Who Owned Fort Sumter?

Oftentimes you’ll see neoconfederates claiming that South Carolina owned Fort Sumter.  Don’t believe that claim.

David Detzer gets into the history of how Fort Sumter came about and its construction in his book, Allegiance:  Fort Sumter, Charleston, and the Beginning of the Civil War, pages 103-107.

The South Carolina statute transferring Forts Moultrie, Johnson, and Castle Pinckney to the United States can be viewed here, pages 501-502.

Notice what exactly is covered by the statute:

“All the lands reserved for fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island; provided, the same shall not exceed five acres, with all the forts, fortifications, and buildings thereon, together with the canal leading from the cove on the back of the fort, nearly up to the same, as delineated on the plan of Charleston harbour by Col. Senf, and is in the secretary of state’s office at Columbia.” — Note this is not Fort Sumter’s location.

“The high lands and part of the marsh belonging to fort Johnston, as delineated on the said plan of Charleston harbour; provided, the same shall not exceed twenty acres, including the present site of fort Johnston.”  —  Again, note this is not Fort Sumter’s location.

“The land on which fort Pinckney is built, and three acres around the same.”  —  Once again, this is not Fort Sumter’s location.

“A portion of the sand bank marked C, on the south easternmost point of Charleston, as delineated on the said plan of Charleston harbour, not exceeding two acres.  A quantity of land not exceeding four acres, for a battery or fort, and necessary buildings, on Dr. Blythe’s point of land at the mouth of Sampit river.”  —  Once again this is not Fort Sumter’s location.

“The small island in Beaufort river, called Mustard island, opposite Paris’s island, and a tract of land on St. Helena island, opposite the same, not exceeding seven acres of land, as being a commanding ground suitable for a principal fort.”  —  Once again, this is not Fort Sumter’s location.

The statute further provided that within three years of enactment the United States had to repair the existing facilities in the areas mentioned or the act would be voided.  It also provided that within three years of enactment the United States had to build forts or fortifications on the ceded grounds without existing facilities and keep garrisons in them, or the cession of those grounds would be void.  Recall that none of those cessions encompassed the location of Fort Sumter.  Finally, the statute provided that all civil and criminal processes issued by the state could be served on these installations, the installations would be exempt from paying taxes to the states, and the United States would compensate any property owners for any property taken as a result of this statute.

Nothing in the area covered by the statute pertains to Fort Sumter. Further, the statute was written in 1805, long before building Fort Sumter was ever contemplated, and 1808, which is three years after the statute as delineated within, was also long before Fort Sumter was ever contemplated.  This statute has no relation whatsoever to Fort Sumter.  You will find a number of neoconfederates who can’t understand the written English language will claim that this statute meant Fort Sumter belonged to South Carolina, not the United States.  As you can see, that claim is nonsense.

Fort Sumter was covered by a separate cession of land to the United States by the state of South Carolina, and covered in this resolution, passed by the South Carolina legislature in December of 1836:

“The Committee on Federal relations, to which was referred the Governor’s message, relating to the site of Fort Sumter, in the harbour of Charleston, and the report of the Committee on Federal Relations from the Senate on the same subject, beg leave to Report by Resolution:

“Resolved, That this state do cede to the United States, all the right, title and claim of South Carolina to the site of Fort Sumter and the requisite quantity of adjacent territory, Provided, That all processes, civil and criminal issued under the authority of this State, or any officer thereof, shall and may be served and executed upon the same, and any person there being who may be implicated by law; and that the said land, site and structures enumerated, shall be forever exempt from liability to pay any tax to this state.

“Also resolved: That the State shall extinguish the claim, if any valid claim there be, of any individuals under the authority of this State, to the land hereby ceded.

“Also resolved, That the Attorney-General be instructed to investigate the claims of Wm. Laval and others to the site of Fort Sumter, and adjacent land contiguous thereto; and if he shall be of the opinion that these parties have a legal title to the said land, that Generals Hamilton and Hayne and James L. Pringle, Thomas Bennett and Ker. Boyce, Esquires, be appointed Commissioners on behalf of the State, to appraise the value thereof. If the Attorney-General should be of the opinion that the said title is not legal and valid, that he proceed by seire facius of other proper legal proceedings to have the same avoided; and that the Attorney-General and the said Commissioners report to the Legislature at its next session.”

Samuel W. Crawford speaks to the ownership and construction of Fort Sumter in his book, The Genesis of the Civil War:  The Story of Sumter, 1860-61, pages 1-8.

Some neoconfederates make the claim that South Carolina specified the fort had to be used in defense of South Carolina, or of Charleston, and that if it ever was not placed to that use its ownership would revert to South Carolina.  As we can see from the legislation, such is not the case.  As Crawford tells us, “It had been acquired and the jurisdiction yielded by the Legislature of the State in the usual way.  There was no special contract between the Federal Government and this Commonwealth, nor any feature which distinguished the legal relations between them from those maintained with the other States of the Union.”

In other words, Fort Sumter belonged to the United States.  Anyone who makes any claim to the contrary is simply wrong.


  1. This is where I should ask my question. On January 9, 1861 when local cadets fired on and prevented the ship ‘Star of the West’ from resupplying Ft Sumter, would that be considered an act of war that pre-dated the firing on Ft Sumter?

    1. See my response to the earlier question.

  2. Did you compare what any Southern Writer had to say about this issue? Book, Article etc by a Southern writer. Both sides facts would be nice for a change so the reader can discern forthemselves. Most of what you have said appear to be your opinion or at the least very opinionated.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment again, Ms. Bass. My conclusions were based on the evidence. This isn’t a case of one person puts out an opinion and then for balance we get another person’s opinion. I posted links to the actual statutes so people could see what they actually said. There is no opinion about that. The links to Crawford and Detzer didn’t link to opinions but rather to results of research. Truth in history doesn’t depend on which section one calls home. I don’t look at where a person lives to determine their credibility, ma’am. I look at how they handle evidence and whether or not their conclusions follow from the evidence. I learned this from a southerner who is the descendant of two confederate soldiers. Feel free to add your comments again.

      1. You could go to the S.C. archives and photocopy the legislation. Which is not an opinion. But, because you are not a Southerner, it would be suspected that you doctored it with your own opinions. Even if you posted something from David M. Potter, who was a Southerner, it wouldn’t be considered “true” by such people as he went and taught at Yale and didn’t write within the acceptable Southern view. Oh well, such people will never be placated by facts or evidence. Even the exact words of the people of the day.

        1. Then again, you were born in the south, went to middle school and two years of high school in the south, went to grad school in the south, and live in the south now, and if you don’t have the requisite viewpoint some folks won’t consider you a “southerner.” These are the folks Prof. Robertson calls derisively, “professional southerners.”

          Brooks has explored this on occasion. One example is here. I kind of like the idea of thinking someone is worth reading and listening to because their conclusions flow from proper handling of the evidence instead of propagandizing. But I guess I’m funny that way. 🙂

        2. Well Hello, [edit] My Catholic schooling really taught me to look at both sides of everything and not to miss the details. BTW, Was it Yale or Harvard that to this day refuses to recognize the Southern Graduates before 1861. You know the winner of the war gets the spoils.and writes the tale.

          1. Thank you for writing again, Ms. Bass. Please forgive the edit. As I explained before, I like for folks to believe the commenters here are ladies and gentlemen. My Catholic schooling taught me to reason from evidence. As far as I know, both Harvard and Yale recognize southern graduates before 1861. Perhaps you are speaking about graduates who committed treason against the United States? It seems to me that it would be up to the individual school in that case. The claim that the victor writes the history is simply untrue. I’m sure you’ve read the works of Edward Pollard, Robert E. Lee, Jr., James Longstreet, John Bell Hood, Joseph E. Johnston, Jubal Early, Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, and even Sam Watkins. If the winners wrote the history, these men wouldn’t have been allowed to publish. How do you think the pervasiveness of the lost cause myth impacts your belief that the winners wrote the history? How do you think John Latscher’s statement that the National Park Service taught the lost cause version up to the 1990s impacts your belief the winners wrote the history? If the winners write the history of wars, can you tell me how many histories of the Vietnam War written by Vietnamese historians are on the shelf of your local bookstore?

      2. Robert F Davenport Jr · · Reply

        Al: You did wonderful work and your comment here should be obvious to anyone. Truth is inconvenient to many and due to agendas many never seek it. Thanks

        1. Thank you for the kind compliment.

  3. Another question? Does not a ‘Fort’ hold a higher status than a depot or a logistic installation? This is some very good detailed info on the subject.

    1. If it was up to me, it would. It probably depends on how a country wants to take it. I wonder if anyone else has an opinion on this.

      1. The reason I asked that is, here in metro Atlanta the old Atlanta Army Depot became Ft Gillem in the 1970’s. I remembered hearing comments that now it has Fort status and no longer a Depot , Maybe just a few DOD workers doing a little bragging ? LOL

        1. Robert Davenport · · Reply

          I think the change was probably administrative. In 1970-71 I was stationed at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TAD) which was a part of the Army Material Command likewise for Atlanta Army Depot (AAD) and many others. The Atlanta Army Depot was deactivated on June 28, 1974. The reductions of the number of depots and certain functions led to the closure of facilities and reallocation of missions. I visited AAD and remember one of the missions of AAD was army hospital trains which were stored on base. Politics and efficiency (supposedly) determine which facilities survive.

          On May 13, 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure commission recommended that Fort Gillem, along with Fort McPherson and the Navy Supply Corps School be closed.[4] An exit ceremony was held at Fort Gillem on June 3, 2011, and First Army troops stationed there were transferred to the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois.

          Fort McPherson occupied nearly 500 acres in southwest Atlanta from 1885 until 2011. At the time of its closure, the base was one of the largest command centers in the U.S. military. The installation was home to a major unit of the Third U.S. Army as well as the headquarters of the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), which is responsible for the command and control, unit training, and operational readiness of the active army, National Guard, and reserve.

          Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson lands located not far from downtown Atlanta were valuable real estate locations.

  4. I also, recall a delegation was in Washington with proper paper work to secede and pay Washington for any property they might have a claim to. Alas the non-statesman Lincoln refused to see them, he preferred instead to start the War with staking his claim to Fort Sumter. Things got a bit fuzzy when Lincoln refused to accept the secession saying they were not out of the union but rebels; then the double speak began and when the time came at the end they were compelled to be in this union by force of bayonet and gun, a union Lincoln said they had never left.

    1. Three comments in one day. I’m honored, Ms. Bass. Please tell me what the proper paperwork to secede would be, considering unilateral secession was not a legal action. How much did they offer to pay for Forts Sumter, Moultrie, and Johnson, and Castle Pinckney? Also, did they include other Federal buildings in Charleston, such as the customs house and the post office? Do you know when they arrived in Washington? Who was the President when they arrived? Since unilateral secession was not a legal action, then what else would they be but rebels? How is it doublespeak when they were compelled to be in the Union they had never left? They remained in the Union, and the supremacy of the US Constitution was backed up by military force. I confess I don’t see double speak there. Perhaps you could elucidate for me?

