Sectionalism and Southern Secession

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Sectionalism and Secession
Sectionalism, Secession, Civil War

Sectionalism and Southern Secession

Sectionalism, Secession, and Civil War

States Must Decide. Sectionalism Produced Disunion. 
Confederate Military History, Volume 1

Sectionalism Map
Official Sectionalism Map.jpg
Official Sectionalism Map

        Told by politicians of the era, this is the story of a nation influenced by sectionalism, secession, slavery, Civil War, and the U.S. Constitution. In their owns words, the powers that be of the Antebellum era, state the driving factors that influenced sectionalism, secession, slavery, and forced the nation into Civil War.

        Secession and sectionalism are inseparable in U.S. history and both played a prominent role in the American Civil War. To better understand the subject, we will define sectionalism and what caused secession. High tariffs, sectionalism history in the United States, what is sectionalism, political definition of sectionalism, summary of secession, what caused sectionalism, secession definition, results of sectionalism, the role of banks and wealthy merchants, slavery as it related to sectionalism, trade and interest rates. Other related fields of study are examined from protective tariffs, taxation, banking system, trade between the North and South, political influence and how it related to sectionalism and secession, summary of events leading up to the American Civil War, sectional interests and increased tensions driving sectionalism in the Northern and Southern states, Mason-Dixon Line definition and how it related to slavery and sectionalism, justification of secession of Southern states as told by politicians of the era, sectionalism and geography of a nation torn by geopolitical interests, conflicting causes of sectionalism as stated by Southern and Northern politicians, US Constitution and its limitations on Southern secession, and how tariffs and taxes continue to play a major role and influence in the ideals of citizens both North and South of the Mason-Dixon Line.


