George Bassett's hypothetical

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I didn't think your previous comment had any application to a discussion of the right to secede.
 
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You might not be so sure of yourself if you tried to articulate your reasons in a way that people that weren't already in your choir might believe. In any case, it would contribute to the discussion if you tried to explain the relevance of your beliefs to the discussion at hand instead of merely asserting some mysterious relevance.
 
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So, how many attempts, actual attempts, at peaceful secession did abolitionists make prior to 1856?
There was more than just an actual attempt in 1788. 11 states actually seceded from the union and established a new one without the other 2. But as the second to last Bassett quote I shared indicated, respecting the right of secession helps keep secession to a minimum. Of course, despotism and subjugation by the sword is the other way to effect the same outcome, and that was the norm for the rest of the world, especially prior to 1856.
 
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trice

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There was more than just an actual attempt in 1788. 11 states actually seceded from the union and established a new one without the other 2. But as the second to last Bassett quote I shared indicated, respecting the right of secession helps keep secession to a minimum. Of course, despotism and subjugation by the sword is the other way to effect the same outcome, and that was the norm for the rest of the world, especially prior to 1856.
This never happened.
 

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So you are, in fact, rejecting the whole notion of inalienable rights?



Obviously it's true that someone doesn't have a right if they don't have a right, but you seem to be confusing the right to a thing with the thing itself. It's not fallacious to say a slave has a right to his liberty even if the slave is a slave. The slave may not have his freedom, but the right to liberty isn't dependent on actually being free. We can argue that the right to liberty is inalienable while recognizing the liberty itself is very much alienable.

That's true of all rights. I can't think of any political right that anyone has ever rightly or wrongly asserted that can't be violated and taken away. Obviously rights can be violated. The fact that a right can be or is violated is no proof that there was no right to start with.



If, as the Founders asserted, most prominently in the Declaration of Independence, people have inalienable rights, then it's a confusion of the terms to talk about whether "one should have a certain right." One may ask whether one's rights are respected or not, but if they're inalienable rights in the sense the Founders talked about, we can't say "if they don't have it, they don't have it." A person can have a right without having the thing to which the right entitles him. If you steal something that properly belongs to me, you may have the thing, but I can still have the right to that thing. So you can't properly say "if they don't have it [the thing], they don't have it [the right to the thing.]"
I think we are on the same page here and we do agree that people should have inalienable rights. I think we also agree that in fact, while they should and do have a claim to those rights, they sometimes do not possess them. Should a slave have a right to freedom? Contrary to the founding principles of the CSA, I would say yes... did a slave in the seceding states possess a right to freedom? No. This, again is a moral argument.

Did the Founders possess the inalienable rights they spoke of in the declaration when they wrote it? No. Did they win and then codify said rights? Yes, for some. If I take a thing from you and you have no recourse to get it back or compensation for it, we may go on and on about how you have a right to it and it’s justifiably yours, but unless you can obtain it (like a slave trying to obtain her freedom in the antebellum south) it is a figment of your imagination and doesn’t exist.

What you seem to be really getting at is if a people have a right to secession regardless of the cause or principle they are seceding over. I’d argue that they can claim it. They can attempt it. Unless they either are granted it or win it, they do not possess it.
 
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GwilymT

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I didn't think your previous comment had any application to a discussion of the right to secede.
It did. His comment says that unilateral secession ignores the rights of others in the group who aren’t a part of or do not support said secession. By its very nature, unilateral secession ignores the rights of those being seceded from.
 

unionblue

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There was more than just an actual attempt in 1788. 11 states actually seceded from the union and established a new one without the other 2. But as the second to last Bassett quote I shared indicated, respecting the right of secession helps keep secession to a minimum. Of course, despotism and subjugation by the sword is the other way to effect the same outcome, and that was the norm for the rest of the world, especially prior to 1856.
I'm with @trice on this one, as this never happened.

I can see why you would want others to think this happened, but anyone reading actual history knows, no secession took place in 1788.

Got any other real, historical, examples where Bassett shows secession took place?
 
