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Did Lincoln declare War on the Confederacy?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by oldreb, Jun 10, 2002.

  1. oldreb

    oldreb Guest

    OK, friends, here is the question...Did Lincoln actually make a declaration of War on the Confederacy?

    I know there are many who say he never did, for to do that would have recognized the Confederacy, but I do offer the following, made to the Congress of the United States, July 4, 1861, by one Abraham Lincoln, then President of the United States. Please note that anything you read in brackets [like this] are my statements or additional information to make this thread more understandable.

    FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    [Please remember this opening address. It becomes important a little later down in the address.]

    Having been convened on an extraordinary occasion, as authorized by the Constitution, your attention is not called to any ordinary subject of legislation.

    At the beginning of the present Presidential term, four months ago, the functions of the Federal Government were found to be generally suspended within the several States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, excepting only those of the Post-Office Department.

    Within these States all the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, custom-houses, and the like, including the movable and stationery property in and about them, had been seized, and were held in open hostility to this Government, excepting only Forts Pickens, Taylor, and Jefferson, on and near the Florida coast, and Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, S.C. The forts thus seized had been put in improved condition; new ones had been built, and armed forces had been organized, and were organizing, all avowedly with the same hostile purpose.

    The forts remaining in the possession of the Federal Government in and near these States were either besieged or menaced by warlike preparations, and especially Fort Sumter was nearly surrounded by well-protected hostile batteries, with guns equal in quality to the best of its own and outnumbering the latter as perhaps ten to one. A disproportionate share of the Federal muskets and rifles had somehow found their way into these States and had been seized to be used against the Government. Accumulations of the public revenue lying within them had been seized for the same object. The Navy was scattered in distant seas, leaving but a very small part of it within the immediate reach of the Government. Officers of the Federal Army and Navy had resigned in great numbers, and of those resigning a large proportion had taken up arms against the Government. Simultaneously, and in connection with all this, the purpose the sever the Federal Union was openly avowed. In accordance with this purpose an ordinance had been adopted in each of these States declaring the States, respectively, to be separated from the National Union. A formula for instituting a combined government of these States had been promulgated, and this illegal organization, in the character of Confederate States, was already invoking recognition, aid, and intervention from foreign powers.

    Finding this condition of things and believing it to be an imperative duty upon the incoming Executive to prevent, if possible, the consummation of such an attempt to destroy the Federal Union, a choice of means to that end became indispensable. This choice was made and was declared in the inaugural address. The policy chosen looked to the exhaustion of all peaceful measures before a resort to any stronger ones. It sought only to hold the public places and property not already wrested from the Government and to collect the revenue, relying for the rest on time, discussion, and the ballot-box. It promised a continuance of the mails, at Government expense, to the very people who were resisting the Government, and it gave repeated pledges against any disturbance, to any of the people or any of their rights. Of all that which a President might constitutionally and justifiably do in such a case, everything was forborne without which it was believed possible to keep the Government on foot.

    On the 5th of March (the present incumbent's first full day in office), a letter of Major Anderson, commanding at Fort Sumter, written on the 28th of February, and received at the War Department on the 4th of March, was, by that Department, placed in his hands. This letter expressed the professional opinion of the writer that re-enforcements could not be thrown into that fort, within the time for his relief rendered necessary by the limited supply of provisions and with a view of holding possession of the same, with a force of less than 20,000 good and well-disciplined men. This opinion was concurred in by all the officers of his command, and their memoranda on the subject were made inclosures of Major Anderson's letter. The whole was immediately laid before Lieutenant-General Scott, who at once concurred with Major Anderson in opinion. On reflection, however, he took full time, consulting with other officers, both of the Army and the Navy, and at the end of four days came reluctantly, but decidedly, to the same conclusion as before. He also stated at the same time that no such sufficient force was then at the control of the Government or could be raised and brought to the ground within the time when the provisions in the fort would be exhausted. In a purely military point of view this reduced the duty of the Administration in the case to the mere matter of getting the garrison safely out of the fort.

    It was believed, however, that to so abandon that position, under the circumstances, would be utterly ruinous; that the necessity under which it was to be done would not be fully understood; that by many it would be construed as a part of a voluntary policy; that at home it would discourage the friends of the Union, embolden its adversaries, and go far to ensure to the latter a recognition abroad; that, in fact, it would be our national destruction consummated. This could not be allowed. Starvation was not yet upon the garrison, and ere it would be reached Fort Pickens might be reinforced. This last would be a clear indication of policy and would better enable the country to accept the evacuation of Fort Sumter as a military necessity. An order was at once directed to be sent for the landing of the troops from the steamship Brooklyn into Fort Pickens. This order could not go by land but must take the longer and slower route by sea. The first return news from the order was received just one week before the fall of Fort Sumter. The news itself was that the officer commanding the Sabine, to which vessel the troops had been transferred from the Brooklyn, acting upon some quasi armistice of the late Administration (and of the existence of which the present Administration, up to the time the order was dispatched, had only too vague and uncertain rumors to fix attention), had refused to land the troops. To now reinforce Fort Pickens before a crisis would be reached at Fort Sumter was impossible -- rendered so by the near exhaustion of provisions in the latter-named fort. In precaution against such a conjuncture, the Government had a few days before commenced preparing a expedition, as well adapted as might be, to relieve Fort Sumter, which expedition was intended to be ultimately used or not, according to circumstances. The strongest anticipated case for using it was now presented, and it was resolved to send it forward. As had been intended, in this contingency, it was also resolved to notify the Governor of South Carolina that he might expect an attempt would be made to provision the fort, and that if the attempt should not be resisted there would be no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition, without further notice, or in case of an attack upon the fort. This notice was accordingly given, whereupon the fort was attacked and bombarded to its fall without even awaiting the arrival of the provisioning expedition.

    It is thus seen that the assault upon and reduction of Fort Sumter was in no sense a matter of self-defense on the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could by no possibility commit aggression upon them. They knew -- they were expressly notified -- that the giving of bread to the few brave and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on that occasion be attempted unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more. They knew that this Government desired to keep the garrison in the fort, not to assail them, but merely to maintain visible possession, and thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution, trusting, as herein-before stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot-box for final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the fort for precisely the reverse object -- to drive out the visible authority of the Federal Union and thus force it to immediate dissolution. That this was their object the Executive well understood, and having said to them in the inaugural address, "You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors," he took pains not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power of ingenious sophistry as that the world should not be able to misunderstand it. By the affair at Fort Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that point was reached. Then and thereby the assailants of the Government began the conflict of arms, without a gun in sight or in expectancy to return their fire, save only the few in the fort sent to that harbor years before for their own protection and still ready to give that protection in whatever was lawful. In this act, discarding all else, they have forced upon the country the distinct issue, "Immediate dissolution or blood."

    And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic or democracy -- a Government of the people, by the same people -- can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration, according to organic law, in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their Government and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask: "Is there, in all republics, this inherent and fatal weakness?" "Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?"

