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The Economics of the Civil War
LewRockwell.com ^ | January 13, 2004 | Mark Thornton and Robert Ekelund

Posted on 01/13/2004 9:01:35 AM PST by Aurelius

Dust jackets for most books about the American Civil War depict generals, politicians, battle scenes, cavalry charges, cannons[sic] firing, photographs or fields of dead soldiers, or perhaps a battle between ironclads. In contrast our book {[url=http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=2XGHOEK4JT&isbn=0842029613&itm=7]Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War Mark Thornton, Steven E. Woodworth (Editor), Robert B. Ekelund[/url]features a painting by Edgar Degas entitled the "Cotton Exchange" which depicts several calm businessmen and clerks, some of them Degas’s relatives, going about the business of buying and selling cotton at the New Orleans Cotton Exchange. The focus of this book is thus on the economic rationality of seemingly senseless events of the Civil War – a critical period in American history.

What caused the war? Why did the Union defeat the Confederacy? What were the consequences of the War? The premise of the book is that historians have a comparative advantage in describing such events, but economists have the tools to help explain these events.

We use traditional economic analysis, some of it of the Austrian and Public Choice variety, to address these principal questions and our conclusions generally run counter to the interpretations of historians. In contrast to historians who emphasize the land war and military strategy, we show that the most important battle took place at sea. One side, the blockade runners, did not wear uniforms or fire weapons at their opponents. The other side, the blockading fleet, was composed of sailors who had weapons and guns but they rarely fired their cannons in hopes of damaging their opponents. Their pay was based on the valued of captured ships. Historians often have argued that the Confederacy lost because it was overly reluctant to use government power and economic controls, but we show the exact opposite. Big Confederate government brought the Confederacy to its knees.

Some now teach that slavery was the sole cause of the Civil War – an explanation that historians have developed in the twentieth century. However, this analysis does not explain why the war started in 1861 (rather than 1851 or 1841) and it fails to explain why slavery was abolished elsewhere without such horrendous carnage.

We emphasize economics and politics as major factors leading to war. The Republicans who came to power in 1860 supported a mercantilist economic agenda of protectionism, inflation, public works, and big government. High tariffs would have been a boon to manufacturing and mining in the north, but would have been paid largely by those in the export-oriented agriculture economy.

Southern economic interests understood the effects of these policies and decided to leave the union. The war was clearly related to slavery, but mainly in the sense that Republican tariffs would have squeezed the profitability out of the slave-based cotton plantation economy to the benefit of Northern industry (especially Yankee textiles and iron manufacturing). Southerners would also have lost out in terms of public works projects, government land giveaways, and inflation.

The real truth about wars is that they are not started over principle, but over power. Wars however, are not won by power on the battlefield, but by the workings and incentives of men who go to work in fields and factories, to those who transport, store and sell consumer goods, and most especially to the entrepreneurs and middlemen who make markets work and adapt to change. This emphasis and this economic account of tariffs, blockade and inflation, like the focus of Degas’s "Cotton Exchange" reveals the most important and least understood aspect of war.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dixie; dixielist
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To: nolu chan
Yes, thank you. The Exceptions Clause allows the Congress TO LIMIT the Courts' jurisdiction. But Congress has abrogated its responsibilities - they sit on their hands while the court makes bad ruling after bad ruling. Moral cowards in my opinion. Who in our government has the TESTICLES to stand up for what is right? I'm sick of spineless jellyfish.
551 posted on 01/20/2004 11:34:18 AM PST by exmarine ( sic semper tyrannis)
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To: exmarine
It's not just a matter of spinelessness. The executive and legislative branches of the federal government find it highly convenient that the courts get to handle their hot potatoes, and also to carry their water by diminishing the powers of the states. Never would have happened without the Nineteenth Amendment.
552 posted on 01/20/2004 11:38:11 AM PST by aristeides
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To: Non-Sequitur
That is another point. The founding fathers clearly intended that the Congress have the most power as it is the branch most accountable to the people (the Congress has the power to limit the Court's jurisdiction). Our government rules only by consent of the governed (of the people, by the people, for the people). When the government starts ruling be decree, in spite of the will of the people and the written Constitution, it violates the principles of a "free republic" (the very title of this forum!).
553 posted on 01/20/2004 11:38:57 AM PST by exmarine ( sic semper tyrannis)
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To: exmarine
Lincoln was only the aggressor if the states had the right to seceede. That right was and is very much in dispute.

