Did the Confederates Commit Treason?

Simple question … and the comments section is open …


240 thoughts on “Did the Confederates Commit Treason?

  1. Michael C. Lucas May 27, 2013 / 4:03 am

    For what reasons, does Brooks Simpson consider Confederates were treasonable?

    • John Kotmair November 12, 2016 / 5:24 am

      The arguments made within this thread, both for and against, prove the case for secession, and against treason.
      The U.S. Constitution is the “supreme law” of these States united, Article 6, clause 2, wherefore it is declared to be law therein. Nowhere with the Constitution, can it be found the prohibition against secession, thus reading into the Constitution things that are not there would make it void for vagueness:
      Black’s Law Dictionary 5th Edition —
      Vagueness doctrine. Under this principle, a law which does not fairly inform a person of what is commanded or prohibited is unconstitutional as violative of due process.
      For more information read my booklet: “Do Courts Have Law Making Powers?”

      • Shoshana Bee November 12, 2016 / 12:22 pm

        “The arguments made within this thread, both for and against, prove the case for secession, and against treason.”

        Rats. I was hoping for a decent, entertaining treatise regarding how the “case against treason” has been proven.. Oh well, back to my studies.

      • Jimmy Dick November 14, 2016 / 12:31 pm

        Nowhere in the Constitution can it be found where states could secede or how they could do so. In situations where the Constitution is silent, we have to look at the creation of the document and its ratification. The ratification process made it clear that once a state ratified the Constitution it could not leave. Even more obvious is the fact that no state has an exit clause in its ratification documents.

        The arguments saying that states can secede deliberately overlook the primary sources and ignore the context behind the Constitution. It is rampant presentism.

        • John Foskett November 16, 2016 / 8:31 am

          The Framers did, however, mention rebellion. The Secession Crowd loves to analogize 1861 to 1775 except when it comes to that nasty term.

          • Jimmy Dick November 17, 2016 / 5:49 am

            The problem for the secession crowd is that they can’t find any primary sources written by the secessionists where they espouse any significant reason for secession other than slavery. The secession declarations written by the delegates to the secession conventions are dead giveaways. Some do give a few other reasons, but they pale in comparison to the issue of slavery in the language used. Those other reasons are more like afterthoughts thrown in the mix and in many cases have no legitimate standing.

            No, the secession crowd has to manufacture reasons for secession while ignoring the issue of slavery. They reject the secession documents which is hilarious considering they cite the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote out a very interesting list of reasons for the colonies to rebel against Great Britain. Not all of those reasons stand up to scrutiny, but they were there. So the secessionists were quite clear in writing their own declarations.

            Obviously the secession crowd can’t use primary sources that prove them wrong.

          • M.D. Blough November 17, 2016 / 8:54 am

            Jimmy-My personal favorite of the blunter secessionist statements re: slavery as the reason for the rebellion is from the South Carolina secession convention, the opening event of the Secession Winter. The speaker is Lawrence Keitt, a leading Fire-eater. I will give Keitt this. All too often, those who agitate for war leave it to others to actually put themselves at risk and fight it. Keitt was not one of those. He joined the Confederate Armies and was KIA, at the Battle of Cold Harbor, as an officer in the Army of Northern Virginia. At the Convention, after speeches listing every dispute ever between North and South, Keitt rose and said this,

            “Mr. KEITT. I agree with the gentleman from Richland, that the power of taxation is the central power of all governments. Put that power into my hands, and I care very little what the form of government it is; I will control your people through it. That is the question in this address. We have instructed the Committee to present a summary of the reasons which influenced us in the action we have now taken. My friend from Richland said that the violation of the Fugitive Slave Laws are not sufficient, and he calls up the Tariff. Is that one of the causes at this time? What is that cause? Your late Senators, and every one of your members of the House of Representatives, voted for the present tariff. [Mr. Miles. I did not.] Well, those who were there at the time voted for it, and I have no doubt you would, if you were in it. The question of the tariff did agitate us in 1832, and it did array this State against the Federal Government.

            I maintain, and do always maintain, that this State triumphed then. Mr. Clay said, before nullification, that the protective tariff system had been established for all time. After the Nullification Ordinance, Mr. Clay did say that the State had accomplished the destruction of that system, and that the State had triumphed. The history of that time has never been written. It is true, we were cheated in the compromise; and really, sir, in what single compromise have we not been cheated? My opinion is, that the State of South Carolina and every other Southern State have been dealing with faithless confederates.

            But the Tariff is not the question which brought the people up to their present attitude. We are to give a summary of our causes to the world, but mainly to the other Southern States, whose co-action we wish, and we must not make a fight on the Tariff question.

            The Whig party, throughout all the States, have been protective Tariff men, and they cling to that old issue with all the passion incident to the pride of human opinions. Are we to go off now, when other Southern States are bringing their people up to the true mark? Are we to go off on debateable and doctrinal points? Are we to go back to the consideration of this question, of this great controversy; go back to that party’s politics, around which so many passions cluster? Names are much — associations and passions cluster around names.

            I can give no better illustration than to relate an anecdote given me by a member from Louisiana. He said, after the election of Lincoln, he went to an old Whig party friend and said to him: We have been beaten — our honor requires a dissolution of the Union. Let us see if we cannot agree together, and offered him a resolution to this effect –Resolved, That the honor of Louisiana requires her to disrupt every tie that binds her to the Federal Government. [Laughter.]

            It is name, and when we come to more practicability we must consult names. Our people have come to this on the question of slavery. I am willing, in that address to rest it upon that question. I think it is the great central point from which we are now proceeding, and I am not willing to divert the public attention from it. I believe the address, in this respect, cannot. The gentlemen from Chesterfield (Mr. Inglis) says that certain constructions of the Act of Pennsylvania are denied. He might have gone further and have said that certain constructions of the Personal Liberty Bills are denied. I have never seen any Abolitionist yet who did not say that these Acts had no reference to fugitive slaves.

            I, myself, have very great doubts about the propriety of the Fugitive Slave Law. The Constitution was, in the first place, a compact between the several States, and in the second, a treaty between sections, and, I believe, the Fugitive Slave Law was a treaty between sections. It was the act of sovereign States as a section; and I believe therefore, and have very great doubts whether it ought not have been left to the execution of the several States, and failing of enforcement , I believe it should have been regarded as a causi belli.

            I go for the address, because, I believe it does present succinctly and conspicuously what are the main primary causes.

      • Kristoffer November 15, 2016 / 5:56 pm

        There’s no case against treason. Article III Section 3 of the Constitution cannot be any clearer: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

        The Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter, a federal military installation on ground granted to the federal government by South Carolina. That meets the definition of “levying War against them”.

    • Steven Hansmann June 22, 2013 / 4:08 am

      Sorry, the south was absolutely treasonous. They should have kept the gallows going 24-7 for years after the war, starting with Lee and Jefferson Davis, and all the military leaders and it should have been open to the public. The flag these traitors use should garner you an automatic prison term.

      • Joshua E Lee September 8, 2013 / 10:51 am

        You sir are an idiot and should be hung for treason!
        And you are a cancer upon the fabric of the civilized world

        • John Carter July 31, 2014 / 4:25 pm

          Josh … Pull your head out of your #SS … the southern confederacy committed treason by trying to secede and fighting against the US military

          Steven is correct … they should have killed every last leader of the confederacy but Lincoln didn’t have the stones to do it.. he allowed these S bags to create the black codes, jim crow .. they still believe that states can nullify the federal govt

          TRAITORS …

          • James October 9, 2014 / 4:20 pm

            The south in no way committed treason. Voting to succeed is not treason, especially when 4 states had clauses in their joining the union to leave, these being virginia, texas, rhode island and new jersey. If one state had a right to leave, they all do.

            Further, treason is DEFINED in the constitution as making war against the states or giving aid thereof. Leaving the union is not making war. However, Lincoln clearly committed treason by waging war against the states (since he refused to accept they COULD leave and in his mind they were still states). The evil bastard Lincoln also continued to enforce the Fugitive Slave act, sending slaves back to their masters, he abolished habeous corpus (the right to a trial – a english right since the 1200s), issued a warrant when the supreme court justice said he couldnt legally do that, fixed the 1864 election by keeping democrats in the field and harassing democrats at the polls with the army (their ballots were color coded), and caused the deaths of 700,000 Americans, waged the civil war to get taxes from the south, and wanted after the war, to deport all blacks, free and slave overseas, yay lincoln

          • Jimmy Dick October 10, 2014 / 7:24 am

            NO state had anything in the ratification of the constitution about secession. The idea that they could leave at the drop of a hat is utter nonsense. Read the documents yourself and you will see what was stated. Texas did not have a stipulation on joining regarding secession either.

          • E.A. Mayer October 10, 2014 / 11:16 am

            You’re post is just an example of Gish Gallop and has already been debunked in the pages here. Needless to say that you cannot support your contentions. Unilaterally rejecting he Constitutional law of the land and firing on fedeal troops and intellations certinly is making war against your own country and treason.
            And not only that; so you typically mistake the re-statements of the revoutionary principle from some states for ‘secession’, but you also try and put in the long debunked Texas line. Its just Sad.

            “It is said of Texas that it received a letter or document of permission to withdraw from the Federal Union if it so chose… In fact, Texas received no special terms in its admission to the Union. Once Texas had agreed to join the union, she never had the legal option of leaving, either before or after the civil war.” – The Texas State Library and Records Commission.

          • Christopher Shelley October 10, 2014 / 11:16 am

            The Constitution requires ALL officers, federal AND state, to swear (or affirm) to uphold the Constitution. Since secession was unconstitutional, any Southern state or federal officer who made such an oath (or affirmation), and then joined the Southern Confederacy, was guilty of treason.

            Now, what to do with these treasonous Americans is another deal altogether. I probably would have strung them all up; but then again, I tend to be a vengeful bastard, and vengeful bastards don’t make good decisions. Lincoln certainly preferred some sort of forgiveness, since he wished to “bind the nation’s wounds,” and mass executions might put a damper on that. So, I favor what the Radical Republicans pushed for during Reconstruction: disenfranchisement.

          • Blair Kimberlin May 19, 2016 / 11:47 am

            the first amendment allows for violent overthrow of the government if citizens believe it is not governing appropriately. when the states seceded they were legally within their rights to do so. they were also legally within their rights to wage war in order to protect their way of life. was slavery a horrible institution? I believe yes, but at the time it was NOT ILLEGAL therefor the south had the right to defend it.you may not like it but you can’t say they were traitors when our own constitution gave them the right to defend their way of life

          • Brooks D. Simpson May 19, 2016 / 11:51 am

            That’s a very interesting reading of the First Amendment. Do you extend it to the enslaved and southern unionists?

          • Christopher Shelley May 19, 2016 / 11:59 am

            Sweet Jesus…Blair Kimberlin, do please read the First Amendment before you go on like this? You discredit yourself before you even get started.

          • Brooks D. Simpson May 19, 2016 / 2:51 pm

            Confederate heritage advocates are famous for failing to read the very documents they cite in support of their claims. They also fail to read what the people they honor said in 1860-61 as their reason for supporting secession. It’s all part of the dumbing down of Confederate heritage to little more than an angry rant from conservatives seeking a semi-usable past with which to bolster their deeply-ingrained but poorly-thought-out prejudices.

          • Brooks D. Simpson May 31, 2016 / 3:24 pm

            And you would have to point out exactly where in the original Constitution it says a state can secede … not your interpretation of the Tenth Amendment.

            See, that’s the problem: both the right to secede and its prohibition are built from interpretations of causes of the document. We waste a lot of time insisting otherwise.

          • John Foskett June 1, 2016 / 7:22 am

            Anybody who is puzzled by whether secession was unconstitutional need only grapple with the word “rebellion”. That’s what happened in 1861. It also happened in 1775 but there was no Constitution in place at that time. There was in 1861. Happy hunting…..

        • Ocean Dennis June 27, 2015 / 12:51 pm

          I concur ,with Mr.Lee

        • James Lee July 11, 2015 / 10:14 am

          For those of you who don’t think the Confederacy was a treasonous act against the United States of America, consider that four of the states that had representatives at the 1787 Constitutional Convention that created the U.S. Constitution — South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina — all signed that Constitution, thereby pledging their allegiance to the United States of America. Seventy-eight years later, those states went back on their pledge, along with seven other states that had joined the Union before the Civil War. I don’t know about you people who think the act of seceding from the Union wasn’t treason, but obviously you don’t believe that pledging your allegiance to the United States is very important.

          • neddy July 14, 2015 / 8:13 am

            It was NOT Treason proved by the inability of the US government in 1868, to convict the President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, who had been indicted for TREASON. Once the government lawyers realized they could never win their case against Jefferson Davis, on December 25, 1868 a Presidential Amnesty Proclamation was issued absolving former Confederate president Jefferson Davis of any guilt for participation in the Civil War. If the #1 Confederate Official was not a Traitor, how can you 21st century geniuses, in good conscience, continue to label Confederate soldiers as Traitors? What law or proclamation are you citing?

          • Brooks D. Simpson July 14, 2015 / 8:42 am

            Nice try. The real story is a little more complicated.

      • Ambrose P. Hill April 26, 2016 / 6:14 pm

        Lets go to the source document, The Constitution,

        The Tenth Amendment (Amendment X) to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791.[1] It expresses the principle of federalism, which strictly supports the entire plan of the original Constitution for the United States of America, by stating that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution. All remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people.

        There is no article, clause, or amendment in the Constitution that forbids the act of secession. Nor is there any restrictions to the freedom of association. Neither are the states’s populous or state’s legislators prevented from having a referendum or convention to exercise their right to self government and self determination. Secession is self determination and the desire for self government.

        Secession is not treason. Treason is an act of world against a country for the purpose of overthrowing a government. The Confederate State just wanted to go their own way.

        Personally I wish the North had hanged all the Confederate leadership. If you think Reconstruction was bad. The rebellion would probably still be going on.

        Dreams I will never see!!!!!

        • Bob Huddleston April 26, 2016 / 9:07 pm

          So, Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis did not commit treason. How about Winfield Scott, George Thomas and John Gibbon? Did they commit treason? One of the other did.

        • Shoshana Bee April 26, 2016 / 10:32 pm

          It’s a good thing I have been boning up on Treason, lately — comes in handy.

          “Secession is not treason. Treason is an act of world against a country for the purpose of overthrowing a government. The Confederate State just wanted to go their own way”

          Who said anything about secession being treason? Treason is treason as defined by the Constitution:

          “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.”

          “months before Fort Sumter was attacked, even before the Confederacy was formed, fifty-six U. S. forts, arsenals and ships were seized by the first states to secede, and one-seventh of the U. S. Army was surrendered to the militia in Texas.” (source: The Beginning and the End: The Civil War Story of Federal Surrenders Before Fort Sumter and Confederate Surrenders After Appomatox Paperback, by Dayton Pryor)

          Treason further defined (source listed below):
          This is an excerpt from a charge to a grand jury in Boston on October 15, 1851, delivered by Justice Samuel Curtis, the Circuit Justice for the Circuit Court in the District of Massachusetts. The citation for this charge is 30 Fed. Cas. 1024, Case No. 18,269.

