Kindly demonstrate how the US Constitution denies the right of the individual states to secede from the union in the name of “We The People.”

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The prevailing view appears to be that the individual states had voted themselves into a virtual “gulag” when they agreed to ratify the US Constitution in 1789. In other words that the states had acceded to a prison from which there was no escape when they adopted the new constitution, and that the only way to escape from the clutches of the US Constitution was through force of arms.

I do not understand what the legal basis was for Lincoln’s actions. As I understand it the US constitution delegates only certain limited powers to the central government, and that all other powers that aren’t delegated to the central government are left to the discretion of the individual states.
 

NedBaldwin

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The prevailing view appears to be that the individual states had voted themselves into a virtual “gulag” when they agreed to ratify the US Constitution in 1789. In other words that the states had acceded to a prison from which there was no escape when they adopted the new constitution, and that the only way to escape from the clutches of the US Constitution was through force of arms.

I do not understand what the legal basis was for Lincoln’s actions. As I understand it the US constitution delegates only certain limited powers to the central government, and that all other powers that aren’t delegated to the central government are left to the discretion of the individual states.
No idea what you mean by a prevailing view relating to a "gulag". that sounds like propaganda.

But I do understand the legal basis for Lincoln's actions, so I will do my best to explain.

The Constitution distributes powers, with limited ones to the Federal government; the Constitution also places limits on the States. The 10th amendment refers to this -- it says that powers not delegated nor prohibited are reserved to the States. So the question is whether secession is prohibited. The intended practical effect of 'Secession' is to remove a state from the jurisdiction of the United States, redrawing the boundaries of the US such that US Constitution, US treaties and US laws would not longer apply to that State. By the Constitution, that action is a prohibited power to a state, since the Constitution declares that US Constitution, US treaties and US laws are supreme despite what a State does (the so-called Supremacy Clause). If a State claims that those things no longer apply to it, that Stats is in violation of that clause of the Constitution. Given that secession is therefore prohibited to a State, it is not covered by the 10th Amendment.

As for Lincoln's actions, the President is empowered to execute Federal Law; State laws have no impact on a President's powers or responsibilities, especially if those state laws are null and void. When he assumed office, Federal law was being resisted. Congress had previously passed laws providing the President with tools (militia, army, etc) with which to enforce the law and put down resistance to the law. He used those tools to carry out his responsibilities as President. Her acted in much the same way that several presidents before him had, the only difference being that the resistance to the law was much greater than before.

Also, this thread belongs in a different sub forum about secession.
 

unionblue

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The prevailing view appears to be that the individual states had voted themselves into a virtual “gulag” when they agreed to ratify the US Constitution in 1789. In other words that the states had acceded to a prison from which there was no escape when they adopted the new constitution, and that the only way to escape from the clutches of the US Constitution was through force of arms.

I do not understand what the legal basis was for Lincoln’s actions. As I understand it the US constitution delegates only certain limited powers to the central government, and that all other powers that aren’t delegated to the central government are left to the discretion of the individual states.
I suggest the following for further answers to your 'questions' above.

Lincoln's Constitution, by Daniel Farber.

America's Constitution: A Biography, by Akhil Reed Amar.

Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788, by Pauline Maier.

I also suggest you read Article I, Section 10, paragraphs 1, 2, & 3, of the United States Constitution.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

19thGeorgia

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This is from the man known as "Father of the Constitution"-

James Madison: "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."
 

unionblue

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This is from the man known as "Father of the Constitution"-

James Madison: "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."
And therein lies the so-called Confederacy's problem.

There was no abuse of the compact, as the Constitution was not or is a compact to begin with, plus no obligations were being imposed on it to warrant a rebellion.
 
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19thGeorgia

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And therein lies the so-called Confederacy's problem.

There was no abuse of the compact, as the Constitution was or is a compact to begin with, plus no obligations were being imposed on it to warrant a rebellion.
1. Northern states refusing to return runaway slaves.
2. Northern states allowing those involved-in and plotting slave insurrections to roam free.
 

John Hartwell

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1. Northern states refusing to return runaway slaves.
2. Northern states allowing those involved-in and plotting slave insurrections to roam free.
Both were illegal actions undertaken by private citizens, not "Northern states". In any case, neither was an act of nor condoned by the Federal government, and thus had no standing as justification for secession from the same.
 

Belfoured

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And therein lies the so-called Confederacy's problem.

