The 14th Amendment – or, when is a State not a State? … with reflections on secession

14th Amendment

Text of the XIV (14th) Amendment to the United States Constitution:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws…

(Section 1: full text is found here.)

As a review of the full text makes clear, the 14th Amendment was intended to a) penalize the States which had seceded in 1861 and defended that decision by force of arms for the next four years, and b) make it clear that any further acts of secession would not be tolerated, either. But as a friend of mine accurately points out:

Before the 14th was “passed,” the South was under martial law (itself unconstitutional). Southern states were told to “pass” this amendment if they wanted to rejoin the union.

A. If the South was not part of the union, how could it vote on a federal issue??

B. If it was part of the union, then there was no need for the jackboot methods used to control the South or martial law or provisions to become a federal state by “passing” an amendment.

C. The feds are just as sneaky today.

This is a very good point. If the states of the (surrendered) Confederacy were not in fact considered States of the Federal Union (*), how then could they vote on an amendment to the Federal Constitution? They would have no legal standing to do so. And if they were, why would they need to vote on this in order to “rejoin” the Union, of which they were already a part? You can’t have it both ways, logically; yet both ways is exactly how the Union – having crushed the Southern Confederacy in an un-Constitutional (see below) war, now further humiliated them upon its conclusion.

(* Leaving aside the moral issues involved with “We’re going to beat the crap out of you for leaving the Union, force you back in, then make you jump through all sorts of hoops and hurdles in order to get back in!” Anyone who thinks that is fair and just has a rather skewed view of fairness and justice, in my opinion.)

With respect to secession itself, another friend comments,

This Virginia’s ratification act of the US Constitution, [dated] 9/17/1787, which was accepted by the federal government. Read it carefully. The great Virginian and American generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and JEB Stuart certainly did. I’ll bet your high school history teacher didn’t, and I’m very sure your local neighborhood Antifa hooligans haven’t either.

We the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the general assembly, and now met in convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, Do, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted under the constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby, remains with them and at their will; and therefore no right, of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by the congress, by the senate or house of representatives acting in any capacity, by the president or any department, or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the constitution for those purposes; and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.

With these impressions, with a solemn appeal to the Searcher of Hearts for the purity of our intentions, and under the conviction that whatsoever imperfections may exist in the constitution ought rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the Union into danger by delay, with a hope of obtaining amendments, previous to the ratification: We the said delegates, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, do by these presents assent to and ratify the constitution recommended on the 17th day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, by the Federal Convention, for the government of the United States; hereby announcing to all those whom it may concern, that the said constitution is binding upon the said people, according to an authentic copy hereto annexed.

It seems pretty clear from the text above that Virginia specifically retained, in its ratification documents, a stipulation that the Commonwealth (of Virginia, often called “the Old Dominion” due to its status as the first English settlement / colony in North America) retained the right to secede from the Federal Union should the latter cease to act in the best interests of the said Commonwealth: “the powers granted under the constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.”

And by implication, not just the Commonwealth, but everyone in the United States: “being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them.” It’s rather hard to read this in any other way, without a perversion of language, logic, or both! And the fact that this ratification document was in fact accepted by the US Government seems to indicate pretty clearly that the entire document was accepted, including the reservation in favor of secession. Again, as I pointed out above, you can’t logically have it both ways; yet both ways is exactly how the Federal government has insisted on having it, since 1861!

Interestingly, the South was not alone in invoking secession; New England nearly seceded over the War of 1812, and there were secessionist rumblings in that region again during the Mexican War and the acquisitions of land in the Southwest that followed. One wonders whether Federal troops would have been sent North rather than South, had history taken a different turn! But at any rate, it is clear that secession as a remedy for out-of-control Federal assumption of power is not and was not unique to the South, and indeed was considered pretty generally to be a valid remedy, prior to 1865.

When is a State not a State? And does might, in fact, make right? These are questions which are as much worth pondering in the 21st century as they were in the 19th.