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trice

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There was more than just an actual attempt in 1788. 11 states actually seceded from the union and established a new one without the other 2. But as the second to last Bassett quote I shared indicated, respecting the right of secession helps keep secession to a minimum. Of course, despotism and subjugation by the sword is the other way to effect the same outcome, and that was the norm for the rest of the world, especially prior to 1856.
This never happened.
Yes, it did. (Should we go on like this? Is this the kind of discussion you want?)
There was no "secession" in 1788. The United States of America existed before the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was written or adopted. The United States of America existed before the Constitution was written or adopted. It is the same Union in 1789 it was in 1788 and in 1787 and is today.

If you think not, please post actual documents from the time showing that any state at all "seceded" in 1788. If you have none to show, please simply say so.
 
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I think we are on the same page here and we do agree that people should have inalienable rights.
If you believe in inalienable rights, the question isn't whether people should or shouldn't have them, because if they're true inalienable rights, then they're inalienable, i.e. they can't be taken away. They can be respected or disrespected/violated, but the rights themselves can't be taken away if they're inalienable.

I think we also agree that in fact, while they should and do have a claim to those rights, they sometimes do not possess them.
If rights are inalienable, the rights -- forgive the double negative -- can't not be possessed. Inalienable rights can't be dispossessed. Inalienable means indispossessable. So, for example, if people have an inalienable right to liberty, a person can be dispossessed of his liberty (by being enslaved), but he can't be dispossessed of his right to liberty. The right is inalienable, but the right (if it's a true right at all) can be violated and the thing to which the right applies, namely his liberty, can be taken away, but only wrongfully by violating his rights.

Should a slave have a right to freedom?
Legal rights should conform to inalienable rights, but if we're talking about inalienable rights, then it doesn't make sense to say someone should have a right to something. We might dispute which rights are truly inalienable, but whichever rights are inalienable it doesn't make sense to say someone should have them. If a right is inalienable then people have them no matter what. The only "should" is that the right should be respected and recognized by the law, but as far as "having" the right, if it's an inalienable right someone -- again, forgive the double negative -- can't not have it. If we're talking about a slaves right to freedom, then we could say that slaves (and all people) have an inalienable right to freedom, that people can't even legitimately sell themselves into slavery by choice.

did a slave in the seceding states possess a right to freedom? No. This, again is a moral argument.
Did a slave in the one territory in which the Constitution authorized the federal government to decide whether to abolish slavery and where slavery persisted throughout the time that the federal government decided and fully committed to wage a war against the South possess a right to freedom? If there's an inalienable right to freedom, then yes, even slaves possess a right to freedom. What they don't possess is freedom itself. In other words, even slaves possess a right to freedom, but if they're slaves then that right is being disrespected and violated.

Did the Founders possess the inalienable rights they spoke of in the declaration when they wrote it? No. Did they win and then codify said rights? Yes, for some
If we're talking about natural rights/inalienable rights, as Bassett was and as the founders were in the Declaration of Independence, then there either is a right to secession/revolution/fill-in-the-blank or there isn't. If we're agreeing that the founders were right to claim the rights they did in the Declaration of Independence, i.e. if those claimed rights are indeed true, inalienable rights as the founders claimed they were, then everyone always possesses them, the same way a slave possesses a right to freedom even as a slave (without possessing freedom.) Whether the founders could attain the independence and self-government to which they claimed an inalienable right took a war (since England disputed it and went to war to dispute it), but either they possessed a right to that independence and self-government all along and would have still possessed it even if they had lost the war, or they never possessed it at all, even after winning the war. Again, the important distinction is between the right and the thing to which they had a right. One can be dispossessed of life/liberty/independence/self-government/fill-in-the-blank, but if there's ever an inalienable right to those things, no one can ever be dispossessed of the right, only of the thing.

If I take a thing from you and you have no recourse to get it back or compensation for it, we may go on and on about how you have a right to it and it’s justifiably yours, but unless you can obtain it (like a slave trying to obtain her freedom in the antebellum south) it is a figment of your imagination and doesn’t exist.
That's the nature of all rights, isn't it? In other words, rights aren't defined by what exists. We could say all rights are "figments of our imagination," in that to the extent they exist at all, they only exist in the realm of ideas and principles. Reality can respect rights or it can defy natural/inalienable rights. Reality isn't always right. Sometimes reality is wrong/evil/unjust. But if you believe in inalienable rights at all, if inalienable rights ever exist they exist just as much when they're being defied as when they're being respected. So if I have a right to something and you take it and I can't get it back, you haven't taken my right to that thing; you've only taken the thing. I don't have to obtain the thing to obtain the right to the thing. If we're talking about inalienable rights (as opposed to property rights which can be bought and sold), then there is no "obtaining" the right, because if it's inalienable it can't be bought or sold, obtained or lost. The thing to which the right applies may perhaps be bought or sold, obtained or lost, but the right if it's inalienable is by definition un-lose-able.