    [DEclaration asking for a war status]

    So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the war power of the Government; and so to resist force employed for its destruction by force for its preservation.

    The call was made, and the response of the country was most gratifying, surpassing in unanimity and spirit the most sanguine expectation. Yet none of the States commonly called slave States, except Delaware, gave a regiment through regular State organization. A few regiments have been organized within some others of those States by individual enterprise and received into the Government service. Of course the seceded States, so called (and to which Texas had been joined about the time of the inauguration), gave no troops to the cause of the Union. The border States, so called, were not uniform in their action, some of them being almost for the Union, while in others -- as Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas -- the Union sentiment was nearly repressed and silenced. The course taken in Virginia was the most remarkable, perhaps the most important. A convention elected by the people of that State to consider this very question of disrupting the Federal Union was in session at the capital of Virginia when Fort Sumter fell. To this body the people had chosen a large majority of professed Union men. Almost immediately after the fall of Sumter many members of that majority went over to the original disunion minority and with them adopted an ordinance for withdrawing the State from the Union. Whether this change was wrought by their great approval of the assault upon Sumter or their great resentment at the Government's resistance to that assault is not definitely known. Although they submitted the ordinance for ratification to a vote of the people to be taken on a day then somewhat more than a month distant, the convention and the Legislature (which was also in session at the same time and place), with leading men of the State not members of either, immediately commenced acting as if the State were already out of the Union. They pushed military preparations vigorously forward all over the State. They seized the U.S. Armory at Harper's Ferry and the navy-yard at Gosport, near Norfolk. They received -- perhaps invited -- into their State large bodies of troops with their warlike appointments from the so-called seceded States. They formally entered into a treaty of temporary alliance and co-operation with the so-called "Confederate States," and sent members to their Congress at Montgomery. And finally, they permitted the insurrectionary Government to be transferred to their capital at Richmond.

    The people of Virginia have thus allowed this giant insurrection to make its nest within her borders, and this Government has no choice left but to deal with it where it finds it. And it has the less regret, as the loyal citizens have in due form claimed its protection. Those loyal citizens this Government is bound to recognize and protect as being Virginia.

    In the border States, so called -- in fact, the middle States -- there are those who favor a policy which they call "armed neutrality;" that is, an arming of those States to prevent the Union forces passing one way or the disunion the other over their soil. This would be disunion completed. Figuratively speaking, it would be the building of an impassable wall along the line of separation -- and yet, not quite an impassable one, for under the guise of neutrality it would tie the hands of the Union men, and freely pass supplies from among them to the insurrectionists, which it could not do as an open enemy. At a stroke it would take all the trouble off the hands of secession, except only what proceeds from the external blockade. It would do for the disunionists that which of all things they most desire -- feed them well and give them disunion without a struggle of their own. It recognizes no fidelity to the Constitution, no obligation to maintain the Union, and while very many who have favored it are doubtless loyal citizens it is nevertheless very injurious in effect.

    Recurring to the action of the Government, it may be stated that at first a call was made for 75,000 militia, and rapidly following this a proclamation was issued for closing the ports of the insurrectionary districts by proceedings in the nature of blockade. So far all was believed to be strictly legal. At this point the insurrectionists announced their purpose to enter upon the practice of privateering.

    Other calls were made for volunteers to serve for three years, unless sooner discharged, and also for large additions to the Regular Army and Navy. These measures, whether strictly legal or not, were ventured upon under what appeared to be a popular demand and a public necessity, trusting then, as now, that Congress would readily ratify them. It is believed that nothing has been done beyond the constitutional competency of Congress.

    Soon after the first call for militia it was considered a duty to authorize the commanding general in proper cases according to his discretion, to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or in other words to arrest and detain, without resort to the ordinary processes and forms of law, such individuals as he might deem dangerous to the public safety. This authority has purposely been exercised but very sparingly. Nevertheless the legality and propriety of what has been done under it are questioned and the attention of the country has been called to the proposition that one who is sworn to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" should not himself violate them. Of course some consideration was given to the questions of power and propriety before this matter was acted upon. The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed were being resisted and failing of execution in nearly one-third of the States. Must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even had it been perfectly clear that by the use of the means necessary to their execution some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizen's liberty that practically it relieves more of the guilty than of the innocent, should to a very limited extent be violated? To state the question more directly, are all the laws but one to go unexecuted and the Government itself go to pieces lest that one be violated? Even in such a case would not the official oath be broken if the Government should be overthrown, when it was believed that disregarding the single law would tend to preserve it? But it was not believed that this question was presented. It was not believed that any law was violated. The provision of the Constitution that "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," is equivalent to a provision -- is a provision -- that such privilege may be suspended when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a case of rebellion, and that the public safety does require the qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ which was authorized to be made. Now, it is insisted that Congress and not the Executive is vested with this power. But the Constitution itself is silent as to which, or who, is to exercise the power; and as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it cannot be believed the framers of the instrument intended that in every case the danger should run its course until Congress could be called together, the very assembling of which might be prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion.

    No more extended argument is now offered, as an opinion at some length will probably be presented by the Attorney-General. Whether there shall be any legislation upon the subject, and if any, what, is submitted entirely to the better judgment of Congress.

    The forbearance of this Government had been so extraordinary and so long continued as to lead some foreign nations to shape their action as if they supposed the early destruction of our national Union was probable. While this, on discovery, gave the Executive some concern, he is now happy to say that the sovereignty and rights of the United States are now everywhere practically respected by foreign powers, and a general sympathy with the country is manifested throughout the world.

    The reports of the Secretaries of the Treasury, War, and the Navy will give the information in detail deemed necessary and convenient for your deliberation and action, while the Executive and all the Departments will stand ready to supply omissions or to communicate new facts considered important for you to know.

    [Further requests for the powers to wage war!]

    It is now recommended that you give the legal means for making this contest a short and a decisive one; that you place at the control of the Government for the work at least 400,000 men and $400,000,000. That number of men is about one-tenth of those of proper ages within the regions where apparently all are willing to engage, and the sum is less than a twenty-third part of the money value owned by the men who seem ready to devote the whole. A debt of $600,000,000 now is a less sum per head than was the debt of our Revolution when we came out of that struggle, and the money value in the country now bears even a greater proportion to what it was then than does the population. Surely each man has as strong a motive now to preserve our liberties as each had then to establish them.

    A right result now will be worth more to the world than ten times the men and ten times the money. The evidence reaching us from the country leaves no doubt that the material for the work is abundant, and that it needs only the hand of legislation to give it a legal sanction and the hand of the Executive to give it a practical shape and efficiency. One of the greatest perplexities of the Government is to avoid receiving troops faster than it can provide for them. In a word, the people will save their Government if the Government itself will do its part only indifferently well.

    It might seem at first thought to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called "secession" or "rebellion." The movers, however, well understand the difference. At the beginning they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They know their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in and reverence for the history and Government of their common country as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps through all the incidents to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is, that any State of the Union may, consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent of the Union or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice.

