slavery is at the bottom of everything they were worried about

Joined
Feb 20, 2005
John -

"Actually, who was the final arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution was a subject of debate from the beginning of the Republic." Allow me to respectfully disagree. The Constitution makes the USSCt the final arbiter of federal law; i.e. that law delegated by the states to the fed and enumerated in the Constitution. State SCts were, and remain, the final arbiter of state law.

Therefore, the real question is whether secession is a matter of federal, or state, law. I submit that its a question of state law. The power to regulate state secession is not a power enumerated to the fed in the Constitution. Accordingly, by the 10th Amend., its a question for the states to decide. The fed had no enumerated constitutional power to interfere with a state's exercise of state law. Therefore, all fed actions to forcibly repatriate the seceeded states were unconstitutional.

"And the sovereign,(the people of each State, deciding for itself) denied jurisdiction to the judicial arm of the agent that the sovereign created." No state denied the fed judiciary anything. The question of state secession had not been decided when any of the states seceeded. Certainly the USSSCt is the final arbiter of fed law, and that includes deciding whether a particular power has been delegated to the fed. That is the basis for federal question jurisdiction analysis in the fed cts. In the end, though, the power must be enumerated to the fed in the Constitution for it to be a federal question. The power of secession was not enumerated as a fed power.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
Hey, Russ, so glad to see you back. I've been wondering at least weekly for quite a while where you've been. Good to see you've not faded into the scenery.

Ole
 

JohnTaylor

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
trice said:
Nice to see you actually take a position.

Since you don't know if their claim was valid or not, I assume you also acknowledge that their reasoning for secession might be right or wrong.

"If" they were wrong, what do you think should be said about them? Do you think they had a duty to themselves (if no one else) to act only on what they knew to be true, to avoid acting in error?
Tim, have you noticed how the question has evolved? You started out saying that "slavery was at the bottom of everything they were worried about." Now you are trying to determine whether the claims of unfair taxation were true or not. Those are two entirely separate questions. Implicit in your more recent question is the assumption that they (at least some of them) were in fact worried about unfair taxation.
Respectfully,
John Taylor
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
JohnTaylor said:
Tim, have you noticed how the question has evolved? You started out saying that "slavery was at the bottom of everything they were worried about." Now you are trying to determine whether the claims of unfair taxation were true or not. Those are two entirely separate questions. Implicit in your more recent question is the assumption that they (at least some of them) were in fact worried about unfair taxation.

John,

I seem to remember that you started this discussion in response to one sentence I had posted in the Southern honor thread.

Personally I do not you should worry about things that are not true. If you are going to take an action, any responsible person has the obligation to be sure that what he claims is reasonable and true.

In truth, I find that virtually everything that is not involved with slavery is unsupportable. One of the reasons I say that is because people like you never support it in definite and concrete terms. Neither did secessionists, as far as I can see, because they are completely one-sided in all their reasoning.

Much of what you cite is known, just as it is known that it is all vague or unsupported or theoretical about future events that *might* have happened. The secessionists claimed they were acting legally and constitutionally -- yet they failed completely to act by the standards of people acting that way. As I have told you many times, if they want to say they are in revolt, I agree -- but the entire claim for their case of secession is not supported by anything except their compalint about slavery. When SC actually wrote a declaration of *WHY* they seceded, they didn't include anything but slavery. When they produced an "address" to other Southern states thatis little different than any stump-speech to a crowd of loyalists, they used the typical methods of all such efforts.

Regards,
Tim

Regards,
Tim
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
JohnTaylor said:
And the sovereign,(the people of each State, deciding for itself) denied jurisdiction to the judicial arm of the agent that the sovereign created.


Forgive my ignorance. What is it you are quoting here?

JohnTaylor said:
You haven't read Elliott's Debates, have you?

I've looked at parts of it over the years. I just did a quick search on it, but found no examples of unilateral secessions of the form the Confederacy asserted as a right and attempted in 1860-61. What specific examples of such actions do you find there? Anything in Britain, France, etc.?

JohnTaylor said:
Which would be sufficient if the United States were a consolidated democracy. In a federal system, the majority concerned is the people of each State (i.e. each State deciding for itself whether to remain in the Union or not). The majority of the people of South Carolina was over-ruled when the agent (the Federal government) overthrew the State government by force of arms and forced the State back into the Union against the expressed will of the people of that State. Not very democratic, as I said.

Above you are stating something as a fact that is not so. No State in the US is regarded as having a "right" to do as you say today. You continue to avoid the issue. Lee understood it. Lincoln understood it. The secessionists understood it, the Unionists understood it. You seem to think there is only one side to it, where they understood there were two sides.

In simple form, it is the question of whether the correct English usage should be "the United States are" or "the United States is". It was and is the shortest description of the problem.

If the nation is the United States, then the states have no right to secede. If the states are separate nations composed in a union of convenience, then they may have the right to secede. It was perfectly legitimate to argue either side of that case prior to the Civil War; it is hard to imagine the argument today in any rational form. The Civil War settled that de facto, and was supported by some later de jure decisions.

