The U.S. owned Fort Sumter

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Status
Not open for further replies.

whitworth

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Messages
2,513
Why? It's in the U.S. Constitution and accepted by all the states.

Article I, Section 8.

The Congress shall have Power...

...., and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
 

cw1865

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jun 12, 2007
Messages
1,850
Location
Riverdale, NJ (Morris County)
True but....

Well, its true, its not like each citizen is sitting on shares that are bought and sold on a stock market, but we are discussing what would conceivably happen if the Feds actually recognized secession or if the South had won and obviously they would have to settle the differences. Just like a corporation, the Federal government has assets and liabilities. It would be, quite literally an accounting nightmare; as such I would think that the agreement of separation would have simply noted that all Federal installations in the seceded state would go to that state and each state would assume some portion of the national debt.

There may be one or two installations the Feds would have liked to keep even if they decided to recognize secession, but largely there would be no compelling interest in maintaining tiny enclaves surrounded by Confederate territory.
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
10,182
Location
Nashville
whitworth said:
Why? It's in the U.S. Constitution and accepted by all the states.

Article I, Section 8.

The Congress shall have Power...

...., and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
"by the Consent of the Legislature of the State"

Apparently that was part of the problem. Remember also that the good citizens of South Carolina had helped build and pay for the fort that was within their sovereign territory? They could have layed claim to at least an interest in the place. Apparently they were interested enough to start a war.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,394
Location
Near Kankakee
Remember also that the good citizens of South Carolina had helped build and pay for the fort that was within their sovereign territory? They could have layed claim to at least an interest in the place. Apparently they were interested enough to start a war.
The good citizens of SC participated in paying for the fort only to the extent of their selling the shoal to the government and helping pay for said sale by purchasing imported goods. There also were paid laborers from the Charleston area participating in the building.

The government (the people of all the states) bought the property and paid for the labor and materials used in the fort subsequently erected on the site. It was built to protect Charleston Harbor from foreign invasion. As such, it was in the interest of all the states to have such fortifications there. (Even though the harbor was unimproved, substandard, and of little profitable use.)

It remains that the forts were Federal property and that the CSA wanted them back. Both sides are understandable. It's Federal property. The CSA cannot abide federal property inside its harbors. As such, Sumter was a symbol. It had no possibility of actually threatening Charleston--it couldn't be supplied. It had no particular value to the Federal Government after secession--it couldn't be supplied. It was the chip on the shoulder or, if you'd rather, the line drawn in the sand.

There is no question but that the fort was the property of the people of the United States. Knocking off the chip or stepping over that line was the kicker.

ole
 

hawglips

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
965
Does anyone actually believe that the US government's interest in holding Fort Sumter was about property ownership?
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,394
Location
Near Kankakee
Good to see you back, hawglips.

No. It wasn't a question of ownership. It was Lincoln's chip and it was up to Jeff to knock it off. And he did.

ole
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,394
Location
Near Kankakee
For the new people. Hawglips is one of the most eloquent and learned proponents of the Confederacy. He is not a pawn of the SCV or any other radical group. If you want to learn something useful from the Confederate side of the topic, Hawglips holds the word.

ole
 

michiganmoon

Cadet
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
51
hawglips said:
Does anyone actually believe that the US government's interest in holding Fort Sumter was about property ownership?

You know what, in a way it sort of is. Lincoln had the opinion that secession was not possible and therefore he would hold onto all federal property that he currently had in the south and at least ask for federal property back that had been confiscated by the CSA. How can the CSA hold onto property if they don't legally exist? Sort of "It's "ours", not yours, get back in step with us."

Lincoln's interest in not accepting the CSA's offer to purchase the fort was that selling the fort to the CSA meant that the CSA legitimately existed in USA law, which he for obvious reasons wanted to avoid. On the otherhand, the USA turning down the CSA offer to buy the fort was an indicator that the USA and maybe Europe would not see the CSA as independent.