    With rebellion thus sugar coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years, and until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretense of taking their State out of the Union, who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.

    This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, of its currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining to a State -- to each State of out Federal Union.

    [Here Mr. Lincoln becomes confused, or so it would seem, as the Constitution actually says that powers not granted to the Federal government are reserved for the states. He states this the other way round, that the states have only the authority granted them by the Federal government under the Constitution.]

    Our States have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution -- no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence, and the new ones each came into the Union from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas; and even Texas in its temporary independence was never designated a State. The new ones only took the designation of States on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted for the old ones in and by the Declaration of Independence. Therein the "United Colonies" were declared to be "free and independent States;" but even then the object plainly was not to declare their independence of one another or of the Union, but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge and their mutual action before, at the time, and afterward, abundantly show. The express plighting of faith by each and all of the original thirteen in the Articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be perpetual is most conclusive. Having never been States, either in substance or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of "State rights," asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself? Much is said about the "sovereignty" of the States, but the word even is not in the national Constitution, nor, as is believed, in any of the State constitutions. What is a "sovereignty" in the political sense of the term? Would it be far wrong to define it "a political community without a political superior?" Tested by this, no one of our States, except Texas, ever was a sovereignty; and even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union, by which act she acknowledged the Constitution of the United States and the laws and treaties of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution to be for her the supreme law of the land. The States have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal status. If they break from this they can only do so against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever of independence and liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and in fact it created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and in turn the Union threw off their old dependence for them and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State constitution independent of the Union. Of course it is not forgotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they entered the Union, nevertheless dependent upon and preparatory to coming into the Union. [In this paragraph, Mr. Lincoln states that Texas was never a soveriegn...Tell Santa Anna and his Mexican army that or tell Sam Houston that, or just tell any Texan that they were never a soveriegn, and that the Union made them free - and see what answer you get. Mr. Lincoln also states that no state was a state before the Union made them a state. I believe, but may be wrong, that each of the Colonies, having divested themselves of Royal rule in 1787 called themselves "states", before the adoption of the Constitution, before the formation of the Union. And this would include the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, & Maryland, to name some of the states that had either by this point seceeded or were considering secession (Maryland and Vermont still slave state status in 1861).

    Unquestionably the States have the powers and rights reserved to them in and by the national Constitution; but among these, surely, are not included all conceivable powers, however mischievous or destructive; but, at most, such only as were known in the world, at the time, as governmental powers; and certainly a power to destroy the Government itself had never been known as a governmental -- as a merely administrative power. This relative matter of national power and State rights, as a principle, is no other than the principle of generality and locality. Whatever concerns the whole should be confined to the whole -- to the General Government; while whatever concerns only the State should be left exclusively to the State. This is all there is of original principle about it. Whether the national Constitution, in defining boundaries between the two, has applied the principle with exact accuracy is not to be questioned. We are all bound by that defining, without question.

    What is now combatted is the principle that secession is consistent with the Constitution -- is lawful and peaceful. It is not contended that there is any express law for it; and nothing should ever be implied as law which leads to unjust or absurd consequences. The nation purchased, with money, the countries out of which several of these States were formed. Is it just that they shall go off without leave and without refunding? The nation paid very large sums (in the aggregate, I believe, nearly a hundred millions) to relive Florida of the aboriginal tribes. [Did Florida ask for the "aboriginal tribes" to be removed? If so, why did the Union relocate the Seminoles back to Florida when they could not defeat them in battle -- as a note, the Seminole nation has never signed a Peace Treaty with the US - because they have never been totally defeated by the US].

    Is it just that she shall now be off without consent, or without making any return? The nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding States, in common with the rest. Is it just either that creditors shall go unpaid, or the remaining States pay the whole? A part of the present national debt was contracted to pay the old debts of Texas. Is it just that she shall leave and pay no part of this herself? Again, if one State may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded none is left to pay the debts. Is this quite just to creditors? Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their money? If we now recognize this doctrine by allowing the seceders to go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go, or to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain.

    [I find this above as very interesting as Mr. Lincoln wanted to free about 2 million slaves, considered property in the slave states worth many millions of dollars and yet, he proposed no value returned for the removal of this property from its owners.]

    The seceders insist that our Constitution admits of secession. They have assumed to make a national constitution of their own, in which, of necessity, they have either discarded or retained the right of secession, as, they insist, it exists in ours. If they have discarded it, they thereby admit that on principle it ought not to be in ours. If they have retained it by their own construction of ours, they show that to be consistent they must secede from one another whenever they shall find it the easiest way of settling their debts or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The principle itself is one of disintegration and upon which no Government can possibly endure.

    If all the States save one should assert the power to drive that one out of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder politicians would at once deny the power and denounce the act as the greatest outrage upon States rights. But suppose that precisely the same act, instead of being called "driving the one out," should be called "the seceding of the others from that one," it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do; unless, indeed, they make the point that the one, because it is a minority, may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not rightfully do. These politicians are subtle and profound on the rights of minorities. They are not partial to the power which made the Constitution, and speaks from the preamble, calling itself "We, the people."

    It may well be questioned whether there is to-day a majority of the legally qualified voters of any State, except, perhaps, South Carolina, in favor of disunion. There is much reason to believe that the Union men are the majority in many, if not in every other one, of the so-called seceded States. The contrary has not been demonstrated in any one of them. It is ventured to affirm this, even of Virginia and Tennessee; for the result of an election, held in military camps, where the bayonets are all on one side of the question voted upon, can scarcely be considered as demonstrating popular sentiment.

    [Mr. Lincoln seemed to forget in the above paragraph, that the states elect State representatives who decided the secession issue in each of the seceded states, at the will of the people. This is much the same way the Federal government used to do things, before big money became the people through the lobby process. And in this very speech, Mr. Lincoln is NOT proposing to put this war effort to a vote of the populace but to have the Congress of the United States to vote and decide to wage war.]

    At such an election all that large class who are, at once, for the Union and against coercion would be coerced to vote against the Union.

    It may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free institutions we enjoy have developed the powers and improved the condition of our whole people beyond any example in the world. Of this we now have a striking and an impressive illustration. So large an army as the Government has now on foot was never before known without a soldier in it but who had taken his place there of his own free choice. But more than this; there are many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the world; and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a court abundantly competent to administer the Government itself. Nor do I say this is not true, also in the army of our late friends, now adversaries, in this contest; but if it is, so much better the reason why the Government which has conferred such benefits on them and us should not be broken up. Whoever, in any section, proposes to abandon such a Government would do well to consider in deference to what principle it is that he does it -- what better he is likely to get in its stead -- whether the substitute will give, or be intended to give, so much of good to the people. There are some foreshadowing on this subject. Our adversaries have adopted some declarations of independence, in which, unlike the good old one, penned by Jefferson, they omit the words "all men are created equal." Why? They have adopted a temporary national constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike our good old one, signed by Washington, they omit "We, the people," and substitute "We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States." Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view the rights of men and the authority of the people?

