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The Secession of 1786-1788

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by jgoodguy, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Some folks take that position.

    However it is a minority view. In effect it is like saying the American Civil War was not important because at the end a nation called the United States of American was in command of the same territory after as before.
     
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  3. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Yes, I believe that many scholars have described the steady flow of sovereign powers of the states to the Federal gov't, because the states were too incompetent or corrupt to exercise them fairly or efficiently.
     
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  4. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 2nd Lieutenant

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    Prior to the ratification of the Constitution, did we actually have a nation as such? I think prior to that what we essentially had were 13 tiny nations allied together under a common set of rules, and as long as the common goal of winning independence was shared, they were able to work together fairly well. Once that was achieved, they went back to looking out for their own best interests.

    When the States threw off their allegiance to Great Britain, they became independent of her and of each other.
    - Elliot’s Debates, Vol . I, p. 423

    The separation from Great Britain placed the thirteen States in a state of nature towards each other. - Madison Papers, Supplement to Elliot’s Debates, Vol . V, p. 218.

    Every argument which shows one man ought not to have more votes than another, because he is wiser, stronger, or wealthier, proves that one State ought not to have more votes than another, because it is stronger, richer, or more populous. - Elliot’s Debates, Vol . I, p. 853

    Everything which relates to the formation, the dissolution, or the alteration of a federal government over States equally free, sovereign, and. independent, is the peculiar province of the States in their sovereign or political capacity, in the same manner as what relates to forming alliances or treaties of peace, amity, or commerce; the people at large, in their individual capacity, have no more right to interfere in the one case than in the other. - Elliot’s Debates, Vol . I, p. 387
     
  5. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    An excellent book on the nuts and bolts of ratification is the late Pauline Maier's Ratification.
     
  6. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Figuring it all out is not simple. The colonies -> states -> States never had a truly independent existence, nor a truly national existence prior to the Constitution. They could have left the AOC and ignored the AOC a lot, but never actually left it as long as it effectively(or ineffectively) existed. A eat a cake and keep it both situation.

    I suppose the nearest comparison is to consider the AOC as a league for common defense of a bunch of independent states with some common tasks delegated to the AOC, but the States could roll their on if they pleased. It looks like a Confederation-a treaty association with the AOC as a treaty but without a means enforcing common goals. In a such treaty, the aggrieved party can go to war to resolve the issue, but no US State ever did.
     
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  7. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    I agree.
     
  8. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Lincoln argued that a Union of American colonies, whose relations with other states outside that Union exercised by a Congress Assembled of representatives, already existed, even while still proclaiming their loyalty to thhe British Crown, and, that was the same Union which elected him President(my words though).

    In other words, it was under a pre-existing Union(In Congress Assembled) that the colonies threw off their allegiance to Great Britain. and were not independent of each other within that same Union.
     
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  9. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    According to Lincoln. Both Akhil Reed Amar, Bruce Ackerman and other authors suggest something more messy. For example, something called colonies were not represented by either the old colonial government, nor elected assemblies but self appointed rebel committees.
     
  10. trice

    trice Major

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    Nope.

    You can argue that the report/proposal/recommendation from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia exceeded the mandate they were given (it surely did, but there is nothing illegal in that) but the Convention itself had been called for and endorsed by the Congress. It would have been nice if Rhode Island had attended (they were invited, they chose not to come, but their attendance was not required). The Convention submitted the proposed Constitution to the Congress on September 17, 1787. The only part of the proposed Constitution that really looks like it would be a problem under AoC law is Article VII, the nine states rule and the mention of state conventions instead of state legislatures -- but once the States in Congress Assembled accepted the proposal and sent it on to the States (which the Congress did do, unanimously according to the Journal) that simply does not matter any more.

    Now it is late September of 1787. At this point, the proposal for the Constitution is completely legal according to the Articles of Confederation and moving along according to proper procedure. What happens now depends on what the states themselves do.

    As it happened, nine states had ratified the Constitution by June of 1788. Two more, Virginia and New York) ratified within less than a month. North Carolina neither accepts nor rejects the Constitution -- they adjourn their convention and ask for changes. Rhode Island tries to avoid even having a convention, and the factions in the state are on the brink of civil war in July, 1788.

    Rhode Island actually made 11 attempts to hold a convention. They held referendums (contrary to the method specified in Article VII, the first rejected overwhelmingly -- not surprisingly since even most white males in the state were not allowed to vote).

    The government of the AoC got behind the new Constitution, organized the required elections and the start of the new government for the United States, even picked the dates. That is not surprising at all because the Congress already has 11 states committed to the new Constitution and they can pretty much do what they want on almost anything in the AoC government simply by voting together 11 against the other 2. This, again, is completely legal under the Articles of Confederation.

    If any state wishes to claim this is illegal, they have a forum to be heard in: the Congress of the Confederation. That body is meeting with a quorum into April of 1788. Can you show us any reference to any source that says North Carolina or Rhode Island even tried to bring a claim or case before the Congress to say that this new Constitution was illegal? Anything at all?