          Justice Curtis then tells the grand jury, “It is not necessary that there should be any military array, or weapons, nor that any personal injury should be inflicted on the officers of the law. If a hostile army should surround a body of troops of the United States, and the latter should lay down their arms and submit, it cannot be doubted that it would constitute an overt act of levying war, though no shot was fired or blow struck. The presence of numbers who manifest an intent to use force, if found requisite to obtain their demands, may compel submission to that force, which is present and ready to inflict injury, and which may thus be effectually used to oppose the execution of the law. … It should be known also, that treason may be committed by those not personally present at the immediate scene of violence. If a body of men be actually assembled to effect by force a treasonable purpose, all those who perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, are to be considered guilty of treason. [30 Fed. Cas. 1024, 1026] source:https://studycivilwar.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/charge-to-grand-jury-neutrality-laws-and-treason/

          I apologize for repeating part of another post, but apparently someone missed it. All information was borrowed and cited.

          • Christopher Shelley April 27, 2016 / 12:11 am

            I recommend you reread the comments here showing the secession was (and is) illegal. But that’s not really the treason part. The treason part is clear, and you said it yourself: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them.” The Southern states could claim they had left the Union if they chose–that wasn’t so much the issue for Lincoln, who never admitted they had the power to do so. But the leaders of those states, and of the so-called Confederacy, did indeed levy a very bloody war against the United States.

          • Shoshana Bee April 27, 2016 / 1:37 pm

            Mr. Shelley,

            I am not sure if your comment is directed towards me, but I will respond. I do not need to re-read any comments about secession, because I am fully aware that Texas v. White settled the legal issue of secession. Perhaps you mistook the quote within my post as me? I was responding to Mr. Hill by using his quote. Regards, B

        • John Foskett April 27, 2016 / 7:07 am

          It was a rebellion. Just as the AWI was a rebellion. Here’s the difference – under the Constitution rebellion is illegal. Keep on dreaming.

      • Bob Papadopoulos August 28, 2016 / 11:35 am

        Secession was legal and the US government knew it. That’s why they couldn’t do jack: because taking it to trial would’ve just proven it in the public eye.

        Unfortunately they botched up, and observably so. If areas can’t secede from their established Constitutional areas, how is West Virginia still here?

        Per the Constitution: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but 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.”

        Funny how that works one way but not the other, huh?

        • Brooks D. Simpson August 28, 2016 / 11:40 am

          Note: The creation of West Virginia came under a process explicitly outlined in the Constitution. That’s because there remained a Unionist legislature for Virginia under Francis Pierpont.

          There is no process for secession from the union; West Virginia remained in the Union. So your point fails as constitutional interpretation as well as history.

          • jrunner1 August 20, 2017 / 11:05 am

            He didn’t say they withdrew from the union. It seems with Mr. Simpson it’s his way or the highway. Have a drink Simps. It’s too late late for revenge.

          • Brooks D. Simpson August 20, 2017 / 9:16 pm

            Someone’s upset. Ain’t me. When a no-name starts calling names, well, they don’t last long here.

  2. Ned May 27, 2013 / 4:36 am

    Yes. It is a simple question and it is also a simple answer. Did they levy war against the United States? Yes. Were they citizens of the United States? Yes.

    • Andrew Newcomb (BulletRusher) June 9, 2014 / 12:59 am

      Did they levy war against the United States? No, the United States attacked them

      Were they citizens of the United States? No, they are citizens of the Confederate States

      • Brooks D. Simpson June 9, 2014 / 8:27 am

        That assumes what needs to be proven. Insurrectionists attacked a United States military installation. That’s clear beyond a doubt.

        • John Foskett July 9, 2015 / 9:37 am

          In other words, an illegal rebellion barred by the Constitution.

      • Kidd July 9, 2015 / 6:47 am

        The confederate States were not recognized so they were still citizens of the USA.

      • U.S. Grant September 1, 2015 / 12:19 am

        The first shots in the Civil War were fired by the Confederate forces on January 9, 1861 in South Carolina on the unarmed merchant ship, Star of the West, as it attempted to resupply the Federal troops at Fort Sumter. Months later, on April 12, 1861, General P.G.T. Beauregard ordered Fort Sumter fired upon after receiving orders from Jefferson Davis to demand an immediate surrender. Beauregard was given the order to open fire should Major Robert Anderson refuse to comply. So it was, at 4:30 a.m., on that fateful day that the first shots were fired upon a United States military installation and members of the U.S. Army.

  3. cc2001 May 27, 2013 / 4:43 am

    My answer is yes, the leaders of the Confederacy committed treason. I am no Constitutional scholar, but I have read that once the states adopted the Constitution to replace The Articles of Confederacy, they bound themselves into a union which was indisolvable unless intolerable cruelty and oppression could be demonstrated. Since the southern states controlled Congress, this criterion certainly wasn’t met. It appears that once western expansion threatened their dominance of the federal government, the southern states reacted by secession to protect and expand chattel slavery. They seceded for economic interests, and not in reaction to oppression. Their desire to conquer Mexico and Central America in order to create a slave empire certainly demonstrates this. I believe Robert E. Lee and other southern military and political lights were traitors, although the forgiveness they received was a good thing, much like the reconciliation policy adopted in South Africa. I also believe Lincoln was right that the whole nation profited from slavery and therefore the whole nation was punished by the war.

    As an aside, I am watching C-Span as I write, specifically a program on interpreting slavery at historical sites. Christy Coleman, the President of the Tredegar Civil War Museum, is describing how she was a slave reenactor at Colonial Williamsburg in 1994 when they first introduced the concept there. She tells how CW received threats in writing and by phone for portraying slavery, and had to have sheriffs in place to protect the reenactors. In 1994! In my adopted state of Virginia! Another panelist describes how today in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond (a great museum by the way), there are visitors who drop to their knees and kiss the ground when they enter. We still have a long way to go.

    • Mildred DeLashmit June 5, 2013 / 11:43 am

      Hahaha, watching C-span is not a great way to gain perspective on the war between the states.

      • M.D. Blough June 5, 2013 / 12:59 pm

        Actually, that’s what James Madison wrote in 1831 and 1832 during the Nullification Crisis.

      • Bob Huddleston June 5, 2013 / 1:56 pm

        Nor is calling the Civil War the “War Between the States” a great way to demonstrate perspective.

        • Joshua E Lee September 8, 2013 / 10:53 am

          It was not a war between the states, it was this countries second war of Independence!

          • Christopher Shelley August 1, 2014 / 10:17 am

            Well, it was this country’s second revolution, at any rate.

  4. SF Walker May 27, 2013 / 6:07 am

    Reading Dayton Pryor’s well-researched book “The Beginning and the End: Federal Surrenders Before Ft. Sumter and Confederate Surrenders After Appomattox,” it’s pretty hard to argue that the Confederates didn’t commit treason as defined by the Constitution. Pryor describes how hundreds of U.S. soldiers were taken prisoner in Texas during the state militia’s capture of 23 U.S. forts out there–they held many of these men into 1863.. He discusses the Georgia militia’s capture of Federal Fort Pulaski—before Georgia had even organized a convention to consider seceding from the Union. All of this occurred months before the rebel attack on Ft. Sumter and Lincoln’s call for volunteers to suppress the rebellion.

    These hostile acts, in addition to the Confederate seizure of numerous Federal arsenals and posts, including the U.S. Mint in New Orleans, don’t strike me as coming from a regime that wished to be “let alone.”

    • Mark May 27, 2013 / 3:07 pm

      Nice citation! Hadn’t heard of it. Ordered the last used copy (seems it is out of print) that was cheap within 5 minutes of reading your comments. Thanks much!

      • SF Walker May 28, 2013 / 1:54 am

        You’re welcome, Mark! It can make for some dry reading at times, but Pryor’s book is full of interesting information–over half of it comes straight from the OR’s.

  5. wgdavis May 27, 2013 / 6:21 am

    Absolutely. According to Article 3 of the Constitution, they very much committed treason against the United States.

    “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 that is not all. They tried to avoid the treason charge by violating Article 1, Section 10:

    “Article 1, Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emits Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

    “No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.

    “No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”

    They pretty much violated the entirety of this section, particularly in declaring secession and forming a Confederacy [How blatantly they thumbed their noses at the Constitution by calling themselves the ‘Confederate’ States of America!].

    They also violated Article 4, Section 4.

    “Article 4, Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”

    They denied the results of a fair and honest national; election.

    And they pretty much trashed Article 6, which says in part:

    “Article 6, This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    “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; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    Yeah, I’d say their actions were treasonous and then some.

    • David Watson May 28, 2013 / 6:54 am

      Every one of your points would be valid if the Southern States had taken these actions while within the Union. The acts of secession severed their obligations under the U.S. Constitution. So, they did not commit treason. It’s really that simple.

      • SF Walker May 28, 2013 / 12:12 pm

        It would be that simple if secession were legal and had been recognized as such by those in power in the U.S. But to play devil’s advocate, let’s say that it was legal. Why then, do pro-Confederates raise such a furor over John Merryman’s rights if he and people like him had renounced their Constitutional obligations?

      • M.D. Blough May 28, 2013 / 12:56 pm

        That’s only if you accept the proposition that such unilateral action was legally sufficient to sever that relationship. The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, quite emphatically rejected that argument. In a letter during the Nullification Crisis to his protege, Nicholas Trist, who also had served as President Jackson’s private secretary, Madison wrote (many of these letters became public during this time):

        >>To Nicholas P. Trist

        Montpellier, Decr 23, 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 right to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it. And certainly there is nothing in the Virginia resolutions of — 98, adverse to this principle, which is that of common sense and common justice. The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them lies in confounding a single 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. In the Virginia Resolutions and Report the plural number, States, is in every instance used where reference is made to the authority which presided over the Government. As I am now known to have drawn those documents, I may say as I do with a distinct recollection, that the distinction was intentional. It was in fact required by the course of reasoning employed on the occasion. The Kentucky resolutions being less guarded have been more easily perverted. The pretext for the liberty taken with those of Virginia is the word respective, prefixed to the “rights” &c to be secured within the States. Could the abuse of the expression have been foreseen or suspected, the form of it would doubtless have been varied. But what can be more consistent with common sense, than that all having the same rights &c. should unite in contending for the security of them to each.

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

        I know nothing of what is passing at Richmond, more than what is seen in the newspapers. You were right in your foresight of the effect of the passages in the late Proclamation. They have proved a leaven for much fermentation there, and created an alarm against the danger of consolidation, balancing that of disunion. I wish with you the Legislature may not seriously injure itself by assuming the high character of mediator. They will certainly do so if they forget that their real influence will be in the inverse ratio of a boastful interposition of it.

        If you can fix, and will name the day of your arrival at Orange Court House, we will have a horse there for you, and if you have more baggage than can be otherwise brought than on wheels, we will send such a vehicle for it. Such is the state of the roads produced by the wagons hurrying flour to market, that it may be impossible to send our carriage which would answer both purposes.<<

        If you are going to say there were intolerable abuses of power, I'll have to ask you to name them. Up until Lincoln, who had not yet taken office when most of the rebel states joined the rebellion, most US presidents owed their elections to slave state support since the slave states had an advantage, thanks to the 3/5 compromise, in the Electoral College. The same clause placed the House of Representatives firmly in slave state control that was only dissipating close to the Civil War. This also meant that the U.S. Supreme Court was in pro-slave state hands through most of that period. If you look at rebel states' declarations of causes it's remarkable how many of them involved complaints against the actions of free states instead of by the Federal government. The only action that triggered the rebellion was the refusal of free states voters to have their votes for electors dictated by slave state threats of disunion as they had done in 1856. To accept the results of a election going against you (and I haven't seen even the most fiery fire eater claim fraud in Lincoln's election) and move on is the essence of representative government. That was the great test the country had passed when Federalists turned the US government over to the Jeffersonians after the incredibly bitter Presidential election of 1800.

      • Christopher Shelley August 1, 2014 / 10:30 am

        David Watson, you assume secession was legal. Since it was not, your point is void.

        Now, if you want to waive charges or acquit because they THOUGHT they were independent, that’s another issue, I guess. That defense can certainly be used to acquit most of the common soldiers who fought. But the statesmen who led their states out, and the higher officers who led the troops, are guilty.

    • BorderRuffian May 28, 2013 / 6:17 pm

      “Article 3, Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them”


      • John Foskett May 29, 2013 / 6:57 am

        Noce try. F.

        • John Foskett May 29, 2013 / 6:57 am

          Or nice try. But still F.

      • Christopher Shelley August 1, 2014 / 10:35 am

        The reliance of neo-Confederates on the application of modern grammatical standards to texts written over 200 years ago (whether the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, or what have you) is either an excellent exhibition of concrete thinking or pure desperation. Either way, “it don’t scour.”

    • Christopher Shelley August 1, 2014 / 10:24 am

      Zaaactly! I vote with wgdavis. Measure the actions of Confederates against the text of the Constitution and there’s no contest. The irony for me is that it was the Great Tyrant Lincoln whose words and actions prevented the drum-head justice that thousands of enraged Northerners would gladly have meted out on Lee, Davis & Co.

    • Jim Dacey August 25, 2017 / 5:10 pm


      • Brooks D. Simpson August 25, 2017 / 9:10 pm

        This is a most eloquent expression of your perspective. We thank you for sharing it.

        • John Foskett August 26, 2017 / 8:21 am

          There you go – “eloquent” is a smart-looking word.

      • Shoshana Bee August 25, 2017 / 10:31 pm

        Wow! A one period response. Betcha no one gets a word in edgewise during Thanksgiving table talk, with all the shouting and run-ons 🙂

      • Christopher Shelley August 25, 2017 / 10:52 pm

        Maybe you should learn how the CAPS LOCK button works on your computer. Oh, and perhaps show some actual evidence for your argument. Just for fun.

  6. Lyle Smith May 27, 2013 / 7:56 am

    I say no since it was a civil war. The States, and therefore the people of those States, went through a deliberate political process to secede. The Confederates recognized themselves as a different nation of people.

    Treason, to me, is a personal thing. It’s a Benedict Arnold thing. Civil war rises above treason because it involves too many people. Civil war isn’t deceitful, but honest.

    • Phil Leigh May 27, 2013 / 6:47 pm

      Noted Civil War author and Virginia Tech historian William C. Davis makes a similar, if not the same, point as Lyle

      Specifically, if the United States in 1861 was a collection of sovereign states, then no Confederate could be a traitor by following his state. In my view the primacy state or Federal sovereignty was undetermined at the time of session and only concluded at the end of the War. Thus, Confederates could only be judged as traitors *retroactively* which is similar to double jeopardy and therefore invalid.

      • M.D. Blough May 28, 2013 / 12:59 pm

        Whether or not federal sovereignty was “undermined” prior to 1860, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution remained unchanged: “. . . This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

        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; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

      • Christopher Shelley August 1, 2014 / 10:57 am

        But the “primacy” of federal sovereignty was undermined by the rebellion itself! It was perfectly intact up to December of 1860. That was the entire reason Lincoln called up troops in 1861: to reaffirm the sovereignty of the United States. So this argument goes in circles–secession undermined federal sovereignty, which legitimized state sovereignty, which means they didn’t commit treason when they undermined federal sovereignty to begin with. Fail.

