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Does a State have the right to secede?
08-20-2013, 10:51 PM
Post: #14
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
(08-20-2013 05:50 PM)Wild Bill Wrote:  . New York, Rhode Island and Virginia approved of the Constitution with the reservation that they could secede if at any time the new compact violated their state rights. The real question is was the Constitution "constitutional" or an illegal revision and then replacement of the Articles of Confederation.

Now, for those of you who are unaware, i.e., most of you, I have refused to renew my membership to the Surratt Society and I have pledged to Roger Norton that I would stay out of these debates. This is my last statement on this or any other matter. I do not care what the rest of you think, although I support your right to think and say it. Just do it without me, please. Thank you.
Bill,please come back to us and rejoin the debate. You have the supreme virtue of making us think and question our own assumptions.

As secession and civil war were the supreme crises of the life of Abraham Lincoln, there is no better place than our forum to discuss them. Without these issues would anyone other than historical screwballs like ourselves know anything about Abraham Lincoln?

I believe from a purely constitutional perspective any of the original 13 states plus Texas had the constitutional right to secede from the Union. As Bill Richter pointed out 3 states explicitly conditioned their ratification of the constitution to the assertion they could secede if the experiment went wrong. Unlike a regular constitutional amendment whose terms are binding on all states if a 2/3 majority of each House and 3/4 of the state legislatures ratify it, none of the original states was subject to the constitution and part of the United States under the constitution unless it ratified the constitution.

By analogy the independent Republic of Texas which joined the Union in 1845 falls into this category.

I believe that no state-35-which were territories of the United States-prior to their admission to the Union-can qualify under this criteria as states legally able to secede from the Union as their territorial status was created by the United States. Failure to be admitted to the Union would have left them as territories and they still would have been subject to the constitution.

Now I must confess I don't know how the 2 remaining states which were never territories,the original states or an independent nation just prior to their admission fall under this system. Maine with the constitutionally prescribed permission of its parent Massachusetts was admitted to the Union in 1820. The northwestern counties of Virginia refused to accept secession from the Union in 1861 and eventually under Lincoln's sponsorship became the state of West Virginia.

It is one of the nifty ironies of history that Abraham Lincoln encouraged the secession of West Virginia -from the state of Virginia-without the consent as required by the US constitution of the parent state. Has Virginia ever given its consent to West Virginia's existence?

Sen Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a very pompous senator indeed, was known to wander around with a copy of the US constitution in his pocket. If I met him I would asked him "Is West Virginia Legal?"

Now I have discussed merely the legality of secession and its morality,wisdom or ramifications which are totally independent of its legality,deserve a separate post.
Tom
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RE: Does a State have the right to secede? - Thomas Thorne - 08-20-2013 10:51 PM
RE: Does a State have the right to secede? - Hess1865 - 08-24-2013, 08:04 PM

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