      1. This is a lot of good detailed info on the ownership of the fort. I think it’s clear form the US’s legal standpoint the Ft was federal property. I feel most courts would have ruled that way if had went to a court. I would like to see more correspondence between Davis and this in SC as to why the Fort was fired upon. I have read a lot of after the fact as to why the decision was made to but not a lot leading up to it by those in SC and the Confederate government. Jefferson Davis books ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government’ to me seems more of an after the fact justification.

    2. Let’s see. Secession was illegal therefore anyone who willingly worked on behalf of secession was a traitor. That’s crystal clear. The Southerners who attempted secession failed. So you’re supporting their attempt to do so by saying they had that right when it is very clear they did not have that right? It’s pretty obvious what happened in the past because the facts are clear. Fort Sumter was US property. Some of the people in South Carolina decided to leave the Union illegally and then when told to attack the fort by Jefferson Davis did so, therefore they started the war.
      You ignore the very real fact that if they had not fired on that fort and let the navy resupply it that the war might not have ever happened. Davis knew that unless a war did start more people would begin to turn against secession. He needed the war to give the Confederacy a chance to actually become an independent nation.

  5. BorderRuffian · · Reply

    “Who owned Fort Sumter?”

    Does this matter?

    The South declares its independence. What does the claim mean if you allow a foreign power to possess forts and arsenals within your own territory?

    1. It matters a great deal for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the United States was not a foreign power, since unilateral secession is not a legal act. Secondly, it is neoconfederates who make the claim that South Carolina owned the fort. Thirdly, and moot due to the first reason, the existence of Guantanamo Bay shows conclusively foreign powers can possess military installations within your territory. South Carolina could have presented the United States with a bill for rent, and then when the United States refused to pay they could have sued in Federal Court for payment, thereby getting a judicial ruling on the legality of unilateral secession without having to go to war.

      1. Since the South Carolina ceded the property in question it could not charge rent, and the law ceding the property explicitly banned South Carolina from levying property tax on it.

        I suppose they could have declared that they were confiscating the property via eminent domain and sued to take possession. That would have offered a path to a court ruling on the legality of secession.

        1. I see what you’re saying. The big question, though, is what court would the confederates recognize as having authority over them?

      2. Jed Grossman · · Reply

        How can you maintain that “unilateral secession is not a legal act”? Where in the US Constitution (USC) is there any language stating that the States or the People cannot secede or voluntarily remove themselves from the union that they voluntarily joined. That is the essence of freedom and independence! Furthermore, the 10th Amendment explicitly states that “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”. This language is clear and speaks for itself. Before waging a long and bloody war of invasion that killed almost 700,000 men, wounded countless others and resulted in unimaginable destruction, Lincoln and/or the Congress could have sought a judicial ruling on the legality of their undeclared war but unleashing their invasion but they chose not to. What part of the soil of South Carolina, Virginia or any of the other seceding states belonged to anyone other than the sovereign citizens of those states, with the exception of those “forts, magazines, Arsenal’s, Dock-yards and other needful Buildings” by Congress from the States pursuant to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 if the USC.

        1. I can maintain unilateral secession is not a legal act because I’m not a total moron. I can read the Constitution and I can tell what it means. According to the Constitution, no state can say the Constitution and US Laws no longer apply to it, therefore no state can legally secede on its own. A state wishing to secede from the United States must have the consent of the other states for it to be legal. People who have no clue about what the Constitution says like to quote the Tenth Amendment, but the Tenth Amendment doesn’t apply because the Constitution forbids unilateral secession. Anyone who comes to me claiming unilateral secession is legal is telling me loud and clear they are either uninformed, an idiot, or both.

          You also don’t have a clue about Lincoln’s ability to wage war. The Supreme Court ruled Lincoln’s actions were completely legal. Learn some history.

          1. You know what was not legal? Sending troops and supplies to reinforce Fort Sumter requires them to enter Charleston Harbor which is NOT federal property but the property of the State exclusively which is an open act of war. Lincoln knew this and proceeded anyway he started the war South Carolina acted in self defense and only when they had no other choice.

            When South Carolina seceded the US government lost any claim to that land they had because the state of South Carolina dissolved their ties with the Untied States. Just like if Maryland seceded DC or if Virginia’s part of DC hadn’t been returned to it prior to the war those would of ceased to be refinished as US territory by those states too.

          2. Sorry, you’re completely wrong. Lack of knowledge is one of the requirements to be a neoconfederate. Congratulations, you can check that one off. As the owner of the property of Fort Sumter, the United States had legal access to it. They had the legal right to put supplies and troops there should they choose to do so. This is a basic principle of law. Here’s an explanation: https://www.hepworthlegal.com/2015/02/land-landlocked-can-get-access/

          3. ‘When South Carolina seceded the US government lost any claim to that land they had because the state of South Carolina dissolved their ties with the Untied States.’- pretty much what the war was about, yes?

            no need to refight it.

          4. If unilateral secession were legal, then only what was US Government property that was part of South Carolina would have been lost to the government. Fort Sumter was not part of South Carolina. South Carolina had given up all claim in perpetuity.

            But since unilateral secession wasn’t legal, then it’s all moot anyway.

        2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

          If by the asking what part of a state belonged to the federal government you are referring to Fort Sumter, then the answer is Fort Sumter. The US Government had (and still has) clear title to Fort Sumter. As to secession, Al answered it quite clearly. This matter has been discussed repeatedly. What keeps getting ignored is that it was discussed during the ratification process of the US Constitution where it was made clear that once a state joined the union under that Constitution it could not leave. This point was made clear by a man who opposed Virginia’s ratification of that Constitution, Patrick Henry, as well as others.

          The Tenth Amendment seems to be viewed by some as a super amendment that empowered states to do anything they wanted. It did not do that. Some are trying to say it invalidated the Supremacy Clause and that is not so. As I tell my students, no federal court has ever ruled against the Supremacy Clause. The Tenth Amendment people can scream all they want to, but the Supremacy Clause is the trump card of the Constitution.

          1. The courts have ruled on secession a number of times, and in each case they always said what the confederates did was illegal.

        3. John A. Lindsay · · Reply

          As you point out, the United States exercises sovereign authority over certain structures according to Article I, Section 8, Clause 17. To enforce that clause, the United States would only build needful buildings on land that the several states chose to cede to the United States rather than lease said land. When land is ceded it ceases to belong to the original owner and belongs to the entity it was ceded to. Now, when military personnel fire upon land and military forces of another nation, is that not an act of war? When they seize land belonging to another nation, is that not an act of war? When they fire upon or seize unarmed civilian vessels (Star of the West) who are operating in approved shipping lanes, is that not an act of war? So even if you are right; even if unilateral succession is legal, the United States still owned Fort Sumter (along with other seized territories) and the Confederacy committed numerous acts of war against the United States. Further, after firing upon Fort Sumter the Confederacy declared war on the United States. What need is there for any court decision here? Where is there even any authority for a court decision? The Constitution grants the power to fight both insurrection and invasion to Congress and Congress had authorized the President on their behalf when they were not in session. Further, Congress DID authorize Lincoln to call up troops and take action when they did come into session.
          So what do we have? IF the several states had no legal power to succeed, they were in armed rebellion and Lincoln was doing his duty and acting in accordance to the Constitution and the law by putting down the rebellion. If the several states did have the legal power to succeed then the nation known as the Confederate States of America committed several acts of war against the United States (including invasion) AND declared war on the United States and Lincoln was doing his duty and acting in accordance to the Constitution and the law by waging war against a hostile power.

        4. Patrick Degan · · Reply

          It is a basic legal principle that binding agreements apply to all the parties involved, that all hold fidelity to that agreement, and that no one party can arbitrarily break or alter the terms of that agreement at will without the consent of all the parties involved, and that full compliance with the agreement can be compelled of a recalcitrant party if and when necessary to do so. This principle is fundamental to contract law and is fundamental to constitutional law all the more so, in accordance to the Compact Theory as outlined by James Madison. No explicit clause prohibiting secession was ever necessary to the constitution. The prohibition is implicit. Secession is fundamentally illegal. Therefore it follows logically, legally, that there was never any such recognised legitimate nation as the Confederate States of America; that its so-called constitution was null and void, its government a pseudo-government at best, operating with pretended authority it could not rightfully claim, and that making war against the legitimate, legal government of the United States, which the southern states were still bound to despite their declarations to the contrary, was insurrection and treason by constitutional definition. The federal government is constitutionally empowered to suppress insurrection and punish treason. Therefore, no judicial review of the war effort carried out by the constitutionally established government of the United States against those states in rebellion against that legitimate authority was necessary.

      3. Comparing Guantanamo Bay and Fort Sumter is ridiculous the US has possession of part of the bay AND the military fort they do not violate Cuban territory to get into Guantanamo Bay.

        Also the United States isn’t threatening war with Cuba, we have peaceful diplomatic ties.

        1. You people love to display your ignorance for all to see, don’t you? The United States does not have possession of any part of Guantanamo Bay. The United States leases the naval base under an agreement the United States imposed on Cuba in 1903, following the Spanish-American War. Ever since 1959 the Cuban government has protested the existence of the US naval base there, claiming its existence is a violation of international law and saying the US forced Cuba into the deal. As part of that 1903 lease deal the United States exercises control over the southern part of the bay, but the US doesn’t possess it.

          And your claim is irrelevant anyway because as I said, its existence conclusively shows foreign powers can possess military installations within a nation’s territory without causing a war.

          Thanks for once again showing the inferiority of neoconfederates.

  6. josephinesouthern · · Reply

    It is not who fired the 1st shot, it is who caused the 1st shot to be fired. ie, Lincoln et al.
    I mulled over what you said about traitors and I guess you haven’t read Judge Neapolitano’s book on the Constitution, or the “The South Was Right” by the Kennedy Brothers. You seem pretty sure of your interpretations of the Constitution. However, having signed on as sovereign states after they won their freedom from Great Britain they were indeed within their rights to dissolve that compact when it was no longer in their best interest. Even NE Massachusetts threatened to secede over the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It was Lincoln who had secession taken out of the teachings at Annapolis; and it was during Lincoln’s time that Webster changed the dictionary. Lincoln trashed the Constitution when he called for sister states to invade, kill and destroy another sister state, thus there obviously was no compact in effect and NC, VA and some others joined the Confederacy. Also, Lincoln’s early actions in taking over Maryland, his treatment of Judge Tanney and others who disagreed with him, showed him to be the “Tryant” Booth said he was.

    Interesting that your interpretation of traitor does not jive with the yankee Washington DC lawyers and judges of the day who couldn’t manufacture enough evidence against Jefferson Davis to try him, or there was so much evidence against their takeover war they advised letting Jefferson Davis leave jail after two years of imprisonment as a free man. Pres. Davis never surrendered The Confederate States of America, even though Gen Lee and others surrendered the Army. Pres. Davis never considered being a part of Lincoln’s THE new United States (originally THESE United States) that we co-exist and live under today.

