Did the States Reserve a Right to Secede?

You’ve no doubt read this claim before.  Someone makes the claim that Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island reserved a right to secede in their ratification of the US Constitution.  A look at the ratifications of each of those states shows clearly such a claim is baseless.

Let’s take Virginia:  “Do in the name and in behalf of the People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will”

Clearly they refer to “the People of the United States,” not “the People of Virginia.”

Let’s consider the wording of this ratification.  It reminds us of the words of Edmund Pendleton in the Virginia Ratification Convention on 5 June 1788: “There is no quarrel between government and liberty; the former is the shield and protector of the latter. The war is between government and licentiousness, faction, turbulence, and other violations of the rules of society, to preserve liberty. Where is the cause of alarm? We, the people, possessing all power, form a government, such as we think will secure happiness: and suppose, in adopting this plan, we should be mistaken in the end; where is the cause of alarm on that quarter? In the same plan we point out an easy and quiet method of reforming what may be found amiss. No, but, say gentlemen, we have put the introduction of that method in the hands of our servants, who will interrupt it from motives of self-interest. What then? We will resist, did my friend say? conveying an idea of force. Who shall dare to resist the people? No, we will assemble in Convention; wholly recall our delegated powers, or reform them so as to prevent such abuse; and punish those servants who have perverted powers, designed for our happiness, to their own emolument. We ought to be extremely cautious not to be drawn into dispute with regular government, by faction and turbulence, its natural enemies. Here, then, sir, there is no cause of alarm on this side; but on the other side, rejecting of government, and dissolving of the Union, produce confusion and despotism.

“But an objection is made to the form: the expression, We, the people, is thought improper. Permit me to ask the gentleman who made this objection, who but the people can delegate powers? Who but the people have a right to form government? The expression is a common one, and a favorite one with me. The representatives of the people, by their authority, is a mode wholly inessential. If the objection be, that the Union ought to be not of the people, but of the state governments, then I think the choice of the former very happy and proper. What have the state governments to do with it? Were they to determine, the people would not, in that case, be the judges upon what terms it was adopted.”  [Elliott’s Debates, Vol 3, p. 38]

“In the same plan” means in the Constitution itself.  Pendleton was talking about the People of the United States amending the Constitution, which is how the government can be reformed.

Pendleton was responding to Patrick Henry, who was claiming the Constitution would lead to a tyranny:

“If a wrong step be now made, the republic may be lost forever. If this new government will not come up to the expectation of the people, and they shall be disappointed, their liberty will be lost, and tyranny must and will arise. I repeat it again, and I beg gentlemen to consider, that a wrong step, made now, will plunge us into misery, and our republic will be lost.”

I see Pendleton as assuring him that if such happened the people retained the right to change the government, whether it was the constitutional right to change the government through the amendment process or the extra constitutional right of revolution.

Let’s now consider New York:   “That the Powers of Government may be reassumed by the People, whensoever it shall become necessary to their Happiness; that every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States, or the departments of the Government thereof, remains to the People of the several States, or to their respective State Governments to whom they may have granted the same; And that those Clauses in the said Constitution, which declare, that Congress shall not have or exercise certain Powers, do not imply that Congress is entitled to any Powers not given by the said Constitution; but such Clauses are to be construed either as exceptions to certain specified Powers, or as inserted merely for greater Caution.”  When they are speaking of the people within states they use the phrase “of the several states.”  Since that phrase is absent when they discuss the powers of government being reassumed by “the People,” they are clearly referring to the people of the United States en masse.

Is there any support for this?  Yes!  During the New York ratification convention, there was a move to propose amendments, and to reserve a right to withdraw from the Union if these amendments were not accepted.  Alexander Hamilton wrote to James Madison about this, and Madison replied, “My opinion is that a reservation of a right to withdraw if amendments be not decided on under the form of the Constitution within a certain time, is a conditional ratification, that it does not make N. York a member of the New Union, and consequently that she could not be received on that plan.  Compacts must be reciprocal, this principle would not in such a case be preserved.  The Constitution requires an adoption in toto and for ever.  It has been so adopted by the other States.  An adoption for a limited time would be as defective as an adoption of some of the articles only.  In short any condition whatever must viciate [sic] the ratification.  What the New Congress by virtue of the power to admit new States, may be able & disposed to do in such case, I do not enquire as I suppose that is not the material point at present.  I have not a moment to add more than my fervent wishes for your success & happiness.

“This idea of reserving right to withdraw was started in Richmd. & considered as a conditional ratification which was itself considered as worse than a rejection.”  [James Madison to Alexander Hamilton, July 20, 1788]

Notice how Madison says the idea of reserving a right to withdraw was considered and rejected in the Virginia Ratification Convention.  The proposal to reserve a right to withdraw was defeated in the New York convention as well.

Now let’s look at Rhode Island:  “That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people, whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness:- That the rights of the States respectively, to nominate and appoint all State Officers, and every other power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by the said constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States or to the departments of government thereof, remain to the people of the several states, or their respective State Governments to whom they may have granted the same; and that those clauses in the said constitution which declare that Congress shall not have or exercise certain powers, do not imply, that Congress is entitled to any powers not given by the said constitution, but such clauses are to be construed as exceptions to certain specified powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.”

Notice “the powers of government may be reassumed by the people,” and when they wish to specify the people of the states, either individually or in a group, they say, “remain to the people of the several states, or their respective State Governments” and not “remain to the people or their respective State Governments.”  Again, clearly when they are speaking of the people within states they use the phrase “of the several states.”  Since that phrase is absent, they are talking about the people of the United States en masse.

We can also consult the rulings of Chief Justice John Marshall, who was himself a member of the Virginia Ratification Convention:

“But Georgia cannot be viewed as a single, unconnected, sovereign power, on whose legislature no other restrictions are imposed than may be found in its own constitution. She is a part of a large empire; she is a member of the American union; and that union has a constitution the supremacy of which all acknowledge, and which imposes limits to the legislatures of the several states, which none claim a right to pass.” [Fletcher v. Peck, 10 U.S. 87, 136]

“In discusing this question, the counsel for the state of Maryland have deemed it of some importance, in the construction of the constitution, to consider that instrument, not as emanating from the people, but as the act of sovereign and independent states. The powers of the general government, it has been said, are delegated by the states, who alone are truly sovereign; and must be exercised in subordination to the states, who alone possess supreme dominion.  It would be difficult to sustain this proposition. The convention which framed the constitution was indeed elected by the state legislatures. But the instrument, when it came from their hands, was a mere proposal, without obligations, or pretenses to it.  It was reported to the then existing congress of the United States, with a request that it might ‘be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each state by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification.’ this mode of proceeding was adopted; and by the convention, by congress, and by the state legislatures, the instrument was submitted to the people. They acted upon it in the only manner in which they can act savely, effectively and wisely, on such a subject, by assembling in convention. It is true, they assembled in their several states–and where else should they have assembled? No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the states, and of compounding the American people into one common mass. Of consequence, when they act, they act in their states. But the measures they adopt do not, on that account, cease to be the measures of the people themselves, or become the measures of the state governments.

“From these conventions, the constitution derives its whole authority. The government proceeds directly from the people. . . .

The constitution, when thus adopted, was of complete obligation, and bound the state sovereignties.” [McCullough v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316, 402-404]

“That the United States form, for many, and for most important purposes, a single nation, has not yet been denied. In war, we are one people. In making peace, we are one people. In all commercial regulations, we are one and the same people. . .. America has chosen to be, in many respects, and to many purposes, a nation; and for all these purposes, her government is complete; to all these objects it is competent. The people have declared, that in the exercise of all the powers given for these objects, it is supreme. . . . The constitution and laws of a State, so far as they are repugnant to the constitution and laws of the United States, are absolutely void. These States are constituent parts of the United States. They are members of one great empire.”  [Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264, 413-414]

“When these allied sovereigns converted their league into a government, when they converted their Congress of Ambassadors, deputed to deliberate on their common concerns, the whole character in which the States appear, underwent a change.” [Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1, 187]

None of these rulings is consistent with the idea that any state could have reserved a right to withdraw from the Union.

Very clearly, no state reserved a right to secede from the Union in its ratification.

Once again, to be a neoconfederate, one has to ignore accurate history as well as an accurate reading of the law.

132 comments

  1. I’ve been looking into the current fad for nullification. One of the relevant documents cites the Virginia ratification resolution. I found your comments on that helpful.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Gerald. I’m glad to be of assistance.

  2. Daniel Balfour · · Reply

    Unfortunately you have looked to the wrong sources for your theories about secession. There are numerous discussions that were documented about the Constitution and the forming of the “more perfect union” being an experiment with many prominent figures of which George Washington wad among expecting the union to fail. NY, VA, and RI although you use the word “clearly” when referring to VA and the “People of the United States”, your argument has many holes.

    Secession was exactly what the Colonists did from the mother country. To argue that now as part of this “More perfect union” the people no longer believed secession was possible is ludicrous. There is much too much biographical written history to refute your assertions.

    I take little stock in court rulings where a federal judiciary rules in favor of its brother and sister portions of government. State secession is not strictly prohibited and only the full lethal force of the federal government has prevented it.

    1. Daniel Balfour · · Reply

      I do however appreciate you laying out your thought process. It was very clear and precise. I just don’t believe it to be true.

      1. I don’t demand that people agree with me, but I do insist on more than just unsupported claims.

    2. This is settled law. There has never been a right to unilaterally secede under the Constitution. Just claiming there are holes in the argument doesn’t make the holes magically appear. Court rulings is what we have to tell us what the law means. Just because you don’t like the ruling doesn’t mean you can just ignore it. New York, Virginia, and Rhode Island very clearly were referring to the people of the United States, not just the people of their own states. Secession was not what the colonists did in 1776. It was a full-blown rebellion.

    3. Greg Eatroff · · Reply

      “Secession was exactly what the Colonists did from the mother country.”

      No, the colonists REBELLED against the mother country. To equate the extralegal right of rebellion with a constitutional authority to separate is, quite frankly, arrant nonsense.

  3. Exactly, Al. But full-blown rebellion is not always wrong, as we see in 1775. The original American War for Independence broke the same fundamental bond between themselves and the English monarch, and yet we call it good. No Constitution or monarchy is sacred enough to be rightly held eternal and unbreakable. If the original Americans were right for breaking away, then there’s a good possibility that the secessionists were also correct in trying to break away.

    Your thorough defense of the law is something that the English would have echoed and praised in their reactions to the American War for Independence, but somehow we consider these same arguments refutable and incorrect when applied to the American War for Independence. Is this a double standard?

    Where we may find important differences between the original American Revolution and the attempt at Southern Secession is in motivation. Were the South’s reasons for seceding serious enough to justify breaking such a solemn bond, as they were for the original Americans? That’s where any discussion of the justice of the Civil War must focus.

    I hope this comment is helpful to the conversation. I would be very interested to hear your response.

    1. The Declaration of Independence tells us when a revolution is justified. It tells us that when a government becomes destructive to the ends of securing the natural rights of its citizens, it’s the right of the people to alter or abolish it. That’s why the American Revolution was justified, whereas the confederates, in seeking to continue to deny natural rights to African-Americans, were not justified.

      1. What is your standard of a natural right? From where do these natural rights proceed? The Declaration of Independence declared that they proceeded from God.

        Now, I am in full agreement that the institution of slavery is abhorrent to God. I think it’s a good thing that it’s gone. However, if the Federal government is trying to enforce a standard where everyone receives their “natural” rights, aren’t they beginning to enter the dangerous arena of legislating morality?

        The Federal Government does not exist to enforce a certain morality, although they do have a duty not to infringe God’s law. But their determination to force people to act in a way that they considered moral is, in a sense, as destructive to peace and independent living as the institution of slavery. So while their goals were perhaps admirable, don’t you think that they were stepping beyond the bounds of their Constitutionally appointed power?

        1. Again, refer to the Declaration of Independence. There are self-evident truths that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments are instituted to secure these rights. Their powers are derived from the consent of the governed. The Federal government, then, exists to secure the natural rights of the people. That’s the philosophical underpinning of our entire government and those principles are enshrined in the Constitution, which was ordained and established in “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

      2. Also, consider that among their “natural rights” were listed matters of economic freedom. If slavery was suddenly abolished, the southern economy would have collapsed. The states who instituted incremental abolition freely were a better model to follow, wouldn’t you agree?

        1. Whether or not slavery would be instantly and suddenly abolished was not at issue.

        2. Slavery was not in any danger of being “instantly abolished.” That’s what makes the actions of slave-holders so ridiculous.

          1. Quite, although to them there was a clear and present danger to the continuation of slavery, and they felt they were as strong as they were going to be.

        3. Greg Eatroff · · Reply

          Slavery was in no danger of immediate abolition absent a self-destructive failed slavedrivers’ uprising. The Republican platform called for slavery’s restriction to the existing slave states, leading to its gradual abolition by southerners own actions. Republicans were calling for a soft landing, not the jarring change you speak of. You can’t justify secession as a reaction to something that wasn’t actually going to happen.

          Slavery had been abolished in most of the Americas, including places with plantation economies like the British sugar islands, without creating a collapse. And in fact the end of slavery in the US didn’t produce the catastrophic collapse that fire-eaters had warned of, even though it was accompanied by the widespread death and destruction of a major war. The economy of Haiti collapsed, Haiti was ravaged by war in its fight against France much longer than the United States was in its civil war, and suffered further from postwar mismanagement and economic embargoes by nations like the United States determined to punish it for overthrowing white rule.

          Besides, arguing that secession was justified because the end of slavery would hurt the south (meaning the white south, essentially) economically is arguing that the rights of whites really do deserve precedence over the rights of blacks. The secessionists of the 1860s were quite honest about believing this to be the case, but it is a notion that we quite properly reject now.

      3. You hoist yourself on your own petard with that comment on slavery. How can you argue that the South was wrong to secede for slavery? The Colonies seceded from the British Empire to form their own nation founded upon slavery, and so did the South. In 1776, slavery was legal in every one of the Thirteen Colonies. England offered freedom to every slave that fought for the Crown, but the Colonies did not offer such to slaves fighting for American independence.

        The right of secession is based on what one interprets as being oppressive. The South was unquestionably economically oppressed. Most every notable Civil War historian notes this fact. The South, with 25% of the nation’s population, was supplying 75% of federal revenues, and those revenues were being used to disproportionately develop and benefit the North and West, and benefit Northern industry. Tariffs were far more onerous on the South than on the North. The South further feared the North would soon deprive it of its most valuable assets, i.e., its slaves. While not a majority, many of the North’s populace clamored for a slave rebellion, and many cheered people like John Brown. The nation had just elected a sectional party with a ticket that was not balanced nationally, and that party’s foremost fame was abolition. The South had reason to feel threatened. It was wrong to secede, but whether secession was legal will forever be debated as there was no definitive answer to secession before the war settled that question by force of arms.

