Thomas Jefferson, Secession, and States Rights

CW Buff

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Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Some seem to still be looking at this, and reading “the States respectively” to mean the state legislatures. That’s not what it’s saying. It’s saying the states respectively. Refer to Texas v. White:

A State, in the ordinary sense of the Constitution, is a political community of free citizens, occupying a territory of defined boundaries and organised under a government sanctioned and limited by a written constitution, and established by the consent of the governed.

If they meant ‘legislatures of the respective states’, they would have said that, as they do elsewhere in the Constitution. Instead, “the States respectively” refers to the “ordinary” definition given in TvW. That definition includes the people of the state. In fact, as with all republics, they are the basis of all power in their state. Therefore, if “the people” means the people of a state, there is no real difference between the two parties identified in the Tenth, and that’s just ridiculous. As @MattL indicated, “the people” are the people of the United States, just as “the people” are throughout the Constitution.

Besides this, let’s consider what constitutes a reserved power. Whether we are talking about reserved powers under the Tenth Amendment or retained rights under the Ninth Amendment, neither can automatically include anything that was not recognized as a reserved power or retained right at the time the Constitution and these amendments were written. Anything else can only be established as reserved powers/retained rights via the courts. Privacy rights related to child rearing, procreation, marriage, termination of medical treatment, etc., for instance, were established via the Supreme Court beginning in the 1920s. You can’t whip up a doctrine of unilateral secession, slap a “reserved power” label on it, and voila, you’re out of the Union. That’s pure nonsense, and contrary to the peaceful, orderly function of a society via the rule of law, which the Constitution is designed to provide.

As indicated in the Declaration of Independence, “secession,” separation, rebellion, revolution, whatever you want to call it, is a moral right of the people (moral, if the cause is just). They also recognized it is contrary to the law ("We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately" — Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence). In other words, they did not see it as a government power, or even a legal act.
 

jgoodguy

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Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Some seem to still be looking at this, and reading “the States respectively” to mean the state legislatures. That’s not what it’s saying. It’s saying the states respectively. Refer to Texas v. White:

A State, in the ordinary sense of the Constitution, is a political community of free citizens, occupying a territory of defined boundaries and organised under a government sanctioned and limited by a written constitution, and established by the consent of the governed.

If they meant ‘legislatures of the respective states’, they would have said that, as they do elsewhere in the Constitution. Instead, “the States respectively” refers to the “ordinary” definition given in TvW. That definition includes the people of the state. In fact, as with all republics, they are the basis of all power in their state. Therefore, if “the people” means the people of a state, there is no real difference between the two parties identified in the Tenth, and that’s just ridiculous. As @MattL indicated, “the people” are the people of the United States, just as “the people” are throughout the Constitution.

Besides this, let’s consider what constitutes a reserved power. Whether we are talking about reserved powers under the Tenth Amendment or retained rights under the Ninth Amendment, neither can automatically include anything that was not recognized as a reserved power or retained right at the time the Constitution and these amendments were written. Anything else can only be established as reserved powers/retained rights via the courts. Privacy rights related to child rearing, procreation, marriage, termination of medical treatment, etc., for instance, were established via the Supreme Court beginning in the 1920s. You can’t whip up a doctrine of unilateral secession, slap a “reserved power” label on it, and voila, you’re out of the Union. That’s pure nonsense, and contrary to the peaceful, orderly function of a society via the rule of law, which the Constitution is designed to provide.

As indicated in the Declaration of Independence, “secession,” separation, rebellion, revolution, whatever you want to call it, is a moral right of the people (moral, if the cause is just). They also recognized it is contrary to the law ("We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately" — Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence). In other words, they did not see it as a government power, or even a legal act.

Good analysis. Like any convent or contract unless otherwise stated, it can only refer to the conditions that existed at the time. There is no evidence that secession was a power that existed at the time of the ratification.
 

CW Buff

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To my way of thinking, no one but the people in Virginia voted to join the Constitutional Compact. All the people did not vote them in. Guaranteed to the states by this contract was to have a Republic for of Government. Under this guarantee then secession is voted on by the people of that state. IMO

The problem is, choosing to "join the Constitutional Compact" placed obligations on them which they cannot unilaterally cast off, no matter what they decided otherwise, whether by their legislatures, or by their people via convention, or any other method. They did not create or enact the Constitution on their own, they ordained and established it together with the rest of the people of the United States. The only part they did on their own was to agree to join the rest of the people of the US in doing that.