       The Federal government, as the representative and embodiment of the delegated powers, has no disposition, and, within itself or in its organization, no provisions to prevent the delegated from encroaching on the powers reserved to the several States. This government, neither through the President, the Congress nor the courts, having the right to determine finally whether the compact has been dangerously violated, or has failed to subserve the purpose of its formation, it follows irresistibly that where the forms of the Constitution prove ineffectual against dangers to the equality and essential rights of the States, the parties to it, these States have the sole right to interfere for arresting the progress of the evil and for maintaining within their respective limits the rights and liberties appertaining to them. The interposition of a State in its sovereign character, as a party to the constitutional compact, was the only means furnished by the system to resist encroachments and prevent entire absorption of the powers which were purposely withheld from the general government. Madison said: "Where resort can be had to no tribunal superior to the authority of the parties, the parties themselves must be the rightful judges in the last resort, whether the bargain made has been pursued or violated. The Constitution of the United States was formed by the sanction of the States, given by each in its sovereign capacity. The States, then, being parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity that there can be no tribunal above their authority to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated, and consequently that, as the parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition." An assemblage of citizens of Boston in Faneuil Hall, in 1809, state, in a celebrated memorial, that they looked only to the state legislatures, who were competent to devise relief against the unconstitutional acts of the general government. "That your power is adequate to that object is evident from the organization of the confederacy." How the States were to exercise this high power of interposition, which constitutes so essential a portion of their reserved rights that it cannot be delegated without an entire surrender of their sovereignty and converting our system from a federal into a consolidated government, is a question that the States only are competent to determine. The reservation of powers is "the States respectively," that is, to each State separately and distinctly. The Constitution contains no provision whatsoever for the exercise of the rights reserved nor any stipulation respecting it. It does not seem reasonable to look to the government of the United States, in which the delegated powers are vested, for the means of resisting encroachments on the reserved powers. That would be to expect power to tie its own hands, to relinquish its own claims, or to look for protection against danger to the quarter from which only it could possibly come. (1 Calhoun, 237.) Every sovereignty is the judge alone of its own compacts and agreements. Each State must have the right to interpret the agreement for itself unless it has clearly waived that right in favor of another power. That it has not been waived has been placed beyond refutation, for otherwise the powers of the government at Washington are universal and the enumerations and reservation are idle mockeries. And so a written constitution, however carefully guarded the grant and limitations, is no barrier against the usurpations of governments and no security for the rights and liberties of the people. Restrictions are contemptuously disregarded, or undermined by the gradual process of usurpation, until the instrument is of no more force, nor any more respected than an act of Congress. Constitutional scruples are hooted at, and suggested bar-tiers of want of authority are ridiculed as abstractions or the theories of political doctrinaires. The Federal judiciary, the Congress, the Executive, the Constitution, the Union, are but emanations of the sovereignty of the States, and the States are not bound by their wishes, necessities, action, except as they have agreed to be bound, and this agreement was made, not with the Union, the Federal government, their agent and creature, but with one another. "Vicious legislation must be remedied by the people who suffer from the effects of it and not by those who enjoy its benefits." (Bryan.)
       They made their compact as sovereign States, and as such they alone are to determine the nature and extent of that agreement and how far they were to be bound. Each State was grantor and grantee receiving precisely what it had granted. The Federal government was in no sense a party to the Constitution; it has no original powers and can exert only what the States surrendered to it, and these States, from the very nature and structure of the common government, are alone competent to decide, in the last resort, what powers they intended to confer upon their agent. The States were not so stupid as to confer upon their creature, the Union, the power to obliterate them, or reduce them to the relation of dependence which counties sustain to the State. This high, supreme, ultimate power of our whole system resides in its fullness in the people of the several States, the only people known to us as performing political functions. The general government is not superior to the States, and has no existence nor autonomy, outside, irrespective of, contrary to, the States. The Union could not exist a day if all of the States were to withdraw their cooperation. The President, the Senate and Representatives, with all their powers, are conditioned upon the action of the States. Hamilton, in Federalist, No. LIX. said: "It is certainly true that the State legislatures, by forbearing the appointment of senators, may destroy the national government." The Federal government, the Union, as a corporate body politic, does not claim its life, nor a single power, from the people apart from State organizations. In truth and in fact, there is not, nor ever has been, such a political entity as the people of the United States in the aggregate, separated from, independent of, the voluntary or covenanted action of the States. That anything is constitutional or admissible, simply because the judiciary or the Executive or the Congress, or the moral convictions of citizens approve, or the country will be benefited by it, is a modern invention and has no basis in our constitutional federal republic. To put it in the least objectionable form, the States, in their undelegated powers, are as important, as supreme, as the general government, and the theory of State subjugation, of provincial dependencies, is a pure afterthought to justify arbitrary and ungranted authority. It is indisputable that by far the greater part of the topics of legislation, the whole vast range of rights of person and property--where the administration of law and justice comes closest home to the daily life of the people--are exclusively or chiefly within the power of the States. The number of topics of legislation which lie outside the pale of national legislation greatly exceeds the number to which the power of State legislation does not extend. (Federalist, No. 14; Mich. Lect., 244; I Calhoun, 197, 204, 214-15.) If the Union be indissoluble, with equal or greater propriety we may affirm that the States are equal and indestructible.
       When the adoption of the Constitution was under discussion before the State conventions, with an uncertain result, its enemies were alarmed en account of the magnitude of powers conferred on the general government and its friends were fearful because of alleged feebleness in comparison with extent of reserved powers; but neither party contended that an increase or diminution of power could constitutionally be made by implication and inference so as to equip the central government with all the means it derived in the warfare with antagonists. The authors of The Federalist--the essays written to secure the acceptance of the Constitution--insisted that the apprehended inequality did not exist, and that should it be developed, the States would be able to control. Hamilton wrote: "The general government can have no temptation to absorb the local authorities left with the States. * * * It is, therefore, improbable that there should exist a disposition in the Federal councils to usurp the powers with which commerce, finance, negotiation and war are connected. Should wantonness, lust of domination, beget such a disposition, the sense of the people of the several States would control the indulgence of so extravagant an appetite." This redundant exposition of the doctrine that there can be no tribunal above the authority of the States and that in them reside the ultimate decision, has been made because there is such a painful misunderstanding of the relation the Federal government sustains to the States, and of the comparative authority, power and value of the Union and of the States.

