Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

William Tecumseh Sherman

Apparently, today is the 186th anniversary of the birth of William Tecumseh Sherman. Rich Policz takes the occasion as an opportunity to set the record straight on Sherman’s march through the South. Sherman has been much maligned by history as a brute who unethically terrorized civilians in the South. As Policz points out:

Most history books don’t tell how bloodless the march was for both sides. Of course there were those individuals and small groups, who crazed with rage at Sherman’s men, would raise their guns only to be shot down, but by and large the Union army was very restrained in their evacuating of civilians before ripping apart their world. Furthermore, by crushing the spirit of the rebels it shortened the continued bloody collisions of the two opposing armies in other theatres of the war.

Discussions - 124 Comments

AUTHOR: Carolyn C. Allen
EMAIL: [email protected]
DATE: 02/08/2006 05:33:00 PM

While I certainly understand why Sherman is disliked in the South, it doesn’t make his cause any less just. In fact Sherman killed far less Confederates (and thereby sparing his own men) than most of his contemporaries, and yet is more hated. Shaking one’s will to fight while leaving dialogue open, seems much a better method, than putting a bullet into their head...

I’ll go a step further and say that even though Sherman’s actions will never be lauded in the South (and this, of course, is why he is so maligned in the textbooks), without the utter destruction he wreaked, the Confederacy wouldn’t have stopped fighting before the North would have. Proud firebrands like Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jeb Stuart, Braxton Bragg and Joe Wheeler would never stop (and most Southerners would proudly admit so). This would have ensured at best a Union in which the founding principles were forfeit, or at worst two neighboring nations at odds with one another...

So while Sherman may be hated in the South, its rare to find many Southerners speaking out in favor of chattel slavery, and the nation, the Union, is far better for it. Knowing this, I’m sure Sherman would find the devastation well worth it and I daresay the sons and daughters of the South do too. Cleansing fires are hard but sometimes necessary...

Actually, it was Grant who ordered part of Jackson to be burned.

Of course, the fact that Jackson was a key manufacturing and railroad area was a major factor in the first burning of the city.

The second time, it was due to retaliaton because they had to lay seige to the town even though they had taken the city earlier in 1863.

By the way, one of the Confederate generals defending the city was none other than John C. Breckinridge, a former U.S. vice-president.

Of course, he was a Democrat.

He was pro-slavery and split the Democrat ticket allowing Lincoln to gain the presidency.

Rather ironic, don’t you think?

And, a rather pointed lesson for those in politics.

The Democrats division over slavery allowed Lincoln, a moderate on slavery in comparison to a large portion of the Republican party, to become president. At which time, the Democrats become soo enraged over the election of Lincoln that they stormed out of Congress and formed another country.

It is worth noting that Sherman’s hometown was Lancaster, Ohio. They still have the house he lived in, or a copy of it. It is a museum, and people can tour it.

Grant was also from Ohio.

Ehem...Sherman’s march was relatively bloodless because woman and children tend NOT to fight back. And he turned thousands of them out of their homes in winter, with nothing to eat and no place to go. You folks are celebrating the institutionalization of "total war." Congratulations.

Oh yeah, let’s add that the Union was an occupying force that savaged the wonderful, peaceful people of the South and the Southern land.

(Sarcasm Off)

I am from the South, born in Florida, live in Texas.

Y’all just need to get over the fact that the abomination called the Southern Confederacy was defeated. Seriously, it is not good for the body to harbor ill will.

I agree with Dain. (Excuse me a moment). A relatively "bloodless" war against food, buildings, livestock, women and children may not make for good action theater, but it is not a more humane way, nor a more courageous way, to fight an enemy.

As a lefty, I have to wonder if this new warmth toward Sherman is in some way part of a greater effort to excuse past or future actions of the Bush Administration. Some martial version of "you’ve got to be cruel to be kind."

I don’t buy it.

I guess we can weigh how "humane" and "courageous" Sherman’s actions were in comparison to enslaving a race of people and spliting the Union over it...

Let me assure you that my "warmth" for Sherman and for Bush are only related in that they both have done what is best for their country, even if those actions may not be the most popular ones. Neither need an excuse...

Extra points for quoting a Nick Lowe song though...

Rich - This is interesting to me. First of all, I have been a displaced Yankee in Texas, where I first learned that the "War against Northern Aggression" was about States’ Rights, and that slavery was irrelevant. I also learned how deep and real the continued hatred of the North was, among many, and that such hatred was interdependent with pride and identification with not-too-distant ancestors, and a love of place and culture.

So, I am thinking about your new spin on Sherman, and I am wondering how that plays among the "New Confederates" in the South. You must be causing some real cognitive dissonance, since, on the one hand, you have offered (and repeated, in comment 8) the notion that excessive brutality is justified if it hastens the end of the war. That plays well among the Righties. But, on the other hand, you might sound like an apologist or spin doctor for a War Criminal, which probably does NOT play well with the Southern Right.

Bringing a war to an end is generally viewed as a benefit only to the winners, as I understand it.

Finally, you suggest:

I guess we can weigh how "humane" and "courageous" Sherman’s actions were in comparison to enslaving a race of people and spliting the Union over it..." That sidesteps the question, I think, since it really (despite my Southern friends’ version) describes why the war was fought in the first place.

I also might point out that Sherman continued his "warm, humane treatment" with his Indian policy in the West after the War Between the States. Genocide was not unheard of, even, under his and Sheridan’s policies. However, he’s he hell now so who cares?

Bringing a war to an end is generally viewed as a benefit only to the winners, as I understand it.

I disagree. When one side insists on continuing to resist, even after all reasonable chance of that side winning has vanished, using extraordinary methods to break the enemy’s will to resist can be justified as humane. The use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki undoubtedly saved not only American lives, but the lives of countless Japanese who would have been compelled to fight a U.S. invasion to the death.

Moreover, I think there is good reason to make sure that a defeated enemy--and not just the enemy army--is aware that he is indeed beaten. Arguably had the Allied military victory in 1918 been brought home more forcefully to German civilians, the "stab-in-the-back" myth that ultimately brought Hitler to power would never have had an opportunity to take hold. Does anyone think that the necessary reform of southern society--including the abolition of slavery--could have been carried out among a population that was not convinced it had been beaten?

Fung- Perhaps you confuse me with a politcian who must triangulate his position in an attempt to appeal to the maximum amount of people. Not at all what I’m doing...

Please also don’t misunderstand: the essay on Sherman and subsequent posts are not offering an apology at all. I don’t think hastening the end of the war, preserving the Union, and freeing the slaves really requires an apology...

John - As a descendant of members of the "winning side," I agree. But, my point was that I am unaware that Japan, for instance, is unlikely to have expressed gratitude for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the Confederacy is/was not likely to agree with Rich’s perspective. As winners, we can afford to believe that the end justified the means, but for the losers, abnormally brutal methods are likely to add salt to already raw wounds.

Rich - I am not suggesting that your message lacks integrity. I only wonder (and I guess that I am trying to elicit, if it is out there) about my prediction of cognitive dissonance in Right-wing Southerners.

I have goed away.

I am a right-wing southerner.

I reject the Southern Confederacy. I reject that notion that it was not about slavery.

Heck, Texas stated it best when she seceded. Texas not only wanted slavery to still continue, but to expand and it was stated at the very beginnning. The other states mentioned slavery somewhere in the middle or towards the end.

The Southern Confederacy was not noble. Sorry, folks, but the only true Confederacy became anachronistic when the Constitution was enacted.

And you call yourself a Texan! Must be one of those citified boys...anyone who could say that General Lee and his boys weren’t noble...well, he needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Reading some political history might help as well.

And, judging an entire people by a single criterion (e.g., permitting slavery) is stupid. That’s the kind of thinking the Leftists use to damn "Amerika" for a variety of real and imagined sins. I guess we should dismiss the Greeks and Romans as ignoble losers as well...they engaged in slavery! And those evil! And all those tribes in Africa that facilitated the whole nasty business...pure malevalence! And let’s not forget how the North abused the Irish and factory workers in general. Indeed, no one is without sin...we should celebrate what can be celebrated and work to improve the rest. Believe it or not, it is possible to have sympathy for the Southern cause and to believe it was noble without endorsing slavery (which I don’t).


