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Does a State have the right to secede?
08-21-2013, 07:53 AM
Post: #16
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
In actuality, the escape clause previously mentioned was demanded in specific instances and was not a general overarching possibility of secession. In the late Pauline Maier's book Ratification, In New York, delegate Melancton Smith proposed an amendment which would have allowed New York to ratify the Constitution "in the firmest confidence that an opportunity will speedily be given to revise and amend the Constitution." Maier writes "However the state reserved the right 'to recede and withdraw from the said Constitution in case such opportunity be not given within ____ years."

Further, Maier writes "The idea of including an escape claue in the state's form of ratification wasn't new. Smith had mentioned it to [Nathan] Dane in late June. In Virginia, Richard Henry Lee had proposed a very similar form of ratification after the acceptance of the Constitution by several other states complicated the demand for prior amendments." So it appears pretty clear that the escape clause came about from the anti-Federalists, who were generally strongly opposed to ratification of the Constitution in the first place. There was little or no general feeling that secession would ever become necessary.

Best
Rob

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08-21-2013, 08:04 AM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 08:37 AM by brtmchl.)
Post: #17
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
Regarding Texas

I do not believe there are any specific terms written regarding a right to secede, but there are two specific resolutions:
1) Four additional states could be created from Texas' territory with the consent of the State of Texas. Leading to an total of 10 Senators and numerous Representatives. This has nothing to do with outright sucession. But could dramatically affect the balance of power in Washington D.C.
2) Texas did not have to surrender its public lands to the federal government. Any Federal land in Texas has been purchased by the Government. This also means the state government has control over oil reserves which were later used to fund the state's public university system through the Permanent University Fund. In addition, the state's control over offshore oil reserves in Texas runs out to 3 nautical leagues (9 nautical miles, 10.357 statute miles, 16.668 km) rather than three nautical miles (3.45 statue miles), as with other states.

With Texas' Oil and oil reserves, independent school system, size, the fact that it is the 15th largest economy in the world and it's ability to Trade on it's own. Texas may be the only State that could survive succession or at least afford to live as an independent nation.

Aside from those States that Bill mentioned, Texas still has no legal right to secede. And while all States may Rebel, the outcome will lead to civil war.

" 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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08-21-2013, 08:59 AM
Post: #18
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
Would the opposite also be true, that the federal government cannot disenfranchise a state from the union?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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08-21-2013, 09:21 AM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 09:28 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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08-21-2013, 09:59 AM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 10:15 AM by brtmchl.)
Post: #20
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
Liz:
The "secession" of western Virginia from the rest of Virginia could be viewed simply as karmic justice.

Karma?

During the course of the American Civil War, the western counties of Virginia making up what is now West Virginia seceded from Virginia (which had joined the Confederacy) and became the 35th state of the U.S. Specifically, Unionist leaders in Wheeling set up a new state government for Virginia that was recognized by Washington. The new Virginia state government in turn voted to allow the western counties to secede. They did so, wrote a constitution, and were admitted to the Union as West Virginia. Support for the Confederacy and the Union was about evenly divided in the new state and guerrilla war lasted until 1865.

How does a Government decry Southern States for their attempt to secede, especially in the case of Virginia, then invade their borders for doing so; and then legally allow West Virginia to secede from Virgina and formally recognize its right to do so?

I understand that the formal government in Virginia was not recognized by the Union once Virginia cooperated in Rebellion against the Union. At the time of the Wheeling decision in early June, the Richmond Government had pulled representation from Washington, and the Wheeling government had sent Senators to represent VA. From a Federal legal standpoint, Wheeling was the legitimate government.

But at the time this must have seemed to Southerners completely Tyrannical and Hypocritical

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08-21-2013, 10:06 AM
Post: #21
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
I never considered western Virginia seceding form Virginia, more like they were trying not to secede from the Union.