    I realize I am not as experienced as you in rebuttal, but I do own a lot of books that I personally purchased and read during the last 15 years, and there are many more printed every year about Lincoln and his invasion and take over of the Confederate States of America, people never seem to get tired of it, and some of the yanks never quit their spin. Once in awhile though a yank will slip in truths and warm my heart, such a one is “Complicity” by Hartford, CT writers, and “Negrophila” by Eric Rush (don’t start editing until you see that he is a Black Author, but probably not a liberal demoncrat).

    1. Hello again, Ms. Bass. It’s very kind of you to take time out to comment. I do appreciate your thoughts and your effort. Some of what you write about are subjects for future posts, so I must beg your indulgence in my very short responses to those. Support for my position will be forthcoming in the future. Some of what you wrote about I’ve already addressed in past posts, so I’ll direct you to those posts.

      As my series introduction says, I’ll be addressing whether or not Lincoln provoked the attack in a future post; however, in brief the attack was not necessary. It was desired by Jefferson Davis. Please see this post:

      I’ve seen some videos of Mr. Napolitano, and from those videos I’ve determined he either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or he’s lying. Perhaps both. He is certainly allowing his political agenda to dictate what he’s claiming. As to the Kennedy Brothers, I’ve leafed through their book in the bookstore and I’ve dealt with excerpts from their book brought up in internet group discussions. As a result of those experiences, I’ve determined that what I’ve seen of their book is nothing more than propaganda and has no credibility. I’m sure that as time goes on you will probably bring up excerpts, and we can discuss them as they are brought up.

      I’m very sure of my interpretation because it is in line with the Supreme Court of the United States.
      Please see this post:

      I’m quite sure “NE Massachusetts” did not threaten to secede. Some loudmouth politicians did bloviate threats about it; however, there was no threat from the region itself, and if you note the Louisiana Purchase did take place and nobody attempted to secede.

      I believe you may be confused over secession being taught. I’ll need to see additional information from you on this in order to address it completely. I believe you may be referring to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the use of William Rawle’s textbook there. If so, I can address that. If not, then I’d like some details of what you’re referring to, if you don’t mind.

      What change in dictionary do you refer to?

      Lincoln upheld the Constitution by taking action to enforce the laws of the United States in areas that were in the process of illegally rebelling against legitimate authority.

      Lincoln ignored Taney, so there was no “treatment” of him. Lincoln’s actions in Maryland were supported by the Governor of the State.

      Confederate soldiers were covered by the terms of surrender and then later covered by the blanket pardon issued by Andrew Johnson. Jefferson Davis and the rest of the confederate government were covered by Johnson’s blanket pardon. Please don’t confuse magnanimity with an inability to prove treason. Since unilateral secession was not a legal act, every confederate remained a citizen of the United States owing allegiance to the United States. By engaging in a war against the United States they committed treason. I’ll have more later on the case of US vs. Jefferson Davis.

      There is no longer any such entity as the Confederate States of America. It was an illegal organization when it existed, and it is no longer in existence, just as Murder Incorporated, another illegal organization which existed in the 1930s and 1940s, no longer exists.

      Can you give examples of the “truths” you found in Complicity and Mr. Rush’s book?

    2. For every pundit like “Judge” Napolitano and the Kennedy brothers there are ten scholars like Akhil Reed Amar who show that secession was illegal–that it violated the Constitution. But if you wish for an accurate analysis, you need go no further than Lincoln’s First Inaugural address. Excepting his erroneous statement that the Union was older than the states, his description of sovereignty and perpetual union is spot on.

      1. “For every pundit like “Judge” Napolitano and the Kennedy brothers there are ten scholars like Akhil Reed Amar who show that secession was illegal–that it violated the Constitution.”

        Fortunately the truth is not determined by popular vote, but on one thing, merit.

        1. And Napolitano and the Kennedy Brothers have no merit.

        2. It is a good thing the truth is not determined by popular vote, but instead by factual evidence. Napolitano and the Kennedy brothers don’t have any evidence to prove their point of view. Instead, they just keep repeating the lies over and over again so they can profit off the gullible who desperately want to believe in lies instead of historical facts written by the people who tried to secede in 1860/61.

          When you stop and think about it, it’s just sad that so many people lack the courage to admit the simple truth and instead cling to a lie. Unilateral secession was and is unconstitutional.

  7. josephinesouthern · · Reply

    Mr. Mackey, I am not your student and will not comply with your marching orders. I will post when and if the spirit moves me. There is nothing you have said that I can agree with even when I try real hard. I have seen enough of your blog now and realize the only post on here are going to be spport for you and your opinions. You, Brooks, Kevin, Corey, Hall are all the same. Knock yourself out!

    1. Well, Ms. Bass, the fact that your posts are here shows the inaccuracy of your claim. I’m trying to engage you in conversation and find out more about your views and how you came to them. Here’s your big chance to prove me wrong, yet you appear to want to run away. I hope my impression is wrong. I hope there is some backbone there and that you’ll support your claims. I’ve been nothing but polite and welcoming to you. I hope you can see this is a safe place to discuss things. I will not insult you, and I will not allow anyone else to insult you here. In my viewpoint, I stood up for you today by stating that even though I don’t believe your position is accurate, you sincerely believe them and any claims that you are in any way proslavery would be incorrect. I do hope you’ll change your mind and feel free to discuss and share your sources.

      1. josephinesouthern · · Reply

        Very nice Mr. Al; we will see if a Confederate Southern American can co-exist on this blog. I do not know any neo-confederates, you see, It’s in the genes!

        1. Ms. Bass, all are welcome and I will be polite; however, I will post the truth as I know it regarding history.

  8. George Purvis · · Reply


    ownership is easily proven without all the smoke and mirrows —
    The Statutes at Large of South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina: A.S. Johnston, 1836), Volume V, page 501.

    III. That, if the United States shall not, within three years from the passing of this act, and notification thereof by the governor of this State to the Executive of the United States, repair the fortifications now existing thereon, or build such other forts or fortifications as may be deemed most expedient by the Executive of the United States on the same, and keep a garrison or garrisons therein, in such case this grant or cession shall be void and of no effect.”

    Pay close attention to or build such other forts or fortifications as may be deemed most expedient by the Executive of the United States on the same,
    George Purvis
    Southern Heritage Advancement Presertvation and Education

    1. Thank you for your comment, Mr. Purvis. Please forgive the edits, but as I’ve explained elsewhere I want readers to believe folks who comment here are ladies and gentlemen.

      As anyone can see, I dealt with this statute in my post, showing conclusively it only dealt with certain areas which did not include Fort Sumter’s location, and that Fort Sumter was covered by a subsequent resolution. All it takes is a plain reading of the entire legislation.

      1. George Purvis · · Reply


        You posted YOPUIR opinion not what the statue actiually says.

        George Purvis
        Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education

        1. Mr. Purvis, I’m not going to go around and around on this with you. The statute is very clear to anyone who wishes to read it in its entirety. Your thinking it applies to Fort Sumter is simply wrong.

          1. George Purvis · ·

            yes it is very clear isn’t it [edit]

            or build such other forts or fortifications as may be deemed most expedient by the Executive of the United States

          2. Mr. Purvis, I allowed this post so everyone can see for themselves where you are coming from. Unless you have something to add beyond this patently incorrect claim of yours, this will be your last post regarding this statute.

  9. John Lindsay · · Reply

    Mr. Mackey, thank you! I’ve been trying to find a copy of the 1805 act for better than a month. Up till now, all I’ve found are inaccurate or out and out false paraphrases posted on Neo-Confederate web sites, and so have had to rely solely on the December 1836 Act. Of course, the 1836 act is sufficient to establish the ownership of Fort Sumter, but by nature I’m not inclined to let people make a stand on a ridge that does not exist, so again, I thank you.

    1. You’re very welcome, sir.

    2. George Purvis · · Reply

      No that is not correct. Why refer to Detzer when the answer is clearly answered in the Statues at Large as i have posted above?

      Why believe a neo-Yankee???

      1. As shown before, George, your claim is false. The statutes actually contradict you. It is unfortunate that you don’t understand that. You will never be able to understand what happened until you can understand the documents.

        Also, your term “neo-Yankee” is rather silly, showing a lack of understanding on your part of the meaning of the prefix “neo-.” You should check it out in a dictionary.

        Hope you have a nice evening and rest of the week.

        1. George Purvis · · Reply

          No the statues are not wrong, you are wrong and refuse to admit it. One thing is for certain I am not wrong simply because you say so. . if there are neo Confederates then there must also be neo-Yankees and Yankee apologist.

          South Carolina’s Fort Sumter:

          “This claim of property “belonging to the Government” rested on a very weak foundation, as a brief history of the terms on which the United States acquired their title to it will make clear.

          The States conferred upon the Congress the power “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever…over all the places purchased by the consent of the legislatures of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings.” While Mr. Jefferson was Secretary of State, he wrote to the authorities of South Carolina, and advised that her Legislature consent for the Congress to purchase certain lands. This was done, but exclusive jurisdiction was denied.

          The act was passed December 12, 1795 (House Ex. Doc., Number 67, 2nd Session, 23d Congress) “to enable the United States to purchase a quantity of land in this State, not exceeding two thousand acres, for arsenals and magazines.” And it provided, “that the said land, when purchased, and every person and officer residing or employed thereon, whether in the service of the United States or not, shall be subject and liable to the government of this State, and the jurisdiction, laws and authority thereof in the same manner as if this act had never been passed; and that the United States shall exercise no more authority or power within the limits of the said land, than they might have done pervious to the passing of this act, or than may be necessary for the building, repairing, internal government of the arsenals and magazines thereon to be erected, and the regulation and management of the same, and of the officers and persons by them to be employed in or about the same.” But there was a proviso that the land should not be taxed by the State.

          But this act did not transfer from the State her title to the forts and other defensive works in Charleston Harbor, which she built during the Revolution. The transfer was made by an act passed in 1805, to which the following proviso was added: “That, if the United States shall not, within three years from the passing of this act…repair the fortifications as may be deemed most expedient, etc., on the same, and keep a garrison or garrisons therein; in such case this grant or cession shall be void and of no effect.”

          This proviso was disregarded by the United States, the defensive works, including Fort Moultrie, were neglected for years, and Fort Sumter was not commenced till 1829. According to all the laws of justice, therefore, the title to the property reverted to the State, and the repairing and building were carried on solely by the sufferance of the State. Thus it is clear to anybody who respects the laws governing property titles that the United States occupied the defensive works in the harbor of Charleston without any legal rights of ownership; and since the money spent in building came out of the pockets of the people of all the States, it cannot be disputed that whatever equitable rights were acquired belonged to the seceded States as well as to the others. And it is equally clear that South Carolina never surrendered her sovereignty over the sites of the forts and other defensive works.”

