Article VI, Clause 2

Now I am pretty sure that a goodly percentage of the Gentle Readers are looking at the title and going, “What???” A significant number will recognize it as a reference to the Constitution, but to be honest only a limited number of people know that Article I defines the Legislative Branch, Article II the Executive, and Article III the Judicial. Most people are not quite sure about the other Articles.

Let’s cut to the chase. It is the Supremacy Clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The reason that states have to obey Federal laws and the Constitution as a whole is specifically because of this clause of the Constitution. That obedience is not optional, conditional, or debatable. If you are part of the United States, you are subject to Federal law and your “feelz” otherwise have no bearing. If you disagree with Federal law, if you want to deny rights under the Constitution, you are out of luck. You can try to change it in court. You can try to have Congress pass a change to the law or repeal it. You can try to amend the Constitution. But the Federal power in the areas where the Constitution grants lawmaking power to the Federal government over-rides anything the States can do.

This is key to the functioning of a free, constitutional republic. If a state, or group of states, can defy the Federal government at will, there is no Federal government. There is no equal justice under the law. And there is, in fact, no rule of law.

This was recognized from the beginning. In Federalist #44 James Madison pointed out that if it was not included, then each state would have functional veto power over the entire country. Without it, the country would not work.

There have been 3 attempts to over-ride or ignore the Supremacy clause and each was aimed at destroying the country.

The first was the Nullification Crisis of the early 1830’s. Now one can make a rational argument that the tax structure of the time was intrinsically discriminatory against the South. At the time, the only real source of Federal tax money was import tariffs. The South was agricultural and exported overseas where prices were higher. At the time it was difficult to transfer money safely from Europe to the US, however goods could be shipped and insured. So it made economic sense to buy goods in Europe, ship them ensured to the South, but that meant that the South paid the import tariffs. The North manufactured what it needed in most cases and did not pay that great a percentage of the national tax bill.

That and the spending policies of the Federal government ended up being a major, but understated, cause of the later Civil War. Slavery was a dying institution in the South at the beginning of the Civil War, and throughout the Civil War was legal in the North. The Emancipation Proclamation only had effect in areas in rebellion, and areas occupied by the Union Army were no longer in rebellion. Ulysses S. Grant was attended by at least one slave the entire time he commanded the Union Army, and he and his wife did not free their slaves until after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, 8 months after the end of the war.

So in 1828 and in 1832 when Congress passed increased tariffs on imports [the latter being referred to as the Tariff of Abominations] the state of South Carolina declared that it was null and void in South Carolina as of February 1, 1833. They were declaring that Article VI Clause 2 did not exist for them. The governor of South Carolina also called up 2,000 cavalry and 25,000 infantry to defend the state.

It was resolved as of March 1, 1833 when President Andrew Jackson’s statements, including a promise to march with the Army to South Carolina and start hanging people sank in. Under the threat of force, and with the passage of a very slightly revised Tariff in 1833, South Carolina revoked its Ordinance of Nullification and sent its troops home. But a precedent had been set. A state refusing to enforce Federal laws was subject to compulsion by Federal military force.

The second attempt to over-ride the Supremacy clause was a literal dissolution of the country. Once again, it started in South Carolina, and with a number of disputes about then current, and anticipated, Federal laws –v- “states rights”; South Carolina and eventually a total of 11 Southern states seceded from the Union and attempted to form a separate country. It took over 4 years and over a 1,000,000 dead, and changed the nature of the Federal Union permanently; but the 11 states were reduced to submission to Federal law by military force. There remained no doubt or equivocation about the Supremacy of Federal law and the Federal Constitution.

