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Does a State have the right to secede?
08-21-2013, 10:21 AM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 10:28 AM by Liz Rosenthal.)
Post: #19
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
I'm glad Rob was able to dig out the facts about the formation of the United States of America. The bare claim that three states agreed to be admitted to the union so long as they could secede from it when they wanted to is a rather glib interpretation of a complicated episode in American history, which Rob has debunked.

Even if, for the moment, we took as true the idea that three states entered the union on that basis, how does this feeling among three states govern the intent of all 13 original states? Wouldn't this be a case of three states dictating the conditions of union for the other 10? Wouldn't that amount to minority rule, which is about as un-democratic as you can get?

The "secession" of western Virginia from the rest of Virginia could be viewed simply as karmic justice, with Virginia being given a taste of its own medicine. On a practical level, Lincoln was looking for ways to peel off portions of the Confederacy. He hoped that, the more he peeled off from the rebelling states, the closer the Union might be to victory. Let's not forget he also worked to peel off eastern Tennessee from Tennessee, a very long and difficult process, and took New Orleans and some of the other Louisiana parishes, as well as islands off the coast of South Carolina and other, scattered areas. These actions did not result in new states, but if the conditions had been right, they might have - at least in the case of eastern Tennessee.

And if we're going to ruminate on the legality of secession, let's also look at whether a majority of the population in each of the "seceded" states actually favored secession. The answer is probably no. Slavery interests and their cheerleaders appear, in many cases, to have stampeded the secession conventions into approving this drastic act. People keep beating the drum of "states' rights," but what about the rights of the majority of people living in the state? Are we to assume that the state, as a political entity, has more rights than the people who reside within it? What kind of society is it that blatantly disregards the will of the majority? The answer is an oligarchy, government by the few.

(Very) similarly, the very act of secession or rebellion or whatever you want to call it, was effectuated in response to the legal result of the presidential election of 1860. In other words, slavery interests refused to abide by the result of an election performed completely in accord with the U.S. Constitution. In still other words, the democratic process did not comport with their preferences, so they decided they would no longer play by the rules. Lincoln said that the proper response to an election result that you don't like is to vote out the administration at the next election. He said, in a democracy, you resort to ballots, not bullets.

Finally, while I certainly agree that secession is a legitimate topic on a Lincoln forum, I also think that, in discussing the topic, it behooves the participants to actually take into consideration Lincoln's own views.

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RE: Does a State have the right to secede? - Liz Rosenthal - 08-21-2013 10:21 AM
RE: Does a State have the right to secede? - Hess1865 - 08-24-2013, 09:04 PM

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