          (Note: Neither South Carolina nor any other State was paid anything out of the Federal Treasury to reimburse her for her expenses incurred in erecting defensive works in her harbors during the Revolution, nor for cessions of State lands.—See Act of March 20, 1794)

          (The Case of the South Against the North, B.F. Grady, Edwards & Broughton, 1899, pp. 286-288)

          1. George, nobody said the statute was wrong. What is wrong is your misreading of it. Until you learn how to read for comprehension you will never understand anything about this.

            Quoting from a propaganda piece filled with lies doesn’t help your case at all. The plain language of the legislation proves you wrong. That you don’t understand this says more about you than anything else.

            You’re at the sub-basement of the hole and you’re still digging.

          2. The transfer was made by an act passed in 1805, to which the following proviso was added: “That, if the United States shall not, within three years from the passing of this act…repair the fortifications as may be deemed most expedient, etc., on the same, and keep a garrison or garrisons therein; in such case this grant or cession shall be void and of no effect.”

            This proviso was disregarded by the United States, the defensive works, including Fort Moultrie, were neglected for years, and Fort Sumter was not commenced till 1829. According to all the laws of justice, therefore, the title to the property reverted to the State, and the repairing and building were carried on solely by the sufferance of the State.

            Assuming this is true, did South Carolina ever act between 1808 and 1860 to reclaim legal title to the site? I cannot imagine any court siding with the state in such a dispute, after having essentially abandoned it to the federal government for more than 50 years, only to suddenly realize they want it back, under circumstances utterly unforeseen under the terms of the original agreement. It’s right there in the middle of Charleston Harbor, for Heaven’s sake, it’s not like everyone forgot that it was there.

            If I went to court demanding the return of what I claimed to be my property, after having willingly allowed another person to hold and claim it as his own for over half a century, I’d be laughed out of the courtroom, and rightly so.

        2. Al,

          Id like to know why neo-yankee is a misuse of the prefix neo. I thought neo just meant new or modern version of. Would you be willing to shed some light on the very late to the party response?

          1. There are no real confederates today, only neoconfederates.

            Now, as to “Yankees,” I ask, are there real Yankees today?

      2. John Lindsay · · Reply

        George, Even if your interpretation of the 1805 statute were correct (an interpretation that relies on ignoring the portions of the statute which contradict you) it does not matter. As the 1836 law was passed after the 1805 law, the 1836 law supersedes the 1805 law. Your argument is analogous to fighting a speeding ticket on the basis of the speed limit being 15 MPH higher 30 years earlier. Does not matter what it was then, all that matters is what it is now.
        And your question, “why should I believe a neo-Yankee” (whatever that is) raises another question; why should I believe a neo-Confederate who demonstrably either distorts or fails to grasp the facts? In reality, it is not a matter of believing either you or Al, it is a matter of believing the actual complete statutes.

        1. George Purvis · · Reply

          yes uh huh blah blah blah.

          1. Mr. Purvis, you’ve shown you are incapable of conducting an intellectual discussion with adults. Your contributions will no longer be allowed unless you actually have something to contribute. Have a nice holiday.

  10. […] sure Al Mackey will get a kick out of this one, given the hours of research that went into his Fort Sumter […]

  11. The Constitution nowhere prohibited secession and when the Constitution does not prohibit it, it is allowed by the states; Specifically, under the 10th Amendment. In fact, the South was not the first group of states to threaten secession but they were the first and so far only that followed through on the threat. New England made the threat in 1813 in opposition to the War of 1812.

    As secured by the state, Fort Sumter was no longer “America’s” after secession.

    1. Only idiots who know nothing about the Constitution think secession was legal. I take seriously no one who doesn’t understand secession was illegal.

    2. Jay’s argument is based on a deliberate distortion of the 10th Amendment. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, OR TO THE PEOPLE” (emphasis mine). That last phrase is vital here. Which powers belong to the people? Well, forming the Union, for one. The PEOPLE of the United States as a whole are the establishing power of the Constitution creating “a more perfect Union,” and only the people as a whole can unmake what they have made. Furthermore, the Union is perpetual — the states agreed to that in the Articles of Confederation, and making the Union “more perfect” does not make it less perpetual. It’s a contradiction in terms to claim that more perfection means less permanence.

      The authors of the Consititution said so. Madison declared that ratification of the Constitution had to be “in toto, and forever.” Washington in his farewell address said that any change had to come from the people as a whole. The people arguing for the legality of secession have to misquote the Constitution in order to pretend that the men who wrote it didn’t understand what it meant. Their position is absurdity piled on absurdity.

      1. John A. Lindsay · · Reply

        Greg, while I do agree that secession is illegal, I don’t think your position on the 10th Amendment, the Preamble, and the Articles of Confederation are particularly sound.
        First of all, you assume that the people referred to in Amendment 10 refers to all the people of the several states as a collective entity but how can it be? Since The people have no direct say in the running of the United States, how do they retain a power over the United States? The people are expressed through the House of Representatives which is limited in power by the Constitution. How can it be limited in one breath then be unlimited in the next? No, The people here are the people of the several states within their state. By acknowledging that the power resides with the states AND the people it ensures that the people retain power to limit their own state rather than give the individual states complete dictatorial powers in their own borders.
        Then there is the Articles of Confederation and the preamble. First of all, the word ‘perpetual’ had a specific meaning in the diplomatic language of the day. It did not mean that a treaty lasted forever, it meant that a treaty lasted until one or both signatories formally withdrew. Without the language of perpetuity a new king, a new parliament, a governor, etc. could choose to ignore treaties signed by their predecessor. With the language of perpetuity the treaty was binding until they chose to take actions to end it; often through a new treaty. Also, does more perfect mean that the goal is to improve everything or does it mean to improve the things that are deficient? If you want a car that is more perfect than your 1990 red Yugo does that mean you want a more red car? There were plenty of things that were deficient in the Articles, lack of perpetuity was not one of them. Also, is less perpetual by definition less perfect? How many government programs were created to meet a specific need but continued on long after the need passed? Sometimes the most perfect thing to do is to let it die when it has passed its usefulness. No, the Articles WERE vastly imperfect in that the Congress was a paper tiger. It could print money but no one had to accept it. It could raise taxes but no state had to pay, it could call out the troops but any state could just stay home. The Constitution fixes this.
        But if you want a good argument against secession, might I suggest Article VI, Section 2 – the supremacy clause? It is this clause that sets the Constitution and laws and treaties passed under it as the supreme law of the land. How can any state – having ratified the Constitution – then declare it to be null and void in that state? How can they deny the authority of the Congress and the President? How they enter into a confederation or attempt to establish diplomatic relations with foreign powers? These are points that cannot be honestly refuted.

        1. “Since The people have no direct say in the running of the United States, how do they retain a power over the United States? The people are expressed through the House of Representatives which is limited in power by the Constitution. How can it be limited in one breath then be unlimited in the next? No, The people here are the people of the several states within their state.”

          The people directly vote for their senators and representatives, who make up the Congress. The people directly vote for the electors who then elect the President and Vice President.

          “It did not mean that a treaty lasted forever, it meant that a treaty lasted until one or both signatories formally withdrew.”

          I don’t see any sources that verify that claim. The etymology of the word shows it’s always meant without end.

          This “Diplomat’s Dictionary” appears to use it in the same manner:

          “if you want a good argument against secession, might I suggest Article VI, Section 2 – the supremacy clause? It is this clause that sets the Constitution and laws and treaties passed under it as the supreme law of the land. How can any state – having ratified the Constitution – then declare it to be null and void in that state? How can they deny the authority of the Congress and the President? How they enter into a confederation or attempt to establish diplomatic relations with foreign powers? These are points that cannot be honestly refuted.”

          I agree.

  12. I just referenced the Constitution. It doesn’t agree with you. Don’t insult people because of that. [edit]

    1. You’re wrong.

      I’ve discussed secession already and see no need to repeat myself. You’re free to search the archives of the blog. Secession is illegal. Claims that it is legal have no credibility and deserve no respect.

      1. Technically, you’re wrong according to the Constitution. [edit]

        1. Apparently you lack the ability to search the archives. I’ve already talked about secession’s illegality and I’m not going to get into it again on other posts.

          1. [edit]

          2. Didn’t take long to run out of the ability to carry on an adult conversation, did it?

        2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

          If secession was legal then why did the Founders say it was not? Patrick Henry stated this during the Virginia ratification convention. In fact, those ratifications conventions proved that secession was not allowed. The delegates saw the Constitution as a in or out deal. You were either in or you were out. There was no dropping out. That is what the ratification purpose was about. Once in, always in.

          Now as for how it is interpreted today, there was a Supreme Court case in 1869 that settled the issue. Secession is only legal when the federal government gives its consent. I know the 10th Amendment people like to ignore facts that prove them wrong, but that is that.

          Now if you will excuse me, I have to go get tests for my college students ready. We are actually coming up on this issue and I’ve already shown them how the 10th Amendment does not give any state the ability to secede. You are stating your opinion and it does not hold water when compared to SCOTUS rulings and constitutional scholars.

          Have a nice day.

          1. Our troll friend is very much a one-trick pony, and he bumbles that one trick all too frequently.

          2. Jimmy Dick · ·

            I am always disappointed in the Ft. Sumter ownership issue. It is not even worth arguing over. The facts are so one-sided that it isn’t even an open-and-shut case. It was closed even in 1861.

            As for the issue of secession, the usual defense is the old “It isn’t in the Constitution so it must be legal” along with the good old tenth amendment interpretation. If that’s the view those folks have, I want to see them take it to court and try to get it to stand up. I can’t help but notice that the Supreme Court dockets seem to be pretty empty of those cases.

            Bond v. United States was the last one and the Court ruled in 2014 on this matter. It was not a sweeping victory for the Tenth Amendment supporters. In fact, it was as if a million dollar fireworks display fizzled out and failed to go off. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118059/bond-v-us-supreme-court-resists-radical-takeover-foreign-policy

          3. Their argument deserves no respect in this day and age.

  13. Al, check the IP address of “Jay” and get back to me. our old pal Caldwell, Carmichael, Austin, etc. popped up on my blog again yesterday.

    1. Rob, your assumption here is correct.

      1. yea, I added another IP address to the spam file.

  14. bh5496 · · Reply

    If anyone still checks this thread, could someone explain the line, “Provided, That all processes, civil and criminal issued under the authority of this State, or any officer thereof, shall and may be served and executed upon the same.”
    I’m not sure what this means. Does it mean the cession only stands as long as the fort complies with state law? If so, that could be used as an excuse to say that the Confederates were justified in claiming and firing on it since the troops there were “trespassing.”

    1. No. It means the Federal government agrees to allow state law enforcement to serve writs and warrants on the premises.

  15. Walter Jones · · Reply

    Sumter belong to South Carolina. Too much splitting hairs in this diatribe.

    1. Ah, another idiot who can’t read and understand simple English. You heard that right. Anyone who thinks Fort Sumter belonged to South Carolina after reading this post is an idiot. South Carolina formally and legally gave up all claim to the area on which Fort Sumter was built. It was no longer a part of South Carolina. It was owned lock, stock, and barrel by the United States. If you wish to post here again, then do your homework and don’t be an idiot.