I do not think Lee was noble. Assuming he told the truth when he left the union in 1861, he knew Virginia was wrong because he thought they had no right to withdraw, and he did not think slavery was just, or even acceptable. Yet his lack of willpower to allow an unjust cause to lose, and his aid to people who were breaking the law (through succession) was shameful. Everytime he killed union troops he knew he was doing so unlawfully. Unlawful killing is murder, and helping others unlawfully kill is being an accomplice to murder. If Lee thought sucession was lawful then I will correct my thoughts concerning him, but I have always heard that he refused to let Virginia be invaded by troops, and that he could not lead those troops, not that he thought Virginia was right. If this is how he truly felt, he should have sat on the sidelines.

I think one can easily distinguish the south from the Greeks and Romans. Those people never fought a war to prevent the institution of slavery from dying. It already existed and everyone accepted it. The South did fight a war to keep slavery from dying. They looked at the numbers and knew that antislavery people would have a constitutionally sufficient majority in the foreseeable future, and that slavery would be over. That is why they fought.

I am unsure what can be noble about the southern cause. They unlawfully killed people to protect an institution that would die through political means--through representative government. That does not seem noble to me. I suppose one can root for underdogs (which the south sort of is through historical hindsight), but that does not make them noble, only sympathetic for instinctional reasons.

Thanks for clarifying that you don’t endorse slavery. It was needed.

Something has finally brought Dain and Fung together. Fung’s refusal to do what is necessary to win a war, and Dain’s love of the Confederacy. Charming.

That was funny.

Jmont, your "fear" that I endorse slavery is of no consequence to me...your opinion of me is irrelevant, I’m afraid.

Steve, your ignorance is showing. The war was not about slavery until 1863, when Lincoln needed to ennoble the whole bloody business after Gettysburg. Please, I wish some of you would read Civil War history in some depth before you pontificate.

As for love of the Confederacy, I think any American should love people who are willing to stand up for their own independence and shed blood in that endeavor (and indeed, the casualties on the Southern side were absolutely horrific...far worse than any other war fought in our history). That’s supposedly part of the American character, but perhaps no longer.

I really wish you’d read some non-lefty Civil War history before you pontificate. I can’t believe that in all of the history you have read, you never put two and two together. Yes, the South fought for state rights. Yes, the South fought for the independence to make their own decisions. HOWEVER, what was being infringed that so desperately needed protection? Oh, yes, that’s right: SLAVERY! The Confedeacy fought for freedom, the freedom to enslave another race.

As for love of the Confederacy, I think any American should love people who are willing to stand up for their own independence and shed blood in that endeavor

Fung, you agreed with this guy. Take a minute to let that sink in.

Steve, your ignorance is showing. The war was not about slavery until 1863, when Lincoln needed to ennoble the whole bloody business after Gettysburg. Please, I wish some of you would read Civil War history in some depth before you pontificate.

Dain, I’m pretty sure the Emacipation Proclamation was announced in 1862, after the battle of Antietam, and not Gettysburg. Not only that, but the war was always about slavery, at least in part, just not officially so until that point.


I am afraid you are entirely wrong about slavery not being an issue until 1863. I taught the civil war through use of source documents, so I am pretty sure of myself here. Alexander Stephens (Vice President of the C.S.A.) stated in his inaugural address that the CSA’s cornerstone was slavery, and that the CSA was dedicated to the scientific truth that the negro was inferior to the white man, and deserved to be enslaved. This was in 1861. Furthermore, Mississippi’s succession statement, an official state document, stated that it was withdrawing from the union to protect slavery. It is important to note that Mississippi was the capital of the confederacy until Virginia withdrew, and was home to Davis, the CSA’s President. The Texas guy above stated that Texas used slavery as its justification for succession, see post 15. I am pretty sure I read most of the official documents published by each state, and they all refered to slavery. Each state pretty much used a form document.

Lincoln’s decision not to mention slavery in the beginining did not mean the war was not about slavery. He was hoping if he said the war was not about slavery that the South would realize it could put down arms and keep slavery around, thus it would shorten the war. See his letter to Horrace Greely (I forget his name, its the one where he says his primary objective is to save the union). After Gettysburg, it was pretty clear the south was not going to give up, and the north (democrats) were starting to think the war was not worth it. So Lincoln used slavery to energize the north, and shame his opponents.

Your love of standing up for independence is misplaced. Rebelling is not some amoral act, or always a positive good. One should only rebel for good reasons. Rebelling so that one can be evil is not a good reason. Rebelling because one is being taxed without any consent, has improper political say, or is treated poorly, would probably be acceptable, but only if all other measures for solution had been used.

Finally, in terms of per capita casualities, the Civil War was not the worst in American history. I assume you mean this when stating that the southern people were brave, etc. The war with the most per capita casualities was the Mexican-American war; I am not sure why, I think it may have been because it was such a disease ridden place.

It’s sECession. Grrrr.

Well you sure put him in his Union-loving place, didn’t you?


First, I did not post #26 or #27...for some reason there are pinheads out there who enjoy pretending to be me.

Second, yes, in my haste I put the Emancipation Proclaimation into the wrong 1862 the Union was losing badly, and Lincoln needed a casus belli...slavery was the easiest way to "ennoble" what was turning out to be a bloody mess.

Third, Steve, when I called Southern losses the worst in our history I meant it. 90 percent of adult male Southerners served in the Confederate Army, and 70% became casualties. No American population before or since has taken that kind of punishment. In the past, before the Civil War got ’PCed’ up, Americans understood that both sides had fought evidence, just go look at the various monuments at Gettysburg.

As for your assertion that the war was caused by slavery, that’s simply not true. Are we expected to believe that the 95% of white Southerns WHO DID NOT OWN SLAVES fought and died to preserve this institution, dominated by a tiny very wealthy minority? You need to read about Southern nationalism long before the Civil War, and how this sense of identity (plus cultural tensions, tariffs, and yes, the peculiar institution) led to "The War Between the State." I would also remind you that 4 Confederate states, including Virginia, did not secede until Lincoln demanded they muster troops to invade the deep South. Lee was no hypocrite, and you defame a good and noble man.

And finally, I would remind you that it was Lincoln who invaded the South, and therefore he was the proximate cause of the war. His early behavior, and indeed statements from the Senate and other Federal bodies, made it clear that they were prosecuting the war to hold the Union together...slavery was not on the table until much later.

in 1862 the Union was losing badly, and Lincoln needed a casus belli...slavery was the easiest way to "ennoble" what was turning out to be a bloody mess.

This notion has been thoroughly debunked, most recently by Allen Guelzo.

"As for love of the Confederacy, I think any American should love people who are willing to stand up for their own independence and shed blood in that endeavor

Fung, you agreed with this guy. Take a minute to let that sink in.

I agreed with him regarding Sherman, and I still agree with him in that context. While I joked about my feelings when I expressed that, there is nothing wrong with recognizing agreement when it happens. Otherwise, the debate loses its validity, and we all become what we often accuse each other of: Bush-haters, unthinking, reactionary, etc.

I think that Lee presents us with an interesting and complex problem, as the entire Civil War does. By most accounts, he was a hero in every sense of the word, including the tragic part. I can imagine following him based on the strength and integrity of his character, and I can imagine being swayed and convinced by his perspective if I were a young Virginian.

But, Dain’s pt ov view is probelenatic, too. He respects anyone who fights to protect home and history, and so do I. He also respects loyalty to one’s leaders, state, and country, and so do I. But, while Dain is able, I think, to see the Civil War from both sides, I don’t think that his objectivity would extend to Palestine, or to terrorists.

Frankly, my impatience with this new tolerance for Sherman comes from the same place as my abhorrence for the methods of terrorists. But, the complexity arises when I can understand (not condone) or recognize (not sympathize) with the terrorist hatred of the U.S.. This is why I argue for prevention and understanding the roots of terrorism, more than I support scorched earth policies.

John: Assuming that Professor Guelzo has said the very last word on this topic (which I’m sure he hasn’t), doesn’t he cite significant NORTHERN opposition to dying to end slavery as a reason for his "go-slow" approach to ending slavery (i.e., the Emancipation Proclaimation)? In short, most Northerners thought the war was about holding the union together, and most Southerners thought it was about becoming a sovereign nation apart from the Union. In other words, most of the Scotch-Irish yeoman who fought and died for the Confederacy, or the Midwestern Saxons who did the same for the Union, weren’t doing it to free the slaves. Thanks for making my point, and thank you Professor Guelzo. Perhaps that was Lincoln’s ultimate goal (although I doubt it), but one man does not a war make.

