Secession! Echoes of 1861 Return to 2012


CREDIT: “THE ‘SECESSION MOVEMENT’.” Currier & Ives 1861. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

The firestorm of the last election has brought forth the same words our Southern states echoed in 1861 when Lincoln was elected President. Secession! The re-election of Barrack Obama has upset many citizens that they are compelled to re-visit the ideas of seceding from the Union. It must be defined as to what is secession and what does it mean to us as a nation. The same reasons our ancestors felt is necessary to fight for their rights are the very similar to the reasons we have today. What are the arguments then and now? Do we have a right as states to separate ourselves from our federal government? A comparison of 1860s and today will bring some compelling arguments to the forefront. This is the first of a three parts. The first part will discuss the reasons why we want to secede.
Setting aside all of the mudslinging and racial disputes. The real reason some feel it necessary to sign a petition for secession include the same reasons the South moved forward with their pursuit to separate our country. Both generations believe the government is too big and holds too much power. The citizens of both generations believe personal liberties granted by the Constitution are under attack through excessive government spending and taxation. Both generations want their government to adhere to the Constitutions’ as written to relinquish their powers and return it to the sovereignty of the states.
The people of both generations are concerned about the size and power of government. Reading over the 2012 issues, the states claim: “The economic difficulties caused by the government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending.” In other words, those voicing their opinion are tired of the national debt and dependence on China to fund our country. The current government has not had a budget in four years. Could you run your home without regard to the money you currently make?
In 1861, the size of government concerned the people of the South. They believed the most of the governmental power belonged to the states. The federal government’s favoring the industrial north and placing high taxes on the imports and exports deeply hurt the Southern economy. The federal government was also funding in part, navigation, commercial and manufacturing interests in the north while taxing the south’s import and export of cotton. Coupled with the growing abolitionist sentiment, the South’s economy felt threatened. The south advocated more power given back to the state governments to best tackle the issues at home instead of in Washington.
Personal and Civil liberties are the primary constitutional government promise to its people. To make the liberty of individuals secure. As stated in the Preamble and the Bill of Rights. These liberties are not “given” by the Constitution, rather it is assumed the people already possess the liberty. They are protected from the government using its power to abuse individuals. Therefore, the government cannot invade a person’s private realm without violating the Constitution.
We the People Petition for secession, states the government’s blatant abuse of liberties by the TSA and the NDAA. These agencies original intent was to protect the citizens. It is now felt they have crossed over the boundaries of protection into violation. On a smaller scale, liberties are being tested with passing laws that prohibit what citizens consume and how much. Does it really matter if someone wants to consume more soda than is recommended? Where is the personal responsibility? Our government does not have the right to regulate these types of issues. It is simply not within the eighteen enumerated powers to do so. Why are we allowing our government to “parent” us?
The story for the 1860’s view on personal and civil liberties ties in strongly with the slavery in the South. In order to understand this concept, you must remove any emotion you have and look at the facts of that time. Slaves were considered property. Slaves were bought, sold and passed down in wills and estates from the conception of our history. The idea that slaves were people, was as foreign as giving your car all the rights and civil liberties as we have. The problems arose when people started to understand the immorality of the situation and moved to change it. When this movement took hold, the south felt their property, livelihood and income was being taken from them.
The Deep South cried foul as the abolitionist movement began to gain strength. The ‘rights to own property’ as guaranteed by the Constitution, in their minds was a violation. At this time, any new state admitted to the United States was a free state. The government protected any slave that won his freedom through escape to the north. Finally, upon Lincoln’s election, he made it clear this nation would not survive half slave and half free. These restrictions were strongly felt in business, personal lives and standards of living. This is no different from our government stating. “Tomorrow the only car allowed on the road is electric.” The gas-powered owners would severely suffer loss of business and standard of living.
One of the biggest issues our forefathers grappled with was how to make our country balanced. Federalist Paper No.39, James Madison writes “States are sovereign, federal government is a creation, an agent, a servant to the states.” This manuscript struggles to define which principles the government will hold itself to, either federal or national. The struggle still focused on keeping a strong voice for the people, so no stronger power could take and hold the government hostage as in a monarchy.
The last issue is the cry to return to the original running of the country as dictated by the Constitution and original documents set in place by our forefathers. The main issue is restricted powers of the federal government to allow states to function as they see fit. The state closest to the problem; should have say in how the problem is fixed. The country does not have a federal snow removal program. Of course not, several states do not have a snow issue.
Our forefathers created the 18 Enumerated Powers to give the federal government limited power over the country. Many people state the federal government is doing it “for the good of the people”. The states left to their own devices are completely capable to determine this too. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are documents that define us as people and a country. If we erode the very foundation of that which we are built, will we not crumble like a house with weak foundation?

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6 thoughts on “Secession! Echoes of 1861 Return to 2012

  1. Well written blog. I enjoyed reading it!

  2. I re-blogged this… Hope that’s okay with you! 😀

  3. Reblogged this on Keli has a Blog and commented:
    A wonderful comparison/analysis of the Secession issue. Though I would hate to see our US divided, I do understand the reasoning behind these states (primarily southern – again)… Just read Ellyn’s blog. It’s great! 😀

  4. Wonderful analysis and comparison! 😀

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