~ Foreword ~
This has been a long journey – and one that is long overdue, but I guess that in the scheme of things ~ ALL things for a reason.
By the turn of the Millennium, I had already been broadcasting for a half-decade and due to the massive sized audience which I had developed by then – predominantly through short-wave and satellite broadcasts ~ I had made many friends. One such gentleman was located in the north-central region of Wisconsin ~ not an area known for its relations with true knowledge of the Confederate States of America ~ a region, philosophy and history which I became more than familiar with in my youth.
Hal Young was a good friend and loyal listener to my programming and had been for some years. I have recently located (by accident) a series of voluminous discs covering a wide expanse of American history which he had compiled and sent to me ~ probably around the years 2002-2003 ~ maybe a year or so later. Where have they been all of these years? Given that my office archives have grown to a massive collection – they got buried in boxes and subsequently in drawers and file cabinets ~ some of which have not been opened for years ~ but the time had come to begin pairing my life back from unnecessary “things” ~ and I came across Hal’s five discs ~ an oh, what a treasure they are.
What we present to you this day, may seem to have been put together in a somewhat haphazard fashion ~ but the more I read it ~ the more it begins to make sense ~ however ~ it IS long, and hence ~ I will be posting it in several different “Chapters,” as all seems to have been put together with information coming from a range of resources.
As with most postings of our columns are open to discussion – and correction by knowledgeable and qualified readers and contributors, so please feel free to participate. In our next Chapter, we will be going traveling back to to an earlier part of America’s history to study what the Founders had to say about this thing called, ‘secession.’
At the end of this lengthy post, you will find a link to a well related commentary, which expands the lessons contained below. we invite you to read, The Issue WAS State’s Rights
I’ll see you at Sundown…
Jeffrey Bennett, Editor and Publisher
~ The Secession Acts ~
An Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the united States of America.”
We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America,” is hereby dissolved.
Done at Charleston the twentieth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
An Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of Mississippi and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.”
The people of the State of Mississippi, in convention assembled, do ordain and declare, and it is hereby ordained and declared, as follows, to wit:
Section 1. That all the laws and ordinances by which the said State of Mississippi became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America be, and the same are hereby, repealed, and that all obligations on the part of the said State or the people thereof to observe the same be withdrawn, and that the said State doth hereby resume all the rights, functions, and powers which by any of said laws or ordinances were conveyed to the Government of the said United States, and is absolved from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred to the said Federal Union, and shall from henceforth be a free, sovereign, and independent State.
Section 2. That so much of the first section of the seventh article of the constitution of this State as requires members of the Legislature and all officers, executive and judicial, to take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States be, and the same is hereby, abrogated and annulled.
Section 3. That all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or under any act of Congress passed, or treaty made, in pursuance thereof, or under any law of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.
Section 4. That the people of the State of Mississippi hereby consent to form a federal union with such of the States as may have seceded or may secede from the Union of the United States of America, upon the basis of the present Constitution of the said United States, except such parts thereof as embrace other portions than such seceding States.
Thus ordained and declared in convention the 9th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1861.
Florida ~ ORDINANCE OF SECESSION
We, the people of the State of Florida, in convention assembled, do solemnly ordain, publish, and declare, that the State of Florida hereby withdraws herself from the confederacy of States existing under the name of the United States of America and from the existing Government of the said States; and that all political connection between her and the Government of said States ought to be, and the same is hereby, totally annulled, and said Union of States dissolved; and the State of Florida is hereby declared a sovereign and independent nation; and that all ordinances heretofore adopted, in so far as they create or recognize said Union, are rescinded; and all laws or parts of laws in force in this State, in so far as they recognize or assent to said Union, be, and they are hereby, repealed.
[Passed 10 Jan 1861]
An Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of Alabama and the other States united under the compact styled “The Constitution of the United States of America”
Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of president and vice-president of the United States of America, by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security, therefore:
Section 1. Be it declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama, in Convention assembled, That the State of Alabama now withdraws, and is hereby withdrawn from the Union known as “the United States of America,” and henceforth ceases to be one of said United States, and is, and of right ought to be a Sovereign and Independent State.
Section 2. Be it further declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama in Convention assembled, That all powers over the Territory of said State, and over the people thereof, heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America, be and they are hereby withdrawn from said Government, and are hereby resumed and vested in the people of the State of Alabama.
