Why Argue About the Constitutionality of Secession?

wausaubob

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Where does this half and half come from? 11 states populated by 5M whites and 4M enslaved blacks, rebelled. 19 states containing about 22 million people, of various ethnic identities remained loyal. 4 states never completed the secession process. And 3 of them contained a high % of the white population of 15 slave states.
Most of Arkansas, and Texas, where barely visited by war. Nashville and Memphis returned to commercial activity while the war was continuing. The biggest city in the south was New Orleans. It was captured intact after 13 months.
 

wausaubob

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4 slave states never seceded. 1 slave state split rather than fully secede. Two slave states experienced minimal fighting. And the big cities in Tennessee, Memphis and Nashville pocketed a lot of $$ during the war. Once Baltimore, Louisville, St. Louis, New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis were in federal hands the argument about secession was physically over. After that the US army and US navy were fighting to get it over with as soon as possible.
 

wausaubob

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War is not a constitutional process. But if the Constitution had been applied to the Civil War, the US would have had to have hanged most of the Confederate leadership. That is not who carried out stochastic but numerous lynchings in the decades following the Civil War.
 

VA_Jim

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Nope, as an entity that fought solely for the purpose of keeping nearly four million people in eternal bondage, independence had nothing to do with it.

War of the Rebellion was the official name for the conflict after the war. Can't help it, that was what they called it.
Nope, they could already keep people in bondage under the laws of the USA. Could have maintained slavery longer had they done nothing. Independence brought the ability to set their own policies regarding trade, taxes, slavery, etc. You are over simplifying.
 

VA_Jim

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Leaving aside the fact that a society with a cornerstone of slavery is dedicated to the proposition that "might makes right." The question of secession doesn't exist anymore in this country. We're never had another secession movement. Because the real reason for disunion was destroyed in 1865.

The slave states didn't secede to exercise a theoretical right to secede. They had their unspeakable reasons.
Reasons for disunion come and go and may come again. Slavery was legal in the USA and big money for North and South. Nobody went to war to free slaves. Lincoln was very clear on that.
 

unionblue

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Nope, they could already keep people in bondage under the laws of the USA.

Yes, they could have, as no one, Republicans included, felt they had no right to interfere with slavery where it was already established. However, the slaveholding South wanted to expand the institution, even into the Free States and federal territories, no matter what the majority of Americans wanted, no expansion of slavery.

Could have maintained slavery longer had they done nothing.

I believe so too, but the fact remains they began the war in order to protect and maintain slavery, even to expand it.

Independence brought the ability to set their own policies regarding trade, taxes, slavery, etc.

Independence to seek dependence on slavery.

You are over simplifying.

Southern slaveholding interests made it simply about slavery.

Unionblue
 

unionblue

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Reasons for disunion come and go and may come again. Slavery was legal in the USA and big money for North and South. Nobody went to war to free slaves. Lincoln was very clear on that.

Yet, as a result of a war for the Union, we had the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

Maybe nobody went to war to free the slaves, but we are left with the results from that war.
 

WJC

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Nobody went to war to free slaves. Lincoln was very clear on that.
While it is true that Lincoln and most Americans were far more motivated by preserving the Union, it is unrealistic to claim that all agreed with that prioritizing. Most prominent Abolitionists expressed surprise that the opportunity to free the slaves came in their lifetime. But certainly, some immediately recognized the opportunity presented by the ill-conceived rebellion.
Conversely, the secessionists clearly "went to war" to preserve slavery.
 

Potomac Pride

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Southern slaveholding interests made it simply about slavery.

Unionblue

The war wasn't simply about slavery and that is really an oversimplification of the war as an historical event. The secession of the southern states would have resulted in the loss of important territory and resources for the Union. In his inaugural address in 1861, Lincoln practically threatened an invasion of the south in order to maintain federal property and collect the tariff.
 

OpnCoronet

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I think that the willingness to "burn the other half" meant they were willing to fight for the Union and the Constitution, sure. But with the end of slavery, there was no reason to fight for secession. I forget who said this, but the aftermath of the Civil War was win-win. The south got to maintain white supremacy, and the north got to maintain the Union. I could be misremembering this, but the point was the other reasons were secondary, and these were the core issues. I'm not one hundred per cent on who said this, or if I'm recalling it correctly.