       The forebodings of those who dreaded an undue enlargement of the powers of the central government--the increase of centripetal tendencies to the weakening of the centrifugal---have been more than realized. Instead of a rivalry between the general government and the States, between the delegated and the reserved powers, the antagonism has proved unreal and fallacious, and the strong trend has been and is to centralization, justifying the prediction of Jefferson that "when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venial and oppressive as the government from which we separated." By an irresistible tendency the stronger has absorbed the weaker and is concentrating in itself unlimited and uncontrollable power. This usurpation has been carried so far that nothing short of an absolute negative on the part of the States can protect against the encroachments of a growingly centralized government. For a few years and naturally, States were superior in dignity, and two citizens of South Carolina declined positions on the Supreme court, one the chief-justiceship. The enlargement of territory, the multiplication of States, the glory resulting from successful wars, the enormous prosperity caused by vaned climate and products, free interstate commerce, religious liberty, the stimulus of free institutions, extensive landed proprietorship, the immense Federal and subsidizing expenditures, government partnership in business, the building up of favored classes and interests by protective tariffs and bounties and discriminating fiscal policy, the vast number of Federal offices constituting executive patronage and conferred not as a trust for the public good, but as spoils of office and rewards for partisans, a huge pension system, destroying local patriotism of recipients and corrupting states--have magnified the government at Washington and given from exuberance of strength a resistless impulse, adverse to its federal and favorable to a consolidated character. This revolutionary change has been attended by the grossest inequality, because a majority has centered in one section, giving it absolute control on all questions which coincide with its views and interests. As the government has been centralized, nationalized, lost its original character as a constitutional federal republic, its power has grown by what it has fed upon and its patronage has become more tempting and wide spread. Proportionate with power and patronage, and increasing with their increase, will be the desire to possess the control over them, for the purpose of individual or sectional aggrandizement; and the stronger this desire, the less will be the regard for principles and the Constitution, and the greater the tendency, accompanied by increase of ability, to unite for sectional domination. (I Calhoun, 241, 371.) The tariff system, framed in the interests and at the dictation of classes and persons that contribute liberally in elections; the taxation practically of agricultural exports, grown preponderantly in one section; the partial, inequitable appropriations for rivers, harbors, public buildings, the concentration of the financial operations of the government in one quarter of the Union; the theories of the latitudinous interpretation of the Constitution which dominated parties and dictated political and legislative action at the North, investing Congress with the right to determine what objects belong to the general welfare; have been most potential in enriching one section to the prejudice of the other and in enlarging the power, prestige and influence of the Union. The power of Congress to levy duties on imports for specific purposes has been enlarged into an unlimited authority to protect domestic manufactures against foreign competition. The effect of this has been "to impose the main burden of taxation upon the Southern people, who were consumers and not manufacturers, not only by the enhanced price of imports, but indirectly by the consequent depreciation of the value of exports, which were chiefly the products of the Southern States." The increase of price was not always paid into the public treasury, but accrued somewhat to the benefit of the manufacturer. What revenues went into the treasury were disbursed most unequally, and the sectional discrimination, enriching one portion to the injury and inequality of the other, tended to direct immigration to the North and to increase the functions and influence of the Federal government. The majority, doing the injustice, claim to be the sole judges of the rightness of their action and whether or not the power is lodged in their hands. The minority have no rights which the majority are bound to respect, or if they have, there are no means of asserting and vindicating them. The majority, which are sectional, possess the government, measure its powers and wield them without responsibility. Enriched by their own acts, becoming proud, insolent, greedy of power and gain, inflamed by cupidity, avarice, monopoly, they arrogate and usurp; and, with each succeeding day, what was very questionable becomes by force of unresisted precedent a principle, and self-conceit