    [Mr. Lincoln must have read something that I didn't or can't when he read this "draft". Here is, in its complete form, the preamble of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. Please note, We the People, and the rights of the states to act as independent sovereign states: We the people of the Confederate States, each State acting (for itself, and) in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity - (to which ends we invoke) (invoking) The favor and guidance of Almighty God - do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America... ]

    This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men -- to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend.

    I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appreciate this. It is worthy of note that while in this, the Government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the Army and Navy who have been favored with the offices have resigned and proved false to the hand which had pampered them, not one common soldier or common sailor deserted his flag, [Not one common soldier or common sailor? Again, somebody has not told Mr. Lincoln all the facts. The rate of soldiers and sailors leaving the Union forces in the first 8 months of 1861 for the Confederacy was about 45%. What could I be missing in this statement]

    Great honor is due to those officers who remained true, despite the example of their treacherous associates; but the greatest honor, and most important fact of all, is the unanimous firmness of the common soldiers and common sailors. To the last man, so far as known, they have successfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those whose commands but an hour before they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of plain people. They understand, without an argument, that the destroying the Government which was made by Washington means no good to them.

    Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled -- the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains -- its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it.

    [Nowhere and I mean nowhere does the Confederate states, nor any individual state, nor any leader of the Confederacy or any individual state ever make the declaration that it was the goal or objective of the Southern States to overthrow the Union. Not before July 4, 1861 or after July 4, 1861.]

    It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take it by war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.

    Lest there might be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men as to what is to be the course of the Government toward the Southern States after the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the Executive deems it proper to say, it will be his purpose then, as ever, to be guided by the Constitution and the laws; and that he probably will have no different understanding of the powers and duties of the Federal Government relatively to the rights of the States and the people, under the Constitution, than that expressed in the inaugural address.

    He desires to preserve the Government, that it may be administered for all, as it was administered by the men who made it. Loyal citizens everywhere have the right to claim this of their Government; and the Government has no right to withhold or neglect it. It is not perceived that, in giving it, there is any coercion, any conquest, or any subjugation, in any just sense of those terms.

    The Constitution provides, and all States have accepted the provision, that, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government." But if a State may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so, it may also discard the republican form of government; so that to prevent its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining the guaranty mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obligatory the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory.

    [That same paragraph also states the the Constitution "and shall protect each of them against Invasion;" and yet this is exactly what Mr. Lincoln did in South Carolina, and Florida before this speech, he sent troops under the flag of the United States to invade these states, and reinforce Federal forts in these states.]

    [Again, he asks for the power to wage war in the following paragraph]
    It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of employing the war power, in defense of the Government, forced upon him. He could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the Government. No compromise by public servants could, in this case, be a cure; not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular Government can long survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election can only save the Government from immediate destruction by giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election. The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.

    As a private citizen the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish; much less could he in betrayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, nor even to count the chances of his own life, in what might follow. In full view of his great responsibility he has, so far, done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views and your action may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights of a certain and speedy restoration to them, under the Constitution and the laws.

    And having thus chosen our course, without guile and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts.

    ABRAHAM LINCOLN
    JULY 4, 1861
     

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  3. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    " Mr. Lincoln also states that no state was a state before the Union made them a state. I believe, but may be wrong, that each of the Colonies, having divested themselves of Royal rule in 1787 called themselves "states", before the adoption of the Constitution, before the formation of the Union. And this would include the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, & Maryland, to name some of the states that had either by this point seceeded or were considering secession (Maryland and Vermont still slave state status in 1861). "




    Which came first; the Federal government or State Government? Most people would say the State governments combined to form the Federal Government. Although this is a common misconception of the truth, it is still a misconception. The states did NOT pre-exist the federal government. The first Continental Congress convened on September 5, 1774 with representatives of the PEOPLE of the several colonies of England.
    There were basically 2 different parts to the representative governments then in place in the colonies. The first was an Assembly of elected representatives of the people of the colony. The second was the Royal Governor and his council who were usually chosen by the king or his council. There were no States as we now know them. It was at the urging of the Continental Congress that the State Constitutions were written and STATE governments formed seperate from the control of the Royal Governors. The following is a list detailing the seperate colonies and the dates of their formation into state governments along with a brief description of how the first representatives were chosen to attend the Continental Congress.

    1) Connecticut- Delegates to first Continental Congress of 1774 chosen by Committee of Correspondence of the Assembly- Provincial charter used as constitution until 1818- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of charter as constitution as a STATE- October 2, 1776

    2) Delaware- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by Assembly-STATE constitution adopted September 21, 1776- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- November 8, 1776

    3) Georgia- unrepresented at first Continental Congress-STATE constitution adopted February 5, 1777- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- June 7, 1777

    4) Maryland- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by committee appointed by counties- STATE constitution adopted November 11, 1776- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- February 15, 1777

    5) Massachusetts- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by closed session of General court- STATE constitution adopted in 1780 (Charter used until then)- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of charter as constitution of a STATE- December 10, 1776

    6) New Hampshire- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by meeting of town deputies- STATE constitution adopted January 5, 1776- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- September 12, 1776

    7) New Jersey- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by county committees-STATE constitution adopted July 2, 1776- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- November 30, 1776

    8) New York- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by committees elected by counties- STATE constitution adopted April 20, 1778- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of provisional STATE constitution- October 3, 1777

    9) North Carolina- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by committees of deputies of the counties- STATE constitution adopted December 18, 1777- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- May 4, 1777

    10) Pennsylvania- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by Assembly- STATE constitution adopted September 28, 1776- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- March 10, 1777

    11) Rhode Island- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by Assembly- charter retained as STATE constitution until 1842- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of charter as STATE constitution- May 7, 1777

    12) South Carolina- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by "General Meeting of the Inhabitants"- charter retained as STATE constitution until March 19, 1778- The first representatives to Congress after charter retained as STATE constitution- January 10, 1777

    13) Virginia- Delegates to first Continental Congress chosen by Provincial Convention of delegates of the counties- STATE constitution adopted June 29, 1776- The first representatives to Congress chosen after adoption of STATE constitution- October 10, 1776

    In effect the Federal Government was created by the people of the seperate colonies collectively. The state governments were formed afterwards. It was not until the 3rd Continental Congress met that a representative was in attendance as a representative of a STATE.


