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Old 06-16-2010, 12:31 PM
 
Location: San Antonio
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A most excellent post GS.
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhett_Butler View Post
But in acknowledging that the two sides had been at odds since the inception of the nation it is, IMO, necessary to assume that the nation was built on a compromise, or in this case TWO compromises:

1) That the slavery issue will not be addressed or touched.
There was no such agreement. There was a 20 year standstill on the issue of slave trade, which expired in 1808.
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Rhett:

Quote:
Anyway, I can agree that the South could have handled Lincoln's election much better than it did, but as I've stated previously, the "deal" that was ratified implied that slavery wouldn't be under threat and would always be a right afforded to the states... They began to see that this was no longer going to be the case (whether true or not), and felt that politically, slavery was in its death roll in the United States.....
No, Sir. That was not the deal. The deal was that slavery would be untouched by the Feds in those areas where it existed. There was no contract whatsoever where the nation was pledged to always maintain an even balance of power...slave and free states.

And the Republicans did not run on a platform which threatened or promised to terminate the institution of slavery. They ran on a platform which pledged to terminate further expansion of slavery. There was nothing in the Constitution which would forbid that.

Quote:
Well, let's remember that most of these people came over as British subjects and were born British subjects... The relationship wasn't "imposed". It was there from the beginning and understood as a condition of settling the colonies in the first place
The colonies operated under charters issued by the crown and the crown reserved the right to alter the charters in any manner it saw fit, as well as the right to revoke the charter at any time and replace it with martial law if the Crown felt that this was needed. Indeed, the final straw before the declaration was issued was George declaring the colonies in revolt and yanking all their charters, thus removing the colonists from the crown's protection.

Further, the charters did not cover an array of issues which arose after the colonies were established. The colonists never agreed to be confined by the mountains to the west, that was imposed in 1763. The colonists never agreed in their charters to direct taxation by Parliament, that was an idea which was born at the conclusion of the French and Indian War.

You do not truly enjoy contractual rights of any sort if the other party to the contract insists that he has a right to alter or cancel it at any time.

Last edited by Grandstander; 06-16-2010 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
Rhett:



No, Sir. That was not the deal. The deal was that slavery would be untouched by the Feds in those areas where it existed. There was no contract whatsoever where the nation was pledged to always maintain an even balance of power...slave and free states.

And the Republicans did not run on a platform which threatened or promised to terminate the institution of slavery. They ran on a platform which pledged to terminate further expansion of slavery. There was nothing in the Constitution which would forbid that.
Which is not at ALL what I was saying SIR. The FEDERAL government at its INCEPTION purposefully left the question of slavery unaddressed. Thus, it was a matter for states to decide.

My implication was that the election of Lincoln, in their eyes REGARDLESS of what the Republican platform SAID, was the beginning of the end of slavery for ALL the states...

Who could blame them for thinking so? Abolitionism on the rise. John Brown's Raid, Uncle Tom's Cabin fanning the flames. I think they were well aware of the importance of maintaining a political dead heat here. They were well aware of the rules for making amendments and law in the Federal government, so perhaps they saw that the writing was on the wall and they'd be better off by themselves?

Either way, I was making two separate distinctions about the original signing of the Constitution and what it said and did NOT say, and what the Republican platform was in 1860.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
The colonies operated under charters issued by the crown and the crown reserved the right to alter the charters in any manner it saw fit, as well as the right to revoke the charter at any time and replace it with martial law if the Crown felt that this was needed. Indeed, the final straw before the declaration was issued was George declaring the colonies in revolt and yanking all their charters, thus removing the colonists from the crown's protection.

Further, the charters did not cover an array of issues which arose after the colonies were established. The colonists never agreed to be confined by the mountains to the west, that was imposed in 1763. The colonists never agreed in their charters to direct taxation by Parliament, that was an idea which was born at the conclusion of the French and Indian War.

You do not truly enjoy contractual rights of any sort if the other party to the contract insists that he has a right to alter or cancel it at any time.
All well and good, but doesn't change the fact that they had always been essentially "British". Yes, British rule was "imposed", but you implied that it was imposed without consent which is false. From their very inception the colonies were British and so were the people. That they eventually developed a sense of being "South Carolinians" or "Marylanders" or whatever is sort of irrelevent.