The third attempt to over-ride the Supremacy clause and to functionally divide the country is in progress at this very moment. A number of states and subdivisions of states right now are claiming that they have the right to nullify Federal law within their boundaries. The Constitution of the United States gives the Federal government the role of making the laws concerning immigration and naturalization. And they have done so. Control of the borders of the United States and their defense from unauthorized crossing is the responsibility of the Federal government under the Constitution, and they have made laws pursuant to that. The Federal government has made laws concerning medical practices, what drugs are legal, what drugs are not legal, and their importation. And those Federal laws pre-empt any state or local laws, rulings, or regulations. The Federal government has made laws regarding qualifications for voting and for receipt of Federal benefits. They pre-empt any state or local laws.

And yet, we find states, cities, and counties making laws and policies in direct contravention of the Federal laws, nullifying their effect in their boundaries. States, cities, and counties have declared that Federal immigration laws are void in their jurisdictions and that they will deliberately conceal criminals from Federal law. States, cities, and counties have declared that Federal drug laws are void in their jurisdictions, and conspired to break Federal law. States, cities, and counties have deliberately given Federal benefits to those who are not eligible under Federal law. States, cities, and counties have allowed non-citizens to vote in Federal elections in violation of Federal law, or have allowed citizens to vote repeatedly. It is no longer an anomaly to have more voters and votes cast than people eligible to vote in a jurisdiction. In my home state of Colorado, there are 64 Counties or “Cities and Counties”. 22 of the 64 have more people registered to vote than there are people eligible to vote [citizen, over 18, not under a legal disability to vote].

There is one common factor in the jurisdictions violating Federal law and the Supremacy clause of the Constitution. Every [series of expletives deleted] one of them is controlled by the Democrat Party. Which has a certain consistency. South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis was controlled by the Democrats, when they were ready to take up arms against the United States. The entire Confederate States of America was controlled by what were members of the Democrat Party.

The Democrats were the party of the South from the moment of their founding. Their members of Congress before the Civil War transitioned into running the Confederate States government during the war. As soon as the post Civil War “Reconstruction” was over; the South became Democrat again. And in an example of the irony of history, the KKK who the current Democrat street thugs of Antifa, BLM, and various Socialist groups, etc. claim to be fighting was a creation of the Democrat Party. Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest [who despite his politics was one of the most brilliant mounted infantry commanders in history] founded the KKK. The Democrats who ran the state governments coddled the KKK, passed and enforced the Jim Crow laws that kept Blacks as second class citizens, and both segregated all public institutions and barred Blacks from voting. The civilian Federal government was not racially segregated until Democrat president Woodwork Wilson appointed cabinet heads with a mandate to segregate their departments.

In the fight for the Civil Rights laws of the 1960’s, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who called out the Arkansas National Guard to bar Blacks from schools [and using the Supremacy clause, President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne Division to enforce Federal law] was a Democrat. Alabama Governor George Wallace who stood in the door of the school to block the entrance of Blacks was a Democrat. The Klansmen who murdered those trying to register Blacks to vote were Democrats. And Sheriff Eugene “Bull” Conner who set police dogs on Black schoolchildren actually was a member of the Democrat Party’s National Committee when he did it.

Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the longest serving Democrat Senator, and Senate Majority Leader was the Grand Cyclops of the West Virginia KKK and incidentally led the 83 day long filibuster to try to block the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Now add in another factor. We literally have a state trying to secede from the Union. Once again, totally Democrat run. California does not have enough Republicans to even outnumber the illegal invaders from Mexico. The Democrats can, and do, do anything they want because there is no political opposition to stop them, and they can ignore any legal prohibitions because there will be no enforcement.

Once again, as you are reading this, they are circulating a petition to have secession on the ballot. They pretty it up with fancy language, but it comes down to leaving the country, but somehow insisting that we still pay for them.

OK, we have nullification of Federal laws in violation of the Supremacy clause of the Constitution all over the country by the political party that has attempts to break up the country as its factual history. We have an open attempt to break the country apart. We have had a year of violent, physical assaults on those who do not share the Leftist/Socialist/Democrat political viewpoint solely in Democrat controlled areas, and law enforcement in those areas either have been ordered to stand down and allow the assaults [like in Charlottesville, Virginia] or have actively aided the assaults like in San Jose, California.

