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Parting Company
3 years ago

By Walter E. Williams

For decades, it has been obvious that there are irreconcilable differences between Americans who want to control the lives of others and those who wish to be left alone.

Which is the 
more peaceful solution: Americans using the brute force of government to beat liberty-minded people into submission or simply parting company? In a marriage, where vows are ignored and broken, divorce is the most peaceful solution. Similarly, our constitutional and human rights have been increasingly violated by a government instituted to protect them. Americans who support constitutional abrogation have no intention of mending their ways.
Since Barack Obama's re-election, hundreds of thousands of petitions for secession have reached the White House. Some people have argued that secession is unconstitutional, but there's absolutely nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it. What stops secession is the prospect of brute force by a mighty federal government, as witnessed by the costly War of 1861. Let's look at the secession issue.

At the 1787 constitutional convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, rejected it, saying: "A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound."

On March 2, 1861, after seven states had seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that said, "No State or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the Union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States."

Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S. Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here's my no-brainer question: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional?

On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, "Any attempt to preserve the Union between the States of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty."

The Northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South's right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): "If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861." Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): "An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil -- evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content." The New York Times (March 21, 1861): "There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go."

There's more evidence seen at the time our Constitution was ratified. The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said that they held the right to resume powers delegated, should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution would have never been ratified if states thought that they could not maintain their sovereignty.

The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech, "It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense." Lincoln said that the soldiers sacrificed their lives "to the cause of self-determination -- that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth." Mencken says: "It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves."


This post was modified from its original form on 28 Nov, 7:08
3 years ago

John, this seems rather appropriate based on the things you have been teaching me about Lincoln; I now see more clearly and when I read this article I had to post it as a means of thanks to you for opening my eyes to the truth behind the Civil War and Lincoln; he is the person responsible for modern day "progressives", those that are trying to take away our right to self-governance or self-determination.  They were not Constitutionalists of the true form but rather transforming the Constitution and starting us down that course to Obama.  Further, I have a better understanding of your frustration with our present Congress and especially the Republican Congress.  Not sure I can use RINO as that is a term of the liberals, but I do think that the present day Republican Congressmen/women need to rethink what it is to be a Republican or to make it honest by being up front and stating that they want to change the dynamics of the Party and what it represented up to this point.

This post was modified from its original form on 28 Nov, 7:13
3 years ago

Linda: Thanks for the post and it does reinforce what was discussed on the other thread. Interesting too that it was Walter Williams that posted the comments. It is unfortunate that the premise that governed the succession was slavery (or at least "history" records that as such - keep in mind how the school systems are being perverted today as to revisionist history) rather than states rights and the move of power to a central government.

3 years ago

John, my step-granddaughter (the high school junion taking Advanced Placement US History) came home yesterday (studying Civil War) and wanted to know why any state would ever consider leaving the US and wanting to go on their own.  She said her teacher told them it was just the case of little children taking their toys and going home because they are not getting their way.  There was no mention whatsoever about the fact that it was not slavery, but it was their desire to be self-governing and that they had the right to self-determination; no, it was that they didn't want the government telling them whether they could own slaves or not.  Totally missed the point.  So she and I, (granddaughter) had a heart to heart talk.  See, gave me the fuel I needed to discuss this with her.  

She also said that her teacher was telling them that there is no excuse in this world for any Country to go to war, that it is not the right of the U.S. to be involved in other country's business.  So I asked her if this was the case, did she feel that any other Country has the right to come into the U.S. and take whatever they want from us including our freedom and we are not to go to war with them over this, if necessary?  She could not answer that as to do so meant her teacher was wrong.

This is what parents need to be aware of today.  They need to listen to what their kids are being taught and they need to counter this with the truth.  I certainly had a talk with my daughter and son-in-law (well he will be in about a week) about what I had been told and they were both very upset that this is what a 50 year old teacher is telling her students.  Point, as I told them, is to engage their daughter in conversation and find out what she is being taught; correct misconceptions.  My daughter is a graduate with a history major and knows her U.S. history forward and backward and she was too busy to hear what is being taught; well her eyes are open now and she is not going to continue that mistake.  

So, no matter where you are it is happening, people.  Listen to your kids and grandchildren or great-grandchildren and correct these lies and misconceptions.

3 years ago

Good advice, Linda.   And once she goes to college she'll get another four years of liberal garbage to disgest.    I know.   It happened to my three children in college.    Something is very wrong in our country where we would allow such biased teaching....lying to our children about history.

3 years ago

Diane, parents don't seem to have the time or desire to investigage or care what their children are being taught now days; probably that is because a large percent of them believe it themselves.

3 years ago

True, that, Linda, except for the fact tht 49% didn't vote for the liberals.   I find comfort in that.

3 years ago

I am a little confused here, are you saying Lincoln was a bad president, the father of progressivism?


I think there is a lot of good in Lincoln and there is some bad policies.  However, emancipation of the slaves was important as no person is owned by another.



3 years ago

What are the bad policies about Lincoln.  I have O'reilly's book:  Killing Lincoln which I have not read as I was busy reading so many books on Obama.


However, O'Reilly states we need another Lincoln to bring our country back.

