Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Old Abe

Today is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Happy day. Here is the Fragment on the Constitution and the Union showing his understanding of the whole in a few tight sentences. Also remind yourself of the great Gettysburg Address and note the wonderful Anglo-Saxon simplicity of it. And the rhythm, don’t forget the rhythm. Then read this Fragment on Slavery, and then this

Fragment on Slavery, then Meditation on the Divine Will. And now go to the Second Inaugural. All this should be enough not only remind you of his fine mind and his great heart and his character, it should also lift your heart in gratitude that you are living in a country that bred him and one that he defined. Let the other nations have their magnanimous men and their poets and their statesmen and their warriors. I wish them all well. But we are the land of Lincoln and this is our day.

Discussions - 136 Comments

Given the work that remains for us in Iraq, perhaps we should add this concluding paragraph of Lincoln’;ds State of the Union Address (Dec. 8, 1863), delivered just a few weeks after his Gettysburg Dedicatory Remarks:

In the midst of other cares, however important, we must not lose sight of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. To that power alone can we look, yet for a time, to give confidence to the people in the contested regions, that the insurgent power will not again overrun them. Until that confidence shall be established, little can be done anywhere for what is called reconstruction. Hence our chiefest care must still be directed to the army and navy, who have thus far borne their harder part so nobly and well. And it may be esteemed fortunate that in giving the greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms, we do also honorably recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who compose them, and to whom, more than to others, the world must stand indebted for the home of freedom disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged, and perpetuated.


Don’t forget the Spot Resolutions.

A splendid use of the web: a reminder, and links to textes choisis. Thanks, Peter.

Hey, here’s an idea, Dan. Why don’t you go crawl back in your hole?

"Hey, here’s an idea, Dan. Why don’t you go crawl back in your hole?"

Wow, that was a serious contribution to the intellectual debate on this subject. Here’s an idea for you. Use history, logic, reason, political science, theology, etc. to back up your beliefs instead of calling names like some grade school bully.

For example, do you agree or disagree with this quote from the third link I provided. Why or why not?

"The Democratic and Republican parties are Lincolnian parties. Neither honestly questions the limits of federal authority to do this or that. In 1861, the central government broke free from what Jefferson called “the chains of the Constitution,” and we have, consequently, inherited a fractured historical memory. There are now two Americanisms: pre-Lincolnian and post-Lincolnian. The latter is Jacobinism by other means. Only the former can lay claim to being the primordial American conservatism."

Two words: Camp Douglas.

More balance.

The last link deserves to be reproduced here in full.

In the Associated Press article about Barak Obama announcing that he wants to become president Obama was quoted in the first paragraph as saying that he wanted to "unite" the country just as Abraham Lincoln did. This of course is part of the standard Lincoln lie -- that he was a unifier and uniter. This being Lincoln’s birthday, I thought it might be appropriate to review just how Abe went about unifying America.

1. Micromanage an army that kills all who dissent to being unified by the hundreds of thousands.
2. Burn their cities and towns to the ground and confiscate hundreds of millions of dollars of their private property to teach ’em a lesson.
3. Organize an army of slaves (draftees) and mercenaries to kill your fellow citizens if they dissent. If the slaves themselves dissent to being enslaved in your army, shoot them (as Abe did with the New York City draft riots).
4. Do everything in your power to abolish free speech. Suspend habeas corpus, shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers, imprison the editors, censor all communications, imprison thousands of political dissenters, throw them all into gulags.
5. If the Supreme Court objects to this trampling on the Constitution, issue an arrest warrant for the chief justice.
6. If members of Congress object, have them deported and then lie about it.
7. Rig national elections to guarantee you can keep on unifyin’.
8. Refuse to negotiate, as a real statesman would, so that you can continue killing your fellow citizens for as long as possible.
9. Promote generals for murdering civilians and generally behaving as terrorists while using flaky, lying rhetoric, like "with charity toward all, malice toward none."
10. Blame all of this barbaric behavor on God if the rest of the world condemns you for it.
11. Even if you are an atheist, pretend that everything you’ve done is "God’s will" by quoting the Bible before gullible, war-shocked audiences.

OK, Dan, we get it. You spray a bunch of museum-quality websites to promote your "Lost Cause" myth, neo-Confederate views. I guess you disagree with Lincoln and Jefferson about our natural rights republic. Do you agree more with VP of the CSA Alexander Stephens that the self-evident truths of equality and rights were a lie? As for me, I’ll take the Declaration of Independence as the Apple of God framed in the silver of the Constitution and a Union of 50 states.

Much more interesting than chewing over Southern grievances and the responses to them are these questions: Are we still the "land of Lincoln"? Are we the same nation that produced Lincoln, and that he defined?

"I guess you disagree with Lincoln and Jefferson about our natural rights republic."

"Natural rights" theory is historically left-wing. That is not really debatable. Some modern leftists have attacked it in their attack on classical liberalism because private property rights interfere with their ability to redistribute the wealth or whatever it is they want to do. But historically the challenge to "natural rights" has been from the right, and it is a historically left-wing idea. Do you disagree with that?

Natural Rights are an extremely problematic concept because they are unlimited and can always be used to attack traditional societies. Calhoun’s concept of legal rights is a much tidier concept.

Lincoln certainly exploited the concept although as the links point out he was no egalitarian.

Jefferson’s use of inalienable rights language in the Declaration warrants a book length discussion. But he was not as purely the enlightenment liberal as the liberal historians would have us believe. His ideas were highly tempered by his Southern, agrarian, decentralist tendencies.

As Jefferson Davis pointed out in his Inaugural Address, the Declaration clearly was not intended to apply to the slaves. That is not a value judgment. It is simply a fact. “Historians” who try to make it apply to the slaves are engaged in patent dishonesty and hindsight moralizing.

Myth making is not about understanding your country warts and all. It is about legitimizing the regime.

Jefferson Davis was just as wrong as Alexander Stephens was. Look at the original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, in attacking the slave trade, says that MEN were being traded. He thus clearly 1. used it as all people at the time to refer to men and women and 2. that he considered blacks humans. They clearly had natural rights as did all humans but were not enjoying those rights or civil rights at the time. Lincoln did not "exploit" the concept but rather had a deep appreciation and understanding of the American Founding and brought the pursuit of those principles to the presidency.

I believe it is you who is doing a lot of mythologizing. You obviously have a very strong point of view about the kind of regime you would like, but it is not the America that was founded in the American Revolution.

It’s so terribly ironic how guys like you despise people who admire Lincoln, yet you blindly do the same for the Lees and Jacksons. First of all, I personally am able to admire what was good about the South while recognizing its short-comings just as I am able to scrutanize and ultimately admire Lincoln. And "No" to Natural Rights? Are you a pure Burkean, Dan? Was the beginning of the decline of America when we broke away from British rule? Try a more balanced reading list since most of the points you bring up have been addressed by Lincoln and others (such as Frederick Douglass who concluded that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document). As Tony points out the ORIGINAL draft of the DoI is explicitly anti-slavery. Of course, the Southern Revisionists don’t talk much about those things.

"Gettysburg Address"

It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination ? that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.

Henry Louis Mencken

#15 is a response to Dan’s Lincoln-hate.

The original draft of the Declaration speaks out against the Atlantic slave trade but not against slavery. In fact, it takes the king to task for inciting the slaves to rebel against the colonies. That part of the original draft survived in one of the climactic charges against the king: "He has incited domestic insurrections among us...."

It is true that Alexander Stephens spoke out against natural rights, but he also spoke out against secesssion: see his famous speech of November 14, 1860.

Here’s the entire passage from the original draft of the Declaration:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobium of INFIDEL Powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another.

Whether this is an attack on slavery itself or merely on the slave trade (as if the two could really be separated), it is clear that Jefferson regarded slaves as people in possession of natural rights.

Brock Townsend, I’m a fan of Mencken’s writings, but that doesn’t mean that something’s true just because Mencken says it. Consider what he said about the Jews:

The Jews could be put down very plausibly as the most unpleasant race ever heard of. As commonly encountered they lack many of the qualities that mark the civilized man: courage, dignity, incorruptibility, ease, confidence. They have vanity without pride, voluptuousness without taste, and learning without wisdom. Their fortitude, such as it is, is wasted upon puerile objects, and their charity is mainly a form of display.

John, thanks for the post - I was thinking of posting the same. Seems pretty anti-slavery to me, since "it is a cruel war against human nature."

Those of us to whom Lincoln has such powerful appeal learned a deeper appreciation from Harry Jaffa. I have just discovered an essay that I should have known before: Charles Kesler, "A New Birth of Freedom: Harry Jaffa and the Sudy of America" in the Deutsch and Murley collection LEO STRAUSS, THE STRAUSSIANS, AND THE AMERICAN REGIME. It traces out Jaffa’s views as they developed AFTER the original statement in CRISIS. The whole thing is extremely well done.

Of course, it won’t begin to settle the dispute raging in Dan Phillips’ mind. I don’t think Peter Schramm’s view of Lincoln, and mine, is helpfully called "neoconservative."