And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the slave-holding States of the South, who may approve such purpose, in order to frame a provisional as well as permanent Government upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States,
Be it resolved by the people of Alabama in Convention assembled, That the people of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, be and are hereby invited to meet the people of the State of Alabama, by their Delegates, in Convention, on the 4th day of February, A.D., 1861, at the city of Montgomery, in the State of Alabama, for the purpose of consulting with each other as to the most effectual mode of securing concerted and harmonious action in whatever measures may be deemed most desirable for our common peace and security.
And be it further resolved, That the President of this Convention, be and is hereby instructed to transmit forthwith a copy of the foregoing Preamble, Ordinance, and Resolutions to the Governors of the several States named in said resolutions.
Done by the people of the State of Alabama, in Convention assembled, at Montgomery, on this, the eleventh day of January, A.D. 1861.
We the people of the State of Georgia in Convention assembled do declare and ordain and it is hereby declared and ordained that the ordinance adopted by the State of Georgia in convention on the 2nd day of Jan. in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the constitution of the United States of America was assented to, ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the general assembly of this State, ratifying and adopting amendments to said constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded and abrogated.
We do further declare and ordain that the union now existing between the State of Georgia and other States under the name of the United States of America is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Georgia is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. [Passed January 19, 1861.]
An Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of Louisiana and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.”
We, the people of the State of Louisiana, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance passed by us in convention on the 22d day of November, in the year eighteen hundred and eleven, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America and the amendments of the said Constitution were adopted, and all laws and ordinances by which the State of Louisiana became a member of the Federal Union, be, and the same are hereby, repealed and abrogated; and that the union now subsisting between Louisiana and other States under the name of “The United States of America” is hereby dissolved.
We do further declare and ordain, That the State of Louisiana hereby resumes all rights and powers heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America; that her citizens are absolved from all allegiance to said Government; and that she is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which appertain to a free and independent State.
We do further declare and ordain, That all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or any act of Congress, or treaty, or under any law of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.
Adopted in convention at Baton Rouge this 26th day of January, 1861.
An Ordinance To dissolve the Union between the State of Texas and the other States united under the Compact styled “the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Whereas, The Federal Government has failed to accomplish the purposes of the compact of union between these States, in giving protection either to the persons of our people upon an exposed frontier, or to the property of our citizens, and
Whereas, the action of the Northern States of the Union is violate of the compact between the States and the guarantees of the Constitution; and, Whereas, The recent developments in Federal affairs make it evident that the power of the Federal Government is sought to be made a weapon with which to strike down the interests and property of the people of Texas, and her sister slave-holding States, instead of permitting it to be, as was intended, our shield against outrage and aggression; THEREFORE,
Section 1. We, the people of the State of Texas, by delegates in convention assembled, do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by our convention of delegates on the 4th day of July, A.D. 1845, and afterwards ratified by us, under which the Republic of Texas was admitted into the Union with other States, and became a party to the compact styled “The Constitution of the United States of America,” be, and is hereby, repealed and annulled; that all the powers which, by the said compact, were delegated by Texas to the Federal Government are revoked and resumed; that Texas is of right absolved from all restraints and obligations incurred by said compact, and is a separate sovereign State, and that her citizens and people are absolved from all allegiance obligations incurred by said compact, and is a separate sovereign State, and that her citizens and people are absolved from allegiance to the United States or the government thereof.
Section 2. This ordinance shall be submitted to the people of Texas for their ratification or rejection, by the qualified voters, on the 23rd day of February, 1861, and unless rejected by a majority of the votes cast, shall take effect and be in force on and after the 2d day of March, A.D. 1861. PROVIDED, that in the Representative District of El Paso said election may be held on the 18th day of February, 1861.
Done by the people of the State of Texas, in convention assembled, at Austin, this 1st day of February, A.D. 1861.