But, even if we are looking at the second case in 1860, we still have a matter of a dispute between states. All the states had agreed to put the jurisdiction for such matters into the hands of the Supreme Court. No one else has it: no state, not the Federal executive, not the Congress.

Regards,
Tim
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Ole -

Thanks for the kind words. I check in every once in a while just to make sure Cash isn't spreading misinformation again. ;-)
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Tim -

"The secessionists claimed they were acting legally and constitutionally -- yet they failed completely to act by the standards of people acting that way. As I have told you many times, if they want to say they are in revolt, I agree -- but the entire claim for their case of secession is not supported by anything except their compalint about slavery." The only standands for acting legally and constitutionally are contained in the Constitution. The Constitution does not give the fed the power to regulate state secession, and does not prohibit the states from seceeding. Accordingly, it is a question for each state to decide for itself. Certainly, slavery was the worst poster child for the exercise of the right. But that does not diminish the right.

"When SC actually wrote a declaration of *WHY* they seceded, they didn't include anything but slavery." That's probably because slavery was the only reason necessary and sufficient to cause secession. Other problems did exist, such as tariffs and the like, but absent slavery, the other problems would have eventually been solved in the normal political process? More importantly, no state had to give a reason to secede. They had the right by the Constitution, and the Constitution does not limit or condition the right. Any state could secede for any reason or no reason at all.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
I have enjoyed this exchange, which on the most part has included more "light than noise," as Lincoln used to say.

I can't help but think some of the emphasis on the constitutionality or legality of secession is in part because the actual issue, slavery, was indefensible to most of the civilized world then, and all of it, since.

This doesn't mean that the legal or constitutional issues don't have meaning or substance, a "timeless" quality that extends beyond the secession crisis of 1860. Especially now, which such a powerful and intrusive federal government.
However, the actors of 1860 were not Constitutional or legal scholars. The actual people of 1860 used or discarded the Constitution or State's Rights as it suited their interest.
State's Rights could be discarded when it came to the Fugitive Slave Law, but sacred elsewhere. It was terrible that violent men under John Brown raided Virginia to free slaves, but acceptable when men like William Walker raided nations to establish slavery.
The consent of the governed and the will of the people is sacred, except when the will of the people of Kansas territory is to create a free state, then it can be fought with fraud and violence.
To fight the South to preserve the Union is tyranny, but for the South to suppress its own Unionist discontents is acceptable.

As in most politics, unfortunately, it is whose ox is being gored, not some eternal principle that is the motivating force. There is also honor, and love of country, which motivated men as unlike as U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee and many others, and I don't want to ignore that. Plenty of northerners were in the war for what they could get, men like Butler, but you can think of many more, I'm sure. But I want to see things as clearly as we can.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
russ_aukerman said:
Tim -
"The secessionists claimed they were acting legally and constitutionally -- yet they failed completely to act by the standards of people acting that way. As I have told you many times, if they want to say they are in revolt, I agree -- but the entire claim for their case of secession is not supported by anything except their compalint about slavery." The only standands for acting legally and constitutionally are contained in the Constitution. The Constitution does not give the fed the power to regulate state secession, and does not prohibit the states from seceeding. Accordingly, it is a question for each state to decide for itself. Certainly, slavery was the worst poster child for the exercise of the right. But that does not diminish the right.

"When SC actually wrote a declaration of *WHY* they seceded, they didn't include anything but slavery." That's probably because slavery was the only reason necessary and sufficient to cause secession. Other problems did exist, such as tariffs and the like, but absent slavery, the other problems would have eventually been solved in the normal political process? More importantly, no state had to give a reason to secede. They had the right by the Constitution, and the Constitution does not limit or condition the right. Any state could secede for any reason or no reason at all.

Perhaps the Constitution is silent on the "right of secession" because it does not exist.

The "right of secession" the Confederacy claimed does not seem to have existed at any time before 1860; I can find no examples comparable to it. When Northerners talked about doing it in 1808, Virginians said it was treason. It was purely a theoretical legal argument, something that might or might not exist.

Now there are two ways to establish if such a "right" did exist or not. One is to act within the system (the Supreme Court or Constitutional amendment): peaceful, legal, non-violent and constitutional. The other is to act as the South did, which is not the "right of secession" at all but the "natural right of revolution". Simply declare you want out and do whatever it takes to get your independence recognized. That can work, but it is not a legal or constitutional method, and it is usually violent.

My problem with secessionists is that they are two-faced about it. They are in fact carrying out a revolutionary insurrection against their country, IMHO, but they will not admit it. They insisted they were acting legally and constitutionally instead -- even as they seized property, used the threat of force and force itself, finally assaulting and attempting to kill Federals -- and said it was all the other guy's fault. Balderdash.

Their actions are perfectly normal for someone trying to start a revolution -- and completely wrong for anyone trying to act legally.