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We Choose to go to the Moon – YouTube

JFK’s eternal speech at Rice University on September 12th, 1962 setting the goal of the space race during the 1960’s.

Source: We choose to go to the Moon | YouTube

President John F. Kennedy gave this speech almost 55 years ago. It was a stirring example of American resolve, and of the American exploratory spirit. Now, more than a half-century later, we are dependent upon the Russians to get an American astronaut to the International Space Station.

Somehow, I think President Kennedy would be appalled.

Briefly Noted: Sanctions vs Space

Soyuz lanch - ISS-bound

From Darryl B. Petitt, on Facebook:

“Republicans in Congress have no interest in [making America great again, or putting America first].

“The ISS space-station the U.S. astronaut along with a European and Russian astronaut are going to is a Russian space-station. The Soyuz MS-05 is the Russian rocket taking them there

“Our Republican Congress can’t pass a healthcare bill…but they can work with Democrats to sanction the country who shuttles our astronauts at $85 million a pop to and from the Russian space station. There’s no explanation for this.”

I need say no more.

Anti-history Protesters are Destroying Tourism in Gettysburg

For their refusal to surrender fact to immature and insecure emotion, the museum, along with the battlefield will be subjected to militant anti-history protests planned by Antifa groups on the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. These Antifa groups plan to burn Confederate battle flags and desecrate graves.

Source: Anti-history Protesters are Destroying Tourism in Gettysburg

And kudos to the Gettysburg Museum of History for refusing to give in to the dictates of political correctness, of which “Antifa” is the logical (if that word even applies) outcome:

Would that more people and institutions applied similar high standards!

“Antifa” supposedly stands for “Anti-Fascist.” Yet they are not only fascistic themselves – if by that is meant violent and totalitarian – but in some ways at least, worse than fascists: fascists, whatever their other faults, at least loved their own people. These barely-human scum hate their own people, and their own heritage. They seem to think that destruction of history and desecration of the memorials – including, reportedly, grave-sites – to men who were more courageous than the likes of these scoundrels can even imagine is somehow an acceptable way to demonstrate that “Love Trumps Hate.”

Of course, slogans like that are just for show. Their real motives and goals are far more sinister and far-reaching, and history – at Gettysburg or elsewhere – is not all they want to destroy. This is part and parcel of the larger assault on Western civilization itself (as recounted in numerous posts on this blog and far more numerous accounts elsewhere), and the creation of a “brave new world” of their own ideological design, out of the rubble. And history is a goal for the destroyers because a rootless people, a people severed from a strong and sympathetic sense of their own past, is a people weakened and vulnerable to ideological assaults.

Slime-buckets like “Antifa” claim to be part of a “resistance” against the policies (and person) of the current US President. But whatever one’s thoughts on President Trump, it is ruffians like this that truly need to be resisted. As the inscription graven in stone above the National Archives so accurately puts it, “What is past, is prologue.” Those who seek to destroy the past are undermining both present and future.

Resist them!

Joan of Arc – Maid of Heaven – Joan of Arc & Robert E. Lee

Joan of Arc – you have heard her name, do you really know her story? The famous sword of Robert E. Lee contains one of St. Joan of Arc’s famous quotes: “Aide toi, Dieu t’aidera” – which means “aid yourself and God will aid you.”

Source: Joan of Arc – Maid of Heaven – Joan of Arc & Robert E. Lee

At last! Provenance for this. Sometimes rendered – and often quoted to me by my mother – as “the Lord [or God] helps those who help themselves,” it does not appear in the Scriptures, but is (or used to be) a fairly common axiom. I had not realized that it was from St. Jean d’Arc (Joan of Arc). Nor did I realize the Robert E. Lee connection! As the linked essay recounts:

There are many similarities between St. Joan of Arc and Robert E. Lee, the two most obvious being that they were both great generals and they both possessed incredible faith in God. How appropriate, then, that Robert E. Lee’s famous presentation sword, the one that he wore during his meeting with Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, is engraved on one side with one of Saint Joan’s most famous quotes and spiritual truths:

