Removal of Confederate statues and flags?


Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
At present SD, USA
I wasn't aware the right to secession was in the Constitution.

So if it is in the Constitution, kindly point to where it says.
The constitution says nothing explicit about the issue of secession and its something has been argued back and forth on various Civil War related threads...

On the Unconstitutionality of Secession...
Those that have argued on it being unconstitutional have pointed to various quotes and arguments, made by various politicians of the 1700s and 1800s, including James Buchanan, that have pointed to their reasoning for why secession would be unconstitutional. Though many of these arguments often just the interpretations of the people in question.

The most "direct" argument would be in relation to looking at both the Supremacy Clause, which essentially states that the Federal government is supreme with regard to the power it holds within the US, along with pointing to the Constitution's preamble for "a more perfect Union," with a historical reference to the circumstances under which the Constitutional Convention was brought together due to the weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation, which named the Union as "perpetual."

The Weakness in the Argument...
The words that are often used from other politicians are largely just random quotes in philosophical discussion. They are not in actual court cases directly pertaining to the issue of secession as a matter of law. As such, while they make a very compelling argument, it's purely philosophical, not legal.

The issue with "a more perfect Union" and the reference to the Articles of Confederation is that the Constitution is so vague on the exact nature of the Union, that it would be hard to tell as to what was meant in the Constitution's preamble as nothing is truly clear. One could argue that the Constitution is intended to preserve the Articles' "perpetual Union" or that the "perpetual Union" was part of the problem and not really have a wrong argument because the Constitution is so vague on the subject.

And while the Supremacy Clause does set the Federal Government as the most powerful legal force within the country, that does not mean that it grants the Federal Government dictatorial powers over the country, and that even into the 20th Century, in an era where Federal Power grew vastly, various Constitutional Amendments, namely the 10th would be used as a check on Federal Power. In fact most of the laws passed during the New Deal that were declared unconstitutional were declared so because they violated the 10th Amendment.

On the Constitutionality of Secession...
Those that have argued in favor of secession have often cited arguments that the Union was formed on the basis of a contract, essentially "with the consent of the governed." Once Lincoln was elected in 1860, the Southern States felt that the Federal Government had lost their consent and thus ceased to abide by the original contract, and thus the election of Lincoln dissolved the Union, as the Southern States felt within their rights to dissolve the Union for their protection. It is this basis that sits at the heart of the "state's rights" argument as the cause of the American Civil War.

Though, the most direct argument with regards to the Constitution is in relation to the vagueness with which the Constitution refers to secession and the nature of the Union and combining it to the 10th Amendment. Since the 10th Amendment names any and all unnamed powers as being reserved to the states, and since the nature of the Union and secession are at best vaguely mentioned in the Constitution, that means that the states reserve the power to dissolve the Union under the 10th Amendment for any reason.

The Weakness in the Argument...
For one thing it was likely never expected at the Constitutional Convention that a situation like what happened in 1860 (or at other moments when secession was thought of) was ever expected. Many of the men who helped write the Constitution had fought through the Revolution, which they believed that if they did not remain united, they would have lost the war. In this, to them it was likely that they saw the Union as continuing on as a point of common sense, that America would be weaker if it dissolved. Thus, it was never expressly written because it was never thought of to be an issue with which the US would have tangle with. It's in this where many of those quotes that often argue against secession, even if only philosophical in nature, provide context for many elements within the Constitution itself.

There is also vagueness in the 10th Amendment as it includes references to both the States and the People. In this, when looking at the Secession Crisis of 1860, while the State Governments voted in favor of secession, the people of those states largely weren't consulted and in many cases were often ignored. It's in this factor that Lincoln really didn't do much on assuming office in 1861, as it was figured that the fire eaters that ran the state governments would be confronted by an angry population that did NOT want to leave the Union and would thus present a question just WHO was attempting to use the 10th Amendment in the Secession Crisis, the States or the People. And while this didn't happen in the South, with the exception of South Carolina, EVERY Southern State sent men north to fight for the Union and in one of the Confederate states in the county of Jones (either in Alabama or Mississippi) you had a country wide rebellion against the Confederacy with one Southern officer claiming "there were Lincolnites throughout the county." Which thus continues the argument as to who is employing the 10th Amendment.

There has also been the fact that the 10th Amendment does not nullify the Supremacy Clause. It's merely there to make sure that the Federal government doesn't assume dictatorial powers, which could mean that the amendment's intention was to deal with smaller issue things that typically the states already controlled, things like marriage licenses and so on... but it doesn't give the states the power to essentially dictate to the Federal government what Federal policy will be.

And if one is wishing to look at the "state's rights" argument, one needs to question as to what aspects of the "contract" had the election of Lincoln violated. There is no law that says the American President has to have a popular vote majority in the country. In fact the Electoral College essentially guards AGAINST that sort of "rule by the mob." There is also no rule that says that the President elect HAS to have heavy support in all parts of the country. And given that no southern state lost its senators, representatives, or elected governors with Lincoln's election, it would be hard to make any sort of legal case to indicate that Lincoln had violated any article of the Constitution in his election... which would really lower much of the Confederate argument to "sour grapes" for losing an election.

