03 Dec 2012

Tom Woods Says Secession Is as American as Star Wars

Tom Woods 142 Comments

A lot of people have been pooh-poohing the role of secession in the American political/legal framework. Tom Woods certainly argues that the states retained the ability to leave the Union. (He also picked up on my John Wilkes Booth line.) Discuss.

142 Responses to “Tom Woods Says Secession Is as American as Star Wars”

  1. Daniel Kuehn says:

    I think a lot of people have been saying that secession is illegal, treasonous, and often a bad idea from a practical standpoint.

    I haven’t seen much discussion of whether or not it’s American. I would tend to agree with Woods here. It is thoroughly American.

    But like boy bands, CIA coups, and fried butter, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

    Often it is, of course. I’m quite fond of us.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Daniel, my post title was a joke. Woods isn’t merely saying it’s “American,” he’s citing legal scholars who say states never gave up their sovereignty. Did you really not hear any of that? It wasn’t a throwaway remark, it was the heart of his discussion.

      • Blackadder says:

        Woods isn’t merely saying it’s “American,” he’s citing legal scholars who say states never gave up their sovereignty.

        Woods cites a book from 1758. I dare say that the book did not offer an opinion about legitimacy of secession under the United States Constitution.

        • Matt Tanous says:

          Only if you consider the US Constitution fundamentally different from any other situation.

          Also, the Declaration, and its bits about dissolving the bonds of power and setting up new governments, is part of the US Code. It’s right up in there as Law in the United States of America….

          • Blackadder says:

            The Declaration states of the colonies “that they are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.”

            Question: under the United States Constitution, do states have the full power to individually levy war? Or to conclude peace? Or contract alliances? Or establish commerce?

            The answer is no.

            • Matt Tanous says:

              Say, if a sovereign state agrees to a treaty, do they cease being sovereign state? Like Japan, for instance, since its treaties caused it to accept a constitution that prohibits it from going to war.

              Or can sovereign states agree to limit their power to levy war, contract peace, and the rest – and then later reject this agreement, as any sovereign state can rescind itself from a treaty?

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Blackadder wrote:

              Question: under the United States Constitution, do states have the full power to individually levy war? Or to conclude peace? Or contract alliances? Or establish commerce?
              The answer is no.

              Right, they would have to first LEAVE THE UNION and then they could do those things.

              I think I like your view Blackadder if we’re talking about marriage, but I don’t think the Constitution ratification had an Outkast, “forever, forever ever” clause.

              • Ken B says:

                You’ve missed BA’s point, which is that something changed.

              • Blackadder says:

                I don’t think the Constitution ratification had an Outkast, “forever, forever ever” clause.

                I disagree. More importantly, so did James Madison. As we wrote to Hamilton when the idea of explicitly reserving the right to secede was proposed at the New York convention:

                The Constitution requires an adoption in toto, and for ever. It has been so adopted by the other States.

                Props on the Andre 3000 reference, though.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Blackadder wrote:

                More importantly, so did James Madison. As we wrote to Hamilton when the idea…

                Blackadder thinks he is part of James Madison!! What the heck is this?! I win the debate.

              • Matt Tanous says:

                Again, he also said this:

                “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”

                The distinction Madison makes is spurious. Either the Federal Government can do whatever the hell it wants, or states can secede on the grounds that the Constitution has been violated and the rights of their citizens are violated. And it would be about damn time – only about 210 years late.

              • guest says:

                Letter to Horace Greeley by Abraham Lincoln
                http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1057

                If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

              • guest says:

                Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
                Speech at Peoria, Illinois
                October 16, 1854
                http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln2/1:282?rgn=div1;view=fulltext

                In the course of his reply, Senator Douglas remarked, in substance, that he had always considered this government was made for the white people and not for the negroes. Why, in point of mere fact, I think so too.

            • guest says:

              Only because, per their free and independentness, they have voluntarily opted, in compact with other states, to delegate those powers to a general government.

              If any were to leave the Union, as is their prerogative, they would be withdrawing their consent to have a mediator do such things in their stead.

          • Ken B says:

            “Only if you consider the US Constitution fundamentally different from any other situation.”
            Yeah, that was sort of the whole idea of the thing. It’s why the constituion can prevail over subsequent statute law, a property not shared by statue law.

            • Matt Tanous says:

              A treaty prevails over subsequent statute law, unless the treaty is rescinded by the sovereign state first. The Treaty of Lisbon, for instance, includes certain binding laws upon the member states, and these can only be revoked by seceding from the EU. The US Constitution is not unique in this regard. Any treaty, until revoked, applies in the same manner. Your claim is that the Constitution is a unique treaty that apparently can’t be exited from. Which makes no sense, because that isn’t in the treaty.

              And yes, the US Constitution is a treaty between the sovereign and independent states.

            • guest says:

              It’s not that the Constitution “prevails” over state law – such a notion is actually unconstitutional.

              The Constitution was written in such a way as to have no overlapping powers.

              Article 6:

              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; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

              When it says that Judges in every state shall be bound to those federal laws which are made in pursuance of the Constitution, it’s just saying that if the states have delegated a power then it can’t, as long as it remains in the Union, use that power.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Woods:

        “You don’t have to have a “secession clause” in the constitution. This is a complete misunderstanding of the whole structure of constitution. The only specifics that need to be in the constitution are what the federal government can do. What the states can do, what the people can do, are not specifically laid out. There are specific prohibitions on the states (article 1 section 10), but that is not how the constitution is structured. The constitution only lists the specific things of what the federal government can do. Otherwise, it is assumed the residual remains with the states.”