“Aide toi et Dieu t’aidera”

(“Aid yourself and God will aid you”)

But there is more, which makes this especially meaningful to me, personally: this account confirms what I thought I understood: that the sword General Lee was wearing when he surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse – a moment which must have been among the most, if not the very most, painful moments of his life – was the “Maryland Sword”:

This particular sword was a gift from an admirer who lived in Maryland. It was presented to him in 1863. It is said to have been commissioned in Paris by Louis-Francois Devisme. The giver of the gift has been lost over the years but the sword has been preserved and refurbished to its original state. The sword is forty and one-half inches in length, possessing a lion’s head on the pommel and has an ivory grip. The blade is inscribed, “Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863.” The scabbard is of blued steel. Both pieces are flawless and priceless. Its beauty is something to be seen to be appreciated.

That the Sword of General Lee, the Maryland Sword, is also in a sense a Sword of St. Joan of Arc raises the hair on the back of my neck – but in a good way, a very good way! The essay’s author continues:

My thoughts are how many times Lee as a Christian in gazing upon the words [“Aide toi Dieu t’aidera”] did he think about the saying and use it as motivation to continue? During adversity, surrender and even death, those words inscribed upon that sword must have been recalled and shared with others.

I doubt it not. Amen, and amen!

Sadly, according to reports, some within “Take ’em down NOLA” – the main group behind the removal of four Confederate monuments from the city, which is dedicated to the removal or renaming of all “symbols of white supremacy,” so-called – are targeting not only Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, but the “Maid of Orleans”: Joan of Arc herself (*). Will idiocy never end? The lunatics, it seems, are running the asylum!

(* Jean d’Arc does not appear on this, supposedly “official,” list, but reports suggest that she may be on an unofficial list of “Take ’em down NOLA” targets. Sadly, I would not be a bit surprised!)

Stars and Bars and Union Jack – How the British Nearly Supported the Confederacy

An excellent article – book review, actually, of A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, by Amanda Foreman – by Kev Lee on Britain’s role in the War Between the States:

Was it a civil war twice over? Not only did the “war between the states” divide the American people, it sundered the larger English-speaking community stretching across the Atlantic. The conflict was followed with consuming interest by the British, it affected them directly, many of them fought in it — and it split them into two camps, just as it did the Americans.

Now that Americans are taught that the war was a noble conflict waged by Lincoln and the forces of light against misguided and contumacious Southerners, it’s especially valuable to be reminded that this was far from how all the English saw it at the time. To be sure, almost no Englishman defended slavery, long since abolished in the British Empire. The British edition of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had sold an astonishing million copies, three times its American sales, and the Royal Navy waged a long campaign against the slave trade: during Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit to the White House in March 2009, President Obama was presented with a pen holder carved from the wood of one of the ships that conducted that campaign.

But while some English politicians, like the radical John Bright and the Whig Duke of Argyll, ardently supported the North, plenty sided with the Confederacy. They even included W. E. Gladstone, on his long journey from youthful Tory to “the people’s William,” adored by the masses in his later years. Apart from sympathy with the underdog, many Englishmen believed that the South had a just claim of national self-determination.

As Obama remembered to say at Buckingham Palace recently, a large part of the American population claims ancestry from British immigrants, great numbers of them arriving throughout the 19th century. Plenty of those took part in the war, and they were joined by more volunteers who came just for the fight, on one side or the other. The extraordinary cast portrayed in “A World on Fire,” by Amanda Foreman — who is also the author of “Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire” — extends from men who fled England to escape poverty to aristocratic Union officers like Major John Fitzroy de Courcy, later Lord Kingsale, a veteran of the Crimea, not to mention Colonel Sir Percy Wyndham, a soldier of fortune whose knighthood was actually Italian. Some, like the Welshman Henry Morton Stanley, even managed to fight for both sides.

Then there were the reporters, like Frank Vizetelly of The Illustrated London News and, most notably, William Howard Russell of The Times of London, who had become famous covering the Crimean War and reporting on the activities of Florence Nightingale. (In an odd conjunction, Foreman says that “Russell was the ideal choice. . . . Overeating and excessive drinking were his chief vices.” This is sometimes said of journalists, but rarely by way of commendation.)