By that ratification/consent, they surrendered a degree of their sovereignty to the people of the US. Just like the people of VA were the only ones who could decide to alter their state sovereignty, so the people of the US are the only ones who can decide to alter their national sovereignty. No state can unilaterally do that, anymore than any state or states could have decided to do that for Virginia. At one time, Virginia realized this, and recognized the sovereignty of the people of the US.

WE, the Delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, DO in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified, by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any capacity, by the President or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.”

Would they really have had to add to that and stated that those powers, ‘ “being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by themand no one else’ to settle the matter? Can ‘someone else’ be added to the statement because ‘no one else’ was not? Of course not. If that had been what they meant, they would have said these powers ‘ “may be resumed by them,or by the people of any state.’ Of course, it would have been difficult for them to say that, since one delegate to the VA ratification convention, Patrick Henry, clearly discussed the implication the Constitution placed on sovereignty:

“Have they said, we the States? Have they made a proposal of a compact between States? If they had, this would be a confederation: It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government.”

And another, James Madison, said:

The Constitution requires an adoption in toto and for ever.
 

MattL

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Good analysis. Like any convent or contract unless otherwise stated, it can only refer to the conditions that existed at the time. There is no evidence that secession was a power that existed at the time of the ratification.

Very true... going a bit more nebulous down this road as well, I find it very hard to believe it was a completely understood state right as some people imply since they never mentioned it.

I mean they cover so much ground in the Constitution and amendments, often covering things that are seemingly obvious and understood. Yet they never mention secession.
 

Andersonh1

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The problem is, choosing to "join the Constitutional Compact" placed obligations on them which they cannot unilaterally cast off, no matter what they decided otherwise, whether by their legislatures, or by their people via convention, or any other method. They did not create or enact the Constitution on their own, they ordained and established it together with the rest of the people of the United States. The only part they did on their own was to agree to join the rest of the people of the US in doing that.

By that ratification/consent, they surrendered a degree of their sovereignty to the people of the US. Just like the people of VA were the only ones who could decide to alter their state sovereignty, so the people of the US are the only ones who can decide to alter their national sovereignty. No state can unilaterally do that, anymore than any state or states could have decided to do that for Virginia. At one time, Virginia realized this, and recognized the sovereignty of the people of the US.

WE, the Delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, DO in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified, by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any capacity, by the President or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.”

Would they really have had to add to that and stated that those powers, ‘ “being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by themand no one else’ to settle the matter? Can ‘someone else’ be added to the statement because ‘no one else’ was not? Of course not. If that had been what they meant, they would have said these powers ‘ “may be resumed by them,or by the people of any state.’ Of course, it would have been difficult for them to say that, since one delegate to the VA ratification convention, Patrick Henry, clearly discussed the implication the Constitution placed on sovereignty:

“Have they said, we the States? Have they made a proposal of a compact between States? If they had, this would be a confederation: It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government.”

And another, James Madison, said:

The Constitution requires an adoption in toto and for ever.

Just to offer a counter point of view, the Virginians of 1861 would disagree with your analysis of what their fathers and grandfathers wrote. They quote the Virginia ratification ordinance to justify their repeal of that ratification.

http://www.wvculture.org/history/statehood/ordinanceofsecession.html

AN ORDINANCE

To Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

It all hinges on "therefore". Since the Virginians of 1788 said that the powers granted the Federal government under the Constitution came from the people and could be recalled when that power was harmful to them, and it was now injurious to them, "therefore" they were taking it back. Clearly they did not agree that "the people" is all the people of all the states, or they would not have used it as they did to justify secession.
 

jgoodguy

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Just to offer a counter point of view, the Virginians of 1861 would disagree with your analysis of what their fathers and grandfathers wrote. They quote the Virginia ratification ordinance to justify their repeal of that ratification.

http://www.wvculture.org/history/statehood/ordinanceofsecession.html

AN ORDINANCE

To Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

It all hinges on "therefore". Since the Virginians of 1788 said that the powers granted the Federal government under the Constitution came from the people and could be recalled when that power was harmful to them, and it was now injurious to them, "therefore" they were taking it back. Clearly they did not agree that "the people" is all the people of all the states, or they would not have used it as they did to justify secession.
So If I can get a hundred of so Yankees to disagree with you, it makes a difference?
 

