« Please write your Congressmen on Iran | Main | An Update on Contacting Your Member of Congress by Adam L. Silverman »

19 July 2015

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The Twisted Genius

The New England states came close to seceding several times before the Southern states actually did.I knew of the 1814 Hartford Convention but I didn't know how deep the secessionist spirit ran in the North.This begs the question, how did the government in Washington pull off a federal victory?

http://ditext.com/dilorenzo/yankee.html

turcopolier

TTG
I have contemplated this question for a long, long time. Most people think the answer has to do with industrial production but that is not the answer. In fact the South managed to supply its armies with weapons and ammunition. They managed to supply their armies with clothing. They managed to feed their armies. The food and the clothing was not up to Northern standards but it sufficed. In the end the answer lies in numbers of men available to put in the field. The northern White population was much larger and when 200,000 men recruited in Europe and 200,000 Blacks were added the Union was unbeatable if the Northern population could no be persuaded to quit their efforts to re-unify the country by force. That is why Lee invaded the North twice. He was trying to bring the Union Army to decisive battle in the belief that a decisive win would bring acceptance of Southern independence by popular demand. In the Overland Campaign in 1864, Grant lost more men between the Rapidan and Cold Harbor than Lee had possessed in his entire army at the beginning and Grant still had the same number of men as when he began. He just kept bringing reserves forward to make up his losses, pl

The Twisted Genius

pl,

Given the widespread support for or, at least, ambivalence towards, succession, I better understand Lee's decision to invade the north for the reasons you mentioned. I also understand the motivations of the European and black troops. I'd like to better understand how more of the Army officers made their decisions. Lee's motivations are well covered. George Thomas didn't write any memoirs and little of what he wrote survived the war. His is an interesting case. Beyond his wife's family, how did his identification with the U.S.Army overcome his identification with and citizenship of Virginia? Would you or I ever cut all ties with the Army if confronted with such circumstances?

Jack

Sir

An important aspect that has been forgotten is that the US is an union of sovereign states. The federal government has usurped powers while the states have acquiesced to their detriment. Many Americans don't understand their own history. If they did then the march to bigger government at the federal and state level would not take place. A return to an America where the notion that the best government is one that governs least is not possible in an environment of mass dependency. My own feeling is that the power of the state only rises as they fail more as we have seen over the last decades. The calls for government interventions will only rise as the financial imbalances due to goverment interventions cause more instability. Both the left and right want bigger government for their own reasons. There is a limited constituency for personal accountability. As a consequence we have the nanny state and PC discourse that benefit only those that can use state power to feather their nest.

Dismayed

What about the inverse? Can we kick a state out of the Union? The lunacy has gone too far ...

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ac1bb093253947d7ae258f388d87c944/most-new-california-licenses-go-drivers-us-illegally

William R. Cumming

Just finished a biography of Andrew Jackson by John Meachum. Interesting discussion of Jackson's views on NULLIFICATION and SUCCESSION!

I would argue that perhaps not this century but in the next many many realignments of current nation-state boundry's will happen as the nation-state system that was largely established by the Westphalian Treaties and Hugo Grotius arguments on the Rule of Law international are dissolved by demographic events.

With California now majority Hispanic [white and non-white culturally] and earthquakes on the range of highly probable and maybe 1000 years of drought the rest of the USA will soon tire of subsidies to that state. Post WWII is is still the largest transfer beneficiary of federal disaster relief and more to come.

And hidden defense subsidies built modern California even if the Big One does not break off a huge chunk.

William R. Cumming

YUP!

William R. Cumming

That might be a solution but a better solution would be reformed federalism largely cemented in the CONSTITUTION. I have long suggested that permanent standing committees in both houses of Congress and perhaps even a Joint Committee like budget, taxes, and intelligence that would focus on issues of federalism and issue reports on every bill sent to the floor of the Senate and House discussing federalism issues.

The ACA [Obamacare] could well dissolve over federalism issues yet as many states head towards bankruptcy over MEDICARE expansion AFTER 2016!

Bob R

We are where we are today because of the handiwork of the great Chief Justice, John Marshall, who during his 34 years as Chief wrote half the Court’s thousand or so decisions, including those landmark rulings that established Federal Supremacy and provided the legal cement for the theory of the “union” of States that ultimately trumped Jefferson’s opposing concept of the United States as being a “league” of states that had made nothing more than a “compact” in 1787. In a series of stunning decisions, he asserted the concept of judicial review -- the court’s right to rule on the constitutionality of Presidential acts, acts of Congress and state legislation/action --, establishing the supremacy of federal law, even treaties, over state law, and giving the Federal government implicit powers, beyond those enumerated in the Constitution to regulate commerce and provide for the general welfare.

Marshall was a supremely gifted politician who was able, after the departure of “cousin Jefferson” from the White House, to bring Jeffersonian acolytes, James Madison and James Monroe, around to his way of thinking and see an erstwhile opponent and states-rightist, Andrew Jackson, threaten to use federal military power to crush attempts by Georgia and South Carolina to defy Court decisions. Had he not been on the court, he most likely would have succeeded Jefferson as President. It is true, as the Colonel might say, that the decisions were made up out of whole cloth, but they are now the established law of the land.

