View Full Version : What justified secession?

Osborne Russell
07-27-2009, 04:12 PM
You're trying very hard to restart the War of Northrun Agression.....

As long as that term is in use, the war isn't over. So keep using it if war is what you want.

What justified secession?

Nothing that Abraham Lincoln did. Seven states seceded before Lincoln took office. If there was some issue in the election that made the Republican platform objectionable, well, there was an election, and you lost, remember? Was the election illegitimate or illegal in some sense, and so not binding upon you? Did you refuse to vote on those grounds? Did you bring any such claim before Congress or the courts? No? Then STFU and be bound by the judgment of the nation, according to your oath.

Enough with Lincoln, already. It wasn't Lincoln. Anything he did or didn't do after secession is irrelevant.

The essence of the southern position is the right of unilateral secession. Not mentioned in the Constitution, but then, if there is such a thing, it doesn't matter what the Constitution says.

To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union is to say that the United States is not a nation.

-- Andrew Jackson

Yes, they tried it on Old Hickory, and thought better of it -- the nullification crisis. South Carolina passed a statute exempting themselves from federal law, i.e. nullification . AJ asked for, and got, Congressional authorization to use force against South Carolina if they ever decided to stop flapping their mouths and actually fight. It was called the Force Bill. A declaration by Congress that there is no right of unilateral secession.

A visitor from South Carolina asked if Jackson had any message he wanted relayed to his friends back in the state. Jackson’s reply was:

“Yes I have; please give my compliments to my friends in your State and say to them, that if a single drop of blood shall be shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct, upon the first tree I can reach ."

South Carolina, being the explicit target of the legislation, might have sought a judicial ruling on the question, but they didn't, for two reasons:

1. Slaveowner organization and propaganda was not as well funded or developed, and consequently South Carolians were less stupid in 1833 than in 1861 -- getting the rabble to fight and die for you is key, no point being rich if you're dead -- and so

2. They knew they would lose, and thereby lose an important source of arguable legitimacy of a future nullification and/or secession, i.e. a powerful tool for recruiting the rabble. In short, they cut and ran; cranked up the propaganda until war was inevitable, but they could avoid accountability for it, like the cowards they were.

A continuation of the Southern Strategy since before independence (and continuing to the present day). They might have made their argument, their assertion of the right to unilateral secession, before the Constitution was ratified -- during the Bill of Rights debates would have been the perfect opportunity -- but they didn't.

As for secession by consent . . .

The Constitution provides for amendment, so secession might be accomplished by Constitutional amendement. But that requires ratification, i.e. the approval of the rest of the Union. Not all of it, just enough to make up 3/4 of the total states, including those desiring to secede. E.g., total states = 31. 31 * .75 = 23.25, or let's just say, 24 states required. The states ultimately forming the CSA were fifteen. The approval of nine more states would have accomplished secession by consent, pursuant to the Constitution. Not an agreement by the non-southern states to accept slavery, to aid in the return of fugitive slaves, to forbid the extension of slavery to new territories, not even secession per se, just the recognition of the right to unilateral secession and nothing more. If, as the southern states asserted, the right to unilateral secession is both unalienable and impliedly approved in the Constitution, why not seek an amendment that says so? Afraid to lose and unwilling to accept the country's judgment?* To hell with the rest of America? To hell with you, pal.

States desiring secession might have proceeded by this route. If they did, and failed to acheive secession by consent, they might at least have some support for exercising the right of rebellion. But unlike the justifications for the American Revolution, the southern states were not taxed without representation; they were not only represented in the government of the supposed oppressor, their signatures were on its constitution.

In any event, the southern states didn't bother with the amendment process, the legislature, or the courts. They claimed the right to unilaterally withdraw from the Union, which is essentially the right to nullify the entire Constitution, all at once, and dissolve the nation, at will.

Wouldn't that be great, anytime, anyplace, any circumstances, under threat of invasion, in the middle of a war, without notice, good reason, bad reason, no reason at all, half the nation decides to secede, and the other half has nothing to say about it. History is full of examples of nations that have survived and prospered on exactly that basis, eh?

What's really bogus about the secessionist argument is this glaring self-contradiction - - they claimed that any attempt by the United States to ban slavery in new territories was illegal and unconstitutional, for two reasons:

1. Not among the enumerated powers, and
2. A violation of the right of slave owners to travel to and reside in the new territories with their property, i.e. their slaves.

But, come on. If you secede from the Union, you secede from the new territories. They're no longer yours. You surrendered them, and any say in their governance. What the US Consitution says, or doesn't say, about them, or you, or the slaves, or anything, is no longer your affair. You have no more say in Congress, or any other organ of the Union, because you seceded from the Union -- remember?

How do you propose to vindicate your rights to keep slaves where you like, after secession? Having abandoned persuasion and law, nothing remains but to force slavery, if not secession, upon the territories. What obligates the United States to allow that? The only remaining steps are a declaration of war and the actual application of force, to take territory of the United States, and establish slavery, by force.

On the other hand, if you don't extend slavery to the territories, what was the point of secession?

Thus is the gauze of rationalization pulled back to reveal a mere power grab by the slavers, a war for adventure and booty, and to establish a refuge from the retaliation they knew must come; to be resisted by a populace duped into believing they were fighting for their divinely ordained identity.

So the Chimp Squad and the Confederacy, past and present, share these core beliefs, through the whiskey fumes and nostalgic tears -- to hell with the Constitution of the United States, and might makes right. The latter implies the former. And, very important, given your delusions of persecution, do unto them before they do unto you.
*see also, Roe v. Wade

All quotes from Wikipedia.

07-27-2009, 05:54 PM
Both sides were invaders....I had family that fought on the side of the North.....However....almost without exception the Cherokee sided with the South.....Both mom and dad's ancestors sided with the south because they lived in Southern states or had other reasons to...
The Nations stayed neutral, however my Great Grandfather and his family were originally from the south, did not have family at that time in the war, they were living in the Territories. Because they refused to side with the North (they chose neither side) the Union Army decided to send some soldiers to clean house. They crossed the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls Indian Territories and proceeded to Burn farms and destroy crops...the next time, and several times after that, when they came they ended up burying about 90% of their troops....and they tried burning a couple of Cherokee villages so they sided with the south. They never succeeded in burning the town again and there are large areas of unmarked Damned yankee multiple graves along the river. And then all the relatives joined with the south. Nobody blamed Lincoln at the time from anything I have read.

07-27-2009, 06:03 PM
No legalist shall ever rule me.

I bid you good day, sir.

Osborne Russell
07-27-2009, 07:06 PM
No legalist shall ever rule me.

Shoulda said that before you ratified the Constitution and pledged allegiance. Why didn't you? Fingers crossed behind your back? Some "American." Some "patriot."

What justified secession, morally?

Osborne Russell
07-27-2009, 07:11 PM
Both sides were invaders....

. . . of Indian lands. May we take that as settled?

The United States was not an invader of the south. Secession was illegal.

If a gang of robbers occupied the Treasury, and were ejected by federal marshals, or the army, it's not an invasion. It's ejection of trespassers.

Nobody blamed Lincoln at the time from anything I have read.

Lincoln's election was cited at the time as proof of the North's intent to subjugate the south.