Thomas Jefferson, Secession, and States Rights

CW Buff

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Connecticut
Could it be NC and RI drug their feet in order to not give up any sovereignty or they were jot sure how much they were giving up. I will have to pull up their ratification documents to see what the debate was.

Yes, they were absolutely concerned about giving up sovereignty. That was true of most of the states, to one degree or another. Surrendering sovereignty was an irrevocable decision, so it was a big deal. At the very least, they knew they were surrendering the sovereignty associated with the powers the Constitution delegates. NC was basically waiting for the amendments that had been promised in several state ratifying conventions. Once Congress passed a draft set of amendments, they were satisfied (they could then surrender sovereignty, believing the BoR provided the additional safeguards they needed). Rhode Island was simply entirely reluctant. RI had refused to participate in the Constitutional Convention. Rhode Island had solved its problems during the economic depression of the 1780s by cancelling debt (thereby avoiding incidents like Shay's Rebellion). Some were calling it Rouge Island. Based on what I’ve heard said on the forum, Congress finally forced RI’s hand: ratify or the benefits of Union will be denied you.

Pauline Maier wrote an excellent book on the ratification process. She doesn’t provide a great degree of details on some states’ conventions (I think that was because some were well recorded, others weren’t; for the most part newspaper men recorded the events, so the quality of the record depended on how well they could hear the speakers). It should be available at most libraries if you want to check it out.

Here is an excellent site on the subject, though I’m not sure of the level of detail on the debates.
 

CW Buff

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Writing it big does not make the meaning clearer any more than speaking loud and slow to a foreigner makes the words more understandable but i am starting to see the points you all are making just not sure what side or the fence i will fall on. Fence is starting to feel comfortable but at least the fence is on the playing field. Thanks for yours and the others input and time. Mich appreciated.

In the style of the day, they often capitalized the first word of a document. Sometimes they made the first letter of the first word much larger. Capitalization was also a way of stressing individual words (like we might use bold). But making all three words so large is not a simple matter of style, it's a means of stressing that it was the people, not the states, who ordained and established the Constitution. That was an important distinction, based on both discussions held during the Constitutional Convention, and Madison’s Vices of the Political System of the United States (aka Deficiencies of the Confederation).

"8. Want of ratification by the people of the articles of Confederation.

In some of the States the Confederation is recognized by, and forms a part of the constitution. In others however it has received no other sanction than that of the Legislative authority. From this defect two evils result: 1. Whenever a law of a State happens to be repugnant to an act of Congress, particularly when the latter is of posterior date to the former, it will be at least questionable whether the latter must not prevail; and as the question must be decided by the Tribunals of the State, they will be most likely to lean on the side of the State. 2. As far as the Union of the States is to be regarded as a league of sovereign powers, and not as a political Constitution by virtue of which they are become one sovereign power, so far it seems to follow from the doctrine of compacts, that a breach of any of the articles of the confederation by any of the parties to it, absolves the other parties from their respective obligations, and gives them a right if they chuse to exert it, of dissolving the Union altogether."

Solution: rather than continuing as "a league of sovereign powers", make it "one sovereign power" founded on "a political Constitution" ratified "by the people."
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
But, without the sour grapes we would all be denied the pleasure to savor the numerous vintage southern whines that so many cherish and that others so enjoy to drain of their myth.

Southern whine is a pleasure Northerners allow themselves. They don't ever consider the whine is theirs, too.

Kool Aid is free, drink it up.
 

jgoodguy

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It wasn't unlawful, who said it was? You are making a huge leap with that statement. Chase's ruling was after the War, so what basis of illegality are you using? The thread is about a secession, not a rebellion.

The abolitionists broke more laws the Confederates who led the secession movement did prior to the War and used violence and the threat of war and bloodshed? Did opposing slavery make it acceptable to break laws and provoke war? If so, then where do you draw the line?
It wasn't unlawful, who said it was? You are making a huge leap with that statement. Chase's ruling was after the War, so what basis of illegality are you using? The thread is about a secession, not a rebellion.

