Confederates advocating secession via the US Constitution

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
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South Carolina
@Andersonh1 ,

I call your mirage and counter with the ghost you are haunted by.

The ghost is history and the Civil War is recorded in it's pages on the concept the federal government cannot force States to remain in the Union.

Sincerely,
Unionblue

And we're back to "might makes right" wherein the original intent of the Founders was perverted by military force. A Union built from trust and common interest has been replaced by "a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets".
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
And we're back to "might makes right" wherein the original intent of the Founders was perverted by military force. A Union built from trust and common interest has been replaced by "a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets".

No, @Andersonh1 , we are not back to that same, old, tired, excuse, "might makes right."

If that had been the case, the Confederacy, when it decided to apply "might" to ensure it's "right" to defy a free election in support of keeping millions enslaved, that would have been the plain, awful, truth.

What we have as a result of that failed effort that "might makes right," is the more correct5, more historically accurate, "right made might."

It is precisely because the Confederacy failed to enforce it's might upon the rest of the United States in pursuit of one of the worst causes a people ever fought, we have the majority righting a wrong, bringing their might to do so.

So no, that old tired mantra doesn't work for me.

But I will offer another one for you.

"If one secedes, he had best be sure that he succeeds."

Unionblue
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
How did the thread turnout? Because I don't think there were many arguments that there was a constitutional right to secession. If there had been such a right it could be have been presented in Congress, or perhaps the Supreme Court. I think the understanding at the time was the people of the secessionist states were exercising an inherent right of revolution. The right of revolution is fundamental to the US, but so too are the risks of failing in the attempt.
But none of the supremacy clauses, the state guarantee clauses, or the republican form of government clause, make sense if the federal government can be blocked by a secessionist threat.
 
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Andersonh1

Brigadier General
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Location
South Carolina
The Southern argument was not the right of revolution. It was largely as follows:
- the States declared themselves sovereign and independent in the Declaration of Independence
- they made that status a reality by winning the Revolutionary War
- when they ratified the Constitution, they did not surrender full sovereignty, they delegated certain limited, defined powers to the General Government
- at any time they could recall and resume those delegated powers, which they did using the same exact type of conventions that they had used to ratify the Constitution in the first place.

Lincoln saw no difference between counties and States, other than size. To him, the States were nothing but subdivisions of the larger political body that was the United States. To the Confederate, the status gained during the revolution had never been surrendered, and each state was ultimately sovereign over itself.
 

wausaubob

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Location
Denver, CO
I think Grant's understanding was correct. In the early years, if a state had wanted to be Monaco or Luxemborg, or a Sparta, and withdraw from the Constitution, that would have been permitted. But once the US formed a navy, limited the external slave trade, survived a war with Britain, admitted new states, and acquired vast territory beyond the Mississippi, the right to make a constitutional argument that a state had a right to withdraw because it didn't like the way things were going, seems to have extinguished. But @unionblue was asking for contemporaneous arguments in 1860 and I was just asking if any were located?
 

Andersonh1

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Location
South Carolina
I think Grant's understanding was correct. In the early years, if a state had wanted to be Monaco or Luxemborg, or a Sparta, and withdraw from the Constitution, that would have been permitted. But once the US formed a navy, limited the external slave trade, survived a war with Britain, admitted new states, and acquired vast territory beyond the Mississippi, the right to make a constitutional argument that a state had a right to withdraw because it didn't like the way things were going, seems to have extinguished. But @unionblue was asking for contemporaneous arguments in 1860 and I was just asking if any were located?

I can see that argument, and it's not so much a legal as a social argument. The more time that the States remained in the Union together, and were interdependent and developed the country together and spent money on common projects, the harder it would be to extricate one of the individual States from the whole. Early on it might have been fairly simple. That's a fair point of view, though not one touching on the Constitutional issues, in my opinion.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
During the run up to the Mexican War. Yankees threatened to secede. Boston didn’t see how the Mexican War Benefited them. The Yankee also threatened to secede over the War of 1812. They loaned the Brits money and refused to have their militia controlled by the Federal Government. England traded with the Yankee. All of them hated Jefferson. Timothy Pickering and Federalist threatened to secede and start a Nation without Blacks. Might tell us somethin?