What you seem to be really getting at is if a people have a right to secession regardless of the cause or principle they are seceding over. I’d argue that they can claim it. They can attempt it. Unless they either are granted it or win it, they do not possess it.
So to come back to how all these principles apply to this discussion, if people have a natural right to revolution, as you said earlier, and if secession is the same thing, as you also said, then we might accurately say, as you said, that someone fails to realize the exercise of the right, but to your earlier question, "if a right cannot be exercised and in fact is actively denied, does it exist?" the answer is yes, if it's inalienable it always exists and can't be lost.

And so in that context I would repeat the Bassett quote I shared in response to your question the first time:

“If the people of any territory have the natural right of revolution, it can not be the right of any power to put that revolution down... The right of revolution, and the right of the suppression of the same, cannot co-exist. Senator Wade, in sounding the bugle-blast of that civil war which now threatens to convulse and desolate the land, concedes the right of revolution, and says, if successful, the revolutionists are heroes. But he maintains the co-existing right of the general government to put them down by force, and, if successful, to constitute the revolutionists traitors instead of heroes; and a vast number of Northern politicians have followed his lead. But what is this sentiment but that old atheistic monster, that 'might makes right.' The sentiment is altogether unworthy of civilization...”

If, as you said, there's a natural right to revolution, it's nonsense to say Lincoln was justified in putting that revolution down. Lincoln was wrong. The South was right (and, of course, wrong in other things, as the North was, too.)
 
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unionblue

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@Patrick Cleburne has stated above:

If, as you said, there's a natural right to revolution, it's nonsense to say Lincoln was justified in putting that revolution down. Lincoln was wrong. The South was right (and, of course, wrong in other things, as the North was, too.)

Yet, here we are, all these years later, with the results of a failed revolution in order to preserve and protect slavery, crushed by Lincoln's insistence, that a rebellion of a minority could be suppressed by a majority. Nonsense? More like a harsh reality for those who roll the dice of revolution.

The South wasn't the one who was wrong or right, it was the Confederacy that was wrong, in it's attempt to destroy a nation and to forever chain a people into eternal slavery. And Bassett was just as wrong to insist that crushing a rebellion/right to revolution was somehow wrong, especially when that revolution was for the wrong reason.

Not sorry it's gone.
 
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More like a harsh reality for those who roll the dice of revolution.
What's nonsense is the attempt to justify the subjugation of the South and the destruction of the Constitution and the principles the union was founded on, but yes, injustice is a harsh reality for those that seek to stand up for their inalienable and/or legal rights.

in order to preserve and protect slavery
Yes, the South wanted to preserve and protect slavery -- so did some of the states that fought with the Union, and that didn't stop them from fighting on the Union side -- but the preservation of slavery really wasn't at stake in or central to the conflict between North and South, certainly not at the point when both sides were committing to their courses of action and not really even after the fact, so that's just an ad hominem and a red herring. And, in any case, the question here in this thread, Bassett's hypothetical, is the opposite, and you're apparently denying the justice of that hypothetical cause basically just as much: if it had been Massachusetts attempting to secede in similar fashion specifically in order not to protect slavery according to the Constitution, the principles you're asserting would condemn Massachusetts just the same.

a rebellion of a minority could be suppressed by a majority
Of course, the United States has strongly supported lots of other minorities against majorities, especially when those minorities have been geographically fairly distinct, so it's ridiculous to assert the principle of majority rights over minorities as a consistent American principle. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were all about protecting minorities from suppression by majorities. Lincoln upended all that, and, of course, that's why those that would defend minority rights today are disproportionately sympathetic to the Southern cause today, and inversely, that's why those that would defend the pretended right of majorities to force minorities to conform to their will, even in defiance of the rule of law, are disproportionately sympathetic to Lincoln's North.

