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Does a State have the right to secede?
08-21-2013, 08:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 09:04 PM by brtmchl.)
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RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
I understand he made this point in his 1861 War speech. In which he also argues that the use of the word "secession" is merely a sophism to sugar coat rebellion. Lincoln was probably aware of being on weaker legal ground if he acknowledged the eleven states had seceded rather than rebelled. That appears to be his reason for treating the use of the word “secession” as merely a “sophism” to “sugarcoat” rebellion.

Lincoln’s anti-secession views were in contrast to his view in 1847

By July 4, 1861, Lincoln appears to have become sensitive to the fact that he had in the past supported the right of Texas to secede. This seems to be the case because, in his War Speech to Congress, Lincoln made a significant effort to single out Texas as the only state which had been an independent political entity before joining the United States. Lincoln was wrong on that point. Vermont had been an independent republic for fourteen years prior to its joining the Union.

I believe that if the Constitution had prohibited secession, it would never have been ratified by the required nine states. In fact, it was likely that no state would have voted to ratify such a Constitution. Three states, Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island, wrote it into their motions to ratify the Constitution that they retained the right to secede. Some other states didn’t do that only because they thought their right to secede was too obvious to be required in the written motions. A strong argument can be made that inclusion of the right to secede in the ratification motions passed by Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island guarantees the right to secede to all states.
(1) In asserting their retention of the right to secede, Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island were simply putting into the text of their ratification motions a right they believed naturally belonged to all the states. That they were not attempting to conditionally ratify the Constitution, i.e., ratify the Constitution only upon the condition that the other states grant them a right to secede, is understood from the fact that all ratifications of the Constitution by states were required to be given unconditionally.
(2) The ratifications of Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island were accepted as valid by the other states. Therefore, the ratifications of Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island could not have been understood by the other states to have been given conditionally.
(3) Whatever rights were possessed by some states must be possessed by all states, since the states were, and are, considered to be equal in their rights under the Constitution.

The states were voluntarily joining the Union, and most people believed the same principles toward self-governance that gave states the right to join the Union also gave states the right to withdraw from the Union. As if joining the Union as making a treaty. The right to unilaterally withdraw from treaties is generally accepted.

Particularly interesting is the matter of whether secession is prohibited by any of the three amendments to the Constitution passed in the immediate wake of the Civil War, or any other amendments passed since. To the present day, no amendment explicitly prohibits secession.

Rob wrote: I have a feeling that much of this discussion to many (and I'm not making an assumption about anyone here, but rather I'm speaking in broad terms) has more to do with current political realities then it does with any historical inquiry.

If you are asking me Rob, I am not trying to draw political similarities for today, I am simply trying to make an argument I believed existed of the Time. I don't believe we are the same Union that existed prior the civil war. I don't believe the argument for secession is valid today. I believe The United States of America as we know it came about after the Civil War, I would concede that we are the Government of the 14th Amendment.

Rob you also wrote : To be honest, I find myself moving away from this discussion. If the founders chose not the answer it, how can we?

I couldn't agree more. But it is fun to talk about

I was just discussing this thread with my wife and she basically said, " who cares?"

If you revolt and lose, you get punished. If you revolt and win, you create something new. If you secede, you are just asking permission to leave and what Government would allow that? So you are really left with revolt? Or not revolt?

" Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the American Government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian." - Henry Ford
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RE: Does a State have the right to secede? - brtmchl - 08-21-2013 08:30 PM
RE: Does a State have the right to secede? - Hess1865 - 08-24-2013, 09:04 PM

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