The nullification of the local rule of law, based on politics, is possibly the ultimate attack on the Constitution. We have had this pattern before. The two previous times, it has involved the risk of war or the actual outbreak of war. To the American Left, the Constitution is a joke. To those of us who have seriously sworn the Oath to the Constitution, and take it seriously, this is the ultimate red line.

Events are moving rapidly. There are attacks on any symbols of the past by Leftist thugs all over the country. And it is not merely a matter of Confederate statues and memorials as they claim. In Chicago, a group tried to burn a bust of Abraham Lincoln that has stood in a park since 1926. I don’t know which is a greater indictment of education in Chicago; the fact that they tried to burn the bust of the president who fought against the Confederacy and freed the slaves, or that they just tried to burn a bronze statue.

In New Orleans, the Democrat/Leftist thugs just vandalized the landmark statue of Saint Joan of Arc. Think about it. She died two generations before North America was discovered by western Europeans. And over 4 centuries before there was a Confederacy. But apparently being a woman who listened to G-d was enough to be defined as a symbol of hate. In California today [August 18] a statue of Father Junipero Serra, who founded the missions that became the major cities of California, was vandalized with paint and a swastika, because somehow he was a symbol of the Confederacy that did not come into being until over 70 years after he died.

The goal appears to be the destruction of any symbol that predates the establishment of the Soviet Union. And that apparently includes the Bill of Rights. Antifa and their Democrat supporters [and their media mouthpieces] have been claiming since the Charlottesville riot that Free Speech/the First Amendment does not apply to hate speech/racists/white supremacists or apparently anyone or thing that the Left does not like at any given moment. Leftist supporting companies like Google are firing people based on their perfectly legal political beliefs, even if that firing is against the law [and in California where Google is based, it is]. And the Republican Party is joining in on the attacks on the Bill of Rights and unofficially has formed an Antifa-sympathizer caucus of Senators who speak well of Antifa for physically attacking the legal “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville.

This time, it seems that there is no organized political force that is defending either the Constitution or unity of the country. If the Democrats get their way, there will be no unified law, there will be no Constitution, and there will be no United States of America. The third time may be the charm.

26 thoughts on “Article VI, Clause 2”

  1. “There remained no doubt or equivocation about the Supremacy of Federal law and the Federal Constitution.” I think you’re wrong there: it seems to me that secession was constitutional – it was stopped by might, not right. I know opinions differ, but I suspect that many opiners on the unconstitutionality of secession are taking sides on the Civil War rather than giving a disinterested legal judgement.

    It is no coincidence that the Articles of Confederation refer to a perpetual union while the Constitution does not. The Constitution makes clear that any power not reserved to the Union is in the hands of the states or the people. Since the Constitution makes no claim to setting up a perpetual union, that seems to me to leave the matter with the states. I understand (can anyone document this?) that at the time of decision-making on accepting the Constitution, some people’s doubts were assuaged by the argument that if the Union didn’t prove to suit their state then the state could secede.

    Indeed, to claim that states could not secede seems to me incompatible with the Declaration of Liberty. Many Americans claim to take that document seriously, even quasi-religiously. How they can do that while opposing secession beats me.

  2. This is an interesting and worthwhile article. Grant is one of my heroes, but I was not aware that he was a slave owner. Was that in his memoir anywhere? I’ve read most of it, but maybe I missed that detail. Granting (ha!) that he didn’t feel the need to talk about every last detail of his life therein, he may not have thought it relevant to mention. I get the sense that he was clear-eyed about himself and life, so if the fact that he had slaves had any bearing on what was going on in the narrative, he would not have concealed it merely out of embarrassment, for example.

    But looking again at SB’s quotation, it jumped out at me this time that the language singles out judges for particular attention when it comes to emphasizing public officials’ relationship to the supreme law of the land. That is very interesting, not only because of our late troubles with activist judiciaries – also because there is an implication that judges’ potential to depart from the Constitution in their public acts is somehow greater than that of the President or Congress.