transmutes exercise of power into piety, and the judgment of parties and the interest of classes into a higher law, into the will of God. We find in England and other countries an aristocracy, the classes in the enjoyment of pensions, tithes, monopolies, vested rights, exclusive privileges until, with blunted sensibilities and beclouded intellects, they delude themselves into acquiescence in, and support of, such inequalities and wrongs. So in the United States, under powers granted in the Constitution, such as levying duties and taxes, regulating commerce, war, appropriating money, disposing of territory and other property, admitting new States, the government during the Confederate war incorporated banks, made fiat money or promises to pay a legal tender, constructed roads, granted bounties and monopolies, gave away the property of the people, prescribed State constitutions, emancipated slaves, fixed terms and conditions of suffrage, dictated manner of appointing and electing senators, assumed control over railways and industries and absorbed and exercised a sovereign power over interstate commerce, capital, labor, currency and property. We have seen an alliance between Congress and eleemosynarians, senators taking care of their private affairs in revenue bills, and manufacturers before sub-committees of ways and means and of finance dictating the subjects to be taxed and the amount of duties to be levied.
       One wonders how these revolutions and iniquities have been accomplished. Governor Morris wrote to Timothy Pickering that "the legislative lion will not be entangled in the meshes of a logical net. The legislature will always make the power which it wishes to exercise." One of the ablest expounders of the Constitution deplores "the science of verbality," the artifice of so verbalizing as to assail and destroy the plainest provisions. The instrumentality of inference has sapped and mined our political system. Acuteness of misinterpretation and construction has accomplished what the framers of the Constitution exerted all their faculties, by specifications and restrictions, to prevent, so that constructive powers have been as seed-bearing of mischief and usurpation as the doctrine of constructive treason. Alexander Hamilton believed honestly that nothing short of monarchical institutions would prove adequate to the wants of the country, and in the convention of 1787, he sought to conform the new government, while in process of construction, to the model of the British, which he regarded as the best ever devised by the wit of man. He had not a single supporter, and afterward, ably and effectively, with marked patriotism, he threw his pen and voice in favor of ratification. But this he did avowedly as a temporary bond of union and as the only avenue of escape from anarchy. Appointed to assist in carrying the government into effect and sincerely believing that with no other powers than those he so well knew it was intended to authorize, it must prove a failure, and the government must go to pieces, he decided unhesitatingly to do under it whatever he, in good faith, might think would promote the general welfare, without reference to the intention of the authors of the Constitution. The discussions to show that his principal measures were authorized by the instrument, were in deference to the prejudices and ideas of the people--nothing more. The principle of construction he espoused was to make good all laws which Congress might deem conducive to the general welfare, and which were not expressly prohibited, a power similar to that contained in the plan he proposed in the convention. He desired, in short, to make the Constitution a tablet of wax upon which each successive administration would be at liberty to impress its rescripts to be promulgated as constitutional edicts. (Van Buren's Pol. Parties in U.S., 211, 213.) Hamilton laid the foundation of his policy so deep and with so much skill that it has been impossible to reverse especially under conditions so favorable to centralization. He invoked in support of his measures the selfishness, the cupidity, the ambition of classes, and sought to make the strength of the government depend, as in England, on the interested support of an intelligent and combined few. An impulse in accordance with his theory was impressed, and has since been constantly strengthened. It is not uncommon to hear the Constitution ridiculed as an abstraction, or an effete formula. The government has grievously departed from its federal character, and reserved powers are so far removed from possible application in case of controversy, that State rights, when seriously mentioned, provoke contempt or ridicule. In 1824, Jefferson wrote to Van Buren: "General Washington was himself sincerely a friend to the republican principles of our Constitution. His faith might not, perhaps, have been as confident as mine, but he repeatedly declared to me that he was determined' it should have a fair chance of success, and that he would lose the last drop of his blood in its support against any attempt which might be made to change it from its republican form."

