The Meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution

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Duncan

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Hear! Hear! If anyone really wants to make the claim that the Southern secessionists acted "illegally" they need to justify their claim by pointing to whatever "law" they claim was violated. Clearly they violated nothing in the Constitution, so what exactly is the law they supposedly broke?
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Hear! Hear! If anyone really wants to make the claim that the Southern secessionists acted "illegally" they need to justify their claim by pointing to whatever "law" they claim was violated. Clearly they violated nothing in the Constitution, so what exactly is the law they supposedly broke?
That has been done thousands of times on Civil War Talk. There are lots and lots of other threads that are more appropriate for this post.

Please restrict your posts in this thread to something related to the topic: the Meaning of the Preamble in the Constitution.
 

Duncan

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
That has been done thousands of times on Civil War Talk. There are lots and lots of other threads that are more appropriate for this post.

Please restrict your posts in this thread to something related to the topic: the Meaning of the Preamble in the Constitution.

The referfenced post has immediate and direct implications for the present thread. Edited
 
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Horrido67

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Sep 29, 2019
Hear! Hear! If anyone really wants to make the claim that the Southern secessionists acted "illegally" they need to justify their claim by pointing to whatever "law" they claim was violated. Clearly they violated nothing in the Constitution, so what exactly is the law they supposedly broke?
I didn't know that confiscating (stealing) federal properties and attacking federal forts weren't counted as breaking the law.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
If you want to know the meaning of the preamble, might be good to read the rest of the DOI. Latter parts of it explains who were We, and who were We Not.

Got to giggle when the Northern White Racist claim Jefferson and the DOI. Jefferson never freed his Slaves, Hemings and his Daughter’s got special treatment. Both Sections used Propaganda to claim their vision of the Constitution was the one that represented the FF. Did the same with Washington and others. Pretty easy for the South since many were Southern Slave Owners.
 
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CW Buff

First Sergeant
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Location
Connecticut
"If only saying so made it so, you’d be all set."

Yup, if only saying so made it so, you'd be all set indeed.

"Try to bend and twist it all you want, but Morris is obviously explaining that they don’t need to comply with Article XIII of the AoCs because they were NOT revising the AoCs."

Indeed, try to bend and twist it all you want, but Morris is obviously explaining that they do need to comply with Article XIII of the AoCs because they were revising the AoCs.

"How ridiculous it would have been (to put it mildly) to develop revisions that had no reasonable chance of achieving the all-important, overriding goal of saving the Union."

And how much more ridiculous and absurd it would have been (to put it mildly) for the credentials to declare;

for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation


When what they really meant was;

"for the purpose of lawlessly exceeding any and all constitutional restraints"

"You seem to forget who these outlaws you speak of were. Some of the wisest and most honorable statesmen, probably the wisest group of statesmen, that ever existed. Morris, Madison, Wilson, Washington, Franklin, Pickney, Hamilton, etc, etc. Oh, yah, a real band of outlaws there."

Yup. The same slave-owing treasonous outlaws who lawlessly and violently made war against their Mother Country in order to establish a slave-republic. Oh yah, a real band of cherubic angels there.

"You seem to be so upset that they developed a system that precludes unilateral secession"

And you seem to be upset that they didn't. Indeed, there is not so much as a single syllable in the entire Constitution which prohibits that oh-so-dastardly act.

"So, in your interpretation that the Convention acted illegally, Congress, the state legislatures, and the people of the US disagree with you. And THAT is the bottom line here."

So, in your interpretation that the Convention acted legally, Congress, the state legislatures, and the people of the US disagree with you. And THAT is the bottom line here.
That's truly the saddest reply I've ever seen. Not to mention unoriginal. But, I guess that's what happens when you double down on a flawed assertion that is untenable in the face of historical evidence, not to mention common sense.

And I noticed you chose to dodge my question.
why didn’t Congress censure the Convention, or quash the Constitution?
You pretty much had to, when the the entities that issued these so-called laws you claim were broken embraced the product of that supposed act of lawlessness. Not so much as a censure. You have nothing but an obvious misinterpretation of a statement by Morris. The lengths some people will go to to try and put a shine on Confederate tarnish is stunning. You have, however, set a new standard on that score. "Cherubic angels" indeed.
 