        You are better off arguing that in the popular mind of the time, secession was an undecided principle, and so they can be forgiven of their treason in spite of the fact that we today can see it was clearly illegal.

        • jrunner1 August 20, 2017 / 11:39 am

          Treason always seems to come into play late in the game to justify the seeking of vengeance.
          In the context of war between millions of people the accusation is irrelevant.

          Secession wasn’t an undecided issue. It was largely accepted.

    • M.D. Blough May 27, 2013 / 9:50 pm

      Lyle-treason is not determined by how impulsive the act was or the number of people involved. Historically, civil wars have quite often ended with leaders of the losing side being executed for treason if they weren’t killed or escape into exile. The US Civil War was unprecedented in the magnanimity with which the Confederates, particularly military officers who had taken an oath and federal legislators and state officials, all of whom had sworn, pursuant to Article VI, to support the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. government made a deliberate decision not to take retributive measures, and that was true under Lincoln, too, even before the Second Inaugural.

      • Lyle Smith May 28, 2013 / 8:59 am

        Oh, I know Ms. Blough (it’s Ms. right?). We can look at the Syrian civil war today and ask who are the traitors? President Assad acts as if he knows. The Syrian Free Army act as if they know. Might makes right in the end though, as you say.

        And, yes of course, the United States distinguished ex-Confederates from the treason of Benedict Arnold and magnanimously let the likes of Nathan Bedford Forrest live in freedom after the war.

    • jrunner1 August 20, 2017 / 11:20 am

      Well put. Agree

    • Christopher Shelley August 1, 2014 / 11:00 am

      I’d argue anyone the same rules as the Radical Republicans: any civilian who took an oath to uphold the Constitution; and any army officer above the rank of major, navy above the rank of…? –this is a question for Andy Hall.

  7. John Foskett May 27, 2013 / 8:31 am

    This one’s tricky. Paraphrased, the Constitution defines teason as “levying War” or giving aid and comfort to the “Enemies” of the United States. The use of “War” and “Enemies” suggests a status between two nations or political states. Of course, the US technically never recognized the CSA as a “nation” or sovereign political “state”. The 14th Amendment’s prohibition on holding office covers all the bases by barring those who had engaged in “rebellions”, “insurrections”, or given “aid and comforf to the enemies” of the US. On the other hand, Aaron Burr was tried on a treason charge which was based on his conspiracy to undertake a rebellion or insurrection. While Burr, et al. had contacts with both GB and Spain, the charge appears to have been based simply on a conspiracy to raise men to take New Orleans by force and separate the “souhwest” from the rest of the country. In Ex Parte Bollman, the Supreme Court held in 1807 that Burr’s mere conspiracy/intent without more was not enough under the treason clause for prosecution. In the course of his opinion CJ Marshall wrote:

    “To complete the crime of levying war against the United States, there must be an actual assemblage of men for the purpose of executing a treasonable design. In the case now before the Court, a design to overturn the government of the United States in New Orleans by force would have been unquestionably a design which, if carried into execution, would have been treason, and the assemblage of a body of men for the purpose of carrying it into execution would amount to levying of war against the United States; but no conspiracy for this object, no enlisting of men to effect it, would be an actual levying of war.”.:

    Using this definition, it would seem that Davis, Lee, et al. committed “treason”.because there was “a design to overturn the government of the United States in [the southern states] by force.” Firing on a US military installation and raising troops to engage the US in combat would “git ‘er done”..

    • BorderRuffian May 27, 2013 / 5:32 pm

      John Foskett-
      …Using this definition, it would seem that Davis, Lee, et al. committed “treason”.because there was “a design to overturn the government of the United States in [the southern states] by force.” Firing on a US military installation and raising troops to engage the US in combat would “git ‘er done”…

      The rule of the United States in the southern states. The government (Washington) would not be overthrown.

      If someone renounces their citizenship and allegiance to the United States how are they guilty of treason? Is anyone forced to be a citizen of the US?

      • SF Walker May 28, 2013 / 1:49 am

        Renouncing citizenship isn’t treason, but taking Federal property and U.S. troops at gunpoint certainly is. The Confederates did both before the Ft. Sumter crisis.

      • John Foskett May 28, 2013 / 7:10 am

        As SF points out, those are two different concepts. Marshall didn’t deem it necessary to inquire whether Burr had renounced his citizenship. His sole problem with the prosecution was that there had been no actual act in implementation of the intent. Moreover, at the time I believe that the U.S., like virtually all nations, followed the doctrine of permanent alleigance. Today, in order to effectively renounce citizenship, certain formalities are required. Finally, I’ll wager that the Framers didn’t intend that a citizen could commit treason with impunity by the comtrivance of “renouncing” citizenship first.. it certainly didn’t occur through the nullity of “secession”.

  8. Noma May 27, 2013 / 12:26 pm

    Yep. They committed treason, and also, those who were officers and enlisted men in the U.S. Army and Navy, broke their sacred vows of loyalty.

    That’s why they invoked the will of God at every moment, to cover in their heart the wrong-doing they had committed. And the Lord, appreciating their sincerity, gave them His mercy by finally freeing the slaves — and freeing the Confederates of their great burden of hypocrisy.

    (Unfortunately, Nathan Bedford Forrest and others were not actually ready to accept the mercy of the Lord. But that’s a different topic.)

  9. Michael Confoy May 27, 2013 / 12:30 pm

    As I said on your early post — The U.S. Constitution says yes.

  10. David Marshall May 27, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    No, the confederates did not commit treason but were fighting for their way of life and felt they had the right to seceed from the United States.Look at Abraham Lincoln’s reconstruction plans and instructions given to General Grant prior to Appomatox. Even Jeffertson Davis was never tried for treason and was granted his release from detainment.

    • M.D. Blough May 27, 2013 / 9:59 pm

      David-The founding fathers, when they signed the Declaration of Independence, knew that, under British law, they were committing treason. They weren’t engaging in hyperbole when they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor or, as Franklin is said to have announced after the signing, “We must hang together, or we shall surely hang separately.” They didn’t face treason charges because they won.

    • John Foskett May 28, 2013 / 7:17 am

      Before people point to the failure to prosecute Davis for treason as evidence that he didn’t commit treason, they really ought to do a little reading. If they do, they’ll understand why he in fact wasn’t prosecuted. Until then they’re repeating uninformed fiction. Here’s a starting point: The Case of (Jefferson) Davis, 7 F. Cas. 63, 102 (C.C.D. Va. 1867)..

  11. Scott Smart May 27, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    Well, that was the question with holding Jeff Davis so I guess it was answered, no. But in light of current affairs it sheds light on the larger issue. In the post-Westphalian world order war was a matter between sovereign nation-states. So recognizing CSA was a bit of a problem, just like today’s “war on terror”.

  12. Bob Huddleston May 27, 2013 / 2:41 pm

    Well, of course, the answer is “yes,” just as it was in 1775. The Confederate supporters committed treason up to the moment the United States signed a peace treaty and recognized the CSA. After the war, the United States decided not to try the political leaders and the military ones were covered by their various surrender documents.

    In the middle fifties, during the fight over Kansas, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis responded to the efforts of the Free State settlers resisting the Lecompton territorial legislature – and the latter, do not forget, stands as the worse example of fraudulent voting in American History, a distinction for which there are a lot of competition!

    As Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis wrote to Bvt. Major General Persifor F. Smith, 3 September 1856, “The position of the insurgents … is that of open rebellion against the laws and constitutional authorities, with such an open manifestation of a purpose to spread devastation over the land, as no longer justifies further hesitation or indulgence. … patriotism and humanity alike require that rebellion should be promptly crushed.” And three weeks later, the Adjutant General wrote to Smith, quoting the Secretary of War, “‘The only distinction of parties which, in the military point of view, it is necessary to note, is that which distinguishes those who respect and maintain the laws and organized government from those who combine for revolutionary resistance to the constituted authorities and laws of the land. The armed combination of the latter class came within the denunciation of the President’s proclamation, and are proper subjects upon which to employ the military laws.’”

    • M.D. Blough May 27, 2013 / 11:04 pm

      Bob-No treaty was signed. One only engages in treaties with foreign nations. There were terms and conditions of surrender.

      • R E Watson May 28, 2013 / 9:16 am

        @M.D. Bough

        I’m sure Bob realizes that no treaty was signed. IF the two sides had agreed on a peace treaty to end the war and the CSA was recognized, then treason would no longer apply.

        • M.D. Blough May 28, 2013 / 1:02 pm

          The matter was effectively resolved by pardons and by the Fourteenth Amendment which, in part, declared, “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.”

        • Brooks D. Simpson June 9, 2014 / 8:26 am

          Not really. The only issue was the seating of congressional delegations after the suppression of a rebellion. There was a temporary disruption of relations, that’s all. Follow the debates.

          • M.D. Blough June 9, 2014 / 1:11 pm

            That is why Andrew Johnson could do nothing about Congressional refusal to seat delegations composed of former Rebels (some very unreconstructed). Article 1, Section 5, paragraph 1 of the Constitution provides, “SECTION 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide.”

            One of the most important provisions of the 14th Amendment when it was ratified (July 9, 1868) resolved this issue:

            >>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.<<

  13. Jimmy Dick May 27, 2013 / 2:56 pm

    Only one answer possible and that is yes. Any other answer is obviously incorrect. The fact that there were no treason trials is a totally separate issue involving political reality after the war. I think that if there has been trials and possibly executions the question would have been where do they stop? If Davis was tried and executed for treason would Lee be tried? I have no doubt in my mind that the Southern veterans would have went to war over that issue. Furthermore any executions or trials would only have created martyrs and that was not something desired. The South created plenty of their own to create their Lost Cause lie.

    I do think there is a subtle difference between those that advocated secession and those that just fought in the Confederate military. Those that were conscripted could have pointed to that fact which would have made it difficult to prosecute them. The men who participated in the secession and were on record as voting for it could have been tried as well, but again that would only have created martyrs.

  14. Mark May 27, 2013 / 3:30 pm

    It was treason by reasonable standards, but the Union was willing to allow for all practical purposes that Southerners considered it a justified revolution. No harm (what’s 750k dead between friends?) no foul. They couldn’t have imagined that 100 years later JFK would be fuming to his aides about federal marshals beaten with lead pipes: “Don’t they know they lost the war?”.

    Look, the Americans and the British wanted to summarily execute the Nazi leaders after WWII. Those were the standards of 1945. Only Stalin, who’d been doing bogus show trials for years, wanted trials for reasons of his own and the Allies felt obligated because of what the Red Army did. The idea that the Confederates were treated harshly, after their leaders returned to Congress no less, shows how far removed from reality the bitter Confederate Romantic view really is. We’ll never know if a few executed leaders would have meant a few less Emmitt Tills. Even if that isn’t so, the Southerners with their honor culture knew better than anyone what normally happens if you start a revolution and lose it. That they’d whine about mistreatment when it didn’t happen was as predictable as any parent knows.

    • Michael C. Lucas May 29, 2013 / 7:21 am


  15. Alan May 27, 2013 / 7:06 pm

    The simple answer is yes. Even if it wasn’t that simple, Jeff Davis, as a former Secretary of War in the United States government, Robert E. Lee, as a Colonel in the US Army and a former superintendent at West Point, John Cabell Breckinridge as a former Vice President of the United States of America knew exactly what they were doing. Even if they had tears in their eyes like the protagonists in “North and South” (currently being re-shown on the Westerns channel) and unlike the firebrands like Rhett, Ruffin, Cobb and so many others, they knew exactly what they were doing was wrong. Winfield Scott, a Virginian, even pointed it out to Bobby Lee in so many words.

    While I have respect and admiration for Lee and some of the others, what they did was treason – they chose for whatever reasons to go against their country. It might have been more complex than now, but treason is treason. You don’t don Blue one morning and decide I don’t like Lincoln or Abolitionists so I can leave my army. You don’t sit in the United States Senate one morning and because the firebrands in your state chose secession that you choose it too.

  16. Charles Lovejoy May 27, 2013 / 7:54 pm

    Depends what side of the political fence your own. With my avant-guard philosophy and people like Eugene Debs, Che Guevara,Malcolm X are some of my philosophical leanings. I have no problem blurring lines ,breaking rules, laws or pushing the envelope. I would call it more a revolt of the Southern aristocracy than treason.

  17. Pat Young May 27, 2013 / 9:30 pm

    There is not a lot of case law in the U.S. pre-Civil War defining treason. We know that John Brown’s raid was found to be treason against the state of Virginia. In the case Ex Parte Bollman and Ex Parte Swartwout, 8 U.S. 4 Cranch 75 75 (1807) Marshall discusses treason:

    “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

    To constitute that specific crime for which the prisoners now before the court have been committed, war must be actually levied against the United States. However flagitious may be the crime of conspiring to subvert by force the government of our country, such conspiracy is not treason. To conspire to levy war, and actually to levy war, the distinct offenses. The first must be brought into operation by the assemblage of men for a purpose treasonable in itself or the fact of levying war cannot have been committed. So far has this principle been carried that in a case reported by Ventris and mentioned in some modern treatises on criminal law, it has been determined that the actual enlistment of men to serve against the government does not amount to levying war. It is true that in that case the soldiers enlisted were to serve without the realm, but they were enlisted within it, and if the enlistment for a treasonable purpose could amount to levying war, then war had been actually levied.

    It is not the intention of the Court to say that no individual can be guilty of this crime who has not appeared in arms against his county. On the contrary, if war be actually levied — that is if a body of men be actually assembled for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose — all those who perform any part, however minute or however remote from the scene of action, and who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, are to be considered as traitors. But there must be an actual assembling of men for the treasonable purpose to constitute a levying of war.

    To complete the crime of levying war against the United States, there must be an actual assemblage of men for the purpose of executing a treasonable design. In the case now before the Court, a design to overturn the government of the United States in New Orleans by force would have been unquestionably a design which, if carried into execution, would have been treason, and the assemblage of a body of men for the purpose of carrying it into execution would amount to levying of war against the United States…

    In that case Marshall said that seeking to overthrow US control of New Orleans would be treason if the conspirators took violent actions to carry it out.

  18. lunchcountersitin May 28, 2013 / 12:55 am

    On December 10, 1832, an important American made the followin statements regarding secession and treason:

    “The States severally have not retained their entire sovereignty. It has been shown that in becoming parts of a nation, not members of a league, they surrendered many of their essential parts of sovereignty. The right to make treaties, declare war, levy taxes, exercise exclusive judicial and legislative powers, were all functions of sovereign power. The States, then, for all these important purposes, were no longer sovereign. The allegiance of their citizens was transferred in the first instance to the government of the United States; they became American citizens, and owed obedience to the Constitution of the United States, and to laws made in conformity with the powers vested in Congress. This last position has not been, and cannot be, denied… it has been shown that in this sense the States are not sovereign, and that even if they were, and the national Constitution had been formed by compact, there would be no right in any one State to exonerate itself from the obligation.

    “So obvious are the reasons which forbid this secession, that it is necessary only to allude to them. The Union was formed for the benefit of all. It was produced by mutual sacrifice of interest and opinions. Can those sacrifices be recalled? Can the States, who magnanimously surrendered their title to the territories of the West, recall the grant? Will the inhabitants of the inland States agree to pay the duties that may be imposed without their assent by those on the Atlantic or the Gulf, for their own benefit? Shall there be a free port in one State, and enormous duties in another? No one believes that any right exists in a single State to involve all the others in these and countless other evils, contrary to engagements solemnly made. Everyone must see that the other States, in self-defense, must oppose it at all hazards.