Very true and as I am sure you are aware, the South constituted considerably less than half the Union of States and even less by population, and considerably less than half was furned to the ground(which the North could have done, if that was what it wanted to do.
 

Potomac Pride

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While it is true that Lincoln and most Americans were far more motivated by preserving the Union, it is unrealistic to claim that all agreed with that prioritizing. Most prominent Abolitionists expressed surprise that the opportunity to free the slaves came in their lifetime. But certainly, some immediately recognized the opportunity presented by the ill-conceived rebellion.
Conversely, the secessionists clearly "went to war" to preserve slavery.

If the south only wanted to preserve slavery, they could have stayed in the Union and ratified the Corwin Amendment which protected slavery in the states from federal intervention. The south went to war to achieve independence from the Union as a result of the sectional animosity that existed. One of the reasons for the animosity was the slavery issue. However, the North and South had divergent economies as a result of the agrarian based economy of the south and the industrial development of the North. Furthermore, the political upheaval that resulted due to the rise of the Republican Party was another source of sectional animosity. The Republican Party was a novice party that represented the interests of the northern states. The south realized their political power was decreasing as a result of the rise of the Republican party and the increasing population of the northern states. They realized the North would dominate politics on a national level in the future.
 

unionblue

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How exactly did secession 'expand' slavery?

Most of the efforts to expand slavery come from the period before the Civil War. The Missouri Compromise, the Wilmont Priviso, Fillibuster expeditions to South American countries with the intent of creating a slave empire, Dred Scott, and the Lemmon case. But the primary cause of the war was the fear that slavery would be restricted and then led to ultimate extinction if it could not expand beyond the borders of the then slaveholding South.

Weren't the Western territories part of the USA?

Indeed, but trhe South insisted that slavery had a right to expand into those federal territories while Lincoln and the Republican party campaigned to keep them free of slavery.

So, by leaving the Union the CSA limited itself in scope did it not?

It thought it could win it's rebellion and expand even more, into Cuba, into Mexico and South American, even into any Western territories it could win by conquest during the Civil War.

In it's imagination, the slaveholders had a dream of a Golden Circle of slave states starting in the southern US and sweeping South into South America.

They paid for their dreams in the harsh reality of civil war.

Unionblue
 

unionblue

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If the south only wanted to preserve slavery, they could have stayed in the Union and ratified the Corwin Amendment which protected slavery in the states from federal intervention.

Yet they turned this proposition down because it only protected slavery where it already existed and did not give confidence that it could expand freely and without opposition.

The south went to war to achieve independence from the Union as a result of the sectional animosity that existed.

Primarily over the one issue that was center stage for the entire nation for decades, slavery.

One of the reasons for the animosity was the slavery issue.

The issue, not just "one of the reasons."

However, the North and South had divergent economies as a result of the agrarian based economy of the south and the industrial development of the North.

This has been far overplayed in my own opinion, as the North had just as much of an agrarian economy as the South. The differences in the economies are much more basic. Slave labor vs. free labor.

Furthermore, the political upheaval that resulted due to the rise of the Republican Party was another source of sectional animosity. The Republican Party was a novice party that represented the interests of the northern states. The south realized their political power was decreasing as a result of the rise of the Republican party and the increasing population of the northern states. They realized the North would dominate politics on a national level in the future.

Threatening nearly 70 years of Slave Power rule in previous Southern dominated federal government and presidential administrations. The political playing field was being leveled and the slave-based 3/5ths rule was beginning to lose ground. The majority of the United States was finally going to be heard over the objections of a slave-based minority.

Unionblue
 

unionblue

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Seems we have strayed a bit from the main topic of this thread, "why argue about the constitutionality of secession?"

Indeed, why do we argue about it? To me, it's like trying to quarterback a past game of football. "If only they had called this play," or "they should have ran the ball instead of throwing an interception!" No matter how many complaints or "what if" situations are brought forth, it doesn't change the final score.

But, I do enjoy the sources presented, the evidence shown, and the opinions shared. The learning that happens on such threads is invaluable to me. The research and exploring of sources and historical documents is always interesting, even some time surprising.

But I always seem to come back to the central idea, for me, is that secession, unilateral secession, was not settled in a court of law, or before the Supreme Court, or even by constitutional means.

