The predicted outcome of resupplying Ft. Sumter


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byron ed

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That's easy. Because it was now located inside of Confederate territory.
Ha. That fort was being finished under a current contract between the U.S. government and private, non-government entities. None of those contractors were claiming lien for work they had done, so there was not even a question as to the fort's ownership. The fort was still entirely retained as U.S. property. There was no sale of the property pending, nor was the property ever conceded to any other government or person at all. No court in the civilized world at the time could have made a case that the Confederacy had legally acquired the fort.

Perhaps the thing being (grossly) exaggerated is that the Confederacy intended to someday make reparations for property that it had stolen during the war. There's your out.
 

jgoodguy

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Ha. That fort was being finished under a current contract between the U.S. government and private, non-government entities. None of those contractors were claiming lien for work they had done, so there was not even a question as to the fort's ownership. The fort was still entirely retained as U.S. property. There was no sale of the property pending, nor was the property ever conceded to any other government or person at all. No court in the civilized world at the time could have made a case that the Confederacy had legally acquired the fort.

Perhaps the thing being (grossly) exaggerated is that the Confederacy intended to someday make reparations for property that it had stolen during the war. There's your out.
It was legal to take Fort Sumter both under CSA law and military law. The whole point of secession is whose law was supreme. One has to acknowledge there were two legal systems, conflicting systems, and war determined the primacy of the US legal system. There is no need for complex legal arguments, just look to the judgment of war at Appomattox.
 

byron ed

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It was legal to take Fort Sumter both under CSA law and military law.
Golly, if that's the case then it was just as legal under U.S. law for the U.S. to take it back within the first five minutes of the Confederates claiming it. And golly, then it was legal under CSA law for the Confederates to again claim it within five minutes of that, and golly under Portugal's law Portugal could legally claim it within the following five minutes after that...

Give us a break. The fort was still entirely and legally retained as U.S. property as it was being taken, which the Confederacy itself fully understood, to go by their intentions to make reparations for it later (something they wouldn't even consider if they actually thought they owned it already).

As for military law; the status of invaded and invested territory is its venue, not land brokerage.
 
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jgoodguy

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Golly, if that's the case then it was just as legal under U.S. law for the U.S. to take it back within the first five minutes of the Confederates claiming it. And golly, then it was legal under CSA law for the Confederates to again claim it within five minutes of that, and golly under Portugal's law Portugal could legally claim it within the following five minutes after that...

Give us a break. The fort was still entirely and legally retained as U.S. property as it was being taken, which the Confederacy itself fully understood, to go by their intentions to make reparations for it later (something they wouldn't even consider if they actually thought they owned it already).

As for military law; the status of invaded and invested territory is its venue, not land brokerage.
Had the CSA won, all its actions would be legal, effectively recognized in US law by the treaty.
 
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Edward Bates to Abraham Lincoln, Friday, March 15, 1861 (Opinion on Fort Sumter)

From Edward Bates to Abraham Lincoln, March 15, 1861

The President of the United States has required my opinion in writing, upon the following question:

"Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort Sumter, under all the circumstances, is it wise to attempt it?"

This is not a question of lawful right nor physical power, but of prudence & patriotism only. The right is, in my mind unquestionable, and I have no doubt at all that the Government has the power and the means, not only to provision the Fort, but also, if the exigency required, to man it, with its war complement of 650 men, so as to make it impregnable to any local force that could be brought against it. Assuming all this, we come back to the question -- "Under all the circumstances, is it wise," now to provision the fort?

The wisdom of the act must be tested by the value of the object to be gained, & by the hazards to be encountered in the enterprise. The object to be gained, by the supply of provisions, is not to strengthen the fortress, so as to command the harbor and enforce the laws, but only to prolong the labors & privations of the brave little garrison that have so long held it, with patient courage.