Recommended Reading: The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (Paperback), by David M. Potter. Review: Professor Potter treats an incredibly complicated and misinterpreted time period with unparalleled objectivity and insight. Potter masterfully explains the climatic events that led to Southern secession – a greatly divided nation – and the Civil War: the social, political and ideological conflicts; culture; American expansionism, sectionalism and popular sovereignty; economic and tariff systems; and slavery. In other words, Potter places under the microscope the root causes and origins of the Civil War. He conveys the subjects in easy to understand language to edify the reader's understanding (it's not like reading some dry old history book). Delving beyond surface meanings and interpretations, this book analyzes not only the history, but the historiography of the time period as well. Continued below…

Professor Potter rejects the historian's tendency to review the period with all the benefits of hindsight. He simply traces the events, allowing the reader a step-by-step walk through time, the various views, and contemplates the interpretations of contemporaries and other historians. Potter then moves forward with his analysis. The Impending Crisis is the absolute gold-standard of historical writing… This simply is the book by which, not only other antebellum era books, but all history books should be judged.

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Recommended Reading: What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States) (Hardcover: 928 pages). Review: The newest volume in the renowned Oxford History of the United States-- A brilliant portrait of an era that saw dramatic transformations in American life The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in What Hath God Wrought, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the United States expanded to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American continent. Continued below…

Howe's panoramic narrative portrays revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information. These innovations prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America's economic development from an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture. In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. He examines the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs--advocates of public education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans--were the true prophets of America's future. He reveals the power of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women's rights and other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe's story of American expansion -- Manifest Destiny -- culminates in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico to gain California and Texas for the United States. By 1848, America had been transformed. What Hath God Wrought provides a monumental narrative of this formative period in United States history.

Recommended Reading: Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 (Hardcover) (Simon & Schuster) (October 21, 2008). Reviews: "This detailed and gripping narrative of Lincoln's thoughts and actions during the four months between his election and inauguration -- perhaps more important than any four months of his actual presidency -- is another tour de force by one of our foremost Lincoln scholars. Bristling with new information and key insights, it enriches our understanding of this most fateful time in American history."-- James M. McPherson, author of Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. Continued below…

"Lincoln President-Elect is Harold Holzer's best and most controversial book. Many historians, myself included, have depicted Lincoln in the months between his election and inauguration as weak and indecisive. Holzer, carefully studying the record, argues that Lincoln was a strong-minded, highly principled, and shrewd president-elect."-- David Herbert Donald, author of Lincoln

"This is a stunningly original work that casts completely new light on the most turbulent and critical presidential transition in American history. Holzer's superb narrative skill, along with his abundant use of colorful details, creates an atmosphere of such immediacy that the reader feels transported back to "the Great Secession Winter" as an eye-witness to Lincoln's gifted leadership during this dramatic period. This groundbreaking book will take its place with the most valuable and indispensable works in the Lincoln canon."-- Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

"No one has a finer intuitive understanding of Abraham Lincoln than Harold Holzer. In this fascinating book, he throws a searchlight on a crucial and surprisingly underexamined episode of Lincoln's life to show us the essential elements of Lincoln's political and moral greatness."-- Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989


Recommended Reading: Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers, by James F. Simon (Simon & Schuster). Publishers Weekly: This surprisingly taut and gripping book by NYU law professor Simon (What Kind of Nation) examines the limits of presidential prerogative during the Civil War. Lincoln and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney saw eye to eye on certain matters; both, for example, disliked slavery. But beginning in 1857, when Lincoln criticized Taney's decision in the Dred Scott case, the pair began to spar. They diverged further once Lincoln became president when Taney insisted that secession was constitutional and preferable to bloodshed, and blamed the Civil War on Lincoln. In 1861, Taney argued that Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus was illegal. This holding was, Simon argues, "a clarion call for the president to respect the civil liberties of American citizens." Continued below...

In an 1862 group of cases, Taney joined a minority opinion that Lincoln lacked the authority to order the seizure of Southern ships. Had Taney had the chance, suggests Simon, he would have declared the Emancipation Proclamation unconstitutional; he and Lincoln agreed that the Constitution left slavery up to individual states, but Lincoln argued that the president's war powers trumped states' rights. Simon's focus on Lincoln and Taney makes for a dramatic, charged narrative—and the focus on presidential war powers makes this historical study extremely timely.


Recommended Reading: Secession Debated: Georgia's Showdown in 1860. Review: The critical northern antebellum debate matched the rhetorical skills of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in an historic argument over the future of slavery in a westward-expanding America. Two years later, an equally historic oratorical showdown between secessionists and Unionists in Georgia generated as much popular interest south of the Mason-Dixon line, and perhaps had an even more profound immediate effect on the future of the United States. Continued below...