    “Your (referring to the state threatening to secede) pride was aroused by the assertions that a submission to these laws was a state of vassalage, and that resistance to them was equal, in patriotic merit, to the opposition our fathers offered to the oppressive laws of Great Britain. You were told that this opposition might be peaceably-might be constitutionally made-that you might enjoy all the advantages of the Union and bear none of its burdens. Eloquent appeals to your passions, to your State pride, to your native courage, to your sense of real injury, were used to prepare you for the period when the mask which concealed the hideous features of DISUNION should be taken off.

    But the dictates of a high duty oblige me solemnly to announce that you cannot succeed. The laws of the United States must be executed. I have no discretionary power on the subject-my duty is emphatically pronounced in the Constitution. Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution, deceived you-they could not have been deceived themselves. They know that a forcible opposition could alone prevent the execution of the laws, and they know that such opposition must be repelled. Their object is disunion, but be not deceived by names; disunion, by armed force, is TREASON. Are you really ready to incur its guilt?”

    Who said it? Then President Andrew Jackson, a Southern Democrat. His statements were pointed to South Carolina, which threatened to secede during what has become known as the Nullification Crisis.

    So, it seems that the policy that disunion by armed force would be treated as treason dates back to several decades before the Civil War started. I have sometimes referred to this as the “Jackson Doctrine.” Because you can’t have enough doctrines.

    – Alan

  19. Brad May 28, 2013 / 4:26 am

    Yes. Is there any doubt. As someone alluded to, the USA was magnanimous in not hanging the lot of them.

  20. Norm Crosby May 28, 2013 / 4:31 am


  21. Norm Crosby May 28, 2013 / 5:17 am

    Was John Brown treasonous? How can a non citizen of Virginia be treasonous of a state he is not an inhabitant of? If John Brown was treasonous, surely Confederate adherents were treasonous.

    I would venture to assume that most adherents of the non-treasonous bent would consider Jane Fonda treasonous. She gave “aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.” How is she treasonous and adherents to the Confederacy not?

    • Buck Buchanan May 28, 2013 / 2:47 pm


      I made that same point about Brown in a paper that I wrote in grad school 22 years ago. That he was treasonous towards the US there is little doubt.

    • John Foskett May 28, 2013 / 2:57 pm

      Brown’s conviction for the rather odd crime of treason against the Commonwealth was all the more bizarre because his acts took place on federal property. In another setting his conviction would have made for a very interesting appeal. I recommend Brian McGinty’s excellent 2009 book on the Brown trial and the several flaws in how the defense was handled, including the assignment of counsel.

    • M.D. Blough May 29, 2013 / 2:48 pm

      The whole trial and execution of John Brown was an exercise in idiocy by pro-slavery forces. John Brown alive was problematical, at best, to his cause. His commitment against slavery was true and sincere, but he was a fanatic. There’s no way one can excuse or justify what he and his sons did at Osawatomie, KS. That was cold-blooded murder and their actions caused a major escalation in violence from both sides. http://www.osawatomieks.org/index.aspx?nid=127. His actions at Harpers Ferry make no sense in trying to figure out what he would have considered a success and why he believed he HAD a chance of succeeding. Virginia authorities gave John Brown the platform of a lifetime which he used to convert himself into a martyr to the cause of abolition. I think they would have been smarter to treat him as a crazy old man and commit him to an insane asylum. John Brown dead was a far more effective weapon against them than the man ever was before his trial.

  22. Michael C. Lucas May 28, 2013 / 7:02 am

    The flaw in these arguments which suggest Confederates committed treason, is simply that many above are ignoring the actions of Northern States and citizens which committed treason against the dogma of Union as well. The legislative, hostile actions of Northern greed and aggression, preceded secession and conflicts for a central government controlled by Northerners v. Southerners. The incursions against Southerners in Kansas, Missouri, Virginia and the South in general by aiding and abiding known radical abolitionists, terrorists, criminals, murderers and thieves and liars as well whose religious zealotry attacked Southerners. Northerners committed treason and plotted the domination of the Union and expansion of the country for their own self interests rather than shared interests with all of white America. There are many variables leading to the escalation of events, and certainly Confederates had their own self interests, and greed as well, but as a whole the documentation and chronology of events demonstrates that the Confederates actions were defensive measures to protect themselves because of Northern treason.

    • Rob Baker May 28, 2013 / 1:14 pm

      Or rather protect their “property.”

      • Michael C. Lucas May 29, 2013 / 7:25 am

        Would you do any less? Or do you just let everyone have a turn?

    • M.D. Blough May 28, 2013 / 2:24 pm

      There is no provision in the original constitution or any of the 12 pre-Civil War Amendments that says the slave states always got their way, no matter what the rest of the country thought. As for Kansas, from 1820 to 1850, the territory that became Kansas was to the north of the line developed by the Missouri Compromise and, as such, was free territory, just as anything below the line was slave. The Kansas-Nebraska Act turned Kansas into a combat zone with BOTH abolitionist and pro-slavery forces racing to try to control it. Border Ruffians from Missouri, who had no intention of settling in Kansas, crossed into Kansas to skew the votes. The initial application for Kansas statehood, backed by President Buchanan, was as a slave state based on the notoriously fraudulent Lecompton Constitution (if you doubt the fraud, it was so bad that even Stephen Douglas, father of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the one who got the Compromise of 1850 passed, and the advocate of Popular Sovereignty, broke with the Buchanan Administration and opposed the application, starting an ugly feud with Buchanan and with the slave states that cost him their support in the 1860 race for the Democratic Party nomination.).

      The slave state interests overreacted to the activities of a small minority of abolitionists who had little support in free states (Elijah Lovejoy, the abolitionist editor, was murdered by a mob in Illinois) so intensely that they turned many free state whites against them by convincing them that slave power interests were willing to trample on the rights of free state whites to protect slave interests. Many Northern whites disliked slavery for a variety of reasons but certainly would not have supported any actions against it where it was established. When the slave-state dominated Congress and executive branch overturned the Missouri Compromise and passed a new Fugitive Slave Act that effectively forced unwilling residents of free states to participating in slave-catching Fugitives (seen by many Free Staters as violating THEIR states’ rights) and the Supreme Court issuing the Dred Scott decision, rejecting a principle that had been established since the Articles of Confederation, that Congress could determine the free or slave status of territories, white Northern attitudes started changing. Many saw Southern threats as trying to interfere in how free states dealt with free speech and assembly by the free states’ own citizens and, by threatening disunion if the Republican candidate for President won, by interfering with their right to chose for whom they would vote. The damage to the slave states was self-inflicted.

    • Buck Buchanan May 28, 2013 / 2:48 pm

      Tell that to Clement VanLandingham.

    • John Foskett May 28, 2013 / 2:50 pm

      When did the “North” seize United States military installations or fire on them? You’re fogging up the crystal clear and complicating the simple. Are you a politician by any chance?

    • Jimmy Dick May 28, 2013 / 9:05 pm

      Same old garbage which has been dismissed with facts for years. Come on. Try something new and original instead of the same old poor pitiful South whine. It’s the same old tired whiny crap you and the heritage folks trot out all over the place.

  23. Michael Confoy May 28, 2013 / 10:29 am

    One thing that I notice with all those that say no — none can refer to the US Constitution as the basis for their argument even though it was the law of the land. There are attempts, which have been quashed by Madison, The Federalists Papers, the Supreme Court, etc., to say the United States existed as a compact of states, but since the Constitutional Convention required that the states ratify the Constitution not through a legislative process, but through state conventions so that there would be doubt that the Constitution would be a compact with the people, the state compact argument only works in the minds of the desperately delusioned.

    • Lyle Smith May 28, 2013 / 5:25 pm

      So basically you’re saying that the Republicans, beginning with Abraham Lincoln, chose not to abide the Constitution and treat ex-Confederates as traitors?

      • John Foskett May 29, 2013 / 7:05 am

        Decisions not to prosecute are made every day. The fact that for legal and political reasons Davis, et al. were not prosecuted is irrelevant to whether or not they in fact committed treason. According to the words of that great Virginian John Marshall in Ex parte Bollman, they clearly did.

        • Lyle Smith May 29, 2013 / 12:26 pm

          I disagree with you. The United States actions at the time are plenty more relevant than say John Marshall’s or Andrew Jackson’s words. Whatever law or doctrine you and others can point to was not in fact applied. Either you guys are interpreting the facts and the Constitution wrongly, or the United States government did not abide the Constitution. Effectively the United States did not treat them as traitors so they weren’t in fact traitors.

          • M.D. Blough May 29, 2013 / 2:56 pm

            The Constitution does not require prosecution. The concern was in strictly limiting the circumstances where treason could be charged, legally, which is why the provision dealing with it is in Article III of the Constitution. It’s no coincidence that it’s paired with the provision, in paragraph 3 of Article 3, “. . .The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.” It was a reaction to the very expansive definition of treason, including petit treason, that was often used as an excuse to seize a wealthy family’s property for the crown.

          • Lyle Smith May 30, 2013 / 4:49 am

            Right, I shouldn’t probably say “abide the Constitution”. The United States didn’t ultimately enforce the law against any ex-Confederates. They almost did for some, but ultimately gave them amnesty.

    • Jimmy Dick May 28, 2013 / 9:03 pm

      Also note that the Constitution could only be ratified, not amended or passed with any conditions whatsoever by those conventions. As much as Patrick Henry in Virginia or the delegates in New York tried, they were unable to do anything beyond suggestions which as Henry noted somewhat dryly, had no permanence or lasting effect.

  24. jfepperson May 28, 2013 / 11:03 am

    Yes, absolutely. I don’t see how the actions of any Northern states or individuals has any bearing.

    • freedmenspatrol May 28, 2013 / 6:26 pm

      Some of the people engaged in rescuing fugitive slaves, or fighting off those who came to collect them under the auspices of the Fugitive Slave Act, were accused of treason. I think a few were even indicted as such over the Battle of Christiana and the rescue of Shadrach Minkins, but the Pierce administration couldn’t get convictions and so gave up on the effort. Those people certainly took up arms against the lawful agents of the United States in the course of their ordinary duties, just as the Confederates did. One could argue that such a thing constituted levying war, though it of course fell very far short of the later Confederate effort.

      But that doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not the Confederates committed treason, only whether or not certain Northerners who tolerated abolitionists condoned the same. For my part, I’m quite comfortable admitting something approaching and perhaps meeting the legal standards of treason took place in frustrating enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. Good for those traitors. I wish we celebrated them and their sacrifices more than we do. In fact, I admire them quite a bit more than the powdered wig traitors of an earlier generation. The other set of traitors got off very easy and shouldn’t have any cause to complain.

      I read into the complaint the implication that we should treat all traitors uniformly, but I don’t see how that follows. We have plenty of reasons to make distinctions between states which deserve loyalty and those which do not and to treat treason against them accordingly.

      • freedmenspatrol May 28, 2013 / 6:35 pm

        I made an error in the previous comment, sorry. The Fillmore administration is the one that gave up on convicting people rescuing fugitive slaves and helping them evade capture for treason.

  25. Rob Baker May 28, 2013 / 1:15 pm

    I think in leadership yes. When you get down to soldiers, then it’s different. Especially when conscription emerges.

  26. Buck Buchanan May 28, 2013 / 2:39 pm

    For me I will address only those who resigned their commissions as officers in the Army or the Navy.

    And that is a resounding yes. I took the same oath of commissioning (in a slightly updated form). That is an oath which is binding to the grave.

    Some may say that since those officers resigned then they were cleared of their oaths. Not so….they were cleared of their obligation to serve, not free to now take up arms against the same country and constitution they swore an oath to defend. They could have sat out the war as civilians but chose not to.

    It was a hard bright line which was crossed by those men. I have no doubt they thought they were doing right but that does not make it so.

    If you believe differently you either never swore the oath of an officer or never took your oath seriously….in which case you were a lousy officer.

    • Michael C. Lucas May 29, 2013 / 11:18 am

      There is a big stretch of difference in resigning a commission and committing treason. The officers resignations did not preclude that they would lead an attack against the Union, they had done their duty, and honorably resigned when faith in that government proved it was intent on war against their fellow countrymen. However many did lead Confederate forces defending against the Union which had provoked, invaded, and attacked Southern States. By sending reinforcements with the intent to hold ground in violation of those States sovereignty, in order to blockade Charleston, that was a direct provocation of war. That is the position of a usurper, and remember what was federal property but state property first and without consent of the State it was no longer applicable to the Union. Since the States had seceded, the federal government no longer had constitutional authority over them, except in war to invade and no war had been declared, except by the provocation of deceit by the Buchanan and Lincoln administration to reinforce and secure footholds for Gen. Scott’s Anaconda plan. The Southern States did not declare war on the United States, they seceded, and secession is not treason either, it is a position of neutrality.

      • M.D. Blough May 29, 2013 / 1:11 pm

        Michael-Ft. Sumter was on an artificial island, created for the erection of a fort. In any event, once property becomes federal property, the Constitution does not provide for any change in that status without federal consent. Even where private property is involved, If you’ve ever sold a house or otherwise legally transferred title to it without fraud or coercion, you would have no right to demand that a subsequent title holder who took it in good faith vacate the premises and forcibly remove him if he refused to do so. Even if you had a legal claim to rescind the transaction, you would have to go to court first and prevail. There was no invasion or provocation by the Union. The aggression was by the forces of insurrection against federal facilities manned by troops legitimately assigned to them. Remember, it was President Buchanan, notoriously pro-slavery, who not only refused to order Maj. Anderson to leave Ft. Sumter and/or surrender it but authorized the first effort, the Star of the West, to supply the fort. That effort was abandoned when the ship was fired upon by Confederates.

        BTW, until President Lincoln declared a blockade AFTER Confederates attacked Ft. Sumter and it surrendered, Charleston Harbor was not blockaded by US forces. Confederate forces controlled access and egress to the harbor. Ft. Sumter was besieged by Confederate forces.

        • Charles Lovejoy June 1, 2013 / 9:25 am

          I’m in agreement , Fort Sumter was still legal federal property at the time it was fired on.from the legal standpoint under existing US law. Fort Moultrie that was abandoned IMVHO came under a different set of circumstances than did Sumter. Looking at the time line , South Carolina seceded in Dec of 1860 a little over four months later the Ft was fired on. The Star of the West was the first indecent that took place directly that was connected to Ft Sumter, Jan 1861. Act of war too? But it didn’t start a war. Maybe because it was a civilian steamship under US government hire in part or maybe it was in part Lincoln didn’t take office until March 1861 and Buchanan had rather let Lincoln deal with the issue? My thinking from visiting Charleston numerous times Ft Sumter was not a direct threat from just being supplied. It looks more like a setting duck out in the middle of the harbor.The proper protocol would have been for the newly elected Confederate government to have entered into negotiations with Washington on the Fort. Problem It wouldn’t have worked for either side.Negotiations with Washington on the Fort would have acknowledged the CSA respected a legal right of Federal ownership. On Lincoln’s side it would have acknowledged the CSA having legitimate status. If Lincoln had not of re-supplied the fort because of the demand of South Carolina and the CSA it would of also acknowledged the CSA having legitimate status. At that point I don’t see many other options for either side at that point.

