Secession–Not Just Southern and Not Just Secular

by Al Benson Jr.

Often when the issue of secession has been “historically” dealt with it has been done in such a manner as to give the impression that it was purely a Southern political phenomenon. Clearly our present establishment “historians” love to have it so. As usual, there is a little more to the story than what they are pleased to tell us.

Lots of people other than Southerners, in years gone by, admitted the right of secession in this country. Well-known anti-slavery American jurist Joseph Story admitted the right of a state to withdraw from the Union. Judge Story stated: “The obvious deductions which may be, and indeed have been drawn, from considering the Constitution as a Compact between the States, are, that it operates as a mere treaty, or convention between them, and has an obligatory force upon each State no longer that it suits its pleasures, or its consent continues;…and that each State retains the power to withdraw from the Confederacy, and to dissolve the connection, when such shall be its choice;…” So it would seem that Judge Story thus admitted the right of a state to secede.

Thomas Jefferson believed in the right of state secession, and, according to Alexander H. Stephens, the Kentucky Resolutions fully established this.

Even ultra-nationalist Alexander Hamilton was forced, by his own admission, to admit that the right of state secession existed. In regard to Hamilton, Alexander Stephens, who was named after him, wrote: “Even Mr. Hamilton must have believed that this right was incident to the systems; for in his urgent appeals to Mr. Jefferson, as early as 1790, for his influence with members of Congress, in aid of the bill for the assumption of the States debts, he presented the strong reason, that if the measure should not pass, there was great danger of a secession of the members from the creditor States, which would end in ‘a separation of the States.’…he was Secretary of the Treasury. Would he have urged such an argument if he had not believed that those States had a right to withdraw?” That’s an interesting question that those nationalists today of the Hamilton stripe might consider addressing themselves to–then again, maybe not.

And William Rawle, U.S. District Attorney under George Washington, said: “The Union is an association of the people of Republics; its preservation is calculated to depend on the preservation of those republics…It depends on the State itself, to retain or abolish the principle of representation; because it depends on itself, whether it will continue a member of the Union. To deny this right, would be inconsistent with the principles on which all our political systems are founded;…”

Even DeToqueville addressed the secession question. He had stated: “The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the States; and these, in uniting together, have not forfeited their Nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the States chose to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be difficult to disprove its right of doing so,…”

Even utopian socialist Horace Greeley, no real friend of the South, said that: “The right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nonetheless;…We hope never to live in a Republic whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets.” It could be that Mr. Greely didn’t really understand the motives of Abraham Lincoln, who had, himself, recognized the right of secession in early 1848–conveniently, just before the onslaught of the socialist revolts in Europe! Again, for more about that read Lincoln’s Marxists.

To be continued.