        This is the legal argument that shows secession is constitutionally permitted.

        The moral argument is easy.

      • Ken B says:

        ” it was the heart of his discussion.”
        No, the heart of his discussion was the assertion, repeated over and over in various guises, that we’re ‘not allowed’ to think think things because there’s a 3×5 card enforced by thought police.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          No, that was how he described those who don’t know the constitution.

          The heart of his discussion was what I quoted above.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        I didn’t listen to the video… been running around a lot today.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Oh OK. Well my title was just a joke, which was actually more apropos than I at first realized (rebels fighting Empire etc.).

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            And my comment was more me sounding off than trying to smack down you and Woods. Good good.

            I’m sure it’s been lovely but I have zero desire to catch up with these 80 comments. These threads are very much “if you’re not in from the beginning you’re not in”…

            …granted, I guess I was in from the beginning.

    • guest says:

      Your Argument from Boy Band is at least compelling.

      +1

  2. Blackadder says:

    Here is a bit from Pauline Maier’s Ratification, describing the debate at the South Carolina ratification convention:

    Charles Cotesworth Pickney went so far as to describe the assertion that the Declaration of Independence had made each state “separately and individually independent” as a “species of political heresy.” The Declaration, which never mentioned the states by name, was meant, he argued, to impress on America the maxim that “our freedom and independence arose from our union, and that without it we could neither be free nor independent.”

    It’s too bad that South Carolina forgot this bit of wisdom in 1860.

    • Matt Tanous says:

      Or maybe they rejected its “wisdom” as the nonsense it truly is. The Declaration is a statement of secession. The principles therein are just as correct for a state of a few million people as it was for the united colonies. There is only a difference of degree between the two organizations, anyway.

      • Ken B says:

        And it was an act of *rebellion* too. Seceding from Britain unilaterally was contrary to British law.

        • Matt Tanous says:

          Ah, there you are. Malum prohibitum, right? Must be immoral and wrong, because it is against the freaking law. So says Ken B.

          • Ken B says:

            You persist in missing my point. You can have the right to do X without the right to do X any way or time you want regardless of others. And if your arguemtn implies law has no value or importance than your argument is suspect.

            • Matt Tanous says:

              ” You can have the right to do X without the right to do X any way or time you want regardless of others.”

              Nonsense. If I have the right to do something, I have the right to do it any way or time I wish as long as I am not actively harming others. Leaving a political union harms others about as much as leaving an employment contract.

              “And if your arguemtn implies law has no value or importance than your argument is suspect.”

              My argument doesn’t “imply” this. It is a central point – law is the result of a group of men pointing guns at other men and making their demands. To quote St. Augustine, “An unjust law is no law at all.”

        • Major_Freedom says:

          It was also an act of slavery, since, after all, the secessionists had slaves…right?

          • scineram says:

            Well yes. That is why they seceded.

            • Ken B says:

              In 1861 yes, but I think in fairness that MF meant those of 1776.

            • Matt Tanous says:

              Yes, if they didn’t, they could have ratified a Constitutional Amendment to enshrine slavery forever. The Corwin Amendment, already passed by Congress, and accepted by Lincoln in his inaugural. Surely, the slave-holding states didn’t want THAT.

      • Blackadder says:

        The Declaration is a statement of secession.

        This confuses the legal right of secession with the moral right of revolution. The colonists in 1776 had no illusions about whether what they were doing was illegal.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          How can a true statement (The Declaration is a statement of secession) be an act of “confusing” anything?

          If Texas declared secession, then you can bet there would be many people, those in the state and without, would declare it “illegal.”

        • Matt Tanous says:

          The Declaration is part of the law of the US. It’s descriptions of the moral right of secession (not revolution, as it was a document attempting peaceful dissolving of political bonds) thus affirm a legal right to the same, at least in the US.

          • Blackadder says:

            The Declaration is part of the law of the US. It’s descriptions of the moral right of secession… thus affirm a legal right to the same, at least in the US.

            Er, no. The Declaration of Independence doesn’t affirm a legal right for states to secede under the Constitution. It makes a moral case for separation from Britain.

            The founding fathers were certain capable of grasping the distinction. For example, during the Nullification Crisis, Madison wrote to Daniel Webster, praising a speech he had given, saying:

            It crushes “nullification” and must hasten the abandonment of “Secession.” But this dodges the blow by confounding the claim to secede at will, with the right of seceding from intolerable oppression. The former answers itself, being a violation, without cause, of a faith solemnly pledged. The latter is another name only for revolution, about which there is no theoretic controversy.

            • Ken B says:

              ” It makes a moral case for separation from Britain. ”
              Exactly. They KNEW they were breaking the law and felt it was justified.
              That the DofI was intended as a justification is clear even from the timeline. Independence was voted on July 2 and the declaration adopted 2 days later.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Laws are derived from moral codes.

                Ever heard of the argument “You can’t legislate morality”? Apropos.

            • Matt Tanous says:

              “The Declaration of Independence doesn’t affirm a legal right for states to secede under the Constitution.”

              It affirms a moral right, and it IS LAW. Thus, legal right.