          • Jimmy Dick June 1, 2013 / 3:43 pm

            Sumter was obviously US property as were all federal forts at that time. The laws are clear about that issue beyond a shadow of doubt.
            The real issue for the attack is that the people who were in the middle were wavering about the whole secession issue. The longer things went, the more people who began to question secession and who began to demand for it to end and the states to return to the US. If Davis had not ordered that attack it is very likely that the Confederacy would have dissolved in three more months or so. With no war there would have been nothing to maintain unity in those seven states.

      • Buck Buchanan May 30, 2013 / 12:16 pm

        You missed my point.

        The act of resignation was not a treasonous act….and I never said or implied it was.

        I said the taking up arms against the US after having sworn an oath to protect it was treasonous. If they no longer wanted to serve the US, fine. Stay a civiliain. By taking up arms they disregarded their oath and conducted themselves in a treasonous manner.

  27. Noma May 28, 2013 / 3:33 pm

    Let’s just start with the fact that — in actuality — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc., committed treason to Great Britain, by their rebellion. The difference is that they won their rebellion, so their treason is forgotten. But, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, etc. lost their rebellion – so their treason is remembered. But both committed treason against their sovereign government.

  28. rcocean May 28, 2013 / 4:58 pm

    The answer of course, is no. The Confederacy did not levy war against the United States, because the states that seceded had renounced their American citizenship. Robert E. Lee was no longer an American when he joined the Confederate army. That’s why he had to re-apply to get back his US Citizenship. The issue of whether a right of a state to secede had never been clearly spelled out by either SCOTUS or the Constitution. One can make an argument based what the Constitution implies but that’s it. The failure of the North to press this issue and make a “Bright Line” was one reason for secession and the civil war.

    • M.D. Blough May 29, 2013 / 12:47 am

      How in the world does this become “the North’s” fault (” The failure of the North to press this issue and make a “Bright Line” was one reason for secession and the civil war.”)? The U.S. government’s position consistently was that there was no constitutionally nor otherwise legal right for a state to unilaterally leave the Union and two presidents, Madison and Jackson (both Southerners and both slaveowners), had been prepared to use military force to suppress secession should threats to do so materialize, which they did not. Even Buchanan refused to officially receive Confederate representatives or order Anderson out of Ft. Sumter. As the Civil War approached, no free state nor the United States government had any interest in attempting to establish the existence of a right to secede so what would they go to court about? The rebel states never attempted to get a ruling in court on the legality of their course nor did they ever attempt to get the Constitution amended to allow them to leave. Your argument seems to be that, in the absence of an explicit Constitutional ban on secession, either in the text or by SCOTUS (BTW, the Supreme Court of the United States does not give advisory opinions. There has to be a case or controversy) then it’s ok. The Constitution is quite explicit on how states can be created. Why, if it was the intent that a state could unilaterally end the relationship over the express opposition of other states and the US government, was there no mention of it in the Constitution and a creation of a process as to how the relationship could be peacefully severed? That makes no sense.

      In the history of prosecutions for treason here and abroad, I’ve never seen the argument succeeding that the act deemed treasonous was an effective renunciation of citizenship and, thus, a defense against the charge. In the case of the executed Jacobite rebels (both rebellions) in the UK, their position was that their leader was, in fact, the legitimate monarch of the UK and that the Hanoverites were usurpers. Didn’t keep their heads on their shoulders.

  29. Michael C. Lucas May 29, 2013 / 7:20 am

    RCOCEAN! The seceding states and citizens with them never renounced their American citizenship as United v. i.e Confederate States of America, they only seceded and renounced their part in the United States. America was and is not a nation, it is divided into two continents and an isthmus, North, South and Central America. And if it hadn’t been for Amerigo Vespucci and a German Map maker it might be called something else entirely.

    • M.D. Blough May 29, 2013 / 1:23 pm

      The United States of American has been a nation ever since it declared its independence from the UK in 1776 and set forth the terms of its existence as a nation in, first, the Articles of Confederation and, then, the U.S. Constitution. You disrespect the dead and injured of the American Revolution and of the War of 1812. Apparently the slave states that joined in the insurrection regarded their solemn commitment, made in the Constitution, to be completely worthless, something on which no honorable party could rely. They attempted to coerce people to vote against a candidate by threatening to destroy the Union. That’s not a democracy or even a republic. It’s extortion. Then, when their chosen victims refused to be extorted, secessionists never tried to find legal ways out of the union or even attempt to defeat Lincoln in the next election. They chose to resort to the bullet rather than the ballot box or even litigation. They had a choice and the results of their choice devastated their region. Ever since, they and their supporters, with few exceptions, have attempted to deny responsibility for their actions.

      • Michael C. Lucas May 29, 2013 / 7:48 pm

        I’m sorry Blough but you are mistaken, you should visit Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. As it is written in the Declaration of Independence the united States was not a nation in 1776, it was a compact of Sovereign Colonial States, who united and fought against the tyranny of British oppression. The united States was an idea if that, and not a nation in the singular sense until after the Revolution, or to be more exact until after 1865. It was united first under the Articles of Confederation and then the Constitution, and at no time did the States relent their sovereignty, to be dictated by a central government, each step following the revolution however was intended to make a more perfect union of those sovereign states. But, I do appreciate your patriotism.

        • Norm Crosby May 30, 2013 / 5:45 am

          Not a nation in 1776? What?

          “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to asume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them….”

          The title of the above document, by the way, is The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America (notice all caps, not united States).

          • Cerese Feagans July 10, 2015 / 9:59 am

            The Thirteen United States did not become a nation until 1788, when the Constitution was ratified.

        • SF Walker May 30, 2013 / 6:43 am

          What’s interesting to me is the fact that the Patriots during the Revolution never saw themselves as individual sovereign nation-states fighting that war–they thought of themselves as a united group; a single entity. It didn’t take them long to realize that a loose confederation with a decentralized government doesn’t cut the mustard–hence the replacement of the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution. LIke it or not, all the states surrendered a certain amount of sovereignty when they ratified it.

          A nation founded upon individual state sovereignty and the right of those member states to secede won’t last very long–that’s why confederations are the least common form of government in the world.

      • Norm Crosby May 30, 2013 / 5:50 am

        M.D. Blough,

        This is perhaps the finest and most cogent refuation and comment I have seen re. the “legality” of seccession. I wish I had said it, I will cerrtainly allude to it and its ideas in the future. Thank you.

        • Norm Crosby May 30, 2013 / 5:51 am

          Please pardon the typo. Refutation.

    • Corey Meyer May 30, 2013 / 6:24 am

      James Madison to Thomas Jefferson

      24 Oct. 1787Papers 10:207–15
      You will herewith receive the result of the Convention, which continued its Session till the 17th. of September. I take the liberty of making some observations on the subject which will help to make up a letter, if they should answer no other purpose.

      It appeared to be the sincere and unanimous wish of the Convention to cherish and preserve the Union of the States. No proposition was made, no suggestion was thrown out, in favor of a partition of the Empire into two or more Confederacies.

      It was generally agreed that the objects of the Union could not be secured by any system founded on the principle of a confederation of sovereign States. A voluntary observance of the federal law by all the members, could never be hoped for. A compulsive one could evidently never be reduced to practice, and if it could, involved equal calamities to the innocent & the guilty, the necessity of a military force both obnoxious & dangerous, and in general, a scene resembling much more a civil war, than the administration of a regular Government.

      Hence was embraced the alternative of a Government which instead of operating, on the States, should operate without their intervention on the individuals composing them; and hence the change in the principle and proportion of representation.

      This ground-work being laid, the great objects which presented themselves were 1. to unite a proper energy in the Executive and a proper stability in the Legislative departments, with the essential characters of Republican Government. 2. to draw a line of demarkation which would give to the General Government every power requisite for general purposes, and leave to the States every power which might be most beneficially administered by them. 3. to provide for the different interests of different parts of the Union. 4. to adjust the clashing pretensions of the large and small States. Each of these objects was pregnant with difficulties. The whole of them together formed a task more difficult than can be well concieved by those who were not concerned in the execution of it. Adding to these considerations the natural diversity of human opinions on all new and complicated subjects, it is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle.


      • Michael C. Lucas May 30, 2013 / 3:40 pm

        Corey, what is the point you are trying to infer? That letter is dater 24 Oct. 1787, and demonstrates clearly that they were in process of forming a nation, not that there was a nation.

        • Corey Meyer May 31, 2013 / 11:24 am

          Well Michael a couple of things can be found in the quote…mainly this part…

          “It appeared to be the sincere and unanimous wish of the Convention to cherish and preserve the Union of the States. No proposition was made, no suggestion was thrown out, in favor of a partition of the Empire into two or more Confederacies.

          It was generally agreed that the objects of the Union could not be secured by any system founded on the principle of a confederation of sovereign States. A voluntary observance of the federal law by all the members, could never be hoped for. A compulsive one could evidently never be reduced to practice, and if it could, involved equal calamities to the innocent & the guilty, the necessity of a military force both obnoxious & dangerous, and in general, a scene resembling much more a civil war, than the administration of a regular Government.”

          I will let you marinate in that for a while…

          • Michael C. Lucas June 1, 2013 / 7:58 am

            Corey, your not considering the overall picture, you are cherry picking, ignoring the arguments of State sovereignty from the forming of the nation to the Civil War, let alone to the present day. None the less the united States were not the United States until the ratification of the Constitution, and even then the States have held on to defend their State sovereignty where it has suited them to do so. We are not in agreement, which is an exact example of this argument. Even James Madison espoused States Rights, it is the balance of the freedom of self determination and government to protect that freedom that was sought and the federal government has never been given free reign to have complete usurpation over the States without the authority and compliance of the States.

          • Jimmy Dick June 1, 2013 / 3:38 pm

            Cherry picking? Madison did not espouse state rights. As a matter of fact he specifically stated that secession was unconstitutional. The US Constitution was created deliberately to place the federal government over that of the states. What you’re doing is trying to give your argument legitimacy but you can never do that.
            Basically, if the Founding Fathers were around Charleston in April of 1861 they would have beat the living crap out of the secessionists. No matter how hard you try to use originalism to sustain your fantasy about secession you will fail because originalism is cherry picking at the very best.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 2, 2013 / 5:46 am

            You are mistaken! AS USUAL!

    • SF Walker May 30, 2013 / 6:46 am

      You’re right; we could have been called the United States of Vespucci. And Lee Greenwood’s signature song would have been entitled “I’m Proud to be a Vespuccian.” Just goes to show you that it can always be worse!

    • rcocean May 31, 2013 / 4:56 pm

      Mike Lucas, I Like pie!

  30. Bob Huddleston May 29, 2013 / 8:20 am

    “To shew the absurdity — Congress have the right to admit new states. When territories they are subject to the laws of the Union. The day after admission, they have the right to secede and dissolve it.”

    Andrew Jackson to Martin Van Buren, 25 December 1832

  31. Charles Lovejoy May 29, 2013 / 10:27 am

    On a more focused note from me , IMEHO, the fire-eaters worked South Carolina up into a frenzy and fear over the election of Lincoln. As a result prompted South Carolina into the “arbitrary and capricious” action of secession. Several other southern states followed them. With the firing on Ft Sumter more followed. I think into the war the realization of what happened set in with those on both sides. I see leadership of those like both Grant and Sherman wanting to put the country and union back together,move on forgive, forget, move on . Post CW there was a nation to re-unite and not without it’s difficulties I fully understand . Post war some were charged but never convicted of treason. It’s always better to let sleeping ghost sleep as that may.

    • M.D. Blough May 29, 2013 / 1:15 pm

      I thoroughly agree. While there were more than a few who felt there had to be some consequences to the rebellion and not just blithely look away while former Rebels reinstated the effective equivalent of slavery, without the auction block, I think the nation was thoroughly exhausted after 4 years of war, whether battles were fought in a given area or not. When you look at the casualties, there was nowhere that escaped the impact. I think one lesson that the leaders of the US government learned from history is that the revengeful response to insurrection such as after the Jacobite Rebellion caused only bitterness and resentment.

      • Charles Lovejoy May 29, 2013 / 7:27 pm

        You hear a lot about suffering in the south but very little about suffering that went on in states like Ohio both during and after the war. In a state like Ohio that had a large amounts of small family farms and many of the fathers and sons went off fighting the war. Women and children had to fend for themselves , survive the cold winters and keep the farm going the best they could. There were many men that didn’t come home from the war and many came home missing legs,arms and suffered from other afflictions. I could easily see a state like Ohio post war exhausted after 4 years of war even if there was no significant fighting went on in the state.

    • Michael C. Lucas May 29, 2013 / 6:22 pm

      @Lovejoy, none of the Southern states seceded because of the firing on Fort Sumter, they seceded because of Lincoln’s call to arms for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South. As the Governor of Virginia stated, “Executive Department, Richmond, Va., April 15, 1861. Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War: Sir: I have received your telegram of the 15th, the genuineness of which I doubted. Since that time I have received your communications mailed the same day, in which I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia “the quota assigned in a table,” which you append, “to serve as infantry or rifleman for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged.” In reply to this communication, I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object – an object, in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the act of 1795 – will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and, having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the administration has exhibited toward the South. – Respectfully, John Letcher.” As far as Fireeaters are concerned if the Radical Republicans and abolitionists had not instigated the conflict by leading the aggressive political attacks and support of arming insurrectionists against Southerners, then there would not have been anything for the Fireeaters to light up about.

      • Matt McKeon May 30, 2013 / 7:45 pm

        I’m pretty sure you understand that several states had succeeded before the firing on Fort Sumter, or Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers.

        • Michael C. Lucas June 1, 2013 / 8:02 am


      • Charles Lovejoy June 1, 2013 / 2:41 pm

        @Michael,I fully understand with Va secession was different from Georgia. I can understand all sides and not agree with any. Georgia secession was different,my ancestors were a part of it. There were two sides debated in Georgia both for and against as in any debate. Many years later I tend to see those as Herschel V. Johnson and Alexander Stephens points and not TRR Cobb or Robert Tooms in the secession debates. But I have the advantage of many years of hind site none had at the time. So really my opinion can be classed a irrelevant.

        • M.D. Blough June 2, 2013 / 12:22 am

          All I can say is, as a Pennsylvanian, to those who come from states who joined the rebellion, what did you have to complain about? In the earliest days after the ratification of the Constitution, we were faced with an excise tax that threatened to destroy the profitability of the major product of Western Pennsylvania and objected, vociferously to that tax and those who collected it. As the George Washington’s Mt. Vernon website states:

          >>President Washington sought to resolve this dispute peacefully. In 1792, he issued a national proclamation admonishing westerners for their resistance to the “operation of the laws of the United States for raising revenue upon spirits distilled within the same.”2 However, by 1794 the protests became violent. In July, nearly 400 whiskey rebels near Pittsburgh set fire to the home of John Neville, the regional tax collection supervisor. Left with little recourse and at the urgings of Secretary Hamilton, Washington organized a militia force of 12,950 men and led them towards Western Pennsylvania, warning locals “not to abet, aid, or comfort the Insurgents aforesaid, as they will answer the contrary at their peril.”