It was settled as a result of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to the Army of the Potomac at Appomattox Courthouse.

Until our next post,
Unionblue
 

Potomac Pride

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This has been far overplayed in my own opinion, as the North had just as much of an agrarian economy as the South. The differences in the economies are much more basic. Slave labor vs. free labor

Threatening nearly 70 years of Slave Power rule in previous Southern dominated federal government and presidential administrations. The political playing field was being leveled and the slave-based 3/5ths rule was beginning to lose ground. The majority of the United States was finally going to be heard over the objections of a slave-based minority.
Unionblue

The sectional differences in the economies were a major concern to the South. The southern states had a very small industrial base. In fact by 1860, 90 percent of the nation's manufacturing output came from the northern states. Whereas, the South was still mainly agricultural and dependent upon the sale of staples to a world market. The North, by contrast, was well on its way to a commercial and manufacturing economy. This led to a difference in terms of economic goals and foreign trade policy between the sections of the country. With the rise of the Republican Party, the South was concerned that the policies of the North would be harmful to their economy. The Republicans promoted protectionist trade policies while the South were ardent free trade advocates because their economy depended on the export of agricultural goods. The South realized that the rise of the Republican Party and the increasing population of the North would result in a loss of political power on the national level.
 

unionblue

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The sectional differences in the economies were a major concern to the South. The southern states had a very small industrial base. In fact by 1860, 90 percent of the nation's manufacturing output came from the northern states. Whereas, the South was still mainly agricultural and dependent upon the sale of staples to a world market. The North, by contrast, was well on its way to a commercial and manufacturing economy. This led to a difference in terms of economic goals and foreign trade policy between the sections of the country. With the rise of the Republican Party, the South was concerned that the policies of the North would be harmful to their economy. The Republicans promoted protectionist trade policies while the South were ardent free trade advocates because their economy depended on the export of agricultural goods. The South realized that the rise of the Republican Party and the increasing population of the North would result in a loss of political power on the national level.

All of the topics you mention above, come from the extreme differences between a slave based economy vs. a free labor economy.
 

wausaubob

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I suppose people argue about it because it creates a simplified world in which there is a north and a south.
But even in 1861, that was not the case.
It seemed as if the boundary was between paid labor and coerced labor. But the boundary was approximately between cotton growing and non cotton growing. Areas like Missouri, Kentucky and Western Virginia, that were not selling cotton to the world market, were not interested in seeing the US shrink and its economy struggle.
The reasons the attempt at secession failed have little to do with the constitution. It had much more to do with railroads, iron foundaries, schools, banks and tax systems.
The Confederates did not submit the issue to the Sup Ct and abide by its decision. Even Justice Taney was against secession, as were most Jacksonian Democrats. The Confederates took a non constitutional approach based on rifles and cannons. The United States accepted those terms.
The terms The North and The South don't appear in the Constitution.
 

Potomac Pride

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All of the topics you mention above, come from the extreme differences between a slave based economy vs. a free labor economy.
Thanks for your comments but the items that I mentioned were not necessarily a product of the conflict between a free labor and slave economy. Economists have long recognized that import tariffs impose a disproportionate burden on any export dependent region such as the south regardless if the economy utilizes slave labor or not. The southern states had a very small manufacturing base so they depended on the importation of goods from outside the region for the manufactured items they needed. Therefore, a tariff on imported goods from abroad increases the costs for those manufactured items. Furthermore, the southern economy was very dependent on the export of their agricultural goods to other nations. Import tariffs imposed an undue burden on export dependent regions such as the southern states. Tariffs cause the price of certain goods to rise but exporters are unable to pass the costs on because they have to sell their items at market prices and swallow the costs. Economists call this the "pass through effect" of a tariff. In the book International Economics by Wilson & Hogendorn it states on page 121 that "In essence, a tax on imports becomes a tax on exports." Finally, tariffs create another burden because foreign producers earn less profit as a result of a tariff that is imposed. As a result, they will have less money to spend on exports in order to balance the decrease in imports. It is for these reasons that the southern states were opposed to the protectionist trade policy of the North because of the undue burden it put on their economy. The Republican Party advocated protectionist tariffs and this economic policy was a source of sectional animosity between the two regions of the country.
 
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