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]
A couple of recent titles leave me wondering whether some version of the interpretation that the Civil War was unavoidable owing to the loss of moderate influence is making a resurgence. If so, to what extent has it been fueled by our current political culture? It’s hard not to see this at work in David Goldfield’s recent book, America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation, which focuses on the infusion of evangelical religion into political discourse as leading to the breakdown. [The video is from a recent presentation based on his book at the Minnesota History Center.] I just started William Cooper’s We Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861 so it may be too early to say much of anything that is constructive in this context, but consider one short passage in the preface:
But not all Americans wanted another compromise. In the South, radical secessionists saw this moment, the election of a northern president heading a northern party by northern voters, as their opportunity to disrupt the Union. The North had its own segment that spurned any compromise with the South. These vigorous partisans of the triumphant Republican party were determined to celebrate their victory without any deal with an alarmed, uneasy South.
Of course, two books does not make a school of thought and I have not offered much in terms of historiography, but I thought it might help to get the intellectual juices flowing. What do you think?
I was hoping that yesterday’s post would not turn into another round of the same old back and forth over the cause of the war, but that is exactly what happened. Unfortunately, most of what is usually offered in such discussions lacks any serious analysis and/or context. I was hoping to encourage readers to share those books that have informed their understanding of the coming of secession and war. For what it’s worth, here are a few of my favorites, though I could just as easily have chosen five others.