          The calling of the militia had the desired effect of essentially ending the Whiskey Rebellion. By the time the militia reached Pittsburgh, the rebels had dispersed and could not be found. The militia apprehended approximately 150 men and tried them for treason. A paucity of evidence and the inability to obtain witnesses hampered the trials. Two men, John Mitchell and Philip Weigel, were found guilty of treason, though both were pardoned by President Washington. By 1802, then President Thomas Jefferson repealed the excise tax on whiskey. Under the eye of President Washington, the nascent United States survived the first true challenge to federal authority.<< http://www.mountvernon.org/educational-resources/encyclopedia/presidency/whiskey-rebellion

          The Militia Act of 1795 codified Washington's actions, including how to enforce federal authority in the face of a state government that was reluctant or overtly hostile to the exercise of Federal authority. It was that authority, not some sort of ad hoc power grab, on which Lincoln relied in his call for troops, The statute took into account situations when Congress was not in session: The statute says, in part::

          "Sec. 2 And be it further enacted, that whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed, or the execution thereof obstructed, in any state, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by this act, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, to call forth the militia of such state, or of any other state or states, as may be necessary to suppress such combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed; and the use of militia shall so to be called forth may be continued, if necessary, until the expiration of thirty days of the then next session of Congress."

          • Andy Hall June 2, 2013 / 10:01 am

            Margaret, my recollection is that the federalized militia that marched into Western Pennsylvania to put down the Whiskey Rebellion were commanded by none other than “Light Horse Harry Lee,” father of one Robert E. Lee. Am I remembering that right?

          • M.D. Blough June 3, 2013 / 12:14 am

            Andy-I looked it up. It’s unclear what Lee’s role was, although it seems clear that he traveled with the column. My understanding is that Alexander Hamilton, who had been not only on Washington’s staff but had commanded troops in the revolution, was in effective control of the troops.

  32. Bob Huddleston May 30, 2013 / 9:13 am

    The ultimate flaw often posted here is the idea that unilateral secession was legal. A lot of folk believed that in 1860-61 and quite a few seem to believe that today.

    The problem in 1860 was that even more folk did not think unilateral secession was legal. And when the slave states decided to forgo negotiations and attack Fort Sumter, those in the free states and the border-slave states who had questions about the legality were converted to protecting the Union.

    There is not much point in arguing about the legality here – it is done constantly and without much light or many conversions. The important thing to remember is that the Constitution is silent on the right of secession, neither explicitly authorizing nor prohibiting secession.

    And when the slave states chose to not only unilaterally attempt secession, but also to attack the United States flag, they erred seriously in underestimating the resolve of the majority of Americans to maintain a Union.

    “In order to obtain this military advantage of dubious worth, the Confederacy voluntarily accepted the role of aggressor, preparing to open fire, if necessary, on the American flag, on a fortress charged with deep symbolic meaning, and on a soldier who had become a national hero. It would have been difficulty to devise a strategy better calculated to arouse and unite the divided, irresolute North. The primary significance of the southern attack on Fort Sumter is not that it started the Civil War, but rather that it started the war in such a manner as to give the cause of the Union an eruptive force which it might not otherwise have been slow to acquire.”

    David M. Potter with Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Impending Crisis, p. 582.

    • Michael C. Lucas May 30, 2013 / 6:13 pm

      @Huddleston, you have the facts totally out of order and distorted, the ultimate flaw is in generalizing cherry pickings, of secondary revisionists resources and not maintaining chronological order of the facts. The Slave States did not forgo negotiations they had attempted negotiations since before March of 61 with Buchanan and then later that month with Lincoln, who actually chose to fore go meetings for negotiations. The Slave states did not all unilaterally secede, they seceded one at a time. The Slave States did not attack the U.S. States flag, but Northerners thought it would be a three month war which shows that it was they who underestimated Southern resolve.

      • Al Mackey May 31, 2013 / 6:18 am

        Mr. Lucas needs to look up the term “unilateral” in the dictionary. And which flag does he think was flying over Fort Sumter when the confederates attacked it? As to who underestimated things, both sides underestimated the other. Talk about having distorted facts.

        • John Foskett May 31, 2013 / 2:12 pm

          Yeah. in fact, somebody needs to ‘splain this literary craftsmanship to me: ” The Slave states did not all unilaterally secede, they seceded one at a time”. Um, it seems to me that they “unilaterally seceded one at a time” since i’m unaware that the North helped each/any of them secede.

        • Michael C. Lucas June 1, 2013 / 6:56 am

          No Mr. Mackey, I perfectly understand what unilateral means, as demonstrated by the lemming you are in following the unilateral revisionism and distortion that ignores truth, embraces hypocrisy, and bigotry. The Confederates were not firing at the flag, they were firing in assertion of their resolve, the opportunities of ending the stalemate peaceably were exhausted by the stalling of the federal forces, and the clarity of Union resolve to ignore and reinforce that position to threaten Charleston.

          • Al Mackey June 2, 2013 / 5:36 pm

            “I perfectly understand what unilateral means”
            Your post shows decisively you did not understand what it meant when you posted.

            “The Confederates were not firing at the flag”
            Which flag do you think was flying over Fort Sumter when they opened fire? Are you claiming they weren’t aiming at Fort Sumter? That would be an interesting position to take.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 3, 2013 / 8:06 am

            @Mackey, your comment shows decisively your inability to interpret my perspective let alone others even by definition. The Confederates were not firing on the flag, they were firing on a position held by people intent on holding that position for the Union which was dissolved. The Union occupation of Fort Sumter was an attempt to hold a position to threaten Charleston. By saying Confederates were firing on the flag that embraces an ideological emotional response, ennobling the Union cause, it is not objective and demonstrates clearly a bias position to direct historical interpretation.

          • Bob Huddleston June 3, 2013 / 2:33 pm

            One linguistic distinction that should be pointed out: the slave states did not “secede.” They *attempted* secession and were miserable failures at it.

          • Bob Huddleston June 3, 2013 / 2:47 pm

            “The Confederates were not firing on the flag, they were firing on a position held by people intent on holding that position for the Union which was dissolved. The Union occupation of Fort Sumter was an attempt to hold a position to threaten Charleston. By saying Confederates were firing on the flag that embraces an ideological emotional response, ennobling the Union cause, it is not objective and demonstrates clearly a bias position to direct historical interpretation.”

            Sure. And the Japanese were not firing on the American flag on December 7.

            Of course the Rebels were showing their resolve. But *they* were the ones who refused to wait.

            And the attack on the US flag created an emotional response across the country, uniting the country in a way impossible with mere talk and discussion. As it turned out, the majority of Americans, North and South, supported the president and destroyed not only the Confederacy but slavery as well.

            BTW, the “Union” was not dissolved: *that* idea was also not not objective and demonstrates clearly a bias position to direct historical interpretation.

          • John Foskett June 3, 2013 / 3:14 pm

            Well, let’s see here. You’ve gone from (1) individual southern states exercising the alleged right to withdraw from the United States to (2) the remaining states were apparently not part of the United States because some individual states withdrew. That’s a new take on “state’s rights”. The motivation for this piece of bizarre “logic” is obvious.You cannot admit what is indisputable – that the seceders fired on the American flag. Unfortinately, they did just that and no amount of neo- Confederate smoke and mirrors can fix it.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 4, 2013 / 6:20 am

            @Foskett, and the rest. A flag is nothing but colored shapes of fabric it’s symbolism is only to identify a group or send a message! The U.S. Flag was immaterial to the fact that Maj. Anderson was stalling to allow for the reinforcement of Fort Sumter, that as long as it was still there reveals the message of that resolve. The Confederates were not firing on the flag, they were firing on that resolve! If you want to understand the right of secession you also need to re-acquaint yourself with the tenth amendment. The nation was divided therefore the Union was dissolved, it ceased to be the union of the united States when several states seceded followed by others incited because of Lincolns presidency and his call to arms, and the nation was decisively dissolved for at least four years cutting a chasm deepened with the loss of American blood. The scar still remains even with the so called reunification which was only through Union oppression and time still has not healed these wounds, this nation is not one big happy family anymore today than it was then, no matter what propaganda suggest otherwise. Our nations best hope remains in seeking our appreciation and tolerance of each others diversity and respect for our fellow Americans past and present. A respect which is waning because of political correctness gone awry with the hypocrisy of it’s inequality for the diversity of all Americans and pervaded by the bigotry and idealism of a select few.

          • Bob Huddleston June 4, 2013 / 2:23 pm

            Michael is nothing but bull headed. He continues to argue, ad infinitum, that the Rebels had the right to attempt to tear apart the country. Unfortunately for his argument, while a great many people believed that in 1860-61 a whole lot more, both North and South, black and white, disagreed and the Union was preserved.

          • M.D. Blough June 4, 2013 / 10:50 pm

            Also, if you read ANYTHING from that time frame, the emotional significance of the flag for supporters of the US government/Unionists and anger for disrespect to it is very clear.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 5, 2013 / 7:04 am

            @Huddleston, your pretty flustered Bob, so I gather you must agree that someone can dictate what you can or can’t do, increase tarriffs and taxation overtly upon you, or dictate how and what your invested and dependent upon for your survival, your prosperity and happiness. That you may be governed without equal and fair representation by people you have no connection with who are filling their coffers, increasing their prosperity and gain despite your expense and loss. Who restrict your ability to share in the expansion and growth of the nation, while they seize vast territories and increase their political and economic advantage, restricting your freedom to share in the nations bounty that your forefathers and you may have fought for as well. Or how about threatening your very existence, period by supporting or inciting servile insurrection of a slave labor class which they had shared the burden of guilt for, abused and profited from. Meanwhile in their sanctimonious zealotry encouraging them to murder you and your family and friends, whilst they for make the rules for their own gain. Would you be so willing to be enslaved by another sections agendas which only benefited them as fortunate to be in power, and not you? Would you sit idly by letting them control and enjoy the luxuries and opportunities of freedom, of your labor, while you get left holding the bag or nothing, or death. Do you not think that you have the right to defend the institutions of your life, liberty and pursuits of happiness from such threats? If not then you deserve to suffer and be enslaved accordingly. You all need to reconsider these things because they are why Confederates were fighting the tyranny of the Republicans, Union usurpation, the Confederates ironically were fighting for freedom and their independence from enslavement as well.

          • Bob Huddleston June 5, 2013 / 2:17 pm

            Michael’s latest is an excellent discussion of what slavery meant to the black citizens of the attempted Confederacy — and exactly why its defeat was so necessary.

            “It is now for them to demonstrate to the world, that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion –that ballots are the rightful, and peaceful, successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly, and constitutionally, decided, there can be no successful appeal, back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take it by a war—teaching all, the folly of being the beginners of a war.”

          • Jimmy Dick June 5, 2013 / 7:56 am

            Again, the old tenth amendment crap. The tenth amendment does not give any state the right to secede. I’m amazed by your last line. The people who advocated secession in 1860 did not believe in equality at all. They believed in white supremacy and class rule.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 5, 2013 / 6:11 pm

            @Jimmy Dick, During this period in American history and throughout a great percentage of the world it was partially dominated by white supremacy known as western expansion. Many Northerners were white supremacist and racist such as Lincoln, who was as much a hypocrite in regard to white supremacy as anyone in the Republican regime, which acclaimed some purist ideology. Radical republicans professed freedom while crossing their fingers behind their backs, doing whatever it took seeking to dominate control of the nation. They killed their fellow white Southern kinsmen and countrymen, in the guise of some sanctimonious propaganda, while keeping their thumb on the blacks, killing the Indians, and enslaving the Chinese and poor of all creeds. Your generalizations are blatantly common and obtuse by singling out white Southerners, in that you ignore the overall issue of white supremacy held by the majority of whites in the world. Beside the fact you ignore that supremacists views have always been held by other societies and ethnic groups, and shows you are in great need of education and humility in understanding humanity and this subject.

          • M.D. Blough June 5, 2013 / 7:59 pm

            That’s a lovely straw man you’ve built. No one that you are attacking has ignored Northern racism. However, Northern racists didn’t start a war to protect their right to discriminate against blacks.

          • Al Mackey June 4, 2013 / 3:38 am

            What flag do you think was flying over that “position,” Mr. Lucas? Apparently common expressions are beyond you in addition to vocabulary such as “unilateral.” Additionally, the Union was not dissolved. There was an attempt to break up the Union. That attempt failed. Fort Sumter belonged to the United States–lock, stock, and barrel. I would expect you would hold onto your house if some thieves ordered you to vacate it. Charleston was not threatened by Fort Sumter. Anyone with any knowledge of the fort would know due to its construction it could not threaten Charleston. Please, do keep responding. It will be interesting to see what else you don’t know.

      • Jimmy Dick May 31, 2013 / 7:06 am

        Michael, you have your facts out of order. The South attacked at Fort Sumter first.
        You have a pretty distorted version of the Civil War and its causation.

      • Bob Huddleston May 31, 2013 / 10:40 am

        Yep, Lincoln went down and forced Davis at gunpoint to open fire on Fort Sumter.

        “The firing on that fort will inaugurate a civil war greater than any the world yet seen and I do not feel competent to advise you. Mr. President, at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet’s nest which extends from mountain to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal.”
        Robert Toombs to Davis and the CS Cabinet, , April 11, 1861

        “You may, after the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure, and hundreds of thousands of precious lives, as a bare possibility, win Southern independence, if God be not against you; but I doubt it.

        “I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of States rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not fiery impulsive people as you are, for they live in cooler climates.

        “But when they begin to move in a given direction, where great interests are involved, such as the present issues before the country, they move with steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche, and what I fear is they will overwhelm the South with ignoble defeat.”

        Gov. Sam Houston, speaking in Galveston, April 19, 1865.

      • Corey Meyer May 31, 2013 / 11:26 am

        Care to explain why SC fired on the Star of the West when she ran up the colors in Jan. of 1861?

        • Michael C. Lucas June 1, 2013 / 8:00 am

          I already did. Get you head of the sand, or flag and free your mind.

          • Jimmy Dick June 1, 2013 / 3:34 pm

            No Michael, You need to get your facts straight before you tell someone to free their mind. Ft. Sumter was federal property and South Carolina was in a state of rebellion against the lawful government of the US. You need to clear the sand out of your ears and open your mind to reality.

          • M.D. Blough June 2, 2013 / 8:11 am

            The provision governing this is in Article I, Section 8: “To exercise EXCLUSIVE legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places PURCHASED BY THE CONSENT OF THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE IN WHICH THE SAME SHALL BE, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;” (Emphasis added). That means that that (1) the rebel states had SOLD the property on which seized federal buildings such as custom houses, arsenals, the Texas forts, etc. were located and had thus transferred title to those properties to the federal government. and (2) once that title was transferred, the Constitution makes it explicit that the state has ZERO jurisdiction over the property.

          • Corey Meyer June 2, 2013 / 6:46 pm

            And where was that?

      • SF Walker June 1, 2013 / 9:03 am

        “The slave states did not attack the U.S. flag.” Would you care to explain the Confederate seizure of Federal forts and arsenals in North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama while those states were still in the Union? Specifically, what is the legal basis for these acts?