As for the "rebellion" part, that's begging the question central to this thread of whether union by voluntary consent (and the corresponding right of peaceful secession) is a good thing. If the North had heeded Bassett's argument, there would have been no more rebellion when 7 states seceded in 1860-61 than when 11 states seceded in 1788, and if that right had been respected all along, those 7 states (or at least most of them) likely wouldn't have seceded in the first place (as Basset also argued, and the few that did secede would likely not have remained separate, much in the way RI and NC didn't remain separate long after 1788.) And in any case a rebellion that let's other people do as they please, unmolested, isn't a very threatening rebellion. It's equivalent to the "rebellion" of slaves that simply peacefully run away. That's not really a "rebellion."

And, of course, you ignored the whole central question in this developing discussion: if there's a natural right of revolution (or secession or whatever you want to call it), how can suppression of revolution (or secession of whatever you want to call it) be justified?
 

unionblue

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What's nonsense is the attempt to justify the subjugation of the South and the destruction of the Constitution and the principles the union was founded on, but yes, injustice is a harsh reality for those that seek to stand up for their inalienable and/or legal rights.

What's nonsense is that the South, willfully seeking resolution on the battlefield instead of through peaceful means and then claiming the injured party, the people of the loyal United States, somehow seems an injustice to you. They rolled the dice, took their chances on the battlefield, and have no right of complaint if their dicey change of rebellion failed.



Yes, the South wanted to preserve and protect slavery -- so did some of the states that fought with the Union, and that didn't stop them from fighting on the Union side -- but the preservation of slavery really wasn't at stake in or central to the conflict between North and South, certainly not at the point when both sides were committing to their courses of action and not really even after the fact, so that's just an ad hominem and a red herring. And, in any case, the question here in this thread, Bassett's hypothetical, is the opposite, and you're apparently denying the justice of that hypothetical cause basically just as much: if it had been Massachusetts attempting to secede in similar fashion specifically in order not to protect slavery according to the Constitution, the principles you're asserting would condemn Massachusetts just the same.

More Nonsense, as slavery was THE issue the slaveholding South went to war over. The historical paper trail is simply too long and too detailed to deny.

As for Bassett's hypothetical, it's remains just that, a hypothetical that somehow you equate to a nonexistent historical happening. If you would simply read actual history, you would see Massachusetts attempted no secession during the incident you try desperately to make into something that did not even happen.




Of course, the United States has strongly supported lots of other minorities against majorities, especially when those minorities have been geographically fairly distinct, so it's ridiculous to assert the principle of majority rights over minorities as a consistent American principle. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were all about protecting minorities from suppression by majorities. Lincoln upended all that, and, of course, that's why those that would defend minority rights today are disproportionately sympathetic to the Southern cause today, and inversely, that's why those that would defend the pretended right of majorities to force minorities to conform to their will, even in defiance of the rule of law, are disproportionately sympathetic to Lincoln's North.

You have your opinion, I have Lincoln's actual words.

As for the "rebellion" part, that's begging the question central to this thread of whether union by voluntary consent (and the corresponding right of peaceful secession) is a good thing. If the North had heeded Bassett's argument, there would have been no more rebellion when 7 states seceded in 1860-61 than when 11 states seceded in 1788, and if that right had been respected all along, those 7 states (or at least most of them) likely wouldn't have seceded in the first place (as Basset also argued, and the few that did secede would likely not have remained separate, much in the way RI and NC didn't remain separate long after 1788.) And in any case a rebellion that let's other people do as they please, unmolested, isn't a very threatening rebellion. It's equivalent to the "rebellion" of slaves that simply peacefully run away. That's not really a "rebellion."

No, it's more "fantasy" in defense of an actual rebellion for one of the worst causes of such in American history.

And, of course, you ignored the whole central question in this developing discussion: if there's a natural right of revolution (or secession or whatever you want to call it), how can suppression of revolution (or secession of whatever you want to call it) be justified?
Like the man said, there was a right side and a wrong side in the Civil War, and the slaveholding South was on the wrong side. In the attempt to defy the Union of States, the Constitution, and the law of the land, in the defense of maintaining, even expanding a horrible, inhuman institution, the natural right of revolution (or unilateral secession whatever you want to excuse it as) such a wrong revoltion can be suppressed and be totally justified.
 

trice

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And, of course, you ignored the whole central question in this developing discussion: if there's a natural right of revolution (or secession or whatever you want to call it), how can suppression of revolution (or secession of whatever you want to call it) be justified?
The Natural Right of Revolution is essentially a right to try to break your allegiance and see if you can get away with it. Most of the time, it is simply a trial by combat.

