUS justice Scalia has stated in a 2006 letter concerning secession that the question was not in the realm of legal possibility because the United States would not be party to a lawsuit on the issue"
Secession, as accomplished by the Southern states in 1860 and 1861 and as discussed by the North at the Hartford Convention in 1815, is an independent act by the people of the states, and accomplished in the same fashion as the several conventions that occurred throughout early American history. The United States would never be a party to a lawsuit on the issue because secession, both de facto and de jure, is an extra-legal act of self-determination, and once the States have seceded from the Union, the Constitution is no longer in force in regard to the seceded political body. This same rule applies to the Article I, Section 10 argument against secession. If the Constitution is no longer in force—the States have separated and resumed their independent status—then the Supreme Court would not have jurisdiction and therefore could not determine the “legality” of the move. As for Sam Houston, He resigned from office rather than concede to the will of the people of Texas, He resigned of his own free will not ran out of Texas on a rail.

Renegade Paladin said...

Nonsense. Houston was evicted from office on March 16th, 1861 for refusing to take a loyalty oath to the Confederacy. He did not resist, saying he did not wish to bring civil strife to Texas, but he didn't resign; he was forced out.

James Everett said...

"He refused to take an oath of loyalty to the CSA" In other words he resigned. The State legislature of Texas and the will of the people (citizens) of Texas joined the CSA, Houstons refusal was his resignation. The State legislature replaced him with the lieutenant governor. None of this is of relevance to the legality of secession however. Texas seceded, Houston was a governor, not King of Texas, nor dictator. His will was overridden by the TExas legislature and the citizens of Texas. Now lets get back to the issue of the legality of secession which is what your article was about. Please cite the law, or Constitutional amendment that prevents secession.

Renegade Paladin said...

Actually, if you would read it, you would find that the article is about the motivations behind the secession of the Slave Power. But Article IV of the Constitution lays out in plain English that the territorial boundaries of the United States may not be called into question by anything in the Constitution, and Article VI establishes the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, so if some slaveowning jackasses decide to get together for a convention that tries to remove U.S. territory, they're just out of luck.

And claiming that Houston refusing to take a loyalty oath is the same as resignation is laughable. What happened to him was the same trick used by the Confederates on everyone else who was against secession in the South; those suspected of Unionism would be forced to take a loyalty oath, refusal grounds for imprisonment and/or conscription. Which is, as you may suppose, blatantly unconstitutional, both under the U.S. Constitution and the sham carbon copy the Slave Power instituted. Unless, of course, you have some form of excuse for the military occupation of eastern Tennessee by the Confederates when the secession vote did not go their way. I suppose secession is only good when used to further slavery. At least, that was the Slave Power's opinion.

James Everett said...

Sir, you as so many others are being led by blind hatred, this always gets in the way of you logic, and proper understanding. First you have overlooked the 1st cause once again.
Once a State secedes from the union, it is no longer bound by Article IV, Article VI or any other, as the Seceded State is no longer party to the U.S. Constitution.Once a State has seceded from the Union, the Constitution is no longer in force in regard to the seceded political
body. Article IV and Article VI only apply to the States that remain in the union. Concerning Article VI, it is your charge to show the law concerning secession, you must cite the U.S. law; without such, you cannot claim that it is the supreme law of the land. For a law to be the supreme law of the land it must be written into the U.S. Constitution or U.S. code. The territory or property belonging to the United States, IS NOT the States, they are NOT the property of the United States. The States are, or at least were suppose to be sovereigns, other than the powers that they placed on loan to the U.S.while they remained party to the U.S. Constitution. Sir, you have overlooked the last part of the sentence in Article IV section 3.
"OR OF ANY PARTICULAR STATE." Here you need to read your own SCOTUS opinion in Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan, 44 U.S. 3 How. 212 212 (1845)
Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan
44 U.S. (3 How.) 212.
When Alabama was admitted into the union, on an equal footing with the original States, she succeeded to all the rights of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and eminent domain which Georgia possessed at the date of the cession, except so far as this right was diminished by the public lands remaining in the possession and under the control of the United States, for the temporary purposes provided for in the deed of cession and the legislative acts connected with it. Nothing remained to the United States, according to the terms of the agreement, but the public lands. And, if an express stipulation had been inserted in the agreement, granting the municipal right of sovereignty and eminent domain to the United States, such stipulation would have been void and inoperative, because the United States have no constitutional capacity to exercise municipal jurisdiction, sovereignty, or eminent domain, within the limits of a State or elsewhere, except in the cases in which it is expressly granted.
By the 16th clause of the 8th section of the 1st article of the Constitution, power is given to Congress
"to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased, by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same may be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings."
Within the District of Columbia, and the other places purchased and used for the purposes above mentioned, the national and municipal powers of government, of every description, are united in the Government of the Union. And these are the only cases within the United States in which all the powers of government are united in a single government.
Note.. "for temporary purposes", and..."Nothing remained to the United States, according to the terms of the agreement, but the public lands."
AND..."the United States have no constitutional capacity to exercise municipal jurisdiction, sovereignty, or eminent domain, within the limits of a State or elsewhere, except in the cases in which it is expressly granted."
We can both agree on the evils of Slavery within the Southern States, and We can both agree that your U.S. governments extermination of the Native American Indian was even more evil, however LAW is LAW, and one cannot pretend that a law that does not exist does exist, when clearly one cannot cite such law.

