Opinion of Abraham Lincoln on the Admission of West Virginia

trice

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#1
Opinion of Abraham Lincoln on the Admission of West Virginia

THE CONSENT of the Legislature of Virginia is constitutionally necessary to the bill for the admission of West Virginia becoming a law. A body claiming to be such Legislature has given its consent. We can not well deny that it is such, unless we do so upon the outside knowledge that the body was chosen at elections, in which a majority of the qualified voters of Virginia did not participate. But it is a universal practice in the popular elections in all these States to give no legal consideration whatever to those who do not choose to vote, as against the effect of the votes of those who do choose to vote. Hence it is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters, who choose to vote, that constitute the political power of the State. Much less than to non-voters, should any consideration be given to those who did not vote, in this case: because it is also a matter of outside knowledge, that they were not merely neglectful of their rights under, and duty to, this government, but were also engaged in open rebellion against it. Doubtless among these non-voters were some Union men whose voices were smothered by the more numerous secessionists; but we know too little of their number to assign them any appreciable value. Can the government stand, if it indulges Constitutional constructions by which men in open rebellion against it, are to be accounted, man for man, the equals of those who maintain their loyalty to it? Are they to be accounted even better citizens, and more worthy of consideration, than those who merely neglect to vote? If so, their treason against the Constitution, enhances their constitutional value! Without braving these absurd conclusions, we cannot deny that the body which consents to the admission of West Virginia, is the Legislature of Virginia. I do not think the plural form of the words "Legislatures" and "States" in the phrase of the Constitution "without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned" has any reference to the new State concerned. That plural form sprang from the contemplation of two or more old States, contributing to form a new one. The idea that the new state was in danger of being admitted without its own consent, was not provided against, because it was not thought of, as I conceive. It is said, the devil takes care of his own. Much more should a good spirit - the spirit of the Constitution and the Union - take care of its own. I think it can not do less, and live.

But is the admission into the Union, of West Virginia, expedient. This, in my general view, is more a question for Congress, than for the Executive. Still I do not evade it. More than on any thing else, it depends on whether the admission or rejection of the new State would, under all the circumstances tend the more strongly to the restoration of the National authority throughout the Union. That which helps most in this direction is most expedient at this time. Doubtless those in remaining Virginia would return to the Union, so to speak, less reluctantly without the division of the old state than with it; but I think we could not save as much in this quarter by rejecting the new state, as we should lose by it in West Virginia. We can scarcely dispense with the aid of West Virginia in this struggle; much less can we afford to have her against us, in Congress and in the field. Her brave and good men regard her admission into the Union as a matter of life and death. They have been true to the Union under very severe trials. We have so acted as to justify their hopes; and we can not fully retain their confidence, and co-operation, if we seem to break faith with them. In fact, they could not do so much for us, if they would.

Again, the admission of the new State turns that much slave soil to free; and thus, is a certain, and irrevocable encroachment upon the cause of the rebellion.

The division of a State is dreaded as a precedent. But a measure made expedient by a war, is no precedent for times of peace. It is said the admission of West Virginia is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we can call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession against the Constitution, and secession in favor of the Constitution.

I believe the admission of West Virginia into the Union is expedient.

Abraham Lincoln, December 31, 1862, Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress.
 

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jgoodguy

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#3
As I said a while back, Defacto but not dejure.
Dejure too. One of the side effects of losing a rebellion is that the winning side gets to say what they did was legal plus pick and chose of what you did that was illegal. The South was properly afraid of Yankee lawyers.

Neat trick, Lincoln gets 4 Senate votes plus at least 2 House votes from an State Government in exile in a occupied fraction of Virginia that was mostly unelected and what was elected was done at polling places guarded by Yankee troops. Rumor has it that Rebel sympathizers were turned away and not allowed to vote.
 

trice

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#4
Dejure too. One of the side effects of losing a rebellion is that the winning side gets to say what they did was legal plus pick and chose of what you did that was illegal. The South was properly afraid of Yankee lawyers.

Neat trick, Lincoln gets 4 Senate votes plus at least 2 House votes from an State Government in exile in a occupied fraction of Virginia that was mostly unelected and what was elected was done at polling places guarded by Yankee troops. Rumor has it that Rebel sympathizers were turned away and not allowed to vote.
Hmm. You mean kinda-like GA, where recent research seems to show the state didn't really vote to secede, or TN, where voters supporting the Union were sometimes arrested at the polls and sent to the state prison in Nashville for months? Or maybe TX, where the call for a secession convention was largely illegal and some counties didn't vote at all?