So, ending slavery vindicates anything Lincoln and his administration did during their tenure in office? Given that ends-justify-the-means logic, almost anything can be looked upon as right and proper, including the torture of Confederate prisoners, imprisoning people without trial, making war on women and children, etc. It’s BS, and in your hearts you know it. The reason you always get this negativity on Lincoln threads is because you folks elevate the man to divinity...a slight change of perspective and circumstances and he could easily be considered a monster. A little perspecive, PLEASE.

"Of course, it won’t begin to settle the dispute raging in Dan Phillips’ mind."

Is that a sly way of suggesting it is only raging in my mind and no where else? If you believe that then you need to broaden your "conservative" circle. I believe DiLorenzo’s book sold a lot more copies than Jaffa’s. The anti-Lincoln chorus is growing, and the hysterical reaction of the pro-Lincoln cultists is actually hurting their cause. People with nothing to hide don’t react so strongly.

"it is clear that Jefferson regarded slaves as people in possession of natural rights."

Correct, as did Lincoln, but neither Lincoln nor Jefferson were egalitarians. Does anyone dispute that? Almost no one was back then. So it is illegitimate to use the Declaration or Jefferson or Lincoln to justify modern-style purist egalitarian democracy. You can justify it by conceding that you have adopted certain left-wing, modernist ideas, but please leave the poor Founding Fathers out of it. If you want to defend left-wing, modernist ideas like natural rights, fine, go right ahead, but don’t use hind-sight moralizing and dishonest history and then tell me that what you are defending is "conservative." Can’t you see when you do that how it completely plays into the hands of the multicult liberals?

The Founding Fathers were certainly not without their liberal elements, but they were not multicult egalitarians. By today’s standards they would be incredibly politically incorrect. If we could asses this honestly, then we could learn something. As it is, we have liberal historians claiming the American legacy is entirely liberal and "conservative" historians/thinkers such as Strauss and Jaffa doing essentially the same thing but by appealing, in an arguably conservative manner, to timeless universal truths. So we really have liberal liberals and conservative liberals. The only group that has traditionally argued that the American Founding was a mixed bag with a lot of conservative elements has been the Southern tradition, which the Lincoln Cult is trying to shout down. And then people wonder why the liberal tide continues to advance. Perhaps because "conservatives" are undermining, consciously or unconsciously, a truly conservative defense.

Where is the fault in my analysis? That conservative liberalism is a good thing in need of defense form a throwback authentic conservative menace represented by the Dan Phillipses of the world is one thing. So argue. But where is the fault in my analysis? Don’t don the "conservative" mantle and then finger war at me for not being liberal enough. That is BS and everyone knows it. As someone might crudely say, "Don’t p**s on my leg and tell me it’s raining."

Here’s dain in June, 2005, regarding the War on Terror (as, in his view, implemented in Iraq & Afghanistan, and the Guantanamo prison in Cuba): ".the moral highground is SECONDARY to winning the war." along with "And, in my opinion, it really doesn’t matter how we conduct ourselves..." So dain, do you have an across-the-board policy against "ends-justifies-the-means logic" or do you only utilize it when it’s convenient?

You know, it is kind of flattering to have my own personal troll-librarian. Someone who thinks I’m so important that they have set up a "dain’s digital library" in their parent’s basement.

Of course, the above is a willful misreading of my post, and comparing the WOT with the Civil War is dumb. The Islamofascists set the tone by slaughtering helpless victims, but now we are supposed to fight them according to the Western "laws of war." Nonsense. But my post suggested that regardless of our degree of rectitude, the Left will never be satisfied...I stand by that. I guess troll’s don’t read so good.

As for the American Civil War, the rules of engagement were far different 140 years ago. Compare Lee’s invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania with Sherman’s in Georgia...night and day. Union forces DID torture Confederates at Camp Douglas. People WERE locked up without trial. Sherman DID make war on civilians, contrary to the rules of war. And unlike the WOT, the Union was the AGGRESSOR in that war.

So, loser-in-Mom’s-basement, if you are going to quote me, try to get it right.

However, to be fair, Confederate forces also tortured prisoners at Andersonville, committed mass murder at Fort Pillow (and Andersonville), locked up a whole race of people without trial [though the north was undeniably complicite], made war on civilians in Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, and (West) Virginia contrary to the rules of war, AND fired the first shot. It’s hard to claim that one side was the "aggressor" when both were acting needlessly and wantonly aggressive. Furthermore, as regarding the "monster" Sherman, he and Lee were attempting to achieve wholly different objectives. Lee hoped to gain the support of Marylanders and Europeans; Sherman hoped to defeat his enemy. Were the tables reversed, I’m sure that a Nathan Bedford Forrest (or Jubal Early, or Thomas "Kill Them All" Jackson) invasion through Ohio ("March to the Lake?") would have looked frighteningly similar to Sherman’s March to the Sea.

FYI: For an insightful and well-informed view of Sherman (the first president of Louisiana State University), I recommend B.H. Liddell Hart’s biography on the man. His real views of the South (and Southerners) might be surprising to many.

Oh, I quoted you correctly, dain Bramaged. If one is to buy your version of events (in all likelihood, just copped from VDare or some other lame site directly), then maybe Lincoln just decided that hey, "it really doesn’t matter how we conduct ourselves."

And having a small handful of web-page bookmarks of your most lame-brained, contradictory, ridiculous, disgusting, and egregious comments does not constitute a "library" of any sort (although it might by your sorry standards). It’s merely a bit of an amusing diversion. Since you don’t enlighten, you might as well amuse me.

I was assuming that Lincoln saved what you love, and that you love what he saved, but that you hold him in contempt.

Again dain, what happened to your pledge to never again respond to "trolls"?

Well, jerk, I can’t exactly let you have free-reign when you engage in direct personal attack, now can I? I have every intention of ignoring you when your lame comments are aimed at a wider audience, however.

And you are twisting the meaning of my post. It is stupid to play "by the rules" in a war with people who get their jollies by beheading or incinerating thousands of hapless civilians...most reasonable people would agree with that. But the Left doesn’t because they AREN’T reasonable, and neither are you, Monsieur Troll.

As for Mr. Naum, he evidently equates unsanctioned atrocities by prison guards to intentional top-down programs of torture. I suggest you watch the History Channel’s "80 Acres of Hell." Camp Douglas was WORSE than Andersonville...lot’s worse. As for Ft. Pillow, that history is controversial, as I think Mr. Naum understands...although I will concede that Confederates greatly resented black troops being used against them, and this led to some breaches of the civilized codes of war...but then again, the Yankees initiates most of these unpleasantries. They were warned about using black troops. As for "the first shot," nonsense. What nation would allow a foreign power to control a fort in the mouth of its principal harbor? And why did Lincoln resupply that fort...he WANTED the Southerners to react. Everyone knows this...geez.

So we began with Dan’s claim that the Founders rejected natural rights, since these were left-wing Enlightenment ideas. Of course, even a casual glance at the Declaration of Independence refutes this, so Dan admits that, yes, the Founders believed in natural rights, but they weren’t "multicult egalitarians," and neither was Lincoln. Okay, then what are we arguing about? I’m certainly not an egalitarian, either, and neither to my knowledge are any of us at NLT. I believe that inequality is both inevitable and natural, simply because individual human beings have different levels of talent and ability. Moreover, cultures are not equal either--the best are those that recognize natural rights and allow individuals to rise to the level of their own abilities. That is perfectly consistent with most of the thinkers of the Enlightenment (pre-Rousseau), as well as with Jefferson and Lincoln. What is so left-wing about that?

For the record, I have never considered myself a Straussian or a Jaffaite. I have never read anything written by either of them (although I’ve been told that I should).

"Whether this is an attack on slavery itself or merely on the slave trade (as if the two could really be separated), it is clear that Jefferson regarded slaves as people in possession of natural rights."

Slavery and the international slave trade certainly can be separated, indeed that is exactly what the framers of the Constitution did. Virginians wanted to end the trade right away but South Carolina and Connecticut(!) organized to keep it going at least until 1808. Check Madison’s notes for evidence.

All natural rights thinkers label the right to life as the foremost natural right. When George III or Abraham Lincoln incite slaves to kill their masters those masters have a right to establish a new regime that will protect their lifes.

So much here it is difficult what to address and where to do so. I think Dan Phillips’s argument and retractions has at least compromised his ability to maintain his position. Recognition of natural rights creates political consequences in any regime, but it is far from apparent that those consequences are a "multicult egalitarian" regime. But Prof. Moser has already addressed that. So to Dain:

As for "the first shot," nonsense. What nation would allow a foreign power to control a fort in the mouth of its principal harbor? And why did Lincoln resupply that fort...he WANTED the Southerners to react. Everyone knows this...geez.

So, accordingly, the Union should simply have allowed secceeding states to consume federal property that was federally funded. The Union should have allowed states that had benefitted for years from federal assistance (yes, even then it was there) simply remove themselves from the Union so that the rest of the states must take that loss. And so the Union should have allowed a categorically contrary and hostile regime to be created and exist along its border?