    On September 5, 1774 the delegates to the First Continental Congress assembled with the exception of Georgia, which was unrepresented at the First Congress. The delegates referred to themselves in resolves as having been elected "by the good people of the several colonies." The Declaration of Resolves was passed; which renounced the late repressive measures of the British Government. The second order of business was the adoption of Continental Association of Nonimportation and Nonconsumption of British Goods. This amounted to a boycott of British goods and also set up clauses establishing the machinery for the enforcement of this policy. The last act of this Congress was the call for it's successor which was to meet on May 10, 1775.
    The delegates themselves were chosen as representatives to the Continental Congress by the people at large of the several colonies, not the colonial governments. As the colonial governments could not legally meet for business without the approval of the Royal Governor or his council in most cases the majority of the delegates were chosen by revolutionary bodies. Only four of the 12 colonies represented in the First Continental Congress were chosen through their regular colonial assemblies, and of those four, two were chosen by illegal meetings of the assemblies.
    The call for the Second Continental Congress went out to "all the colonies in North America" to choose deputies. Due to the disintegration of the colonial assemblies caused by friction with the Royal Governors and their councils, the colonial assemblies were largely ignored in the next year and the representatives to the Second Continental Congress were elected once again by illegal assemblies in the separate colonies. Responding to a request from the Committee of Safety and the Exeter Convention of the colony of New Hampshire the Continental Congress passed a resolution on November 3, 1775 authorizing New Hampshire to set up a civil government. The following day a similar resolution was requested by the delegates from the colony of South Carolina and a similar authorization was extended to their colony. Both took steps to carry out the mandate from Congress and New Hampshire adopted a form of "Civil Government for this Colony" on January 5, 1776. South Carolina adopted its state constitution on March 26, 1776.
    Reacting to requests from the various other colonies on May 10, 1776 Congress generalized the practice of urging the colonies to organize state governments with the following resolution:

    Resolved: That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.

    On June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee arose in Congress assembled in Philadelphia to call for the adoption of a declaration of independence from England. Congress, after much debate resolved to wait for at least 3 weeks to issue such a statement but authorized a committee to begin drafting the document. On July 2, 1776 the document, authored by Thomas Jefferson was adopted. For the next two days the document was edited in committee and on July 4, 1776 the final version was approved and sent to the printer. The document was titled "The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America in Congress Assembled". This was somewhat of a misnomer as by this date only four actual "States" had been formed, the rest were still without a legal "state" government. Of these four, three of them had actually adopted provisional governments. In effect it was the Continental Congress, not a confederation of sovereign states, that proclaimed American independence from Great Britain.

    blackirish
     
  4. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    [Nowhere and I mean nowhere does the Confederate states, nor any individual state, nor any leader of the Confederacy or any individual state ever make the declaration that it was the goal or objective of the Southern States to overthrow the Union. Not before July 4, 1861 or after July 4, 1861.]

    Let's take this one step at a time. The United States government was the recognized federal government in the southern states up until the secession articles. The Constitution of the United States was the supreme law of the land in these states. By declaring the Constitution null and void in these states these states WERE in fact attempting to overthrow the federal government within these states. If a government is the recognized authority one day and you declare it null and void the next, that is the very definition of an overthrow of the government.

    blackirish
     
  5. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    [That same paragraph also states the the Constitution "and shall protect each of them against Invasion;" and yet this is exactly what Mr. Lincoln did in South Carolina, and Florida before this speech, he sent troops under the flag of the United States to invade these states, and reinforce Federal forts in these states.]

    Fort Pickens and Fort Sumter were lawfully recognized to be Federal Property within these states. Lincoln attempted to resupply Sumter and reinforce Pickens. It takes a considerable stretch of imagination to consider attempts to defend FEDERAL property within a state as an invasion of said state. If it is not state property to begin with how can it logically be considered an invasion of the state to defend it?

    blackirish
     
  6. oldreb

    oldreb Guest

    Rick, outstanding arguments! Give me a few days to digest all the info you have provided, but right off the bat, let me address the idea that the Constitution of the United States was the supreme law of the land in these states as a concept.
    The seceeding states considered that 1. Yes, the Constitution was the supreme law of the land; 2. the Federal government was attempting and had attempted for some time to be usurping and negating aspects of the Constitution, e.g., slavery; and 3. they had a right, a moral right, a civil right and a legal right, to remove themselves from the Union if the Federal government was not going to uphold the Constitution and the laws generated by it.

    Even Lincoln said, ""This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can excercise their constitutional right of amending it, or excercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it." He also said, "What I do say is that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."

    Further, the Constitution of the United States says in Amendment X, the Bill of Rights,"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The Constitution does not specify that the Union is indivisible, nor does it prohibit a state from withdrawing from the Union of States, therefore, by not including the rights of secession of any state, they are not excluded...or so the thinking went.

    As for the overthrow of the Federal government, the States of the south were seceeding because they strongly favored the concepts of State's Rights, a position that meant a Federal government that was not all powerful (like today's Federal government). To this extent, the secession of the states was their attempt to move toward State's rights, not an overthrow of the Federal government.

    As I said, and I really like the arguments, give me a day or two to get my stuff (thought I was going to write something else didn't ya?) together and I will respond to the statements about what came first, the state or the feds and a rather testy ( 8<0 ) response to the invasion of soveriegn states by Mr. Lincoln.

    See you on the field of debate in a day or two.

    best regards
    Ron/oldreb
     
  7. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    2. the Federal government was attempting and had attempted for some time to be usurping and negating aspects of the Constitution, e.g., slavery;

    Please by specific. I understand there was much consternation in Congress concerning the spread of slavery into the new territories. According to Article IV Sect. 3 of the Constitution:
    The Congress shall have the 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 seems pretty clear cut. The Constitution specifically gives the Congress the right to legislate on all matters concerning new territories.

    "To this extent, the secession of the states was their attempt to move toward State's rights, not an overthrow of the Federal government."

    I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you here. The Articles of seccession were quite plain in that they declared the US Constitution (the lawful government) null and void in their respective states. Regardless of whether they saw this as a move towards state's rights, it was by definition an attempt to overthrow the existing government. In order to form ANY other government they must first overthrow, declare null and void, (pick your term here) the existing government first.

    "Even Lincoln said, ""This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can excercise their constitutional right of amending it, or excercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it." "

    It seems thh southern states were, in effect, "exercising their revolutionary right to overthrow the government" which puts us right back where we started.

    blackirish
     
  8. oldreb

    oldreb Guest

    Good morning Rick -- hope you are well and in the mood for debate.
    First you state --- "Fort Pickens and Fort Sumter were lawfully recognized to be Federal Property within these states. Lincoln attempted to resupply Sumter and reinforce Pickens. It takes a considerable stretch of imagination to consider attempts to defend FEDERAL property within a state as an invasion of said state. If it is not state property to begin with how can it logically be considered an invasion of the state to defend it?"

    How can this be sir?

    Does not Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution of the United States say, "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."?
    I emphasize, "keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace"...And yet, you state, these "Forts" and the troops therein are legitimate and legal?