Britain didn't annex a land with the people already there and enforce their will here. They sent their own subjects over in the name of the crown.

Regardless, it is my opinion that the colonists actually had LESS right to "rebel" than did the South (With "rebel" in quotes because I don't believe that is what the South did)... You even state that the colonies had charters upon which they were founded that the crown reserved the right to, "alter the charters in any manner it saw fit, as well as the right to revoke the charter at any time and replace it with martial law if the Crown felt that this was needed. ". IE. The crown had every right to impose its will and suppress any rebellion in the colonies.

So I certainly agree that comparing the South's secession to the colonist's revolt is hardly an exact parallel, but I don't see how it favors any side of the discussion that claims secession was wrong, immoral or treasonous...
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Rhett:
Quote:
My implication was that the election of Lincoln, in their eyes REGARDLESS of what the Republican platform SAID, was the beginning of the end of slavery for ALL the states...
Oh, we are in agreement about the above. I had written that once the expansion of slavery was curbed, that did indeed mean the end of a great deal of the South's political power. Extrapolating that the end of this power would eventually lead to the end of slavery is also quite fair minded and I think highly probable. The South was right to be alarmed, but was wrong in their response. They undertook an obligation to live with the majority decisions, not just those majority decisions which pleased them.

But....none of the above would be unconstitutional. There was nothing in the Constitution which forbid Congress from keeping slavery out of new States. Further, once a majority of free States began to flex their political muscles, then they could have terminated slavery in a Constitutional manner, as in employing an amendment to the Constitution. And, hey, isn't that exactly what they did do? End slavery via a Constitutional amendment?

Your complaint is that the majority would start acting like the majority and exercising the power of the majority as specified by the Constitution.

So, yeah, the South was very much correct in seeing a long range threat to slavery once they lost that unfair edge that they had been enjoying for so long. However, none of it was illegal in any manner. The South had voluntarily joined a Republic where the majority would rule, and their consternation here was entirely a matter of them not liking what the majority was going to do.

Well, that's tough. Too bad, South. You lost the election. Live with it as you agreed to do. Live with it as did the North in all those Jackson through Buchanan years where only slavery friendly executives were elected.

The critical thing to understand is that while the South was claiming that their rights were being threatened, they were in error. It wasn't their rights in jeopardy, it was their power. Understand that and you have the key to understanding secession.

Quote:
All well and good, but doesn't change the fact that they had always been essentially "British". Yes, British rule was "imposed", but you implied that it was imposed without consent which is false. From their very inception the colonies were British and so were the people. That they eventually developed a sense of being "South Carolinians" or "Marylanders" or whatever is sort of irrelevent.
This is a sidebar argument, we are conducting two debates simutaneously. The colonists did live under a charter which had been embraced by their ancestors, but it was not a charter which guaranteed them any rights at all, it simply spelled out their obligations to the crown. The quick understanding of the difference between a government by the consent of the people, and government by charter, is that the former may be amended by the people while the latter may be amended only by the crown. Do you not see the tremendous difference between them? The American Revolution would correspond to revolting against your landlord because he has imposed a series of new rules which favor him at your expense. Secession was more in the order of revolting against your own family because your parents promised a higher allowance to the kid who got the better grades and your sister produced all A's while you generated B's.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:12 PM
 
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I think we agree more than we disagree here... I certainly see the difference between the actions of the colonies and the structure they were rebelling against and the actions of the South and what they were removing themselves from...

One point in your favor would be to ask if slave-holding states grasped that this might be a future consequence of the way the government structure was set up or not... Hard to tell whether they viewed it within the confines of the land that belonged to the United States in the 1780s. I imagine they would have had to. How could they have forseen the Louisianna Purchase, the land received from Mexico, etc... and thus, how could they have ever forseen the need to protect against a large amount of states being admitted to the Union being able to tilt the balance of power enough against them to push through an amendment that outlaws slavery?

In that sense, I don't see it as the South necessarily taking their ball and going home because the tide had changed, but moreso because their very way of life was being threatened in a way that they could have never forseen under the original construct of the Constitution and their government.
I see it as the equivelent of a rising political force that threatens to overturn an Amendment included in the Bill of Rights. I guess there's no legal construct that could stop it, but its obvious to me as well that it goes against the intent of the Founding Fathers...