An Ordinance to dissolve the union now existing between the State of Arkansas and the other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.” Whereas, in addition to the well-founded causes of complaint set forth by this convention, in resolutions adopted on the 11th of March, A.D. 1861, against the sectional party now in power in Washington City, headed by Abraham Lincoln, he has, in the face of resolutions passed by this convention pledging the State of Arkansas to resist to the last extremity any attempt on the part of such power to coerce any State that had seceded from the old Union, proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States until they should be compelled to submit to their rule, and large forces to accomplish this have by this same power been called out, and are now being marshaled to carry out this inhuman design; and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas:
Therefore we, the people of the State of Arkansas, in convention assembled, do hereby declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the “ordinance and acceptance of compact” passed and approved by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas on the 18th day of October, A.D. 1836, whereby it was by said General Assembly ordained that by virtue of the authority vested in said General Assembly by the provisions of the ordinance adopted by the convention of delegates assembled at Little Rock for the purpose of forming a constitution and system of government for said State, the propositions set forth in “An act supplementary to an act entitled `An act for the admission of the State of Arkansas into the Union, and to provide for the due execution of the laws of the United States within the same, and for other purposes,'” were freely accepted, ratified, and irrevocably confirmed, articles of compact and union between the State of Arkansas and the United States, and all other laws and every other law and ordinance, whereby the State of Arkansas became a member of the Federal Union, be, and the same are hereby, in all respects and for every purpose herewith consistent, repealed, abrogated, and fully set aside; and the union now subsisting between the State of Arkansas and the other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby forever dissolved.
And we do further hereby declare and ordain, That the State of Arkansas hereby resumes to herself all rights and powers heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America; that her citizens are absolved from all allegiance to said Government of the United States, and that she is in full possession and exercise of all the rights and sovereignty which appertain to a free and independent State.
We do further ordain and declare, That all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States of America, or of any act or acts of Congress, or treaty, or under any law of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in full force and effect, in nowise altered or impaired, and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.
Adopted and passed in open convention on the 6th day of May, A.D. 1861.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND ORDINANCE dissolving the federal relations between the State of Tennessee and the United States of America.
First. We, the people of the State of Tennessee, waiving any expression of opinion as to the abstract doctrine of secession, but asserting the right, as a free and independent people, to alter, reform, or abolish our form of government in such manner as we think proper, do ordain and declare that all the laws and ordinances by which the State of Tennessee became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America are hereby abrogated and annulled, and that all the rights, functions, and powers which by any of said laws and ordinances were conveyed to the Government of the United States, and to absolve ourselves from all the obligations, restraints, and duties incurred thereto; and do hereby henceforth become a free, sovereign, and independent State.
Second. We furthermore declare and ordain that article 10, sections 1 and 2, of the constitution of the State of Tennessee, which requires members of the General Assembly and all officers, civil and military, to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States be, and the same are hereby, abrogated and annulled, and all parts of the constitution of the State of Tennessee making citizenship of the United States a qualification for office and recognizing the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of this State are in like manner abrogated and annulled.
Third. We furthermore ordain and declare that all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States, or under any act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof, or under any laws of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in force and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.
[sent to referendum 6 May 1861 by the legislature, and approved by the voters by a vote of 104,471 to 47,183 on 8 June 1861]
An Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of North Carolina and the other States united with her, under the compact of government entitled “The Constitution of the United States.”
We, the people of the State of North Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded, and abrogated.
We do further declare and ordain, That the union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States, under the title of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.
Done in convention at the city of Raleigh, this the 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of said State.
An act declaring the political ties heretofore existing between the State of Missouri and the United States of America dissolved.
Whereas the Government of the United States, in the possession and under the control of a sectional party, has wantonly violated the compact originally made between said Government and the State of Missouri, by invading with hostile armies the soil of the State, attacking and making prisoners the militia while legally assembled under the State laws, forcibly occupying the State capitol, and attempting through the instrumentality of domestic traitors to usurp the State government, seizing and destroying private property, and murdering with fiendish malignity peaceable citizens, men, women, and children, together with other acts of atrocity, indicating a deep-settled hostility toward the people of Missouri and their institutions; and Whereas the present Administration of the Government of the United States has utterly ignored the Constitution, subverted the Government as constructed and intended by its makers, and established a despotic and arbitrary power instead thereof: Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the general assembly of the State of Missouri, That all political ties of every character new existing between the Government of the United States of America and the people and government of the State of Missouri are hereby dissolved, and the State of Missouri, resuming the sovereignty granted by compact to the said United States upon admission of said State into the Federal Union, does again take its place as a free and independent republic amongst the nations of the earth. This act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage. [Approved, October 31, 1861.]
NOTE: Missouri tried to secede but was kept in the Union by a combination of military and political tactics.
