Why Argue About the Constitutionality of Secession?

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
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Location
Manor, TX
Who gave these people the right to call their head of state a tyrant and not the people of the South?

The Americans in 1775 had no representation in Parliament and had no power or influence over the government that was exerting its authority over them. That is tyranny. In Southerners in 1860, by contrast, sent elected representatives to Congress and had their say in the presidential elections. As I already pointed out, due to the Three-Fifths Clause in the Constitution, Southerners actually had greater say in the government than did Northerners.

And while we are on the topic of legitimate revolution, did the slaves of the South have a moral right to rebel against the slave-owning class?
 

Tin cup

Captain
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Location
Texas
Who gave these people the right to call their head of state a tyrant and not the people of the South? Is it your opinion that Northerners being involved that gave the first go round legitimacy?

Sic Semper Tyrannis
You have to be talking about the Confederate government!

Kevin Dally
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
If they were only rebelling why the Declaration of Independence?

I suggest we both refer to the document they wrote in order find the answer you request.

"When it the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature;s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation."

Sounds plain enough to me for the "why."
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
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Location
Denmark
Slavery, before 1865, was perfectly lawful. And violently preventing a free people from exercising their natural right to political independence is indeed, a crime against humanity.
Hogwash.
"Crime against humanity" is an idea from 1945.
And based on that idea Keeping people in slavery and discriminating on the basic of skin color is the crime against humanity..


Edited.
 

wbull1

First Sergeant
Official Vendor
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"Regardless, for either to be more than a footnote in history, they must succeed. The secessionists of 1860/61 failed."

I see. As always, the unionist argument is reduced to the violence of "might makes right".

Sir, your argument appears to be: ignore the Confederacy's failure to seek a Congressional or a legal solution, and the Confederacy starting the shooting war, blame the other side for violence that the Confederacy chose over peaceful attempts at secession.
 

JohnJW

Private
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Why do posters here feel compelled to argue again and again and again about whether secession was a constitutional right?

Because it is the most fundamental political question at the heart of the "American experiment."

A group agrees to unite for the common good based on certain understandings and expectations. If those understandings and expectations are later violated do the members have a right to dissolve their union?

It certainly works that way in marriages and other types of contracts. If you form a business partnership and your partner cheats you, don't you have the right to secede? So why shouldn't it work that way in America?

Btw . . . . the question was never "settled." One side simply bludgeoned the other into giving up. The question of the right to secede is as "alive" today as it was in 1861. Edited.
 

WJC

Major General
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If you form a business partnership and your partner cheats you, don't you have the right to secede? So why shouldn't it work that way in America?
In contract law, all parties must agree to any one of them breaking the terms of the contract. The issue in the crisis of 1860/61 was that certain states attempted to withdraw unilaterally. Lincoln discussed this in his First Inaugural Address.
 

JohnJW

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Joined
Jun 25, 2019
In contract law, all parties must agree to any one of them breaking the terms of the contract. The issue in the crisis of 1860/61 was that certain states attempted to withdraw unilaterally. Lincoln discussed this in his First Inaugural Address.

As I understood his argument it was that the Founders thought to create "a more perfect Union" . . . . and therefore any dissolution of the Union would make it "imperfect."

That's such circular reasoning that Southerners must have laughed out loud when they read it.

The fact is that the Northern states was in material breach of the original contract and a material breach does allow parties to break the contract.

As I remember, he also made a point to say that if the South didn't like how things were, they could always amend the Constitution. But that goes right to the question. If Free states outnumber Slave states how could any amendment be possible?

If I could debate Mr Lincon (and I'm sure he'd whip my ***) I would at least point out that the various Compromises between 1787 and 1954 established very precise elements in the Union's contract . . . . most importantly, the idea that slave states would enjoy a powerful minority so that their rights would not be trampled.
 

GwilymT

First Sergeant
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Location
Pittsburgh
As I understood his argument it was that the Founders thought to create "a more perfect Union" . . . . and therefore any dissolution of the Union would make it "imperfect."

That's such circular reasoning that Southerners must have laughed out loud when they read it.

The fact is that the Northern states was in material breach of the original contract and a material breach does allow parties to break the contract.

As I remember, he also made a point to say that if the South didn't like how things were, they could always amend the Constitution. But that goes right to the question. If Free states outnumber Slave states how could any amendment be possible?