With Abraham Lincoln's "Black Republican" triumph in the presidential election of 1860, the United States witnessed ardent secessionist sentiment in the South. But Unionists were equally zealous and while South Carolina--a bastion of Disunionism since 1832--seemed certain to secede; the other fourteen slave states were far from decided. In the deep South, the road to disunion depended much on the actions of Georgia, a veritable microcosm of the divided South and geographically in the middle of the Cotton South. If Georgia went for the Union, secessionist South Carolina could be isolated. So in November of 1860, all the eyes of Dixie turned to tiny Milledgeville, pre-war capital of Georgia, for a legislative confrontation that would help chart the course toward civil war. In Secession Debated, William W. Freehling and Craig M. Simpson have for the first time collected the seven surviving speeches and public letters of this greatest of southern debates over disunion, providing today's reader with a unique window into a moment of American crisis. Introducing the debate and debaters in compelling fashion, the editors help bring to life a sleepy Southern town suddenly alive with importance as a divided legislature met to decide the fate of Georgia, and by extension, that of the nation. We hear myriad voices, among them the energetic and self-righteous Governor Joseph E. Brown who, while a slaveholder and secessionist, was somewhat suspect as a native North Georgian; Alexander H. Stephens, the eloquent Unionist whose "calm dispassionate approach" ultimately backfired; and fiery secessionist Robert Toombs who, impatient with Brown's indecisiveness and the caution of the Unionists, shouted to legislators: "Give me the sword! but if you do not place it in my hands, before God! I will take it." The secessionists' Henry Benning and Thomas R. R. Cobb as well as the Unionists Benjamin Hill and Herschel Johnson also speak to us across the years, most with eloquence, all with the patriotic, passionate conviction that defined an era. In the end, the legislature adopted a convention bill which decreed a popular vote on the issue in early January 1861. The election results were close, mirroring the intense debate of two months before: 51% of Georgians favored immediate secession, a slim margin which the propaganda-conscious Brown later inflated to 58%. On January 19th the Georgia Convention sanctioned secession in a 166-130 vote, and the imminent Confederacy had its Southern hinge. Secession Debated is a colorful and gripping tale told in the words of the actual participants, one which sheds new light on one of the great and hitherto neglected verbal showdowns in American history. It is essential to a full understanding of the origins of the War Between the States.


Recommended Reading: Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession (Civil War America) (Hardcover). Review: When Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 prompted several Southern states to secede, the North was sharply divided over how to respond. In this groundbreaking book, the first major study in over 50 years of how the North handled the secession crisis, McClintock follows the decision-making process from bitter partisan rancor to consensus. From small towns to big cities and from state capitals to Washington, D.C., McClintock highlights individuals both powerful and obscure to demonstrate the ways ordinary citizens, party activists, state officials, and national leaders interacted to influence the Northern response to what was essentially a political crisis. Continued below...

He argues that although Northerners' reactions to Southern secession were understood and expressed through partisan newspapers and officials, the decision fell into the hands of an ever-smaller handful of people until finally it was Abraham Lincoln alone who would choose whether the future of the American republic was to be determined through peace or a sword.


Recommended Reading: A Constitutional History of Secession (Hardcover). Review: The Constitutional History of Secession is the history of the legal practice of secession in the Anglo-American world. The learned jurist John Remington Graham is possessed of a profound expertise on American, British and Canadian constitutional law. He has written a compelling defense of the right of secession. Secession, the right of self-determination, and the principle of "rule by consent of the governed" were among the foremost principles animating the American War for Independence of Seventeen-Seventy-Six. Yet the consolidationist sophists malign and deny these tried and true principles of free government. Graham, however, traces British and American constitutional history and developments with great clarity and buoys the case for secession. He offers an amazing exposition of seventeenth century British constitutional developments, which culminated in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in which the Crown peacefully passed from James II to William and Mary without armed conflict. Continued below…

The accession of William of Orange to the throne was met with popular support, as the usurpations of William II were not amenable to the populace. This so called revolution set a standard for peaceful political separation, and it was exactly what the American Continental Congress sought from Great Britain. Likewise, peaceful separation was what the southern states that formed the Southern Confederacy wanted when those eleven states formally separated from the United States. Secession does not have to mean war and violence, but war was thrust upon American colonials and southern confederates when their previous government refused to acknowledge their right of self-determination. As the Declaration of Independence proclaims, "...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." As Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed, "All we ask is to be left alone." The Glorious Revolution forms the foundation of Graham's treatise as he advances his thesis and makes the case for secession. As Donald Livingston proclaims in the preface, "The central focus of this work will be revolution, not as an armed overthrow of an established government, but as a rational and orderly process, specifically allowed by fundamental law."