        Citing the Declaration of Independence as authority for a just rebellion is likewise a poor argument. “Inalienable rights,” and “all men are created equal?” Did you mean “all men–except Black men and Native American men–are created equal?” How exactly did these “natural rights” that Jefferson spoke of apply to men of the Black race? They did not. Jefferson OWNED human beings as property when he wrote those words. How then can his rebellion be “justified” when the South’s was not?

        1. More of the demonstrably phony claim of southerners paying 75% of the revenues. That’s a laugher. You can search the archives of this blog if you’re interested in finding out the truth–that the people in the states that would become the confederacy paid no more than 17% of the tariff, and most probably significantly less than that. What you regurgitate is a complete lie someone has told you about tariffs. Look at where the tariff was really paid, look at who used imported goods and who didn’t, and if you’re intellectually honest you’ll discard that phony claim.

          You obviously don’t understand the Declaration of Independence or the difference between the American Revolution and the confederate insurrection. Jefferson knew what he was writing, and he didn’t say “except for blacks” or “all white men are created equal.” He was a good enough writer to write what he meant.

          The American Revolution was not undertaken to protect slavery. The confederate insurrection was. One was therefore moral, the other was therefore immoral.

        2. A) The American colonies did not secede from Britain. Those colonies were not represented in Parliament–which was which the entire complaint was about–taxation without representation. The Southern slave states were all represented in Congress–and, by the way, the presidency (most of the time), and the Supreme Court. The connection between slavery and rebellion in 1776 is a non-starter. You are equating the right to revolution with secession. There is an enormous distance between the two. So you are arguing apples and croissants. No comparison.

          B) Your remark, “The right of secession is based on what one interprets as being oppressive,” doesn’t make any apparent sense. What are you saying? That the South was oppressed? Are your saying the South invoked the Right to Revolution? If so, you are wrong, since none of the Southern states evoked that right. Rather, they specifically attempted to secede, which is a very differet thing.

          But more to the point, Al has shown how your assertion that Southern states were economically “oppressed” is flat inaccurate. If you choose to back up your assertion with data, your argument might perhaps hold weight. But throwing out numbers like “25% of the nation’s population, was supplying 75% of federal revenues” does nothing for you, unless you show a solid citation that backs up your assertion.

          C) Your mention of the Declaration is neither here nor there. It is quite true that the words themselves don’t mean much without action; and it is equally true that Americans didn’t fully understand the scope of those words and how important they are. But that’s exactly what Lincoln did, in November of 1863, in Gettysburg, while dedicating a cemetery there.

          1. Great points, Chris.

    2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

      What were the reasons the South or more properly, what were the reasons some people in the South wanted to secede? They told us it was about slavery, but yet the rest of the nation was bending over backwards to accommodate their desire to hold slaves. We see the Declaration brought up, but in what way or ways was the South being oppressed? This is the part I want to see an explanation of. In order for any rebellion to be legitimate there has to be oppression. I have never seen where the federal government was oppressing the South in that time period.

      1. I think it shows how wedded they were to the institution of slavery. Lincoln’s election posed a threat to slavery’s continued existence–not an immediate abolition but rather an eventual abolition. None of the secessionists believed Lincoln would or could abolish slavery during his presidency, but they feared that he would lay the groundwork that put slavery on an irreversible path to abolition at some point. If we read their words we see that they are worried about Lincoln appointing judges, marshals, and postmasters who were antislavery, they were worried about Lincoln cutting off slavery’s expansion. These wouldn’t lead to immediate abolition, but to abolition at some point in the future.

        1. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

          That is exactly the point. The issue was about slavery. Those who wanted secession demanded the expansion of slavery. They connected the issue of its expansion with abolition. They saw that without expansion the institution would wither and die. Was that tyranny or was that the expression of the majority of Americans? Where is the oppression for a revolution? Where are the state’s rights issues?

          We always have to remember that the slave owners controlled the political process in the South. They controlled the media of that era and they denied freedom of speech to anyone who was against slavery. The original slaveowners constructed a system with slavery as its foundation. Could they exist without slavery? Yes, but they would not retain their position at the top of the system if slavery were to wither and die. The slave owners in the Lower South understood that. The proof is in the conventions. The Upper South did not secede despite the desires of the slave owners because the slave owners did not have as much control over things in the Upper South.

          There was no revolution. Revolutions want to install a new government system and the South wanted to maintain the one they had with the slave owners firmly entrenched as the real power behind it just like they already were.

          1. James McPherson refers to it as a counterrevolution.

      2. This whole thing is ridiculous, Slavery in 1861 was more secure than at anytime before. Lincoln had come out in support of the Corwin Amendment in his first inaugural. But also at issue was the Morrill tariff which passed shortly after Lincoln took office, and it had an average rate of 37% if I recall… The South on the other hand when they sat down to write out their constitution, explicitly capped the top tax on foreign goods at 10%. So while I agree the south left over concerns about slavery, after those concerns were put to rest, they stayed out over taxes.

        And this is the rub, That the secession of the Southern States didn’t necessitate war, there didn’t need to be any blood shed, And Lincoln said there wouldn’t be any bloodshed…. IF the Southern states collected duties on foreign goods and handed over the money to the federal government. Also in his first inaugural… So the issue of the war was taxes, at least if we believe Lincoln.

        But back to the main issue. What do you think those in the ratifying conventions meant when they said that the people could resume their powers? Where is the context? Of course they meant that they could secede.

        But besides this what does the 10th Amendment say? It says that any power not prohibited to the state is reserved to the state…. Including the power of secession? Well is it prohibited? No it isn’t… So that means the states can do it.

        Should they? that’s another question, for another time..

        1. It may seem ridiculous to those who have little understanding of actual history.

          The Corwin Amendment did nothing new. It simply codified the prevailing constitutional interpretation that slavery was a state, not a federal issue, and that the federal government had no authority to affect slavery in the states. It did absolutely nothing about what Lincoln wanted to do, which was put slavery on the course to ultimate extinction by cutting off its expansion.

          Taxes had very little, if anything, to do with the Civil War or secession. You’re absolutely wrong about the confederate capping tariffs. They did no such thing.

          The Constitution certainly does prohibit unilateral secession of states because it prohibits any state from declaring any laws or the Constitution no longer apply to it.

  4. Monte · · Reply

    May I recommend the reading of the Corner Stone Speech by Alexander Stephens?

  5. Silas · · Reply

    [edit] The simple fact is that the Virginia ratification explicitly reserved the right to secede (as New York and Rhode island also did), and the language of the ratification itself makes this fact compellingly clear. This is what Virginia said in her ratification.

    “the powers granted under the Constitution BEING DERIVED from the People of the United States may be resumed by them..:

    Here, Virginia asserts a well-established legal maxim and wholly irrefutable truth that the power to create is the power to destroy. More specifically, Virginia asserts it as a plain and undeniable fact that the constitutional powers were delegated by the people, and they may therefore be resumed by the same people who delegated those powers. So, was it the people of the United States “en masse” who delegated those powers? Certainly not. There is not now, nor has there ever been, any such thing as the People of the United Staes “en masse”; the term is utterly meaningless. Not a single function of government, or rule of law, has ever been executed by the people of the United States “en masse”. The very idea is patently ridiculous. Or as Chief Justice John Marshall declared In Mccullouch:

    “..No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States, and of compounding the American people into one common mass.”

    The contempt with which Marshall treats the idea of the People “en masse” is obvious; very obvious. So we know beyond dispute that there is no such thing as the people of the United States “en masse”, and so we also know that it was not the people “en masse” who delegated and ratified. So who exactly was it that delegated the constituional powers and who was it that ratified the constitution? And precisely who was it that was therefore entitled to resume the delegated powers and annul the ratifications? Let’s let James Madison answer:

    “…that this assent and ratification is to be given by the people, NOT AS INDIVIDUALS COMPOSING ONE ENTIRE NATION, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong. It is to be the assent and ratification of the several States, derived from the supreme authority IN EACH STATE, the authority of the people themselves. The act, therefore, establishing the Constitution, WILL NOT BE A NATIONAL, but a federal act…”

    It is now perfectly clear that there is absolutely so such thing as the People of the United States “en masse”, and that the meaning of the language “the People of the United States” in Virginia’s ratification can have only meaning; the People of the seperate and independent States. In other words, it was the people of the “distinct and independent states” who were entitled to resume the delegated powers.

    1. It’s funny when people who don’t know what they’re talking about pretend they do.

      Yale University Professor of Law Akhil Reed Amar writes, “Alongside what various people said and did not say in constitutional debates, we must attend to what the American people themselves did and did not do in the act of the constitution itself. No state convention, in its ratification instrument, purported to reserve the right of its state populace to unilateral secession. Notably, Virginia’s convention spoke of the right of the people of the United States, not the people of Virginia, to reassume power through future acts of popular sovereignty. Nor did any state convention impose any condition on its act of ratification. The secession question arose most dramatically in the New York ratification convention, where Anti-Federalists held a strong majority when discussion began. At one point, Federalist Alexander Hamilton despairingly described ‘our chance of success here’ as ‘infinitely slender.’ After extensive debate, and upon receiving word that New Hampshire and Virginia had recently ratified the Constitution as the decisive ninth and tenth states–thus ensuring that the Constitution would go into effect in these ten states–Anti-Federalist leaders proposed a compromise under which the convention would ratify the Constitution ‘upon condition’ that the new Congress make way for certain constitutional amendments. With the ultimate prospects for New York ratification still in grave doubt, the offer tantalized Hamilton and his allies, but in the end they refused to take the bait. Instead, the Federalists insisted on replacing the words ‘upon condition’ with language expressing the convention’s ‘full confidence’ that Congress would take up the suggested amendments–a factual expectation rather than a binding legal condition. The convention then beat back a proposal from Anti-Federalist John Lansing that ‘there should be reserved to the state of New York a right to withdraw herself from the Union after a certain number of years, unless the amendments proposed’ were taken up. In this sharply focused debate, no one supposed that the Constitution already contained a general right of state secession. Had such a right been thought to exist, Lansing’s proposal would have limited it (to ‘a certain umber of years’ and a small set of triggers) and thus states’ rightists should have opposed Lansing, while continentalists should have favored him. In actual fact, the exact opposite occurred. At the risk of alienating swing voters and losing on the ultimate ratification vote, New York’s Federalists rose up to oppose the Lansing compromise. In doing so, they made clear to all observers–both in New York itself and in the many other places across the continent where men were following the New York contest with interest–that the Constitution did not permit unilateral state secession In a letter to Hamilton, Madison had emphasized that ‘the Constitution requires an adoption in toto, and for ever. It has been so adopted by the other States’ (including Madison’s own Virginia). Hamilton read the letter aloud to the Convention and then added his own words. The ‘terms of the constitution import a perpetual compact between the different states. … The [Article VI] oath to be taken stands in the way’ of any subsequent right of unilateral secession. According to the contemporaneous account published in New York’s Daily Advertiser, both Hamilton and his fellow delegate John Jay insisted that ‘a reservation of a right to withdraw … was inconsistent with the Constitution, and was no ratification.’ ” [Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography, pp. 37-38]

      Your highly selective quotations show a basic dishonest streak. We’ve already dealt with Madison above, but in addition to that, Madison wrote, “Applying a like view of the subject to the case of the U. S. it results, that the compact being among individuals as imbodied into States, no State can at pleasure release itself therefrom, and set up for itself. The compact can only be dissolved by the consent of the other parties, or by usurpations or abuses of power justly having that effect. It will hardly be contended that there is anything in the terms or nature of the compact, authorizing a party to dissolve it at pleasure.” [James Madison to Nicholas Trist, 15 Feb 1830]

      In McCullough v. Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote: “In discusing [sic] this question, the counsel for the state of Maryland have deemed it of some importance, in the construction of the constitution, to consider that instrument, not as emanating from the people, but as the act of sovereign and independent states. The powers of the general government, it has been said, are delegated by the states, who alone are truly sovereign; and must be exercised in subordination to the states, who alone possess supreme dominion. *It would be difficult to sustain this proposition.* The convention which framed the constitution was indeed elected by the state legislatures. But the instrument, when it came from their hands, was a mere proposal, without obligations, or pretenses to it. It was reported to the then existing congress of the United States, with a request that it might ‘be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each state by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification.’ this mode of proceeding was adopted; and by the convention, by congress, and by the state legislatures, the instrument was submitted to the people. They acted upon it in the only manner in which they can act safely, effectively and wisely, on such a subject, by assembling in convention. It is true, they assembled in their several states–and where else should they have assembled? No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the states, and of compounding the American people into one common mass. Of consequence, when they act, they act in their states. But the measures they adopt do not, on that account, cease to be the measures of the people themselves, or become the measures of the state governments.

      “From these conventions, the constitution derives its whole authority. The government proceeds directly from the people. . . . *The constitution, when thus adopted, was of complete obligation, and bound the state sovereignties.*” [17 U.S. 316, 402-404]

      Marshall further ruled, “The government of the Union, then, is, emphatically and truly, a government of the people. In form, and in substance, it emanates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit.” [17 U.S. 316, 404-405]

      And in Cohens v. Virginia the Court ruled, “That the United States form, for many, and for most important purposes, a single nation, has not yet been denied. In war, we are one people. In making peace, we are one people. In all commercial regulations, we are one and the same people. . .. America has chosen to be, in many respects, and to many purposes, a nation; and for all these purposes, her government is complete; to all these objects it is competent. The people have declared, that in the exercise of all the powers given for these objects, it is supreme. . . . The constitution and laws of a State, so far as they are repugnant to the constitution and laws of the United States, are absolutely void. These States are constituent parts of the United States. They are members of one great empire.” [19 U.S. 264, 413-414]

      In that same ruling, the Court said “The people made the constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will. But this supreme and irresistible power to make or to unmake, resides only in the whole body of the people; not in any sub-division of them. The attempt of any of the parts to exercise it is usurpation, and ought to be repelled by those to whom the people have delegated their power of repelling it.” [19 US 264, 389]

      In other words, it is the American people, not the individual states, who can reassume their powers. The methodology for doing this, though, is to assemble in convention in the states in which they live, in the same manner in which they ratified the Constitution in the first place. What is perfectly clear is that anyone who tries to claim any states reserved a right to secede has no credibility whatsoever.