The fort was USA property, but in all reality, if the CSA were to become independent, the only real use the USA could get out of the fort would be to simply annoy the CSA with a USA presence in one of their busy harbors.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,394
Location
Near Kankakee
Largely correct, michiganmoon. Lincoln's initial stance was that there was no southern confederacy. He had political and practical reasons for taking that stance -- some of which concerned international interests.

While it was in his face, he could not acknowledge the Confederacy as a belligerant nation. To do so would open up all kinds of complications with Europe. Even treading the fine line he was, he bumped heavily into internationally understood convention.

It was a hard spot.

ole
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

J_Man0507

Cadet
Joined
Jun 18, 2007
Messages
461
I have to agree with much of what has been said in the last couple posts here. Lincoln did not accept secession as legitimate, and therefore, he could not give into demands made by the CSA, such as offers to buy Federal property. Now, for the most part, they had just taken arsenals, naval yards, and the like when the states seceded. But there were two posts that they could not touch: Ft. Pickens and Ft. Sumter. These two forts were occupied by Federal troops and the only way that the Confederates could have taken them was to storm them, which would be an act of war. They, as we know, didn't want to be the aggressor, though thats how it ended up in the end. Therefore, their only recourse was to offer purchase.

What else could Lincoln do? He does not recognize the Confederate government as legitimate. He is doing his best to make the European nations see it that way too. But if he goes and sells the last two remaining Federal strongholds in the South (one of which never fell to Confederate hands) then he has given them legitimacy and said that secession is a right that the states do have, and that opens an even larger can of worms (because then New York City could secede, as they threatened to do, even though I don't think they would have anyway, and also possible New Jersey, which pondered the question a little as well.)

When Lincoln took the oath of office, he vowed to uphold the Constitution of the United States to the best of his ability. Now Article 1 section 8 does say that Congress has the power to hold authority of Federal installations, but they cannot do that without the president per se, because each branch can't operate separate of the others (even though the USSC seems to think so :laugh1:.) And the oath does not say that he is to uphold Article 3 of the Constitution, but the whole document. Lincoln was doing his job, and any president who did not do the same would be thought of as derelict in his duties.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,394
Location
Near Kankakee
JMan has about summed up the quandary Lincoln was in. If he believed in anything, it was the Constitution as he saw it. (OK, dammit, he also believed that he could break a piece of it to save all of it.) So he had a problem with what was a blockade and what was "closing" a port.

Lincoln's presidency was OJT at its highest point. He had nothing going for him outside his belief in the constitution. The rest was considered invention. After the initial turmoil, he settled in, brought together some really odd people, and hammered together a functional organization that prosecuted a nasty war successfully.

Now I forget where I was going. Whatever.

ole
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
10,182
Location
Nashville
ole said:
JMan has about summed up the quandary Lincoln was in. If he believed in anything, it was the Constitution as he saw it. (OK, dammit, he also believed that he could break a piece of it to save all of it.) So he had a problem with what was a blockade and what was "closing" a port.

Lincoln's presidency was OJT at its highest point. He had nothing going for him outside his belief in the constitution. The rest was considered invention. After the initial turmoil, he settled in, brought together some really odd people, and hammered together a functional organization that prosecuted a nasty war successfully.

Now I forget where I was going. Whatever.

ole
Where you are going may not be as important as where you've been? The trick is to keep moving.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
33,491
Location
Right here.
larry_cockerham said:
"by the Consent of the Legislature of the State"

Apparently that was part of the problem. Remember also that the good citizens of South Carolina had helped build and pay for the fort that was within their sovereign territory? They could have layed claim to at least an interest in the place. Apparently they were interested enough to start a war.

The South Carolina legislature had already ceded ownership of Fort Sumter to the United States for all time.

Regards,
Cash
 

milhistbuff1

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
519
Location
NY
As far as I understand it, since South Carolina had already seceded at the time of the firing upon Star of West & Ft Sumter, Pres. Lincoln had several justifiable grounds on which to respond with military force.

*Presumably among the supplies was mail destined to the Ft Sumter Garrision. Interruption of the mail was and is still a federal crime.

The 1824 Gibbons Vs. Ogden case would provide ample cause under interstate trade grounds.

Destruction of federal property- Since the Star of the West was in the service of the Federal Government at the time of its being damaged.

