July 23, 2008

22% of Americans "believe any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic."

According to a new Middlebury Institute/Zogby International poll.

And it's 40% among those aged 18 to 24, 43% among Hispanics, and 40% among African-Americans.

This is not a right-wing thing. Liberals are most likely to buy it — 32% compared to 17% for conservatives.

So all these people have the law wrong and don't seem to know the basics of the history of the Civil War. They think secession is possible, but would they support secession in their own state?

18% said yes. In the South: 24%. And 35% of the under 30 group were ready to secede.

Fascinating(ly stupid).

153 comments:

Jeff with one 'f' said...

43% among Hispanics = Aztlan!

Crimso said...

IANAL, but I have a vague recollection that there was a SCOTUS case involving someone in TX who (IIRC) had assets confiscated as a result of his support of secession, and who asserted that the secession of TX was legal. The court ruled that it wasn't. This was about 1870, IIRC.

Mrs. Harriet Wayspace said...

Calling people "stupid".....

And Althouse wonders why she has enemies ????

Who's to say these "stupid" people aren't completely aware of the Constitution, and by voting for secession......what they really meant was that they wanted a Constitutional Convention.

And, with a Constitutional Convention, and a national vote.....it indeed would be possible for a State to secede.

Who's "stupid" now ????

Seven Machos said...

I think it's actually fascinating. Clearly, the issue is the definition of "right," and its genesis.

That's a tough one.

Revenant said...

Asking people if they think they have the right to do something is imprecise. People have a natural right to peaceably secede -- that's what the Founders were going on about in the Declaration of Independence. We just don't have a legal right to secede. Then again, neither did the Founders.

vbspurs said...

43% among Hispanics = Aztlan!

I know a lot of Americans lump Hispanics together, and I'm not exactly saying you're one of them, Jeff.

But I know a lot of Cubans (especially) who wouldn't like to live in this mythical Aztlan.

To say the least.

Ironically, whenever "Anglo" Americans here in Miami teasingly refer to living in North Cuba, the real Cubans themselves get very angry.

"Cuba is thattaway. This is America!"

(As one of my Cuban-American friends put it)

Don't fall for these separatist claims in stupid polls, folks.

If you asked a cross-section of Americans if they'd vote to have work-sanctioned naps, I bet you you could find 22% of people who would vote YES.

Cheers,
Victoria

AJ Lynch said...

...and the other 78% believe Zogby polls generally suck.

John K. said...

What Revenant said. Based upon the question that was actually asked these people according to the linked article I don't think it's correct to assume they got the "law wrong."

Richard Dolan said...

"Liberals are most likely to buy it — 32% compared to 17% for conservatives."

Why so surprised? It's the same issue that split the Democratic party in 1860 and 1864 (and thereafter). At least now we now where all the Copperheads went -- they've just changed their name.

UWS guy said...

Lincoln made it pretty clear what power the Federal government had in relation to States.

Before the civil war people spoke, "The United States of America are...

After, "The United States of America is....

class-factotum said...

Doesn't the Texas constitution state that it maintains the right to secede? Or am I confusing that with its right to split up into as many as five states? Seventh-grade Texas history was over 30 years ago.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

They think secession is possible, but would they support secession in their own state?

Hell yes!!.

There is strong support to seriously jettison the southern and northern part of our areas and take control of our own area and resources. It will never happen of course but still a nice pipe dream.

Ann Althouse said...

Victoria, that suggests that it would be useful to break the demographic down more. Would Mexican-Americans show a much higher percentage than 43? And ask them if they believe in Aztlan. I'd like to know!

vbspurs said...

Don't forget the Florida Keys seceded in 1982, from the United States. It was known as the Conch Republic.

Motto: We secede where others failed.

ROFL.

Cheers,
Victoria

Chet said...

Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are two good examples.

Mrs. Wayspace: The last time we've had a Constitutional Convention was 1776, so maybe we're overdue for a new one !

Original Mike said...

Isn't the right to secede like the right to kill the king? You have the right if, and only if, you succeed.

John K. said...

Ann:

So which is it: are our rights inalienable and part of being human, or are we endowed with them by the U.S. Constitution?

Just sayin, with all due respect: maybe the "stupidity" label for this post should be re-thought.

vbspurs said...

Victoria, that suggests that it would be useful to break the demographic down more. Would Mexican-Americans show a much higher percentage than 43? And ask them if they believe in Aztlan. I'd like to know!

Me too!

Ann, I have never understood why Americans lump Hispanics together.

Is it because they speak the same language? Is it because Americans think they're all indigenous brown coloured peoples? Is it because they're all "Latins"?

In fact, Latin IS short-hand in this country for Hispanic, though the Brazilians, Guadaloupans, Haitians and others qualify as Latin Americans too, without being Spanish...

(Not to mention the French, Italians, Romanians etc. who are just plain Latin)

In the Hispanic world, a Nicaraguan has nothing in common with a Cuban, as a Cuban has nothing in common with a Puerto Rican, etc.

They share a language, some television programmes, and some music. That's it.

Being Hispanic is not like being African-American, a near-hegemonic group with few direct regional ties to their homeland. It's an amorphous continent, this "Africa" and sadly due to slavery, they largely have no idea where they came from over there.

I recall a baseball broadcaster waxing lyrical of when Roberto Clemente, the famous baseball player, died unexpectedly in 1972.

"All Hispanics in this country shed a tear that night. He was a hero to them. He was like their Martin Luther King."

Uh, no.

This kind of thinking drives my Spanish-speaking friends nuts.

To answer your question, I think this poll is a push-poll meant to produce a special result in people who don't ordinarily walk around thinking, YEAH SECEDE!

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

To be fair, I think a lot of people heard the question and thought about the Declaration of Independence and the ideas expressed in it. If they imagined an extreme hypothetical, then it's not stupid to answer yes to the first question.

Ann Althouse said...

It's when you see the numbers to the question about supporting secession now that you worry about stupidity.

Revenant said...

Ann, I have never understood why Americans lump Hispanics together.

For the same reason all the white folks get lumped together in the "Caucasian" category.

Jeremy said...

UWS guy-
Hey I saw National Treasure 2 last night also! They really upped the cheese factor and cut back on the cool tricky puzzles for the sequel. What a waste.

The Drill SGT said...

So the highest percentage of folks who would spport states seceding are Blacks? OMG!


coupled with the fact that the South had a low % and the South has a high Black population, it sort of implies that white southerners would oppose secession?

vbspurs said...

For the same reason all the white folks get lumped together in the "Caucasian" category.

Understood.

But the larger point is that Caucasians are a race (if you believe in this non-existent construct), and the other is a...language? I don't get it.

Correlatively, in America, folks tend to view the English, the Scots, the Swedes, the Germans, the Greeks, the Swiss, etc. as all being essentially the same people becaue they're all white.

That's not how we see it in Europe itself.

For us, an Irishman has zilch in common with a Russian, even if this hypothetical duo both have red hair and blue-eyes.

This flawed, informal thinking allows people to lump others together, for example also East Asians like the Japanese, Filipinos, Koreans, and it's wrong.

I realise it's done for government programme purposes, zoning, census, affirmative action reasons etc. but it's still wrong.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

It's when you see the numbers to the question about supporting secession now that you worry about stupidity.

What is stupid about secession?

There is certainly ample reason to think the US government is too large and unwieldy to be responsive to its citizens' interests anymore. In 1790, the population of the entire United States was 3.9 million (smaller than 26 of the current states). There was one representative per 30,000 people, compared to one per 700,000 today, which gives a modern voter 1/23rd the voice of a 1790 voter. At the same time that our say in the federal government has shrunk dramatically, the power and size of the federal government has grown even MORE dramatically.

There's nothing stupid about enlightened self-interest.

John K. said...

Ann said: "It's when you see the numbers to the question about supporting secession now that you worry about stupidity."

I don't see why. Unless you mean that the federal government and most of the rest of your local community would never allow it, so that supporting secession would be a total waste of time and maybe life. In that sense it'd be stupid. But the people who were polled weren't asked the question that way.

Revenant said...

But the larger point is that Caucasians are a race (if you believe in this non-existent construct), and the other is a...language? I don't get it.

The label "Hispanic" arises from a desire to have a manageable list of races and ethnicities to deal with. Cubans and Mexicans can't be lumped in with Caucasians because most of them have a lot of black or native ancestry, and they can't be lumped in with blacks and natives because they have a lot of white ancestry. So they get lumped together because they have more in common with each other (including language, religion, and colonial history) than they do with any of the other groups.

Sure, Cubans are a distinct group from Mexicans. But like you said, Irish are a distinct group from Russians, too.

Ger said...

Yeah lets laugh at the yokels and call them stupid. I know that always makes me feel superior. Just as reading the Althouse blog confirms my intellectual bona fides.

I think if the question specifically asked - "I believe any state or region currently has the legal right ..." that maybe the answers would have been somewhat different.

Lots of folks feel they have a right to privacy yet so many conservatives will tell you that there is nothing in the Constitution that says you do. So...who are the rubes in that case Please identify them for me so I can be sure who to call stupid.

Duscany said...

I just don't know, Ann, why it's stupid to want to secede from the United States. The 13 colonies did it. I'm not saying it's realistic or that federal agents wouldn't show up on your doorstep with guns in their hands. But all that proves is that they currently have the monopoly on violence, not that secession isn't a moral thing to do.

vbspurs said...

Cubans and Mexicans can't be lumped in with Caucasians because most of them have a lot of black or native ancestry

But see this is the fallacy such thinking leads to, Revenant.

Cubans in the US, certainly in the first wave of immigrants, self-identified as white because they are white. 90% of them are of recent European immigration.

Should Southern Italians like Martin Scorcese or Greeks like Michael Dukakis not be thought of as white because they're dark?

Well, this is already a big deviation from Ann's intent in posting, so I'll just leave people with this thought.

Many Europeans don't consider white Americans "white".

For the same reasons you stated, ironically, Rev. :)

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

/not immigrants! They are exiles. My Cuban friends would freak if they saw me typing "immigrant" there.

Smilin' Jack said...

So all these people have the law wrong and don't seem to know the basics of the history of the Civil War.

Yes, it's shocking that so many people are ignorant of the fundamental legal principle "might makes right," and that if you secede, the federal government will come and kill you.

UWS guy said...

National Treasure 2 was bind-boggling bad.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

why it's stupid to want to secede from the United States. The 13 colonies did it. I'm not saying it's realistic or that federal agents wouldn't show up on your doorstep with guns in their hands.

We just want to secede from California. Is that too much to ask? :-)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Hispanic, in my frame of reference, is for those from Mexico. Not Cuba. Not Venezuela. Not Argentina, where my aunt is from who is ethnically Italian.

This tendency to try to pigeon hole people into nice neat categories is silly and unproductive. Just as we try to shove all "conservatives" or "liberals" into one camp.

paul a'barge said...

Texas baby, Texas!

The Drill SGT said...

Commenting on 2 of Victorias thoughts:

This flawed, informal thinking allows people to lump others together, for example also East Asians like the Japanese, Filipinos, Koreans, and it's wrong.

