Restricted Was the Corwin Amendment “Ironclad”

Patrick Sulley

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
They were going to abolish slavery in DC, prevent it from entering the territories, and were going add due process to the Fugitive Slave Act
I had a discussion with another about this and ask them to show any pending legislation that would do either before the ACW ....if people are going to use that as a reason for secession.I don't believe Lincoln thought he had that right...except for Due Process...of course he wasn't big on due process since he suspended habeas corpus
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2016
Congress had no power to unilaterally abolish slavery...Corwin prevented congress from acting by preventing them from voting on a resolution to pass to the states to amend the Constitution to end slavery. The 13th was first voted on by Congress...and although didn't require Lincoln's signature, Lincoln signed it then passed it to each state to ratify. Why Corwin was considered irrevocable is, it prohibited Congress from carrying out that first step to making an amendment to repeal it.

Ah, nope. It says NOTHING about prohibiting Congress from passing an AMENDMENT to abolish slavery. Just LEGISLATION. There is a difference. After all, the amendment then goes to the states for ratification. Federal legislation lacks that check. 2/3 of the states could also propose an amendment that would be ratified by 3/4 of the states.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
In essence, the Corwin Amendment was a word game. The Republicans never thought of abolishing slavery through Congressional action. There thinking was in pressuring for state action, military emancipation, or a constitutional amendment. James Oakes wrote about all of this in context. In the absence of a war, the Republicans were willing to wait. Abraham Lincoln had a time table of about 10 years, which was very ambitious. But Lincoln's time table depended on state action, and repealing the Fugitive Slave Act.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
In essence, the Corwin Amendment was a word game. The Republicans never thought of abolishing slavery through Congressional action. There thinking was in pressuring for state action, military emancipation, or a constitutional amendment. James Oakes wrote about all of this in context. In the absence of a war, the Republicans were willing to wait. Abraham Lincoln had a time table of about 10 years, which was very ambitious. But Lincoln's time table depended on state action, and repealing the Fugitive Slave Act.

Correct. Both Time and History were against the slave-holding states. The Republicans didn't have to do anything more than restrict the expansion of slavery - leaving it untouched where it was. The entire civilized world was against slavery or turning against it. Neither Brazil nor Cuba (the other last bastions of that evil practice) were in no position to expand it. Tick, tick, tick, ...

The only options for the slave-holding states were 1.) fight a rearguard action through the SCOTUS and Congress, 2.) admit to the death-knell of that evil institution and wring what they could from its gradual and compensated elimination, or 3.) start a war to protect it.

They chose … poorly.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
How does an amendment get started? By legislation first passing thru congress. Without that first step you can't get the second step.

Patrick, this is not the only way for an amendment to get started. If 2/3 of state legislatures call for a convention, then a convention ensues. In the convention the state representatives can pass a constitutional amendment with 3/4 of the states voting for it. The amendment is then adopted and congress has nothing to do with it.
 

Patrick Sulley

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Patrick, this is not the only way for an amendment to get started. If 2/3 of state legislatures call for a convention, then a convention ensues. In the convention the state representatives can pass a constitutional amendment with 3/4 of the states voting for it. The amendment is then adopted and congress has nothing to do with it.
Has that ever happened? In theory you could do that to do away with the entire Constitution so yes that's absolutely possible it's just never happened....so by that measure even the Constitution isn't "ironclad" so no article nor amendment would be
 

Patrick Sulley

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
The reason why a 2/3 vote from the states and a 3/4 ratification process would be impossible thus making the C.A. ironclad is there were 15 slave states. Even with the 50 states of today you can't get to 3/4 without a couple of slave states joining in. The numbers don't add up. So a seemingly impossible act being unattainable would make the amendment ironclad (as ironclad as anything can be), as it prevents congressional action which is prohibited by the amendment.
 
Last edited:

Patrick Sulley

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Correct. Both Time and History were against the slave-holding states. The Republicans didn't have to do anything more than restrict the expansion of slavery - leaving it untouched where it was. The entire civilized world was against slavery or turning against it. Neither Brazil nor Cuba (the other last bastions of that evil practice) were in no position to expand it. Tick, tick, tick, ...

The only options for the slave-holding states were 1.) fight a rearguard action through the SCOTUS and Congress, 2.) admit to the death-knell of that evil institution and wring what they could from its gradual and compensated elimination, or 3.) start a war to protect it.