If you can put aside the vitriolic sliming of Jefferson by the author, Harlow Giles Unger’s “John Marshall: The Chief who Saved the Nation” is a fascinating recounting of the origins of our Republic and the mastery of a Jurist who established the legal underpinnings of federal supremacy. One might even come to the conclusion that two of the five greatest Americans of all time bear the Marshall family name.

turcopolier

Bob

"they are now the established law of the land" There is no such thing as "settled law." All decisions are subject to reversal at a future date. Segregation was enforced by SCOTUS decision until Brown vs Board of Education and in any event if John Marshall asserted something without any real authority other than "brass balls" does that make his assertions something that all are required to revere forever? In any even John Marshall was not around to contest Williams' essential point which was that the states always had the right to leave the Union and only force majeur in the WBS prevented them from doing so if they wished. pl

turcopolier

All

The word is "secession," not "succession." pl

Matthew

Col: I also thought Lee invaded the North because his army was denuding Virginia of supplies.

turcopolier

Bob

As a lawyer you know that the principle of "federal supremacy" has to do with the supremacy of federal law over state law. It presumes that the state in question is still in the Union at the time of the application of the principle. It has nothing to do with the right of the states to secede. pl

turcopolier

Matthew

No. The Army of Northern Virginia did not loot either Maryland or Pennsylvania of supplies in 1862 or 1863. The Army had a supply train that ran back into Virginia. In fact Lee had a couple of his men tried by field court-martial and hanged in Pennsylvania for looting. Army quartermasters did buy supplies in some places but they paid for them with promissory notes written on the Confederate Treasury payable after the war. Let us remember that nobody knew the South would lose the war. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

I think there is a parallel between South Carolina's firing on Fort Sumter in 1861 and what is arguably the most colossal strategic blunder of recent history*, Hitler's unilateral declaration of war on the USA a few days after Pearl Harbor without even getting a commitment from Japan to go to war immediately on the USSR. In both cases the President would have had a very hard time getting the Congress and the country to follow him down his desired path without such provocation.

* That dubious honor may yet pass down to George W. Bush and his invasion of Iraq unless his successors stop doubling down on the stupidity.

tv

Yesssss.

Matthew

Col: I was thinking that because of the number of battles and the sheer number of men under arms that Virginia's agriculture could not sustain the ANV. That is what I meant by denuded.

elkern

As usual (always?), the war was won on the ground, but the US Navy was a significant edge.

"Anaconda" worked, partly because the North was able to build a flotilla of iron-clad gunboats to control the Mississippi and Tennesee rivers. Looking up details of some of the river battles, I was surprised to see pictures of what appeared to be a bunch of Merrimacks attacking Confederate forts. Turns out they were "Pook Turtles", built in (what is now) St. Louis by January 1862.

Control of the rivers and better railways meant that the Union had an important advantage in manoevre as well as manpower, no?

The main disadvantage of the North seems to have been less coherent political situation & leadership. Lincoln and the Northern Generals had to worry more about looking good back home (plus ca change...), with an eye toward future elections, or just keeping their jobs.

turcopolier

Matthew

The AnV was supplied by the central commissariat with varying levels of success from all over the CSA. pl

steve

I think they should have explicitly addressed the issue of secession in the Constitution. Since they did not, we are left with parsing out interpretations. The fact that New York, Virginia and Rhode Island did so means that it had been considered. It is not clear to me if they left it vague by accident or on purpose. Even if you use the terms as defined in those listed states, you still have interpretation problems. Abusive? What does that mean? If it is settled at the Supreme Court level, you just get a decision that reflects the ideological make up of the Court at that specific time.

Steve

steve

" Let us remember that nobody knew the South would lose the war."

Been a while since I read on this, but wasn't it the majority opinion of the military leaders in Europe that the South should probably win the war?

smoke

Gratified to find SST discussing the legal position of secession.

Over and over in recent weeks I have heard people in public discussion refer to the WBS as "treason." (Don't know if they mean secession or war or both.) Whereas I had always thought, based partly on the the DOI, that the right of secession was, until WBS, considered a right of a state, under certain circumstances. Seems that WBS confirmed the ancillary, practical principle that secession is only a right, if the seceding state(s) can back it up with force of arms.

Would be interested to learn from others here whether failed secession amounts to "treason." One of those labels that belong to the victor?

turcopolier

Steve

Yes. They thought that the North would abandon its aggressive attempts to reunify the country. pl

turcopolier

steve

Is it not clear that the right to secede was a political matter and not subject to "approval" by the federal courts? pl

steve

In practice, yes. As a legal matter, i.e. is it built into the Constitution, it doesn't seem all that clear to me as I said above. In private correspondence later in life Madison suggested that secession would require the approval of the other states if a given state wanted to secede, but he didn't write this into the Constitution. I wish that they had explicitly addressed the issue.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

June 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        
Blog powered by Typepad