jgoodguy

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Just to offer a counter point of view, the Virginians of 1861 would disagree with your analysis of what their fathers and grandfathers wrote. They quote the Virginia ratification ordinance to justify their repeal of that ratification.

http://www.wvculture.org/history/statehood/ordinanceofsecession.html

AN ORDINANCE

To Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

It all hinges on "therefore". Since the Virginians of 1788 said that the powers granted the Federal government under the Constitution came from the people and could be recalled when that power was harmful to them, and it was now injurious to them, "therefore" they were taking it back. Clearly they did not agree that "the people" is all the people of all the states, or they would not have used it as they did to justify secession.


I seem to have published SCOTUS decisions including one that included founding fathers that disagree with their analysis and that implies that the new fangled secessionists disagreed with "their fathers and grandfathers wrote"
 

Rebforever

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First Calls for Secession

Following ratification by 11 of the 13 states, the government began operation under the new U.S. Constitution in March 1789. In less than 15 years, states of New England had already threatened to secede from the Union.

1st The first time was a threat to leave if the Assumption Bill, which provided for the federal government to assume the debts of the various states, were not passed.

2nd The next threat was over the expense of the Louisiana Purchase.

3rd Then, in 1812, President James Madison, the man who had done more than any other individual to shape the Constitution, led the United States into a new war with Great Britain. The New England states objected, for war would cut into their trade with Britain and Europe. Resentment grew so strong that a convention was called at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1814, to discuss secession for the New England states. The Hartford Convention was the most serious secession threat up to that time, but its delegates took no action.

http://www.historynet.com/secession

After all these threats under the Constitutional Compact, a law against secession was never considered.
 

Andersonh1

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I seem to have published SCOTUS decisions including one that included founding fathers that disagree with their analysis and that implies that the new fangled secessionists disagreed with "their fathers and grandfathers wrote"

If only the case was as clear as you make it out to be.
 

CW Buff

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Just to offer a counter point of view, the Virginians of 1861 would disagree with your analysis of what their fathers and grandfathers wrote. They quote the Virginia ratification ordinance to justify their repeal of that ratification.

No they don't. Not quite. They changed it, ever so slightly, but in a very significant way.

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed [by them] whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Why did they change the words their fathers and grandfathers wrote? Why did they drop the "by them" that clearly refers back to " the people of the United States?" Seems like their fathers and grandfathers wrote one thing, and they sought to tweak it a bit into something entirely different. Looks to me like the Virginians of 1861 disagreed with what the Virginians of 1788 did and wrote.

They also disagreed with what those two specific leading Virginia statesmen had to say to about it:

“Have they said, we the States? Have they made a proposal of a compact between States? If they had, this would be a confederation: It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government.” — Patrick Henry

The Constitution requires an adoption in toto and for ever.” — James Madison

Not a compact of states, not a confederation, in toto and forever. Not to mention what James Madison, the only major Founding Father to witness the doctrine of secession, said specifically about unilateral secession during the nullification crisis:

"I partake of the wonder that the men you name should view secession in the light mentioned. The essential difference between a free Government and Governments not free, is that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them therefore can have a greater fight to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it." — James Madison to Nicholas Trist, December 23, 1832

https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/james-madison-on-secession/

And if they supposed the Fed had "perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States," they should have pursued that via the independent, impartial courts the Founding Fathers, including their own fathers and grandfathers, had so considerately provided for that purpose. And, again, SCOTUS in the 1850s-1861 was not entirely independent and impartial, they were in fact bending over backwards for slavery interests. Of course what they knew was that not even that biased-towards-slavery SCOTUS was going go along with unilateral secession. By Madison's words, "Neither of them therefore can have a greater fight to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it," unilateral secession was bound to end in war, unless the North had become as timid and cowered as the secessionists thought and hoped, which others were trying to convince them was not the case:

"I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of state rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction…they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South." — Sam Houston, 1861

https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/sam-houston-and-secession/
 

jgoodguy

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First Calls for Secession

Following ratification by 11 of the 13 states, the government began operation under the new U.S. Constitution in March 1789. In less than 15 years, states of New England had already threatened to secede from the Union.