The abolitionists broke more laws the Confederates who led the secession movement did prior to the War and used violence and the threat of war and bloodshed? Did opposing slavery make it acceptable to break laws and provoke war? If so, then where do you draw the line?

As noted many times, the term illegal is not in Texas v White regarding secession.

What TvW ruled was secession was not in the Constitution.

7. Considered as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention, and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give [p701] effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law. The State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens of the Union.

And that secession required consent of the States
6. When Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.

Do you agree that secession is not in the Constitution and the Seceding States did not ask for consent?
If so we are in agreement that secession was not consensual and without protection of the Constitution.

Then we can agree that the Secessionists acted outside of law taking property that did not belong to them. In addition outside of law the secessionists attacked Fort Sumter.
 

48th Miss.

First Sergeant
Joined
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Location
North Carolina
Yes, they were absolutely concerned about giving up sovereignty. That was true of most of the states, to one degree or another. Surrendering sovereignty was an irrevocable decision, so it was a big deal. At the very least, they knew they were surrendering the sovereignty associated with the powers the Constitution delegates. NC was basically waiting for the amendments that had been promised in several state ratifying conventions. Once Congress passed a draft set of amendments, they were satisfied (they could then surrender sovereignty, believing the BoR provided the additional safeguards they needed). Rhode Island was simply entirely reluctant. RI had refused to participate in the Constitutional Convention. Rhode Island had solved its problems during the economic depression of the 1780s by cancelling debt (thereby avoiding incidents like Shay's Rebellion). Some were calling it Rouge Island. Based on what I’ve heard said on the forum, Congress finally forced RI’s hand: ratify or the benefits of Union will be denied you.

Pauline Maier wrote an excellent book on the ratification process. She doesn’t provide a great degree of details on some states’ conventions (I think that was because some were well recorded, others weren’t; for the most part newspaper men recorded the events, so the quality of the record depended on how well they could hear the speakers). It should be available at most libraries if you want to check it out.

Here is an excellent site on the subject, though I’m not sure of the level of detail on the debates.

Thanks, I spent what time I could reading NCs convention minutes but was yet to get to the good parts. Truly an interesting topic and perhaps I missed it so far but the smoking gun that details exactly what they and others truly understood about what they were giving up and what they were retaining still escapes me. Fortunately for me, I do not have to have an answer or understanding today.

Thanks, I will zip by those links.
 

48th Miss.

First Sergeant
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Location
North Carolina
In the style of the day, they often capitalized the first word of a document. Sometimes they made the first letter of the first word much larger. Capitalization was also a way of stressing individual words (like we might use bold). But making all three words so large is not a simple matter of style, it's a means of stressing that it was the people, not the states, who ordained and established the Constitution. That was an important distinction, based on both discussions held during the Constitutional Convention, and Madison’s Vices of the Political System of the United States (aka Deficiencies of the Confederation).

"8. Want of ratification by the people of the articles of Confederation.

In some of the States the Confederation is recognized by, and forms a part of the constitution. In others however it has received no other sanction than that of the Legislative authority. From this defect two evils result: 1. Whenever a law of a State happens to be repugnant to an act of Congress, particularly when the latter is of posterior date to the former, it will be at least questionable whether the latter must not prevail; and as the question must be decided by the Tribunals of the State, they will be most likely to lean on the side of the State. 2. As far as the Union of the States is to be regarded as a league of sovereign powers, and not as a political Constitution by virtue of which they are become one sovereign power, so far it seems to follow from the doctrine of compacts, that a breach of any of the articles of the confederation by any of the parties to it, absolves the other parties from their respective obligations, and gives them a right if they chuse to exert it, of dissolving the Union altogether."

Solution: rather than continuing as "a league of sovereign powers", make it "one sovereign power" founded on "a political Constitution" ratified "by the people."
That was a cool read, thanks. I get the large words as you stated. I am reading a book now that details stuff like that and how the meaning of words has changed which is why you need the understanding of the definitions from their day and not ours. For instance the word Religion back then was more specific and less inclusive as compared to today, but we will not go there for obvious reasons, like rules. I really appreciate your well written and thought out answers along with a few others. The time you have spent on this is obvious.