              Your quote from Madison is indisctinct here, as it can easily be seen that the Declaration also argues that tyranny and oppression (which we bloody have in the US today) is a condition of secession. He is wrong, however, that secession at will is a violation of a contract (‘faith, solemnly pledged”). See Spooner’s No Treason as to why the contract cannot be said to hold for anyone alive today that didn’t swear an oath to the Constitution (and most of those that did).

              • Blackadder says:

                It affirms a moral right, and it IS LAW. Thus, legal right.

                I take it you’re not a lawyer.

              • Matt Tanous says:

                Lawyers are fallible men trained to ignore plain English and substitute wild fancy. The fact of the matter is that within the US code is the line:

                “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

                It’s a law, and it says that people have the right to secede if Government violates “certain unalienable Rights,” and “among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  3. Ken B says:

    “Thought controllers.” He can’t make it 30 seconds. Then the strawmen dance; Busby Berkely eat your heart out.

    Look, a bunch of us have cited source materials, logical arguments, and legal scholars. All I see from the other side is bald assertions — YES WE CAN — or name calling.

    One bit amused me: the notion that the soverignty of the state can never be relinquished. Well than I guess ‘sovereign’ is limited. And I guess Bob’s cherished notion, ‘we can secede from the state’ is — according to Woods — impossible.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      A bunch of us have cited source materials, logical arguments, and legal scholars that show secession is constitutionally legal and morally justified.

      All I see from the other side are straw men (slavery), bald assertions (it’s not constitutionally permitted), or name calling (you condone racism).

      • Ken B says:

        Ahhhh, argument by syntax. Too bad the semantics are against you.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Ahhhh, argument by assertion. Too bad the semantics are against you.

    • Matt Tanous says:

      “Look, a bunch of us have cited source materials, logical arguments, and legal scholars.”

      Yes, a bunch of us have. Not all of them held your view.

      “Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act.” – James Madison, Federalist 39

      “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.” – James Madison, Report on the Virginia Resolutions

      Maine unilaterally seceded from Massachusetts, by the way.

      “One bit amused me: the notion that the soverignty of the state can never be relinquished. ”

      Do you not understand English?

      • Blackadder says:

        Maine unilaterally seceded from Massachusetts, by the way.

        I guess you’ve never heard of the Missouri Compromise.

        • Matt Tanous says:

          Massachusetts did not pass the Missouri Compromise. Maine said “we’re leaving,” Congress added that bit in to an unrelated bill when they realized Maine was serious, and the state legislature in Massachusetts had no say. I imagine some of them were like “what? huh? we totally voted this down just a few years ago, didn’t we?”

          • Blackadder says:

            Matt,

            You said that Maine “unilaterally” seceded from Massachusetts. In fact, Maine’s actions were ratified both by Congress and by the Massachusetts legislature (as is required by Article IV of the Constitution).

      • Ken B says:

        “Maine unilaterally seceded from Massachusetts, by the way.
        … Do you not understand English?”

        Well, I understand ‘unilaterally.’

      • guest says:

        Also this:

        Federalist 46

        But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be opened. Plans of resistance would be concerted. One spirit would animate and conduct the whole. The same combinations, in short, would result from an apprehension of the federal, as was produced by the dread of a foreign, yoke; and unless the projected innovations should be voluntarily renounced, the same appeal to a trial of force would be made in the one case as was made in the other.

        • guest says:

          And this:

          Federalist 28

          If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government …

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            Ah, and that second quote pretty much obliterates Ken B’s assertion that “sovereignty of the state can never be relinquished”. The point is that *any* state’s sovereignty can be relinquished, so long as the people decide that such a state is no longer “positive”. The people created the states, and the states created the federal government, but Ken B doesn’t seem to understand that those that granted certain rights to the institutions that they have formed, can also relinquish such rights granted. The states are sovereign with regard to the federal government, just as the people are sovereign to the state governments. This seems like common sense to me.

            • Ken B says:

              I said Woods said it could not be, not that it could not be. I obviously argue states can and have ceded some of their soverignty.

              This is spectacular misrepresentatoion of what I said Joe, so extreme I think you must be drunk. It’s like saying “Bob’s assertion thta Krugman is right on debt and spending…”

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Yes, I was pretty drunk and accidentally misattributed the quote. Eh, it happens.

                However, the rest of my comment does in fact challenge the conclusion that you drew from Tom’s quote, and I am sure that Tom would agree with what I said (i.e. that the people are sovereign to the states, and subsequently, the states are sovereign to the union). After all, it is the people who created the states, and it is the states that created the union.

                Obviously, Tom’s video was discussing the states’ relationship with regard to the union, that the states, as creators of the union, are indeed sovereign in that respect, thus they retain the right to secede from the union, or to dissolve it altogether.

              • Ken B says:

                Well if Woods cares to elaborate he might, but based on the claims he actually made, nope, states cannot give up their sovereignty. He said so. So that means even if they allowed ‘secession’ they would retain the right to take it back later.

                It’s odd to suggest the people of Georgia in 1789 created Georgia. Most of them were born there, or moved there, or were property there.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                It’s odd to suggest the people of Georgia in 1789 created Georgia. Most of them were born there, or moved there, or were property there.

                And this is why Ken B. thinks the Iroquis Indians should be able to tell me how much to pay their nation in taxes. (I’m from upstate New York.)