Fung, there’s a world of difference between the American South and the Palestinians. I favor a two-state solution in that part of the world, but HAMAS unfortunately does not. That history is extremely complicated, and claims to that land go WAY back. While you and I apparently share an admiration for courageous people and a dislike of butchers, I think your comparison is are trying to sandbag me.

Dain, given that you found it possible for the Iraq war to be fought for more than one purpose (elimination of a haven for terrorists AND democracy for the Iraqi people), I am confused as to why you are so skeptical that Lincoln could have entertained more than one motive in his mind simultaneously. Yes, Lincoln’s overriding purpose was to protect the union, but he was passionately committed to ending slavery as well. The only reason he held off until 1862 was that he wanted to find a way of doing so that was constitutional.

And by the way, if Northern opposition to fighting a war to end slavery was so much on his mind, why would this have changed so much in 1862? The fact is that it didn’t; the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t a short-term expedient to shore up support for the war, because arguably Lincoln knew it would be unpopular among the sorts of people you mention. It was a political risk taken in the name of principle.

John, I guess that’s why he DIDN’T free the slaves in Union territory? Moreover, some of Lincoln’s statements made it clear that slavery was not his priority, and that he would have preserved slavery if it allowed him to preserving the Union. And what’s this I hear about shipping African-Americans to Liberia?

He didn’t free slaves in the border states because he believed that the Constitution prohibited him from doing so. Moreover, when he became president he had no agenda for abolishing slavery where it existed--and for precisely the same reason. The rebellion gave him the constitutional authority that he did not believe he had when he took office.

And the issue of Liberia is a red herring. Lincoln was skeptical that whites and blacks could live side by side in a condition of equality. A lot of people--abolitionists included--believed that as well. They were wrong, of course, but does that really put them on the same moral plane as slaveowners?

Best comment I’ve read from him...ever.

Well, I seem to have been censored!

OK, let’s try this again.

Pointing out that Lincoln, like most of his peers, believed in the natural inferiority of black people helps to counterbalance the preposterous image of him advanced by Lincolnophiles. He was no saint; he was simply a politician of no great accomplishment.

Good, let’s move on...I’m not sure why my comments were deleted, but...

Second, John, this argument that it was Lincoln’s steadfast adherence to the Constitution that led to his partial emancipation of the slaves is pretty silly. I don’t think he was any great respecter of the document, to be frank. Suspending habeas corpus was a stark example of his disregard for civil rights. Moreover, where was his solicitous concern for the Constitution when it came to invading the South. My Constitution has a 10th Amendment that reserved all non-delineated rights to the State or their people. Since secession is not forbidden in the text, I’m wondering why he would ignore this important Constitutional restraint on military action.

Ending slavery was a very good thing, of course, but it didn’t have to result in half a million dead young men. Everyone else ended slavery in a more peaceful manner...Father Abraham chose the sword.

I’m wondering why he would ignore this important Constitutional restraint on military action.

We’ve already had this discussion. Lincoln didn’t "ignore" the right of the South to secede; rather, like James Madison and Andrew Jackson before him, he did not believe that any such right existed.

No, Lincoln was not a saint, and I never claimed that he was. But your claim that he was "simply a politician of no great accomplishment" suggests that I’ve been wasting my time trying to communicate with you.

Yes we have had this argument before, and you didn’t win it then either. I don’t care what this or that man thought about the Constitution...what does it say. Unless you are willing to admit that we are a nation of men and not laws, then you have to admit that the right of secession existed. Certainly Yankees thought so during the War of 1812, and the Southerners later (and some when they signed the Constitution). I think it was important for later history that the South failed, but that’s not the same as saying they had no right to secede.

As for Lincoln, what exactly did he accomplish before becoming President? And is it really a great feat to hold the Union together by total war against an outnumbered and outgunned enemy? The real accomplishment would have been to use the border States to conjole/persuade their brethren to return to the fold. Much more difficult than unleasing Sherman on women and children...what courage and foresight! I think the only reason Lincoln has his current reputation is because he got martyred. Big deal. Kennedy is loved for the same reason, but what were is actual accomplishments.

If you want to talk about nation-builders, lets talk about Polk.

and prouder of that fact every day.

It’s easy (and cowardly) to be a sniper without having to put forward an opinion or argument. You aren’t even up to selecting a real name for yourself...the very epitome of a spineless little radical lowlife.

I, too, am "prouder" of the fact that you aren’t me, by the hour, pal, by the hour.

That’s it. Dain sucks.

Yep, a perfect confirmation -- you’re a creepy little Leftist reptile. And the only thing that sucks is the vacuum between your ears.

There is NO inherent right to secede from the Union in the Constitution.

Moreover, Madison thought it was ludicrous to even suggest such a thing.

The ONLY pact that could be broken legally was the one and only true Confederacy and I am not talking about that abomination called the Southern Confederacy.

Yes, Lincoln did follow the Constitution. We were at war. The President has vast powers that he can use during war. Besides, there is NO honor in following the Constitution to the letter if it means we will have NO COUNTRY.

The Civil War was purely about slavery. To say otherwise is to buy in the myth about the south in the first place. To say otherwise is to ignore the stuggle between the proslave faction and those against slavery. My gosh what the heck was all the various agreements about up until the Civil War in regards to permitting a new state to be a free state or a slave state?

Don’t like what Texas stated in her Decleration of Secession? Then what about some of the others ...

" For twenty years past the abolitionists and their allies in the Northern States have been engaged in constant efforts to subvert our institutions and to excite insurrection and servile war among us. They have sent emissaries among us for the accomplishment of these purposes. Some of these efforts have received the public sanction of a majority of the leading men of the Republican party in the national councils, the same men who are now proposed as our rulers. These efforts have in one instance led to the actual invasion of one of the slave-holding States, and those of the murderers and incendiaries who escaped public justice by flight have found fraternal protection among our Northern confederates." - Georgia’s Declaration of Secession

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin." - Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession

"The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River." - South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession

South Carolina’s declaration is interesting for she goes into how initially America was under a confederate pact by which every member, state, was, for the most part, an independent nation and could thusly leave the pact at any time.

However, she then used an article from the newer pact, ie the Constitution we have been living under ever since it was enacted, as a reason for leaving the Union.

The problem is that at the time, the Conderacy was no longer in effect. The ONLY document governing our country was the Constitution. Thusly, the previous pact was null and void.

There is nothing in the Constitution in regards to secession, but does that in and of itself mean that secession is a valid act to commit by a state?

The Constitution was setup in a federal manner on purpose. This was to tie the national government to the state governments. To suggest that our Founders wanted another form of government that allowed states to freely leave is ludicrous just from the fact alone that they were abolishing such a form of government in the first place!

"Ending slavery was a very good thing, of course, but it didn’t have to result in half a million dead young men. Everyone else ended slavery in a more peaceful manner...Father Abraham chose the sword."

That is pure B.S.!!

Lincoln was fully content to allow slavery to die on its own. However, slavery in America was not dying. Nope. Moreover, the institution was going to be expanded if some had their way (See Texas’s Declaration of Secession). The South had a vested interest in the continuation in slavery. She did not have much reason to go to more mechanical, less labor intensive means.

Are you truly being serious when you wrote such statement? I mean, do you honestly believe that the slave-states would have not fought back via foce if the country enacted a Constitutional amendment banning slavery?

If you are truly serious in holding that view, then you are being willfully ignorant of history, willfully ignorant of the facts. You are blinding yourself to the truth.

I am Texas proud, but not in regards to the part of our history.

I reject the southern myth, the southern confederacy and all her trappings.

If the slave states had their way and won the civil war, we would be like Europe or worse.

Let’s look at what some of those involved in the Constitutional Convention had to say ...