There was no abuse of the compact, as the Constitution was or is a compact to begin with, plus no obligations were being imposed on it to warrant a rebellion.
I would add that the Constitution in Article I doesn't place any constraints or conditions on the power to "suppress insurrections". And this was Madison in 1833:

"The characteristic distinction between free Govts. and Govts. not free is that the former are founded on compact, not between the Govt & those for whom it acts, but among the parties creating the Govt. Each of these being equal, neither can have more right to say that the compact has been violated and dissolved, than every other has to deny the fact, and to insist on the execution of the bargain. An inference from the doctrine that a single State has a right to secede, at its will from the rest is that the rest wd. have an equal right to secede from it, in other words to turn it, against its will out of its Union with them. Such a doctrine would not, till of late, have been palatable anywhere, and no where less so than where it is now most contended for.
A careless view of the subject might find an analogy between State secession, and personal individual expatriation. But the distinction is obvious and essential. Even in the latter case, whether regarded as a right impliedly reserved in the original Social compact, or as a reasonable indulgence, it is not exempt from certain condition It must be used without injustice or injury to the Community from which the expatriating party separates himself. Assuredly he could not withdraw his portion of territory from the common domain. In the case of a State seceding from the Union its domain would be dismembered, & other consequences brought on not less obvious than pernicious."
 

Zack

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James Madison: "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."

Echoing @Belfoured - just a general rule of thumb when it comes to Madison - the man had a habit of writing out every single viewpoint on issues, weighing them, and then declaring his preferred interpretation, so you have to be really, really careful when quoting him out of context. He took all of the issues brought before him very seriously and sought to understand all of the viewpoints. In fact, his literal next sentence after that quote is, "In order to understand the reasoning on one side of a question it is necessary to keep in view the precise state of the question, and the positions and arguments on the other side. This is particularly necessary in questions arising under our novel & compound System, of Govt and much error and confusion have grown out of a neglect of this precaution."

In other words, I'm going to weigh all the arguments.

The paragraph in the January 1833 letter that quote comes from reads: "It is not usual to answer communications without the proper names to them. But the ability & motives disclosed in the Essays induce me to say in compliance with the wish expressed, that I do not consider the proceedings of Virginia in 98-99 as countenancing the doctrine that a State may at will secede from its constitutional compact with 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." [emphasis his]

He says later on: "It surely does not follow from the fact, of the States or rather people embodied in them, having as parties to the compact, no tribunal above them, that in controverted meanings of the Compact, a minority of the parties can rightfully decide against the majority; still less that a single party can decide against the rest, and as little that it can at will withdraw itself altogether, from a compact with the rest." [emphasis his]

Here's a link to the full letter from Madison which that quote comes from. He is as far as I can tell making a much more subtle argument than that quote would imply. Even my extended quotes make more sense when read in context:
https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/99-02-02-2655

Here is another letter from Madison to Webster on the subject written March 1833:
https://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch3s14.html

The opening paragraph clarifies his distinction between secession at will and secession under intolerable circumstances - "I return my thanks for the copy of your late very powerful Speech in the Senate of the United S. It crushes 'nullification' and must hasten the abandonment of 'Secession.' But this dodges the blow by confounding the claim to secede at will, with the right of seceding from intolerable oppression. The former answers itself, being a violation, without cause, of a faith solemnly pledged. The latter is another name only for revolution, about which there is no theoretic controversy. Its double aspect, nevertheless, with the countenance recd from certain quarters, is giving it a popular currency here which may influence the approaching elections both for Congress & for the State Legislature. It has gained some advantage also, by mixing itself with the question whether the Constitution of the U.S. was formed by the people or by the States, now under a theoretic discussion by animated partizans." [emphasis his]

And another from December 1832 (one month before the first letter)
https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/letter-to-nicholas-trist/

Please also note he is writing in the context of the Nullification Crisis, as all three of these letters are from 1832 - 1833.

I'm not making any argument as to what Madison said, just that he really needs to be read in context in order to be understood.

Madison is not the be-all and end-all on the Constitution, despite his role in making it. Furthermore, he was writing about a different set of circumstances, so there is a not-insubstantial element of conjecture in applying his words to the circumstances of the 1850s and 1860s.

In a letter to Hamilton during the ratification debates in 1788 on the issue of a conditional ratification (in other words, a state will ratify the constitution on condition certain amendments will be passed in the future), Madison wrote:

"My opinion is that a reservation of a right to withdraw if amendments be not decided on under the form of the Constitution within a certain time, is a conditional ratification, that it does not make N. York a member of the New Union, and consequently that she could not be received on that plan. Compacts must be reciprocal, this principle would not in such a case be preserved. The Constitution requires an adoption in toto, and for ever. It has been so adopted by the other States. An adoption for a limited time would be as defective as an adoption of some of the articles only. In short any condition whatever must viciate the ratification." [emphasis his]

https://founders.archives.gov/docum...imited,whatever must viciate the ratification.