Exercising the right to revolt generally makes you a rebel and traitor under the law. If you win, you escape the consequences of your law-breaking. If you lose, you are subject to whatever punishment and retribution the authorities decide to inflict upon you under their law. "The South" lost.

That's the simple version. Going further takes you into the territory of Just War theory, which includes such things as whether or not a revolution is justified if there is no real chance it will be successful (very important to military men at the time of the American Civil War). Causing useless death and suffering without a realistic chance of success is considered unjust in most situations.
 
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Massachusetts attempted no secession during the incident you try desperately to make into something that did not even happen
Of course, it didn't happen. It's a hypothetical question. Do you need to look up what hypothetical means? If you're not interested in discussing the hypothetical question or don't find any value in discussing hypothetical questions in general, find another thread. However, for people that are concerned about justice and that actually want to be principled, for them hypothetical questions are pretty critical to developing and presenting a consistent ethics, instead of just making disingenuous appeals to whichever principles are most convenient to their purposes in any given moment. Of course, there are plenty of such ethical opportunists, especially among politicians. If you're just going to take whatever side of an ethical argument is convenient to your purposes at the moment and not hold yourself to the same ethical argument in other situations, then you're obviously going to want to avoid discussing more than one situation (especially hypothetical situations), because that would expose the nonsense of your ethics. As Bassett said, "Those are false abolitionists, and selfish as slavery itself, who use the anti-slavery sentiment merely as their political capital." I'm not saying that's where you're at -- that's for you to decide -- but if you want any thinking person to take any of your ethical arguments seriously, you're going to have to demonstrate that the ethical principles you're asserting can be consistently applied to different situations. I'm more than willing and able to do so for my part. If you're unwilling or simply not interested, find another thread to comment on.

the South, willfully seeking resolution on the battlefield instead of through peaceful means
That's historical nonsense, but more than that it's completely off topic here. Bassett's hypothetical question was about Massachusetts seceding, not the South, and he posed the question prior to the start of any open hostilities, so the question is whether Massachusetts at some point in the hypothetical future (future from early 1861 when Bassett was writing) had a natural right to secede from the union, and whether the other states would have had an ethical obligation to respect that right, especially at the comparable point in the process of seceding to the point at which he was writing, a point at which as he said:

"It is said that the United States built and furnished the forts, dockyards, and custom houses in the seceding States, and, therefore, they are the common property of all of the States. But, it will be remembered that, while the remaining States contributed to the public property of the seceding States, so did these in turn contribute to that of the remaining States. If it is found, in fact, that there is within the domain of the seceding States a disproportionate amount of public property, let the matter be adjusted by a rational negotiation.
"In reference to this, as well as a proper division of the common public debt, and all other similar questions, the seceding States express the most becoming spirit and honorable intentions, as appears from the following article in the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Southern Confederacy recently established. It is as follows:
"'The government hereby instituted shall take immediate steps for the settlement of all matters between the States forming it, and their late confederates of the United States, in relation to the public property and public debt at the time of their withdrawal from them, these States hereby declaring it to be their wish and earnest desire to adjust everything pertaining to the common property, common liabilities, and common obligations of that Union upon principles of right, justice, equality, and good faith.'
"This certainly looks like the olive branch of peace; and if we decline it, and attempt the fatal policy of coercion, will not the civilized world and the impartial record of history be against us?"

So the proper question for us here is if the hypothetical abolitionist state of Massachusetts seeking to secede along the same lines as South Carolina had up until the point at which Bassett wrote his Plea, which is to say before anything happened on any battlefield, whether there was a proper right of secession that the remaining states would have been bound by right and justice to respect.

I have Lincoln's actual words.
Do you mean after-the-fact historical revisionism by Lincoln or are there any words that Lincoln had spoken at the point at which Bassett wrote his Plea, which is to say before all-out war was already a done deal? If there are any words of Lincoln from before the war that support your argument, by all means share them here, if relevant, and if not relevant here then in another thread (and please direct me to it.) I won't hold my breath.