Whereas, the Federal Constitution, which created the Government of the United States, was declared by the framers thereof to be the supreme law of the land, and was intended to limit and did expressly limit the powers of said Government to certain general specified purposes, and did expressly reserve to the States and people all other powers whatever, and the President and Congress have treated this supreme law of the Union with contempt and usurped to themselves the power to interfere with the rights and liberties of the States and the people against the expressed provisions of the Constitution, and have thus substituted for the highest forms of national liberty and constitutional government a central despotism founded upon the ignorant prejudices of the masses of Northern society, and instead of giving protection with the Constitution to the people of fifteen States of this Union have turned loose upon them the unrestrained and raging passions of mobs and fanatics, and because we now seek to hold our liberties, our property, our homes, and our families under the protection of the reserved powers of the States, have blockaded our ports, invaded our soil, and waged war upon our people for the purpose of subjugating us to their will.
Whereas, our honor and our duty to posterity demand that we shall not relinquish our own liberty and shall not abandon the right of our descendants and the world to the inestimable blessings of constitutional government: Therefore, Be it ordained, That we do hereby forever sever our connection with the Government of the United States, and in the name of the people we do hereby declare Kentucky to be a free and independent State, clothed with all power to fix her own destiny and to secure her own rights and liberties.
And whereas, the majority of the Legislature of Kentucky have violated their most solemn pledges made before the election, and deceived and betrayed the people; have abandoned the position of neutrality assumed by themselves and the people, and invited into the State the organized armies of Lincoln; have abdicated the Government in favor of a military despotism which they have placed around themselves, but cannot control, and have abandoned the duty of shielding the citizen with their protection; have thrown upon our people and the State the horrors and ravages of war, instead of attempting to preserve the peace, and have voted men and money for the war waged by the North for the destruction of our constitutional rights; have violated the expressed words of the constitution by borrowing five millions of money for the support of the war without a vote of the people; have permitted the arrest and imprisonment of our citizens, and transferred the constitutional prerogatives of the Executive to a military commission of partisans; have seen the writ of habeas corpus suspended without an effort for its preservation, and permitted our people to be driven in exile from their homes; have subjected our property to confiscation and our persons to confinement in the penitentiary as felons, because we may choose to take part in a cause for civil liberty and constitutional government against a sectional majority waging war against the people and institutions of fifteen independent States of the old Federal Union, and have done all these things deliberately against the warnings and vetoes of the Governor and the solemn remonstrances of the minority in the Senate and House of Representatives:
Be it further ordained, That the unconstitutional edicts of a factious majority of a Legislature thus false to their pledges, their honor, and their interests are not law, and that such a government is unworthy of the support of a brave and free people, and that weo therefore declare that the people are thereby absolved from all allegiance to said government, and that they have a right to establish any government which to them may seem best adapted to the preservation of their rights and liberties. [Adopted 20 Nov. 1861]
NOTE: Kentucky was considered a neutral state by both the Union and the Confederacy.
~ Secession ~
The 1860 Republican Party Platform stated the following:
Resolved. That we, the delegated representatives of the Republican electors of the United States, in Convention assembled, in discharge of the duty we owe to our constituents and our country, unite in the following:
. . . . .
4. That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of powers on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depends, and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.
That is until Abraham Lincoln is elected President!
Charles Adams’ time bomb of a book, “When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). In a mere 242 pages, he shows that almost everything we thought we knew about the war between the states is wrong.
Adams believes that both Northern and Southern leaders were lying when they invoked slavery as a reason for secession and for the war. Northerners were seeking a moral pretext for an aggressive war, while Southern leaders were seeking a threat more concrete than the Northern tariff to justify a drive to political independence. This was rhetoric designed for mass consumption.
Adams amasses an amazing amount of evidence — including remarkable editorial cartoons and political speeches — to support his thesis that the war was really about government revenue.
Consider this little tidbit from the pro-Lincoln New York Evening Post, March 2, 1861 edition:
“That either the revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states, or the port must be closed to importations from abroad, is generally admitted. If neither of these things be done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe. There will be nothing to furnish means of subsistence to the army; nothing to keep our navy afloat; nothing to pay the salaries of public officers; the present order of things must come to a dead stop.
“What, then, is left for our government? Shall we let the seceding states repeal the revenue laws for the whole Union in this manner? Or will the government choose to consider all foreign commerce destined for those ports where we have no custom-houses and no collectors as contraband, and stop it, when offering to enter the collection districts from which our authorities have been expelled?”
