Confederates advocating secession via the US Constitution

unionblue

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So Rhode Island participated in the Constitutional Convention then? Neither your quote nor Dan's change the fact that Rhode Island did not participate in the creation of the Constitution, and so it cannot be truthfully said that it was created by all the people of all the States. Rhode Island agreed to it later, but had nothing to do with it's creation. The United States created a whole new govenment and adopted it without Rhode Island's input or participation. That is plain historic fact.

Show me the signer from Rhode Island on the Constitution.
The point is, they had a convention, voted to ratify the Constitution, and then proposed amendments to it that eventually became the Bill of Rights, which had something to do with the creation of the document.

The "12/13ths" comment is a tad misleading, in my own opinion and RI did have input.

That is the whole of the "plain historic fact."
 

Georgia Sixth

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That's a false equivalency. This isn't some irreconcilable difference between equally valid opinions. . The absence of “secession” from the Constitution means unilateral secession is unconstitutional. The Constitution doesn't need to declare the perpetuity/indissolubility of the more perfect Union. That is an inherent attribute of any polity established via fundamental law.

PS: unlike “unilateral” secession, secession by consent is constitutional. The states may collectively do as they like via the constitutional amendment process.

I thought you might find this interesting. It's a brief video of the legal scholar who wrote "Secession On Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis". As she says, what seems obvious to many today was hardly clear to the people of the time. Check it out.

 

CW Buff

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Although there may be a "a lack of full sovereignty" it is only lacking where it specifically excludes certain things. Other than those matters specifically excluded the normal rights remain (including any sovereign rights not specifically excluded).
What’s really amazing here is that, apparently without realizing it, you have developed a personal view on the matter that aligns with my own and contradicts Davis’s. People who talk about sovereignty should try to understand what it is and how it works before they do so.

Since you and I agree that the respective states lack some portion of full sovereignty, I would hope there could be no disagreement over the fact that the sovereignty which the states lack belongs to the People of the United States. However, whoever holds that sovereignty, all sovereignty is legally inviolable; the only legal transfer of sovereignty is a consensual one:

SOVEREIGNTY. The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; ...” – Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition

Obviously, sovereignty would not be “supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable” if someone else could legally just take it away from you. As such, the only way for a state or states to obtain the sovereignty which they lack is via the consent of the People of the United States. And of course, politically speaking, the People of the United States may be considered the collective states (i.e. the United States), just as the people of an individual state are the sovereign power of that state. So, you see, you’re not only agreeing with me, you’re agreeing with…

A rightful secession requires the consent of the [other states], or an abuse of the compact,...” – James Madison to A Friend of Union & State Rights [Alexander Rives], January 1, 1833

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. . . . I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.” – Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

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.” – Salmon Chase, Texas v. White, 1869

...Madison, Lincoln, and Chase.

Based on the inherent nature of sovereignty, the fact that the Constitution is a fundamental law (i.e. whoever enacts the Constitution retains sovereignty over it, the more perfect Union, and the US Gov't) rather than a treaty of confederation (the states remain fully sovereign), and the absence of any provision for unilateral secession within the Constitution, any recognition that the respective states lack any portion of full sovereignty (which is actually inherent in the fact the Constitution is a fundamental law) necessarily results in the same conclusion: unilateral secession is unconstitutional.

As far as Lincoln's perpetual Union, it is absolutely valid. It is offered as an indication that the Union remained perpetual. He is not saying that perpetual Union + more perfect Union = perpetual Union. He is providing a simple indicator that all can understand. What makes the more perfect Union perpetual is the fact the Constitution is a fundamental law, and legally speaking, a fundamental law can only be altered or abolished by the people who enacted it. The fact that the American clearly wanted a perpetual union, established the Constitution to preserve (perpetuate) the Union, and never once discussed eliminating perpetuity of the Union, provided evidence for those who may not understand fundamental laws and sovereignty.

As far as Davis, I find it interesting that you posted Davis saying “history, . . . law, and precedent” (note: the “reasoning” of a secessionist is immaterial without the other three), but you have have still not posted any examples of whatever he is calling such evedience. I find that telling.
 

CW Buff

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Connecticut
I don't see that as false equivalency at all. The authorities/documents you cite all occur after the Constitution was written or, in the case of James Madison's thoughts, were not incorporated into the Constitution. Does this not leave room for people on both sides of the argument?
Also, Quaama's point in post #1,142 in this thread is interesting as well.
And the assertion "unlike unilateral secession, secession by consent is constitutional" is debatable. I guess an amendment could be passed to make secession explicitly lawful, but that sort of amendment might ironically be challenged as unconstitutional.
Enjoying the discussion!
This makes no sense. They would have to come "after the Constitution was written." I don't see how anyone could comment on the Constitution before hand.

I'm assuming that by "incorporated" you mean they were not written into the Constitution. They don't have to be. A constitution does not need to establish what a constitution inherently is. It is an established concept, with a preexisting definition and preexisting qualities and aspects. The Founders had just realized that a plan of union that relies solely on the good faith of the states was a disaster in the making. They couldn't foresee every conceivable dodge people might devise. And if they had foresaw this one, someone would have devised another. As it is, the Supremacy Clause prohibits ANY and ALL unilateral state interference with the operation of the Constitution. The Constitution SHALL BE (is and shall remain) the supreme law of the land no matter the respective states say or do via their laws, or even their own constitutions, the highest form of state law.

And the only amendment that could possibly be declared unconstitutional is one that alters the unalterable: equal state representation in the Senate. All other amendments would BECOME part of the Constitution, and the Constitution cannot be unconstitutional. This is not debatable. The fact that someone would claim it is just demonstrates the lengths people will go to try and validate unilateral secession.
 

Georgia Sixth

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A constitution does not need to establish what a constitution inherently is. It is an established concept, with a preexisting definition and preexisting qualities and aspects. The Founders had just realized that a plan of union that relies solely on the good faith of the states was a disaster in the making.
The Constitution was preceded by the Declaration of Independence and crafted by the same generation of leaders. It would be an arguable position that if the Constitution rested on any inherent but unstated ideas, they could be found here. So let's look:

"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another, and to assume among the powers of 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."

And again...

"Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government."

It is no accident that the leaders of the secessionist movement and the subsequent Confederate government would constantly refer to the Revolution and put the image of George Washington on its official seal. Some former U.S. presidents were sympathetic with secession. One of them served in the Confederate Congress.

The question posed at the beginning of the thread wasn't "is secession legal", but where did advocates for secession refer to the Constitution to buttress their argument. This is what I've been trying to address. To the people who were alive before the issue was "settled" by bloodshed, it was not so obvious. Did you see the video clip I posted in #1,182? This scholar directly confronts that question.

