Did Lee violate his oath?

GwilymT

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I dont think you get the point I am making. I admit its a bit legalistic, but then I am a lawyer. Since the oath used the plural to refer to the US, its as if Lee made an oath to each and every state. So how could he comply with his oath if he defended some states, and fought against others? So in a sense, Grant violated his oath when he fought against Virginia, since he swore to defend Virginia against all of its oppressors.

And I did not say secession was legal. I said the legislature voting to secede was a legally permissible act. There was no precedent at that time that said secession was illegal. If you know of any cases on that I would be interested in reading them. It was not until the Supreme Court determined in Texas v. White in 1868 determined that secession was legal. So until the Constitutional question was finally determined one way or another, State legislatures are free to legislate. But after their is a definitive ruling, then sates no longer can legally legislate in areas of settled law. Secession was simply an unsettled question in 1860.

Whether he resigned or not is irrelevant to my legal reasoning.

And I do not think Confederate traitors are heroes. I am no lost causer by any means.
If he made it to all of the states individually, then he violated it whenever he operated outside of Virginia. The same cannot be said of Union officers following legal orders of the United States to suppress rebellion in some of the states.
 

JerryD

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Aug 23, 2021
Lee violated his oath and committed treason against America. He should have been hung by the neck until dead after the war.
There is overwhelming evidence that the union was meant to be perpetual and that unilateral secession was unconstitutional.

The notes and letters we have from Madison, the father of the constitution, shows the Union was meant to be permanent.

The title of the articles of confederation AND perpetual union shows the founders desired the union to be perpetual.

There were several supreme court decisions during the antebellum era that clarified the nature of the constitution and they show that unilateral secession was unconstitutional. In fact I could find no supreme court decisions that even hinted that unilateral secession would be constitutional. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/supreme-court-cases-for-and-against-secession.170214/

Presidents Jackson's nullification proclamation during the nullification crisis.

Precedent's set by Presidents when faced with insurrection/rebellion. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/di...n-of-the-southern-states.169547/#post-2254975
You continue to confuse the Supremacy clause with the asserted right of secession. Two totally different things. I respectfully disagree with your original statement, in that he was granted immunity by Grant during the surrender. So your statement is just wrong.

Also, my original post really did not mean to get into any purported right of secession. It was really just pointing the incongruity of the oath Lee took that it referred to the US in the plural.
 

JerryD

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Aug 23, 2021
If he made it to all of the states individually, then he violated it whenever he operated outside of Virginia. The same cannot be said of Union officers following legal orders of the United States to suppress rebellion in some of the states.
I dont see how you can differentiate between the two examples. If Grant made an oath to defend Virginia, which is what I am asserting is at least arguable, then Grant violated his oath when he attacked Virginia. But I understand you disagree.
 
Was the State of Virginia in rebellion on April 22-23 when he accepted his commission as Major General of State forces? The State was preparing for secession, but the popular vote was not until late May. What if the vote turned out differently?
Virginia state troops had already attacked at least 2 Federal installations in the state before Lee's resignation had been accepted by the U.S.
 
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Fairfield

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Lee violated his oath and committed treason against America.
While I agree with the decision to NOT pursue executions, General Lee most certainly was a traitor & an oath-breaker. The first was startling because he hadn't much sympathy for The Cause; the 2nd, not so much. I'd not hang him--but I would remove his statues from public places.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
While I agree with the decision to NOT pursue executions, General Lee most certainly was a traitor & an oath-breaker. The first was startling because he hadn't much sympathy for The Cause; the 2nd, not so much. I'd not hang him--but I would remove his statues from public places.
I actually have a bigger problem with the West Point grads who took the oath and then took up arms against the US. And I'm certainly not condoning the rest who had a duty as citizens, but the oath was a solemn, affirmative, and voluntary commitment on top of simply being born in the US.
 

GwilymT

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Location
Pittsburgh
I dont see how you can differentiate between the two examples. If Grant made an oath to defend Virginia, which is what I am asserting is at least arguable, then Grant violated his oath when he attacked Virginia. But I understand you disagree.
But as you also assert, the oath was to the various “United States” then it applies equally to all states in the United States at the time the oath was taken. Further, your claim that Lee did not break his oath rests on Virginia and the other states in rebellion being no longer a part of the United States. Therefore Grant did not violate his oath, as he was attacking a rebellion in the US view and a foreign country in the secessionist view- either way, not breaking the oath. However, the oath Lee took, as you’ve outlined, applies equally to Maryland and Pennsylvania as it does to Virginia therefore any former US officers having taken that oath then fighting for the confederacy who set foot on US (non-seceded) soil did indeed break said oath in both the US and secessionist view of the matter. They took an oath to defend the United States (individually) in your view then attacked some of those states.