Thanks
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
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Location
South Carolina
1. The fact that politicians sounded earnest and sincere does not mean they were earnest and sincere. Let's say they were seeking popular support for selfish interests, like personal wealth and power. They would still speak as loyal, patriotic Southerners, defending the original principles of our cherished Constitution, simply trying to protect the rights and liberties of all Southerners. THAT’S THE IDEA.

Except that the secret sessions weren't made for public consumption. Who were they playing to? What audience were they trying to impress?
 
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Andersonh1

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The secessionists had to have been aware that their actions carried the risk of war, assuming Lincoln followed the policy precedent of a prior, sitting president. And they took that risk. That is, they had real reason to anticipate that their controversial view of secession would not be acceptable to the Union, and that war would result - and they decided to go for it anyway.

- Alan

They were very aware that war might result, or at least some of them were. Who was that one guy who famously said he'd mop up all the blood that would be spilled over secession with his handkerchief? But by the time the Virginia secession convention met, war wasn't a theory, it was a certainty. Lincoln had already called for 75,000 troops. Those men in Virginia knew that if they went with the Confederacy, they would be on the front lines of the war, and they did it anyway.
 

jgoodguy

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They were very aware that war might result, or at least some of them were. Who was that one guy who famously said he'd mop up all the blood that would be spilled over secession with his handkerchief? But by the time the Virginia secession convention met, war wasn't a theory, it was a certainty. Lincoln had already called for 75,000 troops. Those men in Virginia knew that if they went with the Confederacy, they would be on the front lines of the war, and they did it anyway.
Some observations
They expected a short war and most expected the man on their right or left to be dead. I remember a story from WWII where a bombing group was told there would be at least 20% casualties and everyone look around and thought "you poor unlucky sod".
They lacked the experience of war and had no conception of the bloody slaughter of war.
Humans are tribal in nature. Had VA gone Union, the same men would have worn blue.
 

unionblue

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It wasn't unlawful, who said it was?

The United States of America, from 1861 through 1865.


You are making a huge leap with that statement.

No, I am not making a "huge leap" with my statement. I am merely turning a page and reading actual history.


Chase's ruling was after the War, so what basis of illegality are you using?

Common sense, Andrew Jackson, and numerous Supreme Court cases, and the results of trial-by-combat, freely sought by those who attempted unlawful rebellion.

The thread is about a secession, not a rebellion.

And this thread is not about smoke and mirrors or word games. You claim secession, History states rebellion.

The abolitionists broke more laws the Confederates who led the secession movement did prior to the War

Really? How many federal troops did abolitionists fire on or take prisoner? How many forts did they seize? How many pay rolls and mints did they take? How many ships did they steal and which custom houses did they take over? How many arsenals did they break into and steal the weapons therein? And how many cannonballs did they fire at federal troops?

and used violence and the threat of war and bloodshed?

From what I read in actual history, the large majority of abolitionists were largely without public support and influence until the start of the war. I'll give you John Brown, the exception vice the rule, but the rest of your assertions are without any real substance.

Did opposing slavery make it acceptable to break laws and provoke war?

John Brown was hung, abolitionist publications were banned from the mail, from the South and their petitions in Congress were constantly "laid on the table" and ignored. What are you basing your opinion on?

If so, then where do you draw the line?

Herein is your major problem. I have not drawn a "line." All I did was read history.

The slaveholding South did, and then crossed it, freely and without reservation, all in the defense of that slavery.

Unionblue
 
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Rebforever

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“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 [sic] in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

When a state passes an ordinance of secession, it 1) becomes SOMETHING in the laws of that state, and 2) denies the supremacy this clause establishes and maintains. That’s not opinion, that’s a simple fact.

Now, if I said the clause does not apply to unilateral secession because it does specifically mention secession, THAT would be opinion.
As I see this, I have a differing thought than you. It has absolutely nothing to do with secession. But it does have something to do with treaties. And these treaty's are to be recognized by the states. It has nothing to do with secession.
 