        • SF Walker June 1, 2013 / 9:07 am

          P.S.: To my above comment, “Rebel” seizure is a more correct word, as no Confederacy existed yet.

        • Michael C. Lucas June 2, 2013 / 9:45 am

          @Walker, What part of the UNION IS DISSOLVED and State Sovereignty do you not understand? You own a parcel of land you permit the State to use a portion of it. You have a disagreement in policy or exchange of power and peaceably choose to dissolve your association. You make every peaceful appeal for the State to vacate, it not only refuses, but is intent on maintaining and reinforcing its presence. Will you allow the threat of the State which you are no longer a part of to remain to threaten and subjugate you without a stand?

          • SF Walker June 2, 2013 / 4:17 pm

            Michael, please re-read my comment. In it, I was clearly talking about the seizure of Federal property in those three states BEFORE THEY SECEDED. In these cases, the offending Southern states made no prior demands for the Federal troops and authorities to vacate; they simply marched in and took these arsenals and forts. What is the legal basis for their actions here?

          • Jimmy Dick June 2, 2013 / 6:10 pm

            Ft. Sumter and other US installations were legal property of the federal government, not the state governments. Secession is and was illegal therefore South Carolina was violating the law flagrantly and really unconstitutionally in threatening the troops at Ft. Sumter. No state has the power to dissolve the Union. States are subordinate to the federal government.
            You really need to learn the laws of the country you live in, Michael.

          • M.D. Blough June 3, 2013 / 12:21 am

            Do you understand the difference between selling real property and lesser interests such as renting, etc? The Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) provides for the Federal government to purchase land for forts and other federal facilities, with state legislative approval of the purchase, after which the federal government exercises “exclusive legislation” over the purchased property. When you see property without restriction you retain no legal rights over that property and cannot order the purchaser to vacate.

  33. Matt McKeon May 30, 2013 / 7:53 pm

    To guys like Robert E. Lee commit treason? If the Constitution defines treason as “levying war” against the United States, well, Lee levied war pretty vigorously and with some success against the United States. Why be ashamed of it? Properly, we should be all “If this is treason let we make the most of it!”

    The problem with the Confederacy wasn’t that they were levying war against the United States, but that they had a really crappy reason for levying war against the United States.

    Which is why the Declaration of Independence is a timeless expression of human rights, and the various Ordinances of Secession are a lot of cringe-worthy whining about slavery.

  34. MattD June 1, 2013 / 6:01 am

    Anyone saying yes here seems to have solid documentary and factual evidence with them: The Constitution, both strictly and loosely read, the writings of James Madison and Andrew Jackson,and the coldest fact of all – THEY FIRED ON THE FLAG! Those arguing against treason just don’t have facts on their side.
    Is there any way to not see the secession fever as a glorified temper tantrum? Why could the South not see that the political party that had enabled them to power was splintered, mostly over their insistence on no compromises? Having moved from compromise in 1850 to demanding extension (Kansas-Nebraska, Ostend) They had put themselves on a course of self-destruction,, for what was to happen if the North said, “ENOUGH!”.Even then, the North was still willing to give quite a bit (Corwin amendment, Crittenden Compromise).
    The Election of a president from a disliked party seems like a lame reason to go ahead and secede.

    It was as much treason as 1775, but it didn’t last for a simple reason – the subsequent war had to be won. It wasn’t. After 150 years, accept defeat.

  35. Bob Huddleston June 5, 2013 / 1:54 pm

    Perhaps Michael or Connie or Mildred or one of the other followers of secession and Civil War would like to explain their support of a Cause which condoned the following:

    In 1913 “Silent Sam,” the Confederate statue on the grounds of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was dedicated. The speaker, Julian Carr, was a founder of Duke University and donor to the fund that financed Sam. Carr was himself a Confederate veteran (3rd NC Cavalry). He movingly recounted the changes he witnessed in race relations after the war:

    “The present generation…scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo-Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are, their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South—When “the bottom rail was on top” all over the Southern states, and to-day, as a consequence, the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States—Praise God!

    “I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather personal. One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison…”

    I am not certain what is saddest about this: that Carr “horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds” or that he vividly remembered and recounted it almost a half century later or that the audience accepted his remarks without a murmur.

    Carr’s entire speech can be found here:

    Go to Folder 26: Addresses, 1912-1914: Scan 93 for the first page of the speech. This quote comes from Scans 104 and 105.

    • Michael C. Lucas June 6, 2013 / 9:14 am

      @Huddleston thanks for the redirect, with the repetitive fallacy of taking things out of context, let alone playing the race card. Please also note how you are ignoring the element of Carr’s speech that this whipping purportedly occurred in front of an entire garrison of Union soldiers. So in other words the speech was purportedly condoned by the majority of white witnesses, including those of Union occupation. Should we not consider the incident and speech overall, or should we just concentrate only on the tale of the punishment or flagrant flagellation of a black female? Who may or may not have brought the circumstances on herself, so that empathy should just strum the chords of emotional discord. Or, should we not also consider that it was 1913, in the midst of the Jim Crow Era. Were not Carr’s recollections from an elderly Confederate Veterans memory, caught also in the emotion of the moment? Maybe his comments were imbued with exaggerations in the fervor of the circumstances and racial divisions in the era of that time. It amazes me how some cherry pick apart what they want from Confederate Veterans as factually indisputable when it suits their agendas, and in the same breathe dispute everything else related to Confederate history as “lost cause” mythology.

      • Jimmy Dick June 6, 2013 / 12:32 pm

        How did he take something out of context? If we bring up how white southerners lynched black men for years after the Civil War all the way up to the present day would we be redirecting or just telling the flat out truth that most white southerners were racist? You’re the one that ignores the entire issue of race as being tied up with the cause of secession. You use a straw man defense to deflect the argument and get upset when you’re exposed for it.

        • Brooks D. Simpson June 6, 2013 / 12:37 pm

          Mr. Lucas believes in the fallacy of the “you, too” response … that somehow pointing out someone else’s shortcomings absolves one of one’s own. Besides, I’m not responsible for what white northerners did 150 years ago, and I don’t overlook American racism. Mr. Lucas is intent on whitewashing the Confederacy of white supremacy until it is as clean as a Klansman’s robe, because in the end he thinks its about himself, and not about the situation back at the time.

          As for what’s going on in Turkey, well, there are better sources for that. I wonder how much he understands that situation, given his … understanding … of American history.

      • Al Mackey June 6, 2013 / 7:57 pm

        So we can add “taking out of context” to the things Mr. Lucas doesn’t understand, as Bob took nothing out of context. Mr. Lucas has himself been called on taking things out of context, so he simply parrots it without understanding what it means. It’s interesting he accuses Bob of a “redirect” when he himself attempts to “redirect” by the “you too” defense. He obviously doesn’t understand Bob’s point.

      • Bob Huddleston June 7, 2013 / 5:29 pm

        Michael wrote “Who may or may not have brought the circumstances on herself.” Thanks for pointing out that the South you laud was about, not the 10 Amendment or the Tariff but control of African-Americans, salve or free.

  36. Connie Chastain June 6, 2013 / 2:00 am

    Mr. Huddleston, I will be happy to address your question and when I’m done, I would ask that you, in turn, address my question, which I will pose at the end of this comment.

    First, you are invited to check through all my writings on all my blogs, websites, novels, Facebook and other online venues searching for my support of the sort of appalling behavior you describe. You won’t find it, but you are welcome to try.

    What you’re doing — what a lot of people on “your side” do — is to find one reprehensible person, one reprehensible speech, letter or quote, one reprehensible act, one reprehensible practice, and shove it toward people like me who support the South’s separation and honor the men who fought, as a sort of moral litmus test — expecting me to either (a) condone it or (b) switch positions and join you in your condemnation of the act and use it as both justification for, and a starting point of, a blanket condemnation of the Confederacy and the South and Southerners and their history and culture. It’s like a third alternative doesn’t occur to them — that of separating the reprehensible from the rest of it, and condemning just the reprehensible. What’s truly fascinating to me is that people who are able to do that very thing — to see the good and bad in a circumstance, a behavior, a policy, a nation, whatever, and condemn just the bad — in other areas or with other subjects, seem to lose all ability to do so when the subject is the civil war, the Confederacy, secession, Southerners, the South, and its history and culture.

    If you want to conflate honoring the student-soldiers represented by Silent Sam for their service in the Confederate Army with honoring Carr’s physical assault on a negro woman, go right ahead, but do not imagine that everyone does, or should. Perhaps there are people who truly cannot separate the crap from the candy, the evil from the good (or even from the neutral); but I can.

    My affinity for the Confederates isn’t based on some moonlight and magnolias delusion that they were innocent and blameless, or from any unwillingness or inability to see the negatives — far from it — but on my certainty that the people who came down here and made war on them were no better, and had absolutely no moral authority for doing so. The “righteous north” is one of the greatest frauds of American history.

    Now, does that answer your question? If not, please ask further, and I will further clarify my answer. In any case, here’s what I’d like for you to respond to.

    Assuming you are a good citizen who supports the USA, would you please explain your condoning the country’s and/or government’s cause that tortures prisoners (from Abu Ghraib going back to Camp Douglas, Hellmira, Point Lookout, etc); that assists, or at least condones, torture by other regimes (during Argentina’s Dirty War, for example, and numerous examples in Central America); performing horrific medical (and other) tests on sometimes unconsenting, indeed, unsuspecting subjects (MK Ultra’s behavioral engineering of humans — some of them children — using drugs, sensory deprivation, isolation, sexual abuse and torture; and other experiments, such as the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments, the EPA’s lethal “environmental testing” with toxic pollutants, as reported recently by Forbes Magazine; and other horrific testing on people in other countries); imprisoned Americans of Japanese descent in concentration camps; implemented official U.S. government policy of genociding the Plains Indians by killing off their food supply, the buffalo… I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point.

    Do you (a) totally support your country, including all these horrors in its history, or (b) totally condemn it? Or (c) are you able to distinguish what’s good about the country from what’s bad, and condemn only the bad?

    And if you can and do, why should I not do the same for my region and its people?

    • Jimmy Dick June 6, 2013 / 12:33 pm

      Connie, you’re the world’s champ at cherry picking a fact or two and then using those to justify your lies.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 6, 2013 / 12:39 pm

      Connie will now list what was good about the Confederacy. Please proceed.

  37. cc2001 June 6, 2013 / 6:02 am

    Connie, my answer to you would be this: America was founded on the great ideals of freedom and democratic rule. The fact that we have deviated horribly at times does not mean that our founding was bad. The Confederacy was based on the preservation of slavery, a practice which the North and most civilized nations had abolished. For me that means that its founding WAS bad. Despite the decency of individual citizens, the foundation of the CSA was a foul one, and we should rejoice that we are a united and strong nation again. In WWII we saved the world. Can you imagine what history would be if America had been all balkanized like Europe at that time?

    • Jimmy Dick June 6, 2013 / 2:27 pm

      Oh well now she will say that was not true or deflect it by saying slavery is in the Constitution which it is. What she won’t do is say that slavery was the reason the South seceded. She will blame the North for causing the South to secede because the North was oppressing the South. She won’t say that the issue of slavery was what was causing the division between the two sections.

      She also won’t explore why slavery was causing the issue because that would mean she would have to accept that it was. She will point to the Declaration while ignoring the fact that the words on it started a process of egalitarianism which is still underway today. She will ignore the fact that the Civil War happened because of that concept that all men are equal (and with women as well since that’s how we interpret it today). All she will do is say that the Declaration allows secession while ignoring the real meaning of the document and ignoring the fact that the people of the past made it clear that secession was unconstitutional.

      I’m sure she might also bring up something about no one disproving her facts, but then as it has been explained to her here and on many blogs by many people her facts provide no context. That’s what happens when one is the Cherry Picking Queen of the Lost Cause.

      Let’s see…straw man argument will probably be made as well. Maybe a reference to how the victors write history. Probably a reference to God in some fashion although citing God doesn’t work too well as He seems to get cited by those who use him to justify their opinions (much like was done in the Antebellum era). Any chance she will condemn academics in the process?

      Let me know if I left any out. Let’s point out all the stuff she does and see if she knows how repetitive she is.

    • Connie Chastain June 6, 2013 / 7:58 pm

      cc2001, my reply to Mr. Huddleston was simply to address his implication that if you accept or support a cause, you must condone any and all negatives connected with it. I reject that notion, and I’m waiting to hear his response.

      I would say to your comment that lofty founding principles should not be the only thing the USA is judged by, particularly in view of the fact that it has repeatedly violated them since its beginning. Conversely, a “foul” founding (more realistically, a founding that incorporated some negative elements), implemented and influenced by a people of decency most probably would not have ended up as evil as critics of the Confederacy so badly want to believe. Of course, that is speculation, but given what we know about the people of the South throughout its history, it seems likely. As Douglas Harper has noted,


      The four-year history of the CSA is not necessarily the place to seek an example of the values Southerners sought to uphold. Any nation fighting for survival from the cradle, invaded and blockaded all its life, doesn’t get a chance to express the finer points of democracy and civil culture. If all we knew of Americans was how they actually behaved from 1776 to 1783, we wouldn’t think much of our sense of “democracy” or commitment to “personal freedom.”

      The CSA was a bid to form an independent nation out of a region that had a common enemy and some collective regional identity. But the CSA comprised many sub-cultures (a few of them didn’t want to be there), and it had a leadership that sometimes confused self-interest with public policy. It had its fair share of charlatans and profiteers and criminal opportunists. It had some brilliant generals and a great many men in uniform who would be the pride of any army in human history. It was committed to 18th century republican values that were incompatible with fighting a modern war, and it had internal social conflicts that the war aggravated.

      In nearly all of this it was entirely like the American Revolutionaries. The colonists in 1776: one-third for independence, one-third against, one-third uncommitted. That must be the standard for legitimacy, or else our United States lacks it. The CSA fought a much larger enemy than George III, mostly on its own soil, without a Dutch loan or a French fleet to aid it, and the majority, in spite of internal divisions, put up a herculean effort, won spectacular victories, made shift with what little it had, and held out till the place was literally gutted and blood-drained by its foe.


      As for the north having abolished the “practice” of slavery (but keeping their slaves year after year due to gradual emancipation; and, of course, some northerners sold their slaves rather than emancipating them) the north still condoned slavery, and thus everything connected with it, if Mr. Huddleston’s implication holds true. Northern textile mills thrived on Southern, slave-grown cotton. New England maritime interests thrived on shipping Southern, slave-grown cotton. Northern banks thrived on financing the purchase of plantations and slaves, and northern insurance companies thrived on insuring them.

      If northerners/unionists truly didn’t condone slavery, and upheld “the great ideals of freedom and democratic rule,” they would not have instituted gradual emancipation, but would have freed all their slaves immediately and not kept the adults in slavery for life, and would not have sold slaves rather than free them. If they truly wanted to end slavery all they had to do was to quit financing and insuring it and to quit buying and shipping the cotton.

      • Brooks D. Simpson June 6, 2013 / 8:11 pm

        “The four-year history of the CSA is not necessarily the place to seek an example of the values Southerners sought to uphold.”

        Black southerners would agree with this assertion. But Ms. Chastain has a blind spot when it comes to this issue. When she says “southerners,” she means white southerners.

