Robert Stacy McCain is, like me, a man who defends the South unapologetically. He is a man, like me, is proud of his Confederate ancestors. Stacy has written a great piece setting the record straight on the right of secession the Southern states claimed in 1861. It is well written and historically sound, and ought to be read by anyone who thinks the South had no right to secede. Check it out! And YES read it all
On this day in 1860, South Carolina voted to secede from the Union, and this 150th anniversary inspires historian Paul Rahe to publish his endorsement of the “indissoluble union” theory:
The legitimacy of secession has been debated ever since. In my view, secession was unlawful. There is provision in the United States constitution for ratification and for the admission of new states into the Union. There is no provision for secession.
It is true, of course, that – in ratifying the Constitution – Virginia specified “that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.” But this unilateral assertion on Virginia’s part is not and could not be an assertion of a legal right under the Constitution – which, even if viewed as a contract, recognizes no such right. Rather, it is a reassertion of the natural rights that underpin the right to revolution asserted in the Declaration of Independence, and it applies to the people of the United States and not to the state of Virginia or even the people of the state of Virginia as such.
Of course, this theory effectively abolishes the states, rendering them nothing but administrative jurisdictions of the unitary and all-powerful national government — the negation of federalism.
From the standpoint of political science, it makes no difference whether in your opinion Southern secession was wise or just in 1860, or whether you are in favor of secession as a general idea, and it certainly makes no difference what your opinion is as to the controversies over slavery that provoked the crisis of 1860-61.
The fundamental question is, “Who ratified the Constitution, and what sort of union was created by that ratification?” And the answers to those questions are not, nor can they be, a matter of mere opinion. There are historical facts to be considered, and which Rahe glosses over.
The American colonies which declared their independence from Great Britain in July 1776 made it as clear as possible what their intent was:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.