Regards,
Tim
 

JohnTaylor

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
trice said:
Now there are two ways to establish if such a "right" did exist or not. One is to act within the system (the Supreme Court or Constitutional amendment): peaceful, legal, non-violent and constitutional. The other is to act as the South did, which is not the "right of secession" at all but the "natural right of revolution". Simply declare you want out and do whatever it takes to get your independence recognized. That can work, but it is not a legal or constitutional method, and it is usually violent.

My problem with secessionists is that they are two-faced about it. They are in fact carrying out a revolutionary insurrection against their country, IMHO, but they will not admit it. They insisted they were acting legally and constitutionally instead -- even as they seized property, used the threat of force and force itself, finally assaulting and attempting to kill Federals -- and said it was all the other guy's fault. Balderdash.

Their actions are perfectly normal for someone trying to start a revolution -- and completely wrong for anyone trying to act legally.
So what they did was "normal" as long as they declared they were acting in a revolutionary manner? How exactly does a people "declare a revolution?"
You dodged this question earlier. How does a State (or minority of States) in a federal system declare that they were exercising the natural right of revolution?
In a federal system, must they overthrow their own State government, if they have no problem with their State government? That hardly seems wise. Must they overthrow the whole federal system, the majority of the citizens of which are happy with how that system is working? That seems neither likely to be successful, nor fair to the majority who would lose the government they are happy with.
Answer these questions directly please.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
JohnTaylor said:
So what they did was "normal" as long as they declared they were acting in a revolutionary manner? How exactly does a people "declare a revolution?"
You dodged this question earlier. How does a State (or minority of States) in a federal system declare that they were exercising the natural right of revolution?
In a federal system, must they overthrow their own State government, if they have no problem with their State government? That hardly seems wise. Must they overthrow the whole federal system, the majority of the citizens of which are happy with how that system is working? That seems neither likely to be successful, nor fair to the majority who would lose the government they are happy with.
Answer these questions directly please.

John, men like Jefferson Davis specifically declared they were using a constitutional right and were not revolting. I am absolutely sure you know that, and pretty sure you can find quotes from secessionist leaders on this board right now saying that. Just where is it you are trying to go with this?

Regards,
Tim
 

JohnTaylor

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
trice said:
John, men like Jefferson Davis specifically declared they were using a constitutional right and were not revolting. I am absolutely sure you know that, and pretty sure you can find quotes from secessionist leaders on this board right now saying that. Just where is it you are trying to go with this?

Regards,
Tim
Tim, that is all very true. However, I am curious how you see a people can activate the natural right of revolution. How exactly does a people go about declaring a revolution?
Respectfully,
John Taylor
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
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Location
Near Kankakee
Will Posey said:
This is an interesting debate. I have a question: If the secessions were illegal, why were there not any treason trials after the war?
Will: I can provide one answer for that. Although some wanted trials and hangings of a great many secessionists and Confederate leaders and generals, the overwhelming feeling was to get on with stitching things back together -- to not further widen the gulf by vengeful recriminations.
Ole
 

Will Posey

Retired User
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Location
Knoxville, Tennessee
ole said:
Will: I can provide one answer for that. Although some wanted trials and hangings of a great many secessionists and Confederate leaders and generals, the overwhelming feeling was to get on with stitching things back together -- to not further widen the gulf by vengeful recriminations.
Ole


but then came reconstruction, a vengeful recrimination of gigantic proportions.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
Will:
Reconstruction was not pleasant, but it was also not as bad as some would have you believe. I understand that you are working in a local government environment. How many times have your governing bodies done things right as you perceive them to be right? Reconstruction was much the same a (ethnic reference) fire drill.

A barely contained chaos with opportunists, do-gooders, national government, state government, local government and the hapless struggling for power, sanity, calm, and just get-out-of-the-way and let me get my crops in. There were good people on both sides trying to make a return to normalcy. As you might well suspect, there were some scoundrels on both sides mucking up the works for a host of personal reasons.

Ole
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
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Location
Near Kankakee
My family endured it...to them it had gigantic proportions. And, to me.
No denying, Will, that it was not a good time for anyone involved. Many innocents pay the price exacted by the guilty. It is an unfortunate result of war that if you are in geographic proximity of the loser, you're going to get some of the ordure shovelled in that direction during and after hostilities.

Your family, involved or not, were simply at the mooky end of the stick. S##t happens. Most of a family dies in a plague, all their investments become worthless ... It wasn't their fault -- it couldn't have been, but they were swept into a situation that happened, perhaps without their approval, perhaps with their enthusiastic support. Doesn't matter. They got dealt a really bad hand and they lost the pot. Whose fault is that? Life sucks; then you die.

Should I bear some guilt because my antecedents farmed in Minnesota and suffered increased costs for necessities? No. You play the hand you're dealt. Your family, whatever their circumstances, got a bad hand. Reconstruction had a better hand, and it was played by that sneaky, nasty, nefarious being called .... another human.

Respectfully,
Ole
 

JohnTaylor

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Interesting discussion.
You all don't mind if I remind Tim that there is a question pending, do you?
So, Tim, what do you think?
Thanks.
Respectfully,
John Taylor
 

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