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Interesting secessionist history

November 30, 2012

I don’t particularly identify with the recent micro-fad of signing petitions for secession, but this column by Walter Williams has a lot of interesting stuff in it that I’ve never heard before. Several exerpts:

At the 1787 constitutional convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, rejected it…

On March 2, 1861, after seven states had seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that said, “No State or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the Union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S. Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession…

On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states

The Northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede

There’s more evidence seen at the time our Constitution was ratified. The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said that they held the right to resume powers delegated, should the federal government become abusive of those powers.

Williams surmises that “The Constitution would have never been ratified if states thought that they could not maintain their sovereignty.” Which is possible, as far as I know.

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