This is not an isolated case. British newspapers, whether favoring the North or South, said the same thing: the feds invaded the South to collect revenue. Indeed, when Karl Marx said the following, he was merely stating what everyone who followed events closely knew: “The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty.”
Marx was only wrong on one point: the war was about principle at one level. It was about the principle of self-determination and the right not to be taxed to support an alien regime.
Another way of putting this is that the war was about freedom, and the South was on the same side as the original American revolutionaries.
Interesting, isn’t it, that today, those who favor banning Confederate symbols and continue to demonize an entire people’s history also tend to be partisans of the federal government in all its present political struggles?
Then, on January 14, 1811, a mere twenty-two years after the signing of the Constitution – the thing so dreaded by New England was at hand. A portion of the Louisiana Tract, calling itself Louisiana, made application for statehood and admission to the Union. This petition had the effect of driving a stake through the heart of New England. Here was the long dreaded fact – new states would form – increasing the southern lands’ power in Congress, and ultimately – usurping New England’s power entirely. During heated debates in Congress, Josiah Quincy, a Massachusetts Representative, uttered the prophetic words that were to be the harbingers of civil war. “… it as my deliberate opinion that, if this bill passes, the bonds of this Union are virtually dissolved; that the States which compose it are free from their moral obligations; and that as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, definitely to prepare for a separation, amicably, if they can – violently, if they must. It is to preserve, to guard the Constitution of my country that I denounce this attempt.” Now the dragon’s teeth were sown in the Colonies.
The fact is that during the early days of the colonies, the colonies acted independently from each other. They generally did not join in concert to deal with the King, each colony acted without regard to her sister colony. For example, during those days John Stark was captured by the savages and brought to Albany in the Colony of New York. He was there presented for ransom. “Inasmuch as he belonged to the colony of New Hampshire, the government of New York took no action for his release. There was not even enough community of feeling to induce individual citizens to provide money for the purpose.”
Another truth of the later colonial period is that temporary unions were also formed for the common good of the colonies that entering the agreement. These unions were then disbanded when they were no longer useful to the one or all of the members. One of this time period was the United Colonies of New England, which lasted 50 years. Afterwards there were several other “temporary and provisional associations of colonies formed, and the people were taught the advantages of union for a common purpose; they never abandoned or compromised the great principles of community independence, however.” The fact is that even in these temporary unions we see that the colonies maintained and cultivated the germ principle of what would become States rights. This forming of unions, dissolving of unions and reforming into new unions testifies to the sovereignty of the communities to accede or secede from unions as they saw fit.
By declaring independence from the British kingdom, the Colonies declared their intent to secede from British Governmental Control. It is important to note that after independence was gained by the colonies each was recognized as a Sovereign State by their individual recognition by Great Britain. Therefore as free and independent countries/city/states they came together to form a government.
Their first compact was to be short lived, but the principle of individual state rights was strengthened.
The Articles of Confederation
The first union of the newly freed states was to be under the Articles of Confederation. These articles formed a compact between the states, one that was even hope to be “perpetual”, but, in the second article it is clear that the States who were to join this compact retained their primary rights. “Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.” Even with this explicit guarantee that their God given rights would not be lost two states did not join at once for fear that their sovereignty may be infringed upon. It took three years for their fears to be quieted and they then came into the union. (important to note what did not happen) They were not forced to join. They were free and independent States who could voluntarily accept of reject the Articles of Confederation.
After the 7 or so years that the Articles were in effect for the New Union it was believed, I now believe wrongly, that the Federal Government needed additional grants of power from the States. The States agreed to send delegates to a _Constitutional Convention” to revise the “Articles of Confederation”. Revise and not replace was their charter, however they did replace the Articles with our present constitution. Was all this a ruse, a CON, was this the plan of those who wanted an All-powerful central government from the start? I hope not but sometimes I am to optimistic when it comes to fellow men, perhaps as Patrick Henry said we have placed too much faith in the belief that man is virtuous. None the less our forefathers entered into the revision process and came out with a new plan for our federal government.
The Framing of the Constitution, a revised Confederation
During the process of revision of the Articles a new document was produced which became our Constitution, simply a plan for the general government and it’s limitations. There are some key actions taken during that convention that address the issue of secession.