I put up a new thread on Lincoln not being a progressive and how the left confiscated him to validate the progressive movement and make them more attractive to students, people and manipulate them into the movement.


I am thoroughly confused if some believe we can go back in time to the early 17th century and live as colonies again.


Also, the libertarians have maligned Lincoln, especially Ron Paul.  I think this man is one of the biggest fools to be in government and how people rally around him is beyond my scope of comprehension.


As I said, there is some good along with nonsense in most politicians.  And if people don't differentiate and look at the whole; then we are in trouble. 

3 years ago

Sheila, it was not abolution that was the issue for the Civil War, it was that Lincoln and his Administration favored government control over the states and people rather than allowing the people and the states their rightful ability to have say over their destiny. Here is something that might help you:

This is well-reasoned document concerning the reasons the Civil War occurred.

Many people think the Civil War of 1860-1865 was fought over one issue alone, slavery. Nothing could actually be further from the truth. The War Between the States began because the South demanded States' rights and were not getting them.

The Congress at that time heavily favored the industrialized northern states to the point of demanding that the South sell is cotton and other raw materials only to the factories in the north, rather than to other countries. The Congress also taxed the finished materials that the northern industries produced heavily, making finished products that the South wanted, unaffordable. The Civil War should not have occurred. If the Northern States and their representatives in Congress had only listened to the problems of the South, and stopped these practices that were almost like the taxation without representation of Great Britain, then the Southern states would not have seceded and the war would not have occurred.

I know for many years, we have been taught that the Civil War was all about the abolition of slavery, but this truly did not become a major issue, with the exception of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, until after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, when Abraham Lincoln decided to free the slaves in the Confederate States in order to punish those states for continuing the war effort. The war had been in progress for two years by that time.

Most southerners did not even own slaves nor did they own plantations. Most of them were small farmers who worked their farms with their families. They were fighting for their rights. They were fighting to maintain their lifestyle and their independence the way they wanted to without the United States Government dictating to them how they should behave.

Why are we frequently taught then, that the Civil War, War of Northern Aggression, War Between the States, or whatever you want to call it, was solely about slavery? That is because the history books are usually written by the winners of a war and this war was won by the Union. However, after following my family around since I was just a year old to Civil War Living History scenarios in Gettysburg and elsewhere, I have listened to both sides of the story, from those portraying historical figures, both Union and Confederate. Through listening to these people and also reading many different books, including some of the volumes of The Official Records of the Civil War, Death in September, The Insanity of It All, Every Day Life During the Civil War, and many others, I have come to the conclusion that the Civil War was about much more than abolishing the institution of slavery.

It was more about preserving the United States and protecting the rights of the individual, the very tenets upon which this country was founded. I personally think that the people who profess that the Civil War was only fought about slavery have not read their history books. I really am glad that slavery was abolished, but I don't think it should be glorified as being the sole reason the Civil War was fought. There are so many more issues that people were intensely passionate about at the time. Slavery was one of them, but it was not the primary cause of the war. The primary causes of the war were economics and states' rights.

Slavery was a part of those greater issues, but it was not the reason the Southern States seceded from the Union, nor fought the Civil War. It certainly was a Southern institution that was part of the economic system of the plantations, and because of that, it was part and parcel of the economic reasons that the South formed the Confederacy. The economic issue was one of taxation and being able to sell cotton and other raw materials where the producers wanted to, rather than where they were forced to, and at under inflated prices. Funny, it sounds very much like the reason we broke from Great Britain to begin with. The South was within their rights, but there should have been another way to solve the problem. If they had been willing to listen to Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the war could have been avoided. Lincoln had a plan to gradually free the slaves without it further hurting the plantation owners. He also had a plan to allow them to sell their products anywhere they wanted to and at a fair price. They did not choose to listen to the President, however, so they formed the Confederacy and the Civil War began.

3 years ago

Sheila, I hope this helps, but freeing the slaves was Lincoln's way of punishing the southern states for continuing the war and that is not what we have been taught but was the case.  He was instrumental in starting the progressive movement that we see today in that he felt and encouraged the Federal government to take control of the States rather than allowing the States the right to their rights to determine their right to control their own destiny.  To support Congress' attempts to tax the Southern States and demand that they only sell their products to the North restricted free enterprise and was not the right of the Federal Government.  Is this not much of what the liberals have been trying to do for many years?  It this not what Obamacare is attempting to do to the states?  Basically, is this not what entitlement programs are doing?  What the EPA and most other agencies are doing?  Look what Obama tried to do to Arizona as an example.  So in some ways, Obama is doing things to the States that Lincoln did; restricting their right to determine their own fate.

3 years ago

what is the source of this article Linda?


I do not believe Obama is anything like Lincoln.

I think Obama is a Saul Alinksy styled radical who believes in the Marxist doctrines.


He has no respect for the Constitution as he wants to rewrite it as a living constitution which will be whatever politicians deem necessary at the time; to be changed at their will.


He wants to embarrass the Republican party and he is looking at the next set of elections in 2014, hoping that his party gains full control so they can implement the transformation of this country.


Obama is a street smart politician who practices Chicago style gangsta politics very adeptly.  He is meeting with Romney today and this could be a very clever ploy. 

More information needs to come out about this luncheon.


I do know that Obama is no Pres. Lincoln. 

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