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                So, Georgia just sprang from the ether, then?

              • Ken B says:

                Phlogiston.

                But it clearly did not spring from the folks living there in 1789. It’s even a dubious claim in re 1732. I do believe the English king and parliament played a role. Just as I believe a certain Mr Penn played a role in the creation of another colony, and he died long before 1789.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Of course, I am aware of both the chartered and proprietary colonies, but what has this to do with the status of the states at the time that the union was founded? If you want to make the case that the landed property should be returned to its rightful owners, I am all for that. Clearly, you’re not making that case. In fact, you are giving credence to the argument in favor of the dissolution of the union itself, though I doubt that you intended to.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Let me make that a little more clear. You’re current argument is in total opposition to your prior conclusions regarding secession. By bringing up Georgia, you’ve essentially taken a big, steaming pile of crap on your argument against secession. In fact, you just may have proved the union to be illegitimate.

                Hey, thanks! I’m certainly not going to complain.

              • Ken B says:

                Huh?
                I am arguing that law is a fact of life. Why is Canadian law legitimate? hard to give a reason. Maybe it’s not. I can live with that. Should we just feel free to ignore it then? No. Fact is it’s helped us become progressively freer and richer. Without slavery ever, since the formation of the colony. Not a bad record.

                No-one here will answer my debt hypothetical and I have no doubt as to the reason. Here it is again. Joe owes me $10. He won’t pay me. Can I just take it from his wallet or must I take recourse to law to get my money?

              • guest says:

                When Tom Woods says that people (or states) cannot cede their sovereignty, what he means is that they never stop being sovereign.

                The states never ceded their sovereignty, but rather they delegated certain powers.

                The Law by Frederic Bastiat
                http://www.constitution.org/cmt/bastiat/the_law.html

                If every person has the right to defend—even by force—his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right—its reason for existing, its lawfulness—is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force—for the same reason—cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

                If the people or states want to undelegate those powers, they can either convince the peoples of the other states to amend the constitution, or they can leave the Union.

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          That’s pretty clear and a nice reference to the revolution.

    • konst says:

      If you read his books Nullification and Rollback, he does cite sources.

  4. Bob Murphy says:

    Hey, can anybody find a good YouTube clip where Vader (in the beginning of Episode IV) says that Leia is a traitor?

  5. Ken B says:

    I think Bob deserves praise for putting this up. With so much ink on this blog committed to making Paul Krugman look bad it’s nice to see Bob occassionally making Paul Krugman look good.

    • konst says:

      How does he make “Paul Krugman look good”?

      • Major_Freedom says:

        By presenting an uncomfortable truth that Ken B wants to believe is false precisely because it is uncomfortable to him.

        Krugman isn’t mean that way to Ken B, and so this post from Murphy makes Krugman look good (meaning, it makes him sound nicer and not such a meanie).

  6. Matt S says:

    If States can voluntarily join the union and the text of that compact doesn’t deny their right to leave and actually reserves them all rights not given to the Federal government then yes they have the right to leave the union.

    The Constitution is not a death pact.

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    What if the federal government passed a law requiring all black and ethnic Mexican children under 2 to be executed? What if the US Supreme Court upheld it? Is there some level of unconstitutional and outrageous act that would allow for state secession? If so, then isn’t secession just a matter of how unconstitutional and outrageous the act by the Feds? If not, well…….I don’t know what to say.

    • Ken B says:

      What if New Mexico in its act of secession also passed such a law? Would the rest of the country be justified in defending those poor souls?

      The point is Bob R, that none of us on this side have asserted a right to oppress, but folks on your side have repeatedly done so. It happens every time we hear about the legitimacy of Southern secession for instance.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        none of us on this side have asserted a right to oppress, but folks on your side have repeatedly done so.

        Ken B. is funnier than the Holy Spirit.

        • Ken B says:

          So true. But I asked you point blank if you accepted any limits on majoritarian power and MF said he did not. He has since recanted I believe.
          And of course the example I cited.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            I did not “recant.” I already told you the context I made that argument was constitutional law only. There is nothing in the constitution that allows the feds to use force to stop secession, and thus anything that happens in a seceded state. Morally, however, I hold there is justification.

            The only explanation for you to frame what happened as me allegedly being in favor of democratic force (that’s funny, considering how you know I’m anarchist), only to allegedly recant thereafter, is that you are not interested in honest debating, but character assassination and deceit.

          • Dan says:

            Ken, this is the dumbest comment you have made in a while. Either you have no idea what anarchocapitalists believe, which is possible, or you are just resorting back to your go to move of being a smarmy troll.

            • Ken B says:

              Dan, I am not debating anarcho-capitalism. I am arguing the legality of secession.

              If you want to debate morality then it might help if the seceders here denounced the southern confederacy for seceding without obtaining majority approval and for the purpose of keeping slavery.
              Aside from anything else, nothing in the constitution allows cities to secede from states, widely asserted here. Indeed Woods’s argument about sovereignty suggests they cannot.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                I, Bob Murphy, am against slavery.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Show me where in the constitution it grants the feds explicit authority to stop states from seceding.

              • Dan says:

                No, Ken, you are simply muddying the water for the rest of the people who are trying to debate the legality of secession. The only reason you constantly keep bringing up slavery is because you want to imply that those of us who think the South had the right to secede, somehow also support slavery. You continue to misrepresent MF’s views, even though he clarified multiple times what he believes. You either purposely or ignorantly misrepresent Tom Woods view on soverignty.