I think the answer is obvious. But Lincoln was a man of prudence despite facing an unimaginably political circumstance, the repercussions of which would reverberate across the world for centuries. So he simply refused to recognize the southern states claim to a right of secession and resupplied a federal fort that was in need of supplies. I would call that prudent given the wide array of justifiable options. I would call that brilliant given the pressure it applied to the so-called Confederacy. They were forced to make a decision as to which direction their claim of right would take them...and they did, and in doing so, they became the aggressors.

But that piece of prudence and brilliant statesmanship need not even be used to address your statement. You even recognize it ("What nation would allow a foreign power..."). Yet, you call the "first shot" argument "ridiculous." You fail to see the implications of your own knowledge b/c you turn a blind eye to the consequences of a Burkean political system.

"I was assuming that Lincoln saved what you love, and that you love what he saved, but that you hold him in contempt."

For the record, I am an anti-Federalist. I believe we were better off with the Articles, and that the Union under the Constitution was ill-conceived. But the Constitution as originally intended, was certainly superior to Lincoln’s federalistic conception. So Lincoln did not save anything. He created a new Jacobin modern state. That I have no love for.

On that note, the anti-Federalists have proven entirely correct in their prediction that the Constitution would fail to contain the new government. Bush just submitted a 3 trillion dollar budget. Would anyone care to argue that the anti-Federalists were wrong? It is also interesting to note that anti-Federalists like me are the strongest proponents of actually following the current Constitution, which is why I support Ron Paul.

"So we began with Dan’s claim that the Founders rejected natural rights, since these were left-wing Enlightenment ideas."

I did not say that. I said that "natural rights" were historically a left-wing idea. I also said the record of the Founders was "mixed." And they certainly had some "liberal elements." To what degree God-given "inalienable rights" entirely = "natural rights" which have traditionally been conceived to arise from man’s reason is an important discussion. Also to what degree was the Declaration intended to influence French intellectuals whose help we were seeking versus intended for the King and the masses. Or what exactly did "all men are created equal" mean. All of these are discussions we could/should have if people that should know better weren’t slavishly currying favor with progressives and downplaying the conservative elements of the American founding, especially the Southern tradition.

"As for Ft. Pillow, that history is controversial, as I think Mr. Naum understands...although I will concede that Confederates greatly resented black troops being used against them, and this led to some breaches of the civilized codes of war...but then again, the Yankees initiates most of these unpleasantries. They were warned about using black troops."

Hey, everybody knew that the Nazis resented the Jews Hitler warned them that he was going to kill them, but the fools went ahead and lived their lives anyway. They deserved what they got, right, Heinrich?

You make me puke, you revolting Nazi gasbag.

"Okay, then what are we arguing about?" I guess Lincoln just remains very controversial. Everytime NLT starts a thread on him it gets really hysterical really quickly. No we’ve even got the reductio ad hiterlum going on. Sigh....

John Moser - Yes, you should! Many non-Straussians (including me, a mere fellow-traveller) have profitted. Some historians, even.

Here’s a mad lib for Fred:

"So, accordingly, the empire should simply have allowed seceeding states to consume royal property that was royally funded. The empire should have allowed states that had benefited for years from royal assistance (like saving their asses from the French) simply remove themselves from the empire so that the British must take that loss. And so the empire should have allowed a categorically contrary and hostile regime to be created and exist along its border?"

Well yeah, that’s exactly what the British did. Robert E. Lee’s father and Jefferson Davis’s father fought a war to make sure of it. The War for Southern Independence had both natural rights theory and precedent to justify it. Lincoln had a hard row to hoe.

"I think Dan Phillips’s argument and retractions has at least compromised his ability to maintain his position."

Fred, please show me my "retraction."

Personally, I prefer reading books about history to watching the History Channel - though that network’s intelligent and even-handed treatment of Area 51, UFOs, the marriage between Christ and Magdalene, and the Moon non-landing is commendable. It is hard, though, to counter the reasoned, informed argument that Camp Douglas was "WORSE than Andersonville...lot’s [sic]worse." If the TV says so, it must be. Sigh.

Now I remember why I quit posting on NLT! Thank you for reminding me that I still have better things to do with my life.

So, everything that the History Channel shows is tainted? Typical logic for some people on this board...but the HC has honest-to-God historians talking about Camp Douglas. Let’s see your rejoinder? Oh, that’s right, you have better things to do than defend your positions...sorry to bother you.

The South had the right of secession...nothing in the Constitution forbid it, and, as we know, if it ain’t in the big C, it’s ALLOWED. I’m tired of people who defend the expedient but indefensible. As for Ft. Sumter, Lincoln knew EXACTLY what he was doing, and that act plus his call for troops pushed the border States into the Confederacy. Moderate? Prudent? My ass.

Dan Phillips - There is a distinguished ant-Federalist tradition in American thought, including what flows from Tocqueville. Hitching it to the CSA and the Lost Cause is another matter entirely.

That’s a good point Steve. Some might wonder what Tocqueville would have said about the southern states leaving the Union.

Wonder no more. Simply check Book I section 18 of Democracy in America:

"If the Union were to undertake to enforce by arms the allegiance of the federated states, it would be in a position very analogous to that of England at the time of the War of Independence. However strong a government may be, it cannot easily escape from the consequences of a principle which it has once admitted as the foundation of its constitution. The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the states; and these, in uniting together, have not forfeited their sovereignty, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the states chose to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be difficult to disprove its right of doing so, and the Federal government would have no means of maintaining its claims directly, either by force or by right."

’splode! A torpedo in the magazine...well done, Brutus!

Yo! Not so fast, me hearties! It is hard to imagine the man who wrote the soaring Introduction to Democracy in America supporting an insurrection in the name of slavery. Brutus, you have an eye for the telling legalism. I salute your debating skills, but you miss the music and the poetry. You miss Tocqueville’s book taken as a whole, to say nothing of the Constitution taken as a whole.

What legal mechanism is there for secession?

Can’t find one in the Constitution or the Articles of Confederation.

Dale Michaud - I don’t find one either. We know that Calhoun and his followers insisted there was a constitutional right to secede (and now Brutus may want to attribute that view to Tocqueville). And the war came.

Wow, someone in the world thinks America in the 1780s was well-served by the Articles of Confederation. Please go back and read the history of this period. Even the supporters of the New Jersey Plan saw that it was in need of serious revision.

"What legal mechanism is there for secession?"

What legal mechanism is there for preventing it? Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island specifically withheld the right to secede.

"Wow, someone in the world thinks America in the 1780s was well-served by the Articles of Confederation. Please go back and read the history of this period. Even the supporters of the New Jersey Plan saw that it was in need of serious revision."

So you don’t agree that a 3 trillion dollar budget is proof positive that the Constitution is not working as intended? What percentage of programs the government spends money on is actually specifically authorized by the Constitution?

Yea, the poetry of Tocqueville...well "deconstructed." Why don’t you just admit you got "owned" as the gamers say?

You know, the Federal Constitution doesn’t dictate many of the behaviors of the States (the Bill of Rights is the strong exception, of course). This argument, too, is lame and a waste of everyone’s time.

So you don’t agree that a 3 trillion dollar budget is proof positive that the Constitution is not working as intended? What percentage of programs the government spends money on is actually specifically authorized by the Constitution?

Are you suggesting that it wouldn’t have been possible to ignore the Articles of Confederation as the Constitution has been ignored? The states were already doing it in the 1780s.

Anyone care to comment on the post Lincoln government and roe v wade? I am fishing here, but seems to me you could never get to roe v wade without a Lincoln...

Thanks Steve and Dain for the compliments.

As for the "poetry" in the introduction to Democracy in America, I would look to this passage: "I do not know if I have succeeded in making known what I saw in America, but I am sure of sincerely having had the desire to do so and of never having knowingly succumbed to the need to adapt facts to ideas instead of submitting ideas to the facts."

The facts are this: the Declaration of Independence is a secessionist document, written by a slaveholder, in defense of a voluntary union of "free and independent states." It doesn’t matter what the Articles or the Constitution say, once the government becomes destructive of the rights of its citizens those citizens have the right to alter or abolish it. Article VII of the Constitution says that it takes just nine states to put the Constitution in effect. Why then can’t eleven states draft a new one better designed to secure their lives, liberties and property?

Brutus - Even Lincoln in his way acknowledged the point, or part of the point, you now make; he does so in the First Inaugural Address, though he refers to "revolution" not secession. His war was a war opposing a "revolutionary" act, in the name of the principle enunciated in the Declaration. In contrast, southern constitutional theorists insisted upon cloaking their separation in the constitutional right of secession, which Lincoln denied. That insistence survives, as you well know, in the Lost Cause.

You mention that the federal government had become destructive of the rights of southerners. Presumably this means that southern secessionists recognized that their right to take slaves out of the slave states was, with the election of 1860, in peril. Or it might refer, again, to the right to secede as such.

One always sees distinctions between "constitutional rights" and "revolutionary rights." I’m not sure I buy the distinction. The Declaration is a revolutionary document but it is now part of our fundamental law, as Jaffa loves to point out. And even in that Declaration one can find appeals to "constitutional" rights! "He has combined with others to subject us to a jursidiction foreign to our constitution...."

dain wrote this: "You know, the Federal Constitution doesn’t dictate many of the behaviors of the States (the Bill of Rights is the strong exception, of course)."

