Does this mean that the invasion of the South and its forced reintegration into the Union is wrong?
Wrong, illegal, and immoral all take on the various aspects of Lincoln’s War. I’ll leave the morality issue to those who will decide if it was a Just War or not. Was it illegal? No. It was not illegal because while the States have the right to secede, no State was given the ability to decide that for themselves. If we were to follow the guidelines of the Constitution, we would note that States were given the ability to enter the Union by a vote of Congress. Further, States may divide, which is in effect a secession, based on Constitutional rules as well which requires that both Congress and the State vote on the decision. I note that Congress has the right to admit States in a proscribed manner. I also note that the Constitution was formed only by a select numbers of States, with other States admitted to the Union. If we are to follow Constitutional thinking here, then we must admit that if Congress can place a State within the Union, it may then give leave for that State to secede. Therefore, because secession was not followed legally, then the invasion was not illegal. We must remember what Congress is – Congress was/is the representatives of the States/People assembled in Body Politick for the purposes of governing the Union. In this assembly, membership is determined on the basis of how it will affect the Whole.
Was it wrong? There could have been a better way to navigate the legal issues, for a while, before invasion, yes. The fact remains, that Lincoln purposely goaded the Confederate States into firing on Ft. Sumter so as to ignite a War and refused entreaties to cease the war.
Mitchell then goes on to note my statement that the Articles of Confederation, the First Confederacy, was weak because it gave to the States a sovereign nation status. He writes,
That’s just weakness covered in weak sauce. We need to follow the logic here. If the Articles demonstrate that their approach to government is bad because they almost lead to war, should not the Constitution be far more condemned because it produced a war?
Mitchell’s logic is flawed. Under his logic, we should dispense with our criminal code because it produces criminals and then calls for the punishment of those criminals. The Constitution didn’t produce a war. The Constitution was meant to prevent the weaknesses of the Confederacy, but when it was violated, the Constitution had to be preserved. The Oath of Office, of the President of the United States of America, demands that when the Constitution is threatened, it must be protected. The Southern States, leaving in the illegal manner in which they did, produced a heinous crime which threatened the Constitution. The Articles of Confederation, however, allowed for wars to commence. The Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the League of Nations, allowed to States to overrule the ‘perpetual union’ and to protect their own interests over that of the national whole.
I follow the logic of the Federalist Papers and the second group of Founding Fathers. A strong central government is needed to prevent what Europe saw for centuries and what was threatening to break out in this country. A strong federal government is the barrier between conflicts which arise, necessarily, between even the closest of siblings. Rodney is correct, I feel, in his assessment of the vision of a strong, central government. We have had two confederations upon this continent, within our boarders, and neither worked. One failed during peace time, while the other failed horribly in war time. Don’t get me wrong – Lincoln was an evil man, a corrupt politician, and more than a centralizer; he was a dictator. Lincoln’s administration served to show that during times of crisis, the U.S. Constitution matters little more than the paper upon which it was written. Yet, we must have a national government which is not undermined by the States. If it is not a strong government, then the various States will always have the option of doing as they wish, and this mentality necessarily leads to the idea that what really exists between the States is a gentleman’s agreement where in any State may of it’s own choosing follow, or not follow, the laws as laid out by Congress. The Federal Government must be limited to those issues of Federal Concern, and it is the duty of the people to secure that wall, but a lack of a centralize government gives us 50 sovereigns.
Mitchell’s swipe about the preamble will have be passed over for now, as I am trying to remain friendly in this conversation. The preamble does not have the force of law, but we must remember that it sets the goals of the document.