                While other people are trying to have an honest debate, you are just trolling the post. Forcing MF to, once again, defend himself from being misrepresented.

              • Ken B says:

                I am as confident that Bob opposes slavery as I am that Daniel Kuehn opposes carpet bombing Houston. Yet for some reason it’s ok for Bob to allege such things of DK, but objectionable for me to even mention Bob and slavery in the same comment, without alleging he supports it. Standardstandard?

              • guest says:

                The Civil War was not fought to end slavery:

                Letter to Horace Greeley by Abraham Lincoln
                http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1057

                If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

              • Ken B says:

                guest, pay attention. No-one here has said the Union started the war with ending slavery as a war aim. It became a war aim later. Read Bl;ackadder’s explanation for more details.

              • guest says:

                Abraham Lincoln: Forced Into Glory
                http://www.lewrockwell.com/rep3/lincoln-forced-into-glory.html

                We all know of the Thirteenth Amendment, officially outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude. Bennett recounts two earlier Thirteenth amendments, both supported by Lincoln, neither of which (obviously) successfully amended the Constitution.

                The first of these was passed by Congress and sent to the states – ratified by Ohio and Maryland before the process was short-circuited by the firing at Fort Sumter. This amendment would have permanently made America half slave and half free.

                I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution….has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal government, shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the states, including that of persons held to service…. I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

                The second Thirteenth amendment, proposed by Lincoln but never approved by Congress, was the first of three amendments Lincoln proposed for buying and deporting native-born African-Americans.

                Bennett provides so much more in this book of over 600 pages – all of it focused on exploding the myth that Lincoln was the friend of the slave, the great emancipator, and the champion of equal rights. It is difficult to read Bennett’s volume and not come away feeling that Bennett was successful in his task.

                Lincoln the Racist
                (Or: Steven Spielberg, Call Your Office)
                http://lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo241.html

                “Who freed the slaves? To the extent that they were ever ‘freed,’ they were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment, which was authored and pressured into existence not by Lincoln but by the great emancipators nobody knows, the abolitionists and congressional leaders who created the climate and generated the pressure that goaded, prodded, drove, forced Lincoln into glory by associating him with a policy that he adamantly opposed for at least fifty-four of his fifty-six years of his life.”

                Lerone Bennett, Jr., Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’ s White Dream, p. 19

      • Matt Tanous says:

        “It happens every time we hear about the legitimacy of Southern secession for instance.”

        The war over tariffs? I mean, how dare they. Fight a war over oppressive tariffs and taxes. Who does that? Other than the people in the US circa 1776, of course.

        It certainly wasn’t over slavery, seeing as how Lincoln had tried to get a constitutional amendment that would have forever established slavery passed as one of his first acts as President. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corwin_Amendment ) “Funny” fact – the amendment is still technically awaiting ratification. I wonder if ratifying it now would create a de facto repeal of the Thirteenth Amendment’s ban on slavery?

        But, most importantly, is what Lincoln said of it in his inaugural address: “I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service….[H]olding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.”

        • Blackadder says:

          It certainly wasn’t over slavery

          Oh good grief. Matt, here is the text of South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession. Does it mention tariffs? No. It says they are seceding to protect slavery.

          Why do so many libertarians feel this compulsion to defend the Confederacy? It makes no sense to me.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            OK, South Carolina.

            Did all secessionist states secede over slavery? Or are you saying that because South Carolina cited slavery, that slavery was “the” reason all the states seceded?

            • Blackadder says:

              Did all secessionist states secede over slavery?

              Pretty much. Not all of the secession ordinances give reasons for the decision, but where they do, it’s all about slavery.

              There were four states (Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee) that did not secede until after Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for troops. It’s possible that they would not have seceded absent those events, but that they felt if there was to be a war they wanted to fight on the slave-holding side.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                BA, what does “pretty much” mean, and what is your evidence that justifies it?

              • Anonymous says:

                BA, what does “pretty much” mean, and what is your evidence that justifies it?

                Read the rest of my comment.

          • Matt Tanous says:

            “No. It says they are seceding to protect slavery. ”

            The Corwin Amendment was already awaiting state ratification by the inauguration (that would include South Carolina), Ohio and Maryland quickly ratified it during the beginning of the war Not counting the seven states of the Confederacy at the time, only 16 more states needed to ratify.

            Even so, the references in the document you cited are far more than merely “we like slavery, so we are leaving”. They are explicit condemnations of the principle of nullification used in the North against the Fugitive Slave Act. According to you, the SOUTH was in the right, there – the North had no legal right to do something like that.

            • Blackadder says:

              The Corwin Amendment was already awaiting state ratification by the inauguration

              The very existence of the Corwin Amendment is more proof that the Confederate states seceded over slavery. Why propose an amendment to protect slavery in an attempt to mollify the south unless that was the reason they were leaving?

          • AJ says:

            The Confederacy was a result of the southern “Classical Liberal” states disgust with the manner in which Lincoln was elected and the way the Republican/Whig party intended to ignore the southern states sovereignty. Slaves were not freed until about 2 years into the war that was incited by the north to start with. Lincoln appropriated money to send both freed slaves in the north and ones from the south to Africa and Haiti. He cared little for African Americans and the hero worship he gets is utterly preposterous.