Wasn't there a county in Alabama that did the same thing?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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08-21-2013, 10:55 AM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 10:56 AM by Liz Rosenthal.)
Post: #22
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
I guess you didn't consider any of my discussion concerning West Virginia or secession in general, other than the bit about karma, the latter of which was a fun throwaway on my part. Smile

This will probably start a firestorm here, but the leaders of the southern states that seceded or rebelled would have had a lot of gall to complain about the Union's encouragement of western Virginia's efforts to remove itself from Virginia when: 1) The South seceded itself; 2) They set up a dangerous precedent for themselves that could have, and at some point probably would have, broken up the Confederacy; 3) They claimed that, in seceding, they were just safeguarding their "freedom," in this case the freedom to own slaves, which meant a complete lack of freedom for an entire class of people. This was the ultimate in hypocrisy.

Southern slaveowners did have the unbelievable gall to demand the return of their runaway slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act at the same time that they claimed to have left the Union, in which case, they should have realized that they forfeited any claims they had under the Act!

Gene has an interesting way of looking at it - that western Virginia was essentially trying to stay in the Union.

(08-21-2013 09:59 AM)brtmchl Wrote:  Liz:
The "secession" of western Virginia from the rest of Virginia could be viewed simply as karmic justice.

Karma?

During the course of the American Civil War, the western counties of Virginia making up what is now West Virginia seceded from Virginia (which had joined the Confederacy) and became the 35th state of the U.S. Specifically, Unionist leaders in Wheeling set up a new state government for Virginia that was recognized by Washington. The new Virginia state government in turn voted to allow the western counties to secede. They did so, wrote a constitution, and were admitted to the Union as West Virginia. Support for the Confederacy and the Union was about evenly divided in the new state and guerrilla war lasted until 1865.

How does a Government decry Southern States for their attempt to secede, especially in the case of Virginia, then invade their borders for doing so; and then legally allow West Virginia to secede from Virgina and formally recognize its right to do so?

I understand that the formal government in Virginia was not recognized by the Union once Virginia cooperated in Rebellion against the Union. At the time of the Wheeling decision in early June, the Richmond Government had pulled representation from Washington, and the Wheeling government had sent Senators to represent VA. From a Federal legal standpoint, Wheeling was the legitimate government.

But at the time this must have seemed to Southerners completely Tyrannical and Hypocritical

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08-21-2013, 11:46 AM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 11:47 AM by Thomas Thorne.)
Post: #23
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
(08-21-2013 07:53 AM)Rob Wick Wrote:  In actuality, the escape clause previously mentioned was demanded in specific instances and was not a general overarching possibility of secession. In the late Pauline Maier's book Ratification, In New York, delegate Melancton Smith proposed an amendment which would have allowed New York to ratify the Constitution "in the firmest confidence that an opportunity will speedily be given to revise and amend the Constitution." Maier writes "However the state reserved the right 'to recede and withdraw from the said Constitution in case such opportunity be not given within ____ years."

Further, Maier writes "The idea of including an escape claue in the state's form of ratification wasn't new. Smith had mentioned it to [Nathan] Dane in late June. In Virginia, Richard Henry Lee had proposed a very similar form of ratification after the acceptance of the Constitution by several other states complicated the demand for prior amendments." So it appears pretty clear that the escape clause came about from the anti-Federalists, who were generally strongly opposed to ratification of the Constitution in the first place. There was little or no general feeling that secession would ever become necessary.

Best
Rob

Did the 3 states-New York,Virginia and Rhode Island actually adopt this "escape clause'" as part of their ratification? The case of Rhode Island is particularly instructive as it did not ratify the constitution until 1790, the last of the original states to do so. Failure to ratify would have made Rhode Island a foreign country which would make failure to ratify the consitution an interesting form of secession. David Potter who was no historical friend of secession cited the Virginia escape clause as actually being adopted at the Virginia ratifying convention.

Please remember that the dry entertaining constitutional analysis of a right to secede should not be confused with the morality and wisdom of doing so in 1860/61. If I had been young and healthy,I would have joined the Union army.