Treason- attacking the federal troops under Major Anderson was tantamount to an open revolt against the legitimate govt of the US.

Any one of these grounds would have served, it was the last that finally did it.
 

Battalion

Banned
Joined
Dec 30, 2005
Messages
4,810
cash said:
The South Carolina legislature had already ceded ownership of Fort Sumter to the United States for all time.

Regards,
Cash
...and in 1776 the British Crown held property within the American Colonies.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Battalion

Banned
Joined
Dec 30, 2005
Messages
4,810
milhistbuff1 said:
As far as I understand it, since South Carolina had already seceded at the time of the firing upon Star of West & Ft Sumter, Pres. Lincoln had several justifiable grounds on which to respond with military force.

*Presumably among the supplies was mail destined to the Ft Sumter Garrision. Interruption of the mail was and is still a federal crime.

The 1824 Gibbons Vs. Ogden case would provide ample cause under interstate trade grounds.

Destruction of federal property- Since the Star of the West was in the service of the Federal Government at the time of its being damaged.

Treason- attacking the federal troops under Major Anderson was tantamount to an open revolt against the legitimate govt of the US.

Any one of these grounds would have served, it was the last that finally did it.
Does the state (any state) have the right to approve or disapprove the garrisoning of Federal troops within its borders or along its coastline?
 

Dred

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Messages
1,016
Location
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Battalion said:
...and in 1776 the British Crown held property within the American Colonies.

Yep... and if we had lost the war, more than likely all the head players would have been hanged for treason.
 

J_Man0507

Cadet
Joined
Jun 18, 2007
Messages
461
Battalion said:
Does the state (any state) have the right to approve or disapprove the garrisoning of Federal troops within its borders or along its coastline?
The Constitution does not give the states that power. It us up to the Congress of the United States to decide issues of military matters, as stated in Article 1, section 8. Now Congress will have to vote on these appropriations and the like, so the representatives of that state have a say, meaning that state has had its say in the matter. But because the states have united under one government with jurisdiction over the states, the vote of Congress as a whole is what counts. The representatives of said state, if they do not agree, have the ability to try and persuade the other representatives to vote against the proposed legislation. But the states have no say according to the Constitution.

And just to make it clear from the get go, the 3rd Amendment does not apply here. This amendment only applies to the quartering of troops, in a private home, in times of peace, without the owners consent.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

cw1865

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jun 12, 2007
Messages
1,850
Location
Riverdale, NJ (Morris County)
None

Battalion said:
Does the state (any state) have the right to approve or disapprove the garrisoning of Federal troops within its borders or along its coastline?
None. Federal government provides for the common defense.

You guys are missing the point on Sumter though. Property titles are derived from the sovereign - common law rule. In the US that is, and actually still is, the state, ie. if you own a piece of Florida real estate, ultimately if you go back far enough you will find a deed from the State of Florida. (Your first deed may be from the Federal Government depending on the state, but state governments nevertheless control the disposition of real estate in their borders).

In the case of South Carolina, ultimately you could trace the deeds back to colonial charters, etc. and in the case of Sumter, you probably won't find a deed since it was created by fill.

Nevertheless, assuming arguendo, that secession is legal, and South Carolina becomes a de jure independent state, South Carolina could condemn the property and tender just compensation, BUT assuming that South Carolina simply remained in the Union, they wouldn't be able to use eminent domain over a Federal installation.

Fort Sumter is the line in the sand. By resupplying Fort Sumter, Lincoln is telling SC that its secession has not been recognized by the Feds...
 

J_Man0507

Cadet
Joined
Jun 18, 2007
Messages
461
Good point CW. I also should point out that assuming secession is legal as the South claimed, they can no longer claim the Constitution as their basis. They have formed a country of their own, and therefore US law doesn't apply to them. Before they had seceded, they had ceded that property, the island on which the fort had been built, to the Federal Government. Therefore, it no longer belonged to the state, but the Federal Gov't and Congress was in charge, not the state legislature in SC. The states secession does not mean that they get all federal property back. It remains the property of the United States.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top