            That document you linked clearly states they are asserting their rights to govern themselves as they see fit and the fact that all states are equal and one (or many) may not subject its will upon another (or a few). This is a fundamental concept of a republic and decentralized power.

            In terms of this topic historically… Slavery was already beginning to end in the boarder states and the transport of slaves + the level of unskilled labor was becoming less profitable than specialized skilled labor. Meaning, sometime before the end of the 19th century (probably sooner), slavery would have ended on its own like it had in every other nation that hit the industrial revolution full swing. Unnecessary war and unnecessary power grab.

            • Blackadder says:

              The Confederacy was a result of the southern “Classical Liberal” states disgust with the manner in which Lincoln was elected

              Lincoln was elected in the same manner as every other president. It didn’t have anything to do with the “manner” in which he was elected. They didn’t like that he was anti-slavery.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                BTW Blackadder, just to clarify my own amateur view of what happened:

                ==> Many of the seceding states had as their #1 concern the maintenance of slavery.

                ==> Lincoln went to war to prevent secession, not to abolish slavery.

                ==> Thus to say “the Civil War was about slavery” is difficult to judge.

                ==> Either way, it is both immoral and impractical to free slaves by blowing up lots of innocent, non-slave-holding people.

              • Blackadder says:

                Bob,

                “The Civil War was about slavery” is a different claim from “secession was about slavery.”

                1) The South seceded because of slavery. I don’t think that’s arguable.

                2) On the other hand, initially the North was fighting not to end slavery but simply to preserve the Union.

                3) As the war went on, ending slavery gradually became more central to the war aims of the North, to the point where it’s perfectly appropriate to say that they were fighting about slavery as well.

                4) So broadly speaking I would agree that the Civil War was about slavery. If someone wants to say that it was more complicated than that then of course they are right.

                5) I can understand the argument that Lincoln should have just let the South go. However, if one is to apportion blame then in my view the lion share of it has to go to the side that a) provoked the crisis by seceding, b) fired the first shots, and c) was fighting for an evil cause.

              • Dan says:

                “5) I can understand the argument that Lincoln should have just let the South go. However, if one is to apportion blame then in my view the lion share of it has to go to the side that a) provoked the crisis by seceding, b) fired the first shots, and c) was fighting for an evil cause.”

                One of the area’s I would differ with you on is blaming the South for firing the first shot. Lincoln’s goal in that situation was to achieve this outcome. He wrote to naval commander Gustavus Fox after the incident, “You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result.”

                I think the South made a mistake by firing on Fort Sumter, but I put the bigger blame on Lincoln for purposely trying to achieve that outcome.

                I also believe both sides were fighting for an evil cause so I don’t see why the South should be taking the lion’s share of the blame in this regard. To me, the North was fighting a war to preserve the Union, especially in the beginning, and the acts that were being committed to achieve that goal were awful. I consider it evil to force people to be in a Union they want no part of, and I also think it is evil to allow slavery.

                Obviously as an ancap I have absolutely no love for the South, but the war to return them to the Union was completely unnecessary and nothing short of a tragedy. Since I believe that had Lincoln just left the South alone that there would never had been a war that killed 600,000+, and slavery would’ve eventually ended peacefully like it did in the rest of the world, I put the bigger blame on Lincoln for not doing whatever was needed to avoid a war.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                BA:

                As the war went on, ending slavery gradually became more central to the war aims of the North

                What is your evidence for this claim?

              • Bob Murphy says:

                MF probably his evidence is that Lincoln didn’t go to war to end slavery, and then by the end he decided to end slavery. There is also some evidence that he did it to get European support when the Union hadn’t achieved a quick victory.

              • AJ says:

                Lincoln only won 40% of the popular vote. It was kind of a big deal. Especially since he won every Northern state and the political favors he promised industry there he delivered on.

                In the early 1800s the trade and importation of slaves was illegal both in the United States as well as British Empire.

                1811 – Slavery in most of Spain (including colonies) abolished
                1834 – Slavery in British Empire Abolished
                1836 – Portugal ends their slave trade
                1847 – Ottaman Empire ends their slave trade after pressure from British Empire
                1847 – Sweden abolishes slavery
                1848 – France abolishes slavery
                1850s – half of South America frees slaves
                1861 – Russia frees serfs
                1863 – Slavery abolished in Dutch colonies
                Late 1800s – early 1900s slavery abolished in Far East and Middle East

                It was a world wide social trend and a world wide realization that slavery is not moral or economically feasible. Like a vast majority of those other places everywhere else in the world, slavery would have been peacefully abolished in the south based on moral and/or economic reasons sometime in the last quarter of the 19th century.

              • Ken B says:

                You forgot Upper Canada. In 1891 the very first legislative act of the parliament of Upper Canada was the abolition of slavery.

                It’s clear AJ that all the leaders of the confederacy, and most of it’s whites too I expect, thought, wanted, and tried to make slavery endure. I bet they would have succeeded had they won the civil war.
                Slavery still exists in the modern world, especially in parts of the Islamic world. People are really very good at finding reasons to justify it.

              • Ken B says:

                Oops 1791 not 1891.

