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The Right Cause Won

 

Exhibit One: 

“The question as proposed concerning the Dragon Queen and as it applies to you, dear reader, is this; How far would you go, if you were given the power, to create a perfect world in your image? What would you do and what would you hold back from doing?” 

And that is the question, Lincoln quest for “unlimited power”, let’s look at the “historic fact(s).” 

Lincoln was inaugurated President on March 4th, 1861. By that time 7 States had succeeded from the Union. There is no right to secession written into or some say even implied by the Constitution, and it is telling that this “right” was not written into the Confederate Constitution either.  And these 7 States “succeeded” while James Bucannon was President and they had just as many “States Rights” as any other state in the Union. There were no threats to their State Rights*, there were no direct threats to their way of life. Slavery was written into the Constitution and its contiguous parts had been affirmed by the Supreme Court over and over again. So, what was at stake for the South? It was more than sour grapes that they had just lost a free and fair national election, it was clear that by that loss they realized the country as a whole had turned on the question of slavery and they would now be outvoted every time. The tyranny of a Republic. And what would they be out voted on? The expansion of Slavery into the territories. There would be no more Missouri Compromises. The United States would continue to expand, but slavery would not.  They were to be left to wither on the vine so to speak, becoming a permanent and shrinking minority in their own country. Indeed, the Confederate Constitution added a clause about the question of slavery in the territories, a key debate point in the 1860 election by the way, explicitly stating that “slavery is legally protected in the territories.” This is the Lost Cause. 

Secession is in effect just another term for rebellion, so Mr. Lincoln was faced by a rebellion by the time he took office. What should his reaction have been?  He took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and it is clear about Presidential powers in that case.

Article 3, Section 3

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

And, as some have complained about Lincoln on this;

Article 9, Section 1

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. 

When the “Free” State of South Carolina opened fire on Federal Ships and Property (Fort Sumter) on April 12, 1861 the rebellion was “on”, and those that fought against the United States were traitors.  Let’s take this to today. Donald Trump wins the 2020 Election and California “secedes” and starts to take control over all federal properties in the state. Should he just turn the other cheek and say good riddance to them, or should he try to enforce federal control over federal properties? I think it is pretty clear what President Trump would do, as his actions in Portland show. If you do not preserve the Union what then? You have now acceded the “right” to secession, so any state, or group of states, can break away any time a political wind blow against them. This is no longer a Federal government, a United States, this is now anarchy on a statewide basis. Would Jeff Davis have allowed any state to leave the Confederacy if he had the power to stop it? What as President would you do? 

Rebellions are nasty things. In the American Revolution round numbers are about 50,000 dead from all causes. In the English Civil War(s) it is said around 200,000 died.

Ben Franklin famously said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” And this was true enough. In most rebellions in History, if it failed, the reprisals have been deadly. The Romans crucified 6000 “rebels” who had followed Spartacus. Speaking of the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell’s body was removed from Westminster Abbey & posthumously executed by the restored Monarchy. And of course, the Union hung Jefferson Davis, Rebert E Lee, and all the other leaders of the Confederacy after our Civil War. Oh wait, no it didn’t. While there were a few War Crime trials and executions after the war overall the leaders of the confederacy were allowed to return to civilian life and given back their rights as citizens. This is almost unprecedented in World History, but not U.S. History (see Shay’s Rebellion) 

Most Southerners did not own slaves, as this was indeed a “Rich man’s war and Poor man fight”, but it is obvious from their own diaries and other antidotal material that the Southern soldier knew what he was fighting for. This is not to imply that they were more racist than the Northern Soldier, they definitely were not, it was a racist age. But the question of Slavery divided the mutual racism of the North and South and on that question, which put the preservation of the Union into doubt, we came to blows.

Next Museum: Jim Crow and Alternate History.

 

Exhibit Two:

Not Wholly Unexpected Consequences of War 

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution

Section 1

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 

The 14th  Amendment to the Constitution

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
 

The 15th   Amendment to the Constitution

Section 1

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

 

Exhibit 3:

“Either he (Robert E Lee) knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense, or he did not. If he did not, he was a fool. If he did, he was a traitor and a rebel ― not indeed to his country, but to humanity and humanity’s God.”

“The South cared only for State Rights as a weapon to defend slavery. If nationalism had been a stronger defense of the slave system than particularism, the South would have been as nationalistic in 1861 as it had been in 1812.”

- W.E.B. DuBois writing in 1928 in the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine.

 

At the Exit

In 2016, Trump asked voters "What do you have to lose?" He seems dedicated to answering that question every day.

— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) July 15, 2020


Unkwil

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Uncle Willie loves to have feedback from both readers who appreciate his point of view as well as from miss-guided souls who disagree.