In terms of Grant or other Union officers, the are either suppressing an illegal rebellion within the United States, in line with their oath, or attacking a foreign enemy of the United States, also in line with their oath.

Either way you want to frame secession or the legitimacy of the CSA, Lee broke his oath when he crossed the Potomac, Grant did not violate the oath when he either invaded a foreign country who was an enemy of the US or put down a rebellion inside of the US.
 
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JerryD

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Aug 23, 2021
But as you also assert, the oath was to the various “United States” then it applies equally to all states in the United States at the time the oath was taken. Further, your claim that Lee did not break his oath rests on Virginia and the other states in rebellion being no longer a part of the United States. Therefore Grant did not violate his oath, as he was attacking a rebellion in the US view and a foreign country in the secessionist view- either way, not breaking the oath. However, the oath Lee took, as you’ve outlined, applies equally to Maryland and Pennsylvania as it does to Virginia therefore any former US officers having taken that oath then fighting for the confederacy who set foot on US (non-seceded) soil did indeed break said oath in both the US and secessionist view of the matter. They took an oath to defend the United States (individually) in your view then attacked some of those states.

In terms of Grant or other Union officers, the are either suppressing an illegal rebellion within the United States, in line with their oath, or attacking a foreign enemy of the United States, also in line with their oath.

Either way you want to frame secession or the legitimacy of the CSA, Lee broke his oath when he crossed the Potomac, Grant did not violate the oath when he either invaded a foreign country who was an enemy of the US or put down a rebellion inside of the US.
Actually, you have it wrong. I say it is arguable Lee did not break his oath because the southern states were still in the US. If they were no longer in the US, then he would have violated his oath. You have it exactly backwards. So it seems we agree? LOL...

The legality of the rebellion is a subject of another thread and is irrelevant to my analysis. I realize you may disagree on this assumption, but if the war was truly a war between one group of states against another group of states, then the oath, arguably, is impossible to comply with. And the very fact that West Point changed the oath to clarify this point pretty proves, in my mind, that they saw the problem I am pointing out and took steps to correct the flaw in the oath.
 

Fairfield

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Actually, you have it wrong. I say it is arguable Lee did not break his oath because the southern states were still in the US. If they were no longer in the US, then he would have violated his oath. You have it exactly backwards. So it seems we agree? LOL...
Actually, I believe that you have it backwards. Lee broke his oath because he failed to defend the U.S. as he promised. It's that simple. Whether CSA was triumphant--and the rebellion became a revolution--or it failed is irrelevant to the fact that he took an oath but, when push came to shove, broke it.

The really sad part (for him) is that, to judge by his writing, he didn't believe that secession was legal.
 

JerryD

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Actually, I believe that you have it backwards. Lee broke his oath because he failed to defend the U.S. as he promised. It's that simple. Whether CSA was triumphant--and the rebellion became a revolution--or it failed is irrelevant to the fact that he took an oath but, when push came to shove, broke it.

The really sad part (for him) is that, to judge by his writing, he didn't believe that secession was legal.
What I meant is, you have it wrong on what I believe. And I am the world's greatest authority on what I believe. Your post above in post #68 said "Further, your claim that Lee did not break his oath rests on Virginia and the other states in rebellion being no longer a part of the United States." That is an incorrect statement of what I said. What I actually said (in post #43) was that if Virginia was no longer a state, then Lee did violate his oath. So you mischaracterized what I wrote when you made the statement quoted above, and thus was wrong. Thus, my statement. You need to read what I wrote and not assume what I think in order to follow this argument.

So, again, you have it wrong, at least with respect to what I said and what my argument assumes.

I understand you disagree with my conclusion, and in that I can't say you are wrong as its your conclusion and not subject to a right or wrong determination, just as you can't say I am wrong based on my conclusion. But I certainly can say you are wrong when you try to tell me what I think.
 

Fairfield

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What I meant is, you have it wrong on what I believe. And I am the world's greatest authority on what I believe. Your post above in post #68 said "Further, your claim that Lee did not break his oath rests on Virginia and the other states in rebellion being no longer a part of the United States." That is an incorrect statement of what I said. What I actually said (in post #43) was that if Virginia was no longer a state, then Lee did violate his oath. So you mischaracterized what I wrote when you made the statement quoted above, and thus was wrong. Thus, my statement. You need to read what I wrote and not assume what I think in order to follow this argument.