I think the most interesting case are the Japanese and the Koreans, who as I understand it are genetically almost identical, yet, the Japanese have great racial animosity for Koreans, and the Koreans have a great political hatred for the colonialist Japanese.

2. Should Southern Italians like Martin Scorcese or Greeks like Michael Dukakis not be thought of as white because they're dark? LOL, Northern Italians call the Sicilians, "Baptised Arabs"

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But the larger point is that Caucasians are a race (if you believe in this non-existent construct), and the other is a...language? I don't get it.

Actually, in the physical anthropological sense, Caucasian is a race as is Negroid, Mongoloid etc. Probably not the most politically correct terms now, since they were coined a century or so ago and are antique terms. But nevertheless, true morphological differences that have nothing whatsoever to do with the skin.

In my physical anthro class we were/and are able to tell the "race", age and sex of the subject by the skull and bone structures. Not quite so easy as it used to be when the taxonomy was created, due to the greater movement of peoples across the earth and the inter mixture of peoples. However, there are distinct differences in the skeleton of an Eskimo and a Nilotic Negro or an Australian Aborigine or a native of France.

Like it or not.

Also, there are some significant genetic similarities in the Irish and the Russians of the Rus and northern areas. Both were heavily intermixed with Vikings.

Revenant said...

Lots of folks feel they have a right to privacy yet so many conservatives will tell you that there is nothing in the Constitution that says you do.

The problem is that the people in question usually argue that they have a *Constitutional* right to privacy, not just a natural right to privacy. We may or may not have a natural right to privacy (I'd say we do), but the Constitution neither mentions it nor protects it, except in a few narrow circumstances relating to searches.

Secession is the same thing. Our country is founded on the ideological principle that people have a natural right to self-determination. It just isn't a right they chose to protect in the Constitution.

Revenant said...

We just want to secede from California. Is that too much to ask?

Then the remaining 49 states would have to find a way to come up with the extra $50 billion in taxes Californians pay over and above what we receive in government benefits. Although you'd make back some of that on water fees paid by us to Arizona and Nevada.

vbspurs said...

DBQ: My old anthropology prof repeatedly stated there is no such thing as race. When pressed by the class, she said at most she believes in clines.

"A cline is a gradual change of a character or feature (phenotype) in a species over a geographical area, often as a result of environmental heterogeneity. In population genetics, a cline could include a spectrum of subspecies. The change in phenotype does not result in different species as long as the geographically spread populations can interbreed with one another."

Race, to me, is just a pseudo-scientific, mostly social construct we humans used to differentiate ourselves physically.

I'm exactly one half-German, and one-half British (which even today is considered unusual in the Old World. This Heinz 57 quality Americans have is suspect there).

But in my genealogy I also have Austrians, Croatians, Scots, and Irish.

What of the Mongols who raped their way across Europe? I mean, even the Queen (through Queen Mary) is descended from Genghis Khan. Some say she is descended from the Prophet Mohammed.

What makes me or her truly white? Eh. I'm just me. Pink and beautiful.

And very modest.

Cheers,
Victoria

The Drill SGT said...

Rev,

You must be City guy from back East.

You think DBQ wants California to secede.

NO!

she and the rest of the folks that live in the State of Jefferson (where I was born, BTW) want to secede from those liberal, water-thievin folks in LA and SF.

http://www.jeffersonstate.com/

Jefferson is composed of the Northern most CA counties and the Southern Oregon counties. There ws a real life revolt in 1941. seriously, only WWII brought an end to it :)

You're a literate guy. You must have seen the Movie Chinatown. Bottom line, in the West, all fights ultimately come down to water, water and water. Jefferson had it, and those LA pukes with help from big government Washington, stole it.

There are other grievances, but water and the fact that the Jefferson folks think they get screwed by their Legislatures sums it up, IMHO

LutherM said...

Secession is a lost cause, as is Algerie francaise. But, to use a quote attributed to Bobby Kennedy, ""Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why'? I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not'?"

Michael McNeil said...

Smilin' Jack sez:
Yes, it's shocking that so many people are ignorant of the fundamental legal principle "might makes right," and that if you secede, the federal government will come and kill you.

Actually, the principle exemplified by the American Civil War is that if you secede, and then launch a war against the (remaining) parent country, that nation (if overwhelmingly more powerful) may counterattack and smash you.

Lincoln had declared that he would not be the one to open hostilities. Yet the arrogant slaver South, contemptuous of the mercantile North, then embraced the idea within its noggin that it should militarily attack the United States (to wit, legal U.S. property occupied by legally designated agents) — which assault sent a public-relations lightning bolt through the American body politic. The rest is history.

P. Rich said...

AA said: So all these people have the law wrong and don't seem to know the basics of the history of the Civil War.

I would venture to guess that's accurate, but I doubt we'd agree on "the basics... of the Civil War", or on whether or not Lincoln had a legal right to prosecute war on citizens of the United States (recalling that the CSA was never recognized by the USA or any other country as a separate, legally constituted entity).

Here are a few relevant facts, circa 1860:

States in the Prewar Union - 41, plus D.C
Total Free Population - 27.5 M
States Forming the CSA - 11
Population - 5.5 M

In the 1860 elections, Lincoln and his party achieved overwhelming control of the government, and anti-slavery was a growing movement in the North which influenced that outcome.

Cotton farming, dependent on slave labor, dominated the southern economy. wikinote: British textile manufacturers were eager to buy all the cotton that the South could produce. (Note that Northern manufacturing was not uncomfortably vested in raw cotton processing.) The figures for cotton production support this conclusion: from 720,000 bales in 1830, to 2.85 million bales in 1850, to nearly 5 million in 1860. By the time of the Civil War, cotton accounted for almost 60% of American exports, representing a total value of nearly $300 million a year.

Ask yourself (1) why, knowing without question they could not win a war with the North, the vastly outnumbered agrarian secessionist states chose to engage in one that resulted in such devastation; and (2) on specifically what moral and legal grounds Lincoln was willing to cause that devastation.

Slavery is a deplorable institution, but it was legal at the time it was used to develop the Southern economy. The answer to (1) above is, many historians have argued, because they saw economic devastation as politically immediate and inevitable and hoped that by [legally, in their view] seceding and, if absolutely necessary, engaging in an unpopular protracted conflict as a least of evils they could force a change in federal government and thus preserve their economy and way of life.

Is that what your history book said, Pookie?

Michael McNeil said...

Mrs. Harriet Wayspace sez:
And, with a Constitutional Convention, and a national vote.....it indeed would be possible for a State to secede.

Why in the world would a constitutional convention be required for secession? One would think it could be legally and successfully accomplished by the same process that brought the state into the Union in the first place: the state legislature and/or a state convention or referendum approves admission (or secession), whereupon Congress does likewise. Voila!

Host with the Most said...

Fascinating(ly stupid).

I blame our public education system.

Seriously.

Revenant said...

You're a literate guy. You must have seen the Movie Chinatown. Bottom line, in the West, all fights ultimately come down to water, water and water. Jefferson had it, and those LA pukes with help from big government Washington, stole it.

If you want to get into a "who stole what from who" argument then I think there are some indigenous tribes who would like to have a few words with the nice white folks from Jefferson. :)

But if you look at the current situation today, well, water just isn't all that important to southern California anymore. Something like 90% of it goes to agriculture, which in turn is only about 2% of GDP. If "Jefferson" and "Southern California" both left the United States, SoCal would come out billions of dollars ahead even if it meant the complete end of agriculture in the state. I doubt "Jefferson" would particularly benefit, especially since their current state benefits are paid for by the wealthy folks in SF, LA and San Diego.

Revenant said...

on specifically what moral and legal grounds Lincoln was willing to cause that devastation.

As for moral grounds, your next sentence covers that adequately:

Slavery is a deplorable institution

That leaves the legal grounds.

Well either the states had a legal right to secede from the Union or they did not. If they did not, then they were in fact in rebellion (and their leaders guilty of treason) -- certainly adequate legal grounds for the war.

But suppose they did have the right to secede? Well, if the secession was legitimate and the CSA was a separate nation then the only domestic American legal grounds Lincoln needed for sending troops across the border to kick ass was an act of Congress authorizing a war. Which Congress was nice enough to provide. So far as international law was concerned, both the attack on Fort Sumter and the seizure of Union property within the CSA constituted legitimate acts of war.

So no matter how you slice it, the war was legal and morally justified.

Michael McNeil said...

Ger sez:
Lots of folks feel they have a right to privacy yet so many conservatives will tell you that there is nothing in the Constitution that says you do.

Some conservatives may say that, but many will not. Certainly, libertarians don't believe it. Personally, it's hard for me to understand why a right of privacy isn't a no-brainer fallout of the IXth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Denying an obvious right like a right of personal privacy because it's not explicitly set out in the text is doing exactly what the IXth forbids.

The Drill SGT said...

I doubt "Jefferson" would particularly benefit, especially since their current state benefits are paid for by the wealthy folks in SF, LA and San Diego

I forgot to mention that California today is a big importer of power. Californians don't like Nukes or Oil, or gas power plants. don't even like transmission lines. Many dont like dams either. without Jefferson Dams (Shasta, Oroville, and Folsom come to mind) they can turn the lights out on SF. as for water, LA has 2 sources. The Colorado, which is over subscribed and the current agreements would be voided if they left the country, and the California water project, which moves Jefferson water to SoCal through a 500 mile long would be problematic.

and the agricultural use is 80% with 20% going to cities. The agricultural water ends up feeding the environmental requirements as well, so it cant just be shut off. The urban water tends to end up directly in the ocean with no other enviro benefit, (cause CA cities are on the ocean)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There are other grievances, but water and the fact that the Jefferson folks think they get screwed by their Legislatures sums it up, IMHO

In a nutshell with the additional grievances of being deprived of the full economic use of timber, hydro electric power, geothermal power, natural gas, minerals and a great deal of agriculture (rice, nuts, beef, dairy, wine to name a few).

Right now the majority of our area is burning up because of shortsighted so called "environmental" timber management practices dictated by people in areas that haven't ever seen a tree. Those practices mean don't touch a tree, never thin out the dead timber or cut back underbrush.

Many dont like dams either. without Jefferson Dams (Shasta, Oroville, and Folsom come to mind) they can turn the lights out on SF. as for water, LA has 2 sources. The Colorado, which is over subscribed and the current agreements would be voided if they left the country, and the California water project, which moves Jefferson water to SoCal through a 500 mile long would be problematic canal.

We pay our taxes and get practically nothing in return in infrastructure investment or political consideration. In addition this area votes about60- 70% Republican but our votes are completely negated because of the larger population areas in the urban sectors. We're used to it. Such is life. But this is why I don't plan to vote for McCain (ptooey) in this election since 100% of our electoral votes are going to go for Obama or anyone who has a D behind their name. It doesn't matter who "I" vote for so I'm voting my conscience.