And lastly, in an astounding moment of irony or hypocrisy, one of the few differences between the C.S. and the U.S. constitutions is that the Confederate one specifically stated that states that once entered the confederation could not remove themselves from it. Besides provoking a laugh, this inclusion underscores that the authors of the confederate document considered the absence of such language in the U.S. constitution left the door open to an exit.
 

Quaama

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What’s really amazing here is that, apparently without realizing it, you have developed a personal view on the matter that aligns with my own and contradicts Davis’s. People who talk about sovereignty should try to understand what it is and how it works before they do so.

Since you and I agree that the respective states lack some portion of full sovereignty, I would hope there could be no disagreement over the fact that the sovereignty which the states lack belongs to the People of the United States. However, whoever holds that sovereignty, all sovereignty is legally inviolable; the only legal transfer of sovereignty is a consensual one:

SOVEREIGNTY. The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; ...” – Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition

Obviously, sovereignty would not be “supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable” if someone else could legally just take it away from you. As such, the only way for a state or states to obtain the sovereignty which they lack is via the consent of the People of the United States. And of course, politically speaking, the People of the United States may be considered the collective states (i.e. the United States), just as the people of an individual state are the sovereign power of that state. So, you see, you’re not only agreeing with me, you’re agreeing with…

A rightful secession requires the consent of the [other states], or an abuse of the compact,...” – James Madison to A Friend of Union & State Rights [Alexander Rives], January 1, 1833

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. . . . I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.” – Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

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.” – Salmon Chase, Texas v. White, 1869

...Madison, Lincoln, and Chase.

Based on the inherent nature of sovereignty, the fact that the Constitution is a fundamental law (i.e. whoever enacts the Constitution retains sovereignty over it, the more perfect Union, and the US Gov't) rather than a treaty of confederation (the states remain fully sovereign), and the absence of any provision for unilateral secession within the Constitution, any recognition that the respective states lack any portion of full sovereignty (which is actually inherent in the fact the Constitution is a fundamental law) necessarily results in the same conclusion: unilateral secession is unconstitutional.

As far as Lincoln's perpetual Union, it is absolutely valid. It is offered as an indication that the Union remained perpetual. He is not saying that perpetual Union + more perfect Union = perpetual Union. He is providing a simple indicator that all can understand. What makes the more perfect Union perpetual is the fact the Constitution is a fundamental law, and legally speaking, a fundamental law can only be altered or abolished by the people who enacted it. The fact that the American clearly wanted a perpetual union, established the Constitution to preserve (perpetuate) the Union, and never once discussed eliminating perpetuity of the Union, provided evidence for those who may not understand fundamental laws and sovereignty.

As far as Davis, I find it interesting that you posted Davis saying “history, . . . law, and precedent” (note: the “reasoning” of a secessionist is immaterial without the other three), but you have have still not posted any examples of whatever he is calling such evedience. I find that telling.

Last thing first, I didn't post the precedents Davis referred to as I simply don't have the personal time to wade through Davis' book again to pick then out and quote them here. Davis starts addressing them in Part I, Chapter I and continues through to Part II, Chapter XV so they're scattered across twenty-five chapters. Some things referred to by Davis that I recall include (either as a precedent or explaining why they are not): Declaration of Independence; Louisiana Purchase; Missouri Compromise; various international treaties; Articles of Confederation and conventions regarding same; and the Constitution and amendments (especially the tenth).

I essentially agree with the definition of sovereignty you provided. I concur that "sovereignty would not be “supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable” if someone else could legally just take it away from you" and I suppose that is the crux of it for me. Someone can not legally take it away from you no matter what various commentators say (whether it be Adams, Davis, Madison or whoever). All sovereign powers are a given until they are specifically relinquished by those who have the power/right to do so.

The Constitution only came to effect once it had been ratified by the individual States as that is where the sovereign power existed and, before they became part of that new Union, they had to exit [dare I say secede?] from the previous "perpetual" Union established by the Articles of Confederation. Only specific sovereign powers were relinquished by the States while they were in the Union (e.g. power to enter into treaties) but others remained. If there was any doubt that the States other sovereign powers existed then the tenth amendment made it clear that they did:
"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."
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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Last thing first, I didn't post the precedents Davis referred to as I simply don't have the personal time to wade through Davis' book again to pick then out and quote them here. Davis starts addressing them in Part I, Chapter I and continues through to Part II, Chapter XV so they're scattered across twenty-five chapters. Some things referred to by Davis that I recall include (either as a precedent or explaining why they are not): Declaration of Independence; Louisiana Purchase; Missouri Compromise; various international treaties; Articles of Confederation and conventions regarding same; and the Constitution and amendments (especially the tenth).

I essentially agree with the definition of sovereignty you provided. I concur that "sovereignty would not be “supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable” if someone else could legally just take it away from you" and I suppose that is the crux of it for me. Someone can not legally take it away from you no matter what various commentators say (whether it be Adams, Davis, Madison or whoever). All sovereign powers are a given until they are specifically relinquished by those who have the power/right to do so.

The Constitution only came to effect once it had been ratified by the individual States as that is where the sovereign power existed and, before they became part of that new Union, they had to exit [dare I say secede?] from the previous "perpetual" Union established by the Articles of Confederation. Only specific sovereign powers were relinquished by the States while they were in the Union (e.g. power to enter into treaties) but others remained. If there was any doubt that the States other sovereign powers existed then the tenth amendment made it clear that they did:
"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 only came to effect once it had been ratified by the individual States as that is where the sovereign power existed and, before they became part of that new Union, they had to exit [dare I say secede?] from the previous "perpetual" Union established by the Articles of Confederation."

Your premise is flawed. They did not secede from the Union. The Union(i.e. The country called The United States of America) continued to exist, and has continued to exist, since it's creation on July 4th 1776. The only thing that changed was the system of government. There was a brief time period where several states were not part of the new system of government, but they were still part of the Union and were not foreign countries. Once the people of those states also ratified the constitution they were then part of the new system of government.(The constitution).
 

CW Buff

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The Constitution was preceded by the Declaration of Independence and crafted by the same generation of leaders. It would be an arguable position that if the Constitution rested on any inherent but unstated ideas, they could be found here. So let's look:

"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another, and to assume among the powers of 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."

And again...

"Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government."

