Skip to comments.If Secession Was Illegal - then How Come...?
Posted on 06/12/2003 5:58:28 AM PDT by Aurelius
Over the years I've heard many rail at the South for seceding from the 'glorious Union.' They claim that Jeff Davis and all Southerners were really nothing but traitors - and some of these people were born and raised in the South and should know better, but don't, thanks to their government school 'education.'
Frank Conner, in his excellent book The South Under Siege 1830-2000 deals in some detail with the question of Davis' alleged 'treason.' In referring to the Northern leaders he noted: "They believed the most logical means of justifying the North's war would be to have the federal government convict Davis of treason against the United States. Such a conviction must presuppose that the Confederate States could not have seceded from the Union; so convicting Davis would validate the war and make it morally legitimate."
Although this was the way the federal government planned to proceed, that prolific South-hater, Thaddeus Stevens, couldn't keep his mouth shut and he let the cat out of the bag. Stevens said: "The Southerners should be treated as a conquered alien enemy...This can be done without violence to the established principles only on the theory that the Southern states were severed from the Union and were an independent government de facto and an alien enemy to be dealt with according to the laws of war...No reform can be effected in the Southern States if they have never left the Union..." And, although he did not plainly say it, what Stevens really desired was that the Christian culture of the Old South be 'reformed' into something more compatible with his beliefs. No matter how you look at it, the feds tried to have it both ways - they claimed the South was in rebellion and had never been out of the Union, but then it had to do certain things to 'get back' into the Union it had never been out of. Strange, is it not, that the 'history' books never seem to pick up on this?
At any rate, the Northern government prepared to try President Davis for treason while it had him in prison. Mr. Conner has observed that: "The War Department presented its evidence for a treason trial against Davis to a famed jurist, Francis Lieber, for his analysis. Lieber pronounced 'Davis will not be found guilty and we shall stand there completely beaten'." According to Mr. Conner, U.S. Attorney General James Speed appointed a renowned attorney, John J. Clifford, as his chief prosecutor. Clifford, after studying the government's evidence against Davis, withdrew from the case. He said he had 'grave doubts' about it. Not to be undone, Speed then appointed Richard Henry Dana, a prominent maritime lawyer, to the case. Mr. Dana also withdrew. He said basically, that as long as the North had won a military victory over the South, they should just be satisfied with that. In other words - "you won the war, boys, so don't push your luck beyond that."
Mr. Conner tells us that: "In 1866 President Johnson appointed a new U.S. attorney general, Henry Stanburg. But Stanburg wouldn't touch the case either. Thus had spoken the North's best and brightest jurists re the legitimacy of the War of Northern Aggression - even though the Jefferson Davis case offered blinding fame to the prosecutor who could prove that the South had seceded unconstitutionally." None of these bright lights from the North would touch this case with a ten-foot pole. It's not that they were dumb, in fact the reverse is true. These men knew a dead horse when they saw it and were not about to climb aboard and attempt to ride it across the treacherous stream of illegal secession. They knew better. In fact, a Northerner from New York, Charles O'Connor, became the legal counsel for Jeff Davis - without charge. That, plus the celebrity jurists from the North that refused to touch the case, told the federal government that they really had no case against Davis or secession and that Davis was merely being held as a political prisoner.
Author Richard Street, writing in The Civil War back in the 1950s said exactly the same thing. Referring to Jeff Davis, Street wrote: "He was imprisoned after the war, was never brought to trial. The North didn't dare give him a trial, knowing that a trial would establish that secession was not unconstitutional, that there had been no 'rebellion' and that the South had got a raw deal." At one point the government intimated that it would be willing to offer Davis a pardon, should he ask for one. Davis refused that and he demanded that the government either give him a pardon or give him a trial, or admit that they had dealt unjustly with him. Mr. Street said: "He died 'unpardoned' by a government that was leery of giving him a public hearing." If Davis was as guilty as they claimed, why no trial???
Had the federal government had any possible chance to convict Davis and therefore declare secession unconstitutional they would have done so in a New York minute. The fact that they diddled around and finally released him without benefit of the trial he wanted proves that the North had no real case against secession. Over 600,000 boys, both North and South, were killed or maimed so the North could fight a war of conquest over something that the South did that was neither illegal or wrong. Yet they claim the moral high ground because the 'freed' the slaves, a farce at best.
Davis didn't actively seek or campaign for his position, it was a matter of duty; answering the call for service. Those screeds that call him traitor are simply don't know their history, or subscribe to a simplified view of the creation of the Southern Confederacy.
yes it did, but separatist movements have never gone away in America.....a couple of years ago in Washington,DC petitions of secession were circulated in 2nd Ward....those folks were so disgusted by the DC city government they wanted to pull out and join Maryland....I wonder how many folks who criticize the South are home schoolers?...I'm sure they don't think of themselves as "traitors" to the school system.....they just want to go a different way in peace.
Good luck to all!
A better analogy in this particular case would be that the husband's primary motive in forcing his wife back was to retain control over her paycheck.
Oh, I reckon that can likely be arranged....
History scares ya huh?
Two very good reasons.
Except, perhaps in the case of Texas, whose status of prewar statehood was accomplished via particularly legally shaky means, and if not valid, more appropriately should have reflected its status as a seperate nation allied with the Confederacy rather than as a state within it. Accordingly, the postwar occupatrion there and *restoration* of its status as a state of the Union may also rest on a foundation of legal sand.
Nope, that would be if the affected were afraid of history to such an unreasonable degree as to constitute an illness. Hatred of the subject would be Historiomisophia.
Yeah, these southern slave holding yahoos want to seceed and then continue to claim Constitutional protection. But by seceeding they become a foreign power no longer covered by the US Constitution, and by attacking US fortifications, they become a hostile foreign power. Because their slavery system was immoral, they are an immoral hostile foreign power.
Then they get their butts whipped, the immoral institution of slavery is immediately overthrown -- and they have been calling the "whaaaambulance" ever since.
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