        • M.D. Blough June 6, 2013 / 11:24 pm

          What I find particularly irritating is her insistence that it was somehow or other the North’s responsibility to save the slave states from themselves. The declarations of causes of rebel states rail at criticism from the people of free states and list the refusal/failure of free states to suppress free expression of ideas by their people as a major reason for rebellion.

          From the beginning, each state had a choice to make. It so happens that the first state to abolish slavery, Massachusetts, did so completely and did so before the Constitution. Vermont abolished slavery totally before it was recognized as a separate state. It was South Carolina and Georgia that pushed through the provisions condoning slavery in the US Constitution by announcing that, if those provisions were not there, neither state would ratify the new document. It was Jefferson who first overturned the delicate balance between slave and free states by the Louisiana purchase. It was the slave states and their allies that pushed through the gag rule in the US House, violating the petition clause of the First Amendment, and had Jackson’s Postmaster General condone the destruction of US mail to prevent abolitionists from sending literature to slave OWNERS.

          The slave states’ representatives and senators pushed through repealing the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and the attempt to get Kansas admitted as a slave state through the LeComptom Compromise. Virginia was pushing through a court case to force free states to permit slave owners to bring slaves into their states as transit or sojourn. Given the slave states’ reactions, it’s the height of folly to think they’d respond to a boycott by free state business and finance by freeing their slaves.

  38. Connie Chastain June 6, 2013 / 9:53 pm

    Well, Mr. Harper, a Pennsylvanian, wrote that. However, traditionally, the term “Southerner” has always applied to whites. Black Southerners don’t usually call themselves that but prefer “blacks” or “African American” without reference to region. I haven’t often heard blacks refer to themselves as yankees, or northerners or mid-westerners, etc., either.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 7, 2013 / 5:46 am

      I’m sure you converse with a lot of black people, Connie.

      Sweet Southern Boys is a fantasy: the murder of Emmett Till was the reality.

  39. Connie Chastain June 7, 2013 / 7:13 am

    Mr. Simpson, yes, as a matter of fact I have conversed with a lot of black people all my life, particularly as an adult — at school, at work, at church, etc.

    Sweet Southern Boys is fiction, not fantasy, inspired by an actual event. I’m not sure what the murder of Emmitt Till has to do with it. Are you implying that fiction should be banned because of reprehensible acts that occur in reality? If not, what is your point in trying to connect the two? There is no connection, you know, except, perhaps, in your imagination.

    Ms. Blough, I haven’t insisted that it was somehow or other the North’s responsibility to save the slave states from themselves. I’ve simply said that if the north really wanted to end slavery, as we are told over and over, they should have voluntarily stopped benefiting from it..In any case, my main point about the north is that because of the wealth they derived from slavery, they had no moral authority for making war on the South.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 7, 2013 / 8:00 am

      It is a truly vivid imagination that conjures up the connections you attempt to make. Meanwhile, you have remained silent about the virtues of the Confederacy you celebrate.

    • M.D. Blough June 7, 2013 / 8:32 am

      No matter how much you deny it, you are saying that it was the North’s responsibility to save the South from itself. In any event, you set up a straw man to put the onus on the government and the free states for the war. Read AND comprehend the various declarations of causes coming from states joining the rebellion. There wasn’t a lot of support in the free states for interfering with slavery where it was, so long as the slave states left the free states alone and free territories were possible. Yet, what South Carolina spends a great deal of its Declaration of Causes discussing is not the actions of the federal government but of the free states (BTW, there already was one totally free state, Massachusetts, before the Constitutional Convention and the Congress of the Articles of Confederation had already passed the Northwest Ordinance, later ratified by the first Congress of the Constitution, banning slavery in the territory north of the Ohio (now the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin)):

      >>The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

      The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

      These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

      We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.<<

      If this was enough in the eyes of the leadership of South Carolina (there was no democracy in that state. Many whites first got to vote in elections after the Civil War), then the possibility that slave states would react to a boycott by free states' public and private institutions that would destroy them financially by abandoning slavery only exists in your fantasy world.

      • Jimmy Dick June 7, 2013 / 9:11 am

        Of course she created a straw man argument. It was predicted. So was the lack of context. Let us eagerly await the next attempt to deviate from the main argument from the Cherry Picking Queen of the Lost Cause.

    • John Foskett June 7, 2013 / 1:23 pm

      They didn’t “make war on the South.” The South fired on a U.S. military installation and the South seized/attempted to seize other United States military facilities. The South “made illegal rebellion/insurrection” on the United States. Facts. Pure, simple, unvarnished, indisputable facts. They don’t fit the needs of “Southern Romantic Fiction” but that’s why it’s called “fiction”. .

      • Connie Chastain June 7, 2013 / 1:54 pm

        Five thousand to ten thousand battles, depending on who you read, from minor skirmishes to days-long heavy combat — and all but a handful on Southern soil. Yes, the feds and the north made war on the South.

        • Brooks D. Simpson June 7, 2013 / 2:07 pm

          Well, they fought a war largely on soil in the states that attempted to secede …but they didn’t initiate it. There’s a difference. Furthermore, the United States made war on the Confederacy. That fact does not bother you enough to renounce your United States citizenship, so we measure your words by your acts.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 7, 2013 / 5:30 pm

            Brooks the who, where, and when, has been arguable ever since the war. So by whom, where and when do you consider the war was initiated?

          • Brooks D. Simpson June 7, 2013 / 6:43 pm

            April 12, 1861, in Charleston Harbor, by the Confederates firing upon Fort Sumter.

            Do you think they were wrong to do this? I think it was a reasonable decision by the Davis administration under the circumstances, especially given the need to spur secessionist support in several states where it seemed to be lagging.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 8, 2013 / 3:28 am

            Yes, I think it wasn’t necessary, personally I agree with Gen. Lee’s views. But, they were absolutely justified in their course of actions, though they should have held off firing allowing for the Union transgressions to be more transparent. However they had given Anderson more than enough time and all he had to do was yield, he had already yielded in evacuating the other defenses, he was just stalling for time to be reinforced which was his duty. The Confederates were resolved in their intentions to secure Fort Sumter and the protection of Charleston harbor. Remember Charleston had been through sieges and blockades before, their fears were paramount. The weight of transgression belongs the transgressor, Lincoln was in the same position as Davis, it was a game of chess, by sending reinforcements to the garrison that was also an act of transgression of war. In calling for 75,000 volunteers it was he who inaugurated civil war, for that reason the upper South States seceded, not because of the firing on Fort Sumter. Secession is not treason. It is regrettable that compromises finally ran out of space, let alone champions who were resolved to find them.

          • SF Walker June 8, 2013 / 7:26 am

            Major Anderson had about 85 men in his garrison, including the officers–the Confederates had around 5,000 by April. There was no way he could expect to occupy more than one of the forts in Charleston at the same time. He didn’t concede anything politically to South Carolina by moving from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter; in the face of threats from an increasingly hostile populace, Anderson chose a safer, more defensible post over a vulnerable one. The rebels were furious about this; they didn’t consider Anderson’s move accomodating at all.

            Since Anderson had received no instructions from Washington after moving his men, he correctly concluded that he didn’t have the authority to surrender Sumter.

            If calling for 75,000 volunteers after the fall of Sumter is an act of war, why would one not think the same of the South’s call for 100,000 men weeks before—at a time when the standing U.S. Army only had a paltry 18,000?

          • John Foskett June 8, 2013 / 7:35 am

            Good points. And, regarding the spin about Anderson and reasonable fear of the “transgressors”, somebody fails basic arithmetic.

          • M.D. Blough June 8, 2013 / 9:03 am

            In addition, it wasn’t the first time that the Confederates had fired on a US ship (and Maj. Anderson had refrained from returning fire when rebel batteries fired on the Star of the West) or seized federal property, quite often without waiting for the formality of declaring they were seceding. At the same time as Ft. Sumter was under siege, Ft. Pickens in Florida was under attack by Confederate artillery on the mainland. In February 1861, Texas forces under Ben McCulloch forced the surrender of US forces and facilities in Texas. On January 31, 1861 Lousiana state forces seized the US Customs House and US Mint (the entire funds seized remained in Confederate hands even though they had no claim to 100% of those funds even by their own argument of their alleged right to secede). BTW, while this seizure occurred after Louisiana officially joined the rebellion, Louisiana state forces seized the US Arsenal and Barracks at Baton Rouge, LA, US Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, and the USMC Hospital near New Orleans, LA. BEFORE Louisiana officially joined the rebellion while it, even under secessionists’ own theory, a state of the United States of America. Any one of these actions would be considered an act of insurrection against the government of the United States of America and many of the people involved had sworn oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States. As for the right of the US government to “coerce” secessionist states, I refer you to what James Madison wrote to Nicholas Trist on December 23, 1832 (While President, Madison was ready to use force to suppress an insurrection if the Hartford Convention had resulted in an attempt by New England states to secede (IMHO, those states, devastated economically by the embargo imposed by Jefferson and Madison had a much stronger argument for invoking the natural right of revolution):

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

          • Michael C. Lucas June 8, 2013 / 2:37 pm

            Wrong but I wonder if you will ever understand what chronological order is? “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
            In addition, it wasn’t the first time that the Confederates had fired on a US ship (and Maj. Anderson had refrained from returning fire when rebel batteries fired on the Star of the West) or seized federal property, quite often without waiting for the formality of declaring they were seceding. At the same time as Ft. Sumter was under siege, Ft. Pickens in Florida was under attack by Confederate artillery on the mainland.

            Margaret, what was the Star of the West doing? It was reinforcing Anderson. Why did Confederate Artillery fire on Fort Pickens? They fired because it was being reinforced by Capt. Vogdes. Both of these actions were in violation of the armistices agreed upon Dec 6, 1860 between South Carolina and the United States in addition to another armistice of Jan 29, 1861 at Pensacola Florida, regarding Fort Pickens which specified that the United States would not reinforce either fort under observation of these agreements.

            “Hd. Qrs. of the Army,
            “Washington, March 12th, 1861.
            At the first favorable opportunity, you will land your company, reinforce Fort Pickens, and hold the same till further
            orders, etc.
            By command of Lieut. Gen. Scott.
            (Signed) E. D. TOWNSEND,
            Asst. Adjt. Gen.
            To Captain I. Vogdes,
            First Artillery, U. S. Army,
            on board Ship of War Brooklyn,
            off Fort Pickens,Pensacola, Fla.”
            “This order was sent by U. S. S. Crusader, and received by Captain Vogdes, off Pensacola, on March 31st, 1861. The next morning he sent to Captain H. A. Adams, the following:
            ” Off Pensacola, Fla.
            April 1st, 1861.
            Herewith I send you a copy of an order received by me last night. You will see by it that I am directed to land my command at the earliest opportunity. I have therefore to request that you will place at my disposal such boats and other means as will enable me to carry into effect the enclosed order.
            (Signed) I. VOGDES,
            Capt. 1st Artly. Comdg.

            To Captain H. A. Adams,
            Commanding Naval Forces off Pensacola.”
            “Captain Adams averted open war on April 1st 1861, by refusing to obey this order.

            “In his ‘Report’ to the Secretary of the Navy, Captain Adams says: “It would be considered not only a declaration but an act of war; and would be resisted to the utmost. “Both sides are faithfully observing the agreement (armistice) entered into by the United States Government and Mr. Mallory and Colonel Chase, which binds us not to reinforce Fort Pickens unless it shall be attacked or threatened. It binds them not to attack it unless we should attempt to reinforce it.”
            Upon receipt of this precise “Report” from Captain Adams, the Secretary of the Navy, regardless of the existing armistice, sent the following, (note its secrecy) :

            “Navy Dept, April 6th, 1861.
            Your dispatch of April 1st is received. The Department regrets that you did not comply with the request of Capt. Vogdes. You will immediately on the first favorable opportunity after receipt of this order, afford every facility to Capt. Vogdes to enable him to land the troops under his command, it being the wish and intention of the Navy Department to co-operate with the War Department, in that object.

            (Signed) GIDEON WELLES.
            Secty. of the Navy.

          • Michael C. Lucas June 8, 2013 / 9:06 am

            @Walker & Foskett…. Um you might want to consider actually researching some more…… before you crow too much…

          • Brooks D. Simpson June 8, 2013 / 11:13 am

            What sources would you suggest they should examine, and what do you believe that they would show?

          • Jimmy Dick June 8, 2013 / 12:48 pm

            You need to do a lot of research of your own because so far you haven’t proven any points here other than you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve seen a lot of compelling facts proving you dead wrong. You have an opinion on what happened, but your opinion is extremely biased and omits what you disagree with. Margaret has been giving you outstanding information and you’re ignoring what she is saying just like you ignore everyone that says the Confederacy was in the wrong.

  40. Connie Chastain June 7, 2013 / 8:18 am

    You’re the one who put them together in the same sentence, not I. Perhaps if you told us your reason for doing that, conjuring wouldn’t be necessary.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 7, 2013 / 8:59 am

      I linked them together for reasons that to explain would be to belabor the obvious and imply a disrespect for your level of knowledge and intelligence.

      But sometimes I guess giving someone the benefit of the doubt doesn’t pay off.

      Perhaps you don’t know what happened to Emmett Till or why it offers an instructive comparison to your fictional tale. At least your sweet southern boys weren’t murdered. Now hurry off to a search engine and return with something that you’ve snipped to suggest otherwise.

      As for your “conjuring,” I’d say it is illustrative of how your mind works. Thanks for providing it.

  41. Connie Chastain June 7, 2013 / 1:37 pm

    I understand perfectly why you attempted to link my novel and the Till case. You pulled up a deplorable but completely irrelevant event from the past and implied a connection where none exists in a vain effort to shame me and disparage my novel.

    Yes, I know what happened to Emmett Till, and I know it offers no instructive comparison to my novel — in fact, no comparison whatsoever.

    No, my sweet Southern boys weren’t murdered. Do you think they should have been? Do you think all fictional Southern white boys should be murdered in the novels they’re featured in? …that they should not be portrayed admirably … or that they should not be portrayed as suffering injustice?

    My conjuring was not the result of vivid imagination but of deliberate facetiousness. It makes as much sense for me to suggest you’re implying that fiction should be banned because of reprehensible acts that occur in reality as it does for you to imply a connection between my novel and the Till case.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 7, 2013 / 2:02 pm

      Wrong again, Connie. I’m not disparaging your novel. That’s merely a virtual artifact.

      For a woman who studies false accusations of sexual behavior, the fact that you can’t see how that links to the Till case suggests that history is indeed a foreign land to you. The difference, of course, is that Till was black, not white … and his case is history, not fantasy fiction.

      That you think I want fictional characters murdered suggests just how bizarre your mind is. Who cares about the contents of a book no one reads and which you have to give away for free? No one cares about your characters. I just wanted to see where your twisted line of “reasoning” would lead, and you fell into that trap so easily. Thank you. At least you admit that you also write fiction when you write about me and what you think I’m thinking … which is, after all, really about what goes on in the deep, dark, and dim corners of your mind.

      Thus endeth the lesson for today. Have a nice weekend. After all, you have yet to come up with a single positive feature of the Confederacy, and it’s time to shut you down so that you can concentrate on that. I wouldn’t want to distract you.

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