First, early on in constitutional convention the convention representatives promptly stuck from that document the words National Government. That this was quickly stricken from is of great importance to those who would understand the founder’s stance on an all-powerful National Government. To quote President Davis, “The prompt rejection, after introduction, of this word national, is obviously more expressive than its mere absence from the constitution would have been.”
The rejection makes it abundantly clear they did not mean our government to be a consolidated nationality, instead of a confederacy of sovereign members.” A National Government would have replaced the individual states and their rights would have been lost.
The framers forged a document that protected States rights for the states were to be the greatest check upon usurpation by the general government!
The second issue addressed speedily by the convention was would the general government be granted the use of force to coerce a State into compliance with the federal government. It was rejected, as being without justification for ours was to be a system of sovereign states not subjects of the Federal Government. Furthermore, Mr. Madison stated, “the use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts (constitution), by which it was bound.” Mr. Hamilton added, “For in politics as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword.” Therefore, force was denied the general government to force compliance in our constitution.
These two key rejections by the Constitutional convention influence and contribute mightily to all the future debates or considerations of powers to be granted to the “General Government”. The fact that ours was not to be a national Government, replacing in essence the States, assures us that the States retained their sovereign right to self-government. In other words the States still retained their God given right of self-determination. Therefore, they could recall all their rights if at anytime they believed the general government had overstep the bounds and broken the compact.
What is clear is that the States were therefore to be the greatest check on Federal Government infringements on the rights of the States.
After the document was complete, it then had to be ratified by nine States before it could take effect, and then only in those nine States. Again, the State’s who did not ratify immediately were not forced to join the union.
The ratification of the Convention of nine states, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
Who ratified the Constitution? The people, with their respective States acting as their agent. I offer these proofs as to the truth of this statement for it became fashionable, particularly under Lincoln to argue that the people refers to them in aggregate without respect to their States. It was necessary to change this basic understanding of who the people are to prove their erroneous point, that the States were not sovereign.
Always, to the writers of the Constitution, the “people” referred to the people of the separate States.
To Rawle, whose book, “A View of the Constitution” published in 1825 and used at West Point by Lee and Davis, in fact used by all at West Point during the years of 1825 until late in the 1800’s, the people are defined during his assessment of the ratification process. “It was not the act of a homogeneous body of men, either large of small. It was to be the act of independent States, though in a greater degree the act of the people set in motion be those States; it was to be the act of the people of each State, not the people at large.”
To Madison; “The act therefore establishing the Constitution will not be a national but a federal act…the act of the people forming so many independent States, not as forming one nation. Each State in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body independent of all others, and only bound by it’s own voluntary act.”
Clearly, the Constitution cannot be said to have been ratified by the people of the Nation. The people of the individual States acting in concert for their State and independent from the people of the other States. Pennsylvania’s ratification read; In the name of the people of Pennsylvania, the delegates of the people of Pennsylvania ratify. New York stated, every power not delegated “remains to the people of the several States, or to their respective State governments, to whom they may have granted the same.” The people of the individual States could either accede to, accept or reject the Constitution. They, by their accession did form a voluntary union not one held together by bayonet.
Was the Constitution a compact between the States? The reason this is an important consideration is that Webster and others would deny that our constitution was a voluntary compact between equals. This was necessary for Lincoln’s arguments “to preserve the union“. It was just seen that the Constitution was freely ratified, though not unanimously by any state. But still, ratified none-the less. While it would be clearly understood by reasonable people that such a process clearly forms a compact between the parties, it is equally true that dishonest people would deny this point to further their agendas. Why, because a compact freely entered can be freely left!
Was the Constitution a Compact?
Madison; “It is an established doctrine on the subject of treaties, that all the articles are mutually conditions of each other; that a breach of any one article is a breach of the whole treaty; and that a breach committed by either of the parties absolves the others, and authorizes them, if they please, to pronounce the compact violated and void.”
Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, an advocate of a strong central government, “but as the compact was to be voluntary, it is vain for the eastern States to insist on what the Southern States will never agree too.”
Elbert Gerry, representative of Massachusetts, said, “If nine out of thirteen (States) can dissolve the compact, six out of nine will be just as able to dissolve the new one hereafter.”
