At the time Virginia and New York ratified the Constitution (the two largest and most influential states) they declared that they did so with the understanding they could secede. This was acceptable to the remaining states, and the Constitution was ratified with that understanding. The Tenth Amendment was inserted into the Bill of Rights to make future secession unnecessary. Furthermore, if secession was illegal, why did New England seriously consider it in the War of 1812, and why did the Mass. Assembly pass an article of secession at the time Texas’ admission to the union? Why was a textbook in use at West Point’s government class that taught that secession was legal?
After the Civil War, there was talk of a trial for Jefferson Davis for treason. The Chief Justice of the Supreme court advised against a treason trial for Davis because, since secession was legal, in his opinion, Davis would be acquitted and the South would win in court what it had just lost on the battlefield.Secession was only declared illegal by the Supreme Court about 1867.
Talk about historical revisionism. Jeez!! This is not to say that the South should have seceeded or that it would have been a good thing had they been successful. But secession was most definitely not illegal.
Your comment about NY’s ratification is utterly false. Madison’s letter to Hamilton on the question of conditional ratification put an end to that issue there. H was actually considering letting a conditional ratification go through until that letter declaring once in the union always in the Union. It was then voted down.
Virginia’s legislature had NOTHING to say on ratification. The process was deliberately and explicitly removed from the hands of the legislatures by Congress. The only question was Approved? or Disproved? by a convention not the legislature. Virginia’s legislature could have declared the sky was Pink and appended that to the vote of approval with equal validity and relevance.
It was in NO way “...ratified with that understanding.” The only understanding was that a BoRs would be added by amendment.
NE’s proposed secession was just as illegal as the South’s even though NE had far more valid reasons for it.
Incorrect. Their ratification was conditional on the Constitution being amended with a Bill of Rights. The 1st Congress passed and the states ratified the 1st ten amendments (The Bill of Rights) which satisfied the conditional ratifications. No prepetual right to seceed was ever suggested nor would it have been accepted.