"Mason-It is true that the old Confederacies were ruined by gt. overgrown power and the ambition of some of their Members-but their circumstances differed from ours-We have agreed that the natl. Govt. shall have a negative on the acts of the State Legislatures.-the danger now is that the national Legislature will swallow up the Legislatures of the States. The Protection from this Occurrence will be the securing to the State Legislatures, the choice of the Senators of the U. S. So adopted unanimously." - Notes by Rufus King From Constitutional Convention 1787, June 4

"Wison: In the establishmt of society, every man yields to it a power over his Life, his Liberty, his Character & his Property. There is no such reservation, that the individuals shall be subjected to one, and exempt from another, Law. We have seen the Legislatures in our own Country deprive the Citizen of Life, of Liberty & of Property. We have seen Laws of Attainder, Punishment and Confiscation. It we mean to found a national Govt., States must submit like individuals-the Govt. must be supreme-either the national, or State Govt. must be so. We should remember the language with which we began the Revolution-We then united in saying Virginia is no more, Massachusetts is no more, we are one in name, let us be one in truth and fact. Unless this Power is vested in the general Govt., the States will be employed by foreign Powers, against the Union. New States will soon be formed, the Inhabitants may be foreigners, and possess foreign affections-and unless the Genl. Govt. can check the State Laws, the nation may be involved in tumult and confusion." - Notes by Rufus King From Constitutional Convention 1787, June 8

More from the convention ...

"The Laws & treaties of U. S. to be paramount over State Laws in case of opposition to treaties or general Laws, the Executive to call out the militia to cause the treaties and Laws to be observed." - Notes by Rufus King From Constitutional Convention 1787, June 9

Here’s a very important one ...Georgia without authority and against the articles of the Confederation, declared & prosecuted war agt. the Indians, and afterwards treated for Peace with them. New Jersey expressly refused to comply with a constitutional Requisition-Virginia and Maryland formed a Compact respecting the River Potomac. Pennsylvania & N. York made an agreement about their boundary Line. Massachusetts has raised an army and is now about to augment their military Establishment.

Do not these violations of the Confederation prove that a federal Govt. will not answer. the Amphictions had power to decide controversies between the members of the League, to fine offenders, to send ambassadors, to choose the Commander in Chief, to command the general forces and to employ them agt. the States who did not obey the General Regulations. The Athenean League was similar to that of the Amphictions-this League failed by the overgrown power of some of the members. Helvetic Confederation, loose & weak, and the situation of the Swiss differs from our own. The German Confederacy, unequal among themselves-the strength of some members being greater than that of the Confederacy-The Netherland Union, subject to great Defects-could act only by unanimity which is not attainable in difficult cases, and may be defeated by for. influence in the most important.

Our System must be such as to escape these Defects." Notes by Rufus King From Constitutional Convention 1787, June 18 or June 19

The last quote from the notes starting with "Georgia without authority" and ending with "escape these Defects." are attributed by King to Madison.

More ...

"Madison-The Gentlemen opposed to a Representation founded upon the number of Citizens of the respective States, are somewhat inaccurate in their observations-They speak of Tyranny and of the small States being swallowed up by the large ones-They apprehend combinations between Mass. Penn. & Virginia against the other States. But there is nothing in Religion, manners, modes of thinking or Habits of any sort, manufactures or course of Business, commerce or natural Productions which would create a common interest or Prejudice between these States exclusive of all others. There is no fact in the history of men or nations that authorizes such a Jealousy. England and France might have combined to divide America. The great States of Greece, Athens & Sparta, which were members of the Amphictionic League never combined to oppress their co- estates-instead thereof, they were Rivals and fought each other. The greater Cantons of the Helvetic Union, did not combine against the small Cantons; no such combination has existed in the Union of the Netherlands. Instead of Combination, the great States of Germany have often been at war with each other-These are not only Historical Facts, but they proceed from a Law of Nature that governs men and Nations, which are but aggregates of men. When men or Nations are strong and equal they become Rivals and Jealousy prevents their Union." - Notes by Rufus King From Constitutional Convention 1787, June 28

Some more ... (Don’t mean to overuse Madison, but he IS the Father of the Constitution!)

"Madison. We are vague in our language. We speak of the Sovereignty of the States. The States are not sovereign in the full extent of the term. There is a gradation from a simple corporation for limited and specified objects, such as an incorporation of a number of Mechanicks up to a full sovereignty as possessed by independent Nations, whose Powers are not limited. The last only are truly sovereign. The States, who have not such full power, but are deprived of such as by the Confedn. compose the natl. powers are in the true meaning of the word Sovereigns. They are political associations or corporations, possessing certain powers-by these they may make some, but not all, Laws." - Notes by Rufus King From Constitutional Convention 1787, June 29

Read over the entire quote I posted here. Read it very, very carefully. This is truly what the Constitution is about. Sure, Madison was debating this in the convention and nothing was ratified, but this the fabric of our government.

Moreover, if you read the Constitution, it is extremely clear who is supreme. The states are subserviant to the federal, period, end of sentence.

I could continue, but I won’t ... for now. For some reason I feel that even this evidence won’t convince those that believe in the southern myth foisted upon us by the likes of Jefferson Davis.

I think all of this argument over the right or non-right to secession misses the major point: a people have a right to revolution. I believe hose who deny the right of secession imply the denial of the right of revolution.

Can you seriously tell me that if Southerns had not claimed the right of "secession", but merely gathered together and declared an open revolution, Licoln or anyone else would have said "oh wait...this is okay."

I admire the South not for secession or slavery or anything of the sort. Rather, I admire the Confederacy for believing in the inherent right of revolution.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Oh, you can most certaintly revolt, but it is done via our Constitutional mechanism.

Even some of our most vocal Founders like Jefferson admitted to as much even though he like to raise the rhetorical bar a notch or two, see Alien and Sedition Acts as an example.

However, the Democrats, the slave-owners, the southerners rebelled and formed another country due to slavery, tariffs that were deemed unfair, and other laws which appeared to favor the industrial north.

All of this could have been worked out via our Constitution and was currently being done. The problem lies in the fact that the abolition movement was gaining steam and that the slavery faction’s political power in Washington D.C. was on the wane. That was the true impetus for the Civil War.

You can call it noble all you want, but it wasn’t.

Mr. Dude, citing Madison, who himself eventually faced a secessionist movement, hardly "constitutes" an appeal to law.

Fact: New England was so upset about the War of 1812 and various Federal economic measures that they called the Hartford Convention to discuss secession and other regional interests. While they ultimately rejected secession, this proves beyond doubt that even the Yankees recognized the right of secession.

Fact: Madison is just one of our Founders, and someone who was much more pro-government (and anti-religion) than others. Jefferson, for instance, understood that the States had a right to secede (for example). Appeals to authority figures is inherently dangerous, Dude. It’s a double-edged sword.

Fact: Three States, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, made their ratification of the Constitution conditional on the right of secession. Lee was certainly no hypocrite...he thought his State had the written guarantee to secede.

Fact: "Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right--a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit. Abraham Lincoln, 1847

Fact: 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Stick a fork in’re done.

Fact: Madison wrote the Constitution. Jefferson did not even sign it.

Commentary: It seems obvious which of these two men should be considered an authoritative source on the so-called right to secede.

Probable Fact: That Dain does not see this stems from a place of deep desperation to defend the indefensible.

I’m done? Stick a fork in me?

That was 1848 in response to our war with Mexico and the admission of Texas to the Union.

At the time he was NOT President trying to save the Union.

Big difference in my opinion.

I suggest you look at what Lincoln stated in his speech to a special session of Congress in 1861.

He states that there is no right to leave the Union and that those states that have left use sophism to justify their actions.

Any more "facts," FactMaster? How pathetic...even Abe Lincoln understood the right of secession, he simply chose to ignore it. And there was nothing indefensible about a people wanting a government that more genuinely represented their interests. That an American could talk so...pathetic.

"And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question, whether a constitutional republic, or democracy--a government of the people, by the same people--can, or cannot, maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question, whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration, according to organic law, in any case, can always, upon the pretences made in this case, or on any other pretences, or arbitrarily, without any pretence, break up their government, and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask: "Is there, in all republics, this inherent and fatal weakness?" "Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?

So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the war power of the government; and so to resist force, employed for its destruction, by force, for its preservation." - Lincoln, speach to special session of Congress, July 4, 1861

Let’s be clear. In 1848, Lincoln was talking about the natural right enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

In 1861, he still states the same thing.

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." - Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, 1861

However, in the same speach he goes on to state that this is in opposition to the duties of the President and that is to keep the Union together. Other Presidents expressed the same duty so it is no surprise that Lincoln, upon being a President, evoked the very same thing.

Also, our Founders picked our form of government specifically to reduce the effects of violent revolution. To say otherwise is to rewrite history and is a slap in the face to our foundation.

We had the framework for things to be worked out, however, the slave states refused to use that framework because they knew that their power was on the decline.

