“that states had a legal right to secede”
While a great post, I have to quibble here. States did indeed (and still do — usurpation remains usurpation no matter how long it lies) have the right to secede. That the Southern states seceded over slavery merely implied a corresponding obligation and duty on the part of the Northern states to conquer and subjugate the southern ones in order to end that vile institution.
Virginia’s instrument of ratification(the resolution passed by the Virginian legislature adopting the US Constitution) reserved the right to reclaim powers delegated to the national government if it felt the national government had over-stepped its bounds. Since all the states were equal partners in the Union, no state could have special rights or privileges not shared by the other states, so Virginia’s explicit claim to the power secede from the Union is shared by all the other states.
The myth that secession is illegal is a post-hoc justification for why the Federal government refused to recognize the CSA as an independent nation during the Civil War, which was itself a utilitarian move made to avoid having to treat the Confederacy in accordance with the laws of war as they existed at the time. In reality, the CSA had every right to secede and the USA had every right to conquer the vile slave-holders.
You call that secession?
Anyone who thinks what the slavers did in 1861 was secession, well try this. Do it again.
GO on. Kill voters in Texas. Threaten the capital. Issue five Ultimatums to spread slavery by force. Try to take over 12, not just one, US fort. Try that again. SEe what happens again.
Notice not ONE of the fire eaters today are killing voters? Notice that? Not one is attacking 12 forts? Not one is plundering the coast line?
IN 1861, the North nor Lincoln did a thing while the South went bozo bonkers. Lincoln didn’t do a think as Southerners killed voters. Not a thing as Southern leaders issued the Ultimatums to spread slavery AGAINST the will of the people, by force, or face war.
Anyone who cares about the truth can not possibly think the South was seceding. They were attacking. THey were rabid dogs, demanding the SPREAD of slavery. Yes, the SPREAD of slavery.
GO see the South’s own Ultimatums — spread slavery. Southern leaders issued the ultimatums. Southern newspapers headlines about them were “THE TRUE ISSUE!”
Google Southern Ultimatums, find out some real history.
ANd if you think that was secession, do it that way again.
MichaelM shows that southerners have yet to get over their greatest handicap: the belief that assertion will make things so.
Did a state have a right to unilaterally secede? The Constitution doesn’t say. It does say that one of the purposes of creating and ratifying it was to make “a more perfect Union.” The Union already existed, having been brought about by the Articles of Confederation, which articles said “This Union is perpetual.”
The question of whether a state had a right to secede was settled by the SUPREME Supreme Court, and the answer was in the negative: Grant vs. Lee, 1865 Appomatax Court House. A state may not secede unilaterally until some future Constitutional amendment gives it that right. And that ain’t gonna happen.
The notion that a few thousand votes (to pick ratifying delegates in 1787) can indivisibly bind the futures of future hundreds of millions of us is almost too silly to quibble with. That rationale is naked document worship. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. At least that was the principle of our first founding. Lincoln, the southern repudiation of consent and the resulting 500,000 war dead was our second founding. It put us on the road to the unchecked, fiscal federal mess that we are now enjoy. There are rumblings of a coming third founding. Unfortunately, I don’t see too many statesmen of the caliber of Lincoln, Jefferson and Madison.