Two More Problems With Neoconfederates

This post was at TGTKOG.  It links to a story that is itself lacking in historical understanding regarding the creation and admission of West Virginia as a state in the Union.

This points up the first of the two neoconfederate problems we’re considering here.  The lack of historical knowledge.

Let’s look at the comments:

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As we can see they don’t know that unilateral secession is not a legal act.  Also, claiming that Nevada’s statehood was illegal harkens back to the first problem with neoconfederates we considered.

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Notice they all accept the claim that West Virginia was formed by ignoring the Constitution.  That’s pure baloney, and they don’t understand anything about it.

First, as the article states, the Constitution says, in Article IV, Section 3, “… no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”  The main question is, did the legal government of Virginia provide its consent?  The answer is yes.  The legal government of Virginia was not the government in Richmond.  Again, let’s refer to the Constitution.  Article VI, Clause 3 says, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.”  Since the government in Richmond was taking part in an illegal rebellion and claimed to be no longer bound by the US Constitution, by this clause they were no longer eligible to be the legal government of Virginia.  The US Government recognized the Restored Government of Virginia, headed by Francis Pierpont, as the legitimate government of Virginia.  Did the US Government have the authority to do that?  Yes.  Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution says, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”  According to the Supreme Court of the United States, in the 1849 case of Luther v. Borden, this gives the Federal Government the authority to determine which of two competing governments is the legitimate government of a state.

“The fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States provides that the United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on the application of the legislature or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

“Under this article of the Constitution it rests with Congress to decide what government is the established one in a State. For as the United States guarantee to each State a republican government, Congress must necessarily decide what government is established in the State before it can determine whether it is republican or not. And when the senators and representatives of a State are admitted into the councils of the Union, the authority of the government under which they are appointed, as well as its republican character, is recognized by the proper constitutional authority. And its decision is binding on every other department of the government, and could not be questioned in a judicial tribunal.” [48 US 1, 42]  Congress sat the representatives and senators of the Restored Government, thus recognizing its legitimacy, and President Lincoln addressed his correspondence to Pierpont as “Governor Pierpont,” thus giving Presidential recognition of the Restored Government as the legitimate government of Virginia.

Therefore, when the Restored Government of Virginia gave its consent to the formation of West Virginia, the legitimate Government of Virginia gave its consent to the erection of West Virginia within the boundaries of Virginia.  More on how West Virginia became a state here, here, and here.

Here are some more examples from the same comments section:

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We see some of these mental midgets think there’s such a thing as a “Northern court,” coupled with having no real knowledge of the actions that led to West Virginia’s creation.

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Here we see them accepting the ludicrous claim that Lincoln issued an arrest warrant for Roger B. Taney, and also claiming that Ex Parte Merryman was a Supreme Court ruling.  These people really have no conception about accuracy.

The second problem neoconfederates have is massive hypocrisy.  As shown, West Virginia’s admission was in accordance with the Constitution.  These people contend, against the facts, that unilateral secession was a power states had.  If that is the case, then Virginia was a country of its own, and yet they deny that West Virginia had the power to secede from Virginia.  But then I guess their little brains would explode if they actually understood the implications of what they claimed.

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20 comments

  1. Exactly. It was a weird, unpleasant time when WVa was formed, but that situation was created by the would-be secessionists. If you’re gonna break all the eggs, don’t cry when an omelet gets made.

  2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

    Very nice and compact explanation of the West Virginia situation. Good work, Al.

    1. Thanks, Jimmy.

  3. Very interesting. Were you a lawyer in another life?

    1. You’re not the first person to accuse me of that. Someone else suggested I go to law school. I’m not opposed to that provided someone else is willing to fund it. 😉

  4. They are quick to latch onto anything they believe might possibly vindicate their stance. Just look at Purvis’ blog or any of the comments at Connie Chastain’s website.

    1. There is nothing in the universe I’m less interested in than Georgie Purvis, Rob. Connie’s blog is sometimes good for comic relief. 🙂

      1. They are case studies in victim mentality….and interactive soap operas.

        1. The victim mentality is something most neoconfederates have in common.

          1. I wonder if people in Chambersburg, PA have a victim mentality?

          2. Not that I’ve seen. 😉

    2. I don’t go to Connie’s blog. I’m afraid someone will see me and then I’ll have to explain why I’m there.

      1. The entertainment value. It’s a digital soap opera of lies and deceit.

  5. This is really good, very succinct. I’ve never been “up” on the creation of WV, but it always seemed to me a little shady, probably kind of illegal, but hey, weird things happen in war, and get codified after the fact, and what did VA expect, and so I never worried too much about it. However, this clears thing up.

    Devil’s Advocate Moment: on my blog, Al, you said that you’re leery of theorists. After all, theory has to be played out in the practical world and it can get pretty muddy. So, how much of the Constitutional law you apply here was applied after the fact to justify WV’s secession from VA, and how much was relied upon at the time by the actors?

    1. Yes, Chris, there were irregularities, but irregular isn’t unconstitutional or illegal, just irregular, i.e., not in the usual way. Much of it is due to the fact of the war, but in any event, the Constitutional requirements were all met.

    2. At the time, they knew that the Restored Government was the recognized legitimate government and that it gave its consent. They therefore argued the constitutional requirements were met.

      1. jfepperson · · Reply

        The serious irregularities were in the way various counties were included in the new state. Several counties that were all for secession were kind of forced in to WV. The entire eastern panhandle exists as a way to keep the B&O RR entirely in the US in case the war was lost.

        1. Well, there were some other irregularities, and not illegalities, dealing with the elections. Most of the state wasn’t involved, but that was because of the war, not because of any illegal actions on their part. Also, it’s true that in effect what happened was those who wanted to separate from Virginia gave their consent for their own separation. Again, not unconstitutional and not illegal by the law as written, but irregular.

  6. jfepperson · · Reply

    There was a good article by Ed Steers in one of the early issues of North & South on the formation of West Virginia. Also, the state has a lengthy website on the subject (at least they used to). It is rather obvious that none of these loons has read either.

    1. The issue from January, 2000. There’s also an article in Civil War Times, June, 1971.

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