Lincoln's view on the nature of the Union are very interesting. His ideas of "a more perfect union" bring to mind the wit who said the "US was the only nation conceived in perfection and dedicated to progress."
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08-21-2013, 12:49 PM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 01:18 PM by brtmchl.)
Post: #24
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
Liz, I did consider your point, but I did not accept it as being the defining argument on an issue that has been argued since the founding of this country. And one that still confuses people today. I agree with you on many things. I agree with you that Lincoln was a brilliant man. I also agree that Southerners would have quite the gall to complain, however I can also see Southerners asking were the Union has the gall to condemn seccession; but also Ok it, as it suits their need. I don't believe in seccession, but then again I am not a citizen of the United States during the mid 1800's. Many southern whites had considered themselves more Southern than American and would fight for their state and their region to be independent of the larger nation. That regionalism became a Southern nationalism, whose belief was that the United States Constitution was a compact among states that could be abandoned at any time without consultation and that each state had a right to secede.

You requested that we keep this in accordance with Lincoln's time, I'm simply stating that before and up to the Civil War, The notion of seccession wasn't clear. There were other attempts by Northerners before Southerners "opted out" of the Union.

Some have argued for secession as a constitutional right and others as from a natural right of revolution. The issue of secession was argued in many forums and advocated from time to time in both the North and South in the decades after (adopting) the Constitution and before the American Civil War.

"The true principles of our federal compact", to sever ourselves from that union we so much value, rather than give up the rights of self government which we have reserved, and in which alone we see liberty, safety and happiness." - Thomas Jefferson

1844 with his "Address to the Friends of Freedom and Emancipation in the United States," William Lloyd Garrison called for secession. Garrison wrote: the Constitution was created "at the expense of the colored population of the country"; southerners were dominating the nation—especially representation in Congress—because of the Three-Fifths Compromise; now it was time "to set the captive free by the potency of truth" and to "secede from the government".

As pertaining to W. Virginia:
Article IV, Section. 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitutions reads: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress. Some of the movements to partition states have or do identify themselves as "secessionist" movements.

This is an example of Lincoln's brillance as a lawyer. Not recognizing the Rebellious Governments and Only recognizing factions of the State that were loyal to the Union as the legitimate Government.

As far as your slave arguement. I don't see one. As horrible as slavery was, it was LEGAL. The Union recognized it as legal. The Supreme Court backed it up with it's horrible decision on Dredd Scott, and the Fugitive Slave Act was law.
Let's also not forget that Virginia voted down secession. That is until Lincoln made a call for troops immediately after Fort Sumter, a majority of Virginians voted in favor of secession feeling that the Federal government of the Union was becoming too coercive. Lincoln's quick action to recruit troops to suppress the southern force was met with protest by Virginia. With a final vote of 88 to 55, the Virginia convention decided to secede on April 17th, 1861.

Let's also not forget the difficulties that Jefferson Davis had, dealing with Southern States and their views of States Rights who continually threatened to leave the Confederacy. Georgia accused Davis of destroying states' rights and individual liberty. The first conscription act in North America authorizing Davis to draft soldiers was said to be the "essence of military despotism."

I'm really not trying to make this a heated debate. The problem when writing is that people misconceive the tone. It is however an interesting debate to have, as pertaining to the TIME. I don't even believe in Seccession, but I have a modern Government mentality. And a 21st century understanding of the Constitution. I can only imagine that the people of the time, some of who may have been decendents of the authors, had a better understanding. We all know politicians would never say one thing and write into law something else. I see the Constitution as it has evolved, not the way it was looked upon in the 19th century.
In 2008 an International poll found that 22% of Americans believed that "any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic."
Secession, what it really is, is Rebellion. Which any truly "free people" have the natural right to do.

" 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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08-21-2013, 04:03 PM
Post: #25
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
I didn't request that we keep this in accordance with Lincoln's time. I suggested that we refer to Lincoln's arguments against secession while discussing secession on this forum. It just seems like a sensible thing to do, since this forum is dedicated to him. It's disappointing to see people referring to just about any other source or no source and leaving Lincoln out of it entirely.

As far as attempts by northerners to "opt out" of the Union, aside from some abolitionists arguing in favor of secession during the antebellum period, I'm not aware of actual formal moves by northern states to secede. Were there any secession conventions in the North at any time? Purportedly representing all voters of the state? It seems like most of the secession rumblings during the antebellum years came from the South, every time the issue of slavery came up.

