Legal Secession

Discussion in 'Civil War' started by May102014, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. May102014

    May102014 New Member

    I find it strange that secession wasn't consider illegal until after the war. If this act wasn't criminal prior to the war, then why would states leaving the union result in combat? I know the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1868, although I'm not entirely sure I got the year right when the Supreme Court made the decision. Perhaps it was because the act show an image of lawlessness. I don't know but if anyone can give me clarification on the issue, I would appreciate it.
  2. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    I think you want a imple answer to a question which has no simple answer. There is a book which attempt to give a good analysis of the complex issue:

    "The Road to Disunion" William W. Freehling, 2007, Oxford U. Press

    It comes as two volumes. I think you can disregard volumeI.
  3. preacherbob50

    preacherbob50 Active Member

    Texas has an option that still allows it to split up into 5 new territories, which would not be states until each new territory was reviewed by the house. It's a type of cessation that has been allowed since it's announced statehood in 1845.
  4. thomas pendrake

    thomas pendrake Active Member

    Much about the War of Northern Aggression was illegal. Prior to the war the South was being economically exploited, and the balance of power was shifting more and more against the South. Cotton farming was ruining the soil of the South and Northern absentee landlords were notorious for mistreatment of their slaves (as they were for how they treated their factory laborers up North). Following the war, "reconstruction" was even worse. In my lifetime I have seen much of the damage caused by the war and reconstruction begin to fade away, but we still have to contend with carpetbaggers.
  5. I also find it strange, because there were threats of collapse long before the Civil War. We have been a "house divided" since infancy. Sometimes laws aren't necessary, because the acts that potentially happen (or don't) have not been an issue. Another example of this is that there was no law stopping presidents from running more than two terms in all the history of the presidency because no one did it. Most stepped down after a second (or first) term, as it was considered gentlemanly to allow another to take command. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in his fourth term they decided (although he was considered a great president by most) to make it a legal limit at two.
  6. GearZ

    GearZ Member

    There was no doubt a Constitutional Crisis because secession was an open question at the time. The war, and the court rulings that followed in its wake, put an end to any serious possibility of a state or other political subdivision leaving the union.
  7. Rockhem

    Rockhem Member

    I don't think it would have ever been allowed, regardless of if it is in writing or not. I think if any state tried to secede before the war, they would have also been met with fighting. There is also no point of making secession illegal, if you are going to leave anyway, why follow the rules?
  8. helpingcollier4

    helpingcollier4 New Member

    The argument over whether or not secession is legal is as old as is the American nation itself. It is rooted in a deeper issue, however. Simply put, who has final authority in this country: the federal government or the state governments? That question has been debated since the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists nearly prevented our nation from ever becoming a cohesive unit, and, thanks originally to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison the threat of nullification and secession have always lay dormant just below the surface of our nation.

    Is it legal? I don't know the answer to that question. The Supreme Court may have declared it so, but as someone has already referenced the Texas annexation treaty, there are still ways in which individual states can dramatically alter, if not leave, the Union.

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