CW Buff

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Location
Connecticut
Hear! Hear! If anyone really wants to make the claim that the Southern secessionists acted "illegally" they need to justify their claim by pointing to whatever "law" they claim was violated. Clearly they violated nothing in the Constitution, so what exactly is the law they supposedly broke?
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Maybe you can explain how an ordinance of secession complies with the law that says "This Constitution . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land."

Shall - used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory.
 
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Duncan

Sergeant
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Feb 17, 2020
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Maybe you can explain how an ordinance of secession complies with the law that says "This Constitution . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land."

Shall - used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory.

Maybe you can show me which law the secessionists broke, just like I asked. Go ahead, show me the federal statute that makes secession a crime.
 

Duncan

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Article I Section 10.

Article I, section 10 is possibly the best argument for the legality of secession. It enumerates a lengthy list of acts prohibited to the states. But do you know what act is not prohibited? Secession. Therefore act of secession, quite clearly, is not prohibited to the states.

PS- If you want, I can write a sentence which actually does prohibit secession. Just so you could see what it would have looked like had it actually been prohibited.
 
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trice

Lt. Colonel
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Once again trying to get back to the Meaning of the Preamble of the Constitution topic:

From Recovering Our Forgotten Preamble by John W. Welch and James A. Heilper See 91 S. CALIF. L. REV. 1021 (2018):

INTRODUCTION​
This Article argues that the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America deserves a primary place in constitutional law, in federal judicial decision-making, and in the nation’s civic discourse. The Preamble does more than set forth general, vague aspirations. It epitomizes the particular purposes behind the adoption of the Constitution that were desperately needed to repair and replace the faltering Articles of Confederation. The Preamble’s words were specifically and methodically chosen, both in the Preamble itself and often within the body of the Constitution. Based on their prompt affirmative vote, all members of the Constitutional Convention, which drafted the version of the Constitution that was submitted to the thirteen states for ratification, readily embraced the Preamble. Some delegates stated explicitly that it should be used as the key to interpreting the Constitution, its meanings, intentions, purposes, and limitations. Indeed, it is doubtful that the Constitution would have been ratified without the text of the Preamble prominently standing at the top of the proposed document, and the Preamble occupied a dominant and valuable position at the head of constitutional analysis throughout the nineteenth century.​
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
More from Recovering Our Forgotten Preamble by John W. Welch and James A. Heilper See 91 S. CALIF. L. REV. 1021 (2018):

A. BEGINNINGS OF THE PREAMBLE IN THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION​
It is common knowledge that problems quickly arose under the Articles of Confederation during the final stages of the American struggle for independence from Great Britain. It is less known that significant terms of the Preamble were derived from the Articles as the Founders responded to those particular problems.​
Prior to the ratification of the Constitution, the colonies were governed by the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the States.” Created on November 15, 1777 and signed in July of 1778, the Articles of Confederation were officially ratified by the colonies on March 1, 1781. They served as the only governing document of the United States until the era of the Constitution began in 1787. The Articles were intentionally weak in certain respects, but hoped to bind the colonies in what was termed a “firm league of friendship.”​
The Articles began nothing like the Preamble. Beginning with an opening salutation that declared that the Delegates had signed the following agreement, they then simply announced: “Whereas the Delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled, did . . . agree to certain Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the states of . . .,” and then went on to name—twice—each of the thirteen states. But beyond its unimpressive “whereas” clause, the Articles of Confederation lacked a preamble. And yet, that governing document paved the way for the Preamble to the Constitution in two ways: in some of its wording and in several of its failings.​
Article I of the Articles of Confederation gave the central government the name of “The United States of America,” the national title that would be retained in the Preamble to the Constitution.​
Article III set forth the three specific purposes for the league of confederation in serving its members and their citizens: “for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare . . . .” The confederation saw these purposes as setting mutually binding legal obligations (“binding themselves”) to the duty to, “assist each other against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.” Several noticeable words in these obligating phrases in Article III were retained in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
More from Recovering Our Forgotten Preamble by John W. Welch and James A. Heilper See 91 S. CALIF. L. REV. 1021 (2018).

