"What If?" The South had not fired on Ft. Sumter?"

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NedBaldwin

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Okay, well I will believe that statement if you can tell me what section of the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits state secession.
The Supremacy Clause itself.

The Supremacy Clause only applies to the specific powers that are delegated to the federal government in the Constitution.
Not true -- it also applies to the Constitution itself.

For secession to be unconstitutional, there has to be some type of clause prohibiting it and not simply a claim that the Constitution is supreme.
Not true. The supremacy of the Constitution and of US treaties is what makes secession unconstitutional.
 

Potomac Pride

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The Supremacy Clause itself.


Not true -- it also applies to the Constitution itself.


Not true. The supremacy of the Constitution and of US treaties is what makes secession unconstitutional.
I'm sorry but the U.S. Constitution does not address the issue of secession. In fact, the word is not even mentioned in the document. Lincoln claimed to have the power to preserve the Union under the Supremacy Clause. However, the Constitution doesn't require a state to remain in the Union.
 
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NedBaldwin

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I'm sorry but the U.S. Constitution does not address the issue of secession. In fact, the word is not even mentioned in the document.
I'm sorry but it does; the word does not have to be used for it to be addressed.
Secession is clearly unconstitutional and known to be so in 1860.
 
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Potomac Pride

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I'm sorry but it does; the word does not have to be used for it to be addressed.
Secession is clearly unconstitutional and known to be so in 1860.
I'm sorry but secession was not clearly known to be unconstitutional in 1860. If it was, then please give me the court decisions before the war that stated it was unconstitutional. If you look at quotes from historians, the issue of secession was an undecided one before the war. For instance, Forrest McDonald is a Professor Emeritus and one of the foremost historians of the Constitution. He stated that before the Civil War "many a public figure...declared that the states could interpose their powers between their citizens and the power of the federal government, and talk of secession was not unknown."
 

unionblue

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I'm sorry but secession was not clearly known to be unconstitutional in 1860. If it was, then please give me the court decisions before the war that stated it was unconstitutional. If you look at quotes from historians, the issue of secession was an undecided one before the war. For instance, Forrest McDonald is a Professor Emeritus and one of the foremost historians of the Constitution. He stated that before the Civil War "many a public figure...declared that the states could interpose their powers between their citizens and the power of the federal government, and talk of secession was not unknown."
This question/theory/myth has been addressed and answered many, many times on other threads and this is exactly why such 'what if?' threads are utterly without merit.

How, in any way, does this post address the topic of this thread, 'What if the South had not fired on Ft. Sumter?'

Unionblue
 

NedBaldwin

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... please give me the court decisions before the war that stated it was unconstitutional. ...
Court trials about something only happen after that something occurs -- so you cant get a court decision on secession before secession was attempted. Still pre-war court decisions on other topics clearly indicate how it would be viewed. Way back in the 1790s the Court had declared that "laws of any of the states, contrary to a treaty, shall be disregarded" -- secession would be contrary to some US treaties.

... If you look at quotes from historians, the issue of secession was an undecided one before the war. ...
If you look at Internet forums, the issue appears still undecided today. There have been misinformed and misguided people at all periods of history.

. For instance, Forrest McDonald is a Professor Emeritus and one of the foremost historians of the Constitution. He stated that before the Civil War "many a public figure...declared that the states could interpose their powers between their citizens and the power of the federal government, and talk of secession was not unknown."
Yeah I've read McDonald. The existence of "talk of secession" doesn't actually answer whether it was legal or not.

If you want to debate this further, we could start a separate thread or revive one of the many that have covered this before.
 
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Eric Calistri

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I'm sorry but the U.S. Constitution does not address the issue of secession. In fact, the word is not even mentioned in the document. Lincoln claimed to have the power to preserve the Union under the Supremacy Clause. However, the Constitution doesn't require a state to remain in the Union.
The supremacy clause clearly and explicitly addresses "anything in the constitution or laws of any state" and therefore clearly and explicitly your argument is incorrect.
 