I would only add a point that Lincoln made in his first inaugural--that revolution would be justified if southerners were being denied fundamental rights under the Constitution. This was not the case; the South seceded because southerners didn’t like the result of the election of 1860. He noted, correctly, that if secession were allowed to stand, it would set a precedent that could only lead to anarchy.

My point was that Lincoln talked out of both sides of his mouth. And his opinion about what could or could not be allowed has nothing to do with the law. The only question is this: Did the South have the legal right to leave the Union? What kind of contract assumes perpetuity? Multitudes of very intelligent people, North and South, held to the idea that secession was a fundamental right (whether or not their "grievance" was acceptable in the eyes of the agressors). Lincoln’s recipe for "acceptable secession" is ridiculous, and has no basis in the law. Basically, he (and you) argue that ends justify means...if anything, an idea that’s even more dangerous than anarchy. And the whole logic that once a people are in a country they cannot leave (ANARCHY!) is simply stupid and deeply unAmerican. Abe Lincoln ca. 1847 wouldn’t have agreed, nor do I.

It most certaintly has to with the law and the Constitution.

Leaving the Union had NO basis in the law and still doesn’t. There is no mechanism for it. The right left to the states in no way was meant was the right to destroy the Union.

That belief is truly the thing that is ridiculous.

Also, Lincoln as President still held to the right to revolt, just not in the notion that the Union should nothing to stop it.

The southern states had no real justification to leave. Every grievance could have been handled via the framework our Constitution gave and should have been.

If what you say about secession is true, then today the states still have the right to leave the Union even though the Union won. That is, just because the Union won the Civil War does not abrogate your supposed right of secession. Thusly, any stated still retains such right.

Do honestly believe in such a thing? Why or why not?

What you proposed as the truth is anarchy, not the other way around.

Also, it isn’t just me or Lincoln who argues this, it is Madison and many other Founders!

Even Jefferson, who was very vocal about nullification and possibly leaving the Union, realized the folly of such a thing. That is why he toned down his remarks on the subject.

Yeah, here’s one of your facts:

"Fact: Three States, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, made their ratification of the Constitution conditional on the right of secession."

Doesn’t this mean that the other 10 states believed that the Constitution contained no such right? This doesn’t strengthen your position.

Fact: Being angry doesn’t change the wrongness of your position.

Fact: Lincoln was great.

Fact: You are not.

I’d like to see the Lincoln quote Dain uses in its complete context. I’m not a Lincoln scholar, so I Googled it, and came up with a bunch of neoConfederate (and worse--like the site "Warriors of the White World") sites that pull it seemingly out of thin air.

In any case, TexasDude is absolutely right--the view of revolution put forward in the first inaugural isn’t just Lincoln’s but was shared by the Founders. Indeed, John Locke was the first to invoke the right of revolution, but only after "a long train of abuses."

it is Madison and many other Founders! PLEASE PROVE THAT...What did George Washington and John Adams think of secession?

Mr. FactMaster -- you’re a nitwit, and your "facts" are simply opinions.

John, you’ll find Lincoln’s word in the Annals of Congress. Instead of accusing me of lying, perhaps a visit to the nearest Federal depository would be in order?

As for secession having no basis in the law, what do you call the 10th Amendment, which was clearly added so that fools couldn’t invent constraints that didn’t exist?

Actually, John, here’s a "reputable" magazine that quotes the same passage. I guess I won’t wait for you to apologize for smearing me as a skinhead or folks there at Ashland pretend to be conservatives, but your tactics...something I would expect from the DU.

I didn’t accuse you of lying. I never questioned that he said it, I only said that I wanted to see the quote in context. Why is it that all of these sites use the same quote, without including what came before and after?

Geez, Professor, as my mother used to say, get off the freakin’ cross--someone might need the wood.

Context of the quote ...

Representative Lincoln reviews the justification that President Polk used in going to war with Mexico and demanded that President Polk explain his reasons. In the speach one of the items he comtemplates was the boundaries between Mexico and Texas, which would effectively mean the boundary between Mexico and the United States. He states that Mexico says the boundary is one river and that Texas says it is another river and that the contested land in between the rivers is where the boundary may lie. He further states that within this land our territory is bounded not by treaty but by revolution. The then go onto the quote used by Dain.

After the quoted passage, Lincoln states the Mexico revolted against Spain and Texas revolted against Mexico. He then asks if the Texas revolution carried the land where the President stated that Mexico started the war by killing Americans on American soil and demands the president’s answer.

Professor? You think I would be a professor...excuse me for a moment.

That speech was in 1848 that Dain quotes was in Jan of 1848.

A little over a decade earlier, in 1837, Lincoln gave a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Illinois in which he talks about mob rule, revolution, those who may seek it, and what we, as a country, should do about it. His main point, though is about the perpetuation of our political institutions .

He also predicts that the danger we face as a nation is not from abroad, but from within.

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide." - (Lincoln, Abraham; Nicolay, John G., ed.; Hay, John, ed. [1837], ’Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois’ in ’The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, v. 1’ (New York: Francis D. Tandy Company, 1894) Permission: Northern Illinois University [Nh:Lyceum])


Now, what should we do about such dangers?

"Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor--let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling-books, and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay of all sexes and tongues and colors and condition, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars."

- (Lincoln, Abraham; Nicolay, John G., ed.; Hay, John, ed. [1837], ’Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois’ in ’The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, v. 1’ (New York: Francis D. Tandy Company, 1894) Permission: Northern Illinois University [Nh:Lyceum])

So, all you’ve proven is that Lincoln had a lot to say...and not always consistently. You need to brush up on your cognitive skills...if you can.

And none of this addresses the fact that secession was accepted as a right by millions of citizens North and South, and that the Constitution does not disallow secession (thereby making it legal, given the 10th Amendment). You seem to be avoiding the issue and hiding behind the opinions of authority figures.

Finally, I also note you have not even established Washington’s or Adams’ views of secession. Hell, you can’t even prove Lincoln’s view was a sincere one (as opposed to an expedient one). Put up or shut up.

The Constitution does not forbid murder either, so is that legal?

Give me a break.

Now in regards to the Lincoln’s speech at the Lyceum ...

Lincoln also talks about revolution and what should be done about that and it is the same as with mob rule.

Dain, you haven’t proved that there IS a right to secession.

Oh, I was mistaken on one thing.

The Articles of Confederation began and ended with the statement that the UNION IS PERPETUAL and its basis for governing was the Declaration of Independence.

The problem with the Confederation was that the central government was too weak to enforce much of anything, thusly states could make treaties with other states or nations, make war/peace, etc.

George Washington stated in a letter sent to Congress with the new Constitution that "[i]n all our deliberations…we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, perhaps our national existence."

The new Constitution was intended to rectify the defects of the Articles of Confederation and to create a more perfect Union.

Logically, a more perfect Union, a more consolidated Union means more perfect, more consolidated than what was stated in the Articles of Confederation, thusly not only did the Union live on in perpetuity, but the defects of the Articles was correct or mostly corrected in the Constitution.

Whether you care to believe it or not, Lincoln, Washington, Madison, et al, believed in revolution as being a natural right, but rejected secession outright.

Moreover, the secession movement’s leader, Calhoun, rejected the natural rights notion of revolution and of man in general and promoted the inequality of man and, thusly, of state.

Secession is a rejection of our republican government.

Our Founders in no way wanted us to destroy what they worked hard to gain.

You sir are a promoter of the utmost vile propaganda that is designed to make the putred seem beautiful.

I have history on my side. I have the Founders on my side.

All you have sir is cheap rhetoric and that is all.


By the way, Dain, the Supremecy Clause in the Constitution dictates that it is the national/federal government that is controlling the show, not the states.

Put or shup up, please.

I show you evidence, you respond with crap!

I am not surprised.

Thomas Jefferson stated at one time that a little rebellion is a good thing and expressed other such sentiments.

He also stated this ...

"It is my principle that the will of the majority should always prevail. If they approve the proposed convention in all its parts, I shall concur in it cheerfully, in hopes that they will amend it whenever they shall find it works wrong." --Thomas
Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.

He also stated this ...

"Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them." -- Thomas Jefferson to Annapolis Citizens, 1809.

And he also stated this ...

"My most earnest wish is to see the republican element of popular control pushed to the maximum of its practicable exercise. I shall then believe that our Government may be pure and perpetual." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1816.