      1. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

        Very nice work, Al. Silas makes an assumption that falls far short of the mark when he rejects the idea of the American people. Had Virginia reserved any right for itself they would not have been allowed to join the Union. The Constitution could only be ratified as is (1787 original). No deviations from that were allowed. The people of the US always have the collective right to do whatever they want because the power of government comes from them in the first place. The people of a state cannot secede because they need the power of the American people as a whole to do so. That is why no state has a right to secede without consent of the federal government.

        There is no hair splitting, no legal mumbo jumbo, and no alternate interpretation of the Constitution or any of the documents ratifying the Constitution. No state reserved any power to themselves. It is just that simple.

        1. Thanks, Jimmy, but we ought to refer to “Silas” by some of his other nommes de plume–Austin, Carmichael, etc. The moron is so transparent.

      2. I love that Amar guy.

  6. Mr. History · · Reply

    Interesting debate, and I am trying to figure it out. Is it your position Mr. Mackey, that the “people en masse” ratified the constitution? Because not only does the highest authority on the matter directly contradict you (James Madison), Article VII of the constitution also contradicts you. It says:

    “The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution BETWEEN THE STATE SO RATIFYING the same.

    Please note that Article VII does not say the the constitution was ratified by “the people en masse”.

    How do you answer that?

    Also, in the Virginia Convention Madison (admittedly to my surprise), said that Virginia could secede if it chose to. He saId:

    “…If we be dissatisfied with the national government, IF WE SHOULD CHOOSE TO RENOUNCE IT, this is an additional safeguard to our defense…”

    How do you answer that?

    And Virginia, like all the states, ratified the constitution for itself and itself only

    “…, We the said Delegates in the name and IN BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF VIRGINIA do by these presents assent to and ratify the Constitution …”

    How do you answer that?

    And I do not know what “the people en masse” is. That term is not found anywhere in the constitution, or anywhere in the constitutional convention debates, or in any of the debates of any of the state conventions. So what exactly is “the people en masse”? And how do the “people en masse” exercise their authority?

    So if every state ratified for itself and itself only, why can’t the states annul that ratification for itself and itself only?

    1. I have to hand it to you, “Austin,” at least you’re creative.

      Since this post is free from invective I’ll treat it seriously.

      As I have shown before, the people of the United States as embodied in the states ratified the Constitution. I don’t know where you got this “en masse” idea to start with, as nothing I’ve ever written can be seriously construed to think that I claim the people of the United States voted as one body at one time. The subsection of the people of the United States who lived in Delaware, through their convention, ratified the Constitution. That was followed by the people of the United States who lived in Pennsylvania, then New Jersey, Georgia, etc. Once the people of the United States living in nine of the states ratified the Constitution it became effective. So it was the action of the People of the United States as embodied in the states that ratified the Constitution. No single state acted alone in the sense that no single state could be governed by the Constitution. It had to have the approval of the people of the United States in at least nine states in order for the Constitution to take effect. Madison and Marshall both understood this, and I quoted them in an earlier comment. Virginia quite clearly said that the powers came from the People of the United States and could be resumed by them, i.e., the People of the United States.

      Madison was quite clearly referring to the People of the United States renouncing the government. Patrick Henry was warning of a danger of Congress setting up a military government. That would not affect only Virginia, it would be over the entire nation. Madison’s response, then, in context, is a response for the entire nation, not just for the state of Virginia. The whole exchange can be seen here.

      The people of a state cannot rescind their ratification of the Constitution. There is no mechanism provided in the Constitution for doing so. Additionally, the Supremacy Clause keeps it from taking effect. By the Supremacy Clause, the Constitution, laws of the United States, and Treaties made by the United States are supreme law of the land no matter what an individual state may say. A rescission would be a state claiming that such was not the case within its borders. By the Supremacy Clause, such a claim is null and void. Finally, the Constitution gives the power to determine the makeup of the Union to the Congress, not to the individual states. A state does not have the power to declare it’s no longer part of the Union.

      Drop the “en masse” thing. Nothing I’ve posted makes that claim or can be seriously construed to make that claim.

  7. Mr. History · · Reply

    Mr Mackey you claim that Delaware ratified the constitution, as (to quote you directly) a “subsection of the people of the United States”. But this is most certainly incorrect, and once again, I rely on the high authority of James Madison to refute your assertion. Madison says that:

    “…Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, IS CONSIDERED AS A SOVEREIGN BODY, INDEPENDENT OF ALL OTHERS, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a federal, and NOT A NATIONAL CONSTITUTION…”

    So again, when Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island each stipulated that the delegated powers could be resumed by the people of the United States, it could only mean the people in each and every state, independently, were entitled to resume their respective delegated powers, because it was the people in each and every state, independently, who delegated the powers. The people “en masse” (your term, not mine) could not possibly resume the delegated powers, because the people “en masse” did not delegate the powers. It really is that simple.

    AS for Madison announcing the right to “renounce”, here again, he was speaking in the Virginia Convention, with the same understanding. More specifically, only the authority that delgated may resume or renounce. again, that source was each and every state, completely, as Madison says, “INDEPENDENT OF ALL OTHERS”.

    1. If you only read one part of Madison, you can get that impression; however, if you read all of what he wrote and said, then you get a fuller picture. Madison was clear that the Constitution was a compact among the American People as they were embodied in the states. See his letter to Trist, 15 Feb 1830. He specifically told Hamilton that the Constitution required an adoption “in toto and for ever.” Forever means you can’t renounce your ratification. Regarding the ratifications, the clear meaning of the statements is that the powers can be reassumed by the people of the United States, since they came from the people of the United States. They don’t say the powers can be resumed by people of individual states. Madison himself said reserving a right to withdraw wasn’t acceptable as a ratification.

      You’ve misread what I wrote regarding the term “en masse.” Nothing I wrote said the Constitution was ratified en masse.

  8. Zenshin Roshi True Dharma Eye · · Reply

    this is from a letter by Dwight D Eisenhower

    Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.

    General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswerving in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America;

    Secession was mentioned in 1814–1815; at the Hartford Convention all but one leading Federalist newspaper in New England supported a plan to expel the western states from the Union. Otis, the key leader of the Convention, blocked radical proposals such as a seizure of the Federal customs house, impounding federal funds, or declaring neutrality. Otis thought the Madison administration was near collapse and that unless conservatives like himself and the other delegates took charge, the radical secessionists might take power. Indeed, Otis was unaware that Massachusetts Governor Strong had already sent a secret mission to discuss terms with the British for a separate peace.
    as Pres. Eisenhower so clearly put it the matter was unresolved, we cannot truly say that it was either illegal or Lee illegal except in your opinion. A few years ago a communist Chinese general stated that was no difference from China forcing Taiwan to return to China than there was for Lincoln to force the southern states back to the union.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if Vladimir Putin started quoting Lincoln soon.of course just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Personally I think secession is like eating a salted peanut within 10 years the South would’ve dissolved into city states.

    1. Unfortunately, you’ve committed the Appeal to Authority fallacy. Eisenhower was a terrific general and leader, but he had no expertise in judging the character of men he never met, and he was not a historian. Therefore, his opinion, while interesting, holds little weight outside matters of a strictly military subject.

      Secession was never mentioned at the Hartford Convention.

      Self-serving comments by communist generals mean even less. They aren’t historians either.

      No one with any credibility argues that secession from the United States under the Constitution is legal.

  9. Mr. History · · Reply

    Mr. Mackey, you have it exactly backwards. It was States that ratified the constituion through the medium of the people; the people did not ratify the constitution as embodied in the States. Additionally, Madison never said the constitution is a compact among the American people, becasue it is not; it is most definitively a compact “between the states”. Those are the very words of Article VII. Once more, please note it does not say “between the people”. I do not see how it is possible for you to ignore and disregard the very words of the constitution itself.But that is not all. Here is Madison in federalist 39:

    “…It is to be the assent and ratification OF THE SEVERAL STATES…”

    Please note that Madison does not say it is to be the assent and ratification of the people. Can you ignore that as well?

    But that too, is not all. Madison also writes:

    “…That it will be a federal and NOT A NATIONAL ACT, as these terms are understood by the objectors; the act of the people, as forming so many independent States, not as forming one aggregate nation, is obvious from this single consideration, that it is to result neither from the decision of a majority of the people of the Union, nor from that of a majority of the States…”

    And that too, is not all. Of the ratification, Madison writes:

    “… it is to result neither from the decision of a majority of the people of the Union, nor from that of a majority of the States. It must result from the unanimous assent of the SEVERAL STATES that are parties to it…”

    Please note Madison expressly states that is is THE STATES who are parties to the constitution, NOT THE PEOPLE..”

    Lastly, there is a profound and fatal flaw in your reasoning. Revisiting your remark concerning Delaware, you write:

    “…The subsection of the people of the United States who lived in Delaware…”

    Mr. Mackey, there was no subsection of people who lived in Delaware. At the time Delaware ratified the constituton, it was not yet in effect. Delaware was still a member of the Union under the AoC, and this, as all agree, was purely a Union of States. Exactly who do you claim the people of Delaware were a subsection of?

    1. The people of the states together make up the people of the United States, so therefore the people of the United States ratified the Constitution. The people of each state make up a subset of the people of the United States.

      “Applying a like view of the subject to the case of the U. S. it results, that the compact being among individuals as imbodied into States, no State can at pleasure release itself therefrom, and set up for itself. The compact can only be dissolved by the consent of the other parties, or by usurpations or abuses of power justly having that effect. It will hardly be contended that there is anything in the terms or nature of the compact, authorizing a party to dissolve it at pleasure.” James Madison to Nicholas Trist.

      Chief Justice John Marshall, himself a member of the Virginia Ratification Convention, said, “The convention which framed the constitution was indeed elected by the state legislatures. But the instrument, when it came from their hands, was a mere proposal, without obligations, or pretenses to it. It was reported to the then existing congress of the United States, with a request that it might ‘be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each state by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification.’ this mode of proceeding was adopted; and by the convention, by congress, and by the state legislatures, the instrument was submitted to the people. They acted upon it in the only manner in which they can act safely, effectively and wisely, on such a subject, by assembling in convention. It is true, they assembled in their several states–and where else should they have assembled? No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the states, and of compounding the American people into one common mass. Of consequence, when they act, they act in their states. But the measures they adopt do not, on that account, cease to be the measures of the people themselves, or become the measures of the state governments.

      “From these conventions, the constitution derives its whole authority. The government proceeds directly from the people. . . . *The constitution, when thus adopted, was of complete obligation, and bound the state sovereignties.*” [17 U.S. 316, 402-404]

      Marshall further ruled, “The government of the Union, then, is, emphatically and truly, a government of the people. In form, and in substance, it emanates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit.” [17 U.S. 316, 404-405]

      And, “If any one proposition could command the universal assent of mankind, we might expect it would be this–that the government of the Union, though limited in its powers, is supreme within its sphere of action.” [17 U.S. 316, 405]

      And in Cohens v. Virginia, “The people made the constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will. But this supreme and irresistible power to make or to unmake, resides only in the whole body of the people; not in any sub-division of them. The attempt of any of the parts to exercise it is usurpation, and ought to be repelled by those to whom the people have delegated their power of repelling it.” [19 US 264, 389]

      At this point we seem to be only repeating ourselves. I don’t see that further discussion along these lines will advance the conversation unless you have something different to add.

    2. I think I see where we have been talking past each other for a little bit. Let’s start with the Articles of Confederation. Under the AoC the states were considered to be separate, independent sovereignties. That’s what Madison was talking about. It appears as though you believe they maintained that status under the Constitution. Such is not the case. As the Supreme Court said, “That the United States form, for many, and for most important purposes, a single nation, has not yet been denied. In war, we are one people. In making peace, we are one people. In all commercial regulations, we are one and the same people. . .. America has chosen to be, in many respects, and to many purposes, a nation; and for all these purposes, her government is complete; to all these objects it is competent. The people have declared, that in the exercise of all the powers given for these objects, it is supreme. . . . The constitution and laws of a State, so far as they are repugnant to the constitution and laws of the United States, are absolutely void. These States are constituent parts of the United States. They are members of one great empire.” [Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264, 413-414]

      “When these allied sovereigns converted their league into a government, when they converted their Congress of Ambassadors, deputed to deliberate on their common concerns, the whole character in which the States appear, underwent a change.” [Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1, 187]

      Where there had been 13 states retaining all their sovereignty and independence, there was left one nation, the people of which, embodied in the states, had come together to ratify the Constitution. So when Delaware ratified the Constitution, the subset of the people of the United States determined that they would be part of that new nation, and so on. Did Delaware act as a separate, sovereign entity? Yes; however, the Constitution didn’t come into effect until 9/13 of the Union acted in concert to bring it into effect. They didn’t act all at once, but they cooperated in bringing it about.

      I hope this resolves the difference.

    3. It is crucial to remember that Washington, Madison, Hamilton, & Co. were through with the Articles of Confederation. They fully understood the flaws with that “government” (a charitable term, really) and were determined not to repeat it. They specifically wanted a national government that was NOT a creature of the states, but rather a government that itself draw sovereignty from We, the People.

      In a way, Madison’s conception of “dual sovereignty”, that both the states AND the federal governments were sovereign–that, in effect, We, the People could invest our right to rule into two separate entities at the same time, is the most profound philosophical idea he ever had.

      1. Right again, Chris. Washington especially was disgusted with the results of the AoC and pushed hard for a strong, centralized government.

  10. Mr. History · · Reply

    I do have something to add, and, if you wouldn’t mind, one thing to clarify. I didn’t quite understand your answer regarding Delaware, so I’ll try to be clearer. Specifically, as of December 6, 1787, were the people of Delaware a subsection of the people of the Union under the Articles of Confederation? And if so, were they required to ratify the constitution and join the Union of States under the U.S. Constitution?

    Now then, as indicated by the bold-face, type, you seem to place great emphasis on the obiter language by Chief Justice Marshall from the Cohens decision. The problem you have, is that that statement is patently and demonstrably false. In fact, it is flagrant opposition to the provisions of Article V of the Constitution, as I will now demonstrate.

    It is specified under Article V, that upon the ratification of three-fourths of the states, the constitution may be amended. Accordingly, if three-fourths of the least populated states wish to amend the constitution to dissolve it, they can. Since Cohen was decided in 1821, let’s use the census numbers from 1820, adjusted to include the population of Missouri, which became a state in 1821. Now then, as of 1821, there were 24 states in the U.S., with a total population, according to the census, and adjusted for Missouri, of 9,749,453. Now if the 18 least populated states, with a total population of only 5,033,127, had called for a constitutional convention, and then ratified an amendment to dissolve the Union, the Union, irrefutably, would have been constitutionally dissolved, and dissolved by a sub-division of the people. This is but one method to prove, beyond dispute the wild inaccuracy of Marshall’s shamelessly politicized and self-serving commentary in Cohens. To repeat, It is factually, provably, wrong.

