John Christopher Winsmith was what historian Jason Phillips refers to as a “diehard rebel.” Throughout the war, Winsmith never wavered in his enthusiasm for the cause. He believed that it was incumbent on everyone in the Confederacy to make the necessary sacrifices in the army and on the home front. In letters that routinely characterized the Lincoln and the Yankee army as “invaders” and “abolitionists” it is clear that Winsmith viewed the struggle as a war to protect slavery. Winsmith’s father, who served in the state legislature in 1860, introduced the following resolution immediately after Lincoln’s election to the presidency:
That this General Assembly is satisfied that Abram Lincoln has already been elected President of the United States, and that said election has been based upon principles of open and avowed hostility to the social organization and peculiar interests of the slave holding states of this Confederacy.
The father fully supported the war effort by purchasing Confederate bonds as well as his sons efforts to earn promotion.
Thank you for using the White House’s online petitions platform to participate in your government.
That sentence alone defuses any credibility that these silly petitions might enjoy. There is just a little irony in Americans utilizing their Constitutional rights through a website that encourages participatory democracy and that is maintained by taxpayer dollars.
But just in case you slept through your American history and civics classes Carson follows up with a reminder that the sacrifice paid by Americans during the Civil War and beyond guarantees your right to petition your government.
Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States “in order to form a more perfect union” through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot — a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it. As President Abraham Lincoln explained in his first inaugural address in 1861, “in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual.” In the years that followed, more than 600,000 Americans died in a long and bloody civil war that vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States. And shortly after the Civil War ended, the Supreme Court confirmed that “[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.”
Back on June 28th, 2012 an article here at Nolan Chart reported that the Confederate War College established a clock to help illustrate whether the environment within the United States was favorable to the idea of states seceding from the Union. The original setting of the clock was 6 Pm, the point furthest from twelve o’clock. This setting was to be the starting point, and it was stated that the clock was originally set as far away from twelve as is possible. [Read the rest of the article.]
The Confederate War College cites a number of reasons why it might be time to reset the clock, but there is little talk about what happens afterward. Luckily, General Charles Goodson of the New Confederate Army is waiting in the wings.
It does give you a sense of how disconnected our understanding of secession has become from the events that took place in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860. As a historical concept rooted in the Civil War era it is almost meaningless. My favorite petition is from the good folks of the state of Washington, who decided to quote the preamble of the Declaration of Independence as justification. You just can’t beat quoting a document rooted in revolution (as opposed to secession) that specifically points out that, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” What exactly happened last week?
Ultimately, the image of thousands of Americans logging onto the official website of their government and requesting the right to secede is a sign of this nation’s strength. I say, sign away. In fact, I may spend some time this morning signing a few of my favorites. I may start one for Massachusetts. Why should we miss out on all the fun.
Finally, a little advice for the most committed secessionists out there. I seem to remember a reference made by that Republic candidate for president. What was it?… ah yes, it was a reference to self-deportation. In other words, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
And there you have it. What value you place in Scalia’s response is entirely up to you. Like I’ve said before, I have very little interest in the question of whether a state has the right to secede from the union. I do find it interesting, however, that the most conservative member of the court can find nothing in the Constitution that would render it legal.
Hey, there is always revolution. [Hat-tip to Andy Hall]