So, Jeffeson believed in majority rule and when majority rule is in full control the government is to be considered perpetual, otherwise rebellion is in order.

Now, let’s apply such logic to the Civil War...

The slave faction left the Union because of lack of a majority in the government to do as they would like. They would not submit to majority rule as Jefferson advised.

So, is Jefferson truly a good person to use as one who would support the CSA?

Nope, not by a long shot.

Not by a long shot when you consider these quotes ...

"Every society has a right to fix the fundamental principles of its association, and to say to all individuals, that if they contemplate pursuits beyond the limits of these principles and involving dangers which the society chooses to avoid, they must go somewhere else for their exercise; that we want no citizens, and still less ephemeral and pseudo-citizens, on such terms. We may exclude them from our territory, as we do persons infected with disease." --Thomas Jefferson to William H. Crawford, 1816.

"I willingly acquiesce in the institutions of my country, perfect or imperfect; and think it a duty to leave their modifications to those who are to live under them, and are to participate of the good or evil they may produce. The present generation has the same right of self-government which the past one has exercised for itself." --Thomas Jefferson to John Hampden Pleasants, 1824.

Which John Adams are you talking about?

The one who passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, John Adams, or the one who opposed slavery, John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams?

And ... what about Washington?

Are you trying to intimate that George Washington would be for what the south did?

Do you really want to go there?

"[I]t is indispensable to the happiness of the individual states, that there should be lodged somewhere, a supreme power to regulate and govern the general concerns of the...republic, without which the Union cannot be of long duration. That there must be a faithful and pointed compliance on the part of every state, with the...proposals and demands of Congress, or the most fatal consequences will ensue; that whatever measures have a tendency to dissolve the Union, or contribute to violate or lessen the sovereign authority, ought to be considered as hostile to the liberty and independency of America, and the authors of them treated accordingly....[W]ithout an entire conformity to the spirit of the Union, we cannot exist as an independent power." - George Washington in a letter sent to all state governors, 1783

"I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power, which will pervade the whole Union in as energetic a manner, as the authority of the state governments extends over the several states." - George Washington in a letter to John Jay, 1786

Moreover, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention and was seen as the ’calm hand’ that guided the others through the rough days. Remember, the Constitutiional Convention was about rectifying the defects inherent in the Articles of Confederation.

Of course, we can’t forget that he put down the Whiskey Rebellion.

In many correspondances, he made it clear that he believed that an indisolvable Union was the best things for the country. Moreover, he thought that the states should be bound to the Union as if by a chain.

To say that George Washington would have support the cause demonstrates the degree that the southern propaganda has deluded you.

Go read his farewell address and tell me again that he would have supported secession.

George Washington is explicit in his support of the union and of the Constitution. Also, he is explicit on how to fix and problems found with the Constitution and that is via the framework set up in the amendment process.

No, George Washington would have spat at the southern confederates. He would have done as Lincoln did or probably moreso!

Here’s the link to his Farewell address ... Farewell Address

Now, who is done and has a fork stuck in him, hmmmm?

"Article XIII. Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State." - Articles of Confederation

Yep, the Articles of Confederation was explicit about the perpetuity of the Union.

Then again, the notion of Union perpetuity was just a Lincoln thing he drew out of his arse ... yeah ... right.

Yep, you are the one that is done!

I notice that all that talk about "perpetual" didn’t make it into the Constitution of the United States. I wonder why? You’re blowing smoke, Mister.

All your blithering about Washington amounts to won’t find anything that quotes him being against secession...because he wasn’t. The Founders (with the exception of Madison and a few other crazies) understood that the United States was an would never have occurred to them to shackle a free people in perpetuity. That was, after all, what they had just fought a war to end. What a nitwit you are.

As suspected, you have nothing to back up your assertions, not even logic.

U.S. Constitution

Section 10. Powers prohibited of States

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

So, if the states could leave the Union, why then are they prohibited to join a confederation?

Like I stated before, you have nothing to back up your assertions.

That part of the Constitution refers to States in the Union. The Southern states had already left...the purpose of that passage (if you’d actually study the background of the Constitition) was to prevent States IN THE UNION from negotiating their own political alliances and trade treaties. It most particularly does NOT disallow secession altogether -- if it did, why didn’t it just say that? Huh? Again, you don’t know what you are talking about.

But that does not prove anything that you assert.

I realize that it talks about states in the Union, but, seriously, do you think they would have put that in there if they truly wanted the states to be able to leave the Union in the first place?

Come on.

Look, very few of the States would have ratified the Constitution had it contained language about "perpetual" Union. The interpretation I gave you was a common one in the 19th Century...I didn’t make it up. And, if you study the pattern of secession, each State was careful to do it one at a time and only THEN join the Confederacy. This was on purpose...there had actually been a popular book on how to secede legally, and the South followed it to the letter.

I am not saying that I wish the South had was better for history that they failed. But they did have the right to secede, and the North was the agressor.

How to secede legally?

Remember, a more perfect Union, a Union that George Washington would have fought to preserve just as Lincoln did.

There was nothing legal about secession.

Prove it.

I know you didn’t think up this legal secession yourself, but you haven’t proved that it was legal at all except to say that it was.

"The Founders (with the exception of Madison and a few other crazies)"

Fact: Madison wrote the Constitution.

Fact: Dain did not.

I will leave it up to the readers to determine for themselves which one is actually crazy and which one is just too bitter to think straight. I think all but one of us knows the correct answer.

Fact: FactMaster is an idiot who repeats the same meaningless garbage over and over.

Fact: The purpose of the 10th Amendment was to prevent nitwits from saying was Texasdude just said -- PROVE you have a right. That is not my burden of proof. In this country, at least, we have a right unless the Constitution SPECIFICALLY forbids it. Try to read the Constitution before you stick your foot in your mouth.

Fact: The Constitution contains no right to secession.

Fact: The actual author of the Constitution said so.

Fact: For this, Confederate Dain calls him a "crazy."

The facts speak for themselves.

Dain, do you realize that is not how the states right amendment works?

It is not a carte blanche amendment.

If it was then the South would not have had to go through the sophism that it went through to justify its position.

Look at this idiot, who says that the Constitution disallows the right of secession by not including it in the document. Re-read the 10th Amendment, idiot.

And I understand how the amendment works just fine (although it is not a "states rights" amendment, for it grants the same exemptions to "the people). New York, Virginia, and Rhode Island insisted on the right of secession, and their ratification was accepted because the right was assumed. You boys have nothing to fight back with...why don’t you give it up?

If the Constitution contained the "right" to secession, why did your three favorite states feel the need to "insist" on it? Wasn’t it already there? And why should we even care what (according to you) New York thought, as opposed to what the text of the Constitution actually says?

This is getting pretty tedious, but here it goes again:

Fact: Madison, who wrote the Constitution, said there was no right to secession.

Fact: Dain, who writes only anonymous comments on a webpage, disagrees.

Sorry, buddy, but your 200 year late, ex post interpretation just doesn’t mean that much.

Fact 1: Madison did not write the Constitution alone.

Fact 2: Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island had the good sense to know that nitwits are born every day, and some think they understand the Constitution.

Fact 3: The fact that we are STILL arguing about secession suggests that a serious violation of States’ rights occurred in the past. The victors get to (re)write the history, but people who understand the political and social background of the Constitution and the founding of this country know the truth.

Fact 4: Madison wasn’t a very popular President, and if he hadn’t lost the White House he’d be down there with Millard Fillmore

Fact 5: Madison lost most of his battles at the Constitutional Convention. His most grievous lose was that body’s refusal to endorse a Federal "veto" power over State authority. Sound familiar? READ SOME HISTORY BEFORE YOU SPOUT OFF, MORON.

The name calling needs to stop. Disagreements can occur without insults.

Ben Kunkel

Ashbrook Center

Ben Kunkel,
You chastise Dain for calling someone a "moron" and the use of language such as "idiot", but you allow this same behavior to be exhibited by Peter Schramm and others on a day to day basis. Your double-standard is appalling. While I understand that the Ashbrook Center has the right to pick and choose (since they do own the blog), maybe you could apply rules uniformly.

With all due respect, I don’t see this kind of behavior from anyone else on this board. For the most part, the posters and commenters (even the trolls) are able to discuss ideas without devolving into this level of shouting and name calling. If you disagree, please show me the daily examples where anyone else has responded to an argument with "spineless little radical lowlife" or "what a nitwit you are" or "read some history, moron." It’s not like Ben didn’t cut a lot of slack before saying something.