Andrew Jackson (no yankee by the way) pretty much summed it up with his Proclamation to South Carolina. Secession is treason and will be met with force. Revisionist neo-confederates pretend like the south had no idea their actions could lead to bloodshed.

The idea that secession was universally supported before Lincoln came along is either dishonest or ignorant.

The South engaged in the election of 1860. They refused to abide by that election.

Maybe you can tell me what is the use of a republican form of government if noone is bound to ever abide by the terms of that government?

And just how can people(not necessarily you) go on an on how we are not a democracy, but see nothing wrong with mob rule at the state level (50% + 1) taking ALL of the citizens of a state out of that republican form of government.

And there were attrocities committed on both sides. The hypocracy drips off both sides.
554 posted on 01/20/2004 11:40:08 AM PST by hirn_man
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To: hirn_man
You are correct in saying that in 1860-1 it was a disputed legal point whether states had the right to secede. But do you go to war to prevent somebody from doing something that is doubtfully legal?
555 posted on 01/20/2004 11:43:29 AM PST by aristeides
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To: WhiskeyPapa
It was only a lower court case in which Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney rendered an ex-parte personal opinion. As such, it was not an authoritative statement of the law of the land.

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Rev. 6th ed. (1856):

Ex parte - Of the one part. Many things may be done ex parte, when the opposite party has had notice; an affidavit or deposition is said to be taken ex parte when only one of the parties attends to taking the same.

As such, it was not an authoritative statement of the law of the land.

Even ex parte, that does not render it a "personal" opinion. It was the official, legal opinion of the Circuit court in question, and until appealed, is the "law of the land."

556 posted on 01/20/2004 11:45:39 AM PST by 4CJ (||) Dialing 911 doesn't stop a crime - a .45 does. (||)
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To: aristeides
The executive and legislative branches of the federal government find it highly convenient that the courts get to handle their hot potatoes, and also to carry their water by diminishing the powers of the states.

Yes, so much for federalism and self-government, eh? Self-government is a dead duck - can anyone pretend that any State or City or County is self-governing? There are so many federal regulations, taxes, etc., that self-governance is but a mere memory. The feds even tell the states that they can't erect 10 comandments in their own courthouses, or pass laws against sodomy, which are clearly allowed under the 10th Amendment. The invented doctrine of incorporation came very late in time (20th century) just as the phoney doctrine of separation and church and state (Everson 1947) did.

557 posted on 01/20/2004 11:46:09 AM PST by exmarine ( sic semper tyrannis)
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To: aristeides
Not allways.

But you do when to not do so would set a precedent that would destroy your nation.

558 posted on 01/20/2004 11:47:38 AM PST by hirn_man
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To: Aurelius
Arrogant Southern slave owners and the inhuman social system set up to maintain its false reality could not abide by the the coming end of their feudalistic system. They brought the Civil war on themselves. Rewriting history cannot rewrite the truth.
559 posted on 01/20/2004 11:49:33 AM PST by eleni121 (Preempt and Prevent)
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To: hirn_man
I don't believe allowing the secession of the Lower South would have destroyed our nation.
560 posted on 01/20/2004 11:50:20 AM PST by aristeides
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To: hirn_man
Regarding secession, I think a good case can be made that secession is illegal, as you pointed out. You may be right. Honestly, I need to do more research before I take any further stands on this issue. I have no ax to grind for pro-secession.
561 posted on 01/20/2004 11:51:18 AM PST by exmarine ( sic semper tyrannis)
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To: Non-Sequitur; GOPcapitalist
[N-S] No, a lower court may determine constitutionality if the Supreme Court declines to take their ruling under consideration. At that time, the lower court decision is accepted as the opinion of the Supreme Court.

No, the lower court (say 2nd Circuit) determines the constitutionality of a law within its own territorial jurisdiction. Such never becomes accepted as the opinion of the Supreme Court by denial of cert. If a court from another jurisdiction (say 9th Circuit) rules differently, the Supreme Court may decide to rule on the issue and resolve it.

When a lower court decision is not appealed to the Supreme Court, or cert is not granted, the lower court decision remains the precedent for that territorial jurisdiction but is not binding as precedent on any other jurisdiction as is a Supreme Court decision.

562 posted on 01/20/2004 11:51:43 AM PST by nolu chan
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To: aristeides
I believe the federal government made pleadings in the case.

You would be wrong.