It is no accident that the leaders of the secessionist movement and the subsequent Confederate government would constantly refer to the Revolution and put the image of George Washington on its official seal. Some former U.S. presidents were sympathetic with secession. One of them served in the Confederate Congress.
You're mangling the DoI. Your first quote is a reference to the MORAL right to revolution for just cause. The Founders were appealing to "the powers of the earth," "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," and "the Supreme Judge of the world." Your second quote refers to the "governed," not some subset of them. And what you seem to be missing is that if it had been so for the more perfect Union, than it what was so for every state before that, and with that the notion of effective government goes out the window, and you have nothing more than anarchy. Now, let's compare the Founders actual actions with your interpretation vs. mine. If they felt they had exercised a legal option 1776-1781, they would not have called it a "revolution," as they did. They would not have suppressed every rebellion that came along, whether against a state or the more perfect Union, as they did. Washington himself lead the army against the Whiskey Rebellion. And there would no longer be an illegal act called insurrection, as is referenced in the Constitution itself, or rebellion, the subject of much discussion in the Constitutional Convention.

No, all they did was institute republicanism. They defined the whole body of enfranchised citizenry of each state as the sovereign of each state, reserving the right to alter or abolish for the whole sovereign people of a state. And in 1787-1790 they did it again, at the national level, making the whole people of the US the sovereigns of the Constitution, the more perfect Union, and the US Gov’t, just like the whole people of each state where the sovereigns of their state’s constitution, state, and government. They were republicans, not anarchists.

The question posed at the beginning of the thread wasn't "is secession legal", but where did advocates for secession refer to the Constitution to buttress their argument. This is what I've been trying to address.
Please, spare me. You had already veered off the OP’s subject before I came along. From the start, I have directly addressed points made by you. If we are off topic, you led way. Now you've led us away from the Constitution altogether, to the DoI.
 

CW Buff

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Connecticut
Last thing first, I didn't post the precedents Davis referred to as I simply don't have the personal time to wade through Davis' book again to pick then out and quote them here. Davis starts addressing them in Part I, Chapter I and continues through to Part II, Chapter XV so they're scattered across twenty-five chapters. Some things referred to by Davis that I recall include (either as a precedent or explaining why they are not): Declaration of Independence; Louisiana Purchase; Missouri Compromise; various international treaties; Articles of Confederation and conventions regarding same; and the Constitution and amendments (especially the tenth).

I essentially agree with the definition of sovereignty you provided. I concur that "sovereignty would not be “supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable” if someone else could legally just take it away from you" and I suppose that is the crux of it for me. Someone can not legally take it away from you no matter what various commentators say (whether it be Adams, Davis, Madison or whoever). All sovereign powers are a given until they are specifically relinquished by those who have the power/right to do so.

The Constitution only came to effect once it had been ratified by the individual States as that is where the sovereign power existed and, before they became part of that new Union, they had to exit [dare I say secede?] from the previous "perpetual" Union established by the Articles of Confederation. Only specific sovereign powers were relinquished by the States while they were in the Union (e.g. power to enter into treaties) but others remained. If there was any doubt that the States other sovereign powers existed then the tenth amendment made it clear that they did:
"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."
Alright, let’s see what we have for evidence in support of unilateral secession so far: 1) unsubstantiated assertions by Davis, 2) an excuse for why evidence cannot be provided, and 3) a litany of historic events with no explanation of how ANY of them support unilateral secession. Is ANY of this really supposed to look like actual evidence?

Regarding sovereignty as a given until specifically relinquished, you seem to forget, you already conceded the fact that the respective states lack full sovereignty:
Although there may be a "a lack of full sovereignty" it is only lacking where it specifically excludes certain things. Other than those matters specifically excluded the normal rights remain (including any sovereign rights not specifically excluded).

As far as ALL sovereign rights not specifically excluded remaining to the respective states…

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.

First of all, your qualifier, “specifically,” does NOT appear in the Tenth Amendment. It is reminiscent of the attempt to apply the qualifier “expressly” to the term enumerated powers, which the Framers “specifically” rejected. Second, are you somehow missing the fact that two different parties are referenced in the Tenth Amendment? One of these parties, the people, established the Constitution, a fundamental law (NOT a treaty), and as is always the case with a fundamental law, they retain sovereign control over that law, and therefore the polity and government thereby established. The other party, the respective states, are specifically barred from ANY and ALL unilateral interference with the operation of the Constitution, which SHALL BE the supreme law of the land, no matter what the respective states say or do, even via their own constitutions. The people, not the respective states, control the issue of withdrawal from the more perfect Union.

As far as the ending of the Confederation, that is just more secessionst twistification of terms. Please show us where any Founder referred to it as “secession,” or even withdrawal. It was the dissolution of a treaty, the kind of compact secessionist compact theory refers to, a compact among sovereign states that remain sovereign. Here’s the thing, secessionist compact theory DOES apply to the Confederation, because the AoCs were a treaty, a compact among sovereign states. Secessionist theory does NOT apply to the more perfect Union, because the Constitution is a fundamental law, a social compact. Treaties exist under international law, the standard of which at the time held that a nation can dissolve a treaty that has been violated by another party:

If one of the allies fails in his engagements, the other may compel him to fulfil them: . . . But if the latter has no other expedient than that of arms to force his ally to the performance of his promises, he will sometimes find it more eligible to cancel the promises on his own side also, and to dissolve the treaty. He has undoubtedly a right to do this, since his promises were made only on condition that the ally should on his part execute every thing which he had engaged to perform.” – Emer de Vattel, The Law of Nations, Book II, Chapter I, §200

It had been alledged [by Mr. Patterson], that the Confederation having been formed by unanimous consent, could be dissolved by unanimous Consent only. . . . according to the Expositors of the law of Nations, . . . a breach of any one article, by any one party, leaves all the other parties at liberty, to consider the whole convention as dissolved, unless they choose rather to compel the delinquent party to repair the breach. . . . He observed that the violations of the federal articles [AoCs] had been numerous & notorious.” – James Madison, Madison’s Notes on the Federal Convention of 1798, June 19

Now, let’s see some quotes showing Founders calling it “secession.”

The only one of your “commentators” who thought someone could legally take sovereignty away without the sovereign's consent was Davis, who apparently thought he could do an end run around the inviolabilty of the sovereignty of the people of the United States by denying they had any. If you find Adams (not sure where he came into this discussion) or Madison saying such, post your evidence, otherwise their inclusion in that comment is nothing but a red herring.