So, again, you have it wrong, at least with respect to what I said and what my argument assumes.

I understand you disagree with my conclusion, and in that I can't say you are wrong as its your conclusion and not subject to a right or wrong determination, just as you can't say I am wrong based on my conclusion. But I certainly can say you are wrong when you try to tell me what I think.
Huh? I never said any such thing. I am not the author of #68. Not necessarily an expert on anything, I do know what I wrote.
 

GwilymT

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Pittsburgh
What I meant is, you have it wrong on what I believe. And I am the world's greatest authority on what I believe. Your post above in post #68 said "Further, your claim that Lee did not break his oath rests on Virginia and the other states in rebellion being no longer a part of the United States." That is an incorrect statement of what I said. What I actually said (in post #43) was that if Virginia was no longer a state, then Lee did violate his oath. So you mischaracterized what I wrote when you made the statement quoted above, and thus was wrong. Thus, my statement. You need to read what I wrote and not assume what I think in order to follow this argument.

So, again, you have it wrong, at least with respect to what I said and what my argument assumes.

I understand you disagree with my conclusion, and in that I can't say you are wrong as its your conclusion and not subject to a right or wrong determination, just as you can't say I am wrong based on my conclusion. But I certainly can say you are wrong when you try to tell me what I think.
You are responding to the wrong person. @Fairfield didnt say that, I did.
 

Reverend Ron

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A territory or colony opting to voluntarily join the Union is little different than an individual signing up for a "Book of the Month Club".

You opt to join and sign up for that subscription, but when it no longer suits your needs and you try and quit, then and only then, do you discover the "predatory practices" of the "big business".

I am absolutely certain that every territory or colony that joined the Union did so with the understanding that they could quit and leave it, if later they so desired.

Lee did not violate his oath. He sequentially resigned his commission, and then joined the righteous cause of his home state of Virginia months later.
 

JerryD

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Aug 23, 2021
Huh? I never said any such thing. I am not the author of #68. Not necessarily an expert on anything, I do know what I wrote.
My mistake...you kind of nosed into a discussion you were not a party to when you said I was wrong and Lee did violate his oath, when in the context of the discussion you quoted in your post was that I was merely saying the OP of #68 was wrong in mistating what my analysis relied on.

I would never say someone is wrong in their opinion on something like this. There is no right or wrong, its all speculation. Right or wrong is limited to objective facts. So despite you stating I was wrong on the oath breaking discussion, I will not reciprocate, since I realize that is just you expressing your opinion.
 

Fairfield

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.you kind of nosed into a discussion you were not a party to
I thought this was an open forum where comments were acceptable; if you had wanted to continue in a private conversation, you should have PM'd.

BTW, demonstrable and provable facts are not opinions. As a lawyer, you should know that.
 
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JerryD

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Aug 23, 2021
BTW, demonstrable and provable facts are not opinions. As a lawyer, you should know that.
Um, I think I just said that. Facts are certainly not opinions. I assume you are inferring that Lee broke his oath is a "fact", and I respectfully disagree.
 

Fairfield

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Um, I think I just said that. Facts are certainly not opinions. I assume you are inferring that Lee broke his oath is a "fact", and I respectfully disagree.
Please go back to #53. If you wish me to document those dates, I can.

Of course he broke his oath. What else would you call going back on a sworn pledge?
 

Stone in the wall

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Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
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But as you also assert, the oath was to the various “United States” then it applies equally to all states in the United States at the time the oath was taken. Further, your claim that Lee did not break his oath rests on Virginia and the other states in rebellion being no longer a part of the United States. Therefore Grant did not violate his oath, as he was attacking a rebellion in the US view and a foreign country in the secessionist view- either way, not breaking the oath. However, the oath Lee took, as you’ve outlined, applies equally to Maryland and Pennsylvania as it does to Virginia therefore any former US officers having taken that oath then fighting for the confederacy who set foot on US (non-seceded) soil did indeed break said oath in both the US and secessionist view of the matter. They took an oath to defend the United States (individually) in your view then attacked some of those states.

In terms of Grant or other Union officers, the are either suppressing an illegal rebellion within the United States, in line with their oath, or attacking a foreign enemy of the United States, also in line with their oath.

Either way you want to frame secession or the legitimacy of the CSA, Lee broke his oath when he crossed the Potomac, Grant did not violate the oath when he either invaded a foreign country who was an enemy of the US or put down a rebellion inside of the US.
With the secession of South Carolina it was no longer the United States. Thank you for stating Grant invaded a foreign country (CSA). After the war with southern states taken by force it became not the United States, but the "Consolidated States"
 
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