    I don’t go so far as to claim that this was an incredible piece of foresight on the part of the Framers, that somehow they were looking forward to the nonsense of our time. But even so, did they have a notion that the actual restraints on the executive and legislature would or could be more intrinsically effective than those on the judiciary? (If you tie a man up with steel chain, he is more secure than if you tie him with twine, c. p.) Maybe it was simply because judges were not foreseen as electorally accountable in the way that presidents or legislators were elsewhere in the Constitution. And following Madison et al., electoral accountability was seen as a reasonable means of control. Were there any other reasons, though, for this call-out of judges specifically? Can someone point us to something in the Federalist or elsewhere?

  3. Dearieme, The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union lasted only 6 years, so so much for its being perpetual. Perhaps that was why the use of the word was avoided in the Constitution. There was concern that the union would endure from its inception until 1865. In 1814 the Hartford Convention was assembled by the New England states to contemplate secession during our second war with the British Empire. But by 1830, Senator Daniel Webster, from New Hampshire in New England, would say “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.”

    True, there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents states from leaving, nor there is any provision to prescribe how that might happen. South Carolina tried to make it happen in December 1860. But the Federal government did not recognize it as such. In order to make it effective, South Carolina had to go into open and violent rebellion against the Federal government in April 1861 with the shelling of F, Sumter.

    By the Declaration of Liberty, I think you mean the Declaration of Independence. How I take take it seriously while opposing secession is contained in the document itself. It begins:

    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.

    Dissolving those bands can be done either by mutual consent or by unilateral action. Unilateral action will ultimately require force as at Fort Sumter. That was recognized in the last sentence of the Declaration:

    And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    If the Caliphornians and other democrats are ready to dissolve the bands that connect us they must be prepared to do so with their lives, their fortunes and what little honor they have. For I doubt those at Camp Pendleton will go along quietly. I also doubt the democrats will rely on divine Providence. That may be their undoing.

  4. Grant is one of my heroes, but I was not aware that he was a slave owner.

    Grant married Julia Dent, of Missouri, whose father, Frederick Dent had a plantation of the Missouri sort worked by slaves he owned. There is a lot of noise on the internet about Grant owning slaves, as few as 1 or as many as 5. Wikipedia says: “At one point, Ulysses purchased a slave from Julia’s brother Fred, his old West Point roommate. Yet without explanation, when he was in debt and barely able to put food on his family’s table, Grant appeared in court on March 20, 1859, and emancipated his slave rather than selling him.”

  5. I agree that Grant freed the slaves he inherited from Julia.

    I also thank Mrs Davis for reminding us that New England was ready to secede over the Jefferson’s Embargo Act, which was called the “O Grab Me Act” in New England.

    Mike Lotus and Jim Bennet’s book postulates a reorganization in the US along lines of shared values. Of course, some major event will have to initiate that process and it probably won’t be pretty.

    As far as Father Serra in California, he has been blamed for all sorts of bad treatment of the Mission Indians and I think most of that is myth. They were quite primitive when the Spanish arrived.

    The terrible public education system in the US is partly to blame and it may have been degraded for a purpose. Richard Fernandez thinks Gramsci was an inspiration for the leftists.

    I have previously referred to this here. From the article I linked to in that post:

    The West is filled with millions of people like Alex, all of them waiting for Someone. They are the product of a multi-decade campaign to deliberately empty people of their culture; to actually make them ashamed of it. They were purposely drained of God, country, family like chickens so they could be stuffed with the latest narrative of the progressive meme machine. The Gramscian idea was to produce a blank slate upon which the Marxist narrative could be written.

    Too bad for the Gramscians that the Islamists are beating them to the empty sheets of paper. And they are better at it too. Maybe the old Bolsheviks could have given ISIS a run for its money, but today’s liberals have declined from their sires. George Orwell observed the takeover of hardcore Bolshevism by the periphery in the 1930s.