563 posted on 01/20/2004 11:52:24 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: nolu chan
And your point is?
564 posted on 01/20/2004 11:55:07 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: 4ConservativeJustices; WhiskeyPapa

It was the official, legal opinion of the Circuit court in question, and until appealed, is the "law of the land."

No, Merryman was issued by Chief Justice Taney as an in-chambers opinion from the Supreme Court.

565 posted on 01/20/2004 11:57:12 AM PST by nolu chan
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To: exmarine
" What business did the founders have to sever their ties to mother England? Why is the authority to sever ties with Britain valid, but not the authority for the south to sever ties with the Union?"

The colonists exercised their "right to revolution"(recognized in the declaration of independence). They took chances. If they had lost treason and the gallows awaited them.

The south could of exercised their "right to revolution", but they chose to exercise some unrecognized "right to secession". Once again read Jackson's proclamation to South Carolina.

When you start a revolution, you get held accountable for losing or if you are lucky you get termed "patriot" by the new country you have formed.
566 posted on 01/20/2004 12:01:58 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: Non-Sequitur
[N-S] Because the Constitution gives the Supreme Court either original or appellate jurisdiction on all cases arising...."

My point is that it has jurisdiction over all cases with the EXCEPTION of what Congress says to the contrary. That is a huge exception. It is whatever Congress chooses to say it is. McCardle of Ex Parte McCardle found the distinction particularly relevant.

567 posted on 01/20/2004 12:02:55 PM PST by nolu chan
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To: aristeides
But do you go to war to prevent somebody from doing something that is doubtfully legal?

Do you go to war in support of something that is of doubtful legality?

568 posted on 01/20/2004 12:03:54 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: exmarine
I just started reading this thread today and as such I am kind of late to the party.

I see that others have made some of the same points I made a few days before I did.

These threads are like the crack cocaine of Free Republic for me. I mean no offense to anyone personally(well ususally), but get kinda wrapeed up in the arguement.

And I don't have any answers either, just opinions.
569 posted on 01/20/2004 12:09:05 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: hirn_man
Yes, I have changed my mind since my earlier posts on secession after encountering some good arguments in this forum. I can no longer be so dogmatic about the right to secede.
570 posted on 01/20/2004 12:10:24 PM PST by exmarine ( sic semper tyrannis)
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To: WhiskeyPapa
But the fact is that, according to Taney, Congress can't delegate the Writ to the president or the military! What a laugher!

See post 505 for the text (attributed to Jay incorrectly). It seems that Justice Joseph Story also believed that vested powers could not be delegated. Joined by justices Washington, Livingston, Todd, Duvall, Joseph Story and John Marshall. The lone dissenter was William Johnson.

571 posted on 01/20/2004 12:12:01 PM PST by 4CJ (||) Dialing 911 doesn't stop a crime - a .45 does. (||)
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To: Ditto
I am more interested in the morality and legality of actions by my government than I am in the morality and legality of actions of another government.
572 posted on 01/20/2004 12:16:09 PM PST by aristeides
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To: aristeides
What other government?
573 posted on 01/20/2004 12:18:05 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: Non-Sequitur
You would be wrong.

Can you point me to a source showing that I am wrong?

574 posted on 01/20/2004 12:18:52 PM PST by aristeides
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To: aristeides
"I don't believe allowing the secession of the Lower South would have destroyed our nation."

I do.

I guess that point, like just about every point concerning the Civil War, is debatable.

Like calling it the Civil War. WBTS, War of Nothern Agression, the insurrection, War of Confederate Stupidity, we can't even agree on what to call the darn thing.
575 posted on 01/20/2004 12:19:14 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: Ditto
You were talking about the Confederacy, weren't you?
576 posted on 01/20/2004 12:19:37 PM PST by aristeides
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To: aristeides
Well if secession is legally doubtful, then the Confederacy as a legitimate government was just as legally doubtful. Since secessionists were those making dubious claims and changing a government long established, was not the onus on them to have the question of legality resolved before they took action?
577 posted on 01/20/2004 12:25:23 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: Ditto
To repeat, I am more interested in the morality and legality of actions by my government than I am in the morality and legality of actions of another government.
578 posted on 01/20/2004 12:26:05 PM PST by aristeides
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To: exmarine
I can no longer be so dogmatic about the right to secede.

No offense, but what changed your mind? I have yet to discover any clause that grants the federal government the authority to coerce a state into remaining, no clause that commands the states to remain, no clause that bars them from leaving.

Madison called for the unveiling of the right of secession when abandoning the Articles. The Articles used the word "perpetual" not once, but 5 times, yet the Constitution abandoned that concept.