James Everett said...

Now, back to Sam Houston for a moment more. You have stated....
And claiming that Houston refusing to take a loyalty oath is the same as resignation is laughable. What happened to him was the same trick used by the Confederates on everyone else who was against secession in the South; those suspected of Unionism would be forced to take a loyalty oath, refusal grounds for imprisonment and/or conscription.
Sir, allow me to present as evidence what your U.S. government did in my home State of Tennessee...On March 12, 1862, Andrew Johnson, whom President Lincoln had appointed Military Governor of Tennessee, arrived and took over for the Union.
Governor Johnson demanded that all of Nashville's city officers and employees take an oath of allegiance to the Union, when they refused, he arrested them for treason and appointed his own officers in their place.
A convention of Unionist met in Nashville January 9, 1865, drafted amendments to the state constitution, nominated candidates for governor and the legislature, and set February 22 and March 4, 1865 for the people to ratify their actions.
No Confederates or Confederate sympathizers, were allowed to vote. So as you can see, your charge is of no consequence as your U.S. government did exactly, and more than you have charged against our CSA government.

Renegade Paladin said...

You overlook the first cause; states may not secede from the Union because of Article IV. Since states cannot unilaterally dissolve the Constitution, there is no situation in which they are not bound by it.

Logically speaking, if a state was allowed to withdraw from the nation at will, then there would be no point to the various restrictions the Constitution places upon the states - most of Article I would be patent nonsense, because if the states are supreme (as they are not), the Constitution could not forbid them from keeping troops or ships of war, entering confederations, etc etc etc. If a person or body of people can at any time just decide that the law no longer applies to him/them, then the law... isn't. What you theorize the Constitution to be is not only not what it actually is, it isn't even workable.

James Everett said...

Sir, you have stated...."most of Article I would be patent nonsense, because if the states are supreme (as they are not), The problem that you have here is that, the States are party to the Constitution that they established between themselves as political bodies: The Central body, I.E. the U.S. is NOT a party to the agreement between the States, but rather is a product of it. Superiors dictate to inferiors, Inferiors do NOT dictate to superiors. The States dictated to the central body, (THE U.S.)therefore are the supreme authority/the superiors. Let us examine what James Madison stated in the Federalist #62 concerning the Senate, and the superiority/AUTHORITY of the States.....
" It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems."
Madison has recognized here that the States are the AUTHORITY.
Sir, you must understand the system that the 1787/1789 U.S. Constitution established.You misunderstand and somehow view the 1787/1789 U.S.Constitution as a consolidation of the States into a single State, if a State cannot leave the union, then how could it be anything other than a
consolidation? Alexander Hamilton stated in the Federalist #32 that....
"An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will. But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States. "
The 1787/1789 Established a central body granting it certain delegated specific enumerated powers, IT IS LIMITED TO ITS OWN SPHERE OF POWERS and cannot act beyond its
sphere. The States operate within their Sphere, which is unlimited other than the powers that each by agreement each delegated to the Central body. Now in respect to your statement here....
"Logically speaking, if a state was allowed to withdraw from the nation at will, then there would be no point to the various restrictions the Constitution places upon the states" and....
"If a person or body of people can at any time just decide that the law no longer applies to him/them, then the law... isn't. What you theorize the Constitution to be is not only not what it actually is, it isn't even workable."
The restriction of which you speak, are requirements agreed to between the States, if a State within this Confederacy no longer wishes to be a part of the Confederacy, then it withdraws from it and the agreement to those restrictions. A State does not pick and choose which laws it wishes to abide by, as in nullification, if a State chooses to NOT abide by a particular law that was established under the Constitution, or central body, then it can no longer be a part of the Confederation, whereby secession is its option. It is in FACT very workable as a Confederacy of States,it may not be workable as a Consolidation of the States, which you seem to advocate. You have also stated that.... " Since states cannot unilaterally dissolve the Constitution, there is no situation in which they are not bound by it." States cannot unilaterally dissolve the Constitution, they can however unilaterally Secede from the union, and any obligations to it, yet the Constitution is not dissolved, they simply are no longer party to it. And last, again in U.S. 3 How. 212 212 (1845)
Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan
44 U.S. (3 How.) 212.
Your own SCOTUS has decided against you personal view of Article IV, as I have already shewn you.