    Maybe the ANTIFA are doing better than he anticipated. They are making serious inroads in the Democrat Party.

    This discussion thread in DU is interesting.

    Do we need violence? Absolutely not, but the “alt right”/far right and three percenters are at war with us, with the ‘other’, and with Democracy. And yes, we need to destroy, destroy, the tropes and cliches which fuel the right wing, discredit their leaders, defund their organizations, and defend all the people they wish to wage their war on.

    It’s time to fight back. Violence and revolution is not necessary, but someone and something is going to destroyed at the end of this, and I’m not going to let it be the people I love or the ideas I have and share with others, not without a fight.

    That’s just one comment there.

  6. “By the Declaration of Liberty, I think you mean the Declaration of Independence.” Indeed I did; thank you.

    “there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents states from leaving, nor there is any provision to prescribe how that might happen.” I think one has to accept that such a short constitution is bound to omit details of how some things are to be brought about. For instance, it requires the Prez to be a US citizen by birth, but it specifies no means of enforcing the requirement. So the fact that it doesn’t prescribe how secession is to happen doesn’t seem to me to suggest that secession is proscribed.

    “Unilateral action will ultimately require force”: not necessarily. It was always open to the government in London to conclude that it would be daft to fight independence however much it disapproved of it. After all, those North American colonies might have constituted the bulk of the Empire in terms of acreage but they weren’t vital economically. Ditto the Union: the politicians in Washington were free to think the Confederates’ desires deplorable (if you’ll forgive the adjective) while at the same time guessing that the likely loss of life from going to war would be insupportable. In other words, the secessionists on both occasions needed to offer the threat of force; that it came to blows depended on the decision of the seceded-from. My point is just that Lincoln had no constitutional duty to fight. He simply chose to, letting might settle the issue. That’s rather ironic given the abolitionists’ view that what was objectionable about slavery was that the relation between master and slave depended entirely upon might, and that such relationships should be prohibited.

  7. Had the government in London acquiesced to independence it would mean that the act was of mutual consent.

    My point is just that Lincoln had no constitutional duty to fight. He simply chose to, letting might settle the issue.

    I could not disagree with you more. Look at the time line:
    December 20, 1860 South Carolina secedes
    January 9, 1861 Mississippi secedes
    January 10, 1861 Florida secedes
    January 11, 1861 Alabama secedes
    January 19, 1861 Georgia secedes
    January 26, 1861 Louisiana secedes
    February 1, 1861 Texas secedes
    March 4, 1861 Lincoln inaugurated
    April 12, 1861 South Carolina fires on ships supplying Fort Sumter

    That was an attack on the US. The Constitution provides (Art. II, Sec. 1):

    Before he (the President) enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    In its secession and shelling of Ft. Sumter South Carolina assaulted the United States and it’s Constitution. Lincoln did every thing he could to avoid blood shed until he had no alternative but to let the Union die and open the North American continent to the warfare which had plagued Europe for centuries.

  8. The decision to attack Fort Sumter was the big mistake. The South was so confident that they would win a war based only on their martial spirit.

    It is a little bit like the French confidence in “elan” in WWI after they had lost to the Prussians in 1870.

    The South Carolinians were concerned about a blockade of Charleston but what if they had not attacked ?

    What would have happened if they South had just sat there and not made any hostile gesture ?

    The fears of the Whigs had been that adding Texas and other states would expand slavery but much of the West was not suited for cotton.

    There was little economic use for slavery aside from cotton.

    There is an argument that slavery was dying off itself and there was no need for a war to end it. That may not be true. There are arguments both ways, but it was unlikely to be of use in the North and West, especially once the McCormick Harvester was available,

    By 1857, International Harvester was building 22,000 combines a year.

  9. If we all still believe the Union is indissolvable, the CA SOS needs to be arrested for supporting treason and insurrection by playing footsie with separationists. If not, we should talk about how separation happens.