This trampling on the smaller areas by the urban centers is one reason that I can see that States WOULD want to secede from the union.....IF they change the national election to a popular vote instead of the electoral college. Sure we in our northern Calif area are out-voted regularly, how fine do you think that concept will go over with Montana, Vermont the Dakotas and many other States that would have zero voice in being able to control and utilize their natural resources....oil and coal and then also have zero voice in being able to be heard on a National level? When everything about your life is decided by people in East and West Coast populous areas, what point is there in belonging to a UNION of States when you have no control or input on issues that affect you?

SteveR said...

If you are thinking sucession is a viable option, no matter that you could find plenty of lawyers willing to argue its legality, I suggest you buy a Powerball ticket. At least your odds would be several orders of magnitude better.

Revenant said...

Personally, it's hard for me to understand why a right of privacy isn't a no-brainer fallout of the IXth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The problem is that you have confused "nothing in the Constitution strips people of those extra rights" -- what the 9th says -- with "Congress may not pass a law stripping you of those rights". Congress can deny, restrict, or otherwise fiddle with any right it feels like provided that (a) it does so in pursuit of its enumerated powers and (b) it isn't forbidden from doing so by the Constitution, as it is with free speech, free press, etc.

Beth said...

Also, there are some significant genetic similarities in the Irish and the Russians of the Rus and northern areas. Both were heavily intermixed with Vikings.

That's my people--we are your overlords!

Beth said...

Revenant, thanks for your excellent comment of 9:16. I'm going to copy and paste it in a little file to reference for the rare but inevitable conversation with the local "the South will Rise Again" types.

Simon said...

UWS guy said...
"Before the civil war people spoke [in terms of], 'The United States of America are...' After, [in terms of] 'The United States of America is...'"

I'm not sure that this is historically true, but idiomatically, it's a wonderful way to put it.

Simon said...

Michael McNeil said...
"Personally, it's hard for me to understand why a right of privacy isn't a no-brainer fallout of the IXth Amendment: 'The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.'"

It isn't denying or disparaging a right to say that the Constitution provides no warrant for unelected life-tenured judges to enforce it by striking down legislation that infringes it. As I read it, the 9th Amendment, like the 10th Amendment, serves to make explicit something already implicit in what goes before it: that the Constitution's enumeration of rights should not be considered exhaustive. The people retain the right to carve out and protect many more rights in the ordinary political process than the Constitution guarantees.

Beth said...

Simon, you beat me to that comment. I too don't know if it's accurate ( it's worth a little research) but it feels right on an emotional level.

Michael McNeil said...

Simon sez:
"Before the civil war people spoke [in terms of], 'The United States of America are...' After, [in terms of] 'The United States of America is...'"

I'm not sure that this is historically true, but idiomatically, it's a wonderful way to put it.


I believe it is historically true. Here's just one example pre-Civil War: Alexis de Tocqueville interrogating (in 1831) an American innkeeper with regard to travel conditions ahead, to wit: “The United States are always considering opening up a road; but so far it has been barely begun and stops at Pontiac.”

Michael McNeil said...

Simon sez:
It isn't denying or disparaging a right to say that the Constitution provides no warrant for unelected life-tenured judges to enforce it by striking down legislation that infringes it.

“The Constitution provides no warrant for unelected life-tenured judges to enforce it by striking down” any legislation, much less specifically Amendment IX rights — yet very arguably neither did the founding fathers intend that Congress should just blithely ignore all those “Congress shall make no law”s nor the spirit of the IXth.

I also think it's indisputable that had the founders had a glimmering that the IXth (and Xth) Amendment would be transformed into a nullity by those same “unelected life-tenured judges” you refer to, there would have been a whole slew more explicitly enumerated rights than are present in the Constitution we have. And yet this wholesale excision of the IXth from the text of the Constitution is supposed to be good constitutional law and reasoning? I think not.

Cedarford said...

Ann, I have never understood why Americans lump Hispanics together.

Revenent said - For the same reason all the white folks get lumped together in the "Caucasian" category.

Except that Hispanic is an artificial race invented by two Jewish lawyers in OMB in the Nixon Administration - for liberal social engineering purposes as they were creating the EEO to do small temporary "diversity accessibility to government contracts". And were trying to decide who got "bonus points". Thus was affirmative action invented.

Not to be content with one fake race, they created two more. The "Pacific Islander" and the Native American - defined as any native peoples born North of the Mexican Border. While 100% Mayans and others had the two lawyers saying South of the Rio Grande, that made them part of the Hispanic race along with blacks, whites, and mixes. Of course the lawyers had to say the original Hispanics and Portugese of Ibernia were no longer Latin like their 100% European descendents in Chile, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico...but were Euros.

There are 3 major "real races". Negroid, Mongoloid, and Caucasian.

With the human genome project, we may say that there are 6-7 subraces of Negroids, and very few are 100% of one group that evolved originally is isolation from one another 50,000 to 10,000 years ago. And of the African subraces, the East African Nilotics appear to be the original source of all other races that developed in 2 migrations.

Which are the two main races and perhaps up to 9-11 archaic races that developed outside Africa before the Caucasian and Mongoloid race emerged. And still exist in Australia, on certain islands, or in pockets in isolated parts of India, Burma, Japan...or show up strong in the features and genes of regional populations of the two main "out of Africa races".

Revenant said...

Californians don't like Nukes or Oil, or gas power plants.

That's a silly argument. Obviously California will happily accept building new plants -- for which there are oodles of spare room, given how much empty desert we have -- if the alternative is going without power.

without Jefferson Dams (Shasta, Oroville, and Folsom come to mind) they can turn the lights out on SF.

Your argument assumes that the people of Jefferson would rather shut down their dams than sell power to southern California. That is obviously a ridiculous argument. The only effect of that would be to force California to finally build more power plants. Jefferson would have screwed itself out of a good revenue stream for nothing.

I would also point out, while we're on the subject of "who imports what from whom", that the economy of both Jefferson and pretty much the entire United States west of the Rockies is dependent on the ports and roads of California and what travels through them. If, for some reason, the California ports became unavailable tomorrow, the entire United States would plunge into a deep depression. So the notion that the United States would decide to fuck over California just for the sheer joy of watching its residents suffer is sheer idiocy; obviously it would be in the best interests of both nations to remain on good terms economically.

as for water, LA has 2 sources.

Three. You forgot desalinization, which could indeed provide potable water for southern California -- just not for agriculture. But since California only generates about $35 billion from agriculture (less, when you consider the costs of the illegal immigrants it brings in) and pays $50 billion in excess taxes for the privilege of belonging to the United States, we'd be better off letting the crops die and keeping the tax money. That assumes, of course, that arrangements couldn't be made to continue the water supply in exchange for reasonable payments.

The agricultural water ends up feeding the environmental requirements as well, so it cant just be shut off.

Sure it can. "Environmental requirements" (e.g., green grass lawns) are strictly optional. They aren't a requirement of life, and most arid nations do without them.

Revenant said...

We pay our taxes and get practically nothing in return in infrastructure investment or political consideration.

Northern California receives more in state funds than it pays in state taxes, primarily because the California tax system is extremely progressive.

Revenant said...

Revenant, thanks for your excellent comment of 9:16.

Thank you. :)

cubanbob said...

The Constitution incorporated the Articles of Confederation which states that the United States is a perpetual union.

The South had no legal right to secede. The South was foolish in the extreme for firing on Fort Sumter. That put Lincoln in the position of having to fight the war. While before the war there was a great sentiment to abolish slavery, there was no war fever in the North.Had they held their fire Lincoln would have had a very difficult time firing the first shot and may not have been able to do so at all. The South created the fever that lead to its downfall. Interesting, they were democrats. And just like today's democrats more than a bit treasonous.

C-4 if the Jews are so brilliant and powerful in the evil way you rant on about, why are you still alive? Must be napping on the job those nefarious Jews. Dock them a day's pay.

John K. said...

With regard to the discussion about how various areas of California have access to certain natural resources such as water and ports, and the implications of that access in the hypothetical event of secession by one of those areas from California or by California as a whole from the U.S.:

The Georgist idea that no one has a natural right to ownership of the land itself or other natural resources, but that people may establish an exclusive right to possession of such resources conditioned upon compensatory payments to those excluded who have an equal natural right to such resources, applies as well to putative governments which lay claim to exclusive jurisdiction over specific territories. If California were to secede from the Union, I think the rest of the states would likely be justified in requiring the new Replublic of California to pay compensatory rent in exchange for honoring California's exclusive claim over such valuable land. Although I generally support the natural right to self-determination and therefore the natural right to secession, I think the failure of the secessionists to take into account, and provide compensatory payments for, the value of what their secession would be excluding others from, would justify those others in preventing the secession.

Applying Georgism internationally may seem like a big headache and at first glance unrealistic, but I think it would have the potential to go a long way towards resolving major sources of international conflicts. If you had such a system of mutual compensation within a given territory such as North America, what you'd really have is a loose confederation of free "governmental" entities bound together only by the obligations of natural justice, and that doesn't strike me as necessarily a bad thing.

Barlycorn, John said...

It is definitely a liberal thing. Here in Vermont there are a large number of "reality based" individuals who think that Vermont could go it alone as a sovereign state and save enough money by not having a military, which oddly enough we won't need even though surrounded by a fascist militarist power on three sides.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ann Althouse, et al.
RE: Learning from the Past

I like the way someone put it when he heard that his state of South Carolina had seceded from the Union

It is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum. -- James L. Petigru

The same applies to any state.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ann Althouse, et al.
RE: Speaking of 'Stupid'

"Who's 'stupid' now ????" -- Mrs. Harriet Wayspace....

....after saying people want a Constitutional Convention, in item #3 of these comments.

I doubt if the 'lady' has thought the process of a Constitutional Convention through. And, furthermore, that she REALLY has a grasp of our federal Constitution in the first place.

However, she does have a solid grip on frustration. And that is likely the source of her gripe. Perhaps a topical thread on the source of such frustration would be beneficial.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Any organization with the word 'United' in its title, isn't.]

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ann Althouse, et al.
RE: Speaking of 'Stupid'

"Who's 'stupid' now ????" -- Mrs. Harriet Wayspace....

....after saying people want a Constitutional Convention, in item #3 of these comments.

I doubt if the 'lady' has thought the process of a Constitutional Convention through. And, furthermore, that she REALLY has a grasp of our federal Constitution in the first place.

However, she does have a solid grip on frustration. And that is likely the source of her gripe. Perhaps a topical thread on the source of such frustration would be beneficial.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Any organization with the word 'United' in its title, isn't.]

herbp01 said...

Actually Texas is far and away probably the one state that could do it. Has it's own electricity grid, produces enough oil and gas to easily sustain itself and has enough produce and farming as well. Also has one of the largest ports in the world. They have a Balanced Budget where they could get by without federal funding.

PierreLegrand said...

Given the disdain that politicians have for the law and their constituents I don't think it is a surprise that folks want to secede. With Judges inventing rights from the bench, politicians lying from the floors and Presidents barely able to form complete sentences the nation is a wreck.

Furthermore I do not care for the intrusion unto my life that other more liberal states believe is good for me.

About whether they have the right or not it is clear that the founding fathers were not so sure that succession was "fascinatingly stupid".