I mean, would we say that Texas is being a bunch of whiners if they wanted to secede tomorrow because there was a ground swell of support for nullifying the 2nd Amendment? I'd have to side with Texas in such a hypothetical situation. While nullifying the 2nd Amendment doesn't go against any rule of law in our system of government and there is a process to do so, it seems to violate the spirit of the document and the founders intent.

Thus would have been my opinion on slavery as well, though a little more gray area exists there because the equivelent scenario they envisioned would have been an attempt to remove slavery by removing the protection of the 10th Amendment, not by completely abolishing the 10th....
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Rhett:
Quote:
I see it as the equivelent of a rising political force that threatens to overturn an Amendment included in the Bill of Rights. I guess there's no legal construct that could stop it, but its obvious to me as well that it goes against the intent of the Founding Fathers...
That is certainly how the South elected to see it, it was two sides, each with an eccentric interpretation of the same document. And while that may have been the intent of some of the members of the Constitutional Convention, I suspect that it was confined to the minds of the anti-Federalists.

Slavery could have ended without a war, but the question of whether or not a minority had the right to break up the Union without the consent of the majority, that could only be settled by armed conflcit when someone attempted it. The reason for this I have discussed in other threads....the members of the Constitutional Convention took a powder on the issue and both sides of the ultimate sovereignty debate compromised on a vague arrangement , producing language which either side could claim was supportive.

You'll note that my complaints about the South have largely been a moral interpretation, they failed to honor the contract to which they had voluntarily agreed. I have not advanced a legal argument because as I have stated in the past, secession was neither legal nor illegal. It was not specified as a right and it was not specified as forbidden. In the absense of legal clarity, it could only be tested by force of arms. If you think about, the legal right to rebel does not exist anywhere. No government ever writes in its governing charter, the circumstances where anarchy will be acceptable. The right to revolt can only be a moral question.

We might also consider that the Southern revolt was an instant one, not the product of a long legal struggle which was finally resolved against them. They acted on the assumption of an absolute right to secession without attempting to establish the right by any legal process. It was a unilateral destruction of their common contract with the other States without any effort to amend the existing, or negotiate a new, contract. They did not seek permission, they behaved as though there was no question of them having permission. If you were in a contractual relationship with someone and they acted that way, of course you would wind up suing them rather than simply accepting the damage that their unilateral actions caused. And in the case of the Northern States, of course they were going to fight rather than accept such treatment from the South.

What would have happened if the South had taken the legal path? What would have been needed was some test case where the Supreme Court could have ruled on the right to secession. South Carolina could have petitioned in Federal Courts to have the US forces removed from Fort Sumter on the grounds of them now being foreign nationals occupying a newly independent commonwealth, as established by secession. The Supreme Court was packed in those days with Southern Democrats and Justice Taney of the Dred Scott decision was still chief justice. Who knows? Maybe they would have affirmed the right of secession. Or maybe not, Taney was from Maryland, a border state, and he had freed his own slaves out of personal contempt for the institution. And we would also have the sticky problem of the court ruling that it was perfectly okay to ignore the laws of the land and set up counter governments whenever you were displaeased with the direction of things.

Had the Southern States done this, I would have a lot more respect for their position. I think that they didn't consider this avenue for a minute because they knew that they really were not backed by law.

Quote:
While nullifying the 2nd Amendment doesn't go against any rule of law in our system of government and there is a process to do so, it seems to violate the spirit of the document and the founders intent.
I'm afraid that you stand on quicksand with the above. You are arguing that the Constitution is unamendable, that any State or indivdual has a right to ignore an amendment if it doesn't like it. Obviously the document is changable, the authors spelled out the process by which it may be altered and wrote it into the document, so clearly they had it in mind that future generations were not to be saddled with laws which become outdated by circumstances or changing attitudes. The orginal document classed African Americans as non citizens, should we have been stuck with that forever because someone in Texas didn't like the idea of making them citizens? The original document called for the VP to be whomever got the second most electoral votes and the Jefferson/Burr mess was the result. Should we have been stuck with that forever if someone in New Hampshire would be upset by an alternative?