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Perhaps, but who knows what happens with the Border States if the war does not start at Sumter? The addition of Virginia, North Carolina, and TN were vital to both short and long term Confederate interests.
It's a very interesting point, If it was me I would've tried to wait as long as possible, if only to build up for war. Weapons, food, ships, railways. The works.
 
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Carronade

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Shouldn't the Rebs have waited? Wouldn't it have helped them prepare for the coming war?
Why wait? There are nicely-stocked Federal armories, forts, docks and ships sitting right there inside your territory for a jump-start.
They started seizing those as soon as, or in some cases before, they seceded. Every federal facility or item of value had been secured long before the firing on Sumter. The federal government had been unable to do anything about it, except for the few garrisoned spots, Sumter, Pickens, Key West. The Confederates were also free to purchase arms from overseas - and even from the North. They could prepare for war, while Lincoln couldn't even call up the militia until something like Sumter happened.

Perhaps, but who knows what happens with the Border States if the war does not start at Sumter? The addition of Virginia, North Carolina, and TN were vital to both short and long term Confederate interests.
The border states were only vital if the Union and the Confederacy were at war. Until then, the presence of a cordon of sympathetic slave states within the Union complicated any effort by the government to act against the seceded states. They would be unlikely to cooperate in any sort of coercion; they would not provide troops or allow Federal troops to cross their territory; and any effective action by the government would drive them into secession and joining the Confederacy anyway.

The worst case on the waiting side would be that the war breaks out anyway a few months later, with the same lineup of states, the Confederates better prepared, and the onus for starting hostilities clearly on the United States government. On the other hand, there was nothing like firing on the American flag to rally the nation against the secessionists.
 
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Artemis Barca

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The attack on Fort Sumter insured the survival of the CSA. Without the attack, the CSA would have remained a handful of bickering States whose survival would have been dubious. The attack brought in VA and the other Upper South States; it allowed a state of war which allowed dissent to be suppressed; nothing like a war unites a country and it gave a legitimacy to the Davis administration who had been appointed president and and no popular mandate. Without the attack, Davis would have been viewed as a weak president. The attack also improved the chances for foreign recognition.

Too many benefits to attack, too many liabilities if no attack. Unless Lincoln surrendered, the attack was going to happen.

Oh I disagree completely..


Just like every other confederate loss imho it was due to southern pride..

Sumner was not a strategic not tactical threat, it was an embarrassment..

Firing on sumner, especially a civilian resupply ship gave the union the moral high ground and the justification to do anything really..

Imho if the south doesn’t fire on sumner and doesn’t invade the north, they win..

Firearms had progressed to the point that attacking a fortified position from the front was suicide, but all the generals were dead set on napoleonic tactics..

So if the south ONLY plays defense.... the north loses too many people to continue, WITHOUT infuriating the northern population enough for them to withstand the losses and keep supporting the war.

Every time the south made the principled move instead of the logical one , they lost long term.
 

Artemis Barca

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Maybe, but it could have just as well blown up in Lincoln's face too. The roll of the dice was that the attack united the Union, it could have just as well resulted in the end of Lincoln's presidency or at least an ineffective presidency. Looking back there is a bright and shining path, in the time no one knew what the result of Lincoln's actions would be.

Davis had 35 years of high government offices and Lincoln was a single term Representative 20 years in the past. Davis was a war hero, Lincoln was a private with no war experience and Davis had more war experience than any general in the field.

Maybe if Davis doesn’t fire on sumner...


I love the chess game between Lincoln and Davis over sumner..

Davis got out played.. who ever acted first lost the PR war in the north likely, Lincoln knew that I think..

Not attacking sumner might have lost the PR war in the south....

But the PR war in the south mattered FAR less than the PR war in the north..

To win the south had to make the northern population abandon Lincoln, firing on sumner put a stake in that for the early part of the war..

Imho lees invasion and the burning of that one city helped keep the population behind Lincoln.. the opposite from what was required to win..

I think lee was right about trying to fight a gentleman’s war, but wrong to think he could actually control what people did during wartime when he marched north.
 
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