John Quincy Adams...
With these qualifications, we may admit the same right as vested in the people of every state in the Union, with reference to the General Government, which was exercised by the people of the United Colonies, with reference to the Supreme head of the British empire, of which they formed a part - and under these limitations, have the people of each state in the Union a right to secede from the confederated Union itself.

Thus stands the RIGHT. But the indissoluble link of union between the people of the several states of this confederated nation, is after all, not in the right, but in the heart. If the day should ever come, (may Heaven avert it,) when the affections of the people of these states shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give away to cold indifference, or collisions of interest shall fester into hatred, the bands of political association will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited states, to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect union, by dissolving that which could no longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be reunited by the law of political gravitation to the center.

Terri Wagner said...

Just speaking as a southerner from an area that once tried to secede, I'm laughing myself silly. Of course, you can secede, just don't come asking for my help when federal troops coming marching in. Oh and a piece of advice, don't fire on a fort. It really wasn't a smart move on our part.

Webutante said...

It may be stupid until you consider the outlaw Republic and Sanctuary kiingdom of California and then the idea of succession seem a bit more interesting.

Barlycorn, John said...

" I too don't know if it's accurate ( it's worth a little research) but it feels right on an emotional level."

This is what passes for though among liberals. Thinking is the process by which rationalizations are discovered for what you "always knew was right on an emotional level."

Doh said...

How is "has the right to" ignorance of the law or history? What you theoretically have the right to isn't always "legal" or "allowed" by those who would prefer to prevent it.

jdb said...

Er, not that I'm in favor of secession,but there is a strong legal technical case in favor of secession.

The SCOTUS did rule in Texas vs. White that secession was illegal, but that decision is dubious and activist at best. Courts should not set policy, and the legislative branch has never established that secession is illegal.

In fact, Lincoln favored secession and the right of self-determination - though only when he was in Congress and the issue was the secession of Texas from Mexico. As with most politicians, though, once his supposed principle threatened to cost him, it was quickly discarded. Indeed, prior to the Civil War making it more than a hypothetical, the vast majority of Americans believed secession to be perfectly acceptable.

So, you can argue these people are wrong-headed (as I would). But odds are at least a few of them understand the applicable law and history better than you, Ann.

wlpeak said...

A couple of things:

Several posts make the argument that the South attacked the North starting the War of Northern Aggression.

While it is true that this forced Lincoln's hand and gave incentive to a previously disinterested population to make war, and was generally stupid, it should not be construed as necessarily illegal or an act of war by 'international law' standards.

If you grant the South the right to form a separate nation then it follows that you revoke the right of other nations to staff fortifications and armies within said nation without permission. To maintain such installations could be construed an act of war itself. You don't even need to pursue the argument that all USA possessions in the new CSA territory should have reverted to the States on secession and then to the CSA on joining. Even allowing the USA to keep ownership of say Ft. Sumter, does not mean they can also staff it at will.

Now of course you may not allow that the CSA could exist. That it was just several states rebelling. But if that were the case, where does the Federal justification for the first reconstruction act's readmission requirements come from? Is it the Law that Congress can pass a law requiring states to ratify constitutional amendments? If you have an issue with secession being illegal what about that? How about the legality of western Virginia counties seceding from Virginia and then being added on as a new State. Doesn't that argue for some level of tacit acknowledgement of the idea of secession by the US? Just asking.

Next "The United States of America are/is....." this may also be explained by a shift in US English from the earlier tradition of group nouns declining to the plural as is still the case in England to the current US English declension.

Finally on Hispanic Panic. No serious person should use this word as no serious definition is possible. It was, as mentioned earlier, a creation of the Govt. and thus should rightly be shunned.

Tom Armstrong said...

A dozen years or so ago, there was a lot of discussion in California about splitting the state up into three states; Northern, Central, and Southern California. A lot of semi friendly editorials went back and forth between newspapers at both ends of the state. What finally derailed the plan was that nobody wanted San Francisco. There was a suggestion to ask Hawaii if they wanted it, but that never got very far....

Buddy Larsen said...

Re Texas, there was a "secesh' candidate on the ballot last election. He got a quarter-million votes. Name of Larry Kilgore -- which struck me as funny, in that the Kurt Vonnegut character Kilgore Trout's motto was "E Pluribus Unum", which means of course, "out of many, one".

I guess Larry Kilgore is asking "One what?"

Alan said...

How many are in favor of selling a few blue states to the European Union?

Parzival said...

Amendment X
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 to prevent succession is not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor does the Constitution prohibit succession to the States. As such, the power properly rests with the States, or with the people of those States.

Many of the founders went on record not terribly long beforehand championing the inherent right of succession in the most uncompromising of terms.

The Federalist papers talk about the necessary tension and rivalry between the states and the federal government. This cannot occur without succession being an option. (Indeed, even Calhoun's most extreme positions were defensible under the Constitution and guided by the Federalist Papers.)

The Constitution explicitly allows the federal union to exist without all American states participating.

That succession is legal under our founding documents is pretty unassailible.
(As is the historical observation that the Confederate States went about succession and the creation of their federal government in a lawful and democratic fashion.)

The CSA played by the rules, the USA didn't, and the USA won the war.
Unless you believe in trial by combat, this proves nothing out the inherent "rightness" of preventing succession.
The state of West Virginia continues to exist as an example of power supplanting law.

Christopher said...

The Declaration of Independence specifically recognizes "the Right of the People to alter or to abolish" their government.

The right is an essential protection for the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I don't understand why Althouse cannot simply say "I was wrong" after posts like this instead of only grudgingly admitting that people who believe in this right are "not stupid" "if they imagined an extreme hypothetical."

Of course this is the sort of right that it would be unwise to exercise without good reason. "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes."

Ellen said...

If a state cannot secede...can we vote to kick part of one out?

marriedrambler said...

The weariness of this argument continues to astound, as does the conflation of natural and legal rights. If you want to argue that any people, wishing to be free of a government they deem tyrannical, has the natural right to break away and sort out their own affairs, then yes, secession is a right.

If, instead, you want to argue that states of the USA have the legal right to break away without contrary action from the federal government, then you are likely engaged in special pleading on behalf of the desire not to be reconstructed, nor to give a damn.

Even when Jefferson was laying out the natural right of the colonies to become free, he did not deny the natural right of England to prevent them. This is why they pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. A state that does not have the right to stamp out rebellion is not a state in any meaningful sense. Implicit in sovereignty is the right to use force against the involuntary loss of territory. Britain had that right in 1776, and the U.S. Government had it in 1861.

Not only had their been no provocation appropriate to secession in 1860 (certainly nothing on the order of what the colonies endured in the 1770's), but no attempt was ever made by the rebellious states to establish any kind of peaceful dissolution of the Union. There was no First Southern Congress, no Olive Branch Petition, no attempt to negotiate of any kind. Rather, the states simply declared their independence and dared the U.S. Government to do anything about it. The suggestion that the U.S. Government had no right to do anything about it is quite simply, ridiculous on its face.

The question of whether a legal right to secede exists is a murkier one. Many clearly thought it did. The Constitution is mum on the subject, with the exception of the stricture on secession within a state, which requires the consent both of the state legislature involved, and of Congress. That a county may not form its own state, but that a state may form its own nation seems rather an untenable position.

Finally, there is this:

"But each State having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single nation, cannot from that period possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation, and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense. Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error, or to deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution, or incur the penalties consequent upon a failure."

The man who spoke these words was not an 1860's Radical Republican, nor a Republican of any kind, nor even a Yankee. It was Andrew Jackson, responding to South Carolina's threat of secession in the Nullification/Tariff of Abomination crisis in 1833.

Incidentally, Ye Southrons who enjoy painting Lincoln as a proto-fascist Tyrant would do will to examine the relish with which Jackson promised to hang the first secessionist he found from the first tree, and compare them to Lincoln's attitude towards the southern states throughout the war. It won't satisfy the wish for three million dead yankees instead o' what you got, but we might finally get over one or two things.

Andy said...

Not sure the Civil War qualifies as precedent on "the right to peaceably secede". I thought the casus belli of the civil war was the attack on Union troops at Fort Sumpter (and possibly also the seizure of federal property throughout the South). Secession accompanied by war and theft seems more like violent secession, not peaceable secession.

TBlakely said...

Hmm, I can think of a fair number of foreign governments who would be very, very happy to see the U.S. fragment into a group of smaller states. It would give them an opportunity to exercise their 'manifest destiny' without undue interference.

Dewave said...

Obviously a state or region or province or city or what have you has a right to secede from a government which they believe is no longer serving their interests and is instead oppressing and tyrannizing them, as the founding fathers knew full well.

And just as obviously, if things have gotten that bad, whatever government has jurisdiction over them will tell them they don't have the right to do that and try to force them to stay at bayonet point.

But Ann's idea that, say, the countries that used to make up the Soviet Union had no right to secede and become independent republics is, frankly, rather laughable, unless one adopts a 'might makes right' viewpoint.

The question isn't whether people have the right to secede and form their own independent government, but whether it would be a good idea. The fact that I recognize peoples inherent right to secede/rebel/whatever and form their own self government doesn't mean I support such an activity here and now. I think the results of any actual attempted secession from the US by a state or group of states would be remarkably bad and the situation would have to deteriorate to an appalling degree to even consider such a thing...so say about the 3rd year of an Obama presidency.

Ronald said...

Secession or rebellion or whatever you wish to call it is "legal" as long as you can defend it by force.

Gorbachev got a ruling from scholars of the Soviet Constitution that withdrawing from the Soviet Union was illegal. It was a unanimous ruling. See how well that worked out!

And when states like the Ukraine did secede (yes they did) they demanded and got a withdrawal of Soviet troops from their new national territory. The Russians were not as warmongering as Lincoln I guess.

I've got no horse in this fight, my ancestors came to Louisiana after the Franco Prussian war, where Germany sort of "seceded" the home provinces of Alsace and Lorraine from France. You see, it's legal if you can enforce whatever law you write before you do it.

Since we're making these sorts of requests, I'd like to see Louisiana restored to it's original borders too. It's only fair.

Dewave said...

As far as the civil war goes, of course the South had the 'right' to secede. Our country was founded upon the principles of self determination and self government, and those principles didn't just magically vanish when the Revolution War ended.

Whether it was a 'legal' right or not is largely irrelevant, since I don't think too many countries are going to build into their laws that you can legally pick up and leave whenever you want - but a society has an inherent right to ditch their government and rule themselves in the ways that seem best to them. It's not wrong to pursue that.

And of course there is a question of scale: one guy disobeying the laws of the country he lives in is just a criminal, but an entire region of the country doing so is a secession. When does a movement change from being nothing more than a 'rebellion' that the government can 'put down' to an actual secession or revolution for self government? Perhaps it just depends on who wins?

But I think trying to assert the south, or any other group, has no 'right' to secede from a government that they view as oppressing them, is very off base. I think the North was guilty of oppression by trying to force the south to stay part of the North. Of course, slavery was also a terrible institution that needed to be ended. It's not a case of 'there was a good choice and a bad choice and the North made the bad choice' but rather 'there were two bad choices and the North made the choice they thought was least bad'.