I'm aware, as I'm sure everyone else on the forum is, that slavery was "legal." However, its legality doesn't afford the South any moral standing to secede, rebel, or criticize the North for working in any way it could to keep the Union together.

You mention natural rights, in the context of "revolution." But what about the natural right of every human being to be free in his person and free from being governed by a slave master or a slave power without his consent? Isn't that the most basic of natural rights? If not, who has the natural right? The state? Of course, the state doesn't exist in a state of nature, nor does the right of revolution, as the right of revolution presupposes the existence of a social compact and, through it, some sort of system of governance to which people are subject.

I'm also aware that a number of Confederate states gave Jefferson Davis quite a headache. They often didn't want to provide the necessary arms; they wanted to keep the arms to prevent one of those fearsome slave uprisings from happening. Again, the rebelling states, in claiming secession, set themselves up for yet more secession. Oh, well!

(08-21-2013 12:49 PM)brtmchl Wrote:  ...
You requested that we keep this in accordance with Lincoln's time, I'm simply stating that before and up to the Civil War, The notion of seccession wasn't clear. There were other attempts by Northerners before Southerners "opted out" of the Union.

Some have argued for secession as a constitutional right and others as from a natural right of revolution. The issue of secession was argued in many forums and advocated from time to time in both the North and South in the decades after (adopting) the Constitution and before the American Civil War.

...
1844 with his "Address to the Friends of Freedom and Emancipation in the United States," William Lloyd Garrison called for secession. Garrison wrote: the Constitution was created "at the expense of the colored population of the country"; southerners were dominating the nation—especially representation in Congress—because of the Three-Fifths Compromise; now it was time "to set the captive free by the potency of truth" and to "secede from the government".

As pertaining to W. Virginia:
Article IV, Section. 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitutions reads: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress. Some of the movements to partition states have or do identify themselves as "secessionist" movements.

This is an example of Lincoln's brillance as a lawyer. Not recognizing the Rebellious Governments and Only recognizing factions of the State that were loyal to the Union as the legitimate Government.

As far as your slave arguement. I don't see one. As horrible as slavery was, it was LEGAL. The Union recognized it as legal. The Supreme Court backed it up with it's horrible decision on Dredd Scott, and the Fugitive Slave Act was law.
Let's also not forget that Virginia voted down secession. That is until Lincoln made a call for troops immediately after Fort Sumter, a majority of Virginians voted in favor of secession feeling that the Federal government of the Union was becoming too coercive. Lincoln's quick action to recruit troops to suppress the southern force was met with protest by Virginia. With a final vote of 88 to 55, the Virginia convention decided to secede on April 17th, 1861.

Let's also not forget the difficulties that Jefferson Davis had, dealing with Southern States and their views of States Rights who continually threatened to leave the Confederacy. Georgia accused Davis of destroying states' rights and individual liberty. The first conscription act in North America authorizing Davis to draft soldiers was said to be the "essence of military despotism."

I'm really not trying to make this a heated debate. The problem when writing is that people misconceive the tone. It is however an interesting debate to have, as pertaining to the TIME. I don't even believe in Seccession, but I have a modern Government mentality. And a 21st century understanding of the Constitution. I can only imagine that the people of the time, some of who may have been decendents of the authors, had a better understanding. We all know politicians would never say one thing and write into law something else. I see the Constitution as it has evolved, not the way it was looked upon in the 19th century.
In 2008 an International poll found that 22% of Americans believed that "any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic."
Secession, what it really is, is Rebellion. Which any truly "free people" have the natural right to do.

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08-21-2013, 05:18 PM
Post: #26
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
Tom,

First, let me acknowledge your points regarding the difference between a legal discussion and a moral one. I don't believe you're advocating secession.

That said, I think the power of the anti-Federalists made it necessary for those states to provide some type of bone to get the necessary votes to ratify the Constitution. By the time New York, Virginia and Rhode Island were ready to vote, the Constitution was already in force in nine of the thirteen colonies. Even though many felt it necessary that Virginia and New York ratify it, if they hadn't, what exactly would have happened? Chances are, they would have become entangled either voluntarily or otherwise with England and that would have been disastrous for them (and even possibly for the newly-created United States).

