The point is that Steve Benen, and, no doubt, many others like him, really believe that secession is some sort of black, treasonous activity. You have to wonder who taught these people their American history, as what they believe seems to be somewhat Marxist in its viewpoint. Both Marx and Hitler thought secession was bad.
Interestingly enough, there have been many rumblings of late about a group of liberal folks in Vermont that are trying to get that state to secede from the Union. Although I am, politically, quite a ways to the right of these folks, nonetheless, their effort is one more among several others that helps to keep the secession question alive and viable. For some reason, the “news” media has not jumped on these Vermont folks quite as harshly as it would have were such an effort coming from Alabama or Louisiana. Rather than attack these folks in Vermont, the media kind of ignores them to a large extent, but they are out there, or should I say up there, anyway.
Frankly I’m a bit surprised that someone, somewhere, hasn’t accused them of treason at this point. That was the charge that was thrown at Southern secessionists in 1861, that they were all traitors, even though secession was never forbidden by the Constitution, and was, in fact, validated by the Tenth Amendment.
So, for Mr. Benen and friends, a bit of history might be in order.
The Southern states were not (that’s right folks, not) the first to consider secession. The New England states considered it no less than three times before 1860. In 1814 delegates from those New England states met in Hartfor, Connecticut to seriously consider New England’s secession from the Union because New England did not approve of the War of 1812. Somehow, from 1814 to 1860, in New England, secession went from a favoured possibility to a horrendous crime! Most especially if the South did it! That Spurious charge (treason) has been bandied about to this day in many circles, especially by our court “historians” who know where their financial bread is buttered. These establishment mouthpieces claim the South committed treason in seceding because she sought to overthrow the federal government. Such a charge is nothing but bovine fertilizer and most of them know it. They just want to make sure Joe Six Pack doesn’t realize it. The Southern states had no interest whatever in overthrowing the government in Washington. They just wanted to depart, in peace if possible, and be left alone. Then, too, maybe the Southern states also got tired of paying around 80% of the national tariff.
Years ago, I picked up a book by James Street entitled simply “The Civil War.” Street had a few comments about what happened to Jeff Davis after the war. He noted: “The North didn’t dare give him a trial, knowing that a trial would establish that secession was not unconstitutional, that there had been no ‘rebellion’ and that the South had got a raw deal.” That’s about as plain-spoken as you can get, and that from a man who was, overall, satisfied with the outcome of the war.
Street was hardly alone in this viewpoint. In his book “Judah P. Benjamin–the Jewish Confederate” author Eli N. Evans, states the same premise. Evans noted, on page 365 of his book that: “The Johnson government, it seemed, was afraid it would be disgraced by the failure of its case against Davis. It was facing a growing storm of controversy…the government had clearly trapped itself: It could not try Davis under the indictment, because under the Constitution secession was not treason. The case would collapse, and Stanton and Johnson would be humiliated.” And everyone knows, the last thing we want is a humiliated politician!
Author Burke Davis also wrote, in “The Long Retreat” on page 204 about the radical Yankee/Marxist politicians and their plans. He noted a quote by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase telling Edwin Stanton “If you bring these leaders to trial, it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution, secession is not rebellion…His (Jeff Davis’) capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one…we cannot convict him of treason.” Right from the horse’s mouth!!!
On page 214 of his book Burke Davis observed that a congressional committee proposed a special court (Kangaroo court?) for Davis’ trial, headed up by Judge Franz Lieber. Burke Davis noted: “After studying more than 270,000 Confederate documents, seeking evidence against Davis, this court discouraged the War Department: ‘Davis will be found not guilty,’ Lieber reported, ‘and we shall stand there completely beaten’.”
What the radical/abolitionist Northern politicians were admitting among themselves (but not ever for public consumption) was they that had just fought a “civil war” that had either taken or maimed the lives of over 600,000 Americans, both North and South, and they had no constitutional justification whatever for having done so. It was truly a War of Northern Aggression–a classic example of class struggle! And Mr. Lincoln before them, had no justification either. His vision of an eternal, indivisible union was a pipe dream!
Nor had they any right at all to impede the Southern states when they chose to withdraw from the Constitutional compact.
Now they couldn’t afford to let Jeff Davis go to trial, a trial he wanted, for fear their horrendous crime against humanity might become public knowledge, and their visions of empire doomed.
Needless to say, your “history” books have not seen fit to pass along any of this information. As the narrator at the beginning of the movie “Braveheart” so correctly stated: “History is written by those who have hanged heroes.”
And so, contrary to the fondest wishes of our establishment politicians, the “One World” boys, the thorny question of secession still remains. Secession is still a viable option to the federal lust for more and more power over our lives. And the question of secession will continue to remain. It is not about to go away anytime soon, praise be to God!
R. W. “Dick” Gaines
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