Mrs. Elfreida Gleemouth said...

I agree with Mrs. Wayspace. You cannot amend the Constitution without first having a Constitutional Convention. That was why the failure of the ERA. You must first hold a Consitutional Convention, and then you need 3/4 of all the States to ratify...whatever you are trying to amend.

My husband teaches Constitutional Law at Loyola.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I think the rest of the states would likely be justified in requiring the new Replublic of California to pay compensatory rent in exchange for honoring California's exclusive claim over such valuable land. Although I generally support the natural right to self-determination and therefore the natural right to secession, I think the failure of the secessionists to take into account, and provide compensatory payments for, the value of what their secession would be excluding others from, would justify those others in preventing the secession.

No.no.no. You don't understand. We in Northern California (and that doesn't include Sacramento or San Francisco which is in Central Calif) want to secede from California, not secede from the United States. We want to be our own State.

And as to Revenent's point that Northern California receives tax revenues subsidized by Southern Ca. So what? If we were our own State, we could structure our taxes anyway we want and increase the revenues that come into the State just by becoming more business friendly, similar to States like Nevada. We could also determine where we want to spend our revenues and how we want to provide for our citizens.

A big part of the revenue would be water and power sales. In addition to all the other natural resources that are here.

The rest of Southern California (with the exception of my family) can go screw themselves.

David Rogers said...

Just because the Supreme Court says its not a right, doesn't mean the Supreme Court is right.

The right to secede is contingent (like most rights) on the willingness of the people asserting or denying the right to back up their position with violence.

So--in 1783 it was conclusively established the North American colonies had the right to secede from the British Empire, and by 1865 it was conclusively established that Southern States did not have the right to secede from the U.S. In 1991, it was established that Georgia did have a right to secede--from the USSR.

The causus belli in 1861 was the unwillingness of the U.S. to surrender sovereign territory to the state of South Carolina.

There is nothing in the 1845 Congressional joint resolution annexing Texas to the Union granting Texas the right to secede (though it can split into five states). (See annexation resolution here: http://www.qsl.net/w5www/annex.html) Also, of course, the Republicans in charge of U.S. government post-1861 were far more concerned with exercise of raw power and punishing the South than they were with abstract notions of law or justice. (Don't believe that? Try reading Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the 14th Amendment. All about punishing the South, my friend.)

anomdebus said...

I just want to note that the right to secede does not have to be invoked to have a benefit. If a state can make that choice, it would alter how the federal government and other states treat those disgruntled states.

Michael McNeil said...

“Mrs. Elfreida Gleemouth” sez:

I agree with Mrs. Wayspace. You cannot amend the Constitution without first having a Constitutional Convention. That was why the failure of the ERA. You must first hold a Consitutional Convention, and then you need 3/4 of all the States to ratify...whatever you are trying to amend.

My husband teaches Constitutional Law at Loyola.


If indeed your husband “teaches Constitutional Law,” either he's going to be embarrassed when he sees how thoroughly you've inserted your foot in your mouth, or an idiot if he taught it to you.

There are presently twenty-seven amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and not a single one of them resulted from a constitutional convention.

Father Martin Fox said...

Prior to the War for Southern Independence, there were many threats to secede, from various regions, and chest-thumping responses from the federal government (such as Jackson's), but the issue wasn't forced as it was, finally, in 1861.

Instead, the parties backed away, and I wonder if the threat of secession didn't have a restraining effect on federal power; thus, once it was tried and failed, the federal government was less restrained.

Part of the moral question a lot of us ask about that war is whether one can really feel good about the ferocity with which the federal government waged the war; if a family breaks up, yes you try to keep things together, but at some point, you let that part of the family that seeks to leave, leave--you don't beat them into submission.

The argument, "well, you fired on Ft. Sumter!" being true, does not change the feeling that all that came next was not a proportionate response. I.e., if Iran fires on an aircraft carrier and even kills some of our sailors, does devastation and occupation of Iran sound like a "proportionate" response?

All that said, as much as a tend to sympathize with the south on many grievances about the war, had secession actually formed a new nation, that would have been a terrible outcome.

(The best outcome, I guess, would have been another compromise, averting both war or secession, as another slow step toward gradual abolition of slavery.

Yes, that slavery was abolished as consequence of the war is a good thing; but I am not so certain that justifies the war. More than ending slavery was ending all the degradation of blacks in this country, and it that was a very gradual process, still incomplete many argue.)

Finally, as romantic as it can be to contemplate secession these days, it would still be a terrible setback for our nation and therefore the world.

Michael McNeil said...

Ronald sez:
And when states like the Ukraine did secede (yes they did) they demanded and got a withdrawal of Soviet troops from their new national territory. The Russians were not as warmongering as Lincoln I guess.

More correctly, the Ukraine did not have the insane hubris to militarily attack the Soviet Union, whereas the South was precisely that idiotic vis-a-vis the remaining United States.

Michael McNeil said...

Parzival sez:
The CSA played by the rules, the USA didn't, and the USA won the war.

Unless you believe in trial by combat, this proves nothing out the inherent "rightness" of preventing succession.


The South did not “play by the rules” — unless you think “the rules” include war — as it was the South that attacked the United States, not the reverse.

Thus, it was the militarily arrogant South who believed in “trial by combat” — and thereafter lost the war they began.

ZZMike said...

This is why the Founding Fathers wisely set us up as a Republic, not a Democracy.

Ger: "Lots of folks feel they have a right to privacy yet so many conservatives will tell you that there is nothing in the Constitution that says you do. So...who are the rubes in that case Please identify them for me so I can be sure who to call stupid."

Good point. I'll say the same thing for the so-called "separation of church and state". Nowhere in either the Constitution or the Declaration. All the Constitution says is that the Gummint will not "establish" a religion.

Or "prohibit the free exercize thereof".

vbspurs: "For us, an Irishman has zilch in common with a Russian, even if this hypothetical duo both have red hair and blue-eyes."

That's probably the best example of the flaw in the concept of "race".

Unfortunately, physicians (good ones) will want to know beforehand the "race" of the patient, because that will determine the treatment.

"But in my genealogy I also have Austrians, Croatians, Scots, and Irish."

I suppose just about anybody who doesn't sneeringly boast of their Mayflower ancestors is likely to trace similar backgrounds.

(One of Stan Freberg's lines in his "History of the US of A" has one of the Puritans saying to the Indian, "And WE came over on the MAYflower".)

Another way of looking at it is the history of language. English, Hindi, and Portugese (among others) all have a common ancestor.

(It's probably too well-known to point out that today's Mexicans speak the language of the people who conquered and decimated them (the Spanish).)

Drill Sgt makes a good point. We SoCal lawn-waterers and car-washers thrive on what we get by the good graces of Mr Mulholland. Every now and again somebody puts forward the idea of California splitting into two states. Much as I disagree with that, I'd surely like to see LA and Frisco in theor own little bailiwick. We'll cede Marin County to the Northerners.

Revenant: "Well either the states had a legal right to secede from the Union or they did not."

Consider the Declaration:

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 ... 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."

In other words, The Founding Fathers said that there are times when one people has to split from another, but courtesy demands that they let everybody know beforehand.

Revenant: "Obviously California will happily accept building new plants -- for which there are oodles of spare room, given how much empty desert we have -- if the alternative is going without power."

I wish I could believe that. Far too many of my poor misguided neighbors think that any use of any energy is an insult to Mother Earth, that offshore drilling is positively heinous (even though everybody does it), and that nuclear power is an instrument of the Dark Powers. They won't be happy until we're all living in mud huts.

Pierre: "...Presidents barely able to form complete sentences the nation is a wreck."

Hey!! Obama isn't in yet. (Try listening to him when he's talking without a teleprompter).

DBQ: "If we were our own State, we could structure our taxes anyway we want and increase the revenues that come into the State just by becoming more business friendly,..."

Our Governor-formerly-disguised-as-a-
Republican and his madcap Democratic Congress have been working day and night to drive businesses out of California (with taxes and onerous rules and regulations).

The only problem is your Northern neighbor. Oregon may be too much of an unpleasant influence.

Michael McNeil said...

Revenant sez:
Northern California receives more in state funds than it pays in state taxes, primarily because the California tax system is extremely progressive.

…In conjunction with the fact that the far north of California is almost perpetually in economic doldrums if not depression.

Simon said...

Michael McNeil said...
"'The Constitution provides no warrant for unelected life-tenured judges to enforce it by striking down' any legislation...."

That's a canard, as I've explained before. The Constitution contemplates judicial review for all the reasons Marshall identifies in Marbury.

"I also think it's indisputable that had the founders had a glimmering that the IXth (and Xth) Amendment would be transformed into a nullity by those same 'unelected life-tenured judges' you refer to..."

Just because it doesn't do what you want it to doesn't mean that it is a "nullity," Michael. You've been spending too much time reading Randy Barnett, I fancy, but for all Randy's many good qualities - and he has many - much of his work seems bedeviled by the wildly flawed premise that the founding fathers were libertarians. To understand what the Ninth and Tenth Amendments mean, you have to understand them as responses to the animating concerns of the time, and it seems to me that reading them the way I do is both consistent with the text and reads them as addressing the dominant concerns we know to have been expressed at the time. One of those concerns, for example,

Michael McNeil said...

wlpeak sez:
Several posts make the argument that the South attacked the North starting the War of Northern Aggression.

While it is true that this forced Lincoln's hand and gave incentive to a previously disinterested population to make war, and was generally stupid, it should not be construed as necessarily illegal or an act of war by 'international law' standards.

If you grant the South the right to form a separate nation then it follows that you revoke the right of other nations to staff fortifications and armies within said nation without permission. To maintain such installations could be construed an act of war itself. You don't even need to pursue the argument that all USA possessions in the new CSA territory should have reverted to the States on secession and then to the CSA on joining. Even allowing the USA to keep ownership of say Ft. Sumter, does not mean they can also staff it at will.


Of course it does. Fort Sumter and the other U.S. installations were sovereign United States property. The proper — which is to say, civilized — approach would have been to treat the remaining U.S. facilities in the South as legitimate enclaves, whose long-term disposition and fate would have required negotiations between the newly independent South and the (remaining) United States — not a military attack — and if you do attack, don't complain when you lose the resulting war.

A good illustration of this principle can be seen in the British forts in the Old Northwest after the Revolution — which, unlike Fort Sumter and its kin, agreed by both southern states and the federal government to be U.S. property before the southern states seceded, and therefore obviously still U.S. property after secession — those British forts in what was thereafter American territory were explicitly to be abandoned by the U.K. as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War.

However, the British actually did not depart a number of forts in the Old Northwest of the U.S. for decades. Certainly, there may have been a moral right (due to the terms of the violated Treaty) to force them out, yet the United States, very sensibly and not suicidally, took a moderate stance on this affront, and after a score years or so, the British did leave.

If the South had done likewise, very likely the Confederacy would still exist today.

Ronald said...

Blogger Michael McNeil said...

