Books NF Seceding from Secession: The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia

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Seceding from Secession:
The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia
by Eric J. Wittenberg, Edmund A. Sargus Jr., & Penny L. Barrick

“West Virginia was the child of the storm,” concluded early Mountaineer historian and Civil War veteran, Maj. Theodore F. Lang. The northwestern third of the Commonwealth of Virginia finally broke away in 1863 to form the Union’s 35th state. In Seceding from Secession: The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia, authors Eric J. Wittenberg, Edmund A. Sargus, and Penny L. Barrick chronicle those events in an unprecedented study of the social, legal, military, and political factors that converged to bring about the birth of the West Virginia.

President Abraham Lincoln, an astute lawyer in his own right, played a critical role in birthing the new state. The constitutionality of the mechanism by which the new state would be created concerned the president, and he polled every member of his entire cabinet before signing the bill. Seceding from Secession includes a detailed discussion of the 1871 U.S. Supreme Court decision Virginia v. West Virginia, in which former Lincoln cabinet member Salmon Chase presided as chief justice over the court that decided the constitutionality of the momentous event.

Seceding from Secession is grounded in a wide variety of sources and persuasively presented. Add in a brilliant Foreword by Frank J. Williams, former Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and Chairman Emeritus of the Lincoln Forum, and it is an indispensable source for everyone interested in understanding the convergence of military, political, social, and legal events that brought about the birth of the state of West Virginia.

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Eric Wittenberg

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Brilliant read on a unique topic that has never been covered before at least not as in depth
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

We're now working on the logical sequel to it, which is a study of whether secession itself was legal. I'm working on my fourth chapter of my portion of it.
 

Joshism

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We're now working on the logical sequel to it, which is a study of whether secession itself was legal.

With this be very focused on the legal rights of the states, or will it touch on some of the related questions such as the seizure of federal property within the seceded states and the resignation of military officers and government officials to serve the seceded states?
 

Eric Wittenberg

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With this be very focused on the legal rights of the states, or will it touch on some of the related questions such as the seizure of federal property within the seceded states and the resignation of military officers and government officials to serve the seceded states?
Just on the legal issues, Josh. As you quite correctly point out, those are related questions, but have no bearing on our study.
 

John Winn

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Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

We're now working on the logical sequel to it, which is a study of whether secession itself was legal. I'm working on my fourth chapter of my portion of it.
I don't expect you to let the cat out of the bag but are you looking at secession per se or secession as was attempted by the Confederacy ? Seems to me those might be different things (i.e. might a state leave the Union by some means vs is it legal to just walk out one day, seize federal property, and maybe shoot at a fort while you're at it).

BTW, I very much enjoyed your book on West Virginia.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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I don't expect you to let the cat out of the bag but are you looking at secession per se or secession as was attempted by the Confederacy ? Seems to me those might be different things (i.e. might a state leave the Union by some means vs is it legal to just walk out one day, seize federal property, and maybe shoot at a fort while you're at it).

BTW, I very much enjoyed your book on West Virginia.
Thank you!

We begin with the language of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the conflict between them, because no examination of this question can begin anywhere else. We then address the Constitution and its ambiguity on the issue of secession. Chapter 3 addresses secession by consent with the establishment of Kentucky, Vermont, and Maine. Chapter 4, which is what I'm now working on, address the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799, responding to the Alien and Sedition Acts. Chapter 5 will address the Hartford Convention during the War of 1812. Chapter 6 will address the South Carolina Nullification Crisis of 1828-1832. Chapter 7 will cover the run-up to the Civil War. The balance of the book will be devoted to the same sort of legal analysis/discussion as what you saw in Seceding from Secession. My co-authors--a federal judge and his permanent staff attorney--will take the lead on those aspects of the book, just as they did with the West Virginia book. It's intended to be comprehensive in its scope.
 

Joshism

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Chapter 5 will address the Hartford Convention during the War of 1812

Will this include the Essex Junto secession schemes before the war or are those too vague to address from a legal standpoint?

I always thought the big difference between the KY/VA Resolutions vs SC Nullification is that the former wanted to nullify a law that actually was unconstitutional, whereas the latter wanted to nullify a constitutional tariff. But I'm not a lawyer, so I look forward to reading opinions on the subject from those that are. :smile:
 

Eric Wittenberg

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Will this include the Essex Junto secession schemes before the war or are those too vague to address from a legal standpoint?

I always thought the big difference between the KY/VA Resolutions vs SC Nullification is that the former wanted to nullify a law that actually was unconstitutional, whereas the latter wanted to nullify a constitutional tariff. But I'm not a lawyer, so I look forward to reading opinions on the subject from those that are. :smile:
You're correct, Josh. But the Resolutions fed the Nullification Crisis. The Crisis was the logical result of the philosophy that led to the Resolutions in the first place.

The Essex Junto will be addressed in the chapter on the Hartford Convention.
 

NedBaldwin

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Will this include the Essex Junto secession schemes before the war or are those too vague to address from a legal standpoint?

I always thought the big difference between the KY/VA Resolutions vs SC Nullification is that the former wanted to nullify a law that actually was unconstitutional, whereas the latter wanted to nullify a constitutional tariff. But I'm not a lawyer, so I look forward to reading opinions on the subject from those that are. :smile:
Whether the Laws that the KY/VA Resolutions complained about were constitutional or not was never tested. The big difference I see is that SC tried to act on nullification whereas KY/Va just complained but never did anything
 

Eric Wittenberg

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Whether the Laws that the KY/VA Resolutions complained about were constitutional or not was never tested. The big difference I see is that SC tried to act on nullification whereas KY/Va just complained but never did anything
That's probably because no other states supported Kentucky and Virginia on this. In fact, most strongly opposed the idea of nullification as well as the theory that the constitution was a compact among the states that could be ended at any time. This became the cornerstone of John C. Calhoun's arguments in support of nullification during the South Carolina Nullification Crisis.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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Will this include the Essex Junto secession schemes before the war or are those too vague to address from a legal standpoint?

I always thought the big difference between the KY/VA Resolutions vs SC Nullification is that the former wanted to nullify a law that actually was unconstitutional, whereas the latter wanted to nullify a constitutional tariff. But I'm not a lawyer, so I look forward to reading opinions on the subject from those that are. :smile:
Josh, I ended up changing my mind and have ended up working on a separate chapter on the efforts of the Essex Junto in both 1803-4 and again in 1807-1808. It's nearly 10,000 pages. I just didn't know a whole lot about this, and the more I dug into it, the more interested I became. Thanks for the inspiration.
 
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