Restricted Debate Why Argue About the Constitutionality of Secession?

contestedground

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#1
Why do posters here feel compelled to argue again and again and again about whether secession was a constitutional right?

It's not as if anyone's reached a definitive decision that's widely accepted.

Isn't it enough to say that Americans at the time disagreed over whether there was a constitutional right of secession, and, as so many arguments were cast in terms of constitutionality and original intent, that the inability of people at the time to reach a generally-agreed upon conclusion contributed to the events leading up to the secession crisis and the decision for war in 1860-61?

I think there would have been a separatist movement in any case. It isn't as if the fire-eaters would have been deterred in their quest for securing southern independence by a finding that secession was unconstitutional. The crisis they fears was upon the South was far too important to be dismissed due to constitutional interpretation.

After all, even if someone here finally offered an explanation that satisfied everyone, how would that change a single thing about what happened over 150 years ago?

These debates never end, and they never will. We might thus realize that the same was true for the Civil War generation.
 
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#2
Why do posters here feel compelled to argue again and again and again about whether secession was a constitutional right?

It's not as if anyone's reached a definitive decision that's widely accepted.

Isn't it enough to say that Americans at the time disagreed over whether there was a constitutional right of secession, and, as so many arguments were cast in terms of constitutionality and original intent, that the inability of people at the time to reach a generally-agreed upon conclusion contributed to the events leading up to the secession crisis and the decision for war in 1860-61?

I think there would have been a separatist movement in any case. It isn't as if the fire-eaters would have been deterred in their quest for securing southern independence by a finding that secession was unconstitutional. The crisis they fears was upon the South was far too important to be dismissed due to constitutional interpretation.

After all, even if someone here finally offered an explanation that satisfied everyone, how would that change a single thing about what happened over 150 years ago?

These debates never end, and they never will. We might thus realize that the same was true for the Civil War generation.

That is true. I suppose that is why we discuss such things, cause they were or will never be settled........lol

As for me, there isn't any argument, they seceded, formed a nation, fought a war, lost a war, and became united again to reform into the best nation in the world.

Respectfully,
William

One Nation,
Two countries
Confed-American Flag - Thumbnail.jpg
 
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#3
Why do posters here feel compelled to argue again and again and again about whether secession was a constitutional right?
I am glad you asked. Since I have been posting here for the last three weeks "agitating" the secession question, I may well be a cause of this post. A general answer is this debate occurs for some of the same reason forum exists at all.

Personal reasons
1. I don't feel compelled.
2. I am interested in and partial to the truth.
3. It is quite significant historically and in current events.
4. Willful blindness (and the other side of the coin, delusion) has been a profitable avocation of mine.

Elaboration.
On point 1, I have been a member here for 9 years, and up to 3 weeks ago make a modest 270 posts - and yet the last three weeks is the first time I have advocated that secession was lawful in 1860.
On point 3, I could write a 100 pages.
On the fourth point, in my elder years, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. As a boy, I became enamored with one the "laws of nature and nature's God," called the law of probability. It is the only perfect and completely self-enforcing law I can think of - and it is its own supreme court. I have used that law and the willful blindness of my fellow man to great advantage (without actually "arguing" with them, winning in silence). At least, when I confront willful blindness here, it is more a form of intervention, pleading with it, not exploiting it, and no one gets hurt.

Speaking of probability, I would have bet you didn't expect an answer anything like that. lol
 

Old_Glory

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#5
These debates never end, and they never will. We might thus realize that the same was true for the Civil War generation.
Because someone will state that is was legal or illegal and say "that is a fact". Since there are many people who read this forum who might think that was accurate, the other side jumps in to ensure all readers realize that there is no set answer to the question. The issue was never truly resolved. A better question to ask is why it was never resolved before or after the War.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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#6
It's simple: Lost Causers like to argue this question--along with promoting nonsensical theories about black Confederates--in order to deflect blame for the carnage of the Civil War. If secession was legal, then what the South did by seceding was just peachy keen dandy, meaning that the North was the aggressor and was solely responsible for the war. It's an effort to whitewash truth.
 

James N.

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#8
Why do posters here feel compelled to argue again and again and again about whether secession was a constitutional right?

...These debates never end, and they never will. We might thus realize that the same was true for the Civil War generation.
Because by "proving" secession WAS unconstitutional, it's another chance to demonize the South, Wave the Bloody Shirt, and cast them in the wrong and place all the blame for the war on a single section.
 