The fact that the states individually ratified the Constitution says NOTHING about sovereignty within the more perfect Union. It only indicates where sovereignty was BEFORE the more perfect Union was formed. Whether a group of sovereign states execute a treaty of confederation together OR enact a fundamental law together, each state HAS to separately decide to do so in BOTH cases, because they are separately fully sovereign BEFORE doing so. Whether its their participation in a treaty, or the surrender of any portion of their sovereignty, EACH sovereign state must decide for themselves. And in the latter case it is only the sovereign of each state (the people of each state) that can decide. Which is why the people of each state, and not their government, had to ratify the Constitution, whereas the AoCs could be and often were ratified by state governments. Governments are authorized to make treaties, but in a republic they may not touch the peoples' sovereignty. It is the type of document adopted that determines sovereignty AFTER enactment. If the document is a treaty, they remain separately sovereign, and the result is a league of sovereign states. Hence, secessionists, seeking to evade their state's constitutional commitments, described the Constitution as a compact among sovereign states, i.e. a treaty. As Jacksaon said, it would have been silly to come out and say the Constitution was a treaty, so they used the deceptive compact of sovereign states language to confuse the Constitution, a social compact, with a treaty, a compact among sovereign states. However, if the document is a fundamental law, as the Constitution in fact is, the states become collectively sovereign for the purposes of that law, and and the result is a federated nation in which sovereignty is divided between the collective states (aka the people of the whole nation) and the respective states (the people of the respective states). At the time, Americans understood these things; they had been dealing with sovereignty, fundamental laws, and Locke’s social compact for years by the time the Constitution came along. However, not to worry, if the particulars regarding sovereignty escaped anyone, the Framers made it clear:

It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these states, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all: Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest.” Official Letter of the Federal Convention of 1787

How’s that for a “commentator?” The whole body of men who drafted the Constitution, and knew more than anyone else why they had done that instead of drafting amendments to the AoCs or any other treaty of confederation. America had tried a union in which the states retained all rights of independent sovereignty. The AoCs/Confederation had proved that such a system obviously would not work. In a clear reference to Locke’s social compact, the respective states had to give up a share of their sovereignty in order to protect the rest, i.e. to create an effective Union (enter into a poltical society) which would preserve the states’ independence from foreign control. Considering that a treaty/league obviously could not work, the next best thing was to share some sovereignty with each other rather than risk loosing it all.

And that is what primary evidence looks like.
 

Johhny Quest

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Nov 11, 2020
To All,

I admit that this thread is being begun by me because I am tired of all the short, one-line comments by some who repeat over and over the US Constitution does not forbid secession, but who provide no evidence, other than opinion or a random comment about the 10th Amendment.

My whole personal contention is this is a modern-day excuse, not a historical fact.

Why? Because I have yet to be informed, or shown historical documentation, which a Confederate of any political stature or fame, ever claimed or uttered a statement that unilateral secession was "legal" or in some way approved by the US Constitution.

I ask anyone on this forum to provide historical evidence that any Confederate person or State referenced the US Constitution as justification for unilateral secession.

I await your replies.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
I'm very late to this party but I'm trying to catch up asap.

All you have to do is read the South Carolina Secession Resolution HERE and you'll see the precise legal arguments they used.

We can sum it up in one paragraph:

Thus were established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE.

So if you're looking for a termination clause stating that a state can withdraw from the Union under certain conditions, you won't find it. But that's not unusual. The law recognizes many ways to sever a contract. I just did a quick search and pulled this up as an example.

Terminating A Contract: The many ways to end a legally binding relationship

When a contract is violated by one party, the other party has a right to pursue remedy or even dissolution. South Carolina's argument was that the Federal Government had violated the terms of the original contract.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

When you state

Because I have yet to be informed, or shown historical documentation, which a Confederate of any political stature or fame, ever claimed or uttered a statement that unilateral secession was "legal" or in some way approved by the US Constitution.

You are re-framing the argument much differently than any Confederate legislator or lawyer would have. They would have said to you "of course secession was legal . . . if not strictly based on some clause in the Constitution, it was legal based on English Common Law and the general principles on which the Constitution was created."

Confederates would all have been familiar with what's discussed in this paper. If you have a few hours to kill, it's worth reading!

WHAT WERE THE PRINCIPLES OF 19TH CENTURY CONTRACT LAW?
 

CW Buff

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Location
Connecticut
I'm very late to this party but I'm trying to catch up asap.

All you have to do is read the South Carolina Secession Resolution HERE and you'll see the precise legal arguments they used.

We can sum it up in one paragraph:


So if you're looking for a termination clause stating that a state can withdraw from the Union under certain conditions, you won't find it. But that's not unusual. The law recognizes many ways to sever a contract. I just did a quick search and pulled this up as an example.

Terminating A Contract: The many ways to end a legally binding relationship

When a contract is violated by one party, the other party has a right to pursue remedy or even dissolution. South Carolina's argument was that the Federal Government had violated the terms of the original contract.


When you state


You are re-framing the argument much differently than any Confederate legislator or lawyer would have. They would have said to you "of course secession was legal . . . if not strictly based on some clause in the Constitution, it was legal based on English Common Law and the general principles on which the Constitution was created."

Confederates would all have been familiar with what's discussed in this paper. If you have a few hours to kill, it's worth reading!

WHAT WERE THE PRINCIPLES OF 19TH CENTURY CONTRACT LAW?
The field of law that applies to the Constitution is constitutional law, not contract law. There’s a reason for that: the Constitution is not a contract. If you disagree, please post reference to the book of contract law that expounds the Constitution.

And from your own source: “Attorneys have different specialties. . . . Don’t go to a criminal attorney if you have a contract issue. It should go without saying.” And it should also go without saying, don’t go to a contract attorney if you have a constitutional issue.
 

Johhny Quest

Private
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
The field of law that applies to the Constitution is constitutional law, not contract law. There’s a reason for that: the Constitution is not a contract. If you disagree, please post reference to the book of contract law that expounds the Constitution.

And from your own source: “Attorneys have different specialties. . . . Don’t go to a criminal attorney if you have a contract issue. It should go without saying.” And it should also go without saying, don’t go to a contract attorney if you have a constitutional issue.
Sorry . . . don't understand what you mean by "it's not a contract."

The Constitution is ABSOLUTELY a contract and has always been recognized as such. A contract is simply an agreement between two parties that creates mutual legal obligations.

Yes, people try to argue that it's not. Good example here: The Constitution Is No Contract

But most of these arguments leak water badly. They either argue that one group of Founding Fathers coerced another, or they argue that one party is now coercing the other. None of them actually challenge the notion that in the 1780s, a group of state leaders got together to form a "union" and created certain legal obligations for each other.

If you can find proof that what I just wrote is wrong, I challenge you to post that proof.


According to the South Carolina DECLARATION OF THE IMMEDIATE CAUSES WHICH INDUCE AND JUSTIFY THE SECESSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA FROM THE FEDERAL UNION.

The ends for which this Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

It's not an issue for "Constitutional Law" because, as we all know, there is no "termination clause" in the Constitution. Constitutional law simply clarifies relationships governed by the Constitution, not termination of membership in the Union.

