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 Posted: Wed Oct 26th, 2011 10:42 pm
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Texas Defender
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MildMan-

  I cannot agree that South Carolina and the other states could have been allowed to secede peacefully. Mr. Lincoln took the position that such action was illegal, and that the states hadn't actually left the Union. He would never accept secession, as he said.

  The question of the legality of secession was finally decided by the Supreme Court in the case of Texas v. White (1869). At that time, the justices decided that Texas and the other states had never left the Union. (I would have asked why then it was necessary to re-admit them).

  As previously explained, the residents of South Carolina believed that they didn't need the permission of anyone in the federal government to leave it. Why then should they take a case to the federal courts? Mr. Lincoln could simply ignore the decision.

  Its interesting that you bring up Chief Justice Roger Taney. When Mr. Lincoln illegally suspended the writ of habeus corpus in 1861 (Merryman case), Mr. Taney tried to intervene. The military authorities ignored his orders, and Mr. Lincoln seriously considered having the Chief Justice arrested. Mr. Lincoln was willing to take any measures necessary to preserve the Union, whether they conformed to the Constitution or not. Unless the Legislative Branch was willing to combine with the Judiciary against the Executive (which it wasn't), then the Judicial Branch was powerless. If Mr. Taney had persisted, then in all probability he would have spent his final years in a prison cell.

  As for the firing on Ft. Sumter, it was the worst possible thing that the southerners could do. In their view, they were trying to enforce state sovereignty (Mr. Lincoln had refused to meet the CSA peace commissioners who wanted to discuss purchasing federal property within their borders). But, as you say, firing on a federal installation gave Mr. Lincoln the greatest gift because it allowed him to use public outrage to raise an army to invade the seceded states.

  Firing on Ft. Sumter was also completely unnecessary as Major Anderson was prepared to leave the fort when he ran out of provisions. He even made his position known. For the southerners, all that was needed was to be patient for a few more days, and then Mr. Lincoln would have needed to provoke another incident to arouse public indignation in the north. This I am certain he would have done, since he was completely consistent in his determination that the Union would be preserved at all costs.

  I believe that by the time Mr. Lincoln was elected, neither side had any interest in pursuing the matter in the federal court system. At this point, it was inevitable in my view that the matter could only be settled by armed conflict.

Last edited on Wed Oct 26th, 2011 11:30 pm by Texas Defender

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