Potomac Pride

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“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 [sic] in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

When a state passes an ordinance of secession, it 1) becomes SOMETHING in the laws of that state, and 2) denies the supremacy this clause establishes and maintains. That’s not opinion, that’s a simple fact.

Now, if I said the clause does not apply to unilateral secession because it does specifically mention secession, THAT would be opinion.

In terms of the supremacy clause, the original intent was to grant the federal government supremacy over the states in terms of the specific powers listed in the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause only applies if the federal government is acting in regards to the authorized powers stated in the Constitution as indicated by the phrase "in pursuance thereof" in the actual text of the clause. However, there is no section of the Constitution that prohibits secession. For secession to be unconstitutional there must be some clause prohibiting it and not simply a claim that the Constitution is supreme.
 

jgoodguy

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In terms of the supremacy clause, the original intent was to grant the federal government supremacy over the states in terms of the specific powers listed in the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause only applies if the federal government is acting in regards to the authorized powers stated in the Constitution as indicated by the phrase "in pursuance thereof" in the actual text of the clause. However, there is no section of the Constitution that prohibits secession. For secession to be unconstitutional there must be some clause prohibiting it and not simply a claim that the Constitution is supreme.

Evidence of original intent other than your opinion.
 

Andersonh1

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Evidence of original intent other than your opinion.

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed33.asp

But it is said that the laws of the Union are to be the SUPREME LAW of the land. But what inference can be drawn from this, or what would they amount to, if they were not to be supreme? It is evident they would amount to nothing. A LAW, by the very meaning of the term, includes supremacy. It is a rule which those to whom it is prescribed are bound to observe. This results from every political association. If individuals enter into a state of society, the laws of that society must be the supreme regulator of their conduct. If a number of political societies enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers intrusted to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies, and the individuals of whom they are composed. It would otherwise be a mere treaty, dependent on the good faith of the parties, and not a goverment, which is only another word for POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY. But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the large society which are NOT PURSUANT to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. Hence we perceive that the clause which declares the supremacy of the laws of the Union, like the one we have just before considered, only declares a truth, which flows immediately and necessarily from the institution of a federal government. It will not, I presume, have escaped observation, that it EXPRESSLY confines this supremacy to laws made PURSUANT TO THE CONSTITUTION; which I mention merely as an instance of caution in the convention; since that limitation would have been to be understood, though it had not been expressed.
 

jgoodguy

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The head of the posts says "For secession to be unconstitutional there must be some clause prohibiting it and not simply a claim that the Constitution is supreme."

In terms of the supremacy clause, the original intent was to grant the federal government supremacy over the states in terms of the specific powers listed in the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause only applies if the federal government is acting in regards to the authorized powers stated in the Constitution as indicated by the phrase "in pursuance thereof" in the actual text of the clause. However, there is no section of the Constitution that prohibits secession. For secession to be unconstitutional there must be some clause prohibiting it and not simply a claim that the Constitution is supreme.
my repose
Evidence of original intent other than your opinion.

now Andersonh1 jumps in with this.
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed33.asp

But it is said that the laws of the Union are to be the SUPREME LAW of the land. But what inference can be drawn from this, or what would they amount to, if they were not to be supreme? It is evident they would amount to nothing. A LAW, by the very meaning of the term, includes supremacy. It is a rule which those to whom it is prescribed are bound to observe. This results from every political association. If individuals enter into a state of society, the laws of that society must be the supreme regulator of their conduct. If a number of political societies enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers intrusted to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies, and the individuals of whom they are composed. It would otherwise be a mere treaty, dependent on the good faith of the parties, and not a goverment, which is only another word for POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY. But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the large society which are NOT PURSUANT to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. Hence we perceive that the clause which declares the supremacy of the laws of the Union, like the one we have just before considered, only declares a truth, which flows immediately and necessarily from the institution of a federal government. It will not, I presume, have escaped observation, that it EXPRESSLY confines this supremacy to laws made PURSUANT TO THE CONSTITUTION; which I mention merely as an instance of caution in the convention; since that limitation would have been to be understood, though it had not been expressed.

