Sunday, May 18, 2014

On the Common Held Notion that Secession Equates to Treason

It is exclusively a modern construct (originating with Lincoln) and here is the evidence.............a) "If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." Thomas Jefferson, 1801.............b) "If any state in the union will declare that it prefers separation to a continuance in union I have no hesitation in saying, 'let us separate'." Thomas Jefferson, 1816.............c) "If the day should ever come when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collusion of interests shall fester into hatred, the bands of political association will no longer hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies, to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint." John Quincy Adams, 1839.............d) "To coerce the States is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised. What picture does this idea present to our view? A complying State at war with a noncomplying State: Congress marching the troops of one State into the bosom of another? Here is a nation at war with itself. Can any reasonable man be well disposed toward a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself - a government that can only exist by the sword?" Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers.............e) "....the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression." From the Virginia ordinances of ratification of the Constitution, 1789.............f) "It depends on the state itself to retain or abolish the principle of representation, because it depends on itself whether it will continue a member of the Union. To deny this right would be inconsistent with the principle on which all our political systems are founded, which is, that the people have in all cases a right to determine how they will be governed." William Rawle, 1825.............g) "I will rather anticipate a new confederacy, exempt from the corrupt and corrupting influence of the aristocratic Democrats of the South....There will be a separation and the black and white populations will mark the boundary." Timothy Pickering, 1803 (as the New England states were considering secession in response to the Louisiana Purchase).............h) "....whenever its provisions are violated, or its original principles departed from by a majority of the states or their people, it is no longer an effective instrument, but that any state is at liberty by the spirit of that contract to withdraw itself from the Union." Public proclamation from the Massachusetts legislature, 1809 (as the state was contemplating secession in response to President Madison's Enforcement Act).............i) "During the weeks following the election (1860), editors of all parties assumed that secession as a constitutional right was not in question. On the contrary, the southern claim to a right of peaceable withdrawal was countenance out of reverence for the natural law principle of government by the consent of the governed....We hope never to live in a republic whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets. " Horace Greeley, 1860.............j) I have no idea that the Union can be maintained or restored by force. Nor do I believe in the value of a Union which can only be kept together by dint of a military force." James Alfred Pearce, 1860.............k) "Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. ANY PORTION OF SUCH PEOPLE, THAT CAN, MAY REVOLUTIONIZE, AND MAKE THEIR OWN OF SO MUCH OF THE TERRITORY AS THEY INHABIT." Abraham Lincoln, 1848.............l) "To secure these rights (of  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness), Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government." Thomas Jefferson, 1776.............I rest my case.


BB-Idaho said...

One wonders if unilateral secession, that is without the sanction of the three US branches of government, might be considered as 'rebellion' [again]
and hence an act of war: if against the US, that could be construed as treason. It would seem so, according to James Madison:
"I return my thanks for the copy of your late very powerful Speech in the Senate of the United S. It crushes "nullification" and must hasten the abandonment of "Secession". But this dodges the blow by confounding the claim to secede at will, with the right of seceding from intolerable oppression. The former answers itself, being a violation, without cause, of a faith solemnly pledged. The latter is another name only for revolution, about which there is no theoretic controversy"

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

So, the people of New Jersey would have to get permission from the representatives of Ohio, Virginia, etc., the Supreme Court (and Marshall actually said that a state "cannot be called at the bar of the federal court"), and a dictatorial President like Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, or Nixon prior to being able to secede? I don't know, BB, I don't even think that consolidationists such as Hamilton, Clay, or Webster ever thought that.