For my own enlightenment, Viciate means, "To make vicious, faulty, or imperfect; to render defective; to injure the substance or qualities of; to impair; to contaminate; to spoil; as, exaggeration vitiates a style of writing; sewer gas vitiates the air."

In his biography of the constitution, Akhil Amar explains that Hamilton "read the letter aloud to the Convention and then he added his own words. The 'terms of the constitution import a perpetual compact between the different states. . . . The [Article VI] oath to be taken stands in the way' of any subsequent right of unilateral secession" (Amar 38).

Amar deals with the issue of secession in the beginning of his book and, with far greater knowledge on the subject than me, concludes that the right of secession was not written into the Constitution. The relevant section of his text can be found for free on Google Books: https://www.google.com/books/edition/America_s_Constitution/xfkJRm6VCQ0C?hl=en&gbpv=0
 

NedBaldwin

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This is from the man known as "Father of the Constitution"-

James Madison: "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."
This is the more convincing explanation I have seen for secession. It is the argument South Carolina made in its declaration.

But i see several issues:
- This seems to admit that unilateral secession by itself is not a rightful/legal act by a State without extenuating circumstances
- By who and how is the "abuse" judged?
- This concept does not say that Congress/President are absolved from their obligations, so how is their basis for action affected?
- If the "seceding party" is absolved from the legal obligations of the Constitution, where does that leave it? Mississippi, for example, existed as a territory of the US prior to becoming a state; if the obligations imposed on it as a State are absolved, wouldn't it just become a territory again, since it had no existence as a state without those obligations?
 

Zack

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This is the more convincing explanation I have seen for secession. It is the argument South Carolina made in its declaration.

But i see several issues:
- This seems to admit that unilateral secession by itself is not a rightful/legal act by a State without extenuating circumstances
- By who and how is the "abuse" judged?
- This concept does not say that Congress/President are absolved from their obligations, so how is their basis for action affected?
- If the "seceding party" is absolved from the legal obligations of the Constitution, where does that leave it? Mississippi, for example, existed as a territory of the US prior to becoming a state; if the obligations imposed on it as a State are absolved, wouldn't it just become a territory again, since it had no existence as a state without those obligations?

Two months after the quoted letter Madison clarified - “But this dodges the blow by confounding the claim to secede at will, with the right of seceding from intolerable oppression. The former answers itself, being a violation, without cause, of a faith solemnly pledged. The latter is another name only for revolution, about which there is no theoretic controversy.” [emphasis mine] I’ve quoted more of the letter in a previous post.

In other words, secession per Madison is never legal. If you believe that you are the victim of intolerable oppression and choose to secede as a result you are staging a revolution. Which is not legal. This seems to fit into the idea of the “right of revolution” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_revolution) exercised during the American Revolution.

If you want a founding father upholding the right of legal secession Madison is really not your guy. His extended writings I quoted previously make it clear he is opposed to the idea of states leaving the union. If you think you are being oppressed and want to leave as a result, you are staging a revolution like the colonies against the British.

Note - please don’t misread this as me implying that the southern states were carrying on the legacy of the colonists in revolting against tyranny. They weren’t. They were staging a revolution to preserve slavery. The south was the tyrannical party.
 

jackt62

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Here is President Lincoln's assessment (1st Inaugural Address) of why the Constitution does not permit a right of secession:

"I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself."
 

Belfoured

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This is the more convincing explanation I have seen for secession. It is the argument South Carolina made in its declaration.

But i see several issues:
- This seems to admit that unilateral secession by itself is not a rightful/legal act by a State without extenuating circumstances
- By who and how is the "abuse" judged?
- This concept does not say that Congress/President are absolved from their obligations, so how is their basis for action affected?
- If the "seceding party" is absolved from the legal obligations of the Constitution, where does that leave it? Mississippi, for example, existed as a territory of the US prior to becoming a state; if the obligations imposed on it as a State are absolved, wouldn't it just become a territory again, since it had no existence as a state without those obligations?
To this point - as you and I have noted - too literal reliance on that earlier statement by Madison is unwise. His 1833 phrasing was clear: "neither can have more right to say that the compact has been violated and dissolved, than every other has to deny the fact, and to insist on the execution of the bargain". Once in, you only leave with agreement. The right to do so unilaterally was signed away. Otherwise, everybody was wasting their time when they set the whole thing up.
 
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