Ronald sez:
And when states like the Ukraine did secede (yes they did) they demanded and got a withdrawal of Soviet troops from their new national territory. The Russians were not as warmongering as Lincoln I guess.

More correctly, the Ukraine did not have the insane hubris to militarily attack the Soviet Union, whereas the South was precisely that idiotic vis-a-vis the remaining United States.

----------------

No, less correctly. That's irrelevant even though it reaffirms my point. If the South wins militarily the basis for the illegality of secession becomes a ridiculous anachronism. Did we violate German laws in 1944-5? I'd say so. Who was going to enforce it?

If you're on somebody else's land you're obliged to remove yourself from it when asked if you are not looking for a war. The Russians did. The US did not. And it was a token sacrificial force that was left at Fort Sumter. It was an intentional provocation since Lincoln knew that the prevailing sentiment was to just let the Southern states go. Lincoln knew and stated that the Union would not go to war to remove slavery. It took over two years for him to even broach the subject.

He wanted to frame it initially in save the Union rhetoric. Is a "Union" worth saving that has to coerce states to belong to it? In modern parlance

"Lincoln lied, people died."

And it was not a given the North would win the war. It was still a very close run thing against the South with no outside help. The US did not exist in a worldwide vacuum. If the Brits, who many Southern leaders were depending on, had recognized the Confederacy and signed an alliance with them the war was over and the South wins. The Union blockade becomes idiocy, or as you say foolish hubris, against the might of the Royal Navy. They would have lifted it in weeks and the whole "Anaconda Plan" falls apart.

Still, I'm glad it worked out the way it did in the long run. Left my ancestors a place to come.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

In conjunction with the fact that the far north of California is almost perpetually in economic doldrums if not depression.

True, due to the fact that we are forbidden from utilizing our resources that would create jobs and industry. Hampered by the extremely unfriendly business practices of the State of California that are not conducive to new building or businesses and which are literally driving business out of the state into other states. You would have to be nuts to want to come to California and start a business with the tax structure, punitive employer laws and restrictions.

Expensive State mandated programs and bonds that were heavily voted against in this area but carried in the Central and Southern areas and now the State general fund raiding the coffers of local government entities to pay for programs that we (locally) don't need, don't want and can't use in many cases. Spend billions on rapid transit in LA...we don't care. Billions on a periphrial canal to steal water from our own reserves...no way.

We are micromanaged by idiots and eco-nazis in areas that have no connection to us, no interest in our interests. If we are to be a little backwater in the "doldrums" type of area, at least let us be in charge of our own selves.

Michael McNeil said...

Ronald said:
Lots of stuff, including:
If you're on somebody else's land you're obliged to remove yourself from it when asked if you are not looking for a war.

Fort Sumter and its kin were not “on somebody else's land” — they were U.S. property and territory located adjacent to what was (arguably) non-U.S., certainly non-U.S. government, land. The South when it attacked Fort Sumter was launching war on the Union not reclaiming its own territory.

Ronald: And it was not a given the North would win the war. It was still a very close run thing against the South with no outside help. The US did not exist in a worldwide vacuum. If the Brits, who many Southern leaders were depending on, had recognized the Confederacy and signed an alliance with them the war was over and the South wins.

I agree it was not a given that the North would win, but equally it was not a given that the British, had they intervened, would have been successful. The Union during the early years of the war developed one of the largest navies in the world, and also invented advanced ironclads. While the British had a few ironclads, too, the rest of the British fleet would have been so much tissue paper in the face of craft such as this.

RebeccaH said...

It's a silly poll, but suppose some idiotic group did manage to get enough political juice to pull off a secession (supported philosophically but not monetarily by Europe). In short order, they would find themselves living in a third-world state (and it matters not the demographic makeup), dependent on foreign aid from what's left of America.

Dawnfire82 said...

Not legal? Are you serious? Revolutions aren't legal either. The founding fathers of the United States were out and out traitors and rebels to the crown of Great Britain. Only their success legitimized the act.

If the population of any state decides to cast off the onerous yoke of Washington and succeeds, then congratulations, they have a new nation. Such is the Right of Revolution.

Revenant said...

The same applies to any state.

Why? California, for example, is eight times the size of the United States of 1790. Sure, it would need to rely on foreign trade to survive, but so does Japan and they do alright.

Revenant said...

DBQ,

Northern California is not economically depressed because of business-unfriendly state law. If that was the major source of the problem then southern California would be economically depressed too, and it isn't. The reason northern California is economically depressed is that it has little to offer. It would still have little to offer even if it was its own state -- especially since you'd have to raise your taxes just to enjoy the (supposedly inadequate) level of government services you *currently* enjoy.

Revenant said...

The argument, "well, you fired on Ft. Sumter!" being true, does not change the feeling that all that came next was not a proportionate response.

You're obviously very confused about what the term "act of war" means. Let me clarify that for you: it means that the act is grounds for war. If country X attacks country Y, country Y has both the moral and the legal right to invade, bomb, and generally destroy country X until such time as country X surrenders to country Y on terms country Y deems acceptable.

When a bully punches you in the nose, you don't just punch him in the nose in return and leave it at that. You kick the ever-loving shit out of him and make him beg for mercy, so he knows to never, ever think of bullying you again. That's what the Union did -- legally as well as morally -- to the Confederacy.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"The reason northern California is economically depressed is that it has little to offer."

You mean other than timber, lumber manufacturing,agricultural products and processing,fishing industry, beef, wine, cheese, minerals and mining, and abundant water? Parks, recreation. High speed internet access, cheap power from wind,solar geothermal and that old water thingy again hydro. Most of which support the Southern half of the State by the way. You try living without food and water or lumber to build your Seven 11 stores. LA is a leech on the rest of the State.

We also have lower cost labor pool because the cost of living is lower...and they speak mostly English. With a reduction in corporate and business regulation and taxes and the lower cost of doing business, I think a few companies might come back from areas that they have fled to or even a few new companies would emerge. I guess that puts in the same depressed state as Idaho, Nevada, Montana and Wyoming. So be it.

It may come as a big surprise to you but some people don't actually covet the lifestyle of San Francisco or LA.

Buddy Larsen said...

Re Revenant's post, Robert E. Lee sure understood all that. This from Virtue Magazine rings true in light of what else we know about the vision of the Lost Cause:

"To Lee, and to the South, had there been no invasion, there would have been no war. But the war came, and Lee, a reluctant secessionist, became more dedicated to the cause as the war progressed, once remarking, “No civilized nation within knowledge has ever carried on a war such as the United States has carried on against us.” This, of course, stood in stark contrast to the impeccable behavior of Lee’s army during the Gettysburg campaign, a result of strict orders issued by Lee, which forbid the soldiers from exercising vengeance on the Northern population, but to wait on Him “to Whom vengeance belonged.” During the cruel abuse of the South during Reconstruction, he privately remarked, “Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand.” Prophetically, he would write to the British Lord Acton in 1866, “The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all that have preceded it.” Two years later, he would mourn, “I grieve for posterity, for American principles and American liberty.”

Small point re Fort Sumter, sitting on an island inside the principle harborage of a theoretically soverign foreign state: the new state did not fire on the fort until a foreign naval force (the US Navy), defying a clear and well-delivered diplomatic warning, entered that foreign harborage with the intent to re-supply the fort's garrison.

Of course the war's big results were for the good--even beyond the human rights issue, north America would've doubtless become soon enough a balkanized mess of twenty or fifty dyspeptic little nations always ready to decalre war on each other. As is, since 1865 the continent has suffered no major war ('major' in the broad sense --I realize Sitting Bull --and Custer's command -- among others would beg to differ).

Buddy Larsen said...

OTOH, it would be nice if Dripping Springs, TX, could be out from under Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and that stable of NE senators (of both parties) whose interests, and whose wisdom & beneficial governance, might as well --as far as we down here are concerned --be from some other solar system.

Michael McNeil said...

Buddy Larsen sez:
Small point re Fort Sumter, sitting on an island inside the principle harborage of a theoretically sovereign foreign state: the new state did not fire on the fort until a foreign naval force (the US Navy), defying a clear and well-delivered diplomatic warning, entered that foreign harborage with the intent to re-supply the fort's garrison.

The U.S. had a perfect right to resupply that facility — which was also the property of “a theoretically soverign foreign state.” The South's blocking Sumter's resupply (of which only provisions had been sent) was itself an act of war — much less bombarding the fort with 48 cannon.

The idea that the South was oh-so innocently surprised by the North's reaction to Sumter's bombardment — starting the war — is latter-day fantasization. Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs warned President Jefferson Davis before the attack commenced that, “at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. The firing upon that fort will inaugurate a civil war greater than any the world has yet seen….”

But, you see, the South wanted war. Much like the Palestinians vis-a-vis Israel's evacuation of Gaza, it wasn't enough to achieve their state peacefully, rather — for the sake of their country's founding mythos — they were determined to drive the hated enemy out with his tail between his legs and dripping blood.

As an Alabaman had warned Jefferson Davis, “Unless you sprinkle blood in the face of the Southern people they will be back in the old Union in less than ten days.”

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: UWS, et al.
RE: Of Lincoln, Lies, Freedom & Stupidity

"'Lincoln lied, people died.'" -- UWS

And a lot of other people were freed from slavery. Afterwards, the descendants of the freed slaves don't seem to care much about history.

I wonder why that is. Maybe it has something to do with shoddy education and a LOT of 'propaganda'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Thank YOU, vaunted American public 'education' system.

Revenant said...

You mean other than timber, lumber manufacturing,agricultural products and processing,fishing industry, beef, wine, cheese, minerals and mining, and abundant water?

You're over-counting a bit, there; it would be better to say "timber, agriculture, fishing, and mining".

Northern California does indeed have those four things. The problem is that those are four areas of the economy that have been doing badly throughout the United States for decades. They are third-world industries, not first-world industries. Any state that relies on those four things for its economy is going to be economically mediocre.

You try living without food and water or lumber to build your Seven 11 stores.

Unless you're planning to have "Jefferson" be a centrally-planned Communist dictatorship, your food and lumber is still going to go to the highest bidder, same as it does now. Which means it will still be sold to people in California, same as it is now. You may base your economic plans around what screws California the most, but businessmen don't.

LA is a leech on the rest of the State.

No. Northern California is a leech on the state; it gets more than it pays for. Yes, you provide things for the economy (although not even remotely as much as the south does). You also get paid for them. What counts is the money you get in handouts over and above what you pay in taxes.

We also have lower cost labor pool because the cost of living is lower

The cost of living is lower because few people want to live in the sticks. It is hard to attract industry because the industry has a hard time convincing anyone to relocate there. The local labor pool is small and lacking in college-educated personnel. If you want cheaper educated labor, the midwest or southeast is a better bet; if you want cheap uneducated labor, build a factory in Mexico.

It may come as a big surprise to you but some people don't actually covet the lifestyle of San Francisco or LA.

Sure, and a good thing too or I'd never have been able to afford a house in San Diego. :)

But it is an objective fact that most people would prefer to live near a big city, at least during the period in their lives when they are working. If you are (for example) an employee of an electronics firm in a small town in a rural area and get fed up with your job (or worse yet, lose it) you have two options:

(1): Sell your house and move, or
(2): Live with it.