If a majority of States decided to amend the second amendment, then Texas, and you, would just have to live with it. Or you could go with armed rebellion, but don't delude yourself that the other side won't cloud up and rain on you because you had a right to go rebel.
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
Rhett:


That is certainly how the South elected to see it, it was two sides, each with an eccentric interpretation of the same document. And while that may have been the intent of some of the members of the Constitutional Convention, I suspect that it was confined to the minds of the anti-Federalists.
And I think with regards to this portion of the argument, we can stop here. Its clear that Federalists KNEW that in order to get all parties to sign-off on the Constitution that no mention of permanance could be made within the document.

As you've said, both sides made assumptions from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
Slavery could have ended without a war, but the question of whether or not a minority had the right to break up the Union without the consent of the majority, that could only be settled by armed conflcit when someone attempted it. The reason for this I have discussed in other threads....the members of the Constitutional Convention took a powder on the issue and both sides of the ultimate sovereignty debate compromised on a vague arrangement , producing language which either side could claim was supportive.
Perhaps. I just don't see logically how Anti-Federalists would agree to give up their ultimate sovereignty for all time.

I can ALSO see the side that would argue that there is no point in a Union in which members can leave whenever they disagree with something as it stands to create a very loose confederation at best.

Lets just agree that it was a hope of the Founders that a challenge of this sort would never come to pass and their hopes went unrealized...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
You'll note that my complaints about the South have largely been a moral interpretation, they failed to honor the contract to which they had voluntarily agreed. I have not advanced a legal argument because as I have stated in the past, secession was neither legal nor illegal. It was not specified as a right and it was not specified as forbidden. In the absense of legal clarity, it could only be tested by force of arms. If you think about, the legal right to rebel does not exist anywhere. No government ever writes in its governing charter, the circumstances where anarchy will be acceptable. The right to revolt can only be a moral question.
Actually, the 10th Amendment should have covered this IMO. The South didn't "rebel", they "seceded". This isn't semantics. There's a noteable difference between the two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
We might also consider that the Southern revolt was an instant one, not the product of a long legal struggle which was finally resolved against them. They acted on the assumption of an absolute right to secession without attempting to establish the right by any legal process. It was a unilateral destruction of their common contract with the other States without any effort to amend the existing, or negotiate a new, contract. They did not seek permission, they behaved as though there was no question of them having permission. If you were in a contractual relationship with someone and they acted that way, of course you would wind up suing them rather than simply accepting the damage that their unilateral actions caused. And in the case of the Northern States, of course they were going to fight rather than accept such treatment from the South.
And we've discussed this before. By the act of going the legal route, the South essentially calls into question that which they are claiming is a "right" of theirs.

If you believe you are legally allowed to do something, why would you appeal to the court of the very body you are having a disagreement with to ask if what you're doing is okay?

Beyond this, how can you claim that they violated any contractual obligation? That was the Northern interpretation, but as we've gone over, there was NEVER a stipulation in the Constitution that it was a permanent "contract".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
What would have happened if the South had taken the legal path? What would have been needed was some test case where the Supreme Court could have ruled on the right to secession. South Carolina could have petitioned in Federal Courts to have the US forces removed from Fort Sumter on the grounds of them now being foreign nationals occupying a newly independent commonwealth, as established by secession. The Supreme Court was packed in those days with Southern Democrats and Justice Taney of the Dred Scott decision was still chief justice. Who knows? Maybe they would have affirmed the right of secession. Or maybe not, Taney was from Maryland, a border state, and he had freed his own slaves out of personal contempt for the institution. And we would also have the sticky problem of the court ruling that it was perfectly okay to ignore the laws of the land and set up counter governments whenever you were displaeased with the direction of things.
Eh, see? This is where I think your argument really falls flat for reasons that you outline. Yes, the South very well may have gotten a favorable decision here, but the ENTIRE point of secession is that states that secede no longer appeal to "Federal" authority. By doing so they would undermine their supposed "right" by their very first act.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
Had the Southern States done this, I would have a lot more respect for their position. I think that they didn't consider this avenue for a minute because they knew that they really were not backed by law.
And I've outlined why, as a matter of principle, they couldn't do what you believe they should have.