              • Ken B says:

                As for changing war aims, there is a lot of evidence. There’s some amendment, somewhere between the 12th and the 14th I think. Before the end of the war. There was the emancipation proclamation. It was mentioned in the 1864 election too…
                You can also read letters etc fom hot republicans at the time, some of whom were in Lincoln’s cabinet.
                Bob is also right about keeping England out.
                The demand that returning states ratify the 13th is pretty clear.

              • skylien says:

                Come on Ken B spell it out:

                “600.000+ dead Americans were it worth to end slavery at this point in time. And my believe the South would have managed to keep slavery going until this day, proves that I am right.”

                Thast’s what I call confirmation bias.

              • Ken B says:

                That’s what I call making up false statements of other people’s positions, without any foundation.

              • skylien says:

                Oh, it rather seems you are in denial about the consequences of the positions you hold.

              • Ken B says:

                I haven’t stated a position on the morality of fighting the civil war.

              • skylien says:

                You stated on multiple accounts that

                1: You think it morally right and proper to stop a seceding state who might try to keep or set up an institution like slavery. “Stopping” includes the threat of force which means, if it shall not be an empty threat, you threaten with war and invasion. And wars usually aren’t fought with candy floss.

                2: You also defend the position that if in a Union it is not legal to unilaterally decide to secede, that no matter why they want to secede it is right to threaten with war (with all its consequences again!) by the union.

                If these are not your positions, then please clear them up.

                1.
                Would you have stopped the South from seceding? Yes or no?

                2.
                Would you now stop Texas from seceding if they wanted to (no matter if the Union or Congress agree or not. Suppose Texas is ready to fight for independence). The question is: Would you fight a war to stop it, would you send troops?

                These are clear questions, please give me clear answers.

      • AJ says:

        If the “rest of the country” treats New Mexico in that situation like the Sudan or actual Mexico or Syria where people are butchered on a daily basis than those “poor souls” are probably not defended and the justice department more than likely sells them the guns to do it allegedly accidentally on purpose.

        The whole concept of a republic in the case of the United States is to protect the individual rights of those in the minority in addition to the majority so neither are oppressed by mob rule and each individual is protected in terms of their property, person and the opportunity to voice their opinion. Maybe raise a standing army (volunteer) if need be can be included. Really the only 3 (4) jobs the Federal Government has. Everything is superfluous or an abuse of power that is better left to the local or state governments to deal with.

        Fun fact — the Declaration of Independence is not law but a formal secession from the British Empire.

        Lincoln set the standard for using force to keep the union together. Secession was typically viewed as a way to keep the federal government from grasping two much power. Unfortunately that part of history has been blatantly ignored. 600,000 lives and cities burnt to the ground is a pretty good deterrent.

        • Matt Tanous says:

          “Fun fact — the Declaration of Independence is not law but a formal secession from the British Empire. ”

          Then why can I find it at http://uscode.house.gov/pdf/Organic%20Laws/decind.pdf

          The US Code is the body of Federal LAW. And the grouping it is under is titled “Organic LAW”. Sounds like LAW to me.

          According to Black’s Legal Dictionary (5th edition), Organic Law is “[t]he fundamental law, or constitution, of a state or nation, written or unwritten. That law or system of laws or principles which defines and establishes the organization of its government.”

          As the Declaration, unlike the Articles of Confederation, is not superseded by the Constitution, it is not merely law, but part of the fundamental law of the nation that establishes its very organization.

          • Ken B says:

            “Fun fact — the Declaration of Independence is not law but a formal secession from the British Empire. ””
            Wrong.
            As I have already noted, the act of independence was passed 2 days before the declaration.

            Matt’s cite is not proof though. He notes the articles are not law, but here’s the companion URL for them http://uscode.house.gov/pdf/Organic%20Laws/artconf.pdf

            The foundational law of the USA is the constitution.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              “As I have already noted, the act of independence was passed 2 days before the declaration.”

              This is like saying the Patriot Act was formal law when it was written years before it was declared by Congress.

              • Ken B says:

                No MF. A separate stand alone act of independence was passed on July 2. That is why Adams predicted July 2 would become a national holiday. Independence happened independently of the adoption of the D of I. They decided they ALSO wanted to make a declaration out of the reasons, a remonstrance. That was the DofI.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                I am sure the Patriot Act went through some revisions and amendments in the interim too.

              • Ken B says:

                No matter how good a thing is you can always make it better.

                :)

          • AJ says:

            “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

            “Their duty to throw off such government”

            If we want to use that document as whatever kind of law then yest it clearly justifies and sets the most powerful standard for secession there is.

            • Ken B says:

              Umm, that’s what BA and I are saying. It provides a moral justification for breaking the law and rebelling.

  8. Bob Roddis says:

    No one ever seems to mention Clarence Thomas’ concurrence to the gun case McDonald v Chicago wherein Thomas clearly calls for a complete reinterpretation of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment based upon its clear language and the intent of the drafters. Thomas starts off with this:

    The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the FourteenthAmendment declares that “[n]o State . . . shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” In interpreting this language, it is important to recall that constitutional provisions are “‘written to be understood by the voters.’” Heller, 554 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 3) (quoting United States v. Sprague, 282 U. S. 716, 731 (1931)).Thus, the objective of this inquiry is to discern what “ordinary citizens” at the time of ratification would have understood the Privileges or Immunities Clause to mean. 554 U. S., at (slip op., at 3).

