The power of III

Summum ius summa iniuria--More law, less justice

17 April 2011

I teach 7th graders in Connecticut the Confederate perspective: Planting seeds before they're brainwashed!

I spoke today for an hour to a 7th grade history class in Connecticut.  

Its not often that Yankee kids get to hear things from a Southern perspective.  Brought in Confederate paper money, talked about my three and four great grandfathers who fought in North Carolina Regiments, the causes of the war, generally as outlined (didn't get through everything, but I did cover a fair amount).

Great reaction from the kids, cool teacher to invite me...The teacher kept the notes and several of my relevant blogposts that I had printed out.

Remember, these are notes, not an essay, but has some nice stuff to help anyone prepare a similar talk.

I didn't shy away from slavery, and discussed it as a proximate cause, but the essentials I covered are the same as President Davis describes in his opus "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government".

For the first time, the kids learned there were really good reasons that the Southern people fought so hard and for so long...for their freedom to determine their own fate, not be ruled from afar -- just like their grandfathers and great grandfathers during the Revolutionary War.
Freedom to choose how their state might grow, develop and prosper.
Freedom to rule themselves locally, not from Washington, DC. 



Introduction to the Civil War—a polemic

6 great great great grandfathers that fought for Confederacy in North Carolina infantry units

Civil war definition:  A war between political factions or regions within the same country.

Names for the Civil War:

The War for Constitutional Liberty
The War for Southern Independence
The Second American Revolution
The War for States' Rights
Mr. Lincoln's War
The Southern Rebellion
The War for Southern Rights
The War of the Southern Planters
The War of the Rebellion
The Second War for Independence
The War to Suppress Yankee Arrogance
The Brothers' War
The War of Secession
The Great Rebellion
The War for Nationality
The War for Southern Nationality
The War Against Slavery
The Civil War Between the States
The War of the Sixties
The War Against Northern Aggression
The Yankee Invasion
The War for Separation
The War for Abolition
The War for the Union
The Confederate War
The War of the Southrons
The War for Southern Freedom
The War of the North and South
The Lost Cause

Founding:  breaking bonds with government of England (secession)
Secession:  1530s, from L. secessionem (nom. secessio), from pp. stem of secedere "secede," from se- "apart" (see secret) + cedere "to go" (see cede). Originally in a Roman historical context, "temporary migration of plebeians from the city to compel patricians to address their grievances;" modern use in reference to religious or political unions dates from 1650s.

Declaration of Independence1776: 

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Treaty of Paris ends Revolution (1783) King names all colonies as independent states.  Preferred language of the Americans: all states named individually in treaty.
Not referred to as a nation of “the United States” until after the Civil War.  Was called “these United States”

-North vs. South

-“Nation” vs. “Confederation”

-Hamilton vs. Jefferson

-1830’s founders were all dead: National theory (Storey) vs. Compact theory (Upshur), became two competing ideas of how United States was created

-Central government vs. decentralized government:
Sovereignty of the political elite and monied interests in a remote location (Washington) vs sovereign people (local)

-voluntary union vs. involuntary (forced) union

Constitutional Convention 1787 – 1788  discussed nature of the new government,
Madison “author” of Constitution: his explanations of understood language carry the most weight on Original Intent of the Constitution
“federalists” vs. antifederalists
“Confederation” is a union of independent sovereign states
State = Nation (state of Israel, Norway, etc)

Ratification of the Constitution: popular (the sovereign people) election of State representatives to special state convention just for voting on ratification, join or not join new confederation of states
VOLUNTARY Union of independent states

Article VII of the Constitution
“The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.”
(Secession from Articles of Confederation government)

Dates of Ratification
(sovereign Rhode Island and North Carolina)
letter to President George Washington from Governor of Rhode Island 1790, language of independent and sovereign country/nation/state)

Compromise on slavery to get Constitution ratified 3/5 clause (South more sparsely populated, to get more representatives in House of Representatives to balance power between Northern and Southern, “free” and “slave” states.

Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions: if Federal government, supposed to be limited to specific limited powers under Article I Section 8 exceeds authority, States are duty bound to interpose their law, with force if necessary, to protect its citizens from Unconstitutional laws from Washington.

1812 New England has Hartford Convention to discuss secession because of President Jefferson and Pres. Madison embargo, damaging economy of NE States

Extension of lands to West, new States admitted to Union, free or slave?

Tariff crisis in 1830’s:  South threatens to Nullify federal laws as unfair taxation on South, Pres. Jackson considers military action as the situation reaches high point before compromise solution.

Fugitive Slave law, federal law, 1850, supported by Dred Scott supreme court case to return escaped slave (property of slave owner) was officially nullified by Wisconsin, debated and not enforcing law as unconstitutional

Nullification of Fugitive Slave law by north one of the grievances cited by southern states in explanation of reasons for secession

“Slavery” was a proximate cause.  War not caused by fight over the morality of slavery (background issue). 

Lincoln election leads to secession of Southern States in 1860-1861.
Electoral map shows fractured country
Lincoln had only 39.6 % of the popular vote of the entire country.  Electoral college:
Lincoln carries 0 southern states

Just as constitution made, with people electing representatives to State convention to discuss breaking compact with the Union, all agreements with Federal government become null and void, including ceding of land to Federal government
(text of secession documents)

dates of secession—not all at once, strong Union sentiment in all States, especially in border states (secession map)

Fort Sumter:  April 12, 1861
Federal fort, US Army, in middle of Charleston SC harbor.  Bulk of trade and income of SC goes right past fort.  Land SC ceded to federal government in 1812 for defense in war.  No one killed in bombardment.

The war was fought over the right to secede

April 15, 1861 Lincoln issues proclamation asking for 75000 men to put down "rebellion"

Border states of Virginia, NC, Tennesee secede, later large portions of Kentucky and Missouri

Rebellion: making war against lawful government
(Confederate States no longer in United States, US no longer the lawful government

Treason: individual working to undermine or bring down lawful government

(Article 3, Section 3, US Constitution:  “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”)

Constitutional withdrawl of Southern States, no call for end to US government or war, wishes for peaceful coexistence trade for mutual benefit, inaugural address of President Jefferson Davis

“All we wish is to be left alone”—Jefferson Davis

Civil war definition:   A war between political factions or regions within the same country.
(Constitutional Union voluntary, voluntary disunion, no longer same country)

Result: Southern states brought back into the United States against their will, at the point of a gun:

“The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.  No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle --- but only in degree --- between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.”

     Lysander Spooner (Nineteenth-Century lawyer, abolitionist, entrepreneur)

1788: These United States (plural)
1865: Birth of a new Nation (not federation): THE United States of America


  1. Great job, man. Still can't believe you were invited to speak in a publix skool.

  2. I've asked to go on the school trip to Gettysburg and Washington DC...

    If I go, I will speak to the kids of the valor of the 15th Alabama at Little Round Top...