The niceties of procedure in politics tend to go out the window in raw confrontations like these, particularly after the shooting starts. In the case of the West Virginia admission, I have no doubt that we can find irregularities. However, anyone trying to criticize the Union/Lincoln over them first needs to stand up and acknowledge the many earlier abuses committed by the secessionists of "the South".

Tim
 

CSA Today

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#5
Dejure too. One of the side effects of losing a rebellion is that the winning side gets to say what they did was legal plus pick and chose of what you did that was illegal. The South was properly afraid of Yankee lawyers.

Neat trick, Lincoln gets 4 Senate votes plus at least 2 House votes from an State Government in exile in a occupied fraction of Virginia that was mostly unelected and what was elected was done at polling places guarded by Yankee troops. Rumor has it that Rebel sympathizers were turned away and not allowed to vote.
Do you reckon the West Virginia secessionists, uh revolutionaries, looked upon their secession as "the Natural Right of Revolution”?

"It's been said that I should apply to the United States for a pardon, but repentance must precede the right of pardon, and I have not repented."
Jefferson Davis
 

jgoodguy

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#7
Hmm. You mean kinda-like GA, where recent research seems to show the state didn't really vote to secede, or TN, where voters supporting the Union were sometimes arrested at the polls and sent to the state prison in Nashville for months? Or maybe TX, where the call for a secession convention was largely illegal and some counties didn't vote at all?

The niceties of procedure in politics tend to go out the window in raw confrontations like these, particularly after the shooting starts. In the case of the West Virginia admission, I have no doubt that we can find irregularities. However, anyone trying to criticize the Union/Lincoln over them first needs to stand up and acknowledge the many earlier abuses committed by the secessionists of "the South".

Tim

We could toss in the fact that Missouri and Kentucky had CSA congress critters, and as areas were over ran er liberated by the victorious Union forces, the congress critters from those areas kept their offices. This resulted in a bunch of politicians whose voters were under Union control and could vote whatever way they pleased. Retreat to Victory?: Confederate Strategy Reconsidered by Robert G. Tanner makes the claim that these congress critters could vote for anything to recover their districts/states without paying a political prices with the now disconnected voters.

Advocates are allowed to ignore the misdeeds indiscretions actions of the side they advocate for. They have no duty to acknowledge anything detrimental to their position.
 

trice

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#8
We could toss in the fact that Missouri and Kentucky had CSA congress critters, and as areas were over ran er liberated by the victorious Union forces, the congress critters from those areas kept their offices. This resulted in a bunch of politicians whose voters were under Union control and could vote whatever way they pleased. Retreat to Victory?: Confederate Strategy Reconsidered by Robert G. Tanner makes the claim that these congress critters could vote for anything to recover their districts/states without paying a political prices with the now disconnected voters.

Advocates are allowed to ignore the misdeeds indiscretions actions of the side they advocate for. They have no duty to acknowledge anything detrimental to their position.
If the advocates do as you say, they mark their opinions as unreliable and discardable precisely because they cannot acknowledge the misdeeds of their own side.

Tim
 
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#11
We could toss in the fact that Missouri and Kentucky had CSA congress critters, and as areas were over ran er liberated by the victorious Union forces, the congress critters from those areas kept their offices. This resulted in a bunch of politicians whose voters were under Union control and could vote whatever way they pleased. Retreat to Victory?: Confederate Strategy Reconsidered by Robert G. Tanner makes the claim that these congress critters could vote for anything to recover their districts/states without paying a political prices with the now disconnected voters.

Advocates are allowed to ignore the misdeeds indiscretions actions of the side they advocate for. They have no duty to acknowledge anything detrimental to their position.
If you have no problem with the Confederacy recognizing rump legislatures in Missouri and Kentucky and recognizing their actions as legal then why should you have a problem with the U.S. recognizing the loyalist Virginia legislature and allowing them to exercise their Constitutional powers?
 

jgoodguy

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#12
If you have no problem with the Confederacy recognizing rump legislatures in Missouri and Kentucky and recognizing their actions as legal then why should you have a problem with the U.S. recognizing the loyalist Virginia legislature and allowing them to exercise their Constitutional powers?
Who said I had a problem with either. I am an admirer of Realpolitik, why let ideology or scruples get in the way?
 
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#13
Do you reckon the West Virginia secessionists, uh revolutionaries, looked upon their secession as "the Natural Right of Revolution”?

"It's been said that I should apply to the United States for a pardon, but repentance must precede the right of pardon, and I have not repented."
Jefferson Davis
Hardly revolutionary at all, wanting to stay in the Union is all of a sudden radical? It sounds rather conservative to me. I would hardly say it was secession, they wanted to be represented in the Union they were originally part of, but secessionists took it away from them. They were more or less reminding Congress about their representation.
 



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