By 1860 the cake was baked. The Yankee was the Majority and assumed the Role of the Federal Government. The North planned to subdue the South in the South, along with the Negro. End any influence the South wound have over National Affairs. They thought Southerners were un-American,

There were just as many Dis-Unionist in the North as in the South. After the Lower South seceded and the Economic Consequences began to be realized did most Northern dis-unionist change their minds,

The first 70 years of the U.S. existence did not build Union. The Civil War did. Subduing the South and having a Race War with Native Americans. While building the TRR which was a ribbon of steel connecting East with the West.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
It's not an "excuse", it's the reality of history.
No, @Andersonh1 , we are not back to that same, old, tired, excuse, "might makes right."

If that had been the case, the Confederacy, when it decided to apply "might" to ensure it's "right" to defy a free election in support of keeping millions enslaved, that would have been the plain, awful, truth.

What we have as a result of that failed effort that "might makes right," is the more correct5, more historically accurate, "right made might."

It is precisely because the Confederacy failed to enforce it's might upon the rest of the United States in pursuit of one of the worst causes a people ever fought, we have the majority righting a wrong, bringing their might to do so.

So no, that old tired mantra doesn't work for me.

But I will offer another one for you.

"If one secedes, he had best be sure that he succeeds."

Unionblue

Already answered.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Already answered.
Did anyone produce a pre 1865 constitutional argument? I suppose they could have made an argument based on the 10th Amendment, but then the federal government is not supreme, the Supreme Court is just an advisory body, and the guarantee of a republican form of government is unenforceable. If secession is OK, a group of guys can take over the state government, abolish elections and secede, which is not too far from what happened.
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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During the run up to the Mexican War. Yankees threatened to secede. Boston didn’t see how the Mexican War Benefited them. The Yankee also threatened to secede over the War of 1812. They loaned the Brits money and refused to have their militia controlled by the Federal Government. England traded with the Yankee. All of them hated Jefferson. Timothy Pickering and Federalist threatened to secede and start a Nation without Blacks. Might tell us somethin?

By 1860 the cake was baked. The Yankee was the Majority and assumed the Role of the Federal Government. The North planned to subdue the South in the South, along with the Negro. End any influence the South wound have over National Affairs. They thought Southerners were un-American,

There were just as many Dis-Unionist in the North as in the South. After the Lower South seceded and the Economic Consequences began to be realized did most Northern dis-unionist change their minds,

The first 70 years of the U.S. existence did not build Union. The Civil War did. Subduing the South and having a Race War with Native Americans. While building the TRR which was a ribbon of steel connecting East with the West.

I keep coming back to the central point of unilateral secession.

In all of the history of the United States, no Northern State seceded. The idea that the Harford Convention was controled by secessionists was not true and has largely been overblown. The lack of secession by the North "might tell us something."

By 1860 the South remained in control of two thirds of the federal government, the Supreme Court and the Senate. Republicans had finally gained control of the White House but the South, if it had NOT seceded, could have limited any political action of Lincoln and his party. They instead chose "might over right." As for what they thought of Southerners and slavery before Sumter, they had a good shot at maintaining their political power and their favorite institution as Northerners, to include Republicans, said they had no right to interfere with slavery in the South. Southerners became un-American when they revolted over the 1860 election and their desperate fear of slavery being interfered with.

If there was as many "Dis-Unionists" in the North as there was the South, why no secession of Northern States in the run up to the Civil War? Seems like a generalization, not a factual comment.

As for the first 70 years of the nation's existence did not build the Union, a lot of Confederate generals and politicians are going to disagree with you, or are all those comments that the North won simply because the could build more, supply more men, build more ships, manufacture arms and artillery, meant those first 70 years produced zip for the Union? I think not.

And the South had plans for a TRR before the Civil War and was trying to get European backing for it for a southern route, when rabid secessionists (Southern ones, not Northern Dis-Unionists) blew the deal for them, frightening off foreign investment in the project.

You can't point in one direction and claim, "They did it too!" when they didn't do it.

Unionblue
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
I keep coming back to the central point of unilateral secession.

In all of the history of the United States, no Northern State seceded. The idea that the Harford Convention was controled by secessionists was not true and has largely been overblown. The lack of secession by the North "might tell us something."

By 1860 the South remained in control of two thirds of the federal government, the Supreme Court and the Senate. Republicans had finally gained control of the White House but the South, if it had NOT seceded, could have limited any political action of Lincoln and his party. They instead chose "might over right." As for what they thought of Southerners and slavery before Sumter, they had a good shot at maintaining their political power and their favorite institution as Northerners, to include Republicans, said they had no right to interfere with slavery in the South. Southerners became un-American when they revolted over the 1860 election and their desperate fear of slavery being interfered with.