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#9
Because both sections want to believe they are right. They support their own section usually depending on where they are from, whom their ancestors fought for, and deep family ties. Both sides buy the company line which supports the views of each side. If it had been spelled out perfectly clear there would be nothing to argue about, but you are correct, it will never end.
 
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#10
It's simple: Lost Causers like to argue this question--along with promoting nonsensical theories about black Confederates--in order to deflect blame for the carnage of the Civil War. If secession was legal, then what the South did by seceding was just peachy keen dandy, meaning that the North was the aggressor and was solely responsible for the war. It's an effort to whitewash truth.
And why do the Lost Clausers argue? Protecting an emotional investment?

There is no clause that prohibits states from reassuming their delegated rights. Even if someone had proposed that, it would never have been ratified by the southern states already worried about their minority status. And yet Lost Clausers keep trying to invent a clause that doesn't exist.

I neither underestimate slavery as a cause, nor need to invent a binding clause.

Why do you care who the aggressor was? Who cares who was the aggressor in the Peloponnesian War?
 
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#11
Back in 1960 the Pres. Eisenhower was asked by a guy why he had a picture of R.E. Lee on his office wall since he considered him a traitor. In a letter of response DDE wrote in part:

August 9, 1960
Dear Dr. Scott:
Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War between the States the issue of secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.

All things considered, I think I’m going with Ike.
 
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Old_Glory

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#12
If secession was legal, then what the South did by seceding was just peachy keen dandy, meaning that the North was the aggressor and was solely responsible for the war. It's an effort to whitewash truth.
Saying it was illegal has the opposite effect. It attempts to whitewash the truth by making the South the aggressor and responsible for the War. That is why the discussion comes up so much. It's a topic that is used as a blame game by both sides.
 

Viper21

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#14
If the legality of secession was settled law in 1860, would any state have even attempted it..? I'm of the opinion, they believed their actions were legal, & within their rights as sovereign states. Several states allude to such in their documents.

Edited.

The leaders of the Southern states in 1860/61 wouldn't have wasted the paper to lay out their cases for breach of contract, & detailing their rights to secede, if they didn't believe it was within their legal rights to do so.

They were proven wrong by force alone. There was no legal case made (until much later). Lincoln sold his opinion to the remainder of the country, & the subjugation of the South began. It was by force, & blood, that the matter of, the legality of secession was determined.
 
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#15
Because someone will state that is was legal or illegal and say "that is a fact". Since there are many people who read this forum who might think that was accurate, the other side jumps in to ensure all readers realize that there is no set answer to the question. The issue was never truly resolved. A better question to ask is why it was never resolved before or after the War.
It was decided by the rebels to be resolved on the battlefield.

Kevin Dally
 

Scooter_B

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#18
If the legality of secession was settled law in 1860, would any state have even attempted it..? I'm of the opinion, they believed their actions were legal, & within their rights as sovereign states. Several states allude to such in their documents.

Edited.

The leaders of the Southern states in 1860/61 wouldn't have wasted the paper to lay out their cases for breach of contract, & detailing their rights to secede, if they didn't believe it was within their legal rights to do so.

They were proven wrong by force alone. There was no legal case made (until much later). Lincoln sold his opinion to the remainder of the country, & the subjugation of the South began. It was by force, & blood, that the matter of, the legality of secession was determined.
Exactly. The United States and its current civilization was forged by the sword, not by legislation, legal stuff, not by diplomacy but by naked force.
 
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#19
The leaders of the Southern states in 1860/61 wouldn't have wasted the paper to lay out their cases for breach of contract said:
Was there any legal basis for us declaring independence from the crown? I do not think so. I think the "Reasons for Secession" documents were just that, documents. The south basically said that we are leaving, here is why, good bye.

Also, didn't Buchanon say something to the effect that "the south had no constitutional basis for leaving the Union, but the federal government has no constitutional basis to stop them."

That is not a direct quote, I am just summarizing what I had read.
 
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#20
And if it was perpetual and the War irreconcilable, it gives the Lincoln Apologist cover for what might of been another approach, one other than a Civil War.
The US had not even raised militias when the Confederates started shelling US troops.

The South could have seceded legally, but that would have required negotiation, and that negotiation would no doubt include assuming their portion of the national debt.

They wanted the best of both worlds, and they were willing to start a war, and they made that evident in their actions.

They were men completely without honor.
 



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