What for American readers will be a more riveting — because unfamiliar — tale comes whenever Foreman turns from the patriotic gore to her true subject of the British and the war. While guns blazed, another battle was being waged, for English hearts and minds, at both the elite and popular levels. From Fort Sumter on, the London government was in a quandary, and so was Lord Lyons, who had the bad luck to be sent as minister to Washington shortly before the war began (the British representative was not yet an ambassador, of whom there were then very few, although not just three, as Foreman thinks).

Lyons carried out his difficult task with patience and courtesy. On the one hand, Southern politicians threatened that if London did not recognize the sovereignty of the Confederate States, the cotton trade would be cut off, driving England to economic collapse and revolution. On the other, the Union administration warned that such recognition could lead to war. In the event, London toyed with recognizing independence, and angered the North quite enough by acknowledging the South’s belligerent status.

Both sides had agents hard at work in England. Charles Francis Adams, scion of a famous Boston dynasty, was sent as American minister to the Court of St. James’s. He did as well as he could, although it didn’t help that he hated small talk, drinking and dancing, and that, as his son Henry said, “he doesn’t like the bother and fuss of entertaining and managing people who can’t be reasoned with,” which might be considered a definition of any diplomat’s job.

What nearly did take Washington and London to war was the principle of freedom of the seas. To make his case in London, Jefferson Davis dispatched two Confederate commissioners in November 1861 aboard the Trent, a British mail packet. But the electrifying news came that crewmen from the U.S.S. San Jacinto had boarded the ship near Cuba and seized the two.

“Have these Yankees then gone completely crazy?” Friedrich Engels asked his colleague Karl Marx, who himself wrote a good deal about the Civil War. Taking “political prisoners” in this way, Engels thought, was “the clearest casus belli there can be. The fellows must be sheer fools to land themselves in war with England.”

Despite this provocation, war did not follow. Other Confederate envoys reached London, and many Englishmen remained susceptible to the Southern claim. An unlikely British best seller was “The American Union,” written by James Spence, a Liverpool businessman who had traveled widely in America. Although he was scarcely disinterested — Liverpool had prospered in the slave trade and then by cotton — he argued plausibly that North and South were so different that enforced union was futile. And he held, not so implausibly either, that since slavery was doomed in any case, it was better that it should be ended without violence. This was taken up by John Delane, the editor of The Times, who maintained that the war was a contest for Southern “independence” against Northern “empire.”

Still the Union blockade of the South continued, and many English ships continued breaking it or trying to; Wilmington, N.C., to Bermuda was one favorite route. Meanwhile, the Confederate government clandestinely commissioned warships from English shipyards. Most famous of these was the Alabama, built by Laird & Sons. The intended purpose of the ship was obvious, as Adams’s Liverpool consul told him, and as the London government belatedly admitted. But the Alabama escaped from under official noses in July 1862 to begin a devastating career raiding Northern ships, to the fury of Washington.

As if that rage weren’t enough, Lyons had to deal with the problem of British subjects caught up in the fighting. Both sides treated prisoners of war harshly. Of the 26,000 Confederate soldiers held over the course of the war at Camp Douglas near Chicago, more than 6,000 died, and at one point the prisoners there included 300 who claimed to be British subjects. They pleaded for Lyons’s intervention, but there was little he could do. One of the prisoners was the deplorable Stanley, who adroitly solved the problem by switching gray uniform for blue, unconcerned with politics: as he said, “there were no blackies in Wales.”

A succession of Southern victories further encouraged English sympathy for the South. In late 1862 Lord Hartington, subsequently a cabinet minister, and nearly prime minister, visited both North and South (it was surprisingly easy to cross from one to the other), at first proclaiming his neutrality. But in Virginia he met Jefferson Davis, as well as the modest and agreeable Robert E. Lee, and was persuaded that the South was fighting virtuously for her rights. Hartington couldn’t pretend that blacks were flourishing, but then “they are not dirtier or more ­uncomfortable-looking than Irish laborers” (an unhappy comparison so soon after the great famine, and from a man whose family owned huge estates in Ireland).