If there was as many "Dis-Unionists" in the North as there was the South, why no secession of Northern States in the run up to the Civil War? Seems like a generalization, not a factual comment.

As for the first 70 years of the nation's existence did not build the Union, a lot of Confederate generals and politicians are going to disagree with you, or are all those comments that the North won simply because the could build more, supply more men, build more ships, manufacture arms and artillery, meant those first 70 years produced zip for the Union? I think not.

And the South had plans for a TRR before the Civil War and was trying to get European backing for it for a southern route, when rabid secessionists (Southern ones, not Northern Dis-Unionists) blew the deal for them, frightening off foreign investment in the project.

You can't point in one direction and claim, "They did it too!" when they didn't do it.

Unionblue

Much of the Reasons the Northern States didn’t secede was because when the South had the Majority, they Compromised. Extended Protective Tariffs, gave The North Shipping and Finance used to Profit from Slavery and Ag Production. Union was Valued.

Cry as you might, don’t change the Fact that when Yankees were a Minority, they Believed in Constitutional Minority Rights and the Compact Theory. Secession wasn’t enumerated in the Constitution. Probably the Founders didn’t think it was Necessary. Why after fighting a War for Independence would they Politically give it away under a New Constitution? Obvious answer, they wouldn’t. Each State had a unique identity. North East revolted with the addition of the Louisiana Purchase. Had a fear of their diluted influence. Again threatened secession. South compromised and made more of that territory Free than Slave. Even the Federalist agreed to Slavery in the Lower South. One reason, they didn’t think Whites could survive there. Another, if they outlawed Slavery, slave owners would of kept loyalty to Spain. No way for the U S to hold those territories.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
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Much of the Reasons the Northern States didn’t secede was because when the South had the Majority, they Compromised. Extended Protective Tariffs, gave The North Shipping and Finance used to Profit from Slavery and Ag Production. Union was Valued.

Cry as you might, don’t change the Fact that when Yankees were a Minority, they Believed in Constitutional Minority Rights and the Compact Theory. Secession wasn’t enumerated in the Constitution. Probably the Founders didn’t think it was Necessary. Why after fighting a War for Independence would they Politically give it away under a New Constitution? Obvious answer, they wouldn’t. Each State had a unique identity. North East revolted with the addition of the Louisiana Purchase. Had a fear of their diluted influence. Again threatened secession. South compromised and made more of that territory Free than Slave. Even the Federalist agreed to Slavery in the Lower South. One reason, they didn’t think Whites could survive there. Another, if they outlawed Slavery, slave owners would of kept loyalty to Spain. No way for the U S to hold those territories.

I am not crying over anything, @uaskme , especially an opposite opinion on the formation of the Union, the lack of Northern States secession, or prewar facts of history.

What I am pointing out is the actual first secession to take place in American history, the slaveholding South's secession over the issue of slavery. I don't debate historical fact, I merely read and acknowledge it.

Now, we can discuss, debate, and argue over the theory of the Compact Theory, but we both need to acknowledge the reality of it's passing. The reality was, the Compact Theory didn't work under the Articles of Confederation and the reality was they needed something better and that New Constitution was the answer.

I would also ask to observe that threatened secession does not equal actual, unilateral secession that the Southern, slaveholding States, DID do. As for what those people did 'think' about Whites surviving in the West or the Lower South, I can't make the claim that I can read dead men's minds from this distance in the future. I can only read what they said, when they said it. I think the American Indians might be a bit more qualified to speak on that topic.

As for Spain and slaveowner loyalty to it, I wonder, how much present US territory remains in Spain's hands?

I see where your opinion is bringing you from, but in no way do I agree with any of it.

Unionblue
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
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Location
Denver, CO
If there was a constitutional argument it seems it would have been presented in Congress. Congress would then propose an amendment to dissolve the US. I think there were 33 states before the admission of Kansas, to the secessionist movement would have needed 25 states to ratify. Therefore 10 states that did not allow slavery would have had to ratify the proposed dissolution. They never had that kind of support, which is most likely why they never tried.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
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Location
SE Tennessee
Why didn’t Lincoln go to Congress instead of Floating a Navy of sacrifice to Sumpter? He had months before he took action. Congress didn’t go to War. A President with 40% of the 1860 vote did. He had no mandate to do so. Why, because he had to start a War so he could raise troops. Why didn’t Lincoln Confirm that he had a Constitutional right to coerce States to stay in the Union? Past Presidents who were alive in 1860 didn’t think he did. TN, VA, AR and NC seceded over coercion.