Those are two extremely unattractive options. Cities offer options and convenience.

Yes, if your ambition in life is to work on a farm, or haul fish out of the sea, or dig ore out of a hole in the ground, or chop down trees then, yes, living in a coastal rural environment can be great. But there are fewer Americans left in those industries with each passing year, and fewer still who want to be. The future of America is in services and high technology.

Revenant said...

the new state did not fire on the fort until a foreign naval force (the US Navy), defying a clear and well-delivered diplomatic warning, entered that foreign harborage with the intent to re-supply the fort's garrison.

How did that give them grounds to fire on the *fort*? You could argue that they had a right to fire on the ships and to blockade the fort, but the neither the fort nor the people in it had given them cause to open fire.

If a US warship sailed into Havana without permission and in opposition to clear warnings from the Cuban government, the Cubans would be within their rights to fire on it. If they responded by shelling Guantanamo Bay, on the other hand, that would be a clear act of war.

anomdebus said...

There is obvious disagreement over the nature of the federal government at the time that makes the discussion over the confederate response at Ft Sumter unclear.

The question: did the federal government exist independent of the states or was it composed of the states? If it was independent, then they can make the case that they took possession of the the land the fort stands on. If it is composed of the states, then the fact that South Carolina was no longer party to that agreement (at least from the perspective of South Carolina) suggests possession of the land should revert to South Carolina. There are of course side issues, such as the federal government perhaps being compensated for the improvements they made to the land, but that only follows answering the above question.

Revenant said...

The question: did the federal government exist independent of the states or was it composed of the states?

It exists independent of the states. The Constitution -- which every one of the states ratified -- makes that plain.

blake said...

Suggested constitutional amendment: No State shall be counted as having more than one million people for any purposes relating to representation or apportionment.

Let the rest work itself out. Heh.

Carve CA up into 80 states. And the whole country into about 300. 600 Senators, 10,000 or so Representatives...

Let's get some real experimentation going on here.

Those of you talking about "red" states and "blue" states are writing off the not-insignificant minority in those places. Have really red and really blue states and see which ones work out best.

Revenant said...

Let the rest work itself out. Heh.

It would work itself out in a pretty easy-to-identify way -- by increasing the relative political power of the flyover states even further, allowing them to suck even more money out of the larger, more productive states like California and Texas without giving anything in return.

It certainly wouldn't lead to the larger states breaking up into smaller ones. The flyover states would veto that idea; it would eliminate their exaggerated political power.

Ronald said...

Michael said:

"Fort Sumter and its kin were not “on somebody else's land” — they were U.S. property and territory located adjacent to what was (arguably) non-U.S., certainly non-U.S. government, land. The South when it attacked Fort Sumter was launching war on the Union not reclaiming its own territory."

-----------------

Ridiculous. The island Ft. Sumter occupies is as much a part of South Carolina as Long Island is a part of New York. You can't just make things up as you go along Mike. Ft. Sumter is not an aircraft carrier. It's inside the territorial waters of South Carolina, who had declared themselves independent.

----------------

Mike said:

"I agree it was not a given that the North would win, but equally it was not a given that the British, had they intervened, would have been successful. The Union during the early years of the war developed one of the largest navies in the world, and also invented advanced ironclads. While the British had a few ironclads, too, the rest of the British fleet would have been so much tissue paper in the face of craft such as this."

No. The American "ironclads" were absurdly slow and cumbersone and were limited to riverine and shallow draft operations. If they ventured far offshore you didn't have to sink them, they would simply founder in the first rough sea, as Monitor almost did on her maiden voyage and was the cause of her demise later. The first seagoing ironclads were produced by France (La Gloire), and England (Warrior - still afloat) and preceded the start of the US Civil War.

Links:
http://home.freeuk.com/gazkhan/la_gloire.htm
http://home.freeuk.com/gazkhan/warrior.htm

The only original design feature of any of the American ironclads was the revolving turret on Monitor, and that was copied in later Brit seagoing designs. Nothing the US had before or after the war would stand up to Warrior and her sister ships. The RN could simply stand well offshore and blockade the blockaders, starving the US ships blockading the ports until they either left peacefully or came out to be sunk. The American ironclads could not come out to sea to fight because they were not seaworthy and the US wooden ships would have been overwhelmed by the RN's seagoing ironclads and the sheer numbers of it's wooden warships. At sea Warrior could sink Monitor with her wake.

We won't even get into the British rifled cannon and exploding shells. Some things just don't make for a fair fight.

The US Navy would not be anything near a match for the Royal Navy until the end of WW1.

Buddy Larsen said...

y'all are right, of course, that the cannon fire started the war. I was merely trying to flesh out the history, which includes also, re the property issue, that in the half-year--the six months-- between S.Carolina's secession (Nov 1860) and the cannon fire (April 1861), several southern, confederate, delegations had made several trips to DC to appeal for cooperation in setting up a plan for the repayment of just such property improvements as the comments above mention. President Lincoln refused to meet with them, on the grounds that they were not sovereign and thus an illegal delegation.

Another 'property' point is that the garrison of Fort Sumter --85 soldiers-- had been the garrison of a different nearby fort (Fort Moutrie), situated on the mainland, at the time of secession Nov 1860, and for several months thereafter. During those months the authorities in Charleston, acting as the new state, had the federals in their hands and did not arrest them (nor make them POWs) but rather had made a sort of provisional consent agreement, a non-violent rapprochmont, with the garrison, that they wouldn't be molested as long as they stayed put and in communication with the city.

Fort Sumter, at the mouth of the harbor, still under construction tho already said to be one of the strongest-built forts anywhere, during this time had a one-man garrison--the lighthouse keeper.

Then, two months after this new-normal had established, the federal commander led his troops on a secret night embarcation movement from the informal-truce position, out across the water to occupy Fort Sumter.

So Fort Sumter was garrisoned in violation of a local truce between Anderson & the mayor of Charleston, two months *after* S. Carolina had seceded. This was good work on the part of the yankees, and infuriated the confederates, who felt duped, but still did not fire on the fort for four more months, during which time the aforementioned envoys to DC carrying property-settlement portfolios were severally rejected, and during which time the impasse over the resupply became--to the participants--insoluble.

I'm relating this just for the history -- just to correct the mistaken compression of secession followed immediately by southern firebrands opening fire. Six months of ennervated tension passed between secession aand the cannons firing. Who could argue for the right-or-wrong of the cannon fire, it was clearly disastrous, the war cost almost 700,000 lives in a combined population of 30 million, or one tenth of today's, which means that an equal sacrifice today would cost seven million soldiers dead.

Revenant said...

Ridiculous. The island Ft. Sumter occupies is as much a part of South Carolina as Long Island is a part of New York.

Fort Sumter was, if you accept the fiction that the secession was legally valid, located in Confederate territory -- but it was also located on territory owned by the United States government. The Confederacy recognized the legitimacy of the USA's claim on US military property when it offered to pay for the arms and fortifications the Confederacy had seized or attempted to seize.

Revenant said...

delegations had made several trips to DC to appeal for cooperation in setting up a plan for the repayment of just such property improvements as the comments above mention. President Lincoln refused to meet with them, on the grounds that they were not sovereign and thus an illegal delegation.

Well, yes. If someone stole my property and then offered to meet with me to negotiate a "sale" price, I'd refuse to meet with them, too. The fact that the Confederacy refused to return the property to its rightful owners when those owners refused to "sell" demolishes any attempt to argue that the Confederacy's motives or actions were ethical or legal.

Buddy Larsen said...

Another fact, without legal meaning but of interest, is that no one lost life in the battle.

The confederates had notified the fort one hour prior, of their intent to open fire & attempt to force a surrender before the resupply flotilla would arrive. Hence the garrison was warned and under cover.

During the exchange of fire, five federals and four rebs were injured.

The only fatality was non-combat, post-surrender: a yank cannoneer whose gun blew up during the honor firing of a federal salute --arranged as a term of the surrender term -- to Old Glory as she was lowered.

Buddy Larsen said...

revenant, you're right, of course, but if you had been a confederate, you'd've wondered what to do about the federal enclaves, and about the best you would've been able to come up with is the offer to pay, it being impossible to load real estate onto a freight conveyance and relocate it.

blake said...

It would work itself out in a pretty easy-to-identify way -- by increasing the relative political power of the flyover states even further, allowing them to suck even more money out of the larger, more productive states like California and Texas without giving anything in return.

There wouldn't be a California or a Texas in the same sense that there is now.

It certainly wouldn't lead to the larger states breaking up into smaller ones.

I don't see how it could not. I doubt 25 million Californians would like being disenfranchised. And if they opted for an overlarge state, they'd be drastically reduced in power.

The flyover states would veto that idea; it would eliminate their exaggerated political power.

Well, yes, that's part of the point. Also, to reduce the power of these megalopolises. Why, we'd have actual city-states!

I agree it has zero chance of becoming reality, but I'm just a sucker for the whole concept of representation. Seems to me some folks fought a war to get it.

Ronald said...

Buddy:

Shame on you for confusing folks with historical facts:

"So Fort Sumter was garrisoned in violation of a local truce between Anderson & the mayor of Charleston, two months *after* S. Carolina had seceded. This was good work on the part of the yankees, and infuriated the confederates, who felt duped, but still did not fire on the fort for four more months, during which time the aforementioned envoys to DC carrying property-settlement portfolios were severally rejected, and during which time the impasse over the resupply became--to the participants--insoluble."

The "Act of War" was Licoln's absolute refusal, transmitted to the Confederates, to evacuate the fort then, or ever, voluntarily. He had the means to do so, but he would rather war. If you believe anything else you need to examine whether Poland actually attacked Germany in 1939.

Revenant wrote:

"Fort Sumter was, if you accept the fiction that the secession was legally valid, located in Confederate territory -- but it was also located on territory owned by the United States government. The Confederacy recognized the legitimacy of the USA's claim on US military property when it offered to pay for the arms and fortifications the Confederacy had seized or attempted to seize."

First read Buddy's excerpt above.

and US "military property" on another nations territory has nothing to do with land. Just facilities. Leases and agreements on land are held by the US Gov't, not the US military.

Revenant:

You're now parsing out the situation to claim an implied admission of US rights to the land based on the willingness to pay for constructed facilities. You must be a criminal lawyer.

I guess when Egypt offered to pay Britain and France for portions of construction on the Suez Canal that implies Egyptian concurrence that the Canal belongs to France and Britain.

Of course when France and Britain tried to send in troops to prevent Egypt from removing them from the canal (even though a prior agreement was in force)they were stopped by... guess who. There's no difference in the principle, just in the benefit to the US.

An island inside a nation's territorial waters belongs to said nation unless it is subject to a mutually agreed treaty (a la Subic, Guantanamo, and the Panama Canal Zone. Sumter was not part of any such agreement. Paying for facilities and construction previously done is just being nice, and peaceful. Parse it any way you want.