      1. jason perez · · Reply

        It didn’t even belong to South Carolina before secession. And of course you don’t provide a salient point, just some meaningless vague remark. /eyeroll

  16. apollonian · · Reply

    Mackey: here’s ur problem, STATES ARE SOVEREIGN as they’re most direct agency of the people, the people being source of sovereignty; this is indisputable. Union had only DELEGATED powers, sucker, which powers were duly withdrawn by state convention. CASE CLOSED. So S. Carolina and all the other states seceded. And Lincoln, the psychopathic mass-murderer, conducted illegal, imperialist invasion, and NOTHING was settled by that, it being mere imperialist war of conquest which such conquests are always only temporary. SOUTH IS STILL SECEDED. So it’s only matter of time before the people of USA figure-out the real facts.

    1. Do you try to be an idiot or does it just come naturally to you? Is there something in the water that makes you so dumb? Or are you some clever Yankee trying to make people think all southerners are stupid inbreds who have no clue about history? Either way, nothing in your claim is right and nothing in it deserves any respect. I hope you enjoyed the only visit here you’re going to get.

    2. Jason P · · Reply

      Apollo you have a ton of problems…one of which is that state sovereignty, even if true, doesnt lead to ownership of ft Sumter.

      You have arguments from Ignorance not facts. The sovereignty of the people is what ratified the Constitution and bound the state sovereignties…I’m basically quoting Marshall from long before the civil war…and Madison said the same thing…long before the civil war.

      The Constitution is a creature of the people…only the people can unmake it. A state or subsection cannot. All you showed was your own Ignorance as you threw the words state and people around whenever convenient but not really understanding what you’re talking about.

  17. The Constitution states its purpose is to create a ‘more perfect union’. Nothing in it allows for, directly or indirectly, said or unsaid, the destruction of that union.

  18. Patrick Degan · · Reply

    Anyone who understands Madison’s Compact Theory of the constitution can understand why the constitution did not need to incorporate specific language prohibiting secession. The prohibition is implicit. A compact is binding upon all the parties joined by it and can only be altered or abolished by all the parties in consent. No one party or small group of parties to the compact can simply break it at will or alter its terms. Madison outlines this very doctrine in his correspondences which are available for public view or reference. As Madison states in his letter to Mr. Nicholas Trist of 23 December, 1832:

    “Dr. Sir, I have received yours of the 19th, inclosing some of the South Carolina papers. There are in one of them some interesting views of the doctrine of secession; one that had occurred to me, and which for the first time I have seen in print; namely that if one State can at will withdraw from the others, the others can at will withdraw from her, and turn her, nolentem, volentem, out of the union. Until of late, there is not a State that would have abhorred such a doctrine more than South Carolina, or more dreaded an application of it to herself. The same may be said of the doctrine of nullification, which she now preaches as the only faith by which the Union can be saved.

    I partake of the wonder that the men you name should view secession in the light mentioned. 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 fight 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 party, with the parties 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.”


    Madison has stated this argument repeatedly and it was clearly understood by his fellow Founders in drafting the constitution that there could be no such thing as conditional ratification of the compact or any unilateral state right of secession. This over and above the constitution’s Supremacy Clause puts the argument about the legality of secession at an end, as well as any argument regarding the Lincoln government’s authority under the constitution to suppress the southern insurrection and enforce the terms of the constitution.

  19. I know I am coming to this discussion late, April 18, 2018, but I can’t help but contribute my thoughts as well. Mr. Mackey seems wrong to me in his conclusion. Mr. Mackey seems to have missed something obvious, something hiding right our in the open that renders his conclusion wrong.

    In the 1836 agreement Mr. Mackey cites, here is the 1st paragraph, pay particular attention to the 2nd sentence. It states what the 1st sentence is dependent upon and the right(s) South Carolina retains.

    “Resolved, That this state do cede to the United States, all the right, title and claim of South Carolina to the site of Fort Sumter and the requisite quantity of adjacent territory, Provided, That all processes, civil and criminal issued under the authority of this State, or any officer thereof, shall and may be served and executed upon the same, and any person there being who may be implicated by law;

    It could be reasonably argued that US occupation of the Fort, given South Carolina had separated it’s political ties with the USA, constituted criminal occupation (I realize no one locally on either side viewed it that way, all parties, locally, on both sides eagerly wanted a peaceful resolution with honor retained by all parties). But if you want to get ‘lawyerly’ (and the only reason we are having this discussion is Mr. Mackey wants to go down the ‘lawyerly’ path), a fair reading of the passage could deem the Federal occupants as criminally occupying land they are not entitled to, as soon as General Beauregard, or some other authorized officer acting on South Carolina’s behalf (and / or the CSA’s) delivered notice to them they were to evacuate the Fort. Governor Pickens (SC) had previously issued orders to prevent Major Anderson and his men from occupying Ft. Sumpter. It was clear the Governor of the state desired no occupation by federal forces and issued orders to that effect which were delivered to Major Anderson on several occasions (refer to the 2nd sentence above in the 1836 agreement, it could be reasonably argued this constituted serving & executing this order to the occupants).

    Having said all that, it is not my inclination to view this matter in these legal terms, the people involved at the time, on either side, didn’t view the matter this way. When Major Anderson moved his command, in secret by disguising his soldiers as civilians, to Ft Sumpter on Dec 26th, 1860, it came as a shock to his superiors in Washington, they were not expecting that move. So his occupation there was not by some legal design. But when men like Mr. Mackey resort to these lines of argument, because other more substantive arguments have failed, it is our duty to fight for truth on whatever battlefield we find ourselves on.

    Submitted respectfully,
    Stephen Troup
    April 8, 2018

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
      The part you refer to concerns serving warrants and writs on the premises of the fort.
      South Carolina was never separate from the United States, since unilateral secession was an illegal act.
      At no point was there any legal process which transferred ownership of the fort back to South Carolina. Hence there was no illegal trespass.

      Anderson’s move to Fort Sumter was completely consistent with his orders, hence it was legal.

      Unfortunately, Mr. Troup, you are not fighting for truth but rather you are fighting for historical misunderstanding and misstatement.

      1. In that case Mr. Mackey, all this is a moot point since it was an illegal act to revolt against the crown and legally there is no such thing as the United States, only an illegal organization known as the United States acting against the legally established laws of Great Britain.

        1. Someday you should probably read some United States History to learn about the American Revolution and the Treaty of Paris.

        2. Ever read the Treaty of Amity and Commerce Between the United States and France? It dates from February 6, 1778 and in that treaty France recognized the de facto independence of the United States of America. Later that same day, the Treaty of Alliance with France was signed. In that treaty France allied itself with the new nation known as the United States of America against Great Britain. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/alliance.html

          Last time I checked, no nation recognized the traitors who were rebelling against the legal government of the United States of America.

          You learn these facts when you study American history and stop trying to advance an ideology built on a myth.

    2. Since you want to use legality here, why not explain the seizure by South Carolina of the Charleston Arsenal on December 30, 1860? It was seized illegally by a group of people who in the very act of doing so committed treason against the legitimate government of the United States of America.

      Major Anderson was acting within his capacity as an officer of the United States Army in defending federal property to which he was assigned to defend. The people of South Carolina were committing treason by taking up arms against the lawful government of the United States of America. They could not invoke the Declaration of Independence as the federal government had committed no acts of tyranny against any state in the US. They were violating the Constitution of the United States of America with their rebellion which was put down by military force as allowed in that US Constitution in 1865.

      As for the ownership of Ft. Sumter, the US was perfectly within its right to defend its property against all enemies, foreign or domestic. The people of South Carolina became domestic enemies when they committed treason against the US.

      Legally speaking, those who partook in the rebellion were traitors committing treason.

    3. Jason Perez · · Reply

      Mr Troup I think with that response you showed you really aren’t capable of getting “lawyerly”.

      Btw no one in their right mind, including the founding fathers, would deny what they did was treason against the crown. It is called the American revolution after all. Not the American “legal secession”. Nice try though.

  20. I too am a late finder of this piece, but I must say Mr. Mackey, your patience and diligence in this matter are things to be admired!

    I have always stated in conversations and debates regarding the Civil War, and specifically the legality or illegality of firing on Fort Sumter, that Fort Sumter was property of the Federal Government of The United States, irrespective of whether the State of South Carolina’s secession was legal or at least justifiable by the Constitution or not. And further to that point, I also always maintained that unilateral secession was not supported by the Constitution anyhow. I am very pleased to see the work you put in to conclusively support this, as I now have a guidepost for my own research and now I have the proper tools to substantiate my arguments.

    I also want to say, that having read your interactions with others here in the comments from a few years prior, you certainly have the patience of a saint, and not for lacking any wit either.

    1. Thank you. I find I’ve been losing patience, though. 🙂

    2. John,

      Exactly, I’ve never understood why they even bother to work so hard trying to say South Carolina “had already seceded”. Its a completely separate issue and a moot point. Sumter was completely federal property, built by the Federal government on a man made island built by the federal government and then ceded to it for good measure.

      As Dr. Allen Guelzo said:

      “Ft. Sumter was ALWAYS [emphasis added] the property of the Federal government. It was begun as a Third System fortification in 1829 under an act of Congress, with Congressional funding, and was always occupied by a Federal garrison (even if was only a token garrison) and flew the U.S. flag.”

      Al, I’ve said it before, and I said the same on Chris Shelley’s blog, but the response you guys provide are almost as crucial as the original posts themselves. I mean that. So thanks for that.

  21. Dennis · · Reply


    On the question of secession you have stated that unilateral secession is not legal. Please quote the article or clause in the Constitution that supports that conclusion…..

    As Madison stated ” the powers delegated are few and defined”, Federalist 45. The entire basis and legal foundation for the United States is the Declaration of Independence. The document in its entirety is a announcement of secession. You state that you base your comments on the evidence and how it is handled but you do not use any evidence in your responses structured to support you allegations in any form of logic whatsoever.

    Again, where is the prohibition against secession? In the Federalist Papers, the Framer, and Secratary of the Convention of the Debates of the Constitution plainly stated that if the executive and legislature combined to supersede the limited authority of the Constitution, the People could go home and make as many countries as there are counties. Obviously this point has escaped your attention or you “handling of the evidence” is lacking.

    Again, I am waiting on the specific article, clause or phrase from the Constitution that prohibits secession in any form, any way for any reason whatsoever.

    I do not agree on the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. It wa an unnecessary use of force. The Frort was indeed a Federal enclave pursuant to the Constitution. However, you use of the revisionist writings of the conquerors of the Civi War does not change the facts and certainly does not change the Constitution. I go to the Framers themselves for understanding. I tell you now that I am no mean student of their expression of intent. I know exactly the limits of their intention and how they expressed them to the People, the ultimate arbiter of express authority in this country.