Grandest ? Of all, why didn’t Republicans adopt Popular Sovereignty like all the other political parties in 1860? It was a Party Killer, that’s why. Republicans chose Party over Union. Jefferson’s Fire Bell in the Night.
 

CW Buff

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Location
Connecticut
There is a lot of misunderstanding of just what the Supremacy Clause actually means. It does not mean unlimited Federal power over the States. The fact that the supremacy clause expressly confines that supremacy "to laws made pursuant to the Constitution" has in fact escaped the observation of many, despite what the author of this quote hoped.
That's a strawman response to the assertion that unilateral secession violates the Supremacy Clause. Yes, federal powers are limited via enumeration. So what? As @Unforgiven correctly observed, the issue is the Constitution, not federal laws. The Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land, no matter what state laws and constitutions may try to say to the contrary. There's no limitation there. The Constitution is always pursuant to the Constitution. And the land, of course, includes all of the states of the Union. The Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land. That remains the case unless and until the sovereign people of the US, the collective states if you prefer, change or repeal the SC. That's as undeniable as the fact that federal powers are limited via enumeration.

And with the supremacy of the Constitution firmly in place, all of those enumerated federal powers remain with the Fed, all of those powers prohibited to the states remain prohibited, and all existing federal laws and US treaties remain in effect.
 

CW Buff

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The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.
Are you trying to suggest that “numerous” and/or “indefinite” means unilateral secession is constitutional? Because such is not the case. That powers reserved to the states are numerous and not expressly defined does not mean you can throw anything in there you want. You seem to think the states have any and all powers not delegated to the United States nor prohibited to the states. But only some reserved powers are retained by the respective states. Others are retained by the people. The key word in Hamilton’s statement is “remain” (remain - continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist). The more perfect Union was established via the Constitution. It could not, of course, have existed before then. And the states therefore had no preexisting power over it, and therefore could not retain such a power. Ditto the Constitution and the Fed. The states can only retain powers they previously had. The respective states have powers relative to federal elections ONLY because such are specified in the Constitution. The individual states have NO "indefinite" powers over the Constitution, the more perfect Union, or the Fed.

Edited to alter bold.
 
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wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
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Location
Denver, CO
Are you trying to suggest that “numerous” and/or “indefinite” means unilateral secession is constitutional? Because such is not the case. That powers reserved to the states are numerous and not expressly defined does not mean you can throw anything in there you want. You seem to think the states have any and all powers not delegated to the United States nor prohibited to the states. But only some reserved powers are retained by the respective states. Others are retained by the people. The key word in Hamilton’s statement is “remain” (remain - continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist). The more perfect Union was established via the Constitution. It could not, of course, have existed before then. And the states therefore had no preexisting power over it, and therefore could not retain such a power. Ditto the Constitution and the Fed. The states can only retain powers they previously had. The respective states have powers relative to federal elections ONLY because such are specified in the Constitution. The individual states have NO "indefinite" powers over the Constitution, the more perfect Union, or the Fed.

Edited to alter bold.
One of the main purposes of the Constitution was that Alexander Hamilton and most of the Virginians wanted a structure in which all states had to pay their fair of expenses for armies and a navy. They would have been surprised to have someone maintain that ratification or admission of new states was reversible. Which is probably why SC and GA did not try to explain the rush towards secession.
A concrete assertion of the right would have gone through Congress. They obviously never did that, which impeaches their belief that a legal right to secede existed. It was an assertion of a right based on the natural law of rebellion, with the inherent risk of failure.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Why didn’t Lincoln go to Congress instead of Floating a Navy of sacrifice to Sumpter? He had months before he took action. Congress didn’t go to War. A President with 40% of the 1860 vote did. He had no mandate to do so. Why, because he had to start a War so he could raise troops. Why didn’t Lincoln Confirm that he had a Constitutional right to coerce States to stay in the Union? Past Presidents who were alive in 1860 didn’t think he did. TN, VA, AR and NC seceded over coercion.

Grandest ? Of all, why didn’t Republicans adopt Popular Sovereignty like all the other political parties in 1860? It was a Party Killer, that’s why. Republicans chose Party over Union. Jefferson’s Fire Bell in the Night.

Maybe because the Southern secessionists weren't willing to wait, hence all those thefts and war-like actions BEFORE Lincoln even took the oath of office.

If your house is on fire, do you sit in the living room waiting for the Fire Department to confirm the fact the house IS on fire?
 
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