Court Application...
The "constitutionality" of secession only came into the Federal court system once... in the years immediately after the American Civil War. I can't remember the specifics of the case at the moment, but the end ruling did make the case that secession was unconstitutional, but given that it happened so soon after the American Civil War and the Confederacy's defeat, there is bound to be some claim of bias on the part of the court at the time... but since I'm not knowledgeable on the specifics of the case, I can't say for certain...
Likes: Fiver
Oct 2018
Minneapolis, MN
To me it is pretty simple. Those leaders of the Confederacy renounced their citizenship of the USA, to lead a rebellion that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans... men, women, and children. Military and Civilian. For a rebellion that was about protecting and expanding race based slavery. I'm fine if they don't get celebrated and honored in the US.

That alone is enough for me to say no. Take up arms against the USA, no statue to honor you IN the USA. That's really the only requirement. None for the terrorists who gave their lives on 9-11. None for Ted Kaczynski. None for Hitler. None for those who were much deadlier enemies of the USA whether they were American or not.

I don't think we need to re-name Marjory Stoneham Douglas High school after the shooter so we don't forget what happened there and his stand he took against being bullied. I get that Nidal Hassan was once in the military, all but the final minutes of his military career seem honorable and had his rebellion over what he thought was religious freedoms against Fort Hood when he took up arms against them, and am 100% against him getting a statue honoring his rebellion as well.

I think in the US, we should honor those who fought FOR America, those who worked to make America better. Not those who renounced their citizenship and took up arms against it. That's my simple delineation.

Sure they fought for slavery and that is bad. Sure those statues were erected mostly in opposition to civil rights/supporting Jim Crow laws and that's not a good reason to build statues to show the blacks who is really in charge where they live. Sure they were created to try and destroy history, calling those sick individuals such as Lee things like "the greatest man who ever lived" to erase the horrible things he had done. But all that is secondary.
Jul 2014
The Nazis, in the middle of the 20th century, rounded up and executed ~12 million individuals, including ~6 million Jews, in the middle of a massive war they started that cost the lives of well over 50 million people.

So if someone was worse then them, I'm sure you have the evidence to prove it against that individual, correct?
The Nazis for all their faults were not hypocrites. They hated non aryans and thought them subhuman. and they were pretty open about their viewpoints unlike the founding fathers of America who raped and opwned slaves while writing about freedom.
Jan 2017
Republika Srpska
Considering secession, it is worth remembering that the Southern leaders weren't convinced that secession was legal, and Senator Alfred Iverson Sr. from Georgia said that, while the states do not have a constitutional right to secede, they have the "right of revolution".
Sep 2012
Considering secession, it is worth remembering that the Southern leaders weren't convinced that secession was legal, and Senator Alfred Iverson Sr. from Georgia said that, while the states do not have a constitutional right to secede, they have the "right of revolution".
Regarding legality neither the thirteen colonies nor the confederacy had a right to secede and if the confederacy had prevailed Robert Lee, Jefferson Davis and several others would be revered as the founding fathers of CSA.
Do you have King George III statues in America presently? I know Americans pulled down an equestrian one in NYC long time ago.
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Jul 2016
You are welcome.

Because the white supremacists are dead, and the communists aren't. So, who is alive to write social science text books, movie and TV scripts, and talking points for the mainstream media to repeat?
How can they be dead when every day the entirety of the opposition of the far left are called white supremacists or white nationalists?
Jul 2016
Is that serious?
Why don't you just give me the information? Name all those who voted for Jim Crow Laws who are still alive?
What does that have to do with selective outrage in 2018? Society apparently has zero qualms with depictions of some of humanity's worst mass murderers of the 20th century, but are morally and ethically outraged over Robert E. Lee's personal chapel built at a school named for him that he was president of for decades. AKA, hypocritical garbage argument.
Jul 2016
And Lee didn't like slavery, and questioned the legitimacy of secession. Normally, you might throw in his heroic efforts at the Battle of Veracruz, but that is not on the popular war list any more, either.

If you are looking for justice and equity in political opinions, prepare for disappointment. In politics, a lot of people just want to win.
I think I'm actually in agreement with you. The ultimate point I'm making for the greater audience is this is politically driven selective outrage and nothing more.
Feb 2011
I'm not from the US, so please excuse my adding some points.

Whether or not Secession was legal does not seem to me germane to this matter.

Rather, Grant's point in his memoirs in relation to the Confederate Cause when discussing Appomattox seems relevant-
" that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us"

That does not excuse the literate, educated wealthy elite who were quite aware of the cause they had promoted and brought to war.

But many, or even the mass of people at that time (as Grant appears to acknowledge) may have seen loyalty to their State if attacked as greater than their loyalty to the Union- the point frequently made of a United States (plural) of America made up of many autonomous entities, rather than the post-bellum singular USA.

Not surprisingly then, many of the people then saw their participation in a different light and did not necessarily identify their war with the cause of slavery (although undoubtedly this was actually the case.). Naturally their descendants see their great-grandparents in the same light . Now that that war is well beyond living memory, the view that the Confederate Cause was evil is preponderant, but one can see that some people may see their ancestors' memory being maligned. Unfortunately racists still exist and the Confederate symbols still seem to exert an pull on some, which exacerbates the feelings in the matter.

As further time elapses I would predict that the feelings against Confederate symbolism will build until it is eventually eliminated outside of an historical record context.

The situation has some analogy with say German people who fought bravely in World War 2 but did not support the evil dogma of the Nazi regime. Nazi symbolism has (fortunately) been completely eliminated legally, but with the war still (just) within living memory, it remains too charged to yet allow for much consideration of individual virtue outside of acts of obvious heroism in saving lives of people threatened by the regime.

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