    In the first American revolution, was not all the properties of the colonies the "PROPERTY" of the King? The commons of Lexington come to mind first off. And yet, the founders of this great nation fought the bloody British tooth and nail for 13 years, 13 years sir, before they kicked their Emperical hineys off American soil. When the states that eventually would form the Confederacy seceded from the Union, was that not, no, is that not the same as stating, "When in the course of Human Events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

    Can you, Irish, my friend, quote me one sentence in the Constitution of the United States or any amendment written to that wonderful document prior to December 1860 that states that the Union is inseperable? Or can you find in the Constitution of the United States where the Federal Government is empowered to physically enter a state and take over its government, establish a figure-head government and then separate a portion of that state to make a new state, even though the Constitution states,"but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress." Article IV, Section III. I am not referring to Article I, Section 8, "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;" This is a different topic.

    YOu state, "The Articles of secession were quite plain in that they declared the US Constitution ... null and void in their respective states." No, they do not. I can and will if asked post each of the four Articles of Secession on this posting board if asked, although they are quite lengthy. In South Carolina, the ARticle of Secession does state, "The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist;" This is NOT declaring any part of the Constitution null and void, but instead stating simply that the Constitution will no longer provide for the State of South Carolina the guarantees that, in the mind of the politician and the people of the time, it had failed to do anyway. I can break each of the articles of secession down this way, as I have studied each in depth.

    In my quote from Mr. Lincoln, you seem to have taken the bit in your teeth and only see the one side, "revolutionary right". I see the other side, "their constitutional right of amending it". The south felt, right or wrong and it has always fascinated me that the Supreme Court of the United States would never hear or judge on the issue" that they had the Constitutional Right to secede.

    So that sums up my points on that post. I do enjoy debating you Rick. You make good points, some of which I have a difficult time with. And some even change my point of view.

    I hope we can continue this, as gentlemen, and that someday, I get to meet you in person for a chat, a cold drink, and a handshake.

    I will answer the posting on the Issue of State or Government first in just a short while. Got a he**uva headache answering this one.

    Your servant,
    Ron Goodwin
    aka OldREb
     
  9. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    "How can this be sir?

    Does not Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution of the United States say, "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."?
    I emphasize, "keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace"...And yet, you state, these "Forts" and the troops therein are legitimate and legal?"

    First off, let me say that this will probably get long and somewhat boring and for that I apologize in advance, but it is unavoidable to cover the material at hand. The authorization for such fortifications is indeed found in the Constitution but not in the Article you quote which is expressly forbidding the "STATES" from keeping troops and has very little to do with FEDERAL fortifications. I refer you to Article I section 8:

    Article 1 Section 8
    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 the 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 shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings;--

    As you can see this Article plainly gives Congress "Exclusive legislation" over such forts, magazines, arsenals, etc. etc. This complete control is further augmented by Article IV section 3 paragraph 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.

    If there is further doubt as to the complete jurisdiction of Congress over such federal properties I refer you to United States v. Cornell in 1819:

    United States v. Cornell

    25 Fed. Cas. 646, no. 14,867 C.C.D.R.I. 1819

    "The first question for the consideration of the jury, is, whether the offence is proved to be committed as alleged in the indictment, in a place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. If so,
    then the crime falls within the prohibitions of the third or seventh section of the act of 1790, c. 9 [1 Stat. 112], and is clearly cognizable by this court; if otherwise, then the jurisdiction entirely fails, and it is quite immaterial to us, what other court possesses jurisdiction. It is
    completely proved by the evidence, that Fort Adams, the place in which the offence
    was committed, is the property of the United States, having been duly
    purchased by the president more than nineteen years ago, under the authority of an
    act of congress (as we shall presently see), and ever since exclusively possessed by the United States. Copies of the deeds are now before us, and their sufficiency to pass the fee of the lands is not now disputed. But although the United States may well purchase and hold lands for public purposes, within the territorial limits of a state, this does not of itself oust the jurisdiction of sovereignty of such state over the lands so purchased. It remains until the state has relinquished its authority over the land either expressly or by necessary implication.
    The constitution of the United States declares that congress shall have power to exercise "exclusive legislation" in all "cases whatsoever" over
    all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards
    and other needful buildings. When therefore a purchase of land for any of these purposes is made by the national government, and the state legislature has given its consent to the purchase,*the land so purchased by the very terms of the constitution ipso facto falls within the exclusive legislation of congress, and the state jurisdiction is completely ousted.* (Justice
    Story)

    The last sentence in this ruling aptly expresses the situation we find at Fort Sumter in 1860 but I need to back up a little to make this point perfectly clear. As you can see, the construction in this instance, and indeed the references to Fortifications in the Constitution, revolve around the neccessity of the State legislature first ceding any such property to the Federal Government.
    On March 20, 1794 Congress approached the problem of the neccessity of such Fortifications. Calling upon the power vested in them by the aforementioned Article I section 8 of the Constitution they passed An Act to Provide for the Defence of Certain Ports and Harbors in the United States. This rather wordily titled act specifically called for such fortifications to be erected in Charleston Harbor (amongst various other places). Section 2 of this act provides that it "shall be lawful" for the President to employ as garrisons in any of these fortifications that the President shall deem neccessary. This section also calls for the placement of sundry cannon and artillery preparations as well. Section 3 of this act approached the Constitutional requirements of such fortifications by making it lawful for the President to accept the cession of these properties from the state legislatures; provided that no purchase should be made where such lands are the property of a state.
    Another act was passed shortly afterwards to provide funds to accomplish the building of these fortifications. On May 3, 1798 Congress passed another act concerning these fortifications titled An Act Supplementary to the Act Providing for the Further Defence of the Ports and Harbors of the United States. This act called for a sum of $ 250,000 to be appropriated for the completion of such fortifications already underway. The states were concerned with the neccessity of such fortifications as there was some sabre rattling going on between Washington and Europe and were actively calling for the completion of such fortifications. If these huge expenditure was not enough, Section 2 of this same act made it lawful for the States themselves that were indebted to the United States Government to finish such preparations and take such expenses off of their debt to the Federal Government (within listed caps of course.) However, as a provision to this clause; all such properties would expressly be declared and established as the property of the United States while maintained by them. To further bring this point home Section 3 of this same act repealed Section 3 of the earlier act which required the State Legislatures to formally cede these properties to the United States Government. By expressly tying the funding and further work upon such fortifications to cession of the property thay sat upon, the United States Government became the lawful owner of Fort Sumter (amongst others) with the complete approval of the states.
    At the time of the crisis at Fort Sumter; South Carolina, the United States Government, and the Confederate Government considered the Fort to be the lawful property of the United States Government. I would reiterate that an attempt to re-supply a lawful garrison on Federal property could hardly be logically construed as an "invasion" of South Carolina under these circumstances.

    to be continued.......

    blackirish
     
  10. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    In the first American revolution, was not all the properties of the colonies the "PROPERTY" of the King? The commons of Lexington come to mind first off. And yet, the founders of this great nation fought the bloody British tooth and nail for 13 years, 13 years sir, before they kicked their Emperical hineys off American soil. When the states that eventually would form the Confederacy seceded from the Union, was that not, no, is that not the same as stating, "When in the course of Human Events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

    There is a distinct difference between the Revolution by which the founding fathers declared their independence from England and the attempt by the southern states to declare themselves independent. The founding fathers well understood that by English law (the recognized law in the colonies at the time) they were in fact guilty of treason against the king by declaring themselves independent. They were under no illusions that their actions were in any way LEGAL under the English government. They well recognized that they would be hung as traitors to the crown if they were not in fact successful in claiming their MORAL right to become free men. The southern states on the other hand professed to have a LEGAL right under the US Constitution to declare themselves independent and had no such understanding that they were guilty of treason under the lawful government. Hardly comparable sentiments.

    blackirish
     
  11. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    In my quote from Mr. Lincoln, you seem to have taken the bit in your teeth and only see the one side, "revolutionary right". I see the other side, "their constitutional right of amending it". The south felt, right or wrong and it has always fascinated me that the Supreme Court of the United States would never hear or judge on the issue" that they had the Constitutional Right to secede.