    By the way, in addition to being wrong, nowhere does the constitution say anything at all, even remotely, to the effect that only the “whole people” may unmake the constitution. In fact, Marshall doesn’t even bother to tell us what the definition of the “whole people” is. Do you know what he means by the term “whole people”?. Since you rely on it to advance your argument, perhaps you could define it for me. No kidding, I don’t know what it means, so I am anxious to see how you define it.

    1. The people of Delaware were a subset of the people of the United States at all times. Prior to the Constitution being ratified, the Articles of Confederation were the governing laws. They were not required to ratify the Constitution. Once the Constitution was ratified, however, the Constitution then became the governing organic law of the United States. As the Court said, the whole character changed.

      The Court is not wrong at all, and is not in conflict with Article V whatsoever. You choose to interpret what they said incorrectly. A 3/4 majority of the states means that the people of 3/4 of the states must agree. Those who don’t agree are in the losing portion and must abide by the majority decision. Let’s say, hypothetically, that we put the question to a national vote. The majority rules and the minority have to abide by that decision. What the Court meant is that one or two states can do nothing with regard to the Constitution. As all the states would weigh in on the question, it would be the whole people unmaking the Constitution.

    2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

      You may notice there has never been a Convention take place. For a convention to take place today 34 states need to call for a convention. To date the closest this is to actually taking place is a convention for the Balanced Budget Amendment which is only at 22 states. Several others have rescinded their application over the matter. Citizens for Self-Governance has an application circulating but only three states have passed it. The odds of getting 34 states to pass the same application and have no rescinding states is pretty slim. Even were this to happen, for any proposed amendments to be ratified (and that means the convention would have to have a majority agree on something which is going to be pretty hard to do) it would take the approval of 38 state legislatures for that to happen.

      Since this has never happened in the history of the nation and even the most desperate attempt involved a civil war because they refused to live under the concept of majority rule it is highly unlikely that a convention will be called. Judging by today’s political climate there is not enough support for a convention and less for actually ratifying possible proposed amendments.

      Al is winning this contest by a wide margin.

      1. If I may, Jimmy, since “Austin” is keeping away from the invective, let’s not look at it as a contest but a discussion. 🙂

  11. Mr. History · · Reply

    Mr. Mackey, you write:

    “The people of Delaware were a subset of the people of the United States at all times…”

    You must know that this is incorrect. Under the AoC, it was the States, and NOT THE PEOPLE, that were constituent members of the Union. As proof, I offer the language of the AoC itself:

    “To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned DELEGATES OF THE STATES affixed to our Names send greeting.

    and

    “Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union BETWEEN THE STATES of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

    and

    “The SAID STATES hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other”

    and

    Please note that the delegates announce themselves to be delegates of THE STATES, not, I repeat not, delegates of the People. Also please note that the Union was expressly promulgated as a perpetual Union of States, and not a perpetual union of people. Lastly, please note that it was the States, and not the people, that entered into a firm league of friendship with each other.

    You also write:

    “Under the AoC the states were considered to be separate, independent sovereignties. That’s what Madison was talking about. It appears as though you believe they maintained that status under the Constitution. Such is not the case.”

    To the contrary. Such is the case, and Madison expressly says so::

    “… I ask, What are these principles? Do they require that, in the establishment of the Constitution, the States should be regarded as distinct and independent sovereigns? They are so regarded by the Constitution proposed..”

    In closing, if the Constitution unites the people of America, and not the States, why is the name of our country not the United People of America. In point of fact, the very name of our country “The UNITED STATES of America, and the plain language of Article VII (“between the states”), make it abundantly clear that it was the individual States who delegated the powers of government, and it is therefore the individual States who may rightfully and lawfully resume those same delegated powers. And that is precisely what Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island said in their respective ratifications.

    1. Again, you are misconstruing. Wasn’t there a population of the United States under the Articles of Confederation? Yes, there was. So the people of one state can be seen as a subset of that larger population. As I said, once the Constitution was ratified, the whole relationship of states, people, and Federal government was altered. The name of the United States was kept the same. That’s not material. As Madison said, the Constitution requires an adoption “in toto and for ever.” Forever means that specific states cannot on their own revoke their ratifications. It is only the people of all the states acting as the People of the United States who can reassume their delegated powers. Here’s what James Madison said:

      “The essential difference between a free Government and Governments not free, is that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them therefore can have a greater right to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it. And certainly there is nothing in the Virginia resolutions of -98, adverse to this principle, which is that of common sense and common justice. The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them lies in confounding a SINGLE [emphasis in original] party, with the PARTIES [emphasis in original] to the Constitutional compact of the United States. The latter having made the compact may do what they will with it. The former as one only of the parties, owes fidelity to it, till released by consent, or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power created. In the Virginia Resolutions and Report the PLURAL [emphasis in original] number, STATES [emphasis in original], is in EVERY [emphasis in original] instance used where reference is made to the authority which presided over the Government. As I am now known to have drawn those documents, I may say as I do with a distinct recollection, that the distinction was intentional. It was in fact required by the course of reasoning employed on the occasion. The Kentucky resolutions being less guarded have been more easily perverted. The pretext for the liberty taken with those of Virginia is the word RESPECTIVE [emphasis in original], prefixed to the ‘rights’ &c to be secured within the States. Could the abuse of the expression have been foreseen or suspected, the form of it would doubtless have been varied. But what can be more consistent with common sense, than that all having the same rights &c, should united in contending for the security of them to each.

      “It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, Vol. 2, with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force; and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion; and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.” [James Madison to Nicholas Trist, 23 Dec 1832]

    2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

      That is definitely NOT what those three states stated in their ratifications. They NEVER said they were ratifying the Constitution and not the people. Had they tried that their ratification would have been thrown out and they would not have been part of the United States in 1789. In fact, Rhode Island’s legislature originally refused to join the Union and would not call for a ratification convention. They instead held a referendum in which the voters rejected the Constitution. They would later change their minds only when the US government moved to place duties on goods from Rhode Island. Basically, that state finally realized that it could not go it alone.

      The plain language used in the ratification of the Constitution makes it abundantly clear that it was the people of the states ratifying the Constitution. The power of the government comes from the people, not the states. That is a basic tenet of American government. The states cannot take any powers back from the federal government without the consent of the federal government acting through the people. No state could hold back any powers and no state did. That is perfectly clear.

      1. Jimmy, I think it’s also significant that almost all the states (except South Carolina–big surprise) temporarily expanded the right to vote for delegates to the ratification debates. In almost all cases, property qualifications were lifted in order to get the widest possible (for the late eighteenth century) electorate to choose delegates for these crucial debates. Five states even allowed blacks the right to vote!

        As Amar writes, the ratification of the Constitution was the most democratic event in history up to that point.

    3. Mr. History, you inadvertently hit on why the new Constitution was such a big deal, and why some states hesitated to ratify. It didn’t only get rid of the Articles of Confederation; it proposed a totally new relationship between the people and the national government. The new federal government would be a true sovereign entity, not a creation of the states.

      To show that those debating the ratification understood this, I highly recommend reading what Patrick Henry had to say. He was very insulted that the Philadelphia framers had inserted “We, the People” and not the states. He fully realized the new Constitution was creating a sovereign government at the expense of his beloved Virginia. He didn’t like it, but when he lost, he went along with it.

  12. Mr. History · · Reply

    Mr. Mackey, you write;

    “The name of the United States was kept the same. That’s not material”

    I rather suspect that if the name of our country was “The United People of America”, you would find it very material. I believe you would offer it as proof positive that you were in the right. And if that were the case, you would indeed be right. A name, quite obviously, signifies, establishes, and expresses a legal identity, as well as the panoply of rights and responsibilities that attend the name. In the present case, the name signifies the fact that the States, and not the People, voluntarily chose to unite themselves for political purposes. But I believe you already know this.

    Now then, inasmuch as this difference (that is whether our country is united by compact between the states, or united by an aggregate collection of individuals), is crucial to determining who delegated the powers of government, and accordingly, who then had the right to resume the delegated powers. I go directly to the plain language of the constitution. Indeed, I will cite example after example, after example, after example of the language “United States”. Please note that the term “United People” will never be found. Not so much as a single time (not even in the preamble, which fully and openly acknowledges that the People are acting to unite the States, and not themselves). To that end:

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    Please note that the People promulgate that they “ordain and establish” the constitution for the “United States”, not the “United People”, or the “United State” (singular). In other words, the people are acting, as they openly announce, to unite the States, and not themselves. Otherwise they would have said “United People”, or United State (singular). Such is clearly not the case. They united the States.

    and

    “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the UNITED STATES”

    Please note a “Congress of “United States”, NOT a Congress of “United People”.

    and

    “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State…”

    Please note that it does not read ” The Senate of the United People…”

    and

    “The Vice President of the United States…”

    Please note that it does not read “The Vice President of the United People…”

    How many more examples of the language “United States” would you like to see.? Your turn. Please show me a handful of examples of the term “United People”, from the constitution.

    PS- With all due respect, and in all sincerity, can you please tell me how you interpret, from Article VII, the language “the establishment of this Constitution between the States”? And with similar sincerity, can you please explain why it does not say “between the people”?

    PPS-I’ll return to Madison and some of the other issues next time up.

    1. Sorry, but all of US history from the ratification of the Constitution onward contradicts you. Quite simply your interpretation was rejected by the Supreme Court and has been rejected by every credible Constitutional scholar alive today. That the name of the country was kept the same is really immaterial. Your suspicions are interesting but are hardly evidence of anything other than what you suspect. I’ve already quoted Madison and the Supreme Court on this. I see no reason to repeat myself again. As to Article VII, here it is: “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.” Conventions were the vehicle for the people to express their will. So what was being done was that the people were doing the ratification, just as Chief Justice Marshall wrote. As he was a member of the Virginia Ratification Convention, he presumably knew what he had done. That the Committee on Style chose particular wording that is simpler language doesn’t change the fact that the compact, as Madison said, was among the People of the United States as embodied in the states.

    2. “Mr. History,” you invoke all the instances of the use of the “United States” in the Constitution, but you don’t seem to grasp the full context. At the risk of self-promotion, I write about this here http://junehog.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/secession-and-the-constitution/ , assuming Al doesn’t mind me advertising my blog.

      It’s nothing Al hasn’t already stated; it’s just organized in a way to deal with your arguments here more conclusively.

  13. Mr. History · · Reply

    “Wasn’t there a population of the United States under the Articles of Confederation? Yes, there was.”

    Yes, but it a population of 13 sovereign States, in their corporate capacity This historical fact is irrefutable and very well-known (it received a great deal of attention at the Constitutional Convention). Again, there was no subset of people under the AoC, only a compact between states.

    1. You appear to have latched onto the Union under the Articles of Confederation as if it was exactly the same under the Constitution. I’ve said at least twice now that under the Constitution it all changed.

  14. Mr. History · · Reply

    [edit]

    1. At this point we’re merely repeating ourselves. Do you have anything new to add?

    2. How disappointing. I was hoping “Mr. History” would have a counter-argument for us to grapple with. Oh well.

      1. I’m sure he believes he did, but in my opinion it was just a rehash of what has already been said, including making much of the name of the United States.

        1. Maybe it’s just as simple as saying they organized the ratification debates by state, but there were clear this was to be a referendum by The People? Or not.

  15. Pat Eakin · · Reply

    Al Mackey, here is a question I keep asking the pro-secessionist, but I never get an answer:
    If a state could succeed from the nation, at any time, and for any reason, then how could the US government guarantee protection of all citizens under the Bill of Rights?

    1. They would probably tell you that once the state seceded the Federal government was no longer under that obligation toward that state.

    2. Pat, do you mean before or after the Fourteenth Amendment? Before the Fourteenth, the Bill of Rights was intended to be a restriction on the federal gov’t, not the states, and so it wasn’t the responsibility of the feds. That’s what makes the Fourteenth Amendment the most important amendment (in my mind) to the Constitution: the “Privileges or Immunities” clause meant that the Bill of RIghts would be applied to the states. (At least, that how the Founders of the 14th intended, the _Slaughterhouse Caes_ notwithstanding.)

      And the history of the states–especially the ante-bellum southern states–shows that states din’t WANT the federal gov’t guaranteeing those basic rights to its citizens.

  16. Well researched. This post makes me think more about how the Confederate leaders violated Article III Section 3 (treason). Well done.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  17. [edit] See the attached link for a more eloquent argument in favor of the right to secession.

    http://www.bonniebluepublishing.com/The%20Right%20of%20Secession.htm

    1. Nice try, troll. I left the link intact so interested parties could see it and understand how completely ignorant the argument for legal unilateral secession really is. The only way someone would believe this article had any validity is if they had only a limited understanding of law and history as well as a complete misunderstanding of the Tenth Amendment.

    2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

      You mean the same worn old and completely proven to be wrong argument about secession? The one where the facts where the Founders said secession was unconstitutional are ignored? The one where a completely different interpretation of the 10th Amendment is discussed? One from the 20th century, not the 18th? Also where the compact theory is held to be the Founders’ intent when that was not the case as stated by the Supreme Court of the US on three different occasions prior to 1860?

      If so, then you just linked more trash as usual. Here’s the deal. No matter how many times you say your argument is valid, the facts prove you wrong every time. You can repeat yourself like a broken record which you do a lot and the outcome will still be that you are wrong.

  18. So before the 14th Amendment if I got arrested, and thought I was innocent, the state I was in didn’t have to give me fair trial?

    1. I think if you looked, you would find that all the state constitutions of the time provided for trial by jury, so that’s probably not the best example. A good example is the First Amendment. “Several states maintained religious establishments well into the nineteenth century, with Massachusetts becoming the last to eliminate public support for religion in 1833. As a result, state constitutions were much more important determinants of religious freedom than the federal constitution. This situation was largely reversed in the 1940s when the Supreme Court began to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment (which had been ratified in 1868) as a guarantee to all persons of the rights enumerated in the federal Constitution and its amendments. Henceforth the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause would apply to the executive, judicial and legislative branches of all levels of government; and the Free Exercise Clause would apply to all persons living in the United States. This was a controversial legal interpretation at the time, but today it is rarely challenged.” [The Boisi Center for Religion in American Public Life, “Separation of Church and State,” p. 10.

  19. I know that the states constitutions gave their citizens many of the rights guaranteed by Bill of Rights. If, prior to 1865, a state did not recognize my right to a trial, are you saying that the federal government could not have intervened on my behalf? If the federal Bill of Rights did not supersede local rule, what good was it?