    Once North Carolina ratifies (November 21, 1789) and Rhode Island ratifies (May 29, 1790), beyond a doubt everything is now properly done under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union because each and every state has agreed to the deal.. The Union continues under a new form of government. The nation remains the same. Despite a period where the status of NC (8 months plus) and RI (14 months plus) was unresolved and they were certainly not participating in the new Congress and government, where their exact condition might be described as "in limbo", they never left the Union.

    There was some normal, rough-house, arm-twisting politics involved, of course. At the end, the new US Congress pulled up the velvet glove to give RI a little glimpse of the iron fist underneath -- RI quickly ratified and rushed representatives to Congress. All in all, it took a lot less time to get all 13 states to ratify the Constitution then it took to get them to ratify the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
     
  11. KeyserSoze

    KeyserSoze Captain

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    So the states seceded from the United States and formed together as a new country called....the United States????
     
  12. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Except the AOC was dead by the time RI showed up.
     
  13. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Worked didn't it. Jeff Davis has secession envy until the day he died.

    One other way to look at it was there was this Union called the United States, with a government called the AOC which no one particularly cared for. We the People took exception to that government withdrew/seceded from it and formed an new Constitutional government of 9 then 11 and finally 13 States. In that view the Union stayed constant, but just changed government. Technically I suppose, for some time there was a US of the Confederacy and a US of the Constitution. Had RI and NC made a go of it and attracted more states there would be 2 unions called the United States, but decided they did not like the AOC either and joined the Constitutional government.
     
  14. trice

    trice Major

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    So you say.
     
  15. trice

    trice Major

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    Strangely, I find this paragraph starting out a document the Rhode Island legislature sent to George Washington
    ================
    [10–19 September 1789]

    State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

    In General Assembly September Session A.D. 1789.

    The critical situation in which the people of this State are placed, engage us to make these assurances on their behalf, of their attachment and friendship to their sister States, and of their disposition to cultivate mutual harmony and friendly intercourse. They know themselves to be a handful, comparatively viewed; and although they now stand, as it were, alone, they have not separated themselves, or departed from the principles of that Confederation, which was formed by the sister States in their struggle for freedom and in the hour of danger; they seek by this memorial to call to your remembrance the hazards which we have run, the hardships we have endured, the treasure we have spent, & the blood we have lost together, in one common cause and especially the object we had in view— the preservation of our Liberty. wherein, ability considered, they may truly say they were equal in exertions with the foremost, the effects whereof in great embarrassments and other distresses consequent thereon, we have since experienced with severity, which common sufferings, and common danger, we hope, and trust, yet form a bond of union and friendship not easily to be broken.
    ...
    =================

    That is 6 months after the government of the Constitution began, after George Washington is President, after the Congress with a House and a Senate began operating.

    In the letter, the RI legislature goes on to say they are waiting to see how this new Constitution works out before committing themselves. The document goes on, covering ways they want to co-operate (including on the collection of revenues, and mentions how the want "to answer our proportion of such part of the interest or principal of the foreign & domestic debt as the United States shall judge expedient to pay, and discharge." Apparently, they still think they should be paying their fare share of the debt of the United States of America here. Just as the Constitution says the debt of United States is still the same, apparently the Rhode Island legislature was agreed. There is and was only one Union and it never ended.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  16. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Me and Chief Justice John Marshall.
     
  17. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    "No state could be bound by the new plan(Constitution) unless it chose that fate for itself; hence Rhode Island and North Carolina found found themselves outside the new United States when George Washington took his oath of office on April 30, 1789. America's Constitution: A Biography: Akhil Reed Amar P29
    "But how could a such a secession and partial reunion be squared with the Articles of Confederation?" P 29
    "In effect the very act of constitution amounted to a mass secession from the old confederated united states. P 30
    "The prospect that some subset of states might secede from the Confederation and reunited under a new Constitution..." P 30
    P29 link
    p2.png
    P30 Link
    p1.png
     
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  18. trice

    trice Major

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    Professor Amar is a very bright man -- and a great many people disagree with him in his opinion here.

    Like you and I, Professor Amar is in the position of a fan in the stands expressing an opinion about the rules of baseball. Just like us, he is not an umpire who can actually make a call. A man who actually could make a call, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said in his opinion on Texas v. White exactly the opposite of this. No matter how much we respect Professor Amar's intelligence and ability, he does not have a position of judicial authority. You must give Chief Justice Chase's opinion more weight than any commentator from the cheap seats.
     
  19. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    I look forward to evidence. I love discussing the finer points of Texas v White and look forward to an actual quote. The are a number of constitutional scholars with Amars opinion, look forward to seeing opposing views.
     
  20. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Nation building, like politics, is a messy business and not for the faint of heart. As the old saying goes: If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    Lincoln certainly had strange(by modern standards) ideas of the exact nature of the Federal Union and the Union. I notice that, if you read some of his thoughts on the matter, literally. that he did, in fact, believe the states were independent countries.
     
  21. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    The US was particularly messy because no one did it the way the revolutionaries and founding fathers did. Normally it was a strong man imposed his views. So There was no plan and they had to make it up as they went. Need to re-read my Lincoln.
     

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