Initially the Bill of Rights did not apply to the States either. That is why many States had established churches and religious tests for office, for example, well after the Constitution was enacted. The BoR was allegedly applied to the States with the 14th Amendment, but of course we know the 14th Amendment is invalid because it was passed under duress. But even if the 14th Amendment were valid, the "incorporation doctrine" was a later creation and was not the original intent. One reason we know this is because the same Congress that passed it also segregated the DC school system.

But, oh sorry, that is one of those messy little facts that tends to get in the way of the "music, the "poetry" and things "taken as a whole" method of myth making ... err ... I mean history.

No matter what draft of the Declaration of Indepdence you read, the document’s raison d’etre is quite simply an argument against slavery. You miss that and you completely miss the point of the document. What else were they complaining about but for the right to rule themselves, i.e., not be the slaves of others. Why the enslaved African was not immediately released from his or her bondage is a quesiton of historical prduence, which, of course, we can all argue about after the fact and centuries beyond the realities of those who felt insecure enough about their own liberties that they decided to work on securing their own before they sought the liberation of others. Jefferson’s Letter to John Holmes contains a nice summation of their predicament, at least as they perceived it. You shoudl also consult Lincoln’s reading of their predicament in his 1857 speech on the Dred Scott case.

"Are you suggesting that it wouldn’t have been possible to ignore the Articles of Confederation as the Constitution has been ignored? The states were already doing it in the 1780s."

Of course not. Paper documents have historically proven to be poor checks on centralized power. Hence, a better check is don’t centralize in the first place. The states would exceed their authority, but better 50 small exceeders than 1 big one.

At least you concede the Constitution is being ignored. Now what are we going to do about that? Vote for McCain?

Unreconstructed - "Taken as a whole" was meant to refer back to John Marshall, another nationalist you probably detest.

Oh Brutus, your mad libs works very well when you divorce it from the context of my point. As I was merely responding to Dain’s assertion that the “aggressor” argument made in terms of Fort Sumpter was “ridiculous,” and was certainly not attempting to justify the war on that point alone, I’ll just let that go.

I guess it is ok to assert a right of secession, but that right must be qualified. It is certainly not a “natural right,” or otherwise government would become meaningless, defeated and rebuilt at mere changes in preference with time. If the Declaration is a “secessionist” document, then it is only in so far as it is a qualified right (“When in the course…it becomes necessary…a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation.”) The qualifications are enumerated in the document in terms of natural rights. Maybe in terms of property? But then, does the document really imply that there is a right to secede for fear of possible tampering in the future of human “property”? I need not go on though, for better men than me, like Lincoln, have already made this clear. In fact, if you go to his fragments on slavery that are linked in the post, you will see very clearly why, if humans can be property, there can be no natural rights to life and liberty, or property (the rights in the Declaration, as natural rights, are unalienable), and if humans cannot be property, how natural rights can exist.

To argue that the Constitution is a pro-secessionist document is a much more difficult thing to do. Ratified by “We the people,” interpreted by the Supreme Court as necessarily being formed by “the people” if federalism has any real meaning, and created to protect individuals and not states generally (as opposed to the Articles), how can it be that states have a “right of secession” according to that document? But again, Lincoln says more about this and the problem with “state rights qua states” much better than I.

The whole point of the Declaration of Independence is to declare independence. That’s why it’s called the Declaration of Independence not the Declaration Against Slavery.

The whole point of Jefferson’s letter to Holmes is that the people who tried to restrict the migration of slaves would bring about the dissolution of the Union. With the atlantic slave trade having been abolished twelve years before Jefferson argued that the movement of slaves across the country would not make anymore people slaves. More importantly, he thought that such dispersion would create a situation in which it would be easier for slaveowners to emancipate their slaves.

Whether there is any merit to Jefferson’s argument is an open question. But its very existence shoots down Lincoln’s assertion that the Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that slavery never ever spread outside the South.

Fred, I’ll let some of my "secesh" colleagues handle most of what you said, but the ultimate idea behind the Declaration of Independence was John Locke’s notion of the social contract. According to his formulation, when a people are faced with what they consider tyranny, the have the right to leave an old contract and start a new one. That’s the essence of the DofI, and it’s what the Southerners thought they were doing...our Civil War was their Second War of Independence. The real argument is whether slavery as a social ill is sufficient to supersede the idea of social contract. Most NLT’ers think it was, I suppose. For me, it’s ends-justify-means thinking, and it’s a slippery slope. What society has no warts? And should those warts be used to deny the right of social contract? Be careful what you endorse, folks.

Both Locke and the Declaration cite a "long train of abuses" that would have to take place before revolution would be justified. Where was this "long train" in 1861? In what way did Southerners face any kind of "tyranny"? They didn’t; in fact, they had their way on almost every major issue of American politics since the days of Jefferson. What they realized after the Election of 1860 was that their stranglehold over American politics was finally broken.

Slavery is one heck of a wart, dain. Lincoln’s election did not put an end to it, either. I agree with John Moser’s point, except that there wouldn’t have been a political end to slavery in the immediate. Lincoln was conciliatory on the point in his first Inaugural Address.

I am boggled that anyone is making a defense of chattel slavery. "when a people are faced with what they consider tyranny, they have the right to leave an old contract and start a new one." and what man ought not? Which begs the question, why would not a slave, being a man, have the same right? Yet what right did the slave have in such a matter compared to those who enslaved them? So, to use the social contract as an argument for secession, when those people of the southern states still had a political voice in both votes and representation, which is considerable political influence, makes no sense. Did a slave have the right to secede from his master?

Sherman’s march WAS a horror, and intended to be so - like a Hiroshima and Nagasaki - intentional horror to end a war. All of it, all of it, was awful, and awful mostly for the south because most of the war was fought there, because of their relative weakness. War is hell. Surprise.

Come on, Kate, using your logic the American Revolution was probably invalid. When a majority of people in a place decide they desire a new contract, I think the burden of proof is on those who would deny them. If people don’t have this right, what right do they have. Nothing worth fighting for, I guarantee that.

John, grievances are relative. King George did NOTHING to us compared to other historical instances of true oppression. Who should judge whether something is an abuse or not? And why should people have to live with a contract that has ceased to serve their wouldn’t run your own life like that, would you? The Union was a new country, and the South decided its interests weren’t likely to be served by staying. Why would any country WANT to keep millions of people who don’t want to belong to the club? Indeed, the South was treated as a colony for a century after the war...whose interests were served by that, John?

In response to Brutus, what does it mean to declare "independence" but to be free of the control of another person, i.e., to not be a slave. This is precisely how Washington phrased the matter. Moreover, your synopsis of Jefferson’s letter managed to leave out entirely his reference to holding "the wolf by the ears" and how he acknowledged the injustice of preserving slavery was trumped by the safety of the masters who feared for their lives if they were to free their slaves immediately and en masse. What few believed at the time, the truly arguable point IMHO, was how American the slaves had become by that point in time. In short, despite their wretched status, they may just have been able to learn our religion and politics sufficiently so as to NOT desire revenge, to extend malice toward none, and charity for all, in exchange for the equality under the law--what Frederick Douglass called his lone desideratum if he were to run for office. Fire away!


So your regime is one based on what? Do we not need to bother with legitimacy anymore? If so, is legitimacy really only based on majoritarianism? Is there a difference between a pure democracy and a democratic republic? If so, what is it and which one is better? Is federalism a worthwhile government system? If so, why?

In response to #62

"Both Locke and the Declaration cite a ’long train of abuses’ that would have to take place before revolution would be justified. Where was this ’long train’ in 1861? In what way did Southerners face any kind of ’tyranny’?"

The ultimate natural right is the right to self-preservation: the right to life. The Constitution exists to "insure domestic tranquility" and "promote the general welfare" among other things. When the Constitution fails to secure those goals it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. Once Lincoln makes war on the southern people the game is up: he’s already lost the case in terms of natural law. No one has to stay in a government that is trying to kill you. Even a thief being led to the gallows has a right to resist.

In response to #65: Jefferson argued that the descredited Federalist party was trying to agitate on the slavery question in an effort to bring themselves back into office. He actually says this in a letter to Albert Gallatin in 1820. Jefferson feared that this approach would destroy the union. He was about thirty years ahead of his time on that one.

The whole point of the wolf by ear argument is that if you let the wolf go he will kill you. Jefferson thought so; Tocqueville thought so; Fennimore Cooper thought so. Lucas Morel, with the aid of hindsight, thinks he’s smarter than all those guys. Fine. Mississippi and South Carolina had slave majorities by 1860. They feared that freeing those slaves would mean their death. Maybe they were wrong. Who knows.

The statesmenlike thing to do would have been to provide an outlet for those slaves. But Republicans did everything in their might to shut southerners out the Mexican Cession. Southerners like Lee fought that war while Lincoln sat in Congress and whined it was unconstitutional. Republican-dominated states like Illinois, Indiana and Oregon passed constitutional amendments banning free black migration. States with a strong democratic presence like Ohio had to rely on mobs to drive out free blacks. Look at what the german-speaking mobs did to the slaves that John Randolph of Roanoke freed and bought land for in Ohio.