    Of course, the former is where we are, but to pretend, we could say:
    1. A state legislature may petition the federal government to leave.
    2. 2/3 of states must approve.
    3. That state shall hold a popular election where on a county by county basis it is decided to leave.
    4. Counties voting to leave may do so. Federal property stays regardless. Sorry CA scum, you don’t get the central valley, your water supply, any parks or military bases.

  10. California is run by Democrats, including the 3 or 4 million illegals.

    I would be inclined to let them go now that I am out.

    You are correct that, once they established the principle of secession, other parts of the state might choose to get out.

    During the Civil War, New York City proposed seceding.

    It will be interesting to see what happens.

  11. It is no coincidence that the Articles of Confederation refer to a perpetual union while the Constitution does not.

    It’s also no coincidence that the Constitution has a way to add states, merge states, divide states up, make a part of one state part of another, and for the federal government to dispose of minor possessions and property not part of a state, but NO WAY for a state to leave the union, either by choice or by being kicked out.

    Or do you really think the founders were so careless that they left that part out? The Articles of Confederation founded the United States as a perpetual union. The Constitution didn’t change that.

  12. “The decision to attack Fort Sumter was the big mistake. ” It certainly was. Indeed, if Lincoln had had his heart set on peace the attack on Fort Sumter need never have happened in the first place. Ordinary politics and diplomacy could have settled the matter of federal assets. Presumably he wanted war. My God he got it.

    “In its secession … South Carolina assaulted the United States and its Constitution.” Not so, unless you can demonstrate that the Union was constitutionally perpetual.

    “In its … shelling of Ft. Sumter South Carolina assaulted the United States and its Constitution”: no, not its Constitution. Undoubtedly it had attacked the US. But if Lincoln had set his heart on peace even that folly need not have led to war. After all, you’re not really going to argue that every state in history that had been subjected to a minor attack automatically lurched into full scale war, are you?

    The oath of office has no bearing on the question of whether the Constitution prohibits secession. If it was intended to prohibit secession why on earth does it not say so? It would only take half a dozen words.

  13. California isn’t going to secede. No way the Federal gov’t will allow the departure of that much coastline and that many wallets.
    This noise is most likely to be a gambit for CA to cut a better deal with the feds, similar to Quebec in Canada. If they succeed,
    expect similar attempts from other states. Wouldn’t it be grand if the end result is a tilt towards greater state sovereignty?

  14. Nice pattern recognition, Subotai. History is indeed rhyming again.

    The bad news comes so thick and fast one cannot keep up with it any more. I had not heard about the statue of Father Serra. It genuinely saddens me. When I was growing up the Mexican and Puerto Rican kids I went to school with seized upon him as proof that they too had a hand in the making of this country. He was a source of honest pride for them, just as the Chinese railroad workers were for the smattering of Chinese kids. See? said the children of the old melting pot. We’re in there too….! It gave them excited smiles. The rest of us thought it was neat too, and enthused with them. The past is truly a different country.

    The rural north-eastern third of California is still heavily salted with old fashioned Yanquis who take notions of duty and country seriously. We grow most of the food for the rest of the state. Crucially — and I urge all here to salt this away for future reference — our shire-reeves are all members of the Constitutional Sheriff’s Association. These are the same people who sent a letter to Obama when he was flapping his lips about a national assault rifle ban, informing him that they would not allow Federal authorities to violate the Constitutional rights of their constituents and that ‘we are prepared to trade our lives to prevent that outcome.’

    Let that sink in for a moment, if you missed it when it happened. Not non-enforcement, as with Oregon’s ban on point-to-point firearms sales, but physical intervention with guns drawn. That is pretty strong damned language. I hope and trust similar backbone would be found in the face of the state governments when they start kicking doors in. I also remind present company that sheriffs still have the legal power to call up posses, and that — lest you write off the CSS as a collection of fat old hayseeds — one of the signatories of that letter was the *female* sheriff of San Diego County. Talk about baiting the lion in his den. As with prewar Yugoslavia, we are all mixed up together.