Here are what the authors see as the three major problems in the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union that caused the change to the Constitution:

First, the central government established by the Articles of Confederation lacked crucial components. For example, the Articles of Confederation did not establish a federal executive branch or a federal judicial branch, as many state constitutions had already established state-level executive and judicial branches.​
Second, and relatedly, the central government under the Articles of Confederation was ill designed. The Congress established by the Articles of Confederation was ill equipped. The simple, single chamber Congress, with a one-vote-per-state design, did not account for the population differences amongst the states. Additionally, the super-majority requirement for passing any new legislation was too difficult to achieve and therefore stalled any legislation being considered in Congress. The Articles of Confederation did not give its Congress the ability to tax nor the ability to regulate commerce. Therefore, when great debt befell the nation during and following the Revolutionary War, there were no mechanisms for the federal government to receive additional funds to pay down the debt.​
And third, the several states retained too much independence. While a level of federalism exists under the Constitution, the Articles allowed states to pursue independent foreign policies and trade and to establish their own separate monetary systems, making it nearly impossible to centrally govern. It soon became clear that that the “firm league of friendship” between the states was insufficient to sustain a growing population and economy.​
Although the Articles of Confederation had not distilled and brought together a salient statement of its foundational purposes and binding goals, its terminology included fundamental words such as “united,” “union,” “justice,” “common defense,” “general welfare,” “secure,” and “liberties.” The fact that these words were perpetuated from the body of the Articles of Confederation into the United States Constitution through the Preamble reinforces the view that the Preamble was not only an integral part of the Constitution, but also served valuable substantive legal purposes.
 
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trice

Lt. Colonel
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More from Recovering Our Forgotten Preamble by John W. Welch and James A. Heilper See 91 S. CALIF. L. REV. 1021 (2018).

B. THE PREAMBLE AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION​
The Constitutional Convention began in May of 1787 with the purpose of revising and amending the Articles of Confederation. The initially stated reason for the Convention was to “correct[] & enlarge[]” the Articles so as “to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution; namely ‘common defense, security of liberty and general welfare.’” Ultimately, the Convention did not merely alter and enlarge the Articles of Confederation but produced a significantly new frame and form of government.​
While the Articles of Confederation would cease to be the governing document of the United States, several aspects of those Articles, and at times direct terms from that document, were included in the ratified version of the Constitution. One of the clearest of these borrowings is found in the Preamble. Article III of the Articles of Confederation had stated: “The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare.” The heart of the Preamble to the Constitution similarly states that the Constitution is established to “provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,” and “secure the blessings of liberty.” While the Constitution laid out many more specifics and created a stronger central government, the core legal goals of the two documents are overlapping.​
 

Duncan

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Thanks for your response.
No need: we already have the opinions of the Founders and noted jurists.

Please do show it to me. Because in the entire text of the Constitution, the word "secession" never appears. Not so much as a single time.
 
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trice

Lt. Colonel
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May 2, 2006
More from Recovering Our Forgotten Preamble by John W. Welch and James A. Heilper See 91 S. CALIF. L. REV. 1021 (2018).

D. EVOKING AUTHORITY FROM KING JAMES VOCABULARY​
It is also noteworthy that several of the words in the Preamble are congruent with biblical phraseology, for the King James language was a significant part of common American language of that day. Whether consciously or subconsciously, biblical elements added yet another voice of recognized authority and enduring reassurance to the overall brilliance of the Preamble. Without any doubt, religion and the Bible were strong factors that justified and emboldened the American colonists and revolutionaries​
 

WJC

Major General
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Please do show it to me. Because in the entire text of the Constitution, the word "secession" never appears. Not so much as a single time.
Thanks for your response.
Perhaps the reason the word does not appear is that it was not even remotely considered a possibility.
 
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