Daniel Webster, remember he and is ilk said the founding fathers never referred to the constitution as a compact, in his debate on Sen. Henry S. Foote’s resolution he referred to “accusations which impute to us a disposition to evade the Constitutional Compact.” (Three years later he discovered “there was no compact called the constitution.”)
Chief Justice John Jay, an advocate of a strong central government in the case Chisholm v. State of Georgia, “expressly declares that the Constitution of the United States is a Compact.”
John Quincy Adams, stated, “our Constitution of the United States and all our State Constitutions, have been voluntary compacts.”
Edmund Pendleton of Virginia, president of Virginia’s ratifying convention said, “This is the only Government founded in real compact.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “the States entered into a compact which is called the Constitution of the United States.”
There are many others of the day who saw the Constitution as a compact but reasonable men would say that the founders intended a compact between the States.
I hope it is abundantly clear, though I have by no means exhausted the facts that would support it, that secession was and is legitimate (see Madison above on the principles of contracts). It was clearly recognized as an option for the people of the individual States, should they at anytime again seek self-determination. The 10th Amendment to our Constitution recognized that right and acknowledged that it was not given up by joining into a compact with the other States.
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.
In fact after the acceptance of the Constitutionally created general government secession was threatened several times. The most times by the northern states.
First, Massachusetts threatened to secede because of the Louisiana purchase. Their reason was it gave more weight to the Southern Section of the country. Their solution;
“The principles of our Revolution point to the remedy _ a separation. That this can be accomplished, without spilling one drop of blood, I have little doubt. I do not believe in the practicality of a long-continued union. A Northern Confederacy would unite congenial characters and present a fairer prospect of public happiness; while the Southern States, having a similarity of habits, might be left to manage their own affairs in their own way.” (Colonel Timothy Pickering, of Washington’s cabinet and Senator from Mass., in letter to George Cabot).
Other instances where secession was offered as a “remedy.” South Carolina threatened secession in 1832 over the unfair tariffs that the South in general suffered under, but South Carolina more so. Another northern secession threatened in 1845 when the “measures for the annexation of Texas evoked remonstrance’s, accompanied by threats of dissolution.”
The Southern States not one to continually threaten and not do – then left the union starting in 1860. They acted on their God given right to create a government suited to their constituents. Recognizing as Colonel Pickering did that they could “manage their affairs in their own way.”
Given the above facts, that the north had considered dissolution at several times and many there had been present at the creation of the American Republics it seemed probable that the northern States would not stand in the way of the South’s desire for self-government. Again from Rawle’s Textbook used at West Point, “To deny this right would be inconsistent with the principle on which our political systems are founded, which is, that the people have in all cases, a right to determine how they will be governed.” Henry Kyd Douglas, of Stonewall’s staff stated, “In those days Virginia boys read the Federalist and all the debates of the framers of our government and constitution. I had no more doubt of the right of a State to secede than I had of the truth of the catechism.”
We know the outcome, Lincoln waged his war of aggression for a north that needed our moneys.
His basic lie was that he sought to preserve the Union, but when he was asked to let the South go he said, “Let the South go, LET THE SOUTH GO? Where would we get our revenues?” His smoke and mirrors claim was that legally we had no right to secede. His legal arguments were without foundation. “In his July 4th, 1861 address to Congress, President Lincoln called the doctrine of the secessionist “an insidious debauching of the public mind.” “They invented.” he said, “an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps, through all the incidents, to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is, that any state of the Union may, consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore lawfully, and peacefully, withdraw from the Union, without the consent of the Union (does the Creator have to ask the Creature), or of any other State.” Ironically, it was not “fire-eating” Southern rebels who originated this “sophism” but the man Lincoln called “the most distinguished politician in our history.” ~ Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson who called Virginia his “country,” planted the seeds of secession doctrine with his Kentucky Resolution of 1798, written in protest to the Alien and Sedition laws:
“The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by compact, under the style and title of the Constitution of the United States, and of certain amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for general purposes, delegated tot that government certain powers, reserving, each state to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void and of no effect.”
President Davis stated,
“It is a poor evasion for any man to say: I make war on the rights of a whole section; I make war on the principles of the constitution; and yet; I uphold the union and desire to see it protected. Undermine its foundation and still pretend that he desires the fabric to stand.”
