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 Posted: Mon Nov 30th, 2009 02:12 am
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Texas Defender
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Unionblue-

  It seems that we don't disagree on very much. But I'll continue for the sake of clarification.

  My post answering yours was of course not addressing whether or not the: "leaders of secession" were justified in their actions. That is another question entirely. The purpose of my post was to dispute the statement: "....in their hearts and minds, the leaders of secession knew they had no moral, political, or legal ground to justify their attempt at rebellion." It seems that we are now in agreement that they at least felt justified.

  I do believe that it did matter who became president on March 4, 1861. A man less determined to preserve the Union at all costs might have allowed a peaceful separation. My contention is that Mr. Lincoln came into office determined that federal authority would be upheld or there would be a war. Perhaps if he had been seen as less threatening by the southerners, they would not have acted as they did. But the reality is that he was, and they did. And even if the final accounting could have been delayed once more, it could not be delayed forever.

  As for the legality of secession, Chief Justice Taney's opinion would count as only one vote in a Supreme Court decision (as in the Dred Scott decision, where he was one of the majority of seven voting against Scott). How the complete court might have voted on the question is not known to me.

  To the: "leaders of secession," however, the opinion of the US Supreme Court on the matter was irrelevant. Their position on the Constitution was that since it did not forbid secession, then it was allowed under the 9th and 10th Amendments. Argue the question if you wish, but you can't demonstrate that the Constitution forbids secession. And if as you contend, that the question was resolved previously to the war, then there would have been no need for it to be argued in the 1869 Supreme Court decision Texas v. White. The question argued then was whether or not Texas had remained a US state even after it seceded. (We here in Texas also have the additional question of whether or not the Treaty of 1845 between the Republic of Texas and the US still applies).

  Ed's analogy to a no fault divorce can be used. In such a case. there is no need to prove anyone guilty of any offense, only to point out that differences cannot be reconciled. The southerners decided that that was the case. They decided that their actions were justified, and they acted.

  I have to wonder if Chief Justice Taney was aware of a statement made in 1848 by a young Whig congressman, when criticizing : "Mr. Polk's War" against Mexico. He 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. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world."

  The name of the young Whig congressman was Abraham Lincoln.

  So, the southerners shook off the existing government. But it turned out in the end, as General Joseph E. Johnston said much later, that while secession might not have been illegal, it was in this case certainly impractical.

Last edited on Mon Nov 30th, 2009 04:03 am by Texas Defender

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