As far as If you disagree, please post reference to the book of contract law that expounds the Constitution. . . . . no one has to do that. The Confederates certainly did not bring a pile of law books to the discussion . . . they brought history books.

Every declaration of secession that I know of reads the same way. They present the case of how the federal government and non-slave-holding states are infringing upon the rights of slave-holding states . . . i.e., broke the contract established by the Founding Fathers.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
We’ve heard this all before. The Constitution is neither a contract or a treaty, it’s a fundamental law instituted by the people- at least according to those who wrote it. Though the secessionists & rebels may have thought of the constitution in this way, as with their compact theory, they chose not to adjudicate their theory except through trial by combat. The rebels didn’t bring “a pile of law books” or history books, they brought the sword and were justly defeated.

Even if it were a “contract”, one party to a contract cannot legally break the contract or end the contract without the consent of the others or after some sort of adjudication rendering the contract void. Had South Carolina thought that the Federal Government was acting unconstitutionally they could have sued or worked through the congress to rectify the situation. Instead, in the biggest spoiled child act in history, they “took their ball to go home” but didn’t go home, they started a fight. Thus, even if we accept the faulty notion of the constitution as a contract, the actions of the secessionists would still be illegal and unconstitutional.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The Constitution had nothing to do with it. The secessionists thought the 1787 constitution was permanent, though the Bill of Rights and additional amendments were added almost immediately. They wanted their independence. But it wasn't going to be handed to them. The sovereign power, the people of the United States, was going to fight to prevent their bid for independence. It wasn't a court case, it was a rebellion and a war.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
They were thinking about this problem in England in 1862-63. George Cornewall Lewis, then the British War Secretary, nearing the end of his distinguished life wrote about the federal government system in this way:
1628466454862.png


p.428 https://archive.org/details/lettersofrightho00lewi/page/428/mode/2up

If this understanding was common among the British in 1862-63, it would have given them pause in supporting rebels against federal government, as that form of doing things could have been adapted to conditions in Canada, Germany and even in Russia. But this way of interpreting federal government would make the Confederates rebels, who have to win to become legitimate. Great Britain was not in a good position to be supporting rebels of any type.
 

Johhny Quest

Private
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
We’ve heard this all before. The Constitution is neither a contract or a treaty, it’s a fundamental law instituted by the people- at least according to those who wrote it. Though the secessionists & rebels may have thought of the constitution in this way, as with their compact theory, they chose not to adjudicate their theory except through trial by combat. The rebels didn’t bring “a pile of law books” or history books, they brought the sword and were justly defeated.

Even if it were a “contract”, one party to a contract cannot legally break the contract or end the contract without the consent of the others or after some sort of adjudication rendering the contract void. Had South Carolina thought that the Federal Government was acting unconstitutionally they could have sued or worked through the congress to rectify the situation. Instead, in the biggest spoiled child act in history, they “took their ball to go home” but didn’t go home, they started a fight. Thus, even if we accept the faulty notion of the constitution as a contract, the actions of the secessionists would still be illegal and unconstitutional.

You can legitimately define the US Constitution in many ways. However, as I stated above, it's absolutely a contract, and in fact, a legal contract.

To be a little more precise, it is a social contract which is an idea coming right out of The Age Of Enlightenment and the writings of Rousseau. These were principles that our Founding fathers knew and followed. The social contract was a new way of organizing societies. Instead of the Divine Right of Kings, the social contract stated that individual surrender certain rights and freedom to the government in return for protection and the maintenance of a functioning society.

That's why the Declaration Of Independence was such a mind-blowing document. It had the shock value of Confederate artillery blasting Cemetery Hill on July 3rd times ten. Maybe times a hundred.

It said this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are
instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed
. . ."


There it is right there. That's the Founding Fathers spelling out the new contract.

The Constitution is "fundamental law" as you say . . . in a sense. But the actual law under which we operate is that law we empower our representatives to develop. At the federal level, we have the US Code and it goes right down to the laws in our counties and municipalities. They all have to abide by the Constitution so you can even argue that the Constitution is the basis of all our law.

It is a legal contract in the sense that it is legally recognized and enforceable . . . if not in criminal court then in civil. People sue the government all the time and the government goes after people all the time. Don't pay your taxes this year and see what happens.

It is true that the Confederacy did not pursue the case in court in 1860. However . . . you're ignoring the long history of Compromises which kept the Union together from 1787 until 1860. The issue was litigated again and again.

What was different in 1860 was the election of a political party who openly stated that they were anti-slavery and would work to destroy slavery. So the North was the first to throw compromise out the window, not the South. Of course, that was only some in the North. Lincoln personally bent over backwards to avoid dissolution of the Union or any infringement on the South.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
You can legitimately define the US Constitution in many ways. However, as I stated above, it's absolutely a contract, and in fact, a legal contract.

To be a little more precise, it is a social contract which is an idea coming right out of The Age Of Enlightenment and the writings of Rousseau. These were principles that our Founding fathers knew and followed. The social contract was a new way of organizing societies. Instead of the Divine Right of Kings, the social contract stated that individual surrender certain rights and freedom to the government in return for protection and the maintenance of a functioning society.

That's why the Declaration Of Independence was such a mind-blowing document. It had the shock value of Confederate artillery blasting Cemetery Hill on July 3rd times ten. Maybe times a hundred.

It said this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are
instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed
. . ."


There it is right there. That's the Founding Fathers spelling out the new contract.

The Constitution is "fundamental law" as you say . . . in a sense. But the actual law under which we operate is that law we empower our representatives to develop. At the federal level, we have the US Code and it goes right down to the laws in our counties and municipalities. They all have to abide by the Constitution so you can even argue that the Constitution is the basis of all our law.

It is a legal contract in the sense that it is legally recognized and enforceable . . . if not in criminal court then in civil. People sue the government all the time and the government goes after people all the time. Don't pay your taxes this year and see what happens.

It is true that the Confederacy did not pursue the case in court in 1860. However . . . you're ignoring the long history of Compromises which kept the Union together from 1787 until 1860. The issue was litigated again and again.

What was different in 1860 was the election of a political party who openly stated that they were anti-slavery and would work to destroy slavery. So the North was the first to throw compromise out the window, not the South. Of course, that was only some in the North. Lincoln personally bent over backwards to avoid dissolution of the Union or any infringement on the South.
The DoI is not law. Please stop confusing it with the constitution. Ironically enough, it’s the CSA Vice President who said that those words of Jefferson were wrong and that the CSA was founded on the exact opposite principles so using that dog for confederate apologia wont hunt. No one would argue that there is a natural right to revolution. Arguing that secession and revolution is constitutional is another animal entirely.