1st The first time was a threat to leave if the Assumption Bill, which provided for the federal government to assume the debts of the various states, were not passed.

2nd The next threat was over the expense of the Louisiana Purchase.

3rd Then, in 1812, President James Madison, the man who had done more than any other individual to shape the Constitution, led the United States into a new war with Great Britain. The New England states objected, for war would cut into their trade with Britain and Europe. Resentment grew so strong that a convention was called at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1814, to discuss secession for the New England states. The Hartford Convention was the most serious secession threat up to that time, but its delegates took no action.

http://www.historynet.com/secession

After all these threats under the Constitutional Compact, a law against secession was never considered.

You keep saying "states of New England had already threatened to secede from the Union."
None actually discussed secession. There were individual radical secessionists like the Southern Fire Eaters, but not on the State level.

Secession
Secession was again mentioned in 1814–1815; all but one leading Federalist newspaper in New England supported a plan to expel the western states from the Union. Otis, the key leader of the Convention, blocked radical proposals such as a seizure of the Federal customs house, impounding federal funds, or declaring neutrality. Otis thought the Madison administration was near collapse and that unless conservatives like himself and the other delegates took charge, the radical secessionists might take power. Indeed, Otis was unaware that Massachusetts Governor Strong had already sent a secret mission to discuss terms with the British for a separate peace.[9]

There are a number of reasons why historians doubt that the New England Federalists were seriously considering secession. All the states, especially Connecticut with its claims to western lands, stood to lose more than they would gain. Efforts were made in the delegation selection process to exclude firebrands like John Lowell, Jr., Timothy Pickering, and Josiah Quincy who might have pushed for secession, and the final report of the convention did not propose secession.[10]

Despite this, the Madison administration had reasons to be concerned about the consequences of the Hartford Convention. Federalists were already blocking administration efforts to finance the war and bring it to a successful conclusion with an invasion of Canada. There were fears that New England would negotiate a separate peace with Great Britain, an action in many ways just as harmful to the nation as actual secession. In preparing for a worst-case scenario, Madison moved troops from the New York–Canada border to Albany where they could quickly be sent to Massachusetts or Connecticut if needed to preserve federal authority. Several New England regiments that had participated in the Niagara campaign were returned home where it was hoped that they could serve as a focal point for New Englanders opposed to disunion.[11
]

Secession was not the purpose of the Hartford was not secession or to discuss it.

A letter of invitation was sent to the other New England governors to send delegates to a convention in Hartford, Connecticut. The stated purpose of the convention was to propose constitutional amendments to protect their section's interests and to make arrangements with the Federal government for their own military defense.[13]
 

jgoodguy

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No they don't. Not quite. They changed it, ever so slightly, but in a very significant way.



Why did they change the words their fathers and grandfathers wrote? Why did they drop the "by them" that clearly refers back to " the people of the United States?" Seems like their fathers and grandfathers wrote one thing, and they sought to tweak it a bit into something entirely different. Looks to me like the Virginians of 1861 disagreed with what the Virginians of 1788 did and wrote.

They also disagreed with what those two specific leading Virginia statesmen had to say to about it:

“Have they said, we the States? Have they made a proposal of a compact between States? If they had, this would be a confederation: It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government.” — Patrick Henry

The Constitution requires an adoption in toto and for ever.” — James Madison

Not a compact of states, not a confederation, in toto and forever. Not to mention what James Madison, the only major Founding Father to witness the doctrine of secession, said specifically about unilateral secession during the nullification crisis:

"I partake of the wonder that the men you name should view secession in the light mentioned. The essential difference between a free Government and Governments not free, is that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them therefore can have a greater fight to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it." — James Madison to Nicholas Trist, December 23, 1832

https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/james-madison-on-secession/

And if they supposed the Fed had "perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States," they should have pursued that via the independent, impartial courts the Founding Fathers, including their own fathers and grandfathers, had so considerately provided for that purpose. And, again, SCOTUS in the 1850s-1861 was not entirely independent and impartial, they were in fact bending over backwards for slavery interests. Of course what they knew was that not even that biased-towards-slavery SCOTUS was going go along with unilateral secession. By Madison's words, "Neither of them therefore can have a greater fight to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it," unilateral secession was bound to end in war, unless the North had become as timid and cowered as the secessionists thought and hoped, which others were trying to convince them was not the case:

"I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of state rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction…they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South." — Sam Houston, 1861

https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/sam-houston-and-secession/
I think it is pretty clear that they disregarded their forefathers and were dishonest to boot.
 