Three states - New York, Virginia and Rhode Island & Providence Plantations - explicitly reserved the right to resume the powers of self-government at their pleasure in their ratifications. There is no clause that consolidates the states into a single mass of people, no clause that demands a state appeal to the government for permission.

579 posted on 01/20/2004 12:33:47 PM PST by 4CJ (||) Dialing 911 doesn't stop a crime - a .45 does. (||)
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
The Articles used the word "perpetual" not once, but 5 times, yet the Constitution abandoned that concept.

I believe the Constitution's omission of the word "perpetual" was quite deliberate, and thus significant. After all, the very acts of drafting and then ratifying the Constitution constituted a defiance of the Articles' supposed perpetuity. (The Articles only allowed themselves to be amended by a unanimity of states.)

580 posted on 01/20/2004 12:36:57 PM PST by aristeides
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To: aristeides
To repeat, I am more interested in the morality and legality of actions by my government than I am in the morality and legality of actions of another government.

I repeat, what other government? If it was legally doubtful, and made no attempt to establish its legitimacy, we can not recognize it as a government.

As to your concern about "your government" allow me to turn it around on you. Would they not have been derelict in their legal, moral and sworn constitutional duty to allow a legally doubtful regiem to assume control over 40% of the nation's territory without offering resistance?

I know damn well I'd be calling for impeachment if that were to happen today.

What would you do?

581 posted on 01/20/2004 12:37:19 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
Three states - New York, Virginia and Rhode Island & Providence Plantations - explicitly reserved the right to resume the powers of self-government at their pleasure in their ratifications.

They reserved that right only if a Bill of Rights were not amended to the Constitution. The BOR was passed by the 1st Congress, and radified by the states, including those three.

582 posted on 01/20/2004 12:40:45 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: Ditto
If the Confederacy was, as you argue, no government at all, then it was even further from being my government.

I believe the Confederacy as it existed prior to Lincoln's provoking the secession of the Upper South by resisting the secession of the Lower South occupied nothing close to 40% of the territory of the U.S. As a matter of fact, I suspect the Lower South, by itself, could not have made a go of it, and would eventually have sued for readmittance to the Union. Without a war. When the Upper South refused to secede, Lincoln won a great victory, which he then proceeded to throw away. All of this is not just my opinion. Seward thought the same at the time.

583 posted on 01/20/2004 12:43:38 PM PST by aristeides
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
There is a big difference between dissolving a political entity by mutual consent and leaving a political entity.

The Aticles were dissolved. There was no secession involved. There was nothing left to seceed from.
584 posted on 01/20/2004 12:59:01 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: hirn_man
The Aticles were dissolved. There was no secession involved. There was nothing left to seceed from.

I don't think that's what North Carolina and Rhode Island thought.

585 posted on 01/20/2004 1:00:11 PM PST by aristeides
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To: hirn_man
And even one state -- never mind two -- had the right to prevent the dissolution of the Articles, which proclaimed themselves perpetual and which, under their terms, could only be modified by a unanimous decision of the states.
586 posted on 01/20/2004 1:01:55 PM PST by aristeides
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To: aristeides
I believe the Confederacy as it existed prior to Lincoln's provoking the secession of the Upper South by resisting the secession of the Lower South occupied nothing close to 40% of the territory of the U.S.

Whatever. If it was only 2%, would that be ok to just forget about?

As a matter of fact, I suspect the Lower South, by itself, could not have made a go of it, and would eventually have sued for re admittance to the Union. Without a war. When the Upper South refused to secede, Lincoln won a great victory, which he then proceeded to throw away.

He threw it away when Davis fired on Sumter? As you said, the lower south itself was a very economically and politically shaky confederation. Davis is the guy who needed a war to move the upper south to his side. Should Lincoln's response have been to back down from the illegitimate regime in the lower south, by abandoning its soldiers, surrendering property and turning its cheek when the flag was fired upon?

Is that what you would do as President today?

What was and is the government's moral, legal and Constitutional duty when faced with open insurrection?

587 posted on 01/20/2004 1:02:34 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: Ditto
If I had been president, I would have followed Seward's advice. And there would have been no war.
588 posted on 01/20/2004 1:04:51 PM PST by aristeides
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To: aristeides
Gosh I was unaware that those two states hadn't joined the Union.