The possession of the fort, as we now hold it, does not enable us to collect the revenue or enforce the laws of commercial navigation. It may indeed involve a point of honor or a point of pride, but I do not see any great national interest involved in the bare fact of holding the fort, as we now hold it -- and to hold it at all, we must supply it with provisions. And it seems to me that we may, in humanity & patriotism, safely waive the point of pride, in the consciousness that we have the power, and lack nothing but the will, to hold Fort Sumter in such condition as to command the harbor of Charleston, cut off all its commerce, and even lay the city in ashes.

The hazards to be met are many and obvious. If the attempt be made in rapid boats light enough to pass the bar in safety, still they must pass under the fire of Fort Moultrie and the batteries on Morris' Island. They might possibly escape that danger, but they cannot hope to escape the armed guard boats which ply all night, from the Fort to the outer edge of the bar-- These armed guard boats would be sure to take or destroy our unarmed tugs, unless repelled by force, either from our ships outside the bar, or from Fort Sumter within -- and that is war. True, war already exists by the act of South Carolina -- but this Government has, thus far, magnanimously forborne to retort the outrage. And I am willing to forbear yet longer, in the hope of a peaceful solution of our present difficulties. I am most unwilling to strike -- I will not say the first blow, for South Carolina has already struck that -- but I am unwilling, "under all the circumstances," at this moment to do any act, which may have the semblance, before the world, of beginning a civil war, the terrible consequences of which would, I think, find no parallel in modern times. For I am convinced that flagrant civil war in the Southern states, would soon become a social war, and that could hardly fail to bring on a servile war, the horrors of which need not be dwelt upon.

To avoid these evils, I would make great sacrifices, -- and Fort Sumter is one; but if war be forced upon us by causeless & pertinacious rebellion, I am for resisting it, with all the might of the nation.

I am persuaded, moreover, that in several of the misguided states of the South, a large proportion of the people are really lovers of the Union, and anxious to be safely back, under the protection of its flag. A reaction has already begun, and, if encouraged by wise, moderate, and firm measures on the part of this Government, I persuade myself that the nation will be restored to its integrity, without the effusion of blood.

For these reasons, I am willing to evacuate Fort Sumter, rather than be an active party in the beginning of civil war. The port of Charleston, is, comparatively, a small thing. If the present difficulties should continue & grow, I am convinced, that the real struggle will be at the mouth of the Mississippi, for it is not politically possible for any foreignpower, to hold the mouth of that river, against the people of the middle & upper valley.

If Fort Sumter must be evacuated, then it is my decided opinion, that the more Southern forts, -- Pickens, Key West &c -- should, without delay, be put in condition of easy defence against all assailants; and that the whole coast from South Carolina to Texas, should be as well guarded as the power of the Navy will enable us.

Upon the whole, I do not think it wise now to attempt to provision Fort Sumter.

Most respectfully submitted

Edwd. Bates

Atty. Genl
With all of the professional advice Lincoln received advising against re-provisioning Fort Sumter, and the potential long-term risks ( bloody Civil War ) versus only a temporary extension in the federal ability to successfully occupy the fort,
it would seem Lincoln opted to initiate an action which caused the expected reaction on the part of South Carolina. The subsequent attack on Ft. Sumter gave Lincoln the moral high ground in the North and provided a justifiable excuse to call up 75,000 men to put down the "insurrection".
 

unionblue

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With all of the professional advice Lincoln received advising against re-provisioning Fort Sumter, and the potential long-term risks ( bloody Civil War ) versus only a temporary extension in the federal ability to successfully occupy the fort,
it would seem Lincoln opted to initiate an action which caused the expected reaction on the part of South Carolina. The subsequent attack on Ft. Sumter gave Lincoln the moral high ground in the North and provided a justifiable excuse to call up 75,000 men to put down the "insurrection".
Thus proving the theory if one wishes to be provoked, one can.
 

byron ed

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... which has been the way such an undertaking worked since the dawn of mankind
No. For several hundreds of years of more primitive wars and invasions (Ghengis Khan or the Vikings et al) once you took land it was yours. There was no legality to it, just a sword.