    What has made the US Constitution such a lasting document and maybe its greatest feature is that its authors saw fit to include within it specific measures for amending it.

    Article V.

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article, and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of it's equal Suffrage in the Senate.

    These are the only LEGAL means of amending the Constitution. I think we can safely assume this is what Lincoln was referring to in the speech you quote from. However, you do bring up a very interesting point. Why didn't the southern states make an effort to legally amend the Constitution to suit their purpose?
    I agree that the correct forum for deciding the Legality of Secession would have been the United States Supreme Court. After all, is it not the recognized body in our system of government for deciding such questions? As it happens; the Supreme Court has held forth on the question:

    State of Texas v. White 1868
    From the opinion of the court:

    It is needless to discuss, at length, the question whether the right of a State to withdraw from the Union for any cause, regarded by herself as sufficient, is consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

    The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and [74 U.S. 700, 725] arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form, and character, and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these the Union was solemnly declared to 'be perpetual.' And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained 'to form a more perfect Union.' It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?

    But the perpetuity and indissolubility of the Union, by no means implies the loss of distinct and individual existence, or of the right of self-government by the States. Under the Articles of Confederation each State retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right not expressly delegated to the United States. Under the Constitution, though the powers of the States were much restricted, still, all powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. And we have already had occasion to remark at this term, that cthe people of each State compose a State, having its own government, and endowed with all the functions essential to separate and independent existence,' and that 'without the States in union, there could be no such political body as the United States.' 12 Not only, therefore, can there be no loss of separate and independent autonomy to the States, through their union under the Constitution, but it may be not unreasonably said that the preservation of the States, and the maintenance of their governments, are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance of the National government. The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States. [74 U.S. 700, 726] When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.

    Considered therefore as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law. The obligations of the State, as a member of the Union, and of every citizen of the State, as a citizen of the United States, remained perfect and unimpaired. It certainly follows that the State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens of the Union. If this were otherwise, the State must have become foreign, and her citizens foreigners. The war must have ceased to be a war for the suppression of rebellion, and must have become a war for conquest and subjugation.

    As always, it is a pleasure to exchange ideas with you Ron. I often find that I learn a great deal in attempting to answer such questions. I look forward to more debate on the issue but I find that I have spent the better part of the evening on this and have other duties to carry out (my wife may kill me if I don't get off of here soon).

    best regards,
    blackirish
     
  12. oldreb

    oldreb Guest

    On your last post, wait for it. This one is easy to discuss based on Mr. Lincoln's First Inaugural Address.


    Try this as a start of the debate on what came first, the state or the government.

    Starting with the Continental Congress of 1774: (please note the date - this was 2 years BEFORE the colonies declared their Independence), the 13 colonies sent representatives to Philadelphia to discuss the topics of taxation, colonization, and eventually independence. With the outbreak of the War for Independence, this colonial gathering became the focal point for conduct of the colonies in the war. The COntinental Congress authorized the expenditures of the war for the government, but NOT for the colonies.

    The Articles of Confederation were a result of the quest for independence (1781). The A of C established a very loose organization of the 13 colonies to form a small, rather ineffectual central government. At this time, the colonies no longer considered themselves as part of the Crown. They called themselves STATES. But wait, this is still many years BEFORE the COnstitution was drafted.
    As a matter of fact, in 1776, the Continental Congress drafted resolutions requesting each colony to draft their own STATE CONSITUTION. A set of rules the states would govern themselves by. This was 11 years before the start of the first Constitutional Convention. (more on that later.)
    When Richard Henry Lee proposed independence in 1776, he also stated there needed to be a Union of the states. The ARticles of Confederation were a result of this proposal, although the states did not approve (ratify) the A of C until 1781. The states existed for five years before the Articles of Confederation.
    (SIDE BAR -- during the period of 1776-1787, Britian not only fought its colonies but was at war with both France and Spain. Do you think for even a minute if George had not been kind of involved on his own borders that he would not have sent enough troops to the colonies to kick our collective butts?)
    In 1781, when the Articles of Confederation were ratified, Congress adopted a new name. It called itself the United States in Congress Assembled. Cute, huh?
    in 1780, soldiers from the STATE of Connecticut staged a mutiny (short-lived, quickly forgiven) due to the drop in the value of the currency being paid to them.
    In 1783, soldiers from the STATE of Pennsylvania surrounded Congress in Independence Hall, demanding their pay and pensions. Earlier that same year, the army had threatened Congress but George Washington spoke to the men and urged them to refrain from revolt after their "glorious victory".
    In 1785, Britian refused to draft agreements on Commerce with the new "government of the United States" stating that each STATE had the authority to refuse to abide by Congress's trade regulations.
    In 1786, Pickney (I think) proposed changes the Articles of Confederation, but Congress decided that ALL 13 STATES must approve any changes, so Congress did not move on these changes that year.


    As the war drew to a close, the Continental Congress and some Americans (new term, new people) felt that a stronger Central government was needed to make states obey Congressional mandates, such as paying the cost of the war, although each state had assumed much of the cost of provisioning its own men, etc.
    In 1786, the leaders of the Continental Congress formed a new committee, and called it the Constitutional Convention. The object? To "REVISE" the original Articles of Confederation to make a more powerful central government. Interestingly enough, Rhode Island did not send a delegate to this convention. Did the Government send troops to drag Rhode Island into the convention? No. Why? Because they did not have the authority. The STATE was still the sovereign entity planned by the framers of the Articles of Confederation.
    The Constitution was ratified by nine states in 1788. Virginia, New York, North CArolina (1789) and Rhode Island (1790) finally ratified the Constitution and AT THAT TIME, the Federal government became the authority of the land.
    So you see, Irish, the State did come first. And the State is still first, with the Constitution itself, (of course I realize it is an amendment, but the framers of the Constitution did think ahead enough to provide for amendments) stating that powers not granted to the government by the Constitution are reserved for the States.


    And it took 9 of the 13 states in attendance to ratify this Constitution BEFORE it became the law of the land. Nine STATES, not the Federal Government telling the people that it was a fact, but nine states telling the Federal Government IT was a fact.