Regarding secession ...

The Constitution is silent, however I am sure some enterprising lawyer, in conjunction with sympathetic judges, would find some umbrella or penumbra to make this a full fledged Constitution right as explicit as the right to free speach or to carry arms.

The Articles of Confederation states that the Union is perpetual (Article XIII).

So, really there is no legal mechanism for secession, even during the time period when secessionist feelings were widely held even if not acted upon.

Note: the Southern Confederacy not only violated explicit commands of the Constitution it started the war by being the aggressor when it fired the first shot.

Even simpleton cops, like me, understand that it is the aggressor who is at fault not the instigator. Granted, I don’t see how anyone in right mind would find the North to be the instigator. I am just humoring the southern apologetics amongst us.

Put it to you this way ...

People can call you names, but you can not hit them back because they called you names. You would be put into jail for assault or murder/manslaughter if the person died.

So, just because the North may have acted in a manner that the South deemed provacative does not justify the actual physical aggression the South committed against the North and which actually started the Civil War.

dain, that was my point. I just argue poorly. “When a majority of people in a place decide they desire a new contract, I think the burden of proof is on those who would deny them. If people don’t have this right, what right do they have?

My question about that right, which right I do not deny, was why it would not also, by right and rightness, be extended to those persons at that time enslaved? The burden of proof was on those who denied them the right to freedom. Is it just a matter of majority? If it takes a majority, then the Revolution probably WAS invalid. The majority of colonists probably did NOT want war. Enough wished to change, and there was war. By 1860, As Brutus kindly points out, Mississippi and South Carolina had enslaved majorities. What about their social contract, by your logic?

I agree, what happened to the South after the war was not good. I see no evidence in Lincoln’s writings that by the end of the war that he would have condoned what happened there during "Reconstruction" which was more like a "Deconstruction". He might have had the moral authority and political leadership to curb that. I think that was the essence of his Second Inaugural.

OK Brutus, the South only wanted to maintain slavery for the purpose of self-preservation because they feared they would be killed if the slaves were free because they were outnumbered, so instead they attempted to secede from the Union with the slaves in tow (danger still present) and picked a fight with the North which had far greater resources at their disposal. How would Jefferson have phrased this? Two wolves each being held back by only one hand? Please, now your illusions of magnamity of the South are clear.

The ultimate natural right is the right to self-preservation: the right to life. The Constitution exists to "insure domestic tranquility" and "promote the general welfare" among other things. When the Constitution fails to secure those goals it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. Once Lincoln makes war on the southern people the game is up: he’s already lost the case in terms of natural law. No one has to stay in a government that is trying to kill you. Even a thief being led to the gallows has a right to resist.

So you’re trying to justify secession on the basis of what happened after the states seceded?

Kate, the radical Republicans would have muscled Lincoln aside had he was his assassination that made him popular. Up until that time, he was just a man (big, ugly, with a squeaky voice...and a sharp mind). It’s truly hard to overestimate the radical intent of the early Republicans. I studied Reconstruction in was the beginning of my sympathies for the South.

I hope you aren’t arguing that, because the slaves had no rights, then the Southern right to self-determination was invalid. If so, what about women? Should we invade, conquer, and "reconstruct" every society that doesn’t have 100% suffrage? And why stop there? Let’s also insist that any country where CEO’s make more than 10x the "living wage" aren’t "fit" for independence...let’s conquer them as well. You’s a slippery slope. We can always come up with "valid" reasons for denying a population this or that right. The hitch here is simpler, however. If the American Revolution was valid, so was the 2nd War of Independence...period.

I think this is the major reason so many "secesh" folk think that pro-Lincoln attitudes are inherently unconservative. The right of independence is not predicated on the moral rectitude of the rebels -- it inheres in their very existence. So long as their only goal is to govern themselves, they have the moral highground.

Yes, admittedly slavery complicates this (although the vast majority of Southerners never owned any). When I look at the historical record, however, I note that slavery came to a peaceful end in most other places, and I think that machinery, soil depletion, and competition from overseas (e.g., Egypt, India) would have undercut the viability of slavery in a couple of generations. We can debate this...nothing is sure in counterfactual history. But regardless, from the point of view of a white man who had ancestors fighting on both sides, I don’t think the cost in blood and civic heritage was worth the price of liberation. Slavery had been practiced for thousands of years (and indeed is STILL being practiced), and while the deaths of half a million young men, the centralization of our polity, and the subjugation of free Southerners certainly accelerated the end of slavery, it left a bitterness that lingers (e.g., this thread). Just wasn’t worth it...sorry, I’m sure many of you feel differently. But to hear contemporary black leaders talk, nothing much was accomplished...we are still Amerikkka.

dain, A president who presides over the winning of a war certainly has SOME political leverage.

No, I am not arguing that the Southern right to self-determination was invalid, just that the South’s insistence on self-determination in that way was a terrible mistake. Under the U.S. Constitution, they had as much right to self-determination as any Northern state had under the Fugitive Slave Act, for example. And I argue to my inevitably Northern-sympathizing students that for any of them to feel superior to the Southern slave-holder is absurd because slavery had been assumed forever in history, just as you point out. To "unassume" it is what took effort. But once we knew freedom and could contain the concept of the inherent, individual rights of man, slavery became an inconsistency. It is hard to see why the South refused to see that, in all of that time from the Founding. In my previous comments, I am trying to argue to you that slavery "would have undercut the viability of slavery in a couple of generations" and here you are saying just that. (As I said, I do not argue very well.) You say, that slavery complicates the matter, but to me, it is the issue of state’s rights that complicates the matter. It is a pity that the states lost so much sovereignty over such an issue.

War seems to have turned out to be the way that settled both of those issues. It is such a sorrow and a pity to America, that all this time later, we can’t get over it.

But I agree totally with your resentment against black leaders who claim that nothing much was accomplished. My ancestors were abolitionists, smuggling slaves to Canada, risking all, and then fighting and dying in the war. My husband’s family didn’t even turn up in the country until forty or fifty years later, and met religious and ethnic discrimination as Italians and Poles. Yet we are are expected to assume some kind of race guilt. And as you say, all paid a price. And no man lives who enslaved anyone in that day.

dain, you are deluding yourself if you think that slavery would peacefully fade away in America.

Not only that, you are truly ignoring the enormous amounts of historical record negating your assertion.

How many more years (decades) would you want it to go?


Matter of fact, the south, even after losing the Civil War and on the issue of slavery, put the now freed slaves on permanent second third class citizen status for about 100 years.

No, dain, the slave powers that be during those times would not have faded away and let things go peacefully.

Secession and the Civil War is proof positive of that and for you to state otherwise is truly amazing.

Not surprising, though, just amazing.

"I guess it is ok to assert a right of secession, but that right must be qualified. It is certainly not a “natural right,”"

Fred, there is no such thing as natural rights. Natural rights doctrine was historically a liberal idea. That does not inherently make it wrong, but the idea presents huge problems. It can not be rationally limited, so natural rights can always be used to attack traditional societies and make claims on other people. Is their a "natural right" to housing? The Soviet Constitution said there was. Is there a "natural right" to gay marriage? The liberals say there is. You can’t selectively then appeal to tradition or Revelation to rebut a natural right to gay marriage once you have opened the "natural" rights door. There are only legal rights.

On Locke and Contract Theory

dain, we are on the same side so consider this as a gentle suggestion and not a rebuke. Locke and contract theory is a large part of the problem. He and it should be debunked, not invoked.

Locke’s contract theory is a pure philosophical myth. Never in the history of all mankind has there ever been such a society. It is a theoretical formulation and a poor one at that. Societies do not form when a bunch of atomistic individuals come together and cede some of their inherent sovereignty to the government for the greater good. That is a pure fiction. Filmer’s and Althusius’ conception is much better. State authority is an extension of the inherent authority that is in the parent child and male head of household relationship. So authority proceeds out from family, to extended family, to tribe, to village, to city state, etc. But the authority (which we all want to be limited) is inherent and not based solely on consent. That is really the most fundamental left/right distinction if you think French Revolution.

So I cringe when I hear Confederates invoke Locke’s contract theory or speak as if they are Lockeans. It is appropriate to speak of the Constitution as a contract, because it was, but society is not a social contract. Americans are more prone to this idea, I believe, because we are a colonial country. We are somewhat less of a pure "blood and soil" country like continental Europe. So it is easier to shrug off our long Western/Euro heritage and act as if we are something entirely new under the sun. (This is a fatal flaw of the neocon conception. It was also a flaw of the Yankee Puritan conception. Think “New Jerusalem.”) But America was still primarily a blood and soil nation despite our colonial status. We were a British colonial country. To the extent that it is appropriate to think in terms of a contract, the contract that was the Constitution was between the States, not the people as a whole, Lincoln’s fanciful and novel argument.