    1. The Constitution was seen as a document that limited the powers of primarily the Federal government, and except where it specifically limited the states, it didn’t limit their powers. Article I contains limitations on the powers of states, for example. But prior to the Fourteenth Amendment there was nothing that would allow the Federal government to intervene on behalf of a citizen if a state, in accordance with its own constitution and laws, were to do to one of its citizens what the Federal Government could not do according to the Constitution.

      Federal law supersedes state law when the two are in conflict. There would be no conflict if the Federal government was prohibited from doing something but the state government was allowed to do it. There were entire towns, for example, that banned the possession of firearms within their limits. Square that with the Second Amendment. If you were tried in a Federal court, you would have to have a jury trial. If the state’s constitution did not mandate a jury trial and you were tried in a state court, then it would be according to whatever law the state had in place.

  20. Before the Fourteenth Amendment, If I thought my state was violating my right to practice my religion, could I have sued my state in the Federal court? If yes, then I would have lost that right if my state had successfully seceded from the Union, right?

    1. There was nothing in the Constitution of the United States that would allow the Federal government to intervene with your state regarding your freedom of religion.

      1. And I might add, that the 11th Amendment was later interpreted as prohibiting the federal government from doing so.

        1. I don’t know any credible way of interpreting the 11th Amendment as prohibiting the government from interfering with the rights of its citizens.

          “The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.”

          The 11th Amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with a state’s relationship to its own citizens.

  21. First let me say that what you presented was factual, there was no secret clause or anything in the ratification by Virginia, New York and Rhode Island that allowed those three states to secede if they wanted to. I don’t disagree with the accuracy of what you posted.

    However, let’s talk about the moral aspect of it, what’s right and what’s wrong, regardless of what actually happened, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the time of the Civil War many decades later. I’m not arguing about the point that technically, according to the Constitution, no state has an inherent right to secede, something reaffirmed by a Supreme Court decision, United States versus Texas, a case decided after the Civil War. The Constitution is what it is and it doesn’t allow for states to secede.

    I’m also not going to argue that the seceding states did so for any higher purpose than what they stated in their declarations of secession, namely the perceived threat to the institution of chattel slavery they saw in the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin which to them was seen as a dagger aimed at the heart of their entire way of life. It goes without saying that 1. chattel slavery is grossly immoral and 2. Lincoln and Hamlin were Free-Soilers, not abolitionists, thus if the ones making the decisions in the seceding states were less hotheaded and more patient they would have likely seen that the threat they were envisioning was very much overblown.

    My point however is this: regardless of what it says on the parchment of the Constitution, if one looks at purely the question of secession in the abstract, whether a state SHOULD have the right to secede from the larger country of which it is a part, common sense should tell you that it SHOULD have that right. It’s very similar to a marriage. Clearly when two people get married they don’t do so with the thought that the marriage is going to only last a couple of years and end in divorce. No, when they take their vows they are committing themselves to a perpetual union of two people, until death do they part. Obviously it doesn’t always work out that way so if either party to the marriage eventually finds that it is not at all working, that they don’t love the spouse anymore, they want out of the marriage for whatever reason then common sense should tell everyone except a Catholic that the marriage should be dissolved rather than two people continuing to make each other miserable needlessly, simply in order to fulfill the letter of a compact that either one or both of them regrets having entered into. If you believe a spouse has a right unilaterally to file for divorce, meaning even if the other partner in the marriage doesn’t want it to be over, then you believe that a state has a right to secede from the larger country of which it is a part. The alternative, and the equivalent to saying “No, once you’re a part of this or that nation then your state never under any circumstances has a right to secede” would be like saying that a husband should be able to hold his wife at gunpoint to prevent her from divorcing him when she clearly doesn’t want to be married to him anymore. Saying “Sorry honey, you took a vow that you’ll be my wife and I’m holding you to that, even if it means I have to keep you locked up in a closet to keep you from escaping”.

    It’s a simple matter of right and wrong. If you don’t believe a state has an inherent, moral right to secede then you don’t believe a divorce initiated by only one of the two partners in a marriage should be legal. Conversely, if you agree with common sense that either party to a marriage should be allowed to file for divorce then you agree that in principle a state SHOULD have the right to secede. I don’t give a [edit] what the Supreme Court says, as it has been wrong on numerous occasions, and I don’t care a whit what the Constitution says. It’s utter [edit] to say that it’s morally right for a state to be held at gunpoint in a union it no longer wants to be associated with. And [edit] written in fancy lettering on parchment is still [edit].

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Let’s use your marriage analogy. In order to get a divorce, you don’t just up and say, “I’m divorced.” There is a legal process where you get a judge to issue a divorce decree. Simply saying you’re divorced and then acting as though you are and getting married to someone else is illegal, and you’ll be punished for it.

      Likewise, with secession, a state can’t simply claim they’ve seceded and act as though they are no longer a part of the Union. If you look at the Supreme Court decision in Texas v. White, you’ll see that a state can secede provided it has the consent of the other states.

      “When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.” [74 US 700, 726]

      James Madison said the same thing. “The essential difference between a free Government and Governments not free, is that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them therefore can have a greater right to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it. And certainly there is nothing in the Virginia resolutions of -98, adverse to this principle, which is that of common sense and common justice. The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them lies in confounding a SINGLE [emphasis in original] party, with the PARTIES [emphasis in original] to the Constitutional compact of the United States. The latter having made the compact may do what they will with it. The former as one only of the parties, owes fidelity to it, till released by consent, or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power created. In the Virginia Resolutions and Report the PLURAL [emphasis in original] number, STATES [emphasis in original], is in EVERY [emphasis in original] instance used where reference is made to the authority which presided over the Government. As I am now known to have drawn those documents, I may say as I do with a distinct recollection, that the distinction was intentional. It was in fact required by the course of reasoning employed on the occasion. The Kentucky resolutions being less guarded have been more easily perverted. The pretext for the liberty taken with those of Virginia is the word RESPECTIVE [emphasis in original], prefixed to the ‘rights’ &c to be secured within the States. Could the abuse of the expression have been foreseen or suspected, the form of it would doubtless have been varied. But what can be more consistent with common sense, than that all having the same rights &c, should united in contending for the security of them to each.

      “It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, Vol. 2, with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force; and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion; and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.” [James Madison to Nicholas Trist, 23 Dec 1832]

      If you no longer want to be married you go through the legal process to be divorced. If the people of a state no longer want to be part of the United States, they go through a legal process to gain the consent of the other citizens of the nation.

      The moral aspect of it is that we are a nation of laws, and we need to abide by the law in a civilized manner. As you wrote, it’s a simple matter of right and wrong. The right way is to go through a legal process. The wrong way is to simply make a declaration and start shooting, provided the government you’re under is not destructive to the end of securing your natural rights.

  22. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

    Comparing secession to marriage is sort of like comparing the federal budget to a household budget. The two are not the same no matter how hard you try to make them the same.

    You immediately took steps to eliminate the cause of secession from the discussion. Without a cause there can be no secession. The Founders had a choice regarding what to put in the Constitution. They did not put secession it. Why would they put a means to leave the nation in it? It was not in keeping with what they were trying to do. Interestingly enough, one of the Anti-Federalists addressed the issue in his state’s ratification convention.

    Patrick Henry said that if Virginia joined the other states in ratifying the Constitution it could not leave it. He knew what the deal was. He understood that Virginia was going to give up its sovereignty in ratifying the Constitution which it did.

    Moral aspect? That is addressed through the right of revolution, not secession. If the people of a state are being oppressed by another entity, they have to right to revolt. That is inherent. Yet, as you noted in your opening, the people who chose secession were not being oppressed at all.

    In fact, the state governments acting on behalf of those who controlled the governments have oppressed their own people far more than any federal government ever has. I think you are mixing up revolution and secession. They are not the same concepts.

  23. Al,

    I’m curious, how do you deal with the people who claim a state constitution claims something, I hear alot of this from the people trying to use Texas as an example. Supposedly, things like:

    All political power is inherent in the people … they have at all times the inalienable right to alter their government in such manner as they might think proper.

    and things like

    Texas is a free and independent State, subject only to the Constitution of the United States…”, unlike most who are also subject to Congress, the Supreme Court and the President according to their state constitution.

    1. The people who make those claims are ignorant. If they are honest, they will accept education, starting with the Supreme Court decisions that included Texas. I’ve found, however, most people like that lack integrity.

  24. Thanks Al,

    Obviously this kind of person is not about to hear out Texas v White. Anyone who brings this up just sort of pretends like it doesn’t exist.

    But is there any significance to the “special wording” of the TX constitution? How can we reconcile it with everything else? Supposedly other constitutions bind the people to congress, SCOTUS, POTUS, or something to that affect, supposedly the TX one does not. Apparently Article 1 is a big deal.

    “All political power is inherent in the people … they have at all times the inalienable right to alter their government in such manner as they might think proper.”

    Would this mean only within the state? what are the ramifications of this.

    Or do you know a good source that discusses this?

    1. That particular statement is unremarkable, Jason. All political power is inherent in the people, but which people? According to the Supreme Court of the United States, it’s the whole people of the United States: “The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will. But this supreme and irresistible power to make or to unmake resides only in the whole body of the people, not in any subdivision of them. The attempt of any of the parts to exercise it is usurpation, and ought to be repelled by those to whom the people have delegated their power of repelling it.” [19 US 264, 389]

      1. Jason Perez · · Reply

        Thanks al

        Is there any significance to the fact that it doesn’t mention scotus and POTUS or Congress? While supposedly other states do, are there ramifications for that?

        I guess I don’t see the difference but then why is it supposedly different that it only mentions the co Constitution?

        1. I don’t know that the Texas constitution is substantively different from any other state’s constitution.

          Especially the 1845 Constitution, which was the constitution in effect in 1860. You can see it here, and some commentary on it here.

          1. Thanks Al,

            I think I found the ideal argumentation for this nonsense:

            https://www.texassecede.com/faq.php

            “it does state (in Article 1, Section 1) that “Texas is a free and independent State, subject only to the Constitution of the United States…” (note that it does not state “…subject to the President of the United States…” or “…subject to the Congress of the United States…” or “…subject to the collective will of one or more of the other States…”)

            Neither the Texas Constitution, nor the Constitution of the united States, explicitly or implicitly disallows the secession of Texas (or any other “free and independent State”) from the United States. Joining the “Union” was ever and always voluntary, rendering voluntary withdrawal an equally lawful and viable option (regardless of what any self-appointed academic, media, or government “experts”—including Abraham Lincoln himself—may have ever said).

            Both the original (1836) and the current (1876) Texas Constitutions also state that “All political power is inherent in the people … they have at all times the inalienable right to alter their government in such manner as they might think proper.”

            Likewise, each of the united States is “united” with the others explicitly on the principle that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” and “whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends [i.e., protecting life, liberty, and property], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government” and “when a long train of abuses and usurpations…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” [3]”

            PS:

            Yes I understand this webpage is a joke. But, there it is, the “claim”!

            “(note that it does not state “…subject to the President of the United States…” or “…subject to the Congress of the United States…” or “…subject to the collective will of one or more of the other States…”)”

          2. Texas can claim anything they want. It doesn’t make it true. The fact is no state in the United States is a free and independent state under the US Constitution. Typically, the website quotes only a carefully selected portion of the Declaration of Independence and ignores the portion that is inconvenient to their agenda, in which they detail when the natural right to revolution [not secession] is justified. That’s why those websites have no credibility and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

          3. Jimmy Dick · ·

            As usual these folks get the secession stuff wrong. The stuff on Texas v. White is laughable because it’s more or less just them saying, “Nuh-uh!” They can’t show any legal grounds for overturning the decision. It’s just the usual website put up by people with an agenda who ignore the facts that prove them wrong.

            See the Ratification of the US Constitution. That’s where everything was brought up and discussed in the various states. Also, I love it when they quote from the Declaration about revolting. They can quote the line about tyranny, but can never prove what the tyranny is. Looks like taxation and big government are the only complaints they have. Yet, the same people that bitch about big government have no problems using that same big government to force through things they want on the nation.

            Oddly enough, that’s the whole paradox about state’s rights. The concept of state’s rights is a joke. It’s a mantra used by the party that is not in power. Once a party gains power they use the power to ram through their agenda. Also, big government is not limited to the federal government. Texas Republicans use their control of the state government to ram through all kinds of BS legislation over the wishes of counties and people. Majority rule is fine with them when they have power, but when they don’t, all of a sudden it is abusive. Just more hypocrisy from politicians seeking power.

          4. Anyone who tries to argue unilateral secession was a legal act automatically shows they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. The slavers were happy to run over state rights in the service of slavery, demanding the United States invade free states with military forces to return fugitive slaves and demanding states repeal laws repugnant to slavery. They also demanded the United States force people in free states to stop speaking out against slavery.

          5. Jimmy Dick · ·

            You can also see they relied upon DiLorenzo’s “scholarly” work. That pretty much sums up their ability to process information. They sought out the cherry picker. Nice that they included McPherson, but they only cherry picked what they wanted from that source and ignored the rest of it.

          6. Neoconfederates don’t have actual history or logic on their side, so they have to use sources with no credibility.

  25. Isn’t a state really those people who have control of a government at a particular point in time? If that’s the criteria for secession then states could leave whenever those in control wished to do so. Then other states might form a pact with that state. Then those states might have their differences and states would secede from that Union. See what I mean? If the right of secession is based only on majority rule, why bother to have a united country with a constitution in the first place?

    1. No. The Constitution is a pact between the people of all the states. The people of one state cannot release themselves from the pact. It requires the people of all the states to release that state.

      1. pdea21 unfortunately you have designed the criteria yourself and made most of that up with wishful thinking more than anything rather than actually evaluating whether or not there is a legal basis constitutionally for what you are saying. There isn’t by the way.

        Even if we go with your interpretation and go with majority rule by state, pro secession activists are usually louder than they are plentiful. Even TX, a state with some of the loudest pro-secession people still don’t have a majority.

        http://theweek.com/articles/470115/what-happen-texas-actually-seceded

        “So why is secession so popular?

        It’s not, really. Even in Texas, the hotbed of the secession movement, support for breaking free is limited to “a loud but small minority,” says the Houston Chronicle’s Dunham. Rasmussen clocked it at 18 percent. In other words, “more Texans believe in UFOs than in secession.”

        something to think about.

  26. Thank You – the information you present has substantiated – with facts and original documentation – what I have been arguing – no legal basis for secession – in response to those trying to float the false equivalency of the Civil War and the American Revolution. I accuse Robert E Lee of treason to which is retorted George Washington committed treason as well.

