|View single post by Texas Defender|
|Posted: Wed Oct 26th, 2011 09:46 pm||
The Constitution does not mention the right of secession one way or the other. Thus it does not prohibit that right to the states.
The Founding Fathers were wary of creating too strong a federal government that would threaten the rights of the states and the people. Thus, they decided to form a federal government that they limited in its powers. In order to get the support of the Constitution as it was originally written, it was necessary to add the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments.
The Tenth Amendment says that unless the power to do something is given to the federal government or is forbidden by it to the states, then it is reserved to the states and to the people. This would include the right to dissolve the bonds of the states to the federal government.
The only document that refers to the bonds between the states being: "Perpetual" is the Articles of Confederation. But that compact was too weak and didn't form an effective federal authority. Thus, it became necessary to write a comprehensive Constitution that established a federal government which the Founding Fathers hoped would have enough powers to govern effectively, but not too many so that it threatened the rights of the states and the people.
The Constitution was written and became the governing document, but it could not eliminate the problem of sectional differences, which only increased as the country expanded westward. Eventually, these differences could no longer be overcome with patchwork compromises. Whether or not the southern states were justified in making the decision to secede can be argued elsewhere. But I believe that a strong case can be made for the legality of secession.
I don't presume to speak for the Founding Fathers, but I believe that they fully realized that at some point, some state or states might consider leaving the Union. I think that most of them would have said that the Union was a compact of states, and that it was the states that formed the federal government, and not the other way around. If they were determined that the Union must be perpetual, then I am certain that they would have tried to include that provision in the original document. The fact that they did not to me shows that the idea that states were permanently cobbled together met strong opposition in the minds of some of them.
As for South Carolina, it was not the first state that made serious threats of secession. For that you have to go back to the Hartford Convention, begun during the War of 1812. That was long before the Nullification Crisis or the actual secession of South Carolina in 1860. (Which was threatened if Mr. Lincoln was elected president).
If you had talked to the citizens of South Carolina in December of 1860, I am certain that they would have told you that their state had the right to leave the Union. They would have told you that they did not NEED the permission of the Congress or the Judiciary to take that course of action. They felt that it was their right and they exercised it.
There was a long and bloody war because neither side understood the other, and neither side would back down from its position. Many in the north thought that the southern states wouldn't actually secede. Many in the south thought that those in the north wouldn't fight to force the southern states to remain.
One thing that seems clear is that secession could not have been accomplished peacefully. Those in South Carolina and the other states were determined to leave if Mr. Lincoln was elected. Mr. Lincoln was determined to accept war before he would accept secession. The die was cast.