No, it's more "fantasy" in defense of an actual rebellion for one of the worst causes of such in American history.
Are you saying that the Deep South's secession, even before the onset of any battlefield hostilities (i.e. at the point Bassett was making his argument) was already a "rebellion"? Or are you saying it became one with the onset of hostilities? If the former, then you're definition of "rebellion" is quite the bogeyman. If the latter, then you're presenting a red herring, because the central question here is Bassett's hypothetical, and if you're saying that his argument was invalid at the point at which he made it (i.e. before the onset of battlefield hostilities), then whatever happened after that point is beside the point here. The appropriate question for you here is what basis there is for rejecting Bassett's argument at the point in time in which he made it. And if the North pressed what Bassett called "the fatal policy of coercion" at that point (which it did), then the North obviously bears blame for what followed as a result.

Like the man said, there was a right side and a wrong side in the Civil War, and the slaveholding South was on the wrong side. In the attempt to defy the Union of States, the Constitution, and the law of the land, in the defense of maintaining, even expanding a horrible, inhuman institution, the natural right of revolution (or unilateral secession whatever you want to excuse it as) such a wrong revoltion can be suppressed and be totally justified.
You're terribly confused about the actual history, most notably in your implication that proper respect for the Constitution (all the more if you think Supreme Court decisions, in this case especially Dred Scott, should be the final word on the meaning of the Constitution) was consistent with the anti-slavery cause, when in reality the Constitution was very much on the side of the slave states. As Bassett quotes William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State and previously Governor of New York as saying, "It is the Union that restrains the opposition to slavery in this country." And that's one reason Bassett's hypothetical is such a worthwhile question to consider, because abolitionists like Bassett consistently defended the right of secession and especially did so in 1861 when the Constitution was very much at odds with their abolitionist cause. (Other abolitionists sought to undermine the Constitution and the rule of law for the sake of the abolitionist cause.)

But perhaps you're indirectly getting at an answer to Bassett's hypothetical question with that comment. When you say that "such a wrong revolution can be suppressed and be totally justified" the clear implication, whether you intend it or not, is that Bassett's hypothetical Massachusetts secession (or "revolution" if that's what you want to call it) could not have been justifiably suppressed, because it would not have been "such a wrong revolution" "in the defense of maintaining, even expanding a horrible, inhuman institution..." -- I'll ignore the historical nonsense of that characterization of the actual history for now -- but rather the exact opposite, namely a secession driven by anti-slavery motives. That raises other critical questions and problems, but is that, in fact, the position you're taking, namely that Bassett's hypothetical secession could not justifiably be suppressed? Or would you deny the right of a state to secede as South Carolina did even if it were for the purpose of seceding from a slavery-protecting and slaveholder-supporting constitutional union?
 

unionblue

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Of course, it didn't happen. It's a hypothetical question. Do you need to look up what hypothetical means? If you're not interested in discussing the hypothetical question or don't find any value in discussing hypothetical questions in general, find another thread. However, for people that are concerned about justice and that actually want to be principled, for them hypothetical questions are pretty critical to developing and presenting a consistent ethics, instead of just making disingenuous appeals to whichever principles are most convenient to their purposes in any given moment. Of course, there are plenty of such ethical opportunists, especially among politicians. If you're just going to take whatever side of an ethical argument is convenient to your purposes at the moment and not hold yourself to the same ethical argument in other situations, then you're obviously going to want to avoid discussing more than one situation (especially hypothetical situations), because that would expose the nonsense of your ethics. As Bassett said, "Those are false abolitionists, and selfish as slavery itself, who use the anti-slavery sentiment merely as their political capital." I'm not saying that's where you're at -- that's for you to decide -- but if you want any thinking person to take any of your ethical arguments seriously, you're going to have to demonstrate that the ethical principles you're asserting can be consistently applied to different situations. I'm more than willing and able to do so for my part. If you're unwilling or simply not interested, find another thread to comment on.