    To this I respond:

    To be clear the false equivalency is between:

    1) a circumstance where no choice was ever given to the people (then governed by Britain)
    and
    2) another circumstance where the people freely chose how they would be governed (self-determination) through the ratification of the US Constitution

    These are completely different circumstances.

    Further knowing that the adoption was one way – to then raise arms against the government established by that ratified Constitution is treason as specified in Article III Section 3 of the Constitution.

    I add from reading these comments (Thanks Mr History – repetition is the bast form of learning) that in fact it is not ‘one-way’, AND the way is not called secession – it is called Article V of the Constitution.

    Again, thank you, I wish more Americans knew of this and what the word emolument meant in the 18th century as well.

  27. James Phillips · · Reply

    The founding of our country was considered an experiment by the Founding Fathers. It is illogical to believe that any colony would agree to join an experiment without the ability to exit said experiment in peace.

    1. I’m sure it must feel nice to live in a delusional state where you think your imagination is a substitute for historical evidence. The rest of us are consigned to actually reading and studying what really happened instead of imagining what we wish might have happened. The lack of historical knowledge in your comment is astounding. No colony joined the government of the United States under the Constitution. The entities who joined the government under the Constitution were already states that were part of an independent nation, the United States of America, which had been governed by the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation were replaced because experience showed they were too weak to maintain the Union.

      In all the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, Antifederalists made claims that the Constitution would result in a tyranny. In not a single instance did anyone say, “It’s okay, because if that happens we can simply secede.” No. In fact, the opposite was the case. Patrick Henry in particular warned that once the Constitution was ratified there was no way for a state to leave.

      You people need to learn how to read history. Otherwise your fundamental ignorance will remain on display for the world to see.

    2. 4 of the seceded states were previously colonies.

      The other 7 are states formed from territories created by Congress after purchase by or cession via treaty to the United States.

  28. Quoting ardent “federalists” (nationalists) to disprove gains made by ratifying delegates with serious anti-federalist concerns is weak!

    1. If you read about the issue, you’ll find the Federalist position prevailed, and there weren’t gains made by the Antifederalists.

  29. William Cook · · Reply

    If you read the full sentence in the Virginia declaration (which you only partially quoted)

    “The People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will.”

    If become obvious to me and probably others that the phrase “being derived from the People of the United States ” applies only to the “powers granted under the Constitution” and the ‘them’ implies either the people of the united states as a whole or the People of Virginia (as a state); for it is the “People of Virginia” that “make known” it is “them” that can “resume.”

    Your saying that this refers to the amendment process flies in the face of the reality of the abandonment of the Articles of Confederation by a limited number of states to form a government under the “Constitution of the United States.” Note that for the Constitution to become effective only a subset of the states needed to ratify the Constitution to make it effective for that said subset of ratifying states. In effect, secession by some of the states.

    Also, why would Virginia and feel the need to place this wording in their ratification of the Constitution if they were only restating what the constitution already spelled out in the amendment articles of the constitution. Virginia added the “secession wording” for the same reason that she wanted the Bill of Rights added. To make it very clear and precise so that some day later a Federalist or others (Capital F for the party of Hamilton) could not make the argument that you are currently making; there is no right to secession.

    The idea of Secession and Nullification did not originate in the civil war era. The Hartford convention in the New England states flirted with the issue during the war of 1812. S. Carolina also flirted with both ideas over the Tariff’s of the 1830’s(?) Secession was not a novel issue in 1860 and was probably widely accepted by many if not most of the founding fathers.

    from http://www.constitutionus.com

    Article VII (Article 7 – Ratification)

    The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

    1. What a sad commentary on American education. We used to teach antecedents of pronouns. It appears we don’t anymore. You need to go back to English class and this time pay attention.

      First, learn how to quote the actual ratification.
      “We the Delegates of the People of Virginia … do in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified, by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any capacity, by the President or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.”

      Here’s what the delegates say on behalf of Virginia: “the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified, by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any capacity, by the President or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.”

      It’s obvious the ratification says the powers come from the People of the United States and may be resumed by the People of the United States.

      As to the amendment process, return to social studies class and pay attention there as well. The Constitution provides the method for the People of the United States to resume their powers, and that’s by the amendment process. You obviously have no understanding of this when you try to equate that to how the U.S. changed its governing document from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution.

      Read the ratifications of all the other states. They all felt the need to restate what they considered to be essential rights and freedoms either already granted in the Constitution or what they knew would be in the upcoming Bill of Rights.

      The Hartford Convention had nothing to do with secession. Only people ignorant of the convention’s journals and makeup believe that claptrap. Return to history class.

    2. jason perez · · Reply

      “The idea of Secession and Nullification did not originate in the civil war era.”

      This is often a terrible strawman mean’t to make it sound like youre actually refuting something. I rarely hear anyone say it originated in the civil war era.

      And youre right…this was discussed long before. It was shot down during the ratification conventions silly. Here’s what happened to your precious VA:

      “a reservation of a right to withdraw if amendments be not decided on under the form of the Constitution within a certain time, is a conditional ratification, that it does not make N. York a member of the New Union, and consequently that she could not be received on that plan. Compacts must be reciprocal, this principle would not in such a case be preserved. The Constitution requires an adoption in toto, and for ever. IT HAS BEEN SO ADOPTED BY THE OTHER STATES. An adoption for a limited time would be as defective as an adoption of some of the articles only. In short any condition whatever must viciate the ratification. What the New Congress by virtue of the power to admit new States, may be able & disposed to do in such case, I do not enquire as I suppose that is not the material point at present. I have not a moment to add more than my fervent wishes for your success & happiness

      Js. Madison

      This idea of reserving right to withdraw was started at Richmd. & considered as a conditional ratification which was itself considered as WORSE THAN A REJECTION.”

      So much for Virginia…

      also:

      “The Constitution must be the supreme law of the land; otherwise it would be in the power of any one state to counteract the other states and withdraw itself from the Union.” -Elliot’s Debates

      Yup youre right thats way before 1860.

      “The [New York] Daily Advertiser on July 28, 1788, published the following account of the Convention debates on July 24:

      “Yesterday [July 24] Mr. Lansing moved to annex Mr. Smith’s last proposition to the ratification [see note 2], or the one which proposes to adopt with a reservation of a right to withdraw; then Mr. Jay, and after him Mr. Hamilton, rose and declared that the reservation could answer no good purpose in itself—that it implied a distrust of the other States—that it would awaken their pride and other passions unfriendly to the object of amendments; but what was decisive against it, it was inconsistent with the Constitution, and was no ratification.

      “Mr. Hamilton produced and read part of a letter from a gentleman of high public distinction, containing in explicit terms his opinion that the reservation would amount to a conditional ratification, and would not be received by Congress”

      “The Hartford convention in the New England states flirted with the issue during the war of 1812.”

      I love it when people use say that the secession issue was being “flirted with” during the Hartford convention. Immediate credibility killer.

      “S. Carolina also flirted with both ideas over the Tariff’s of the 1830’s(?) Secession was not a novel issue in 1860”

      And you should see what Andrew Jackson and Madison said about it. Long before 1860…

      “and was probably widely accepted by many if not most of the founding fathers.

      No they weren’t. Certainly not the Framers. Maybe you can do what everyone else does and try to leverage Jefferson quotes. But Madison already shot that down.

      Anytime someone says secession was discussed before 1860…they really shoot themselves in the foot. What that tells us is that the states who tried should have known better.

    3. William Cook,

      Excellent observations. The federal union of states established by the Constitution is most emphatically a voluntary union, and there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution which prohibits the states from withdrawing. Moreover, given that the language “The People of the United States” explicitly refers to the people of the states, RESPECTIVELY, Virginia’s ratification does indeed reserve the right of separation for the states. There is not now, nor has there ever been, a constitutional entity called “The People of the United States” in an aggregate capacity. Not now, not ever.

      As for the Founding Fathers, they would undoubtedly be both shocked and appalled to learn that the voluntary union they established through their blood, sweat and, tears, had been nefariously reduced to an abusive Mafia-style organization that sustains itself through terror, intimidation, violence, and coercion.

      1. Ah, the historically ignorant always come out of the woodwork on these things. Another trait is they are deluded into thinking their imaginations are good substitutes for actually reading what historical figures wrote and said, as we see here.
        Go back to middle school and this time try to stay awake.

    4. No, Mr. Cook should take a history class and stop paying attention to people who peddle the secession garbage like the Tenth Amendment Center. Secession was not brought up in the Hartford Convention. Only one delegate to the convention was an advocate of secession and he didn’t bring it up at all. The people who make the claim about the Hartford Convention advocating secession are flat out liars seeking to gain credibility for their beliefs.

      Patrick Henry stated at the Virginia Ratification Convention that once Virginia ratified the Constitution and it went into effect, Virginia could not leave the Union. He stated it firmly, clearly, and definitively. He was adamantly opposed to the ratification of the Constitution. He knew secession was not allowed because it was not in the Constitution.

      Anyone that says the Founders were in favor of secession is lying through their teeth or they’re a bleeding idiot who does not know history. More often than not it’s someone seeking to legitimize their current political ideology by equating it with the Founders. Funny how they can’t show any proof to support their claims, but historians can readily provide proof to reject those claims.

      Secession was discussed in 1787 and 1788. It was dismissed outright. Once in, always in.

      1. Unless, as James Madison and the Supreme Court of the United States both said, a state gets the consent of the rest of the nation to withdraw.

  30. “Once in, always in.”

    Again, that is the malevolent, malignant, and odious code of the Mafia. Or the Stalinist Soviet Union. Or the Georgian British Empire. It has absolutely no relevance or applicability to the idea of a voluntary union of states borne of and dedicated to, the right of political self-determination. And perhaps it is superfluous to observe that the words “once in, always in” are not found anywhere in the Constitution. Or in any of the state ratifications. For that matter, the same goes for the words “in toto and forever”.

    1. It’s a shame stupid people are so self-deluded they think their personal politics are the law. You really have no clue about this nation. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled, and this is settled law. A state does not have the right to unilaterally secede. To keep claiming it does merely shows your own lack of intelligence.

    2. Let me give you a short history lesson and warning.

      In 1860-1865 eleven states led by slave owners attempted to leave the United States of America without the permission of the federal government. History shows us that treason was stopped by people who supported the US Constitution and defeated the traitors on the battlefield.

      Today, if a state tries to secede I will go back in the US Army, pick up that M-60 machine gun, and go to war to prevent traitors from tearing this nation apart.

      If you don’t like living here, don’t stay here. Get out. Secession is not going to happen.

    3. jason perez · · Reply

      “Again, that is the malevolent, malignant, and odious code of the Mafia. Or the Stalinist Soviet Union.”

      It doesn’t matter how you rationalize it in your head or in your echo chamber.
      Being able to leave whenever you want with impunity for shortsighted reasons (like trying to dodge perfectly constitutional election results to preserve slavery) is the odious code of anarchy which clearly the framers at the convention and George Washington and Co didn’t want. Seriously, did you see how things were under the Articles of Confed. They already tried “your interpretation” of the constitution and it sucked.

      “It has absolutely no relevance or applicability to the idea of a voluntary union of states borne of and dedicated to, the right of political self-determination.”

      Of course it does. And so what yeah, the ratification was voluntary. of course it was. There’s no loss of political self-determination. What do you think the Constitution embodies? haha. Stop recreating the constitution in your mind in a way that makes you comfortable and accept the facts. Once again we need someone who actually understands what they are talking about to explain it to you:

      “We have already had occasion, in considering the nature of the constitution, to dwell upon the terms, in which the preamble is conceived, and the proper conclusion deducible from it. It is an act of the people, and not of the states in their political capacities. It is an ordinance or establishment of government and not a compact, though originating in consent; and it binds as a fundamental law promulgated by the sovereign authority, and not as a compact or treaty entered into and in fieri, between each and all the citizens of the United States, as distinct parties. The language is, “We, the people of the United States,” not, We, the states, “do ordain and establish;” not, do contract and enter into a treaty with each other; “this constitution for the United States of America,” not this treaty between the several states. And it is, therefore, an unwarrantable assumption, not to call it a most extravagant stretch of interpretation, wholly at variance with the language, to substitute other words and other senses for the words and senses incorporated, in this solemn manner, into the substance of the instrument itself. We have the strongest assurances, that this preamble was not adopted as a mere formulary; but as a solemn promulgation of a fundamental fact, vital to the character and operations of the government. The obvious object was to substitute a government of the people, for a confederacy of states; a constitution for a compact.”

      -Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution

      “And perhaps it is superfluous to observe that the words “once in, always in” are not found anywhere in the Constitution.”

      Yes its superfluous to any further display your ignorance because we are quite well acquainted with it by now.
      Lots of things weren’t found, and in fact were outright removed because it felt unnecessary or redundant.

      “He (Mr Tucker) extended his motion also, to add the word “expressly,” so as to read “the powers not expressly delegated by this Constitution.”

      Mr. Madison objected to this amendment, because it was IMPOSSIBLE to confine a Government to the exercise of express powers; there must necessarily be admitted powers by implication, unless the Constitution descended to recount EVERY minutia. He remembered the word “expressly” had been moved in the convention of Virginia, by the opponents to the ratification, and, after full and fair discussion, was given up by them, and the system allowed to retain its present form.

      Mr. Sherman coincided with Mr. Madison in opinion, observing that corporate bodies are supposed to possess all powers incident to a corporate capacity, without being absolutely expressed.

      Mr. Tucker did not view the word “expressly” in the same light with the gentleman who opposed him ; he thought every power to be expressly given that could be clearly comprehended within any accurate definition of the general power.” (so even Mr Tucker is ironically admitting it here)

      The Founders’ Constitution
      Volume 5, Amendment X, Document 6

      “Or in any of the state ratifications.”

      The state ratifications say that the powers may be reassumed by the people of the united states. Did you even read this article? Now where did I hear that concept reinforced by someone who was actually a participant at the VA convention…hmmm…oh right:

      “The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will. But this supreme and irresistible power to make or to unmake resides only in the whole body of the people, not in any subdivision of them. The attempt of any of the parts to exercise it is usurpation and ought to be repelled by those to whom the people have delegated their power of repelling it.”

      John Marshall, Cohens v. Virginia 1821

      That, my friend, is not passing any kind of new legislation, thats interpretation of the existing law (and to go with your running theme, its also way before 1860s). And it has not, nor will ever be overturned. Madison never disagreed with Marshall in regards to this concept. Same with his v Maryland decision.