There were more slave states in the Union than the Confederacy when the war began at Fort Sumter! ~ [Submitted by Robert McNabb]
1798-99 – Virginia and Kentucky Resolves. Said states could nullify national law if they violated individual state rights! Mass was going to secede over the Assumption of war debts. After the revolution Va. agreed to stay only after they were given the new nations capitol.
1804 – Massachusetts plotted to secede and tried to get New York to withdraw from the union and establish a “Northern Confederacy”!
1807 Embargo Act – New Jersey was going to secede due to prohibition of foreign trade.
The Southern Perspective
The Southern States, had the audacity to actually believe in the following words of our founding document, THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
These words are quite clear. (1) Governments are established by the people organized under them for the purpose of securing rights of the people, (2) Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the people and, (3) “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends (securing the rights, safety and happiness of the people), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Item three sounds like secession. In fact, the Declaration of Independence is a secession document. In it’s own words “WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,…” this document tells us that it is one of our founding principals, or actually entitlement, to dissolve political bands when the people deem it justified.
The Colonist had the same problem with England that the Southern States had with the Congress led Northern States, and that was the refusal on the part of the abusive entity to recognize the legitimacy of the right to separate by the abused party.
Based upon the principals on which our Nation is founded, South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession dated December 20, 1860 was legitimate. Fort Sumter was unlawfully occupied by the Federal Military for almost four months before the sovereign state of South Carolina attempted to reclaim it’s property by force.
Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12, 1861 at the expense of no loss of life. No one died on either side. The firing on Fort Sumter was lawful if you believe in the principals of free government as stated by our founding fathers.
The Jefferson Davis problem
This brings us to the end of the war and the 39th Congress. The 39th Congress in its’ desire to punish the Southern States found that they could not do it if the states were considered to have not left the union. The object of the war, after all, was not for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, but rather to preserve the union with all the dignity, equality and rights of the several states unimpaired. The North had two distinct ways to look upon the situation; (1) The Southern States never left the Union and therefore those that participated in the “rebellion” had committed treason, or (2) the Southern States had left the Union and the Northern States had conquered the sovereign nation of the Confederate States of America.
Those citizens that bore arms against the Federal Government were merely a conquered people that Congress could govern as they so chose.
Under situation #1 Jefferson Davis could be tried for treason as a citizen bearing arms against his own country. At his trial the Federal government would have to face the legitimacy of their actions of waging a war over the states right to sever it’s political bonds with the Federal Government. For the reasons stated above, along with other reasons, the Feds would have a tough, if not impossible task of overcoming the criminality of their actions by not acknowledging and allowing secession.
In this situation, the Federals might release President Davis in order to avoid the issue concerning the right to secede. President Davis would, under this situation, be considered at all times a United States citizen.
Under situation #2 the Southern citizens would be considered Confederate citizens and not a United States citizens. Therefore they could not be charged with the crime of treason.
The good part about situation #2, from Congress’s point of view, was that Congress could trade out charging President Davis with treason in return for being able to treat the Southern States and their Citizens as conquered territory and conquered people. At the same time they get the added benefit of avoiding the issue concerning the right to secede in Court.
The main problem with situation #2 is that it is contrary to the official object of the war declared by Congress themselves. All of the Northern soldiers that died would be in their graves for a purpose for which they did not fight for and the South would be in a position of subjugation that they did not surrender to.
Position #2 obviously is the most dishonest and criminal manner in which this situation could be handled. But you may have guessed it. Situation #2 is the route Congress chose. Jefferson Davis would be considered NOT a citizen of the United States and the issue of secession would not come before the Court, and Congress could punish the Southern States as they so pleased.
Jefferson Davis was not tried for treason for the simple reason that Congress’s stronger desire was to reconstruct the Southern States as a form of punishment.
John C. Ainsworth
The CSA Page
The Congressional Record of March 2, 1928, reports Senate Joint Resolution No. 41 wherein Congress recognized the title “War Between the States” as proper.
“History of the Confederacy 1832-1865,” by Clifford Dowdey, he states the following on pages 411 and 414: “The Confederacy never had a formal or official end.”
He noted that all Confederate generals just surrendered their armies, as none of them had the authority to surrender anything more. Even President Jefferson Davis, when captured, was only captured. There was never any formal surrender of the Confederacy as a nation.”
Additional Reference Material: The Issue WAS State’s Rights
The state rights tone was set in the preamble to the Confederate Constitution in the significant phrase, “each State acting in its sovereign and independent character”