That's historical nonsense, but more than that it's completely off topic here. Bassett's hypothetical question was about Massachusetts seceding, not the South, and he posed the question prior to the start of any open hostilities, so the question is whether Massachusetts at some point in the hypothetical future (future from early 1861 when Bassett was writing) had a natural right to secede from the union, and whether the other states would have had an ethical obligation to respect that right, especially at the comparable point in the process of seceding to the point at which he was writing, a point at which as he said:

"It is said that the United States built and furnished the forts, dockyards, and custom houses in the seceding States, and, therefore, they are the common property of all of the States. But, it will be remembered that, while the remaining States contributed to the public property of the seceding States, so did these in turn contribute to that of the remaining States. If it is found, in fact, that there is within the domain of the seceding States a disproportionate amount of public property, let the matter be adjusted by a rational negotiation.
"In reference to this, as well as a proper division of the common public debt, and all other similar questions, the seceding States express the most becoming spirit and honorable intentions, as appears from the following article in the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Southern Confederacy recently established. It is as follows:
"'The government hereby instituted shall take immediate steps for the settlement of all matters between the States forming it, and their late confederates of the United States, in relation to the public property and public debt at the time of their withdrawal from them, these States hereby declaring it to be their wish and earnest desire to adjust everything pertaining to the common property, common liabilities, and common obligations of that Union upon principles of right, justice, equality, and good faith.'
"This certainly looks like the olive branch of peace; and if we decline it, and attempt the fatal policy of coercion, will not the civilized world and the impartial record of history be against us?"

So the proper question for us here is if the hypothetical abolitionist state of Massachusetts seeking to secede along the same lines as South Carolina had up until the point at which Bassett wrote his Plea, which is to say before anything happened on any battlefield, whether there was a proper right of secession that the remaining states would have been bound by right and justice to respect.



Do you mean after-the-fact historical revisionism by Lincoln or are there any words that Lincoln had spoken at the point at which Bassett wrote his Plea, which is to say before all-out war was already a done deal? If there are any words of Lincoln from before the war that support your argument, by all means share them here, if relevant, and if not relevant here then in another thread (and please direct me to it.) I won't hold my breath.



Are you saying that the Deep South's secession, even before the onset of any battlefield hostilities (i.e. at the point Bassett was making his argument) was already a "rebellion"? Or are you saying it became one with the onset of hostilities? If the former, then you're definition of "rebellion" is quite the bogeyman. If the latter, then you're presenting a red herring, because the central question here is Bassett's hypothetical, and if you're saying that his argument was invalid at the point at which he made it (i.e. before the onset of battlefield hostilities), then whatever happened after that point is beside the point here. The appropriate question for you here is what basis there is for rejecting Bassett's argument at the point in time in which he made it. And if the North pressed what Bassett called "the fatal policy of coercion" at that point (which it did), then the North obviously bears blame for what followed as a result.



You're terribly confused about the actual history, most notably in your implication that proper respect for the Constitution (all the more if you think Supreme Court decisions, in this case especially Dred Scott, should be the final word on the meaning of the Constitution) was consistent with the anti-slavery cause, when in reality the Constitution was very much on the side of the slave states. As Bassett quotes William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State and previously Governor of New York as saying, "It is the Union that restrains the opposition to slavery in this country." And that's one reason Bassett's hypothetical is such a worthwhile question to consider, because abolitionists like Bassett consistently defended the right of secession and especially did so in 1861 when the Constitution was very much at odds with their abolitionist cause. (Other abolitionists sought to undermine the Constitution and the rule of law for the sake of the abolitionist cause.)

But perhaps you're indirectly getting at an answer to Bassett's hypothetical question with that comment. When you say that "such a wrong revolution can be suppressed and be totally justified" the clear implication, whether you intend it or not, is that Bassett's hypothetical Massachusetts secession (or "revolution" if that's what you want to call it) could not have been justifiably suppressed, because it would not have been "such a wrong revolution" "in the defense of maintaining, even expanding a horrible, inhuman institution..." -- I'll ignore the historical nonsense of that characterization of the actual history for now -- but rather the exact opposite, namely a secession driven by anti-slavery motives. That raises other critical questions and problems, but is that, in fact, the position you're taking, namely that Bassett's hypothetical secession could not justifiably be suppressed? Or would you deny the right of a state to secede as South Carolina did even if it were for the purpose of seceding from a slavery-protecting and slaveholder-supporting constitutional union?
If you are going to ignore 'historical nonsense' about Bassett's hypothetical, I suggest you ignore Bassett altogether as it is, as has been said, "Much ado about nothing."
 
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