    At the time of Reconstruction, the terms “privileges” and “immunities” had an established meaning as synonyms for “rights.” The two words, standing alone or paired together, were used interchangeably with the words “rights,” “liberties,” and “freedoms,” and had been since the time of Blackstone. See 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *129 (describing the “rights and liberties” of Englishmen as “private immunities” and “civil privileges”). A number of antebellum judicial decisions used the terms in this manner.

    The Amendment granted Congress the power to enforce these rights. I’m not sure what, if anything, this means for secession, but I sure like it as a basis for state nullification of federal laws that impair the rights of citizens which might be construed as libertarian or almost libertarian.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1521.pdf @ page 56

    So, does Congress still have no power to invade New Mexico for killing minority children?

    • Blackadder says:

      No one ever seems to mention Clarence Thomas’ concurrence to the gun case McDonald v Chicago

      Bob Roddis is right. Discussions of the legality of secession rarely mention Justice Thomas’ concurrence in the Chicago gun case. I wonder why.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        The Lizard People won’t allow it on the lamestream media, that’s why.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        I wonder why.

        I’ll bet you wonder why and I’ll bet you read the entire concurrence too. But I’ll tell you anyway.

        The liberals don’t like it because Thomas claims the intent of the amendment was clearly to grant blacks (and everyone else) the right to have the Feds enforce the right of each citizen to own property, enter into contracts and bear arms. Thus, the feds have the right to nullify a state law against gun ownership.

        Libertarians probably don’t like it (if they’ve thought about it) because it grants the Feds the right to enforce those privileges and immunities against the states. How can a state secede and cut off the right of the feds to enforce those rights? And that is a new power for the Feds that did not exist before that amendment.

        Apparently it went over your head that I’m kinda sorta agreeing with Ken B about what happens if New Mexico wants to secede so it can kill black and Mexican children.

        I was very impressed with Thomas’ recitation of the legislative history. If the courts had followed Thomas’ interpretation, there would have been no Jim Crow and no oppression of blacks and others for 100 years following the Civil War. Trivial stuff, I know.

  9. Chris Branco says:

    Blackadder needs to join Tom’s Liberty Classroom. Do yourself a service and learn some true history…also mention my name so I can get some cash.

    • Blackadder says:

      Chris,

      A couple of years ago I listened to all of Tom’s lectures on the Mises website (don’t worry Bob, I listened to all your lectures too!). I’ve also read a couple of his books. If I don’t find his conclusions persuasive, it’s not because I’m unfamiliar with his arguments.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Welp, that totally convinced me Tom is wrong. BA doesn’t find it “persuasive.”

        I guess if I don’t find BA’s justification “persuasive” myself, then it must mean BA is wrong too.

        • Anonymous says:

          MF,

          You miss the point (which is typical). Sure, I might be wrong in rejecting Woods conclusions. But if so, it’s not because I’m unfamiliar with the arguments and evidence he uses to support them. So it won’t do to say “hey, you should read what Woods has to say about secession.” I already have.

    • successfulbuild says:

      LOL. Is Tom Woods Liberty classroom where Matt Tanous’ learned about Godel’s theorem and computer programming? That’s where he picked up his “computer programming languages have nothing to do with algorithms” while jabbering about the time complexity of an algorithm, i.e., how programming languages work in the real world. What does he think we’re measuring here — time and space. No company in history would hire this guy.

      Is it also where major_freedom (egoist) learned his “well known exaggerations of the holocaust”? Which are?

      See, students are a reflection of their teachers.

      Given those two and skylien have been shown to be complete boobs Murphy and Woods have been discredited by proxy.

  10. Ken B says:

    Skylien:

    ou stated on multiple accounts that

    1: You think it morally right and proper to stop a seceding state who might try to keep or set up an institution like slavery. “Stopping” includes the threat of force which means, if it shall not be an empty threat, you threaten with war and invasion. And wars usually aren’t fought with candy floss.

    2: You also defend the position that if in a Union it is not legal to unilaterally decide to secede, that no matter why they want to secede it is right to threaten with war (with all its consequences again!) by the union.

    If these are not your positions, then please clear them up.

    I asked Bob some questions. Only MF answered and then he disavowed the actual answer he gave. It’s not clear to me then why I should answer. However

    1. I do think it right to stop Tom Woods from setting up a slave state for example, should he decide he wants to. But as always with right and wrong there are many factors involved. (I know ancaps disagree.That might be why ancaps command so little respect.) Costs and means would have to be evaluated.

    2. Is a false statement.

    • guest says:

      Foreign interventionism is what causes a lot of America’s problems.

      This is essentially what you’re advocating.

  11. Ken B says:

    Too indented, hoiking out.

    RPM:

    It’s odd to suggest the people of Georgia in 1789 created Georgia. Most of them were born there, or moved there, or were property there.

    And this is why Ken B. thinks the Iroquis Indians should be able to tell me how much to pay their nation in taxes. (I’m from upstate New York.)

    What a remarkable non sequitur. I think you’re the one arguing that states have a special kind of inalienable sovereignty. If not you certainly Woods. I on the other hand am pointing out that Georgia was created by a historical process, not just by the will or assent of its inhabitants at the time of ratification. Just as the Algonquin got screwed as a result of a historical process. In 1789 Georgia was a functioning existing colony. The then Georgians did not claim they created it afresh every day. Fetz denied this simple historical fact. Do you? (I am not asking if you think this a moral travesty, I am asking you a question of fact.)

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