As far as the South as a nation being a fiction,that would only be decided by force. It was not determined at that time.

dreadnaught said...

Civil what? Aren't there some guys in Montana that have started their own country?

q10ben said...

Is it possible that the poll respondents are understanding `right' to mean something other than `legal right'?

After all, the legal and constitutional issues aren't explicitly mentioned anywhere in the poll article, and many prominent political philosophies hold that people are as a pre-political matter endowed with certain inalienable rights, of which no legal or political institutions can deprive them, and which they need no legal justification to claim. Whether this is the case may be in doubt, but, if the respondents in question believe it true, then in answering the question they aren't expressing a legal view of any kind, so their responses can't be taken as an indication of legal ignorance.

Maybe the idea of rights outside of a legal framework is such a fringe position that we can safely assume none of these people are thinking of it, but it seems like we'd need to run another poll about that question before we could be sure, especially since the idea that a region or a people might have a right to determine for itself its political status - that that natural law might entitle 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 - has had some prominent supporters at various points in history.

Buddy Larsen said...

right, Ronald -- the first seven states had already seceded, and in February had released their Constitution of the Confederate States of America -- pretty much as their grandfathers had done just 80 years earlier (think of the Revolutionary War as having been fought fairly recently, in the 1930s).

Next month, in March, President Lincoln was inaugurated and centered his inaugural speech around an argument against secession's legality (he held that the US Constitution was itself the contract which bound the Union).

But -- would he have felt constrained to advocate the Union position in such a moment, had the question not been "open"?

Ronald said...

Buddy Larsen wrote:

"But -- would he have felt constrained to advocate the Union position in such a moment, had the question not been "open"?"

Of course not. And the Constitution would have never been ratified if the members of the Convention had thought that would be the case. The founders had a far greater identity with their state than with the new nation. It would have never occurred to them that a state would be required to stay in the Union by force. "Consent of the governed" was big with those guys.

But "might makes right", or takes them away, depending on what side you're on. And thus, the modern "federal" government was born.

I always kind of pull for the guys trying to secede (it just means get out of an agreement) from anything, whether it's a country or a union. Kosovo, Bosnia, Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, India, Pakistan, Barbados, the Philipines, Ireland, Scotland, Tibet, the Basque separatists. Why should I feel any different about South Carolina.
Or Northern California.

Go for it...

Buddy Larsen said...

i kinda agree -- i love the USA, and see it as a good thing for political mankind -- but -- well -- the current political class is unworthy by and large and too firmly ensconsed for our good.

Theo Boehm said...

Excellent discussion, Buddy and Ronald, not to mention all the others. I've learned quite a bit.

Buddy, it's nice to see you here in Althousia. I've run across you on Maggie's Farm and on Flares into Darkness, and it would be seriously cool if you commented here more.

I enjoy the format here, the freedom, the choice of topics, most of the commenters, and, of course, Althouse herself.  It is a great blog to comment in, and I'm sure your input on a more regular basis would be appreciated by quite a few of us.

Thanks again.

Michael McNeil said...

blake sez:
Suggested constitutional amendment: No State shall be counted as having more than one million people for any purposes relating to representation or apportionment.

Let the rest work itself out. Heh.

Carve CA up into 80 states. And the whole country into about 300. 600 Senators, 10,000 or so Representatives...

Let's get some real experimentation going on here.


Unconstitutional by Article V: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…; Provided… that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

Such an amendment would deprive the smaller states of their equal suffrage in the Senate, and therefore cannot be ratified — unless unanimity amongst the several states is achieved.

Think the smaller states would accept it? I don't.

blake said...

Unconstitutional by Article V:

That's why you need a Constitutional amendment, yes.

Such an amendment would deprive the smaller states of their equal suffrage in the Senate, and therefore cannot be ratified — unless unanimity amongst the several states is achieved.

I don't see why it would require more than 3/4, just like any other amendment.

Think the smaller states would accept it? I don't.

Actually, I suspect the bigger states would fight it just as hard, if not harder. Representation is nice and all, but I assure you that Sacramento would not want to see its massive power divided 80 times.

There's where Rev's theory about who's leeching from whom is suspect: It's the little guys--the ones he says get more back in taxes than they pay--that want to break away, and the metropolitan interests that keep them there.

In any event, the Constitution wouldn't have been ratified if it suggested that states that grew too big would have to be broken up. The colonies had their identities, and were fiercely interested in protecting them.

Now, of course, you'd have to fight all the moneyed interests and political machines, etc. etc. etc., and it couldn't happen.

That's a shame, because you have to do something like this just to feel like you're being represented.

Three hundred states, and you'd have a dozen shades of libertarian, some workers paradises, a few religious enclaves, etc.

In densely populated areas, being unhappy with your representation might mean moving a few blocks, versus having to pick up 500-1000 miles.

Apportionment would be a problem, though. Every ten years, you re-asses and then...?

Buddy Larsen said...

(o/t) -- hey, thanks for that, Theo -- i always enjoy reading your thoughts -- but that one especially, natch --
:-) yessir, i'll be around-- i agree, the hostess here is the berries!

anomdebus said...

Revenant,
I suspect you answered my question in only a trivial way. The question was not "does the federal government exist in any way" but "what is the nature of the federal government". Can you show me where in the constitution it specifies that the federal government essentially exists outside of the consent of the governed? Or to put it a different way, where does it say that once you join you can't leave? If it is based on the supposed incorporation of the Articles of Confederation, where is that specified?
I would think something like that needs to be specified especially considering the history of self-determination in the founding of the nation.

Buddy Larsen said...

South Carolina's Declaration of Independence makes a pretty solid case under the letter of the founder's U.S. Constitution. See fo yoselfs.

Revenant said...

I don't see how it could not. I doubt 25 million Californians would like being disenfranchised. And if they opted for an overlarge state, they'd be drastically reduced in power.

It isn't a matter of what they opt for.

Your plan called for disenfranchising the Californians *first*, by capping the maximum number of reps per state. Certainly the people of California would then want to break up into smaller states, but how could they? It isn't possible to do that without permission of the federal government, and the federal government would at that point be entirely run by low-population states with zero interest in diluting their newfound voting power.

For your plan to work, you would have to break up the bigger states first, and *then* cap the numbers of reps each one got.

Revenant said...

I guess when Egypt offered to pay Britain and France for portions of construction on the Suez Canal that implies Egyptian concurrence that the Canal belongs to France and Britain.

It did belong to France and Britain. However, since Egypt's permission for the canal wasn't freely given, a good argument could be made that France and Britain's claim of ownership wasn't legitimate.

South Carolina, on the other hand, was never forced to join the "perpetual union" of the United States -- nor, having done so, was it forced to allow a federal garrison on its land. It voluntarily entered into those agreements, then tried to tear them up later. Much to the dismay of the pro-slavery crowd that didn't pan out.

Revenant said...

Can you show me where in the constitution it specifies that the federal government essentially exists outside of the consent of the governed?

But it had the consent of the governed. The overwhelming majority of population of the United States favored continuing the Union.

You could, of course, try to argue that unanimous consent was required, but that is a clearly ridiculous claim; a government which applies only to people who choose to accept it, and only during those times when they choose to accept it, isn't a government at all -- that's pure anarchy.

You could also argue that individual states wished to leave, but the state governments had already consented to join the union. There was no exit clause from that contract.

anomdebus said...

So, your answer is "no"?

The constitution is about explicit powers granted to the federal government, the tenth amendment makes it clear that if it wasn't specified, it isn't in the federal government's power.

I don't think any state should undertake secession lightly, however having the option itself is enough to get respect, without even needing to invoke it.

blake said...

Rev,

There'd be a window for reapportionment, obviously. It could actually be done very quickly, along census tracts or precinct lines.

But as it would never happen, debating details of implementation seems less useful than usual.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ronald
RE: Shame! INDEED!

" Ronald said...

Buddy:

Shame on you for confusing folks with historical facts:" -- Ronald

Why do you think Petigru said....

[South Carolina] is too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum.

Several years later, General Sherman destroyed said 'asylum' because the 'inmates' had NO IDEA of how to comport themselves...let alone manage 'business' of state.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Wise men learn from other peoples' experience. Regular folk learn from their own. Fools NEVER 'learn'.]

Buddy Larsen said...

Rev and Chuck, y'alls remarks on 'dismay of pro-slavery crowd' and Gen. Sherman's punishment of S. Carolina can make the other side of this discussion of the 1860 apprehension of the Constitution feel like a Klansman getting tar'd n feather'd.

So that the meaning in 1860 of the Constitution can be considered, there should be a way to table the slavery issue and to forgo mockery of the inarguably defeated -- much as military historians are able to study the great battles & great generals without feeling obliged to insert anti-slavery bona fides and/or chortle at the destruction of the adversary.

Some things are just a given -- but the givens don't make the whole story -- tho the givens can shout down that whole story, and usually do, and usually have done, for lo these past seven generations.

Buddy Larsen said...

Trying to say that waving the bloody shirt at "states rights" -- larding the very term with unsavory code -- has been over the years a major line of attack on the original Federalist vision of limited central government.

Buddy Larsen said...

...hasten to admit that Jim Crow brought it on hisself -- but if & when Jim Crow is fully buried, and he may now be as buried as human nature will ever be able to bury him, that is, in terms of color-blindness in all areas of public life, and color-blindness held in most hearts as a personal ideal, then can we whittle down Leviation just a bit, just a tiny little bit?

Buddy Larsen said...

oops--'Leviathan' tho 'leviation' might work as (n) the belief that in government, bigger is better.

Zor said...

I wonder if she includes Thomas Jefferson in the grouping of "stupid" too? After all he said “…Besides, if it should become the great interest of those nations to separate from this, if their happiness should depend on it so strongly as to induce them to go through that convulsion, why should the Atlantic States dread it? But especially why should we, their present inhabitants, take side in such a question?…The future inhabitants of the Atlantic & Missipi [sic] States will be our sons. We leave them in distinct but bordering establishments. We think we see their happiness in their union, & we wish it. Events may prove it otherwise; and if they see their interest in separation, why should we take side with our Atlantic rather than our Missipi descendants? It is the elder and the younger son differing. God bless them both, & keep them in union, if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better.”
and
“Whether we remain in one confederacy, or form into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I believe not very important to the happiness of either part. Those of the western confederacy will be as much our children & descendants as those of the eastern, and I feel myself as much identified with that country, in future time, as with this; and did I now foresee a separation at some future day, yet I should feel the duty & the desire to promote the western interests as zealously as the eastern, doing all the good for both portions of our future family which should fall within my power.”
Clearly HE saw no problems with a state leaving the union if the people of the state were so inclined and felt they'd be the better for being apart from the union. So why are people that believe it is legal today "stupid", hmm?

Austin said...

I am still not sure why so many people react to the word "secession" like Lucifer reacts to Holy Water. There is nothing malevolent or sinister in the word, or the concept. It simply means that a given people have decided that they would prefer to organize their political society in a way that differs from the status quo, and that accordingly, they wish to seek political independence. Everyone gets all hysterical about the idea, but it really is a simple and harmless concept.