If you and your wife are having a disagreement and you believe its worthy of a divorce and she doesn't, are you going to ask your wife permission to divorce her?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
I'm afraid that you stand on quicksand with the above. You are arguing that the Constitution is unamendable, that any State or indivdual has a right to ignore an amendment if it doesn't like it. Obviously the document is changable, the authors spelled out the process by which it may be altered and wrote it into the document, so clearly they had it in mind that future generations were not to be saddled with laws which become outdated by circumstances or changing attitudes. The orginal document classed African Americans as non citizens, should we have been stuck with that forever because someone in Texas didn't like the idea of making them citizens? The original document called for the VP to be whomever got the second most electoral votes and the Jefferson/Burr mess was the result. Should we have been stuck with that forever if someone in New Hampshire would be upset by an alternative?
No, the only point I was making is that the South's belief that the Republican's election to the Presidency as a harbinger of the end of slavery in ALL states wasn't far-fetched at all due to the fact that any Constitutional protection that they may have had may very well have been overturned by voting in a new Amendment. (The reason, as we both know, that adding more slave states was important to the South).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander
If a majority of States decided to amend the second amendment, then Texas, and you, would just have to live with it. Or you could go with armed rebellion, but don't delude yourself that the other side won't cloud up and rain on you because you had a right to go rebel.
Again, my point is simply that any argument that "The Republican Platform didn't include removing slavery where it already existed" is a virtual fallacy because the mere act of continuously adding free-states and no slave states would have given the North the power to eventually vote down slavery in ALL states...

Again though you imply open "rebellion" is actually what the South performed here which is not the case. They exercised a legal right (in their eyes). There was no need to go to the court of the opposition to ask if it was really a right since the right they were claiming would make Federal permission a moot point...

Again, I bring up the secession of the last four states who obviously felt this (the right of secession) to be the main issue.
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Old 06-21-2010, 10:00 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhett_Butler View Post

Again, I bring up the secession of the last four states who obviously felt this (the right of secession) to be the main issue.
I have not contested the notion that the South believed that they had a right to secession. Do you acknowledge that the basis for that belief was neither morally stronger, nor legally superior, to the Northern argument that the South was violating a contract it had voluntarily signed?

See, the thing with your "mentality of the founding fathers" argument is that it may be employed to support both sides. That they left the question of ultimate sovereignty vague, supports one side as well as the other. You say the South would not have ratified the document if they had any inkling that secession wasn't an assumed right, but one might also say that the Federalist would not have ratified it if they thought that it was just some temporary agreement and that the union could be busted up by the unilateral actions of a sub part. Both sides chickened out. The price of unity in 1787 turned out to be war in 1861.

For both sides.

And....it was the fact that the South behaved as though there was no question of a right to secession which meant that it was going to have to be settled with guns rather than lawyers.

So...it was, and remains, a moral question and that is where we differ. I do not think the South's cause...our extra strength political power is going to be scaled back to just regular power...sufficient to justify them walking out on the deal to which they had agreed. If the South's rights truly were being threatened, then you would have a case. It wasn't their rights under siege, it was their outsized political power. Yes, the Constitution affirmed the institution of slavery where it existed, but it did not affirm it on a perpetual basis. The Constitution also included an amending process so that if the majority should change its mind in the future, it was free to do so. That was what frightened the South, that the majority would exercise what they had a legal right to do. The South had a right to expect slavery to be left alone where it existed, until such time as the majority, acting legally, decided that this should be changed. They had no right to expect a special perpetual status for one particular law in a compact which included the means for altering any and all laws.

The Southern States signed aboard with the understanding that the majority would prevail. There was no language in the document which covered acceptable escape behavior for those who did not like the majority decision.

This is greatly compounded by the fact that the extra political power was based entirely on sustaining an immoral institution...slavery. At some point you have to look that question in the face and make a decision as to which side you support.
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Old 06-21-2010, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Rhett:
Quote:
If you and your wife are having a disagreement and you believe its worthy of a divorce and she doesn't, are you going to ask your wife permission to divorce her?
I'm going to ask the legal authorities for permission to divorce her. The Southern solution would be just to walk away as though the marriage had never taken place, abandon her and abandon the legal obligations which were undertaken when the "I do" was said.

You approve of that?
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