In its later stages, the war saw Southern terrorist conspiracies initiated from Canadian soil, which further inflamed the North. But English sympathy for the South lingered up until Lee surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865. Then, within days, came the shattering news that Lincoln had been assassinated. All at once, “newspapers that had routinely criticized the president during his lifetime,” Foreman writes, “rushed to praise him.” There were some wonderfully hypocritical about-faces, one from The Times, but best of all from Punch. Having just included Lincoln with Napoleon III in a gallery of April Fools, the magazine now hailed him as “a true-born king of men.”

Not the least absorbing part of Foreman’s story comes after the war. Stanley was hired by The New York Herald and set off on his African journey to find Dr. Livingstone, before returning to England, a seat in Parliament and a knighthood. That fascinating figure Judah Benjamin, the Jewish lawyer who served as Confederate secretary of state, fled to London, where he became a barrister and published “Benjamin on Sales,” a commercial law textbook that made him rich.

No American politician was now more vehemently Anglophobic than Senator Charles Sumner, who continued to denounce England, and whose verbal violence delayed a settlement of the Alabama dispute. His great rival, William Henry Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state, also turned up the heat, demanding the Bahamas in recompense for the Alabama’s depredations, although he had further designs on Canada, as so many Americans did.

In the end, the Alabama question was settled admirably, by jaw-jaw rather than war-war, as Churchill might have said, when an arbitration tribunal meeting in Geneva awarded large damages against Great Britain. The London government paid without complaint, inaugurating a period of comparative harmony, until ­Anglo-American war nearly broke out again in 1895 over an obscure Venezuelan boundary dispute.

Such eyewitnesses provide a wealth of vivid description — and here is the one drawback of this thoroughly researched and well-written but exceedingly long book. The presence of so many Englishmen means that Foreman can too easily slip away from “Britain’s crucial role” to a general history of the war and its every battle. But there truly is no shortage of such histories, and we have all often enough vicariously supped full of the horrors of Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Altogether Foreman’s remarkable book should be a caution against one foolish phrase. A relationship, no doubt — but “special”?

Those of us with Confederate sympathies often wonder what might have happened had Britain’s government of the time not allowed itself to be swayed by the blandishments of Lincoln’s so-called “Emancipation Proclamation” (which did not, in fact, emancipate a single slave in areas under Union control, including the four slave states that remained part of the Union), and come in on the side of the Confederacy…

Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today | The Federalist Papers

This is sad. ~ The Federalist Papers

Source: Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today | The Federalist Papers

I agree with The Federalist Papers. Here are some quotes from the post:

One of the striking features of the Edina list is how recent the titles are. Many of the selections were published in the 21st century. In fact, only four of the selections are more than 20 years old. In comparison, over half of the titles on the first list were at least 20 years old in 1908, with many of them averaging between 50 to 100 years old.

Older is not necessarily better, but the books on the first list suggest that schools of the past were more likely to give their students time-tested, classic literature, rather than books whose popularity may happen to be a passing fad…

A second striking difference between the two book lists are the themes they explore. The first is full of historical references and settings which stretch from ancient Greece (Tanglewood Tales) to the Middle Ages (Harold, Last of Saxon Kings) to the founding of America (Courtship of Miles Standish). Through highly recognized authors such as Longfellow, Stevenson, Kipling, and Dickens, these titles introduce children to a vast array of themes crucial to understanding the foundations upon which America and western civilization were built…

It’s good for children to understand the world in which they live, but as with any area in life, you can have too much of a good thing. A continual focus on modern literature narrows the lens through which children can view and interpret the world. Would it not be better to broaden their horizons and expose them to a balance of both old and new literature?

Click through the link and read on for more.

Two thoughts brought to mind by the above:

and this:

Indeed.