    OK - that is my position. I am happy to be able to debate you on this. Thank God I have more than five minutes following your posit before I offer rebuttal. And now, if I do not go back to work I am liable to have to rely on the goodness of my state to pay my unemployment.

    My best to you sir, and to all who read my dribble.
    Old Reb
     
  13. oldreb

    oldreb Guest

    Rick, regarding your last post. You refer to 74 U.S. 700, aka White v. Texas. I am going to have to pull a yellow card on you for this. You are using a bill passed post facto of our time period. That reg. is dated 1868, and is no more or less what we are doing now, debating the issue. I am preparing my rebuttal now on your comments that the South should have amended the Constitution and I will break one of my own rules, I will only provide one quote, that of Mr. Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address.

    Looking forward to this side of the debate. What fun! What a learning experience. I got a headache, and I picked a helluva time to quit drinking!

    See you down the road, sir.
    best regards
    OldReb
     
  14. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    As a matter of fact, in 1776, the Continental Congress drafted resolutions requesting each colony to draft their own STATE CONSITUTION. A set of rules the states would govern themselves by. This was 11 years before the start of the first Constitutional Convention. (more on that later.)

    I rest my case. As I stated earlier in the first post on this subject, the Continental Congress preceeded ANY state government. The Continental Congress was the federal government at the time. The Continental Congress coined money, issued bills of credit, formed and paid for an army, and declared their independence from England. Sounds an awful lot like a government to me.

    blackirish
     
  15. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

    Joined:
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    Rick, regarding your last post. You refer to 74 U.S. 700, aka White v. Texas. I am going to have to pull a yellow card on you for this. You are using a bill passed post facto of our time period. That reg. is dated 1868, and is no more or less what we are doing now, debating the issue.

    Actually, I am referring to a Supreme Court ruling on the subject of secession. You suggested earlier this would have been the proper place to decide the legality of secession as the south used it. I am merely pointing out that the Supreme Court did indeed speak to the legality of secession in this ruling. Yes, it was after the fact but that hardly makes it any less official.

    blackirish
     
  16. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

    Joined:
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    "YOu state, "The Articles of secession were quite plain in that they declared the US Constitution ... null and void in their respective states." No, they do not. I can and will if asked post each of the four Articles of Secession on this posting board if asked, although they are quite lengthy. In South Carolina, the ARticle of Secession does state, "The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist;" This is NOT declaring any part of the Constitution null and void, but instead stating simply that the Constitution will no longer provide for the State of South Carolina the guarantees that, in the mind of the politician and the people of the time, it had failed to do anyway."

    I refer you to South Carolina's Article of Secession:

    We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the "United States of America," is hereby dissolved.

    Done at Charleston the twentieth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.

    A Repeal of the Constitution's authority does, in effect, make it null and void. If the Constitution was the recognized authoritative act for the government the day before this article was passed in South Carolina and is no longer such the day after then the government has been overthrown.

    blackirish
     
  17. oldreb

    oldreb Guest

    Rick,

    **** it man, you sure can twist me up. I am not even sure which way to attack this football!

    OK - from the legalese assault:

    Repeal - by definition yes, means to rescind or annul by authoritative act; especially : to revoke or abrogate by legislative enactment

    Read more closely however, you will see that the framers of this document did NOT declare the Constitution repealed. What they repealed was the ordinance, adopted by the State of South Carolina on May 23rd 1788 that ratified the Constitution of the United States was repealed AND that the union that had previously existed because of this ordinance no longer existed.

    While this may sound a lot like splitting hairs, and in fact it may be, it is a lot different to say that a state is repealing an act their own state government approved wherein that state approved an instrument bigger or more powerful than for that same state to say they were negating the more powerful instrument.

    In a previous argument, you stated that the Constitution was the law of the land, to which I concur. Repealing the constitution by a state government, which is not what this article of secession states, however, would mean the state no longer accepts the provisions of the Constitution as applicable IN THAT STATE.

    To say that the act of South Carolina in their secession document would be the same as if the framers of the original Constitution would have said that when the first state ratifies this constitution then it is applicable to all 13 states. They did not do that!

    In ARticle VII, "The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same."

    This alone could make it evident, that if a state did not ratify the Constitution it did not apply to that state. Therefore, if a state later decided that it no longer wanted to belong to the country the Constitution represented, then it could withdraw, and the document would no longer apply to it.

    This is probably why the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Secession.

    When I said that no article of secession declared the Constitution of the US, or the government of the US null and void, I meant by those words, e.g. "the Constitution of the United States, by vote of this August Body is hereby declared to be null and void...yada yada yada".

    To declare that an instrument that approved a larger, more powerful instrument is repealed means it no longer applies in that frontage.

    And so, back to work.

    I need an Excedrin!!!!!!

    my best, my worthwhile friend
    OldReb
     
  18. blackirish

    blackirish Cadet

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    "While this may sound a lot like splitting hairs, and in fact it may be, it is a lot different to say that a state is repealing an act their own state government approved wherein that state approved an instrument bigger or more powerful than for that same state to say they were negating the more powerful instrument. "

    Actually, I think you are correct in your first statement. It is splitting hairs. It is a distinction without a difference. South Carolina was repealing its assent to the Constitution as the law of the land; in effect overthrowing the existing government in favor of a new one.

    "In a previous argument, you stated that the Constitution was the law of the land, to which I concur. Repealing the constitution by a state government, which is not what this article of secession states, however, would mean the state no longer accepts the provisions of the Constitution as applicable IN THAT STATE."

    This is EXACTLY what the net effect of the Article of secession herein referred to. IN THAT STATE it was the law of the land one day and negated the next. Once again, the recognized law of the land IN THAT STATE was overthrown. I do not contend that this article somehow overthrew the federal government in the whole country, but in South Carolina the secession article overthrew the existing federal government.

    best regards,
    blackirish
     
  19. oldreb

    oldreb Guest

    Rick,
    I am going to take a day to think this over. Compelling arguments, good points. I think I know how I am going to respond, but I want to be da---d sure I make my statements correctly, and in a positive light.
    Rejoin me here on Friday and we will resume this, if you still want to!
    My best to you sir,
    OldReb
     
  20. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Ron &amp; Bill, as much I am afraid too, after reading the wonderful, detailed and factual posts here between the two of you, I have decided to put my two cents in to your original question.

    Did Lincoln declare war on the Confederacy?

    No.

    Thank you for your attention.
     
  21. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    "The Government of the Confederate States...had no existence, except as a conspiracy to overthrow lawful authority. Its foundation was treason against the existing Federal Government. Its single purpose so long as it lasted, was to make that treason successful...When it was overthrown it perished totally...What of good or evil has followed from its remains for the consideration and discussion of the philosophical statesman and historian."

    Associate Justice Samuel Freeman Miller (July 16, 1862-October 13, 1890), Sprott vs United States, 20 Wall. (87 U.S.) 459.463.

    Unionblue
     

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