    Those who would acquiesce to authority for the sake of authority are nothing more than apologists of tyranny. The Federalist Papers support the Debates of the Constitution. The Papers have been used over 300 times by the Surpreme Court for guidance and 1500 times by treatise, texts and articles for the same purpose. Furthermore, as Madison stated in a letter, it is not the intent of the Framers in Convention but rather the intent of the People who through their representatives ratified the Constitution. To quote Lincoln:

    “The People – – the People are the rightful masters of congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution but those men who pervert the Constitution.”
    Campaign speech, Ohio,1859

    You should read the whole of it. Lincoln supported both slavery and the fuguitve slave act. In the speech it is so evident. His intent before the outbreak of hostilities was to keep the union intact with slavery. Of course the notion is abhorrent in this day. However, it was the industry of neighboring tribes and Muslims that supplied the industry. Slavery was practiced by free black families according to the census records. Slavery was not outlawed in Africa until 2007 and has still not been eradicated to this day.

    As the lady said, the victors often rewrote history. We do agree on the attack on Fort Sumter, on all you other offerings…. not so much.

    By the way still waiting on that article, section or clause from the Constitution that states that there is no unilateral secession.

    Good Day!

    1. You can see my response regarding unilateral secession in a new page of this blog.

      Lincoln did not support slavery. That’s simply a lie. Lincoln said if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. Lincoln recognized that slavery was a state matter and that there were individual states that allowed slavery by law. Lincoln respected the law even if he didn’t agree with it. That’s not supporting slavery, that’s just respecting legality. Same for the so-called “Fugitive Slave Law.” He recognized it was a law passed in accordance with the Constitution, and while he disagreed with it, he respected its legality.

      The claim that the victors “rewrote history,” or even wrote history is hogwash.

    2. I am still waiting to see what tyranny the federal government was levying against the southern states in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln had not even taken office yet.

      I am also still waiting to see where in the Constitution secession was authorized.

      Nowhere in the Federalist did John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, or James Madison say that secession was constitutional. In fact, they repudiated it at various times, most specifically when Madison said it after the Nullification Crisis.

      The Declaration was the document that finalized the break between the colonists and British Empire. It was not the basis for the government of the United States. The Articles of Confederation would become that legal document. As you probably noted, we don’t use the Articles anymore.

      You want to use the Founders as the basis for your understanding of government? Great! We use them all the time.

      As for debates, read Ratification by Pauline Maier. By the way, Patrick Henry is on record during the Virginia ratification convention as saying in a speech to the delegates that once Virginia joined the union, it could not leave the union. You may note that he was opposed to ratifying the Constitution. And do not even think about saying that Virginia or New York approved the Constitution conditionally or left an escape clause. The only people that do that are the ones that want the ratification document by the delegates of those states to mean something that it does not mean.

      Good luck finding where secession is authorized in the Constitution. It isn’t there or in any amendment. Why? Because the Founders did not envision it as something good for the nation.

    3. Sir:

      The powers of the Constitution are indeed defined. But you ignore the vast majority of Madison’s work when you pull one quote out of context.

      Madison understood that a true sovereign could not be divided against its will–just as no one could amputate your left hand without your permission. And so Madison and his fellow Federalists designed the Constitution so that the federal government was sovereign–that it responsible to and could operate directly on its own people. The key to this (as I’ve said many times in many places) is Article VII: “The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the states so ratifying the same.”

      This means that We, the People ratified the Constitution. Of course, we did it state-by-state, so as to ensure the continued sovereignty of the states. But that’s what it means to have a federal government, and not a purely national government.

      This notion of “divided sovereignty” is, to my way of thinking, Madison’s most original contribution to world political thought, and helps to mark him as a genius.

      But my main point is Madison’s main point: that the Union was (and is) perpetual; that a state, once in, cannot leave against the will of the rest of the states; that, therefore, secession was illegal.

      1. jason perez · · Reply

        chris can you explain what you mean when you say lincoln wasn’t correct about the union predating the states? I thought that was indeed the case.

        1. Note that we were the United Colonies of America early in the Revolution, then later became the United States of American, implying there that the union came before the status of states.

          1. Exactly Al, thats what I thought was the case. Is what chris said contrary to that or did I misunderstand?

          2. I’ll have to let Chris answer that.

        2. States pre-dated the Union by almost 2 centuries.

          1. That’s a moronic claim. The states of the United States were colonies, not states, until they had independence. They were unified as colonies before they had independence.

          2. Mr Troup,

            states can’t predate the union by 2 centuries…you are confusing colonies with states. please take a basic US history course.

          3. Making a statement without providing any support or proof to back it up is merely stating an opinion. In this case your opinion has no factual evidence to support it.

        3. Jason: You bet.

          Lincoln argued that the colonies originally united under the Articles of Association in 1774, and that this “union” matured with the Declaration, and the Articles of Confederation. But this is really stretching it in my view.

          In 1774, the colonies were still just that: thirteen British colonies that derived their sovereign powers from the English monarch. In the spring of 1776, before it formally declared independence, the Continental Congress recommended that the colonies dissolve their ties to Britain by drafting new constitutions. The instant they did that, they became true, self-governing states deriving their sovereignty from their people.

          In 1777, the states drafted the Articles of Confederation to unite them, but they were in fact so disunited that they didn’t actually manage to ratify the Articles until 1781. And while the Articles claimed “perpetual Union,” the states most often acted as individual sovereign states—they exercised sovereign power directly on their citizens, ignoring the requests and needs of the Confederation. The Confederation Congress could not pass laws operating directly on citizens of the states: the very definition of a sovereign. And so, at this point, the “union” was a union in name only—more like the United Nations than a sovereign government.

          It isn’t until each state ratified the Constitution as per Article VII that they concede a considerable (not all) measure of sovereign power to the new federal government. It is really at that moment that the Union is created—that there is one sovereign country as Lincoln conceives it.

      2. “Madison understood that a true sovereign could not be divided against its will–just as no one could amputate your left hand without your permission.”
        If that statement reflects Madison’s thoughts on this issue (I’m not sure it does, but assuming it does), then Madison was a hypocrite, for he supported the secession from Great Britain.

        1. Only people with no clue about history think the American Revolution was “the secession from Great Britain.”

          1. I think you should create a separate blog post on this, Al. It’s really tiring seeing neoconfederates make this false equivalency between secession of the confederacy and the revolution. It deserves to be addressed to how and why it’s incomparable.

        2. Mr Troup

          The American Revolution wasn’t a secession. Thats quite silly really. It was…well…a revolution?

          1. The neo-confederates wish to equate the rebellion of the slave owners with the rebellion of the patriots. They absolutely have to do this in order to gain legitimacy for the slave owners. The problem they have with that is they can show no contextual similarity between the two. Saying that the patriots were seceding from Great Britain is one thing. I see no reason to argue that point because at the end of the argument, the patriots were leaving Great Britain whether it was peacefully or via open warfare.

            The reasons for the patriots to revolt and the slave owners to revolt were at almost polar opposites. The patriots sought at first to get representation in Parliament and for their grievances to be heard. They could not get that because too many in Parliament refused to allow it to happen because it would dilute their own political power for one thing. Only when Parliament rejected the colonists’ requests and when the King declared them to be rebels for daring to have the gall to desire political representation and equality and liberty as British subjects, and to be wiling to use force to gain those rights did the patriots finally declare independence and in the end secure those rights.

            I dare any neo-confederate to show me where the secession of the southern states was motivated by an absence of representation, by a Congress unwilling to listen or work with them, by a federal tyranny bent on denying slave owners equality, liberty, and the right to their property within states that permitted slavery. They can’t do it. Instead, they ignore the evidence that the slave owners created saying exactly why they chose secession and rebellion.

            In other words, to say the American Revolution was secession equivalent to the secession of the southern states in 1860/61 is to lack any contextual understanding of the American Revolution and the Civil War and their causes.

        3. Stephen Troup, I recommend you peruse Al’s other stuff on this site. The issue of Confederate secession vs. American independence has been done to death. If you read the analysis of Al and other commentators on these pages, you will see that no, Madison was not a hypocrite; that yes, he could support American independence and nation-building and at the same time deplore nullification and the other secessionist notions he encountered.

  22. Joe Ryan · · Reply

    Your claim that South Carolina’s cession of the site of Fort Sumter was without qualification lacks solid foundation. First, you provide conflicting dates for the Legislature’s official act of cession and, second, you do not provide any record of the correspondence which passed between the State governor and the Union president at the time the Legislature instructed to Governor to inquire of the president what legal basis the Federal Government was claiming supported its construction of the fort, and what its purpose was. Until negated by evidence from the record, it remains to be discovered whether the president explained the purpose of the fort’s existence was to provide the State of South Carolina with the means of defending Charleston Harbor, and on such representation the Legislature ceded the site to the Federal Government.

    1. Your comment is incompetent. You failed to notice I referred to two separate statutes, hence two separate dates. Mighty poor performance for someone supposed to be a licensed attorney.

      Your comment about correspondence is irrelevant. And it’s not “the Union president.” It’s the President of the United States.

  23. Stephen Troup,

    Excellent observation. The Slaveowners Rebellion of 1776 brought about a political separation from the British Empire, and in like manner The People of South Carolina brought about their political separation from the United States in 1860. And neither the slaveowners in 1776, nor The People of South Carolina in 1860, offered to return the public property within their respective territories.

    1. Another historically illiterate person who is under the delusion that the Revolution of 1776 was in any way comparable to the slaveholders rebellion of 1861.

      You people need to get help.

      1. jason perez · · Reply

        I love it when they make it easy by showing they really have no interest in history and just regurgitate confederate apologist nonsense.

        And in doing so they are essentially saying that both what the colonies did and south carolina was rebellion and illegal. Just like general Lee admitted secession is nothing but revolution. So yeah, “excellent observation”. I couldn’t agree more.

  24. Whether or not “neo-Confederates” have their facts straight doesn’t really matter in the overall scope of things. No way would the US have allowed a fort to be occupied by the Confederacy right off the shore of a northern state.

    1. That’s a false equivalence. The confederacy was an illegal organization formed out of rebellion. They had no legal claim to any property.

      1. Which rebellions in history were legal, Mr. Mackey?

        1. See the musical, “1776.” Dr. Benjamin Franklin : Oh Mr. Dickinson, I’m surprised at you. You should know that rebellion is always legal in the first person, such as “our rebellion.” It is only in the third person – “their rebellion” – that it is illegal.

          The American Revolution was legal according to natural law. The rebellion to perpetuate slavery has no such advantage.

          1. That is a non-sensical answer to a serious question. If you are going to categorize ‘this’ rebellion as legal and ‘that’ rebellion’ as illlegal you must provide a serious basis for that idea,
            ‘I like this one’ & ‘I don’t like that one’ is no basis in a serious, intellectually honest conversation.

          2. You apparently have no clue about natural law. Go educate yourself because you’re not qualified to talk about this right now.

          3. A rebellion over the right to own slaves is not a good reason for a rebellion. The American Revolution involved a struggle against tyranny and oppression. The slave owners who rebelled and choose treason in 1860/61 were rejecting the results of the American Revolution so they could create a nation whose foundation rested upon tyranny and oppression.