You are correct, certain powers in the south lost an election and instead of continuing to participate in the American Experiment they declared the constitution void and started a war.
 

CW Buff

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Location
Connecticut
Sorry . . . don't understand what you mean by "it's not a contract."

The Constitution is ABSOLUTELY a contract and has always been recognized as such. A contract is simply an agreement between two parties that creates mutual legal obligations.

Yes, people try to argue that it's not. Good example here: The Constitution Is No Contract

But most of these arguments leak water badly. They either argue that one group of Founding Fathers coerced another, or they argue that one party is now coercing the other. None of them actually challenge the notion that in the 1780s, a group of state leaders got together to form a "union" and created certain legal obligations for each other.

If you can find proof that what I just wrote is wrong, I challenge you to post that proof.


According to the South Carolina DECLARATION OF THE IMMEDIATE CAUSES WHICH INDUCE AND JUSTIFY THE SECESSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA FROM THE FEDERAL UNION.


It's not an issue for "Constitutional Law" because, as we all know, there is no "termination clause" in the Constitution. Constitutional law simply clarifies relationships governed by the Constitution, not termination of membership in the Union.

As far as If you disagree, please post reference to the book of contract law that expounds the Constitution. . . . . no one has to do that. The Confederates certainly did not bring a pile of law books to the discussion . . . they brought history books.

Every declaration of secession that I know of reads the same way. They present the case of how the federal government and non-slave-holding states are infringing upon the rights of slave-holding states . . . i.e., broke the contract established by the Founding Fathers.
Adding “ABSOLUTELY” or “absolutely” to your assertion cannot help it anymore than it could demonstrate that 'a dog is ABSOLUTELY a vegetable.' All it does is make clear that the assertion lacks any basis in historical fact. And in this case, you've posted one piece evidence refuting your own assertion, and zero supporting it.

But good to see you get onto the “social” contract. However, you’re still wrong. A social contract/compact is not a legal contract, and is not subject to contract law. Social compacts are the basis for all law within a free nation/state, i.e. including contract law. You’ve got it backwards; contract law is subject to a social compact, not the other way around.

Here is what your missing. As the basis for a union of states, the Constitution can only be one of two things. 1) The Constitution is a treaty of confederation, a compact among sovereign nation-states, a) in which case it is subject to international law, and b) the Union is a league of sovereign states which retain full sovereignty, and can therefore legally do what they like. 2) The Constitution is a fundamental law, a social compact among the people of the United States, who therefore retain all sovereign control over it, and the more perfect Union and US Gov’t it in turn establishes, so a) it is subject to nothing but the will of the sovereign people, measured via majority rule, except for whatever specific allowances the people provide for in their Constitution, and b) the Union is a federal nation/state in which sovereignty is divided between the respective states and the Union/the collective states, and if you understand sovereignty, unilateral secession is therefore illegal. Even secessionists did not dispute this, they simply misrepresented the Constitution as 2), which is simply not the case. Now, see if this sounds familiar, because this is the reason why secessionists made the lame claim that the Constitution is a treaty:

§200 How a treaty is dissolved, when violated by one of the contracting parties. Treaties contain promises that are perfect and reciprocal. If one of the allies fails in his engagements, the other may compel him to fulfil them: . . . But if the latter has no other expedient than that of arms to force his ally to the performance of his promises, he will sometimes find it more eligible to cancel the promises on his own side also, and to dissolve the treaty. He has undoubtedly a right to do this, since his promises were made only on condition that the ally should on his part execute every thing which he had engaged to perform.” – Emer de Vattel, The Law of Nations, Book II, Chapter I

Of course, a sovereign nation/state can also make a bogus claim of violation in order to get out of a treaty, and even if the Constitution had been a treaty, this would have applied to the Confederates.

BTW, the Vattel quote is what primary evidence looks like.
 

CW Buff

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Location
Connecticut
Now, here’s what an assertion that is actually based on historical evidence looks like:

The Constitution is a fundamental law. There’s simply no disputing this; it is “the supreme Law of the Land.” And...

SOVEREIGNTY. . . . The power to do everything in a state without accountability,—to make laws, to execute and apply them, to impose and collect taxes and levy contributions, to make war or peace, to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like. Story, Const. §207.” – Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition

...it takes sovereignty to make laws. The establishment of the Constitution is therefore a sovereign act, and the people who execute this act retain sovereign control over it and all that emanates from it. In the case of the Constitution, that is clearly the “People of the United States.”

...the people, in their collective and national capacity, established the present Constitution. It is remarkable that in establishing it, the people exercised their own rights, and their own proper sovereignty, and conscious of the plenitude of it, they declared with becoming dignity, 'We the people of the United States, do ordain and establish this Constitution.' Here we see the people acting as sovereigns of the whole country; and in the language of sovereignty, establishing a Constitution by which it was their will, that the State Governments should be bound, and to which the State Constitutions should be made to conform. Every State Constitution is a compact made by and between the citizens of a State to govern themselves in a certain manner; and the Constitution of the United States is likewise a compact made by the people of the United States to govern themselves as to general objects, in a certain manner.” – Chisholm v. Georgia, 1793

Only the people can alter or abolish the Constitution, and therefore the more perfect Union and the US Gov’t, unless they specify otherwise via their fundamental law. Congrats, by recognizing the Constitution is a social compact/fundamental law, you have joined the ‘unilateral secession is unconstitutional’ club (i.e. the world of the rational and sane).

And, if the sovereign people were previously organized into 13 separately and fully sovereign states, each state must therefore give up a portion of its sovereignty (the portion associated with the Constitution/more perfect Union/US Gov’t) in order to join the others in forming a nation of states:

It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these states, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all: Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest.” – Official Letter of the Federal Convention of 1787, September 17, 1787

And this, BTW, is why each of those sovereign states had to separately ratify the Constitution; because each sovereign state must decide for itself whether to surrender a portion of their sovereignty. Now, given the nature of sovereignty...

SOVEREIGNTY. The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; the self-sufficient source of political power, from which all specific political powers are derived; the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation;…” – Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition

...that’s it, you can stick a fork in the idea of constitutional unilateral secession because it’s done. As a legally “supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power,” no one can legally take sovereignty from a sovereign without their consent.

It can also be shown that the Framers drafted a fundamental law in order to eliminate full state sovereignty, and therefore make state compliance with the compact a strict matter of law. The vast majority of defects the Framers identified with the AoCs were a matter of the states failing to comply with them.