    The Second Civil War could well go hot with cops shooting at each other. The sorting process will be rapid and traumatic.

    Interesting times…. interesting times.

  15. I would think that the fact the Constitution doesn’t have an escape clause is pretty good proof that either one was not intended, or that a mere declaration of succession is not sufficient. Why bother with an additional half dozen words to prohibit something not even contemplated?

    I’ve read a couple of comments various places that an Article V convention could be one possible method of allowing a succession. I’m not a US Civil War scholar so I don’t know if one was ever suggested in the Antebellum period. It would be interesting to know if it was, and why it didn’t happen. It’s mostly idle curiosity but I have to wonder what the Framers would say if they knew 200+ years have gone by and we’ve never used that provision.

    As to who could have avoided the war, the South was only going to secede to preserve slavery, and succession was the only thing the North would to go war to prevent.

    I’ll raise the same objection I did in AVI’s forum to using the Declaration of Independence as a reference point. It was written in response to an entirely different situation, namely that the colonies had no say in the government in London that none the less claimed the power to regulate their affairs. As far as I can tell Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, et al are still seated and have a voice in the government of this country. Trump hasn’t attempted to take over the government of the state of California or the city of Chicago. Now, as in 1860, the main objection of the Democrats is that they lost an election, mostly through their own stupidity, and now they have to face the consequences. There will be another election less than two years hence, and if the country is really that fed up with Trump and the GOP then the Democrats have the opportunity to take over two-thirds of the national government and further stymie Trump. Two years after that they have the opportunity to turn Trump himself out of office. The fact that they have no clear path to doing either of those two things, in light of the GOP losing control the Presidency and House not more than ten years ago, is not evidence that our Constitutional system is failing.

  16. I think the Civil War is a useful precedent regarding the question of whether states can secede or not. The answer is, they can’t. You might say that’s now part of our Constitution, in the British sense of the word. During the war the Union put massive armies in the field, and a massive Navy on the seas over a period of four years, and there was no serious Constitutional challenge to the legality or legitimacy of this massive effort, either from the executive or Congress. I personally hope that will be the response of the Union if the same situation ever comes up again, regardless of whether Dearieme considers it nice and legal or not. If the current occupants of California choose to secede, it’s perfectly fine as far as I’m concerned, but they should do so with their feet, and forget about taking any of the national territory with them. The territory of the Union belongs to all the citizens of the United States, and that Union is indissoluble, as stated in the Pledge of Allegiance. I will certainly fight for that point of view, and expect my children and grandchildren to do the same, whether Dearieme considers it Constitutionally appropriate or not.

  17. Helen, you advocate Californians to secede with their feet. However, I’m not sure residents of other states would want them as they will bring their California attitudes with them and attempt to turn their new home into a replica of California. If I recall, Subodai, in earlier comments on Belmont Club some time ago, said “migrating” [my term] Californians were the major cause of his state of Colorado drifting leftward. Having said this, let the fools secede, sit back and watch them get their clocks cleaned when they attempt to occupy Camp Pendleton and Fort Irwin, not to mention the SEALs at Coronado. In spite of the arrogant stupidity of California politicians, when it come to actually seceding I think they’ll blink

  18. Some how, due to my computer illiteracy, the above post was not by Helen, it was my answer to Helen’s post. Sorry for the goof.

  19. “The Constitution didn’t change that.” The Constitution is not a set of amendments to the Articles, it is a complete replacement. The fact that it is silent on secession means that secession is legal. Just read the Constitution:

    ‘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.’

    The power of holding the Union to be perpetual was not delegated to the United States; secession was not prohibited to the States. Therefore secession was legal. Might doesn’t change the question of legality. States are not chattels of the Union.

    The US ran on the principles of English Law, not French. In English Law what is not forbidden is allowed.