Again, I didn’t start the name-calling. If you look at posts 44 and 66 you’ll clearly see that the descent into name-calling started with snipers, not me. Moreover, I’ve always given factual information and made rational arguments, which is not always true for my opponents.

In short, lay off...or begin to chide people a helluva lot earlier in threads. I often get the blame for these ’incidents’ because I’m 1) a good name-caller, and 2) I can make it stick. I’m sorry if this offends others, but I do as the Romans do when in Rome.


I didn’t single you out. I didn’t use any names at all. I simply asked for the name-calling to stop. It doesn’t matter who started it. Two very small insults does not give you carte blanche to insult everyone on a thread who expresses disagreement with you. For the most part, this has been an interesting thread, but let’s keep the comments polite and calm.

Dain, why do you insist on saying I or my position has nothing to fight back with.

I have gone to great lengths to demonstrate, with documented evidence, my position.

You, on the other hand, have offered little evidence to justify your position.

Again, the 10th Amendment is not justification that a state can leave the Union.

What a strange question to ask. What evidence have you PRESENTED? You said the Founders thought secession wasn’t allowed, but that’s nonsense (as evidenced by Madison’s unsuccessful bid to introduce that kind of language at the CC). You cite a part of the Constitution that applies ONLY to State of the UNION -- Southerners had read that, of course, and understood that it was a small impediment that required them to secede BEFORE entering into treaties and confederacies, which they did. It was a perfectly legal act.

Anything else? If not, then the facts that 1) the Constitution does not explicitly (or implicitly, for that matter) disallow secession, and 2) the 10th Amendment GUARANTEES that all rights NOT enumerated are the province of the States or the people, seal the case. Secession is allowed by the Federal Constitution, and was explicitly insisted upon by three of the original ratifiers of that Constitution. Have you ever denied these facts? No. Unless you can, you’d best remain silent and let this thread fade into the sunset.

Dain, first you said to stick a fork in me because I was done.

Of course, I demonstrated that was prematrure.

Now, you say I should, in essence, shut up, declaring yourself a winner in a debate in which you have not shown any evidence or, for the matter, any clear logic, that secession is/was permitted.

Aside that example of poor debating tactics and poor form, I will, again, demonstrate that you were premature.

There were three governing theories in how the Union should be formed after it was decided that the Articles of Confederation should tossed out (Weak Compact, National, Strong Compact)

The Weak Compact theory, supported by the likes of John C. Calhoun states that each state is soveriegn and are on equal footing with the national government. It should be noted that this theory also rejects the equality notion set forth in the Declaration of Independece, a document that the Confederate States were saying was more in the spirit of their secession. It also holds that each state may leave it it follows, in general reverse order, the ratification process. Ironically, the Constitution specifically states how it itself can be ratified by the states, it does not state anywhere how a stated can deratifiy itself or even makes reference to such a thing.

To Calhoun, and Dain, this is of no consequence. To them the state should have this right. It was first expressed in the Nullifcation Crisis in a which South Carloina tried to nullify a federal law, which prompted the President, Jackson, whom Calhoun believed would support his extreme states’ rights position to proclaim that "[t]he laws of the United States must be executed" and asked Congress for the right to use military force if needed to enforce federal laws. He also stated that "[i]f one drop of blood be shed their in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find." This crisis lead to Calhoun, the V.P. at the time, to resign.

This theory, Weak Compact, is the theory behind the southern states leaving the Union. However, what is conveniently forgotten is the fact that in the Constitution the national/general government is explicity given a position higher than the states in the Supremacy Clause. Also, it is explicitly stated that the national/general government can affect these laws throughout all of the states and by force if need be. Moreover, the ability to create and enforce tarifs is also explicity stated in the Consitution to be done by the national/general government alone. The states would have no say in this but only in lobbying to have one repealed or enacted. However, Calhoun/South Carolina and, eventually, the entire south rejected the explicit wording of the Constitution and instead accepted an interpretation that lent itself to vagueness and, in the end, was nothing but pure b.s.

So, like the Democrats of today, those support the Weak Compact theory would rather not read the explicit wording of the Constitution, but to devine some new right from the eminations and penumbras of the Constition.

Also, I forgot one thing, the Weak Compact theory also states that man has no Creator given rights. The rights that man has is given to him by the state, which itself has inherent rights that no one, not even a more supreme general government can take away.

The National theory holds that origin of the nation is within the Consitution itself and that it was the people who ultimately ratified the Constitution, albeit it was done through a 3rd party, the states. Andrew Jackson, while supportin, in general, state’s rights, can be associated with this theory.

Andrew Jackson told South Carolina that the Constitution "operates directly on the people individually, not upon the States; they retained all the power they did not grant. But each State, having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute, jointly with the other States, a single nation, can not, from that period, possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation; and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union.... Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error or to deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution or incur the penalties consequent on a failure.... Disunion by armed force is treason." - Andrew Jackson, "Proclamation to the People of South Carolina"

Daniel Webster explains this theory in more detal ...

" ... it is constitutional to interrupt the administration of the Constitution itself, in the hands of those who are chosen and sworn to administer it, by the direct interference, in form of law, of the States, in virtue of their sovereign capacity. The inherent right in the people to reform their government I do not deny; and they have another right, and that is, to resist unconstitutional laws, without overturning the government. It is no doctrine of mine that unconstitutional laws bind the people. The great question is, Whose prerogative is it to decide on the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the laws? On that the debate hinges. The proposition that, in case of a supposed violation of the Constitution by Congress, the States have a constitutional right to interfere, and annul the law of Congress, is the proposition of the gentleman. I do not admit it. If the gentleman had intended no more than to assert the right of revolution for justifiable cause, he would have said only what all agree to. But I cannot conceive that there can be a middle course, between submission to the laws, when pronounced constitutional, on the one hand, and open resistance, which is revolution or rebellion, on the other. I say, the right of a State to annul a law of Congress, cannot be maintained but on the ground of the unalienable right of man to resist oppression; that is to say, upon the ground of revolution. I admit that there is an ultimate violent remedy, above the Constitution and in defiance of the Constitution, which may be resorted to when a revolution is to be justified. But I do not admit, that, under the Constitution and in conformity with it, there is any mode in which a State government, as a member of the Union, can interfere and stop the progress of the general government, by force of her own laws, under any circumstances whatever.... It is, Sir, the people’s Constitution, the people’s government, made for the people, made by the people and answerable to the people. The people of the United States have declared that this Constitution shall be the supreme law. But the State legislatures, as political bodies, however sovereign, are not yet sovereign over the people. So far as the people have given power to the general government, so far as the grant is unquestionably good, and the government held of the people, and not of the State governments. We are all agents of the same supreme power, the people. The general government and the State governments derive their authority from the same source.... If there be no power to settle such questions [constitutionality of a federal tariff], independent of either of the States, is not the whole Union a rope of sand? Are we not thrown back again, precisely, upon the old Confederation? It is too plain to be argued. Four-and Twenty interpreters of constitutional law, each with a power to decide for itself, and none with authority to bind any body else, and this constitutional law the only bond of their union!... Some authority must, therefore, necessarily exist, having the ultimate jurisdiction to fix and ascertain the interpretation of these grant, restrictions and prohibitions [with respect to the enumerated powers]. The Constitution has itself pointed out, ordained, and established that authority. How has it accomplished this great and essential end? By declaring, Sir, that "the Constitution, and the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."

- Daniel Webster, "Reply to Hayne

Webster continues ...

"This, Sir, was the first great step. By this the supremacy of the Constitution and laws of the United States is declared. The people so will it....But who shall decide this question of interference? To whom lies the last appeal? This, Sir, the Constitution itself decides also, by declaring "that the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under the constitution and laws of the United States." These two provisions, Sir, cover the whole ground. They are, in truth, the key-stone of the arch! With these, it is a Constitution; without them, it is a confederation"

- Daniel Webster, "Reply to Hayne"

Do I really need to continue?

I mean seriously, Dain, do I truly need to continue?

I could go on to the 3rd theory, the Strong Compact theory.

I could quote Supreme Court Justices other Founders, other leaders of our country, but to what end?