Locke recognizes a right to revolution, but he does not recognize a right to secede. Locke’s conception of the nation state flowed from Hobbes so he saw the nation state as inseparable from territory or jurisdiction. So a faction could not break apart the sovereign. They could only have a revolution if justified. See the problem?

So secession is best looked at as self determination. Of making the government more reflective of the organic order. The throwing off of the rule of the other. That is why most secession movements are not primarily ideological. They are ethnic. Quebec, Scotland, Wales, Basque, Flemish, etc. The Constitutional Union was ultimately flawed because it attempted to bring together two very disparate societies. Common in some ways, but very different in others. So Southern secession was an attempt to bring about a more natural and organic government of the South. Some Southerners recognized the problematic nature of the Lockean conception. Calhoun and Dabney certainly did.

And yes the Southern States did have a legal right to secede, but books can and have been written on that subject. It is absurd to foot stomp in absolute terms that they did not.

"So you’re trying to justify secession on the basis of what happened after the states seceded?"

Which secession are you talking about? South Carolina? Virginia? Moving a military force onto a fort in South Carolina’s harbor is an act of war. Calling up 65,000 troops is an act of war. Blockading southern ports is an act of war. "Firing the first shot" is just PR to fire up the dumb. And keep in mind all the things that happened before Congress issued the Declaration: Lexington and Concord, a failed invasion of Canada, forcing the British out of Boston, Dunmore’s emancipation proclamation, and the shelling of Norfolk all preceeded it. The Confederacy should have written one of the their own and they could have done so at any time during the war.

It’s nice to see Dale stooping to using the Articles of Confederation to claim the perpetuity of the Union. The Framers did not think it very perpetual. If they did Article VII would not say that only nine states needed to ratifify the new Constitution. Really, if the Articles is the best you an come up with you should just stay out of this discussion.

Brutus, taking federal property, which the Southern Confederacy did is an act of war.

Violating numerous Constituion commandments is an act of war.

Secession alone is an act of war.

Come on, man, the aggressor in terms of physical or otherwise were the Sourthern states.

Lincoln, by far no radical, was seen as the last straw for the slave faction.

They saw that slavery would finally have a chance of dying and they feared that. That is why the left the Union and created the abomination that was the Southern Confederacy.

Compromise on slavery had been the order of the day up until then. Even during the Constitutional Convention, slavery was a heated topic, which ultimately there was a compromise on and which put the question of slavery onto someone else to decide. The southern states had true legal ways to address their grievences, but resorted to drastic, illegal actions that lead to the Civil War.

Do you and others honestly believe that the Union should have done nothing? Seriously, do truly believe that?

Kate, please do not think for a moment that out Revolution was invalid. Just apply the premises that the Founding Fathers used to the circumstances of their time. I know the hard-core west coast Straussian will call you an "historicist," bu just ignore them. We know what the Founders thought natural rights were: life, liberty, property.

First life. Jefferson argued that if the whites freed the slaves the slaves would kill their masters, or, equally bad, the masters would have to kill their slaves. He saw it happen in Haiti. Maybe he was wrong. The point is that’s two for maintaining slavery.

Second liberty. Jefferson believed that the slaves had a natural right to liberty. That’s one for abolishing slavery. Many whites, however, thought that they were not free if they did not have the liberty to own slaves the same way their daddies did. Pretty dumb I know, but the idea had alot of force at the time. I’ll be generous and give it one-half a point. So far we are at two and a half points for maintaining slavery, one for abolition.

Three, property. You and I both find the idea of property in another man abohorrent, as well we should. But by 1860 that idea had over 250 years of local ordinances, case law, and even the United States Constitution backing it up. Lincoln famously argued that the Constitution did not recognize property in man but only the right to another’s labor. Well that’s very lawyery, but fine.

And even Lincoln took that idea of slaves as property seriously. See his 1862 message to Congress: "In a certain sense the liberation of slaves is the destruction of property. It is no less true for having often been said, that the people of the South are not more responsible for the original introdcution of this property, than are the people of the North; and when it is remembered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton and sugar, and share the profits of dealing in them, it may not be quite safe to say that the South has been more responisible than the North for its continuance. If then, for a common object, this property is to be sacrificed, is it not just that it be done at a common charge?"

So, all told that’s 3 and half votes for slavery, one for freedom. Jefferson and Lincoln agreed that only one means existed to cut the Gordian knot: send the slaves somewhere else so that they could exercise their right to self-government in peace; pay the slaveowners for the loss of property. That’s the mindset of the time. That’s how the premises of natural rights worked in practice. It’s not the prettiest history but I’ll take it to that of any other country I know.

My point about the Articles of Confederation is that even that document, which some of held allowed for states to leave as they wish, did not have any legal mechanism for secession and it helps to bolster Lincoln’s claims that the Union was perpetual.

Actually, Brutus, it is you is not arguing with intellect for you are twisting history and facts to fit your assertions. Moreover, you and dain ignore the vast historical records which documents the long fight the free faction and the slave faction held in American politics and reduce the argument to boilerplate slogans that only distort the truth.

So, no, I will not stay out of this and amount of snide comments will make me go away.

All of the declarations of secession stated that slavery was either a major part of the problem or the main issue. Heck, Texas put it best when she stated that only did they want slavery to continue, but they wanted it to expand.

Sure, you can call this a state’s right issue, but the right that they wanted was to continue slavery or to expand it and the movement to abolish slavery was slowly gaining momentem. A state has never had the right to do as she pleases, not in Articles nor in the Constitution and no amount of sophistry will change that.

Dale and the rest of y’all are stuck with some strange idea of winner’s history. If George Washington had lost the Revolution you would call him a traitor. You would say that a Declaration of Independence could only lead to anarchy. You would claim that the Americans "fired the first shot" at Lexington. You would call the guys at the Tea Party "terrorists." You would fixate on Lord Dunmore’s emancipation proclamation and claim that the British fought to free the slaves. Whatever. I can read the Declaration better without your strange hermeneutic.

So Dale thinks the Declaration of Independence is a "boilerplate slogan that distorts the truth." Go pray to your Gods: George III and Lincoln

Dan, I agree that "society" is organic, but from such forms "inorganic" components such as "states." They are generally formed by coalitions of people, and in a real sense these "agreements" are sharply-bargained contracts. Indeed, you have as many instances of "folk" fighting one another over politics as you have inter-ethnic fighting. I think Locke’s notion is fine, with qualifiers. One, it’s not atomized individuals, but communities and interests that do the bargaining. Second, the actual state, while not formed organically, ultimately must conform organically to its signatories -- involuntarily binding large communities in states is a recipe for civil war...and, even when settled by war, the stain and bitterness remain. You have to wonder about the Yankees...look how "digesting" the South has changed American politics. They may actually have attained their "ideal" American society much faster had they let the South go. Generally, only states that organically conform to their constituencies survive, and even then not forever. I think we are on the road to crackup myself, but it won’t necessarily be odd event when it comes.

The problem is that there is nothing documenting the right to secession save for the Declaration of Independence.

Was compromise on slavery, which Lincoln himself wanted initially, a reason for leaving the Union?

Was the legal right to levy duties (one of the main ways for the government to bring in money by the way) a reason for leaving the Union?

I have only touched on two issues that the southern states stated were the causes for secession. The problem is that these and the others I have not discussed never rose to such a level as to truly merit dissolving the Union. There were and still are Constitution devices which could have attempted to alleviate the issues, but they were not used or, really, were stopped being used and replaced with secession, which, in my opinion, elevates the status of slavery in relation to the other issues.

Those that continued slavery, which by this time were the southern states, observed that their power had already peaked and were about to drastically decline. Slavery was on its way out or at least on its way to being contained.

But, does all this truly merit secession? The southern states obviously believed so, but I assert the record states otherwise.

Who objected when I said that the modern Union/Lincoln defenders were statists? Fred I think.

Dale said, "Secession alone is an act of war."

Thank you very much Dale. Union/Lincoln defenders are statist. I rest my case.

Brutus, I was wrong about one thing. You do argue with intellect. You just distort things, in my opinion. So take that whatever way you want. It is clear we will agree to disagree on this matter.

"One, it’s not atomized individuals, but communities and interests that do the bargaining."

You are correct in reality, but this is not what Locke and Hobbes actually argued, or at least it is not the effect. Communities and interests (interests could include Church, guilds, etc.) come together but must retain some of their sovereignty. So you end up with divided sovereignty and competing sovereigns. A unified sovereign is what must be avoided. I think you are giving Locke more credit than he deserves.

Well, golly gee, then Madison himself was a statist for even he recognized 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." (Federalist #58, Madison as Publius)

"My point about the Articles of Confederation is that even that document, which some of held allowed for states to leave as they wish, did not have any legal mechanism for secession and it helps to bolster Lincoln’s claims that the Union was perpetual."

Again, there was NO LEGAL MECHANISM TO PREVENT IT which is the more germane issue.

One can hold that secession was not legal. One can hold that it was rash, as did Lee. As did Stevens. I disagree. Back then I would have been a fire-eater. The Union was unnatural to begin with and its dissolution was inevitable. But it is another thing entirely to believe it should be prevented by force. And not just force but total war.