  20. Presumably he wanted war. My God he got it.

    I have done a lot of reading of Lincoln’s history and of the entire period. It has been a hobby since college.

    Lincoln was under attack from the time he left Illinois. There was a threat of assassination in Maryland and he was actually smuggled by Pinkerton through Baltimore.

    The Confederates did not wait for Lincoln to take office. Armories were seized. Buchanan, the worst president in history in my opinion and also the worst Secretary of State for Polk, shipped arms to southern states knowing full well that they would be confiscated.

    You’ve stimulated me to reread some of that history but he was determined to save the Union and would do so even if slavery persisted.

    Would the war have begun if the Union army had not moved to Bull Run ?

    I’m not sure but the Confederacy was moving toward Washington. I don’t think Lincoln was determined on war.

    The South was, though. They thought it would be easy. I think they would have seized Washington.

  21. Initially I was siding with “secession is OK under the Constitution”, as I had read the following article (or a significant quotation from it) just a day or two ago:

    Power derives from the people, expressed through their States, which come together as “Free and Independent States” to form a Union and Federal Government. And just as free men had dissolved their bonds from England, so too could they dissolve bonds with a Federal Government. Free men are of course allowed to make a new decision :) (We won’t say change their minds)

    But after reading the notes from the actual discussion, it seems clear that some members of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 intended for the formation of the Union to be “one way”:
    (search for “ingredient”)

    Although it also appears that this may not have been universal. Which would be no surprise, given their experience with the Declaration of Independence and Revolution:

    This tension between these two views, independent States vs. a Union, the Declaration of Independence vs. Constitution of the United Sates, wasn’t fully resolved until the end of the Civil War.

  22. “Anonymous” above (not me) posited a process whereby a state might petition to secede.

    How about turning it around: How about a process whereby the other 49 states, who are sick and tired of California, get together and vote it off the island?

    As an alternative to voting them off the island, perhaps process wherein a state, having been deemed to have failed in its basic responsibilities (perhaps total fiscal collapse), would have its state status revoked, and be devolved to territory status to start over again. In the meantime, Washington would appoint a territorial governor with full power to dissolve the existing state government and form a new one as he sees fit, with concurrent power to renegotiate existing contracts within the state and negotiate its debts. The state’s federal Senate and House members would be nullified and sent home, to be replaced with a single nonvoting representative.

    If, after a span of years, the state gets its house back in order and seems to be acting as an adult, it can petition the Federal government for readmission to the Union.

  23. I agree with Mike.
    D.C was behind enemy lines.

    Also, western territories were a concern. In Texas’ declaration of secession they cited the failure to enforce federal law in Kansas. The Border War there had been ongoing for years.

    Other Confederate states mentioned failure to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, which was Lincoln’s main political issue in Illinois. He was actually for states’ rights to nullify it.

    I don’t know about constitutional justification, but there was definitely military and strategic justification. There was a very real fear that the Confederacy would spread north and west, fatally dividing the continent.

  24. “He was actually for states’ rights to nullify it.” Both sides switched their views on states’ rights according to who had the upper hand in Washington.

  25. Lets not do this again. My country is taking in refugees from your foreign wars already. Now we are also taking refugees from America directly. Smarten up. (An old Canadian admonition)

  26. As noted above, Grant only ever owned one slave, whom he emancipated before the war. His wife owned no slaves, either. (Her family did.)

    Slavery was not legal in any “Northern” state. It was legal in four Border states which did not declare secession, but these states were considered part of the South (the Mason-Dixon Line is the northern border of Maryland).

    Before the Civil War, the South was divided between Democrats and Whigs; the latter supported Henry Clay’s “National System” of high tariffs, a national bank, and “internal improvements” (Federal public works for infrastructure, such as roads, canals, and lighthouses). The Whigs broke up over the slavery issue, but as late as 1860, hundreds of thousands of Southerners voted for Unionist ex-Whig John Bell rather than either Democrat.

    Lincoln was not determined on war. He was determined to preserve the Union.

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