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 Posted: Tue Dec 1st, 2009 06:40 am
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Texas Defender
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Unionblue-

  Perhaps I spoke too soon about not having much to disagree about.

  We have come to agree that the southern leaders felt justified in their decision to leave the Union. That was the point of my initial response. You continue to want to argue about moral grounds for secession. To me, arguments about tariffs, or slavery, or other issues effecting the decision to secede are endless and useless arguments. Opinions are opinions and facts are facts. The fact is that they did secede.

  Since the southerners believed that the Constitution allowed them to leave the Union, and that that action was justified, what point would there have been to submitting the question to a federal court? Since they felt that they had the right, there was no need to ask permission. If that sounds simplistic, so be it. That was their position.

  I do not share your belief that the southerners would have seceded regardless of who was elected president. I see no warnings coming from the southern leaders regarding the consequences of electing any candidate except for Mr. Lincoln.  If the democrats had not split their party and Douglass was elected, there might have been another wave of violence similar to what happened over popular sovereignty in the 1850s. That is pure speculation. But I doubt that if Mr. Douglass had been elected in November of 1860 that South Carolina would have seceded in the following month.

  As for Chief Justice Taney, he might have been admired by some, but apparently not by Mr. Lincoln. I would refer you to the Merryman case where Mr. Taney's opinions were totally disregarded. So much for the writ of habeas corpus. In fact, some of his friends feared that the Lincoln administration was going to arrest the Chief Justice.

  I would repeat that the: "leaders of secession" saw no requirement to try the case for secession in a federal court. The reason was not that they couldn't win (I don't know if they could have or not), but that in their view they weren't REQUIRED to.

  The Articles of Confederation might have talked about: "perpetuity" but the governing document is the Constitution. I don't share your view that the Constitution in any way argues against secession, by statement or by implication.

  It is true that previous presidents threatened possible secessionists with military force, but that in no way makes a conclusion about the constitutionality of secession. I would point out that in the case of President Jackson that he did not always concern himself with legal niceties. Aside from once threatening to hang VP John C. Calhoun, he ignored at least one Supreme Court decision (See Worcester v. Georgia). The result of that was the infamous: "Trail of Tears" that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Native Americans. Now that really was: "Nullification" on the part of Mr. Jackson. He nullified Chief Justice Marshall's court. He had a very different view of the idea of nullification when South Carolina revived talk of it.

  As for Texas v. White, the decision concluded that Texas never actually left the Union. Therefore, it can't be argued that it legally gave up any prior status. As for the present status of Texas, the argument is irrelevant unless the citizens here feel the need to try to invoke the 1845 Treaty to split Texas into five states and thus have ten US senators (That would cause major heartburn to many in the northeast). That won't happen, but if it did, you'd have your Supreme Court case to decide the question.

  I don't share your apparent view that the southerners were attempting to steal assets of the US in the course of the: "divorce." The peace commissioners went to Washington to attempt to negotiate payments for federal property on southern soil. They were rebuffed by Mr. Lincoln and the negotiations with Mr. Seward switched to the status of the occupied forts in Charleston and Pensacola. The southerners were willing to pay for federal property, but that process never advanced.

  So, in the end we have come full circle. My case is that the: "leaders of secession" felt justified in their actions based on their interpretation of the Constitution. That is the bottom line. Call them: "imprudent" if you wish to. You can argue about: "morality" endlessly and it makes no difference at all. That remains a matter of opinion. The fact that in the end the north prevailed by force of arms in no way makes any statement about the morality of the actions taken by the secessionists (Or their view of the Constitution). It only serves to further reinforce a quote attributed to Napoleon that: "Morality is on the side of the heaviest artillery."

Last edited on Tue Dec 1st, 2009 07:55 am by Texas Defender

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