But ok let's speculate on alternate history then: the taking of Sumpter became legal after the Confederacy prevailed and made reparations for it in an agreement with the U.S. when it sued for peace. Years later. Not legally Confederate territory before that, which the Confederates themselves understood in the frame of their legal system, if we're confused by it today.
 
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No. For several hundreds of years of more primitive wars and invasions (Ghengis Khan or the Vikings et al) once you took land it was yours. There was no legality to it, just a sword.

But ok let's speculate on alternate history then: the taking of Sumpter became legal after the Confederacy prevailed and made reparations for it in an agreement with the U.S. when it sued for peace. Years later. Not legally Confederate territory before that, which the Confederates themselves understood in the frame of their legal system, if we're confused by it today.
i think you misconstrued my post
 

jgoodguy

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...which of course means illegal until that point.
It is a certainty that sovereignty disputes are where one side thinks its view is legal, while its opponent takes the opposing view. Let's follow the events, keeping in mind that no court ever ruled on the specifics of that sovereignty question.

  • SC secedes and asserts sovereignty, the US district court closes and its member joins the secession, so there is nowhere for the question to go. No other district court rules on the matter.
  • SC and then the CSA say Sumter is theirs and the US claims that Sumter is theirs.
  • Neither side takes their case to arbitration, adjudication or legislation.
  • Both sides resort to military action either resupply or siege.
  • The CSA takes Sumter by force without recognizing either SC or US sovereignty in the matter.
  • The US takes Sumter by force.
  • End of matter.
 

jgoodguy

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No. For several hundreds of years of more primitive wars and invasions (Ghengis Khan or the Vikings et al) once you took land it was yours. There was no legality to it, just a sword.

But ok let's speculate on alternate history then: the taking of Sumpter became legal after the Confederacy prevailed and made reparations for it in an agreement with the U.S. when it sued for peace. Years later. Not legally Confederate territory before that, which the Confederates themselves understood in the frame of their legal system, if we're confused by it today.
Without any court decisions in the matter, the question of legal and illegality is simply a matter of opinion.
 

Mortari

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Without any court decisions in the matter, the question of legal and illegality is simply a matter of opinion.
But you had the session documents from South Carolina to the US federal government ceding all right and claim to that property that was Ft Sumter to the US. People were paid who owned that land as well to extinguish any claim there too. And existing Federal Enclave law gave all legislative rights to those properties to the US federal government as well. So it was US federal property under US federal laws by law not opinion.

At this point it would be an enclave like any other. Germany has a few enclaves which are entirely surrounded by Swiss lands. Llivia in Spain is one. Or Point Roberts Washington. Only way to reach it by land is through Canada. Dubai has enclaves completely separated from the main part of the Emirate of Dubai also only accessible by land.

So it would be like if Russia came back and said "hey, Alaska isn't anywhere connected to the US, but is in what was our property before we ceded it to you. So now that we have formed a new nation of the USSR, and we don't like you controlling property that borders our own, we are taking it back".

Now if through a successful revolution that land was ceded back to the state of South Carolina (either by a treaty or the defeat of the US and it's inability to continue to function) then I believe it would belong to South Carolina, and at that point if they wanted to "backdate" that ownership to when the US was no longer able to keep control of it, I wouldn't see an issue there as much.
 

jgoodguy

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You make good points but I would like to address this.
So it would be like if Russia came back and said "hey, Alaska isn't anywhere connected to the US, but is in what was our property before we ceded it to you. So now that we have formed a new nation of the USSR, and we don't like you controlling property that borders our own, we are taking it back".
Without arbitration, adjudication or legislation this means war. All of the debates about the legality of secession in general and Sumter, in particular, can be summed up simply as a trial by combat initiated by the secessionists and lost by the same.
 



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