What country did North Carolina and Rhode Island form?
589 posted on 01/20/2004 1:06:26 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: Ditto
They reserved that right only if a Bill of Rights were not amended to the Constitution.

No. New York said, 'That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness ... Under these impressions, and declaring that the rights aforesaid cannot be abridged or violated".

"[I]n confidence that the amendments which shall have been proposed to the said Constitution will receive an early and mature consideration." They trusted that the proposed amendments (following their ratification) would be addressed, they did not state that "the rights aforesaid could be abridged or violated" upon ratification of a Bill of Rights or were superseded.

Virginia declared and made "known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression", that "whatsoever imperfections may exist in the Constitution, ought rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the Union into danger by a delay, with a hope of obtaining amendments previous to the ratification". Again, nothing contingent upon ratification of a Bill of Rights

Rhose Island wrote, "That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness", "Under these impressions, and declaring that the rights aforesaid cannot be abridged or violated, and that the explanations aforesaid are consistent with the said Constitution, and in confidence that the amendments hereafter mentioned will receive an early and mature consideration, and, conformably to the fifth article of said Constitution, speedily become a part thereof." Ditto.

590 posted on 01/20/2004 1:06:33 PM PST by 4CJ (||) Dialing 911 doesn't stop a crime - a .45 does. (||)
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To: hirn_man
North Carolina and Rhode Island eventually joined the new Union, after they had been forced to do so by the -- technically illegal -- adhesion of the other states. Rhode Island did so a year or so after the new federal government was up and running, and Washington occupying the presidency. Their hand was forced.
591 posted on 01/20/2004 1:08:32 PM PST by aristeides
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To: hirn_man
The Aticles were dissolved.

Please post, for our reference, the documents signed by each of the states, formally dissolving the Articles and rendering it null and void. It required unanimous consent to do so.

592 posted on 01/20/2004 1:10:09 PM PST by 4CJ (||) Dialing 911 doesn't stop a crime - a .45 does. (||)
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
If New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia were so insistant that they could seceede, maybe they should have got it written in the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND.

You know the constitution. That thing that neo-confederates think should be used to toilet paper when it doesn't suit them.

Words have meaning despite mystical mumbo jumbo like secession where things that are given away freely are really retained and not given away.
593 posted on 01/20/2004 1:10:41 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: nolu chan
While I agree that a Circuit Court may rule on cases in its district, I find the idea that something may be Constitutional in the 2nd District and not Constitutional in the 9th to be suspect. Only the Supreme Court can determine that.
594 posted on 01/20/2004 1:17:10 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: aristeides
Can you point me to a source showing that I am wrong?

Read Taney's decision.

595 posted on 01/20/2004 1:20:40 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: hirn_man
If New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia were so insistant that they could seceede, maybe they should have got it written in the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND.

'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.'

Federal laws pursuant to the Constitution have legal status - please cite one prohibiting secession. Cite one requiring states to petition for permission to leave.

The 10th Amendment - a part of the Constitution,states, '[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'

There is no delegtion from the states to the federal government to bar secession, nor are the states prohibited from leaving. It looks like it is written into the Supreme law of the land.

596 posted on 01/20/2004 1:20:41 PM PST by 4CJ (||) Dialing 911 doesn't stop a crime - a .45 does. (||)
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
Well I would say the Constitution of the United States, ratified by the 13 entities that had been governed under the Articles of Confederation(I spelled Articles right this time) pretty well rendered them null and void without HAVING to formally disolve them.

But thats just me.
597 posted on 01/20/2004 1:22:32 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
There you go again with you mystical power of secession.

It is a power that only exists in the fevered minds of secessionists.

Much like when Saddam Hussein declared the laws of gravity inoperable in Iraq.
598 posted on 01/20/2004 1:24:43 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
My take on the 10th amendment was it is a safegaurd against intrusion by the Feds into state matters which the Fed had no business interfering in. It wasn't a license for the states to destroy the nation.
599 posted on 01/20/2004 1:27:14 PM PST by hirn_man
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To: Non-Sequitur
The commander of the fort, Gen. George Cadwalader, by whom he is detained in confinement, in his return to the writ, does not deny any of the facts alleged in the petition. He states that the prisoner was arrested by order of Gen. Keim, of Pennsylvania, and conducted as a prisoner to Fort McHenry by his order, and placed in his (Gen. Cadwalader’s) custody, to be there detained by him as a prisoner.

Doesn't sound ex parte to me.

600 posted on 01/20/2004 1:28:18 PM PST by aristeides
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