He then proceeded to enumerate the defects: . . . that the confederation produced no security against foreign invasion; congress not being permitted to prevent a war nor to support it by their own authority-Of this he cited many examples; most of which tended to shew, that they could not cause infractions of treaties or of the law of nations, to be punished: that particular states might by their conduct provoke war without controul; . . . the foederal government could not check the quarrels between states, . . . not having constitutional power nor means to interpose according to the exigency: the foederal government could not defend itself against the incroachments from the states...” – Madison’s Notes on the Federal Convention of 1787, Edmund Randolph, May 29

And based on those defects, the ultimate problem and the solution were obvious.

...that it [the AoCs] was not even paramount to the state constitutions, ratified, as it was in may of the states.” – Ibid

“...a Union of the States merely federal will not accomplish the objects proposed by the articles of Confederation, . . . no treaty or treaties among the whole or part of the States, as individual Sovereignties, would be sufficient, . . . a national Government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive & Judiciary. . . . [he] explained the distinction between a federal and national, supreme, Govt.; the former being a mere compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation. He contended that in all Communities there must be one supreme power, and one only.” – Ibid, Gouverneur Morris, May 30

The problems was full state sovereignty. Which is exactly why they not only abandoned the AoCs, but the whole treaty of confederation approach, and drafted a fundamental law, which would frame a national government, rather than one “merely federal.” But by retaining the states as semi-sovereign elements within the new Union, the system would retain federal as well as national aspects.

But if the government be national with regard to the OPERATION of its powers, it changes its aspect again when we contemplate it in relation to the EXTENT of its powers. The idea of a national government involves in it, not only an authority over the individual citizens, but an indefinite supremacy over all persons and things, so far as they are objects of lawful government. Among a people consolidated into one nation, this supremacy is completely vested in the national legislature. Among communities united for particular purposes, it is vested partly in the general and partly in the municipal legislatures. In the former case, all local authorities are subordinate to the supreme; and may be controlled, directed, or abolished by it at pleasure. In the latter, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a NATIONAL one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects. It is true that in controversies relating to the boundary between the two jurisdictions, the tribunal which is ultimately to decide, is to be established under the general government. But this does not change the principle of the case. The decision is to be impartially made, according to the rules of the Constitution; and all the usual and most effectual precautions are taken to secure this impartiality. Some such tribunal is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the sword and a dissolution of the compact; and that it ought to be established under the general rather than under the local governments, or, to speak more properly, that it could be safely established under the first alone, is a position not likely to be combated.” – James Madison, The Federalist No. 39

It has hitherto been understood, that the supreme power, that is, the sovereignty of the people of the States, was in its nature divisible; and was in fact divided, according to the Constitution of the U. States, between the States in their United, and the States in their individual capacities...” – James Madison, Essay on Sovereignty, December 1835

This type of system had never existed before. Prior to 1789 there were consolidated nations (national systems) and leagues of sovereign states (federal systems). Finding neither acceptable to their needs, the framers had invented a whole new system, later called a federal state/nation, and now called a federation:

There are a number of opinions, but the principal question is whether it be a federal or a consolidated government.... I conceive myself that it is of a mixed nature; it is in a manner unprecedented; we cannot find one express example in the experience of the world. It stands by itself. In some respects it is a government of a federal nature; in others, it is of a consolidated nature.” – James Madison, VA Ratifying Convention June 1788

§ 89. A Federal State is a perpetual union of several Sovereign States which has organs of its own and is invested with power, not only over the member-States, but also over their citizens. The union is based, first, on an international treaty of the member-States, and, secondly, on a subsequently accepted constitution of the Federal State. A Federal State is said to be a real State side by side with its member-States because its organs have a direct power over the citizens of those member-States. This power was established by American jurists of the eighteenth century as a characteristic distinction of a Federal State from Confederated States, and Kent as well as Story, the two later authorities on the Constitutional Law of the United States, adopted this distinction, which is indeed kept up until to-day by the majority of writers on politics. Now if a Federal State is recognised as a State of its own, side by side with its member-States, it is evident that sovereignty must be divided between the Federal State on the one hand, and, on the other, the member-States. This division is made in this way, that the competence over one part of the objects for which a State is in existence is handed over to the Federal State, whereas the competence over the other part remains with the member-States. Within its competence the Federal State can make laws which bind the citizens of the member-States directly without any interference of these member-States. On the other hand, the member-States are totally independent as far as their competence reaches.” – Lassa Oppenheim, International Law; A Treatise, 1912

As a sovereign nation established via a fundamental law created directly by the people of the US (the people of the collective states), a legal, constitutional withdrawal of a state or minority of states from the more perfect Union requires the consent of the people of the US, i.e. the other states:

A rightful secession requires the consent of the others, or an abuse of the compact, absolving the seceding party from the obligations imposed by it.” – James Madison to Alexander Rives (“A Friend of Union & State Rights”), January 1, 1833

Before anyone gets excited by the second part of that sentence, Madison specified in a letter to Webster...

The latter is another name only for revolution,...” – James Madison to Daniel Webster, March 15, 1833

The only way for a state or minority of states to withdraw from the more perfect Union is via the consent of the people of the US, i.e. the other states:

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. . . . I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, . . . and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.” – Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

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.” – Texas v. White,
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Now, here’s what an assertion that is actually based on historical evidence looks like:

The Constitution is a fundamental law. There’s simply no disputing this; it is “the supreme Law of the Land.” And...

SOVEREIGNTY. . . . The power to do everything in a state without accountability,—to make laws, to execute and apply them, to impose and collect taxes and levy contributions, to make war or peace, to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like. Story, Const. §207.” – Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition

...it takes sovereignty to make laws. The establishment of the Constitution is therefore a sovereign act, and the people who execute this act retain sovereign control over it and all that emanates from it. In the case of the Constitution, that is clearly the “People of the United States.”

...the people, in their collective and national capacity, established the present Constitution. It is remarkable that in establishing it, the people exercised their own rights, and their own proper sovereignty, and conscious of the plenitude of it, they declared with becoming dignity, 'We the people of the United States, do ordain and establish this Constitution.' Here we see the people acting as sovereigns of the whole country; and in the language of sovereignty, establishing a Constitution by which it was their will, that the State Governments should be bound, and to which the State Constitutions should be made to conform. Every State Constitution is a compact made by and between the citizens of a State to govern themselves in a certain manner; and the Constitution of the United States is likewise a compact made by the people of the United States to govern themselves as to general objects, in a certain manner.” – Chisholm v. Georgia, 1793

Only the people can alter or abolish the Constitution, and therefore the more perfect Union and the US Gov’t, unless they specify otherwise via their fundamental law. Congrats, by recognizing the Constitution is a social compact/fundamental law, you have joined the ‘unilateral secession is unconstitutional’ club (i.e. the world of the rational and sane).