      Oh and by the way…you do know don’t you? when we “can’t find something” in the constitution even if youre bending over backwards in ignorance to not find it as hard as you can. You do know the recourse for that right? Oh yeah…the courts (which Madison confirms)…and we know how that went. The courts sir. Not “your imagination”.

      “For that matter, the same goes for the words “in toto and forever”.

      Now you’re just embarrassing yourself. Thats the response of Madison to a state attempting to preserve a right to withdraw. And they rejected it. Just like they rejected VA’s attempt. So ask yourself…why would a state try to do that if they had the right to withdraw already…seriously…it really isn’t that hard to grasp. I feel like I should be directing you to one of those “constitution for kids” websites.

      “Or the Georgian British Empire”

      When someone compares the US constitution which was created and empowered by the people, to the “Georgian British empire”…I just laugh at the sad sophistry attempt. Perhaps Sam Adams can explain it to you:

      “Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death.”

      -Samuel Adams

      “It is with pain that I mention the insurrection which has lately taken place in a sister state. It was pointed more immediately at an act of the Federal Government. An act of that government, as well as of the governments in the Union, is constitutionally an act of the people, and our Constitutions provide a safe and easy method to redress any real grievances. No people can be more free under a Constitution established by their own voluntary compact, and exercised by men appointed by their own frequent suffrages. What excuse then can there be for forcible opposition to the laws? If any law shall prove oppressive in its operation, the future deliberations of a freely elective Representative, will afford a constitutional remedy. But the measures adopted by The President of the United States, supported by the virtue of citizens of every description, in that, and the adjacent states, have prevailed, and there is an end of the insurrection. Let the glory be given to Him, who alone governs all events, while we express the just feelings of respect and gratitude due to all those, whom He honours as instruments to carry into effect his gracious designs.”

      -Samuel Adams

      Sounds like your understanding of the constitution/founding fathers not based on fact, and is severely limited by self deluded ideals. Which no one should care about.

      1. “…the odious code of anarchy which clearly the framers at the convention and George Washington and Co didn’t want”

        You must mean George Washington the rebel slaveowner. The same George Washington who, by leading the lawless and violent revolution which separated the American Colonies from the British Empire, was the absolute embodiment of anarchy. As for his “Compnay”, no doubt you mean his fellow anarchistic rebels and avaricious New England slave-traffickers.

        “The language is ‘We, the people of the United States,’ not, ‘We, the states…”

        Actually, the language is:

        “…BETWEEN THE STATES SO RATIFYING the same.”

        “BETWEEN THE STATES”. “BETWEEN THE STATES”. Not, I repeat not, “Between the People”. Also, please note that the official and legal name of the country is “The UNITED STATES of America”, not, I repeat not, “The United People of America”. Under our Constitution and government, IT IS THE STATES, and NOT THE PEOPLE, that are united. Just as the legal and official name so clearly and emphatically announces: The UNITED STATES of America.

        PS- I notice that in your efforts to persuade yourself that a state may not lawfully withdraw from the Union, you rely on a series of out-of-context quotes and desultory sources. And I can’t help but notice that not one of those sources is the United States Constitution. I also know that if a prohibition against secession was in the Constitution, you would point to it immediately. Immediately. But you can’t, because it is not there. It brings to mind the quip from W.C. Fields: “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullspit”.

        PPS- Just so you know, secession has never, not once, not ever, been adjudicated by the Supreme Court. Any commentary flowing from the court obliquely implicating secession is pure obiter dicta, and nothing more. So just stop with these ridiculous, meaningless, and irrelevant case law references (Cohens, Texas, etc. etc.). If, however, you can show me a prohibition against secession in the Constitution, or if you can show me a federal law against secession, or if you can show me a pledge of perpetuity in any of the state ratifications, that would indeed help your cause.

        1. Once again, you fill a post with lies. John and Samuel Adams, for example, were never involved in the slave trade, and they were from New England. Same for Josiah Bartlett, William Ellery, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Robert Treat Paine, Roger Sherman, Matthew Thornton, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott–all signers of the Declaration of Independence. The only signer of the Declaration of Independence from New England who had any involvement in the slave trade was William Whipple, who as a younger man had been a sea captain and had made a couple of slaver voyages. Whipple, Hancock, and Hopkins had owned slaves, but all three manumitted the slaves they had owned, Hancock in his will the other two while they were still alive. So again you’re simply spouting propagandist lies.

          Here’s the Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

          What you claimed is just another lie.

          And the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on secession several times. I’m not surprised to see you lying about that as well.

          1. “And the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on secession several times.”

            Not once, not ever. In order for your baseless claim to be true, it would be necessary for competent counsel to have the opportunity to argue the matter before the Court. That means counsel would have the opportunity to demonstrate facts, submit briefs, and present evidence to the Court. At no time, ever, has the cause of secession been affirmatively argued before the Court. Not once, not ever. Every single commentary from the Court of the subject has been, as I have said, obiter dicta. And nothing more.

            PS- If Jefferson Davis had been charged with and tried for treason, his theory of defense would have been the affirmative assertion that secession was perfectly lawful and completely constitutional. The prosecution knew this, and accordingly, was scared to death to bring the matter to trial. So they let Davis go rather than be utterly humiliated and thoroughly disgraced.

          2. Wrong on all counts. It’s obvious you’re so ignorant of actual history you’ll believe any garbage on any neoconfederate website. You not only have no clue about the Supreme Court, but you also have no clue regarding US v. Jefferson Davis. Go read some history. You’re dismissed.

          3. jason perez · ·

            no you fool Jeff Davis only got out because of the Double Jeopardy clause. you really have no idea what youre talking about. What he did was very clearly treason. The very definition

      2. Of course his interpretation is not based on facts, but self-delusion. It’s the typical case where someone wants something and then writes out what he wants history to reflect on his beliefs. When history conflicts with those beliefs he ignores the facts or like Cadet Bonespurs, calls it fake. These people live in an echo chamber where they hear what they want to hear, and ignore anything that does not support their beliefs.

        Let’s ask why they want to believe in secession. Is it to justify the slave owners and their treason? Is it so they can break away a piece of the United States to create their own nation where liberty and freedom are built on the foundation of inequality and slavery? We’ve already seen multiple attempts to support a nation built on racial inequality thanks to white nationalists.

        What’s so hilarious about this is that I described how the American colonies and later the US was developed as an exclusionary society in a history group. These members rejected the idea hotly, but couldn’t defend their interpretations. The concept of change over time shows how the US has been changing for many years from an exclusionary society to an inclusive society. The Civil War was a great example of how a group of Americans sought to perpetuate that exclusive society come hell or high water.

        Those that want secession today just want to build an exclusionary society where their ideas are supreme. The problem with that is that these groups are a minority of people and their ideas and values are only supported by that minority. Their ideas would support that minority over the majority and be nothing more than a totalitarian state. So much for their claims of liberty and freedom.

  31. “Secession is not going to happen.”

    History demonstrates the exact opposite. Whether it was the Treasonous Slaveowners Rebellion of 1776 (which gave birth to the United States), or the more peaceful secession of 1787-1789 (whereby the states withdrew from the federal union under the Articles of Confederation to form the United States under the Constitution), or Mexico’s secession from Spain, or Texas separating from Mexico, or Panama seceding from Colombia, or even the dissolution of the Soviet Union, history abundantly demonstrates that political unions last only as long as they serve the interests of the members. As for the modern-day United States, it will undoubtedly dissolve, and most likely within the next 25 years. Indeed, Californians are already making efforts to secede from the country. Good for them.

    1. What this demonstrates is that you don’t have a clue about the history of the United States and are simply mouthing propaganda instead of history. The American Revolution was not a slaveowners rebellion. The Revolution was not conducted to preserve slavery, so you’re simply lying about that. The superceding of the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution was not a secession, so you’re lying about that as well. Mexico, Texas, and Panama didn’t secede, so you’re lying about that. Your claim about the United States only shows you’re an idiot.

      1. You wrote:

        “The American Revolution was not a slaveowners rebellion”

        Of course it was. Between George Washinton and Thomas Jefferson alone, hundreds of African-Americans were owned and subjected to the degradations of human bondage. And the fact that the colonists were committing some the most unimaginably cruel human rights abuses in the history of man, by trafficking in slaves, simply cannot be ignored. Colonial America was a slave society, through and through. And after the colonies seceded from the British Empire, they continued to be a slave society, through and through.

        Now then, before you tell me the colonies did not secede from the British Empire, please see the quote below. It was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis, who characterized the efforts of the colonial rebels as follows:

        “”What had brought them together in the summer of 1776 was their common desire TO SECEDE from that empire”

        Indeed. And among other lesser known historians who also recognize the obvious fact that the colonies seceded from the British Empire is Moberly College History Instructor Jimmy Dick (same Jimmy Dick)? He wrote:

        “The United States was created through the Declaration of Independence in 1776 during the American Revolution. The revolution was in itself AN ACT OF SECESSION from Great Britain.”

        And returning to your comments:

        “The superceding of the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution was not a secession, so you’re lying about that as well.”

        Take it up with Yale Constitutional Scholar Akhil Amar:

        “In effect, the very act of constitution amounted to a MASS SECESSION from the old, confederated United States”

        It is very obvious that you don’t know what the word “secession” means.

        1. Still lying your face off, I see. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were not the Revolution. During the war, Nathanael Greene had no slaves. John Adams had no slaves. Ben Franklin had owned a slave years before, but manumitted him long before the Revolution. Daniel Morgan owned no slaves. Horatio Gates owned no slaves. Henry Knox owned no slaves. Richard Montgomery owned no slaves. Anthony Wayne owned no slaves. That some people in the Revolution owned slaves does not make it a slaveowners revolution.

          They did not secede. They rebelled. It was a violent revolution, whereas a secession is merely a withdrawal. There is no comparison between the American Revolution and the 1861-65 War of the Slaveholders’ Rebellion. For one thing, the American colonies had no voice in the British government, whereas the slave states not only had a voice but they had virtually controlled the government for most of the history of the United States as an independent country.

          You apparently don’t understand what “in effect” means. It means there was no secession, but what happened had the effect as if there were, according to Professor Amar. As long as we’re quoting him, “Although states would enter the Constitution as true sovereigns, they would not remain so after ratification. The formation of a ‘more perfect Union’ would itself end each state’s sovereign status and would prohibit future unilateral secession, in plain contrast to the decidedly less-than-perfect union under the Articles.” [Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography, p. 33]

        2. Man, talk about total ignorance. But then we all know what this really is about. It’s a person who wants history to be the way he wants it. So he will lie to everyone but can’t show anything to support his claims. Typical of the secessionists.

          The US is not going to dissolve. You can try it all you want, but in the end it will not dissolve. Again, if you don’t like living here, get out. If you try to force secession, I’ll pick up that machine gun and end your attempt along with the rest of the United States Armed Forces. If you think you can take us all on, you’re completely off your rocker, but then again anyone who advocates secession is nuts anyway.

          By the way, you’re obviously using my essay so you are just the same old hack who makes the same old tired worn out claims over and over. Haven’t seen you online for a while. Just get your Internet turned back on? Why don’t you explore what I said about that essay that I wrote years ago? For that matter, why don’t you look up what I said before there was an Internet and had done no historical research at all?

          Now try this. The colonists had a legitimate grievance for their rebellion. The slave owners did not have a legitimate grievance in 1860/61. There’s a huge difference, but you will not acknowledge that.

          By the way, I discussed liars like you in class yesterday. I pointed out how people like you deliberately lie about the past to support your modern political ideology. You just want your white nationalist nation built on inequality and racism. A nation where the minority rule the majority for the benefit of the minority. In other words, you want to duplicate what the Soviet Union did. No wonder your type likes Putin so much. You love the idea of dictatorship.

  32. “Jeff Davis only got out because of the Double Jeopardy clause”

    Laughable. Davis was arrested in 1865. For over two years he was imprisoned, and no trial. And it wasn’t until over three years after the arrest of Davis that the 14th amendment was adopted. The United States Federal Government had over three full years to conduct a trial, but it did not. And it did not because it would have been utterly humiliated when Davis was vindicated.

    1. You’re totally ignorant of what actually happened. You’re probably uneducable on this, but it’s true that Davis got off because of double jeopardy. His lawyers brought up to Chief Justice Chase, who was presiding, that since Davis was already being punished by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, to try him for treason would be double jeopardy. Chase agreed. Go read a history book before you comment again because your massive ignorance of history is annoying.

    2. jason perez · · Reply

      “The language is ‘We, the people of the United States,’ not, ‘We, the states…”

      Actually, the language is:

      “…BETWEEN THE STATES SO RATIFYING the same.”

      I actually had to laugh there that a random internet comment section troll is correcting joseph story. thanks, thats amusing.

      “BETWEEN THE STATES”. “BETWEEN THE STATES”. Not, I repeat not, “Between the People”

      You an repeat it all you want, I’m not interested in your personal interpretation. It’s still the people as Madison clarified to Patrick Henry.

      “Who are the parties to it? The people – but not the people as composing one great body, but the people as composing thirteen sovereignties.”

      -Madison

      So not only were you lying and wrong about the passage, but the parties are still the people of the united states. Its OK if you can’t grasp it. I’ll take Madison’s mid-convention interpretation and joseph story’s over yours. Yep the same Madison who said long before the 1860s that secession was impossible under the constitution. I’m perfectly OK with letting all the evidence harmonize. You have to deliberately dodge it.

      Oh and as for court Cases youre hopeless. Its incredible and ignorant and desperate that you’d think those court cases don’t apply. truly incredible. Tell you what, since you put your hands over your ears, you can have that for free since your beyond hope on that category. Let me know when you take your secession case to court. I’ll be waiting for the result eagerly.

      “You must mean George Washington the rebel slaveowner. The same George Washington who, …As for his “Compnay”, no doubt you mean his fellow anarchistic rebels and avaricious New England slave-traffickers.”

      George Washington wasn’t perfect, but your intellectual dishonesty knows no bounds. Truly pathetic arguments. You mean the same George Washington who didn’t want to sell his slaves even when having too many was financially inefficient? The GW who said this?

      “It is demonstratively clear, that on this Estate [Mount Vernon] I have more working Negroes by a full moiety, than can be employed to any advantage in the farming system….To sell the overplus I cannot, because I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species. To hire them out, is almost as bad, because they could not be disposed of in families to any advantage, and to disperse the families I have an aversion.”

      and this?

      ‘it is…against my inclination…to hurt the feelings of those unhappy people by a separation of man and wife, or of families.’‘

      and this?

      “I never mean . . . to possess another slave by purchase; it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this Country may be abolished.”