In making the case for secession, Graham substantiates the compact nature of the Union as well, which correspondingly legitimizes interposition, nullification, and secession. Two early constitutional commentaries including St. George Tucker's View of the Constitution of the United States (1801) and Pennsylvania Federalist William Rawle's A View of the Constitution (1829) both affirm a right of secession.

John Remington Graham further traces American constitutional developments, and in doing so he substantiates the compact nature of the Union, and makes a profound case for the Constitution as a compact, which in effect legitimizes the right of secession. He further explains all of these episodes in constitutional history with amazing detail and clarity:

**The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions which were in continuity with the colonial-revolutionary tradition of State remonstrance, protest, interposition and nullification of unconstitutional acts of central government authorities.

**The Hartford Convention and the anti-war, anti-embargo northern secessionist movement which emerged after the unwelcomed War of 1812 with the British.

**The Webster-Hayne Debates on the nature of the Union is explained in detail. Likewise, Daniel Webster's case of foot-in-mouth disease is made manifest as Hayne hearkens back to his deeds at the Hartford Convention.

**The Missouri Compromise and constitutional question of slavery and the sectional strife over the spread of slavery into the territories is explained.

**The secession of the eleven southern states from the Union and the circumstances leading to their separation are explained in detail. Likewise, the birth of the Southern Confederacy and the north's violent refusal to accept their separation is painstakingly documented.

**The unlawful and violent conquest of the South, the unconstitutional political repression in north and south, the illegal suspension of the writ of habeas corpus throughout the whole nation and the oppressive Reconstruction Acts are explained with amazing clarity and detail.

**Graham fast forwards to the twentieth-century. In our time, Quebec has asserted the legal right of secession as a viable political alternative if its relationship with the central government of the Canadian Confederation does not prove to be more mutually-beneficial and less detrimental to the interests of Quebec's citizenry in coming years. With a distinctive francophone culture and nearly half of the populace voting for secession in the last popular referendum, we may well witness the peaceful separation of Quebec from Canada in our lifetime.

All things considered, John Remington Graham has done a remarkable job at making the case for secession and has made a lasting contribution to constitutional scholarship. His book is well-documented and awash in powerful quotations from British and American statesmen. There is a preponderance of evidence in the Anglo-American constitutional heritage which makes secession a lawful exercise. Likewise, he is very logical in tracing the deducible nature of State sovereignty. Graham in final application points out that self-determination as expressed in an act of secession emanates from the right of people themselves to self-government. Essentially by presenting the secession of the American colonies and the Southern Confederacy in its proper historical and legal context, Graham has made a valuable contribution to understanding the Anglo-American political tradition. John Graham who presently served as an expert advisor on British constitutional law to the amicus curiae (i.e. friend of the court) for Quebec in the secession state decided in 1998. As Jefferson astutely opined, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes..." Thus, secession is never to be approached lightly, and the act of secession negates the value, benefits and security of the Union.

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"Whenever government becomes destructive of these ends (i.e. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government." -Declaration of Independence of the American Colonies, July 4, 1776

"Sovereignty is the highest degree of political power, and the establishment of a form of government, the highest proof which can be given of its existence. The states could have not reserved any rights by articles of their union, if they had not been sovereign, because they could have no rights, unless they flowed from that source. In the creation of the federal government, the states exercised the highest act of sovereignty, and they may, if they please, repeat the proof of their sovereignty, by its annihilation. But the union possesses no innate sovereignty, like the states; it was not self-constituted; it is conventional, and of course subordinate to the sovereignties by which it was formed." -John Taylor of Caroline, New Views of the Constitution, Nov. 19, 1823

"I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo." -Lord Acton in a letter to Robert E. Lee, Nov. 4, 1866.

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