Confederates advocating secession via the US Constitution

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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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From the book, The Constitution: An Introduction, by Michael Stokes Paulsen and Luke Paulsen, chapter 7, CRISIS, pg. 155 - 156:

"The United States Constitution as we know it today is, in substantial measure, the result of the single most important act of constitutional interpretation in American history: the Civil War...

...Yet at the heart of the Civil War, the crisis that triggered it, and the changes that it brought were enormous constitutional issues, not jus political, military, and moral ones. It is no exaggeration to say that the Civil War was fought over the meaning of the Constitution--and over who would have the ultimate power to decide it's meaning. Specifically, the war was fought over three hugely important constitutional questions: the question of the present and future constitutional status of slavery in the United States: the question of who would have final power to decide that issue; and the question of the lawfulness of secession--whether the Union could be dissolved by the unilateral decisions of individual states claiming sovereignty to decide for themselves, or whether the Union as a whole was the ultimate sovereign.

These questions--probably the most fundamental questions of constitutional law in our nation's history--did not obtain their ultimate resolution in the decision of any court. They were settled on the battlefields of the Civil War. It was the outcome of the "case" of Grant vs. Lee, reduced to final judgment at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865, that settled the most important and persistent issue of antebellum constitutional dispute--the nature of the Union--in favor of the nationalist view of sovereignty and against the South's state-sovereignty view. It was a great Civil War, not a judicial opinion, that decided that issue. It was likewise the Civil War, not any correcting judicial decision, that ended up overturning the most outrageous decision of the Supreme Court to that point in our history--Dred Scott's enshrinement of slavery as a fundamental constitutional property right of (white) citizens, immune from federal interference, as a matter of ("substantive") due process of law. The Supreme Court never overruled it's decision; it was the Civil War, and the constitutional amendments that followed in it's wake, that overruled Dred Scott. And it was the Civil War, not any judicial decision, that reversed the most grievous error of the framers themselves: the preservation, protection, and encouragement of slavery under the original Constitution. It took a stunning, unprecedented wartime presidential military order--the Emancipation Proclamation--followed by the success of Union armies, and then finally a constitutional amendment, to undo the original Constitution's support for slavery..."

More from the book, The Constitution: An Introduction, by Michael Stokes Paulsen and Luke Paulsen, chapter 7, CRISIS, pg. 156:

"...The Civil War thus produced a fundamental transformation in the legal status of slavery under the Constitution and defined--some would say redefined--American federalism. It did so by repudiating the South's, and the Court's, misinterpretations of the old Constitution and by furnishing the circumstances that enabled sweeping new amendments. The result was the more perfect Union we have today, and the end of slavery throughout that Union. The war vindicated the North's interpretation of the Constitution, rejecting the South's view of state sovereignty and embracing instead the power of the nation as a whole to guarantee to every person both freedom and equal rights of citizenship. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution--abolishing slavery, permanently erasing the notorious Three-Fifths Clause, establishing civil rights for all, and guaranteeing the right to vote without discrimination on the basis of race--were, in effect, the nation's grand interpretation and implementation of the "Republican Form of Government" and :tongue:rivileges and Immunities" clauses of Article IV of the original Constitution. These interpretations decisively repudiated the Supreme Court's deformed constitutional vision in Dred Scott. These were major interpretive victories, won in a bloody civil war over constitutional meaning..."


For all of their talk about the 10th Amendment and oblique references to the Constitution, Those who led the Southern States in rebellion did not utilize any legal or Constitutional means when it came to unilateral secession.

It did not matter to them if the word "secession" or "secede" could be found within the document, it only mattered if they could justify their rebellion by the disguise of a "compact" theory. They knew of the history of Supreme Court rulings (not opinions, rulings) that put the compact theory out of constitutional bounds. They knew that Chief Justice Taney could find no constitutional grounds for them to leave the Union except by revolution because secession was not mentioned nor was there any mode for it's execution within the Constitution.

This is why, after a smokescreen of words and half-baked theories, they went straight to the battlefield by firing on Ft. Sumter. Unilateral secession cannot be conducted in open, honest debate or in a court of law with evidence and reasoned presentation of the facts. It must be done hurriedly, in a pace so fast it cannot permit any facts, law, or reason to interfere with it's execution. It must be done with passion and fear before anyone has time to realize the consequences of such an action.

For all the words they decided on trial by combat, not the law, not the compact theory or the constitution, but by force of arms. Why?

Because they believed they could win
.

Unionblue
 

OpnCoronet

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In regards to the 'states right' v. 'Federalist/nationalist" interpretation of the Constitution and its intent, beffore the Civil War, I believe that a careful study of the famous Daniel Webster of Massachsetts v. Rob't Haynbe of South Carolina, in 1830, would delineate more clearly the growing disaffection between the two sections.

I read the debates long ago, and, admit, I cannot clearly remember their exact words and It is beyond my capacity to restudy them, but, I do know that during the debaes Hayne was mentored and coached, by John C. Calhoun, every night after the days debate, Who was V. P. at the time and not eligible to participate directly in the debate(and, who was at the same time, mentoring and coaching the SC leaders in their defiance of Federal Law in SC). With Webster articulating the nbasic New England Federalism, in relation to the Constitution and nationhood.

The debates, I believe, if my memory hold correct, present a basic description of the two views of the Constitution that fueld the sectional debates of ante=bellum politics before the Cw, and, to a certain extent after it also.

I realize this is not precisely about the subject matter of the OP, but, it, I believe, shows the truue distinction between the two section, politically, that existed before Secession and the War.
 
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Viper21

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I want someone, anyone, to provide historical evidence that any Confederate person or State referenced the US Constitution as justification of unilateral secession.
An Ordinance

To repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution.

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution
of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution, were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.


Sure reads to me like Virginia believed she was acting constitutionally. If not, they never would've mentioned such, or possibly not even issued said Ordinance.

*I apologize if this point has already been made. I didn't feel like reading 50 pages before I posted.
 

Tin cup

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Texas
An Ordinance

To repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution.

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution
of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution, were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.


Sure reads to me like Virginia believed she was acting constitutionally. If not, they never would've mentioned such, or possibly not even issued said Ordinance.

*I apologize if this point has already been made. I didn't feel like reading 50 pages before I posted.
States are lead by people, who can be, and are wrong on many occasions. They were fooling themselves.

Kevin Dally
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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An Ordinance

To repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution.

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution
of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution, were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.


Sure reads to me like Virginia believed she was acting constitutionally. If not, they never would've mentioned such, or possibly not even issued said Ordinance.

*I apologize if this point has already been made. I didn't feel like reading 50 pages before I posted.
"Believe" is my sticking point with the above, as at no time is any one part of the Constitution made reference to in order to say secession was constitutional under which provision of it.
 
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