If I could debate Mr Lincon (and I'm sure he'd whip my ***) I would at least point out that the various Compromises between 1787 and 1954 established very precise elements in the Union's contract . . . . most importantly, the idea that slave states would enjoy a powerful minority so that their rights would not be trampled.

Then you agree that secession was not constitutional. The argument is that the constitution had already been made void by the behavior of the federal government and the northern states not that the southern states were exercising some fantasy constitutional right to secession.
 

JohnJW

Private
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Then you agree that secession was not constitutional. The argument is that the constitution had already been made void by the behavior of the federal government and the northern states not that the southern states were exercising some fantasy constitutional right to secession.

No, I'm saying that's what Lincoln argued in his 1st Inaugural Address. He introduced the idea of a "more perfect Union."

I think if you read the rest of my post above you'll see where I argue that the various Compromises (starting with the 3/5ths Apportionment Compromise and ending with the repeal of the Missouri Compromise) are clear evidence that the "contract" was based on the understanding that he South was entitled to have slaves.

It was the North that committed a "material breach of contract" thus making secession totally legal.

In my amateur opinion.
 

WJC

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the various Compromises (starting with the 3/5ths Apportionment Compromise and ending with the repeal of the Missouri Compromise) are clear evidence that the "contract" was based on the understanding that he South was entitled to have slaves.
That certainly is how slaveholders interpreted those compromises. To others, they were simply measures to preserve and protect the Union until an equitable solution could be found.
 

WJC

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It was the North that committed a "material breach of contract" thus making secession totally legal
Dare I mention the actual "material breach of contract" without inviting an off-topic discussion of illegal seizure of Federal property culminating in Fort Sumter?
The 'contract' was a mutual agreement to use the constitutional process to resolve any differences. Unilateral secession was not a part of that process.
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
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Location
Manor, TX
These issues were settled at this meeting.

1562119939157.png
 

JohnJW

Private
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Dare I mention the actual "material breach of contract" without inviting an off-topic discussion of illegal seizure of Federal property culminating in Fort Sumter?
The 'contract' was a mutual agreement to use the constitutional process to resolve any differences. Unilateral secession was not a part of that process.

Well, that's certainly the view that the North took. Following the initial wave of secession, the Confederacy seized many Yankee/Federal assets and this led to a wave of indignation across the North and lit the flame for war.

But . . . I think the real "material breach of contract" was the Yankee's reaction to the Dred Scott Decision.

SCOTUS established that a black man was not a citizen and could be taken into free territories without a change of status. This was (as far as I'm aware) the first true Constitutional ruling on slavery and SCOTUS stated in a 7-2 vote that slavery was, in effect, totally Constitutional and could not be prohibited anywhere in the US!

This was hailed across the South as a triumph for slavery, a repeal of the Missouri Compromise and an opening of the door so that new territories could become slave territories.

Naturally, the plantation class and other slave owners saw this as a major victory!

Yet the North ignored the ruling and it led directly to the rise of a strong Republican Party . . . . which was purely a Northern party . . . . it wasn't even on the ballot in many Southern states.

This rejection by the North of a Constitutional interpretation . . . . as well as Lincoln's rhetoric

“I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”

is why the Fire Eaters became the dominant political force in the South and were able to generate such huge support for secession.



But again . . . . I think we can get too wrapped up in one "cause" and lose sight of the totality of the 1850s . . . . Bloody Kansas . . . Uncle Tom's Cabin . . . John Brown . . . the raid on Harper's Ferry . . . John Brown's execution . . . Dred Scott case . . . . the Republican Party . . . . the disintegration of the Democrats . . . the Lincoln-Douglas debates . . . . tariffs . . . President Buchanan . . . .

All these things worked together in a perfect storm to bring about the Civil War.

So who committed the first material breach? Who was wrong? I think it's an unanswerable historical riddle.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I wish that were so. Unfortunately, the end of one war often lays the foundation for the next war. The Civil War settled many questions by force of arms . . . . but not all questions.

@JohnJW ,

And I think it settled the question that some questions should not be attempted to be solved by force of arms, at least, not all of them, as the slaveholding South attempted to do.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
PS: Excellent posts by-the-way, good observation and thoughtful views.
 
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