Truly, while I haven’t been complete, I have put forth a good faith effort in demonstrating, with documented evidence, that the Southern Confederacy’s reasons for leaving were totally bogus and that there is no inherent right in to secede. There is an inherent right to revolt, but that would have to have something egregious behind the act.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing that the southern states declares as its reasons for leaving the Union rises to the level to cause a revolt. The complaints could have been handled via the current Constitutional framework, however, the southern slave-holding states rejected the Constition.

The south tried to shred the Constitution and for that I reject what they did and reject the Southern Confederation as an abomination which should be left in the dustbin of history.

Again, I will not shut up, I will not stand by and let our Country, our Constitution, our way of life be spat upon and be torn down.

You know, it’s been my experience in many years of blogging that very long-winded responses almost always consist of BS. Yours is no different.

Again (and this time please listen), the Supremacy Clause pertains ONLY TO STATES IN THE UNION. The only way the Supremacy Clause would disallow secession would be if the the Constitution itself EXPLICITLY FORBADE SECESSION --WHICH IT DOES NOT. I’m sorry, I know you (and Abe Lincoln) would like to cherry-pick the 10th Amendment, but that is impossible (at least, in legal terms). If you would be reasonable for just a few moments you’d realize two things. First, secession was on everyone’s mind at the Constitutional Convention. Second, there is a REASON it is not explicitly addressed by the Constitution. The reason the Constitution is silent on this issue is because 1) an anti-secession clause would never have been ratified, and 2) including instructions on leaving the Union would shake the confidence in the document. Hence, it was left out (and therefore legally permissible).

Also, I don’t know what "expert" you are citing with this Compact theory, but those categories were not salient at the Constitutional Convention. You should be talking about the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan, and Hamilton’s Plan. Again, you need some history lessons.

TexasDude, Think about the ridiculous leaps we had to make to even get to this point. The Civil War was "not" about slavery. The actual author of the Constitution is "not" an authoritative source as to its meaning ... but Dain is. A document that nowhere mentions secession in fact secretly grants the "right" to secede by failing to prohibit it ... if we ignore the clause that makes federal law supreme. The most instrumental founders (Madison and Hamilton) are "crazies."

This is all nonsense.

Nonsense? Au contraire, monsieur. You are the one spouting nonsense. Let’s summarize your argument: The Constitute forbids something it does not mention, and this in a document that states CLEARLY that anything it does not mention is allowed. Got that? I wonder what else the Constitution forbids by not mentioning it?

As for the "Supremacy Clause," do you know nothing of the law, sir? That is procedural law, not substantive law. Procedural law refers only to States in the obviously doesn’t dictate procedures for foreign countries (which the South became...legally). You need to look up this distinction and then...with any’ll fade away in embarrassment.

No, Dain, it is you who needs to study history and is truly you who spews B.S.

By the way, substantive law gave us ... ROE V. WADE!

Substantive law allows one to devine rights that aren’t there.

Which is very appropriate since secession is a right which is NOT there!

I am not surprised you would prefer substantive law, it is the bread and butter of those law proclaim the Constitution is a living document.

To paraphrase Hillary Clinton, those like Dain do not want America as she is, but as they want her to be!

Yep, according to Dain, folks like Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Webster, and Jackson are crazies who should be ignored.

You really should quit if this is all you have left. The right of secession would of course be a substantive law, and since the "Supremacy Clause" isn’t substantive, it of course cannot forbid secession. You haven’t contradicted this because you can’t.

Neither Jefferson nor Washington thought secession was illegal...if you think they did, please prove it. These other people were just giving their opinions, opinions colored by their ardent wish to preserve the Union. Nonetheless, the clear meaning of the Constitution is there for all to read, and (as I established before), millions of people both North and South took the right for granted.

And, before you smear me with Hillary-labels, I’d like to point out that YOU are the one who says people don’t have the right to determine their own government. The South wanted to create a government that reflected their values and priorities, but it was people like you who prevented them at the point of a bayonet. The only liberal statist here is you.

TexasDude, see comment 112.

Correctomundo Factmeister ...

Dain, what more is to say?

In all seriousness, Dain, nothing I will state here means anything to you.

Moreover, nothing the Founders and others that I have used for documented evidence will convince you because you not just reject what I assert, but reject what they have stated.

Seriously, Dain, it is not me who needs to prove anything more.

Again, I state this one more time ...

No one has denied the right to revolution. Moreover, revolution is our right.

However, secession is rejected as something noble and good. Madison had it correct in Federalist #58 when he stated that secession was a "baneful practice ... a practice subversive of all the principles of order and regular government; a practice which leads more directly to public convulsions, and the ruin of popular governments, than any other which has yet been displayed among us."

You can not prove that any of the grievances that the slave states had rose to the level of revolt. You haven’t on this thread, that’s for sure.

Again, Dain, it is not I who needs to prove anthing more.

Oh, by the way, Dain, I have a lot more to use from Supreme Court judges to other leaders to other Founders.

But why bother?

You will just say it is their opinions, so why bother?

Also, this is a rather moot topic for secession was truly settled by the North keeping the Union intact.

We can go round and round on this, but no one in their right mind would ever attempt it again.

The south has risen again, but it has been within the confines of the Constitution and without slavery and its horrible vestiges.

One more thing, Dain ...

I didn’t comment on your Hartford Convention reference in rebuttling my assertion.

I mean, I truly didn’t see the need since the folks in that convention REJECTED SECESSION and actually proposed some Constitutional amendments.

And, it should be noted that this Convention, with all the talk of secession and the like and the fact that the ending of the War of 1812 made the Convention irrelevant, could be considered the final nail in the coffin for the Federalist party.

Sorry, have to post one more thing ...

The weak/strong/national compact was very well debated in the Constitutional Convetion.

You are just disagreeing on the labeling. If you read on what the Virginia, New Jersey, Hamilton/British plans were all about, they comport reasonably to weak/strong/national compact theories.

Ok ... chuckle ... I said more than I thought I should have, but oh well.

You said more...and it still means very little. Yes, I agree, Madison thought secession SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. He didn’t get his way.

The Supreme Court has made a habit of ignoring the plain meaning of the Constitution. Case in point - Kelo. There are many, many more examples, from the last century and this one. You really don’t have a point here at all.

The fact that the Hartford Convention serious entertained secession indicates that the thought it was a legal option. It was, as everyone clearly understood.

Since you don’t have anything additional to add (just post after post of drivel), I’m signing off. Try to become a real Texan at some point, OK?

I am a real Texan. Texas proud.

You take offense to not just my views, but me, it is clear in your posts.

I reject the Southern Confederacy. I reject slavery. You say you are against slavery, yet support the Confederacy. You, in all honesty of what the Confederacy is about, can’t do such a thing. The two are one.

The ironic thing is that you reject what those that left the Union stated as their chief, main reasons for leaving. You intentionally ignore them for it goes against your rose-colored view of the Confederacy. You intentionally ignore reality and instead romanticize the Confederacy.

The fact that the Hartford Convention entertained the notion of secession in NO way means that it is a legal concept.

Use your head. Many people contemplate murder, even heads of state, yet does that make it legal?

The one truly drivels is you. You have not made much of a defense of secession. In all seriousness, your defense has been truly weak.

Moreover, your debate tactics have backfired. Instead of making me silent, which was the clear intent of the slams and the outbursts, it made me become more vocal.

Kind of like when Al Gore decided to swagger next to George W. Bush during one of the presidential debates with the intention of physically intimidating Bush. It backfired completely. So goes your style of debating.

If we were physically in a room debating, I am convinced you are the one who shouts, and talks and talks and talks without taking a breath, saying whatever you can, epithets and all, with the vain hope that such a thing will break my will to debate.

Thing is, that style is a statement on one’s lack ability to seriously defend one’s position.

I am not angry with you, just amused and somewhat mystified that to this day, with the vast amounts of evidence saying otherwise, one can still hold on to the notion that what the south did was noble and legal.

The United States cover an immense territory; long distances separate them; the population is scattered through a country still half wilderness. If the Union undertook to maintain the confederates in their duty by arms, it would be found in a position analogous to that of England During the War of Independence.

Moreover, even if a government were strong, it could only with difficulty escape the consequences of a principle when once it itself accepted this principle as the foundation of the public right that ought to rule it. The confederation was formed by the free will of the states; they did not lose their nationality in uniting and were not blended into one and the same people. If today one of these same states wanted to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be quite difficult to prove to it that it could not do so. To combat it, the federal government would have no evident support in either force or right.

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