I know. I know. The boogey man Anarchy. The only thing preventing the decent into chaos is the undivided sovereign nation state. Like I said, statist.

Well thank you Dale. Now let’s see if we can push this to 100! How far do we have to go before the server crashes?

BTW, accusing someone of using "boilerplate slogans" while using the terms "slave power" and "free power" is really rich.

I used those terms for lack of a better one.

So ... sue me.

Dan, I said Locke’s ideas were ok with qualifiers. Of course he didn’t get it completely correct...his purpose, to undermine divine right, made him a bit too anti-traditionalist to be completely accurate.

I might also add that even in "organic" institutions, contract plays a strong role. What could be more "organic" than the family, and yet, at its core, is the bond of (typically) unrelated individuals and their family interests. Marriage is a bargain struck by families and increasingly by individuals; you fulfill your obligations, and I’ll fulfill mine. Those norms are agreed-upon, and from this consensus is derived their authority. So, I think it’s important not to push the whole "organic" thing too’s generally a good analogy, but it does violence to the cognitive/willful aspects of human life.

The Constitution itself was designed to prevent secession.

It purposefully included the states in governance so as to reduce such things.

What I am hearing is that if the Constitution is silent on an issue, then there is nothing preventing any state or anyone under its governance for the matter to do as they please.

Let’s take secession out of the argument. Ditto for slavery and all the other Civil War arguments.

If the Constitution is silent on a matter, can and should a state follow on whatever that matter may be and if the federal government finally takes offense, the federal governent can take no recourse?

Well, such logic didn’t work at our Founding, didn’t work during the mid 1800s, and doesn’t work now.

Dale, one wonders if you’ve ever read the Constitution. Have you, by any chance, read the 10th Amendment?

How about Section 4 within Article IV of the Constitution?

Or how about Section 10 of Article I of the Constitution?

One wonders if dain can truly understand that the southern states violated Section 10, Article I through and through.

From South Carolina’s Declaraton of Secession ... (look online via Avalon Project/Yale Law School)

Issue: Articles of Confederation and Declaration of Independence declared the states to be free and indepedent with complete sovereignty and that the states could dissolve the agreement. Moreover, the British formally recognized the colonies as indepedent states as proof that they truly are indepedent states (nevermind the Constitution).

Answer: The Articles of Confederation did give the states wide latitude its governance of its own affairs, yet it clearly states that the Union is perpetual (non-dissolvable). The Declaration of Independence clearly lists numerous grievous instances of abuse and tyranny that the Crown hoisted upon the Conlonies, yet I assert and it should be clear that none of the Southern’s state’s grievances rise to such a level as to make things intolerable and to dissolve the Union with this first grievance being one. (Yeah, kind of circular, but I can’t help the fact that this is the kind of justification that the Southern states use). The Constitution clearly sets the states at a lower level than the federal government. For S. Carolina to ignore this demonstrates that this is more for propaganda than for fact.

The Constitution of the United States remains the supreme law of the land, but only so long as the states choose to remain under it. Outside of the Union the Constitution of the United States has no force.

The Confederates made their own Constitution. And contrary to Lincoln’s prediction it forbade the international slave trade. And unlike the United States Constitution they explictly invoked their "Almighty God" in the preamble. Nothing in the Confederate Constitution said that slavery would last forever. It also allowed for non-slave states to join the Union.

Lincoln decided to go with the old Consitution, sort of. Article IV, Section 3 states that "no new state shall be formed within the jurisdiction of any other state...without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the congress." So much for that unconstitutional abomination to the south east of Ohio. Trashing the Constitution for a few electoral votes seems pretty cheap to me.

The Constituion also reserves the power of suspending habeaus Corpus to the Congress, not the president. See Article I, Section 9. If guess Lincoln did not read that part.

We could go on, but why?

All of the southern grievances never rose to the level that justified secession. None. Not even the valid grievance regarding fugitive slaves. There were ways to deal with this other than such drastic measures.

So, why the decision to leave? Slavery is the answer. The powers that wanted slavery to continue clearly observed that they would no longer have the sway in federal government that they once held. So, since their livelyhood was based upon owner others humans as complete property, they felt that the federal government was interfering it their own affairs and was going to continue to do so until slavery was gone.

Think I am making this up or misinterpreting?

Read the documents for yourself. I’ll give ya a little excerpt ...

’We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States."

- ’Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union’

The themes are generally the same from declaration to declaration. Ultimately, it the state’s supposed right to practice slavery which directly led to the Civil War.

Kind of puts a damper on dain’s lament that the practice would go out on its own if the North just let the southern states alone and abrogate the Constitution.

Woohoo, forbade international slave trade. Yes, it did, but so. By this time, bringing in slaves really did not matter. Not exactly a big concession, if one at all.

"The problem is that there is nothing documenting the right to secession save for the Declaration of Independence."

Are you trying to be funny here? It’s our founding document. Go read it sometime.

"We could go on, but why?"

I agree. If you want to be so willfully obtuse as to argue that southerners should have stayed in a Union with people who were trying to kill them then be my guest.

"Woohoo, forbade international slave trade. Yes, it did, but so. By this time, bringing in slaves really did not matter. Not exactly a big concession, if one at all."

Why should the southern states have to make a concession? They exercised their right of self-government, just as their forefathers did before. They weren’t the one begging the other side to change their mind. They just wanted independence.

Dale, you are like a jackal that shows up at the end and picks around for scraps. I’m done with you until you actually have something intelleigent to say.

As an aside, this argument is moot, already been answered, and is purely academic.

Dale, you simply are not familiar with these issues. I don’t see how Article IV Sec. 4 is pertinent. Article 1, sec. 10 was known at the time of secession -- it’s why each State was careful to leave the Union before joining the Confederacy. At that point, the Federal Constitution no longer applied. Regardless, the purpose of Article 1:10 is to make sure no State, while still in the Union, could cut deals with foreign powers. It was never intended to say anything about secession.

Don’t believe me? Well, our Constitution is a fairly plain-spoken document. Why doesn’t it simply say "You can’t leave once you sign?" It’s very unlikely that something so fundamental would have been left unstated. The fact is, that language couldn’t possibly have made it into the Constitution because then it would never have been ratified.

See you later Dain. I’m done.


Read this book.

If secession is a right, then, obviously, having the federal government attempt to keep the Union intact is just as valid of a right, if not more so.

The founders didn’t make the Constitution so as to have states tear it apart. They took great pains to make it lessen rebellion’s roots.

If you could actually site what grievance would truly merit secession, then I would be more apt to consider your position, but there are none that do ... none.

Please go over them and compare them to the grievances the colonies had with the crown and you will notice that the southerners had no merit save for slavery’s potential demise.

I applaud what Lincoln did. He kept the Union intact and settled slavery once and for all.

Lastly, Brutus, intelligence is not in the one who distorts history to fit their love for a confederacy whose sole reason for being was to keep slavery alive.

That is not intelligence, my friend.

The Declaration of Independence is not law.

Never was intended to be such a thing.

It does give the reasons why we decided to rebel and some of the ideas expressed in the document is actually reflected in law, current and old, but it is not law.

The Constitution, however is law.

The Federalist Papers are other founding documents, but I already know Brutus and dain reject them entirely or in part.

OK Dale. That was nice.

Here’s my rebuttal: You are under the gross missapprension that secession works like a Senate trial for impeachment. No third party sits and decides if the charges "rise to the level" of secession.

Here’s how it works: The state legislature calls a secession convention. Each county sends a delegate. Those delegates deliberate. Those delegates vote. If they vote in favor of leaving the Union that vote goes back to the voters and they decided to ratify it.

It’s the exact same procedure the Framers used to change the Articles. It’s called self-government. The eleven states that formed the Confederacy did it. The voters of each of those states voted with large majorities in favor of secession. Ultimately the reason why they seceded are of less interest to me than the fact that they did it.

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence ...

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”

Only 4 states of the Confederacy put out a declartion of secession.

Please show me anywhere in those declarations that the south had merit in leaving the Union.

Brutus and dain, you throw the Declaration at me with the intent to destroy my argument, but, in reality, it supports my position 100 fold and absolutely rejects yours and, obviously, the southerners who left.

You should actually be ashamed to make such specious arguments, but when it comes to the Southern Confederacy, there are no surprises from it apoligists.

Does this happen every year on Lincoln’s birthday?

I’m glad to see that Dale has finally found a copy of the Declaration. I encourage him to read it all the way to the state of war part. Actually, if he can handle it, he might want to go all the way to the "FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES" part. Jefferson repeats the phrase three times. Maybe that will be enough to sink into your skull.

Dale you really are one of the worst debators I’ve ever met in my life.

If secession is a legal right and the Declaration is the document which conveys such a right, then the reasons for secession must comport with what is in the Declaration.

And, the reasons given by the southern confederacy do not do that at all.

Again, please demonstrate how leaving the Union over slavery (even though the south was appeased time and time again on this matter) or over any other of their supposed grievance is valid.

The problem is that you can’t make that claim with honesty.

There is no there there.

Brutus, free and indepedent does not soveriegn make nor on the same plane as the federal.

