Sunday, January 25, 2015

Backtalk to M.D. Blough

Over at XRoads, M.D. Blough answers my meme (found here that Simpson posted there.

Sez M.D.:
What she doesn’t deal with, of course, is (1) that the Constitution, in Article IV, Section 3, has detailed procedures and conditions for the ADMISSION of states but is silent on any state leaving, particularly without the consent of the federal government and/or the other states. (Emphasis added. CW)
Well, duh. If it is silent on the subject, of course there are no particulars. How can there be particulars in a statement that doesn't exist? Duh. Also, admission is irrelevant to departure. Sheesh.
If we’re putting our hat on the specific controls the general, that’s a strong indication that the Constitution did not allow secession.
Not really. It implies that admission to the US involved the feds and the other states, but leaving it did not.
 (2) James Madison was quite explicit there was no constitutional right to seceded. This not only can be found in his publicized letters during the Nullification Crisis but also his earlier plans to use military force if the Hartford Convention ended with one or more of the New England state attempting to secede.
James Madison was a brilliant man and the Father of the Constitution. But his opinions are not the Constitution and do not have its authority. If he had wanted there to be no constitutional right to secede, he should have included a specific prohibition in the list of powers prohibited to the states, or the power to prohibit it should have been explicitly delegated to the feds. 
and (3) the Supremacy Clause in Article VI.
The Supremacy Clause establishes the authority of a document that does not prohibit secession....


  1. The "other states" he refers to are Massachusetts and her fifteen sister states. No doubt if they attempted a major realignment of the polity, the other thirty four states would not be consulted. After all, the opinions of mere colonial possessions count for naught. Northerners are so accustomed to thinking of themselves as exclusively America and Americans, that they don't even realise that they're acting like a separate nation within a nation, Vis á Vis the other states.

  2. Well it seems to me that Blough and Simpson need a history lesson. As we can see the legality of secession was not the question. Buchanan was even willing to let the issue come before Congress for a vote!!! Why did the vote not happen ? Buchanan himself made the decision!!!

    Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion.

    Page 175--

    It would seem from the report that the President confined his observations at their interview exclusively to the reënforce-
    ment of the forts in Charleston harbor, for which General Scott, according to his own statement, in the letter to the " National Intelligencer," could spare but two hundred men, the remaining eight hundred being required for the, other fortifications. The President having expressed the opinion, according to the report, "that there was at the moment no danger of an early secession

    Page 176

    beyond South Carolina," he proceeded to state, "in reply to my [ General Scott's] arguments for immediately reënforcing Fort Moultrie, and sending a garrison to Fort Sumter," that "the time has not arrived for doing so; that he should wait the action of the Convention of South Carolina, in the expectation that a commission would be appointed and sent to negotiate with him and Congress, respecting the secession of the State and the property of the United States held within its limits; and that if Congress should decide against the secession, then he would send a reënforcement, and telegraph the commanding officer ( Major Anderson) of Fort Moultrie to hold the forts (Moultrie and Sumter) against attack."

    Now it is probable that in the course of this conversation, the President may have referred to the rumor then current, that the South Carolina Convention intended to send commissioners to Washington to treat with the Government, but it is quite impossible he could have stated that the reënforcement of the forts should await the result of their mission. Why? Because the Brooklyn, had been for some time ready to proceed to Fort Moultrie, dependent on no other contingency than that of its attack or danger of attack. Least of all was it possible the President could have said that if Congress should decide against secession, he would then telegraph to Major Anderson "to hold the forts (Moultrie and Sumter) against attack," when instructions of a similar but stronger character had already been sent and, delivered to him, and were of record in the War Department. It is strange that the President should, according to the General, have made any future action in regard to these forts dependent upon his own decision, or that of Congress, on the question of secession, when he had in his annual message, but a few days before, condemned the doctrine as unconstitutional, and he well knew it would be equally condemned by Congress.

  3. In Madison's Report of 1800, he indicates that the States would be judge and determiner of recourse when the constitution was violated. --

    It appears to your committee to be a plain principle, founded in common sense, illustrated by common practice, and essential to the nature of compacts; that where resort can be had to no tribunal superior to the authority of the parties, the parties themselves must be the rightful judges in the last resort, whether the bargain made, has been pursued or violated. The constitution of the United States was formed by the sanction of the states, given by each in its sovereign capacity. It adds to the stability and dignity, as well as to the authority of the constitution, that it rests on this legitimate and solid foundation. The states then being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity, that there can be no tribunal above their authority, to decide in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and consequently that as the parties to it, they must themselves decide in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.


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