            If you want to have an intellectually honest conversation, start with that basic truth.

          4. The withdrawal from the Union was not about the right to own slaves. The southern states already possessed that right and President Lincoln was in the process of making slavery a Constitutional Right, written into the US Constitution. It had already passed both houses of congress (An all north congress)and (2) state legislatures, one of which was Lincoln’s home state of Illinois (i can’t remember which state was the other).

            Don’t misconstrue my comment to say ‘slavery had nothing to do with it’. That’s not what I am saying, but the truth is the north was very willing to permanently enshrine slavery into the constitution if that’s what it took to appease the south. But that didn’t appease the south, because there were larger issues at stake.

          5. Are you in a contest to see how many lies you can fit in one comment or are you just an idiot? Six of the first seven states to secede told us why they were seceding. They specifically said it was to protect the institution of slavery. Louisiana is the only one of those states to not publish their reasons for secession, but their secession debates clearly show protection of slavery was the reason. Slavery was also the most important reason for secession of the Upper South states. Protection of slavery was by far the most important reason for secession. There were no larger issues to the secessionists than that. Only completely ignorant morons think otherwise.

        2. A rebellion is legal if it wins.

          1. jason perez · ·

            This post is really the gift that keeps on giving. I think the point is Mr Troup doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a natural right and a legal one. Obviously if there was legal recourse the colonies might have tried that but…no, apparently we call it a revolution for a reason. And they were under no delusions they knew it was treason and they would be hanged. At least they justified it by an oppressive government/lack of representation. I seriously hope Mr Troup isn’t insinuating that there is some kind of selectivity going on ie this rebellion is legal and this one isn’t. Thats ridiculous.

            The South, on the other hand, not only had their constitutionally mandated representation but were for the most part in control of our organs of government. And good luck showing any long term constitutional violations against them. Unless…you think losing in a perfectly constitutional election is a constitutional violation or you think that justifies rebellion…in which case you’re beyond reasoning. Even if you wanted to say they used their “natural right”, the people also have a natural right to put down said rebellion.

            Can’t believe I have to actually spell all that out.

            Rob, your point really doesn’t accomplish much. If its a US fort then the US has a duty not only to protect it, but respond if its being attacked…regardless of its location. And don’t worry, by the time Sumter happened the US had already let the South get away with far too much with all the other Forts they robbed and took over (lots of exciting locations and ranges). Its actually your point that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. And anyways, many confederate apologists like to say the attack on Sumter was justified because the US was occupying “their territory”…which is beyond ignorant and silly. So Al’s original point is totally warranted.

        3. Stephen Troup, your premises are all wholly mistaken. First of all, Lincoln was not supporting a constitutional amendment to “enshrine” slavery in the Constitution. The amendment you refer too merely stated that Congress had no authority to regulate slavery in the states where it existed–no more or less than the Republican Party acknowledged from the beginning. Second, you seem totally ignorant of the environment of attitudes that existed in both North and South during this period. I recommend either Half Slave, Half Free by Bruce Levine, or William Freehling’s magisterial (if quirky) The Road to Disunion Vol 2. Or even Battle Cry of Freedom by MacPherson.

          If you read these, you would see quite clearly that the political environment in the North had become opposed to the expansion of slavery. That is the issue. Northerners elected Lincoln and a slew of Republicans because they endorsed that position: the position of restricting slavery, and rejecting the Dred Scott decision. The states of the Deep South seceded because they had lost control of the federal government, and felt the Republicans and Lincoln would move to destroy slavery sooner rather than later.

          So we are back to: The War was about Slavery. Period.

          1. Robert Davenport · ·

            I say political power, economic power and plantation culture. It is slavery that drives all three. This is the rationale of those who pushed for secession not necessarily those who fought for the Confederacy. For the North the reason for fighting was Union not slavery

  25. Michael Trouche · · Reply

    The only small problem with this thesis is the antithesis that by April 12, 1861, South Carolina had seceded, and was no longer part of the United States of America, but part of the Confederate States of America, which it freely joined and therefore, these acts were void…No, the war was not about slavery, because there would have been no war had Lincoln not invaded, and if you were such a scholar, you’d have known that the Johnson-Crittenden Resolution and the Corwin Amendment passed by the Northern states in 1861, specifically stated that the war was not about slavery…so if the North was not fighting against it, how could Southerners be fighting for it?

    1. Wrong for many reasons.
      1. Unilateral secession was illegal, so South Carolina remained part of the United States
      2. By South Carolina law, Fort Sumter was not a part of South Carolina, so even if secession were legal, Fort Sumter would still belong to the United States.
      3. The war was about slavery because that’s why the confederacy wanted to be independent, and in the last half of the war the United States added destruction of slavery as a war objective.
      4. You have no clue what the Corwin Amendment did. I’ve written about it on this blog several times. Here’s one example.
      5. The Crittenden Resolution had nothing to do with why the confederacy was fighting.
      6. There’s no agreement beforehand on what the sides in a war are fighting to achieve.

      You idiots need to learn some history before you try to discuss it.

      1. According to your reason #1 The United States of America is still part of the United Kingdom.

        1. Only an idiot like you would not know about the Treaty of Paris of 1783. What a moron.

          1. According to your reply, had the Confederacy had more MIGHT, they would have been RIGHT because that would have led to a treaty with the Union.
            But ‘might makes right’ has no intellectual or moral basis. And as usual, you quickly descend into name-calling…

          2. With my extensive experience with your stupidity, there was no “quickly” about it. You have shown yourself incapable of learning anything. “Might makes right” was the option the confederates chose. I’ve had enough of your idiocy.

        2. I always enjoy watching the neo-confederates flail away at this. They so desperately want to equate the Revolution with the Civil War, but refuse to discuss why the Revolution took place. They do that because they know good and well the Revolution was justified whereas the treason of the secessionists was not. But they sure do a great job of ignoring the facts to support their lies!

    2. Michael Trouche, this ground has already been covered. Please read the whole thread. Secession was (and is) unconstitutional. It was illegal. Since SC had no right to secede, Sumter remained U.S. property.

      Secession was treason.

  26. Patrick M Sulley · · Reply

    [Off topic nonsense deleted.]

    1. You people never learn. This post is about Fort Sumter. Your comment is not only wrong but off topic.

  27. Patrick M Sulley · · Reply

    [Off topic nonsense deleted]

    1. Unilateral secession is illegal. Case closed. Anyone who tries to argue it’s not illegal is either ill-informed or an idiot. I’ve addressed unilateral secession in its own posts.

  28. Patrick M Sulley · · Reply

    THIS COMMENT BY YOU IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE “Six of the first seven states to secede told us why they were seceding. They specifically said it was to protect the institution of slavery.” Only 4 states had slavery in their secession ordinance. 4 states actually first voted not to secede and only revoted for secession after Lincoln called up 75000 troops and 4 slave states stayed in the union. its disingenuous or an out right lie to suggest 4 slave states went to war with other slave states over slavery. come on man…pull yourself together.

    1. Your ignorance of history is clear. You claim something is a lie in complete and total ignorance of what the states did. Then you stupidly conflate the upper south with the lower south. I’ve already, in other posts, discussed the Declarations of Causes written by South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, and Florida. For you dumb neoconfederates that’s five. Add to that the fact that Alabama told us in their secession ordinance they were acting because of slavery. That’s six. I know I have to do the adding for neoconfederate idiots. I’ve also discussed three of the four upper south states in other posts. Suffice to say you don’t have a clue about what happened. Go away and get some education.

  29. Patrick M Sulley · · Reply

    [edit] you said “This post is about Fort Sumter.” do you mean instead “this thread” or “this conversation”[edit]

    1. No. I meant this post, which refers to the blog post. Too bad you’re too stupid to understand that.

  30. Patrick M Sulley · · Reply

    [Ignorant stupidity deleted]

    1. Another idiot troll bites the dust. Enjoy the spam folder, moron.

      1. “I’ve also discussed three of the four upper south states in other posts.”

        Yes and these are a most excellent and thorough series. We are still waiting on Tennessee. Patrick would do well do educate himself and check those blog posts out.

        “Only 4 states had slavery in their secession ordinance”

        Not only is this wrong, but there’s this thing called actual secession conventions and debates. Try it sometime.

        “4 states actually first voted not to secede”

        Yes, its just so easy isn’t it?
        Thats just because you dont know any better and your logic stops there. For example people like to use VA, but its because Virginia itself is split slave and free also and that in the first vote some of the slave holders still felt they could protect slavery within the Union but once Sumter was fired on they had to choose sides, for or against slavery, they choose for, but the part of the state where slavery was weakest refused to leave and will form West Virginia. As a matter of fact the very votes youre talking about in Virginia shows succinctly that it was all about slavery and turn your claim on its head.

        “The vote in favor of secession at the Virginia convention on April 17, 1861, was 88 to 55. Most of the anti-secession votes came from the Shenandoah Valley and from the mountainous counties of western Virginia (which eventually became West Virginia), where slavery was of less importance than in the Piedmont and Tidewater regions that voted strongly for secession, and where slavery was a crucial part of the socioeconomic order. In fact, there was a pretty direct correlation between the percentage of slaves and slaveholders in a given district and its support for secession.”

        – James McPherson

        BTW Are these some of the states you’re referring to? They knew the conflict was about slavery. You should just believe them. You’ll note alot of these are from secession conventions.

        “The area of slavery must be extended correlative with its antagonism, or it will be put speedily in the ‘course of ultimate extinction.’….The extension of slavery is the vital point of the whole controversy between the North and the South…”

        – Henry M. Rector, Governor of Arkansas, March 2, 1861, Arkansas Secession Convention

        “The people of the northern States have organized a political party, purely sectional in its character; the central and controlling idea of which is hostility to the institution of AFRICAN SLAVERY, as it exists in the southern States, and that party has elected a President and Vice President of the United States, pledged to administer the government upon principles inconsistent with the rights, and subversive of the interests of the people of the southern States.”

        – March 11th Arkansas Secession Convention statement

        “it is abolition doctrine . . . the very doctrine which the war was commenced to put down.”
        [North Carolina Standard Newspaper, Jan. 17, 1865]

        “Such, gentlemen, are the parties to the contest. The issue between them should be clearly understood, especially here at the South. I assert, and shall maintain it with the proofs, that this issue is, whether African slavery shall be abolished here in the States, where it now exists? Let us not be deceived upon this point. Men may talk about our rights in the territories, but depend upon it they are not the questions now in issue. The abolition of slavery here at home is the design of our opponents. This is the bond that cements all the anti-slavery elements in one solid column against us.”
        – North Carolina Governor John Ellis, 1861

        “What is it that has already divided and distracted our people and that threatens to overthrow completely the great fabric of this government of ours? What is the moving cause so far as Virginia is concerned? Understand me, I wish to consider these questions from a Virginia standpoint. I wish to confine myself in their consideration to their effect upon Virginia’s rights, Virginia’s interests and Virginia’s honor. I say, then, that viewed from that standpoint, there is but one single subject of complaint which Virginia has to make against the government under which we live; a complaint made by the whole South, and that is on the subject of African slavery….”