Give it up, please, you aren’t making a valid point.

’Ultimately the reason why they seceded are of less interest to me than the fact that they did it.’

Well, of course, because to admit the reasons why would destroy your position.

Again, if secession is valid, you can’t be capricious. You actually need valid reasons and leaving just because you don’t like the power situation in Washington is not valid.

Now, I actually have to go to work where my actions must be within the confines of the Constitution, a document of law that it appears you don’t appreciate or even care to recognize as legal ... nice.

To quote the irrepressible John Moser:

"Now go ahead and have the last word, because I know you can’t stand not to."

Kate - It doesn’t even take Lincoln’s birthday. Mere mention of Lincoln is enough.

Steve Thomas, it is just a wow. It is not like anyone could fix, repair, amend, redress - never mind, I’m tired and just hope those words make the case - our history and our government since 1860. Who would, honestly, prefer the two nations, or three, or however many we might have had, were secession accepted and acceptable? You’ve probably seen this map) but I wonder if we would have been so prosperous if we had not been a union. If we’d been divided what would have happened to Europe in either of the world wars? What would any of subsequent world history have been like without us as we are? And who would restore slavery in America? I know it was expensive to get rid of it, but thank God it’s gone.

Brutus, I don’t really argue with what you write in #81, and don’t see why you were arguing with what I wrote.

Hello Kate.

I was just trying to answer some of these questions you posed:

"My question about that right, which right I do not deny, was why it would not also, by right and rightness, be extended to those persons at that time enslaved? The burden of proof was on those who denied them the right to freedom. Is it just a matter of majority? If it takes a majority, then the Revolution probably WAS invalid. The majority of colonists probably did NOT want war. Enough wished to change, and there was war. By 1860, As Brutus kindly points out, Mississippi and South Carolina had enslaved majorities. What about their social contract, by your logic?"

I think in the end we can say that providence, more so than the actions of any one man, made sure that everything turned out for the best. And I’m not sure that Lincoln would disagree.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.

In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

(p.s. We really mean it!)

Hear, hear!


North Carolina: Wm. Blount, Richd. Dobbs Spaight, Hu Williamson

South Carolina: J. Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler

Georgia: William Few, Abr. Baldwin

You neocons are forgetting the additional secret clause of the Constitution:

"We, the southern states, agree to all of this unless y’all start rilin’ up our nigras. Then it’s hasta la vista, baby."

Re #122 and others - The Constitution would not have been adopted if the States didn’t believe they could leave it. Three States specifically withheld the right to secede. That, by itself, should settle this dispute. Conservatives are supposed to believe in original intent. What was the intent of the States when they ratified it?

More proof that the pro-Union crowd is a bunch of statists. Who challenged that? Would you like to reconsider?

Then how do account for the Articles of Confederation which unequivocally state that the Union is perpetual?

Dude, the Articles of Confederation were not "folded over" into the Constitution. The Constitution replaced the A of C. Nothing of a politically controlling nature remains in the Articles...they ceased to be legally binding once the Constitution was ratified...and the differences in the two documents were telling. The Constitution was setting up a blueprint for a truly centralized government, which made lots of people NERVOUS. The illegally of secession had to be scrapped as a result.

And everyone knew this, Dale. Before the Southerners, New England threatened to secede during the War of 1812...their economic interests were being pounded by antagonism with Great Britain. The right to leave was understood, and the only thing that changed that was brute force in the 1860s.

You and I know that law doesn’t work that way. There is no such thing as an undocumented, unformalized understanding that would stand up in court. You can argue either way on this issue for the Constitution is silent, however looking at the words of Hamilton, Madison, and how interwoven the Constitution has state and federal powers, it should be clear that our country was nor formed to be torn apart, especially for trumped up reasons.

The Articles of Confederation had a mechanism for leaving the Union while at the same time stating the Union was perpetual.

The Constitution has no mechanism for leaving the union and is silent on the Union being perpetual.

And ... the Articles was replaced by the Constitution ...

Using your same logic ...

The notion of secession is also nonexistant with the ratification of the Constitution.

Can’t have it both ways, bud.

Ooops, I take back the statement regarding an undocument, unformalized understanding.

That is actually an implied contract/law.

However, one stipulation for it to be implied is that there is an understanding, an agreement of sorts.

Regarding secession, there was no agreement. Hamilton and Madison made it clear that secession was detrimental to good government and some states deemed it to be their right. The Constitution is silent on secession. The Declaration of Independence, a document which isn’t law, did put forth requirments for breaking from a union, but the I believe it is clear that the south did not fulfill those requirements. So, no agreement, no implied contract/law.

Dale, you sound like a classic statist -- all unstated rights are reserved for government. How unAmerican...really. Moreover, your logic is thin to the point of vanishing...almost as bad as Webster’s. Sadly, I must concur with really aren’t worth arguing with. Your knowledge base if far too limited...I’m not trying to insult you. I mean this, and I encourage you to study this matter in more detail.


"Regarding secession, there was no agreement."

What about the three States that specifically withheld the right to secede?

BTW, original intent is not wooden literalism. What was the intent of the States that ratified it? Secession was understood as something that could not be prevented. It was not universally understood as a good thing, certainly not by the Federalists, but that is different from saying it could be legitimately prevented by total war.

Is my logic truly vanishing?

I assert there is no right to secession. You and other don’t accept that. Fine. No problem.

However, even if you assume there is a right there is a major problem with the South’s reasons for leaving, which you and others absolutely refuse to address.

There was no despotism, no usurping of state’s rights, nothing that justified leaving.

Read the declarations of secession (only 4 states actually gave one). The issues outlined in them do not rise to level that should be needed to leave the Union. I have attempted to address a few of the issues, yet I recieve no response except that I am, in essence, no educated on the matter.

That is nothing but a very condescending way of attempting to silence me, even it you say you are not trying to. I have given excerpts of documents that prove my point, yet again, I am ignored and derided. Heck, I have even demonstrated how your use of Declaration of Independence is incomplete.

So, it is not my level of knowledge that is in question, but, rather, the absolutely total distortion of the facts so they fit your view on history.

But, this distortion isn’t new.

"Our present political position has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established. The declared purpose of the compact of the Union from which we have withdrawn was to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;" and when, in the judgment of the sovereign States composing this Confederacy, it has been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot box declared that, so far as they are concerned, the Government created by that compact should cease to exist. In this they merely asserted the right which the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, defined to be "inalienable." Of the time and occasion of its exercise they as sovereigns were the final judges, each for itself. The impartial and enlightened verdict of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct; and He who knows the hearts of men will judge of the sincerity with which we have labored to preserve the Government of our fathers in its spirit." - Confederate States of America - Inaugural Address of the President of the Provisional Government, Feb 18. 1861, Avalon Project, Yale Law School

However, other parts of the Declaration were ignored ...

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." - Declaration of Independence

Please, enlighten me as to what grievence or combination thereof was despotic.

Is taxing imports/exports despotic and unConstitutional?

That was the assertion of the southern states, yet there is nothing that substantiates such a claim.

Did the taxes hurt the agrarian south and help the industrial north? Yes, but that does make them unconstitutional or despotic.

Moreover, such claims were camouflage for the true issue for the creation of the Southern Confederacy ... slavery and the fact that the slave holding states did not hold enough power in the federal government to counter the abolitionists or even the moderates of which Lincoln was.

So, again, call me what you want, but not knowledgable on the issue is not one of them.

Grant sums it up best when recalling Lee’s surrender ...

"I felt sad and depressed at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought and for which there was the least excuse."

I had resolved to have nothing further to do with this thread, but I happened to stumble onto this site, which pretty well debunks most of the neo-Confederate mythology about the "Old Cause."

For shame, John Moser, for shame. Do you let your students get away with citing sources like this?

"In fact, when you look at all of the state conventions you see a similar scenario. The Union was dissolved not by any popular vote, but rather by 854 men (no women), all selected by their various state legislatures. And 157 (nearly a fifth) of these actually voted AGAINST secession. So the fate of the Union -- and the fate of 9 million people -- was decided by fewer than 700 mostly middle or upper class white males. And in Tennessee, where a popular vote did defeat secession, the governor orchestrated the dissolution of the Union single handedly!"

Pick up any standard source and you will see how erroneous this information is. Try McPherson’s _Battle Cry of Freedom_. He points that the voters, not members of the legislature, picked delegates to the secession conventions. At the South Carolina convention delegates voted 169-0 in favor of secession. The other six states to leave in the first wave voted, on average, 80% in favor. In the intial wave only Texas submitted convention to voter referendums. "In Texas the voters endorsed secession by a margin of three to one; there is little reason to believe that the result would have different in any of the other six states." (235)

In Virginia the convention voted 88 in favor 55 against. The popular vote went 128,884 in favor 32,134 against. (279-280) In Tennessee the popular vote went 104,913 in favor 47,238 against.

Now I’m sure someone is going to start sputtering that many of these guys owned slaves and that therefore they had no right to declare independence. If that’s the argument you want to make fine, but that means you better give Texas back to Mexico and the entire eastern seaboard to Britain.

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