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

I do want to make one comment on brtmchl's comment "Secession, what it really is, is Rebellion. Which any truly "free people" have the natural right to do." I can't agree with that if any other avenue is open. As long as people have the ballot, a determined minority has no more a right to secede or of rebellion than the South had. If they don't accept the outcome of a vote, that doesn't constitute oppression. Indeed, to accept that it does would be anarchy.

Best
Rob

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08-21-2013, 05:28 PM
Post: #27
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
I'm afraid if we only look at Lincoln's argument against secession as doctrine. There would be no further debate at all. But what about his arguments for it?

Secessionists believed states had the right to secede because of the reserved powers clause of the Constitution’s – and the Bill of Rights’ - Tenth Amendment which says,
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

To secessionists, nothing could be clearer: the Constitution did not prohibit states from seceding. Therefore, the right to secede was reserved to the states. Such had been the thinking all across the nation ever since the Constitution had been ratified in 1788. In fact, several secessions had been proposed in the first 70 years after the Constitution was ratified, in different sections of the country, and nobody ever said that secession would be illegal. Even Abraham Lincoln himself, while he was a member of the House of Representatives (Illinois 7th District, March 4, 1847 to March 3, 1849), spoke in favor of the right of secession.When Lincoln was in the House of Representatives, he spoke in favor of the right of Texas to secede and return to independence. Texas had become a state within the United States on December 29, 1845. In 1847, Lincoln believed that Texas’ return to independence could bring a quick end to the U.S.-Mexico War. Within this context, the Congressional Records for 1847 quote Lincoln as having argued, “Any people whatever have the right to abolish the existing government and form a new one that suits them better." On January 12, 1848, Lincoln said, "Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better."

In 1820 Maine voted to secede from Massachusetts, and the secession and formation of the state of Maine occurred in 1820.

Liz you wrote: You mention natural rights, in the context of "revolution." But what about the natural right of every human being to be free in his person and free from being governed by a slave master or a slave power without his consent?

As a free people don't we have the right and the duty to Rebel against a Tyrannical Government? Our Forefathers thought so. What if that slave master IS the Government? People can be made slaves of the Government, There are instances of this all over the world.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure." - Jefferson

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

The right to revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression, if they are strong enough, either by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable. - U.S. Grant

We can find numerous talk about Rebellion from before and up to the Civil War.

However:
I Am in favor of a different kind of rebellion.

"The ballot is stronger than the bullett." - Abraham Lincoln

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08-21-2013, 06:21 PM
Post: #28
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
(08-20-2013 08:36 PM)Liz Rosenthal Wrote:  Rob quoted some choice, wise words from the man who is supposed to be the subject of this board, Abraham Lincoln.

So it is strange that we are having a discussion on a Lincoln board about the validity of secession.
Why the heck not? And just because someone may argue, from a purely logical and legalistic viewpoint, that secession may have been legal, does not automatically give someone else the right to throw that person in the racist camp.
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08-21-2013, 06:36 PM
Post: #29
RE: Does a State have the right to secede?
According to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution,federal law supersedes state law. There is no federal law which defines how the country would be dismantled. That cannot mean that since the federal law does not indicate how the government can be destroyed, the 10th amendment somehow leaves it up to the states to determine. That would be yet another form of anarchy. Lincoln made this point in 1861 when he said "Unquestionably the States have the power and rights reserved to them in and by the National Constitution; but among these, surely, are not included all conceivable powers, however mischievous or destructive; but, at most, such only as were known in the world, at the time, as governmental powers; and certainly a power to destroy the Government itself had never been known as a governmental—as a merely administrative power."

He added

"This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, of its currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining to a State—to each State of our Federal Union. Our States have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution—no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence; and the new ones each came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a State. The new ones only took the designation of States on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted for the old ones in and by the Declaration of Independence."

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.

Best
Rob

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08-21-2013, 07:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-21-2013 08:04 PM by brtmchl.)
Post: #30
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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