        – John B. Baldwin, Augusta County delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention, March 21, 1861

        I would say it is disingenuous to say that just because 4 slave states were in the Union that it somehow magically changes the cause of the civil war, but its actually outright moronic. Actually a closer look at the states you think affirm your claims only prove even further that the core issue was slavery.

        By the way, the upper South was not ‘against’ secession because they didn’t care about slavery or anything like that, they wanted a southern convention that would make demands over slavery that when not met, as they expected they wouldn’t be, they would then leave in unison. The upper southern delegates were divided into immediate secessionists and cooperationists, but the cooperationists weren’t named that because they wanted to cooperate with the Union, but with each other in order to leave the Union. And states like Virginia were plotting and moving to take over of federal installations and armories even before they officially rebelled. The border South also rebelled because of slavery, and they made clear in their debates.

        “and only revoted for secession after Lincoln called up 75000 troops”

        “The claim that his call for troops was the cause of the upper South’s decision to secede is misleading. As the telegraph chattered reports of the attack on Sumter April 12 and its surrender the next day, huge crowds poured into the streets of Richmond, Raleigh, Nashville, and other upper South cities to celebrate this victory over the Yankees. These crowds waved the Confederate flags and cheered the glorious cause of southern independence. They demanded that their own states join the cause. Scores of such demonstrations took place from April 12 to 14 BEFORE Lincoln issued his call for troops. Many conditional unionists were swept along by this tide of Southern Nationalism; others cowed into silence.”

        -James McPherson, “The Battle Cry of Freedom”

        You clearly have a very narrow understanding of all this.

  31. TurtleShroom · · Reply

    Before I can say anything else, I want to thank the author for explaining the legal status of Fort Sumter. Being a CSA apologist myself, it is important for me to understand the zeitgeist of the era and the legal surroundings of the start of the war and the invasion. You have demonstrated, clearly, that Fort Sumter was the property of the feds, and cited contemporary laws to prove it.
    For this, I thank you.

    Yes, I agree that the Union had the right to defend Fort Sumter, as it was under attack by the Dixies. However, you seem to conveniently ignore that the eviction of Fort Sumter was bloodless, and deliberately intended to be bloodless, for a reason.

    The main problem I have with this article, and your smart-butt comments, is that you clearly possess both hatred and bigotry towards Dixies, and not just the slavers, but apparently anyone that isn’t ashamed of the CSA. You have demonstrated such a bitter bias that you would never even PRETEND to be impartial, fact-based, or logical.

    Even when you are right- as you were -your hatred of the other side and your outright rejection of the possibility that there might be other reasons that led up to the Civil War casts a pall on your entire blog. You’re not out to “study” the Civil War and present a Yankee case. You already made your mind up before you even began, and your only goal now is to preach to the choir while bashing anyone that dares disagree.

    Whenever someone brings up the American Revolution, you conveniently point to the Treaty of Paris, in which France recognized the USA as a sovereign, independent nation. Whether France recognized it or not, the fact is that the American Revolution was an unilateral, “illegal” secession that was done without the consent of any Englishman or British Minister of Parliament. If the CSA had been recognized by another nation, could you still pontificate the same hate towards the right to secede?

    Keep in mind that Abraham Lincoln- as much as I hate him, I admit he is an absolute genius -used the Emancipation Proclamation as propaganda to turn potential foreign allies against the Dixies. Of course, your hate guarantees that you assume Lincoln is one hundred percent honest and didn’t do it to scare away foreign backers.

    This outstanding work of statecraft, arguably, is what allowed him to win the war. One thing I do not deny about Lincoln is just how smart he is. The abolition of slavery- which is an absolute good -was a happy side-effect of the end of state sovereignty and the beginning of the long, painful transition of the USA into a de facto unitary state, which really came to fruition during FDR’s metaphorical rape of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s discovery that the Constitution doesn’t actually mean anything because it is a living document.

    I should also note that because I recognize the right of conquest, I consider the American invasion and subsequent annexation of the CSA to be a legal act. For that reason, I consider myself an American and my state to be part of the Union. If a country has the right to break away by force, then it is not “illegal” for the former host nation to invade it.

    1. I’m glad you agree the fort belonged to the United States and thus was not South Carolina territory. There may be hope for you after all.
      The fact that no one was killed, despite the best efforts of the confederates, is irrelevant. The fact is they fired on United States soldiers in a United States fort on land owned by the United States. That in itself is an act of treason against the United States.

      The comments I make to trolls is well deserved by them. It’s true I have a low opinion of the vast majority of neoconfederates. This is after 21 years of dealing with them. My experience has taught me that most of them are either stupid or dishonest, with both being racist as well. There are a few who are simply ill-informed and who change their minds when shown the truth.

      My opinions are indeed fact-based, as one can see by the fact that I post primary sources for what I say. So your claim has no merit. My opinions are based on 43 years of study, research, and thought. Additionally, my posts are filled with logic, so that’s another claim you make without merit. My claims are objective as well, being based in solid research over decades. There is no need to treat neoconfederate claims as anything other than the ahistorical nonsense they in fact are. So that’s another claim without merit.

      My claims about what led to the Civil War are based on actual history, not on the lunatic ravings, lies, or wishful thinking that characterize neoconfederate claims. It’s a historical fact that issues surrounding the institution of slavery led to the Civil War. Nothing else at the time had the power to bring on a war. I’ve dealt with what brought on the war in other posts, so if you’re going to respond, please comment on the appropriate post, as this one is about Fort Sumter.

      As I said, I have over four decades of study, research, and thought, and my claims are the result of those four decades. Your claim that I start out with my mind made up thus lacks merit.

      The Treaty of Paris was the peace treaty between the United States and England. Perhaps you mean the Treaty of Alliance with France. The Treaty of Alliance recognized the United States as an independent nation able to deal with other nations on the international stage. The American Revolution was in no way a secession. To try to compare the American Revolution to the secessions of 1860-61 is ahistorical nonsense. There is no valid comparison between the two.

      You need to read Allen C. Guelzo’s Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. In it you’ll learn the EP had as much chance to trigger an immediate foreign intervention as to prevent one. Thus far I’ll count you as one of the few who are simply ill-informed and give you a opportunity to get informed. You will also get to learn how Lincoln decided to issue the EP. This is from a real historian, not a libertarian propagandist like Thomas DiLorenzo or his ilk.

      There was no end of state sovereignty and transition of the United States into a de facto unitary state as a result of the Civil War. That was done by the ratification of the United States Constitution. Your opinions about the Constitution and the Supreme Court are good for a laugh, but that’s about all. Again, please comment on the appropriate post, not on this one, as this one is about Fort Sumter.

      There was no annexation of the confederacy. That’s a silly claim. If you think there was, then provide, at the appropriate post, the treaty of annexation. Hint: You won’t be able to do so because there was no such treaty, because there was no annexation.

      Again, please limit your comments to the subjects of the posts to which you are commenting.

      1. Shoshana Bee · · Reply

        “you clearly possess both hatred and bigotry towards Dixies”

        I hope you got as much of a laugh at the irony of this statement as I did!🤣 The guy who is an avowed apologist for those who tortured, raped, & enslaved Africans calls YOU out for hatred & bigotry.

        Definitely the low end of the intelligence spectrum.

        1. Thanks for commenting, Shoshana.

          I’ve come across this tactic since the early 2000s. They seek to inoculate themselves by being the first to accuse others of what they and/or their heroes are guilty.

        2. Vic Winston · · Reply

          Much like the Union Army did to the Indians. Slaughtering them and forcing them from their land due to their skin color. And nothing in the constitution stated that secession was forbidden. In fact, the declaration of secession, I mean independence encouraged it.

          Yes, when the south seceded they had a right to claim eminent domain upon property within their borders.

          When union soldiers slaughter and raped the Indians they didn’t let them keep the land.

          1. It never fails. Some idiot neoconfederate such as you comes in spouting the stupidity about stuff they know nothing about.

            First, just because you’re too stupid to understand the Constitution doesn’t mean it doesn’t prohibit secession.
            Second, just because you’re too stupid to understand the Declaration of Independence doesn’t mean it says what you falsely claim.
            Third, we get the “What aboutism” fallacy. If it weren’t for fallacious thinking you idiots couldn’t think at all.
            Fourth, there was no declaration of eminent domain. For that to happen there would have to be actual legal paperwork. None exists.
            Fifth, those were United States soldiers, not “Union soldiers.” You morons can’t even properly recognize an army.

            We can play all kinds of games, such as quoting southerner Thomas Jefferson: “I would never cease pursuing them while one of them remained on this side of the Mississippi.” “We shall push our trading uses and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt…We observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands.”

            The fact remains it was white people, in all the sections of the United States, who were the problem for Native Americans, which is a completely separate issue from the way southern whites treated African Americans in the South.

  32. Oh, don’t I *wish* there had been an “annexation” of the South. Were it me, I would’ve follow Thad Stevens’ notion of treated them all as “conquered provinces,” confiscating all their private property and redistributing it to the freedmen, and treating all former Confederates (except the ones given clemency by U.S. Grant after Appomattox) as the traitors they were.

    1. Well, Grant’s opinion aside, he had no power to grant any clemency. The parole terms were only good as long as the war lasted. Once the war was over, the parole terms were null and void. I think a couple of treason convictions, followed perhaps by presidential pardon, would have been good. Since the Constitution applies where the US Flag flies, I don’t see any way around the constitutional restriction on corruption of blood. Any property confiscation would only be valid during the life of the person committing treason–unless, of course, a Sixteenth Amendment were passed and ratified that would allow it.

  33. Sam Boyd · · Reply

    Interesting, because I have seen and read the original lease contracts apart from the legislative language you have referred to. It was many years ago and a gentleman out of S.C. had copies of this lease. In summary the fort was to be rebuilt and repaired and payments for it was to be made and supplied by the federal government. Only the outer walls were complete by 1861 and since it’s first granting to the federal government the fort had still yet to be completed and no payment had yet to be made to for it. It had a small percentage done within and only small number of cannon compared to what it was to hold once completed. With no payment made during all this time and with the fort not completed as agreed…the property was to reverted back to the S.C. At the end of the day however…I don’t really don’t care. Kennedy had missiles off our shore in Cuba and was threatening invasion if not removed, and yet, the U.S. had NO claim or rights to Cuba property…he had support for his plan because of the threat facing the U.S. justified it in the eyes of the federal government and the U.S. president. If he was justified so to then did S.C. with a fort being resupplied and threatening in their own harbor. Cuba backed down and after months of request and pleadings to leave… S.C…kept it’s word and with no loss of life either.

    1. I don’t know what you saw and read, but I highly doubt it was “the original lease contracts,” since the land was never leased but instead was completely ceded to the government before the island was even built. Nothing of what you posted has any resemblance to Fort Sumter in 1860-61. I highly suggest reading some actual history books.

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