      I’d say thats a far cry from:

      “The vandals of the North . . . are determined to destroy slavery . . . We must all fight, and I choose to fight for southern rights and southern liberty.”

      -Lunsford Yandell, Jr. to Sally Yandell, 1861, James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades

      So yeah…in summary:

      “Unlike many slaveholders in the age of Thomas Jefferson, Confederate Soldiers from slave holding families expressed no feelings of embarrassment or inconsistency in fighting for their own liberty while holding other people in slavery. Indeed, white supremacy and the right to of property in slaves were at the core of the ideology for which confederate soldiers fought.”

      – James McPherson, “For Cause and Comrade

      Nice try.
      Really slandering the colonists to relieve pressure from the slave holders rebellion against the united states in the 1860s, its weak. But not unexpected since all you can do is grasp at straws.

      And while were at it:

      “South Carolinians first shouted down a whispering Virginian before the American Revolution begun. When drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, it will be remembered, denounced the king for permitting the evil to spread to America. South Carolinians, characteristically, bridled. Jefferson, characteristically deleted the draft paragraph. Jefferson was in Europe and thus not present to cave in when South Carolina threatened not to join the Union if the Constitutional Convention of 1787 empowered congress to end the slave trade immediately.”

      – William W. Freehling, “The Road to Disunion”

      You do know don’t you? Many founding fathers that you dishonestly slander planned/hoped for a gradual abolition and that each state would eventually do it itself. Thats a bit different from the 1860’s south. See, this makes sense if you can understand things in proper context, but since you are incapable of that. I’ll leave it like that.

      “by leading the lawless and violent revolution which separated the American Colonies from the British Empire, was the absolute embodiment of anarchy.”

      You mean the same GW who put down the whiskey rebellion? George Washington advocated a strong central government. How he can lead a revolution (not for the “sake of anarchy”, what sophistry), and then fight for and uphold a stable government? That might be hard for you to grasp…but not us. Since you have trouble differentiating…read the Sam Adams quotes again to refresh your memory. These sad transposition and fact dodging attempts will get you nowhere.

      Oh and I suggest…When the colonists rebelled against the british crown (which is not secession, how silly of you), I don’t seem to recall the british crown threatening the institution of slavery. And many founding fathers expressed anti slavery sentiments. Funny how that works.

      And as for Jeff Davis’s Trial. The only thing laughable is you not acknowledging the double jeopardy bit. But thats not as laughable as you thinking that the validity of secession would have been his get out of jail card. I mean…what a joke. Please educate yourself:

      https://www.aleksandreia.com/2010/02/03/secession-salmon-chase-and-the-treason-trial-of-jefferson-davis/

      It really is kinda pointless to argue with you.

      PS: Good luck with the CA secession bit. I wouldn’t hold your breath for that one.

  33. I’m on the John C Breckinridge forum on Facebook and this topic came up. Glad to see that my opinion about unilateral secession not being legal is valid.
    As I see it, a state is what those currently in control of the government want, as in “California legalized marijuana” and it is also a permanent political part of the United States, and a specific section land belonging to the USA.

  34. This is a masterful spin, but certainly not convincing. Why in the world would any people think it necessary to codify their right to revolt against a government within that same governments constitution? Revolt against gov’t dissregards any law preserved by that gov’t. The notion is just silly. “The people” always meant “the people of the states,” but whereas they named those sovereign States in the Articles, they could not name them in the Constitution because they did not know which 9 States would ratify. So they shortened it to “the people of the United States” or “the people of the several States” to be used interchangably. The quote attempting to claim a surrender of State
    sovereignty and the right to secede, are merely affirmations that the States had
    delegated certain rights and those they could not violate. It is clear from the
    words of Jefferson and many other founders that secession was a right. The 10th
    Amendment is clear that all rights not expressly delegated or expressly prohibited to the States are reserved to the States. Period! The right of secession is no where
    prohibited, it is therefore a reserved right of “the people of the United States” as members of those sovereign State polities.
    are reserved to the States

    1. SCV types never disappoint. We can always count on you people to spout phony history and push falsehoods and mischaracterizations as well as misunderstandings of history.
      The Constitution comes from the People of the United States, not the people of a single state. It was not an agreement between the states, as the Articles of Confederation were, but rather an agreement between the People of the United States. “The articles of confederation formed an agreement ‘between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, …’ and the rest of the thirteen. At one stage of the development of its report, the committee of detail [in the Constitutional Convention] tried in the preamble ‘We the People of and the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,’ etc., but later the ‘and’ was dropped out.” [Max Farrand, The Framing of the Constitution, p. 190] The Committee of Style then, understanding it was possible not all the states would ratify, used the phrasing, “We, the People of the United States.” But the salient point is that it was the PEOPLE, not the STATES. So it was the People of the United States, as Madison wrote, “as embodied in the States.” Madison wrote, in The Federalist No. 40, that the delegates in the Constitutional Convention “have accordingly planned and proposed a Constitution which is to be of no more consequence than the paper on which it is written, unless it be stamped with the approbation of those to whom it is addressed. … They must have borne in mind, that as the plan to be framed and proposed was to be submitted TO THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES, the disapprobation of this supreme authority would destroy it forever; its approbation blot out antecedent errors and irregularities. It might even have occurred to them, that where a disposition to cavil prevailed, their neglect to execute the degree of power vested in them, and still more their recommendation of any measure whatever, not warranted by their commission, would not less excite animadversion, than a recommendation at once of a measure fully commensurate to the national exigencies.” Notice the Constitution is “submitted TO THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES,” not to the states.

      People in the 1780s would think it necessary to codify their right to rebel against a government within that government’s constitution because in the 1780s it was still a new idea. Your presentism shows a lack of understanding of that historical period. If we read the writings of the time we see the thinkers of the time were preoccupied with the concept of rebelling against a government that became destructive to the end of protecting the rights of its people.

      You also mischaracterize Jefferson and the Founders. What is clear is Jefferson, who, by the way, had nothing to do with framing the Constitution since he was in Paris at the time, was against the idea of a state being able to secede on its own volition. “But if on a temporary superiority of the one party, the other is to resort to a scission of the Union, no federal government can ever exist. If to rid ourselves of the present rule of Massachusets & Connecticut we break the Union, will the evil stop there? Suppose the N. England States alone cut off, will our natures be changed? are we not men still to the south of that, & with all the passions of men? Immediately we shall see a Pennsylvania & a Virginia party arise in the residuary confederacy, and the public mind will be distracted with the same party spirit. What a game, too, will the one party have in their hands by eternally threatening the other that unless they do so & so, they will join their Northern neighbors. If we reduce our Union to Virginia & N. Carolina, immediately the conflict will be established between the representatives of these two States, and they will end by breaking into their simple units. Seeing, therefore, that an association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry, seeing that we must have somebody to quarrel with, I had rather keep our New England associates for that purpose than to see our bickerings transferred to others.” [Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 4 Jun 1798]

      Some claim Jefferson accepted the idea that a state could unilaterally secede from the United States and quote a letter from Jefferson to Madison on 23 Aug 1799. The letter can be seen in its entirety here: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-31-02-0145

      The full story is that Madison went to see Jefferson after receiving this letter. We know this because Madison later wrote to Nicholas Trist, including a copy of this letter with the penciled inscription, “The visit invited took the place of an answer to the letter.” [Adrienne Koch, Jefferson & Madison: The Great Collaboration, p. 198] What we know from this is that Jefferson clearly said his words were written in haste and he wanted to develop his ideas with Madison. Jefferson and Madison developed those ideas, and in a later letter to Wilson Cary Nicholas, which can be seen here https://memory.loc.gov/service/mss/mtj//mtj1/021/021_1004_1005.pdf , he said most of the same things without the idea of severing the Union but “making firm protestation against the precedent & principle, & reserving the right to make this palpable violation of the federal compact the ground of doing in future whatever we might now rightfully do, should repetitions of these and other violations of the compact render it expedient.” In that letter, Jefferson says, “This was only meant to give a general idea of the complexion & topics of such an instrument. Mr. M. who came, as had been proposed, does not concur in the reservation proposed above; and from this I recede readily, not only in deference to his judgment, but because as we should never think of separation but for repeated and enormous violations, so these, when they occur, will be cause enough of themselves.” Dr. Koch concludes, “The fact that Madison was able to convince Jefferson that he should eliminate this dangerous sentence from his sketch of ideas to Nicholas, less than two weeks after Jefferson had written it into his letter to Madison, is dramatic proof that he alone sobered the excited exaggerations of his friend. Had Madison failed to argue as sensibly as he did, there would have been substantial truth in the contention that the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions contained in embryo the later doctrines of nullification and secession.” [Adrienne Koch, Jefferson & Madison: The Great Collaboration, p. 200]

      What is clear is James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution, said several times there was no right for a state to unilaterally secede. Here’s but one example: “It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, Vol. 2, with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force; and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion; and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.” [James Madison to Nicholas Trist, 23 Dec 1832]

      The claim that “It is clear from the words of Jefferson and many other founders that secession was a right” is a lie.

      The Tenth Amendment baloney is just that–baloney. The 10th Amendment doesn’t apply to unilateral secession because the Constitution prevents any ordnance of unilateral secession from ever taking effect. Unilateral secession is in fact prohibited by the Constitution. Article I gives the power to determine what states are in the Union to Congress, not to the individual states. Article VI, Clause 2 says the Constitution and the Laws of the United States and the Treaties made by the United States are and remain the supreme law of the land no matter what a state says. By that clause, no state can claim the Constitution and the Laws and treaties of the United States no longer apply to it.

      In fact, the People at the time of the debates over ratification understood a state could not get out of the Union on its own under the Constitution:
      “Anti-Federalists across the continent got the message and sounded the alarm. In Massachusetts, Samuel Nasson pointed to the Preamble as proof that the Constitution would effect a ‘perfect consolidation of the whole Union’ that would ‘destroy’ the Bay State’s status as ‘a sovereign and independent’ entity. The influential Federal Farmer warned that when a state populace ‘shall adopt the proposed constitution, it will be their last and supreme act’ qua sovereign. New York’s Brutus complained that the Constitution would not be ‘a compact’ among states but rather would make a ‘union of the people of the United States considered’ as ‘one great body politic.’ Pennsylvania Anti-Federalists put forth a similar reading of the Preamble.. Meanwhile, Maryland’s Luther Martin advised his audience of the strongly nationalist logic of the Constitution’s treason clause, which made allegiance to the United States paramount over allegiance to a single state in the event of armed conflict between the two.

      “Patrick Henry, true to form, was the bluntest of all as he led the charge against the Constitution in Virginia. ‘The fate … of America may depend on this. … Have they made a proposal of a compact between the states? If they had, this would be a confederation. It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government. The question turns, sir, on that poor little thing–the expression, We, the people, instead of the states, of America.’ If ‘the states be not the agents of this compact, it must be one great, consolidated, national government, of the people of all the states.’ This difference, Henry warned, would profoundly limit the rights of future Virginians to act on their own. ‘Suppose the people of Virginia should wish to alter their government; can a majority of them do it? No; because they are connected with other men,, or, in other words, consolidated with other states. … This government is not a Virginian, but an American government.’ Because the American Revolution of 1776–in which he had played no small part–had ultimately made Virginia free and independent, the proposed Constitution was ‘a resolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain.’

      “In response, the Federalists refined their critics’ terminology while confirming that the new union would indeed be indivisible. The Constitution, Federalists stressed, hardly annihilated the states or melted thirteen peoples into one mass for all purposes. State lines would continue to configure the politico-legal map, and state governments would continue to wield important powers. In fact, states would form the basic building blocks of the new government. State borders and state-law electoral qualifications would shape the House of Representatives; state legislatures would elect a Senate in which each state would have equal weight; state-chosen electors would ballot for president; a Senate sensitive to states’ rights would confirm federal judges; each state’s borders and republican form of government would be guaranteed; and states could help propose and ratify federal constitutional amendments. Thus the new Constitution was not wholly national but partly federal, argued the Constitution’s supporters, who cleverly called themselves ‘Federalists’ rather than ‘Nationalists.’

      “But on the fateful question of whether states would continue to be truly sovereign, with rights of unilateral exit, the Federalists agreed that the Anti-Federalists had not exaggerated. The difference of opinion on this question was not over what the document meant, but over whether the impossibility of future secession was reason to commend or condemn the proposed ‘more perfect Union.’ Madison at Philadelphia stressed that one of the essential differences between a ‘league’ and a ‘Constitution’ was that the latter would prevent subunits from unilaterally bolting whenever they became dissatisfied.” [Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography, pp. 35-36]

      “The text of the Constitution makes clear in Article VI that any state constitutional provision-even if adopted by majority rule popular sovereignty in a state-is inferior to the federal Constitution. And Article V makes clear that a state people can be bound by a federal amendment even if that state people in state convention explicitly rejects the amendment. (Here, Article V differs dramatically from Article VII.) Both of these provisions are logically inconsistent with the sovereignty of the people of each state. And if we examine the constitution of 1787 as an act, and not a mere text, we will find no one-on either side of ratification-asserting that after ratification a state people could unilaterally secede at will”

      [Akhil Reed Amar, “The Consent of the Governed: Constitutional Amendment Outside Article V,” Columbia Law Review, Vol. 94, 1994, p. 506]

      You SCV types are either too dumb to understand the Constitution or too dishonest to correctly render what it means. Maybe both.

      1. jason · · Reply

        Don’t you love it when they can’t even understand that the 10th amendment is only for things that affect that particular state? Unilateral secession affects the union, the makeup of the union goes to congress not any “subdivision” or state.

        And sheeh…i always thought this would be trivial but with the SCV types I guess you can’t take anything for granted but…the 10th amendment kindof assumes youre under the authority of the constitution. So it kindof goes without saying that the 10th doesn’t give a state power to just reject its authority.

    2. You might want to read the actual Constitution of the United States before attempting to mangle what it says. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says nothing about rights.

      “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.”

      State’s Rights advocates tend to overlook the actual words of the amendment when citing it as support for their false claims. It is about powers, not rights. Secession is not even remotely implied in this amendment.

      Of course the modern day secessionists are not interested in the actual facts. As we’ve seen repeatedly they will clutch at straws to support their fantasies while ignoring the facts that refute those fantasies. As Al pointed out with the example of Patrick Henry of Virginia, the ratification conventions saw secession explored and rejected soundly. It was brought up. It failed to gain support as the conventions eventually ratified the Constitution as written and that’s that. If anyone wants secession today, they need to gain the consent of the federal government or get an amendment to the Constitution passed that allows for secession to be constitutional. That’s it.

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