And, if the sovereign people were previously organized into 13 separately and fully sovereign states, each state must therefore give up a portion of its sovereignty (the portion associated with the Constitution/more perfect Union/US Gov’t) in order to join the others in forming a nation of states:

It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these states, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all: Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest.” – Official Letter of the Federal Convention of 1787, September 17, 1787

And this, BTW, is why each of those sovereign states had to separately ratify the Constitution; because each sovereign state must decide for itself whether to surrender a portion of their sovereignty. Now, given the nature of sovereignty...

SOVEREIGNTY. The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; the self-sufficient source of political power, from which all specific political powers are derived; the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation;…” – Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition

...that’s it, you can stick a fork in the idea of constitutional unilateral secession because it’s done. As a legally “supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power,” no one can legally take sovereignty from a sovereign without their consent.

It can also be shown that the Framers drafted a fundamental law in order to eliminate full state sovereignty, and therefore make state compliance with the compact a strict matter of law. The vast majority of defects the Framers identified with the AoCs were a matter of the states failing to comply with them.

He then proceeded to enumerate the defects: . . . that the confederation produced no security against foreign invasion; congress not being permitted to prevent a war nor to support it by their own authority-Of this he cited many examples; most of which tended to shew, that they could not cause infractions of treaties or of the law of nations, to be punished: that particular states might by their conduct provoke war without controul; . . . the foederal government could not check the quarrels between states, . . . not having constitutional power nor means to interpose according to the exigency: the foederal government could not defend itself against the incroachments from the states...” – Madison’s Notes on the Federal Convention of 1787, Edmund Randolph, May 29

And based on those defects, the ultimate problem and the solution were obvious.

...that it [the AoCs] was not even paramount to the state constitutions, ratified, as it was in may of the states.” – Ibid

“...a Union of the States merely federal will not accomplish the objects proposed by the articles of Confederation, . . . no treaty or treaties among the whole or part of the States, as individual Sovereignties, would be sufficient, . . . a national Government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive & Judiciary. . . . [he] explained the distinction between a federal and national, supreme, Govt.; the former being a mere compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation. He contended that in all Communities there must be one supreme power, and one only.” – Ibid, Gouverneur Morris, May 30

The problems was full state sovereignty. Which is exactly why they not only abandoned the AoCs, but the whole treaty of confederation approach, and drafted a fundamental law, which would frame a national government, rather than one “merely federal.” But by retaining the states as semi-sovereign elements within the new Union, the system would retain federal as well as national aspects.

But if the government be national with regard to the OPERATION of its powers, it changes its aspect again when we contemplate it in relation to the EXTENT of its powers. The idea of a national government involves in it, not only an authority over the individual citizens, but an indefinite supremacy over all persons and things, so far as they are objects of lawful government. Among a people consolidated into one nation, this supremacy is completely vested in the national legislature. Among communities united for particular purposes, it is vested partly in the general and partly in the municipal legislatures. In the former case, all local authorities are subordinate to the supreme; and may be controlled, directed, or abolished by it at pleasure. In the latter, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a NATIONAL one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects. It is true that in controversies relating to the boundary between the two jurisdictions, the tribunal which is ultimately to decide, is to be established under the general government. But this does not change the principle of the case. The decision is to be impartially made, according to the rules of the Constitution; and all the usual and most effectual precautions are taken to secure this impartiality. Some such tribunal is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the sword and a dissolution of the compact; and that it ought to be established under the general rather than under the local governments, or, to speak more properly, that it could be safely established under the first alone, is a position not likely to be combated.” – James Madison, The Federalist No. 39

It has hitherto been understood, that the supreme power, that is, the sovereignty of the people of the States, was in its nature divisible; and was in fact divided, according to the Constitution of the U. States, between the States in their United, and the States in their individual capacities...” – James Madison, Essay on Sovereignty, December 1835

This type of system had never existed before. Prior to 1789 there were consolidated nations (national systems) and leagues of sovereign states (federal systems). Finding neither acceptable to their needs, the framers had invented a whole new system, later called a federal state/nation, and now called a federation:

There are a number of opinions, but the principal question is whether it be a federal or a consolidated government.... I conceive myself that it is of a mixed nature; it is in a manner unprecedented; we cannot find one express example in the experience of the world. It stands by itself. In some respects it is a government of a federal nature; in others, it is of a consolidated nature.” – James Madison, VA Ratifying Convention June 1788

§ 89. A Federal State is a perpetual union of several Sovereign States which has organs of its own and is invested with power, not only over the member-States, but also over their citizens. The union is based, first, on an international treaty of the member-States, and, secondly, on a subsequently accepted constitution of the Federal State. A Federal State is said to be a real State side by side with its member-States because its organs have a direct power over the citizens of those member-States. This power was established by American jurists of the eighteenth century as a characteristic distinction of a Federal State from Confederated States, and Kent as well as Story, the two later authorities on the Constitutional Law of the United States, adopted this distinction, which is indeed kept up until to-day by the majority of writers on politics. Now if a Federal State is recognised as a State of its own, side by side with its member-States, it is evident that sovereignty must be divided between the Federal State on the one hand, and, on the other, the member-States. This division is made in this way, that the competence over one part of the objects for which a State is in existence is handed over to the Federal State, whereas the competence over the other part remains with the member-States. Within its competence the Federal State can make laws which bind the citizens of the member-States directly without any interference of these member-States. On the other hand, the member-States are totally independent as far as their competence reaches.” – Lassa Oppenheim, International Law; A Treatise, 1912

As a sovereign nation established via a fundamental law created directly by the people of the US (the people of the collective states), a legal, constitutional withdrawal of a state or minority of states from the more perfect Union requires the consent of the people of the US, i.e. the other states:

A rightful secession requires the consent of the others, or an abuse of the compact, absolving the seceding party from the obligations imposed by it.” – James Madison to Alexander Rives (“A Friend of Union & State Rights”), January 1, 1833

Before anyone gets excited by the second part of that sentence, Madison specified in a letter to Webster...

The latter is another name only for revolution,...” – James Madison to Daniel Webster, March 15, 1833

The only way for a state or minority of states to withdraw from the more perfect Union is via the consent of the people of the US, i.e. the other states:

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. . . . I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, . . . and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.” – Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

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.” – Texas v. White,
There's so much room for fun with this contract "analysis" (generously stated). Let's take Art. I, Sec. 10. Clause 1: "No State shall ... pass any ... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts ..."

This ABSOLUTELY means that the Secession Ordinances were ILLEGAL!!!!
 
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