They chose … poorly.
And this may be true....but it doesn't make the amendment any less ironclad. If slavery died out naturally, it's irrelevant to the issue at hand. I agree completely that slavery was dying out....and that is was evil....but the war wasn't started to protect slavery...but all three of those are not about the ironclad nature of the C. A.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
And this may be true....but it doesn't make the amendment any less ironclad. If slavery died out naturally, it's irrelevant to the issue at hand. I agree completely that slavery was dying out....and that is was evil....but the war wasn't started to protect slavery...but all three of those are not about the ironclad nature of the C. A.

Ah, but the not-so-hidden motivation to pretend its 'ironclad' is to claim that 'therefore the war wasn't about slavery'.
But it wasn't ironclad, as has been illustrated several times in several ways in these posts.
And the states themselves told you it was about slavery, in no uncertain terms...at least, they did so before they lost.

So the motivations above are indeed germaine to the conversation.

The Corwin Amendment had no chance of averting war because of the speed and intensity with which the secession activity took off (which caught political leaders on both sides by surprise - see the furious activity surrounding the conventions, and the back and forth voting in them). Seven states had already seceded before it was passed. The only realistic hope was that the amendment might assist in keeping some border states from seceding - a primary key to USA victory (and actually only 1 /12 border states ratified it; the others stayed loyal for other reasons). Lincoln's inauguration was only a few days after it passed. Six weeks later, shots were fired, and there was no turning back.

That's the actual history.

Corwin was not even considered close to 'ironclad' - then or now - and it looks pretty silly to attempt to use it as a 'counter' against the stunningly obvious pro-slavery declarations and convention discussions by the seceding states themselves - (again, all before they actually lost, that is).

Really, there are better topics to be had on this site.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
The reason why a 2/3 vote from the states and a 3/4 ratification process would be impossible thus making the C.A. ironclad is there were 15 slave states. Even with the 50 states of today you can't get to 3/4 without a couple of slave states joining in. The numbers don't add up. So a seemingly impossible act being unattainable would make the amendment ironclad (as ironclad as anything can be), as it prevents congressional action which is prohibited by the amendment.
Since all the Corwin Amendment would do was prohibit future amendments that might gave Congress new power over slavery, and
since you have argued that such a future amendment was unattainable
Theefore, the Corwin Amendment was a waste of paper since it purported to protect against something that was unattainable anyway...
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Ah, but the not-so-hidden motivation to pretend its 'ironclad' is to claim that 'therefore the war wasn't about slavery'.
But it wasn't ironclad, as has been illustrated several times in several ways in these posts.
And the states themselves told you it was about slavery, in no uncertain terms...at least, they did so before they lost.
And if the conflict wasnt about slavery, why were the compromise efforts to avoid conflict all about slavery?
Shouldnt the compromise efforts be directed at the source of conflict?
Doesnt the content of the attempted political compromise reveal the cause?
Or put another way, if the conflict was about tariffs, why wasnt there a proposed Amendment about Tariffs in order to avoid war?
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2016
How does an amendment get started? By legislation first passing thru congress. Without that first step you can't get the second step.

An amendment is not legislation. It has its own process, and amendments need not start by going through Congress. Reading the actual US Constitution may be helpful to understanding the process.
 

Patrick Sulley

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
An amendment is not legislation. It has its own process, and amendments need not start by going through Congress. Reading the actual US Constitution may be helpful to understanding the process.
I believe there are two ways to amend the Constitution. One by a vote in Congress then passed to the states...the Corwin amendment prevents that. One by state action which would be dead on arrival as long as the 15 slave states remained slave states. Reading the actual US Constitution may be helpful to understanding the process
 

Patrick Sulley

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Anyone who reads the Constitution understands the difference between the legislative process and the amendment process. You seem hung up on that.

No need to beat a dead horse. I'm out.
Well, the legislature has to first pass any resolution by. 2/3 vote. Then it goes to the states. That's by definition legislation. The only way to amend the Constitution other than thru federal legislation is directly from the states...of course there would be state legislation there. So really no way to get it done without some legislation on some level
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Which is why there were over 40 compromises concerning tariffs and one attempt for slavery
What compromises over tariffs was there in 1861?
All the main compromise attempts -- the report of the Committee of Thirty-three, the Crittenden Compromise, the Corwin Amendment, the Peace Conference -- were about slavery
 

Patrick Sulley

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
What compromises over tariffs was there in 1861?
All the main compromise attempts -- the report of the Committee of Thirty-three, the Crittenden Compromise, the Corwin Amendment, the Peace Conference -- were about slavery
1861? So you mean the issues of the day boiled to a head in just one year over the course of only one year? No tension prior to 1861?
 
Last edited:
Top