48th Miss.

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You keep saying "states of New England had already threatened to secede from the Union."
None actually discussed secession. There were individual radical secessionists like the Southern Fire Eaters, but not on the State level.

Secession




]

Secession was not the purpose of the Hartford was not secession or to discuss it.

In your readings on this NE issue did anybody tell these guys who spoke of secession that it was not possible. Since it was not discussed in convention then I assume it was just side chatter that still needed to be shot down.
 

jgoodguy

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In your readings on this NE issue did anybody tell these guys who spoke of secession that it was not possible. Since it was not discussed in convention then I assume it was just side chatter that still needed to be shot down.

Short answer is they were told treason was secession. The officials shut it down. Never the less there apparently was talk, but the record is spotty to non existent.
 

Andersonh1

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Why did they change the words their fathers and grandfathers wrote? Why did they drop the "by them" that clearly refers back to " the people of the United States?" Seems like their fathers and grandfathers wrote one thing, and they sought to tweak it a bit into something entirely different. Looks to me like the Virginians of 1861 disagreed with what the Virginians of 1788 did and wrote.

Good catch. That's interesting. I've been trying to locate the author of the Virginia Ordinance of Secession, and it was offered in secret session by William Ballard Preston of Virginia, one-time member of the House and Secretary of the Navy, who was a private citizen and lawyer when participating in the Virginia secession convention. Here is what he said when he put it forward for consideration, but it doesn't tell us much:

http://secession.richmond.edu/documents/index.html?id=pb.4.36

I arise, with feelings of the deepest pain, to, offer something to the House that is tangible, and to express my opinion in this exigency. I hold in my hand what I am compelled to offer and what, in a measure, circumstances have accidentally made me the origin of. It is an ORDINANCE OF SECESSION. I offer it to the House, and I trust that God shall extend his mercy to me- on this occasion. He is my witness that I am devoting every service of my heart to the Commonwealth of Virginia. That Ordinance has not been offered under the influence of circumstances or telegraphic information. It is offered on the basis of the report we brought here from Washington, and the proclamation of the President. I cannot, I will not recede now from the grounds I have taken. I feel that I would be unworthy of the position I occupy here, were I to take one step backwards. Those who choose this lead may follow. Those who don't choose have a right to take whatever course their judgments may dictate. I will not upbraid them if they choose to take a position different from that which I have marked out for myself. I shall go through all these struggles with a consciousness that I have done my duty to my country, and I believe I have done it to God, and I feel that in this contest God himself will be with us. I now submit the Ordinance:
 

Old_Glory

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Location
NC
The fact that is was never mentioned as illegal, never banned (even after the Civil War), and even to this day is not prevented speaks volumes.

Had it been made illegal at the founding of the nation, we would not be here today as a nation. The Union would have never formed because no one would agree to those terms. Salmon Chase as a Supreme Court justice tried to argue that the phrase "perpetual union" solidified the argument, but his argument actually backfires and proves him wrong due to its elimination from the Constitution.

If the phrase "perpetual union" was the best a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court could do, it shows just how weak the argument is.
 

Old_Glory

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Location
NC
First Calls for Secession

Following ratification by 11 of the 13 states, the government began operation under the new U.S. Constitution in March 1789. In less than 15 years, states of New England had already threatened to secede from the Union.

1st The first time was a threat to leave if the Assumption Bill, which provided for the federal government to assume the debts of the various states, were not passed.

2nd The next threat was over the expense of the Louisiana Purchase.

3rd Then, in 1812, President James Madison, the man who had done more than any other individual to shape the Constitution, led the United States into a new war with Great Britain. The New England states objected, for war would cut into their trade with Britain and Europe. Resentment grew so strong that a convention was called at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1814, to discuss secession for the New England states. The Hartford Convention was the most serious secession threat up to that time, but its delegates took no action.

http://www.historynet.com/secession

After all these threats under the Constitutional Compact, a law against secession was never considered.

Reb, your posts are a pleasure to read as always :thumbsup:.

Secession was limited to the mobs outside of the convention at Hartford (at least as far as I know), but the mobs wanted it badly.
 
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