Why Argue About the Constitutionality of Secession?

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WJC

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Let's be clear. There are no rights bestowed upon us at conception by the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". That is a fiction we drew to counter the divine right of Kings. It doesn't really exist. It sounds very lofty, but we made it up. The only real rights we have are those we agreed upon in that piece of paper called the Constitution.
Thanks for your response.
I respect your opinion but adamantly disagree.
 

John S. Carter

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It is not as much the right as that when the states ratified the Constitution they became in the moral and legal obligations to the one Union/country no longer separate individual parts but a union with the contractual duties to maintain that union.Now the issue that has not been resolved is did Lincoln have the right or the duty to militarily enforceable the succeeded states back into the Union?What if Sumter had not been attached would he still had that authority to force the states return.?The answer is that by sending resupply Lincoln placed the South as the aggressor and there by providing him with legal authority ,commander in chief under that piece of paper{Constitution} ,to use military to force these states back.Question; Was Buchanan not going to send a ship to do the same but time had expired so he could not and then came AL and did this?. Buchanan may have been the one to have moved towards saving the Union .Was there any communication between the incoming and outgoing administration? That would make a interesting novel\\ Lincoln secret meeting with Buchanan to advert the coming conflict with Davis at the other end of the table and the Devil next to him whispering ''Now is your hour for Glory!'
 

Karl Robbins

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A proposal could have been made to tax revenue, which might have worked, but the tariff didn't seem to be the issue causing the rebellion. The Crittendon Compromises mention only slavery, and it appears the critical issue was the expansion of slavery into the west. The slaver's version of manifest destiny, the Purple Dream, may have been the problem.
 
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CW Buff

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Perhaps we would learn more about such debates if we explored why the discussion took place...

Someone felt it was vitally important to do something, someone else felt it was vitally important they did not.

...and why it seemed impossible to reach a conclusive and definitive answer

Because they felt their positions were vitally important.

than if we simply reenacted the same debates with the same sense of ultimate futility. I find that fruitless.

New information has been presented. The same old futility persists.

After all, white southerners could have embraced the rhetoric of revolution and self-determination (with careful qualifiers given their embrace of slavery). They did not.

From the moment slavery breached the tipping point, there were those, only a few prior to the conclusion of the ACW, who realized there was no good way to promote a struggle for the preservation of slavery. Especially via the MORAL right to revolution for JUST cause.

Both sides sought not only to state a position grounded in an understanding of the Constitution, but also to persuade the other side of the legitimacy of that position. Both failed in the latter objective.

Neither were trying to persuade the other side. They were appealing to the undecided. And of course the arguments continued into and beyond the ACW itself, right up to Sept. 12, 2019, with no end in sight. If you're looking for information from which you can determine who was right, you can get it from one party, or the other party, or seek it independently, as best you can, with as little baggage as you can manage. It will probably take a bit of all three.

Yet the need to render political and policy issues in the form of constitutional debate fundamentally shaped that discussion. There were other options, especially for white southerners seeking separation.

Like what? Who can support a struggle to preserve slavery? Accentuate the positives, eliminate the negatives.

Let's put it this way: what if, in 1859, a constitutional scholar unearthed incontrovertible evidence that secession was indeed unconstitutional, at least as presented by secessionist advocates. Would advocates of secession have given up their quest for independence? Would they have found the threat of a Republican victory in 1860 any less menacing? Would they have acted differently in any significant way?

Advocates? No. No. And no.

Potential followers? Depends on the evidence, and the who.


And what if today, another constitutional scholar found incontrovertible evidence that secession was (or was not) constitutional as of 1859? What would that change? How would it reshape our understanding of the past? Not at all, I would say, because the people at the time did not have that knowledge or that evidence
You can't regulate belief. You seem to be looking for something neat and tidy from the minds of a large number of human beings.
 

CW Buff

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Let's be clear. There are no rights bestowed upon us at conception by the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". That is a fiction we drew to counter the divine right of Kings. It doesn't really exist. It sounds very lofty, but we made it up. The only real rights we have are those we agreed upon in that piece of paper called the Constitution.
Alan Dershowitz wrote an interesting book, Rights from Wrongs. WE, of course, developed inalienable rights, from what we felt was wrong about government. Interesting read. But of course the way in which a deeply religious people saw it, these rights were bestowed by God. I think WJC was probably channeling the Founders; I doubt he believes God actually handed someone a bill of inalienable rights, written, perhaps, on two stone tablets. :D

A proposal could have been made to tax revenue, which might have worked, but the tariff didn't seem to be the issue causing the rebellion. The Crittendon Compromises mention only slavery, and it appears the critical issue was the expansion of slavery into the west. The slaver's version of manifest destiny, the Purple Dream, may have been the problem.
And the Peace Conference, I believe. And Davis's Resolutions of Feb. 2, 1860.

Edited to add second response.
 
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