The above link points to The Federalist Papers : No. 33
The Federalist Papers Summary and Analysis of Essay 33 i
.

Therefore Andersonh1 is using Federalist #33 to defend the proposition.
""For secession to be unconstitutional there must be some clause prohibiting it and not simply a claim that the Constitution is supreme.""

Hamilton is an ardent consolidation ultra nationalist wanting a strong central government. For a secession advocate to quote Hamilton is very odd.

Key sentence from the Summary and Analysis below. "Therefore, they felt compelled to make clear that Congress had the authority to do what was needed in order to perform the proper function of government." Repeat

The Federalist Papers Summary and Analysis of Essay 33

Hamilton responds that both clauses are common-sense provisions necessary for any functioning government. If Congress is entrusted with certain tasks, such as raising taxes and maintaining an Army, it must be allowed to do what is “necessary and proper” to fulfill those tasks. Having a power implies being able to do what is necessary to use that power.

Similarly, the very nature of law implies supremacy: “A law, by the very meaning of the term, includes supremacy. It is a rule, which those to whom it is prescribed are bound to observe.” If the national government did not have the power to enact binding legislation, then the states would essentially be bound together by treaty rather than government.

Hamilton asserts that granting this authority to the national government does not allow it to enact laws that violate the constitution. Rather, it merely enables it to perform the basic functions of any government. If the national government were to enact a law that violates the rights of the states—such as deny them the ability to levy taxes—then that law could be justly resisted and the national government held accountable by the people for attempting an usurpation of their rights.

The “necessary and proper” clause is one of the most important and most controversial clauses in the Constitution. It has been the subject of numerous Supreme Court cases, and has been central to debates throughout American history over the proper role of Congress. Perhaps the central reason for all the debate is the inherent ambiguity in the phrase “necessary and proper.” After all, who decides what is “necessary and proper”? Nevertheless, the founders felt that such ambiguity was essential to creating an effective system of government. The founders recognized that they could not predict the numerous complicated issues that America would face in the future. Therefore, they felt compelled to make clear that Congress had the authority to do what was needed in order to perform the proper function of government.

Does secession interfere with with certain tasks, such as raising taxes and maintaining an Army? If so Congress must be allowed to do what is “necessary and proper” to fulfill those tasks.
 
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mkyzzzrdet

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Feb 23, 2013
And there is no law against putting down an unlawful rebellion.


I guess my problem with the term "unlawful" rebellion is that, used today it attaches an unfair "criminality" to it. As Ben Franklin said in "1776" - ".. any rebellion is legal in the first person, when it's OUR rebellion. It's only illegal when it's in the 3rd person, when it's THEIR rebellion". Of course the rebellion is going to be unlawful from the point of view of the "parent" state. Its more accurate to just say "rebellion". They didn't call it the "War of the Unlawful Rebellion" did they?.
I think attaching the term "unlawful" to it is unnecessary - just call it a rebellion. Remember that slavery was "lawful" at the time but that didn't necessarily make it ""right". Remember some of the civil rights actions of the protestors of the 1960s.? Some of those were technically "unlawful" at the time.
 

unionblue

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I guess my problem with the term "unlawful" rebellion is that, used today it attaches an unfair "criminality" to it. As Ben Franklin said in "1776" - ".. any rebellion is legal in the first person, when it's OUR rebellion. It's only illegal when it's in the 3rd person, when it's THEIR rebellion". Of course the rebellion is going to be unlawful from the point of view of the "parent" state. Its more accurate to just say "rebellion". They didn't call it the "War of the Unlawful Rebellion" did they?.
I think attaching the term "unlawful" to it is unnecessary - just call it a rebellion. Remember that slavery was "lawful" at the time but that didn't necessarily make it ""right". Remember some of the civil rights actions of the protestors of the 1960s.? Some of those were technically "unlawful" at the time.

Might as well start calling unlawful murder or robbery just plain old murder or robbery, but how does dropping the term "unlawful" change the fact a crime has taken place?
 
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