A Comprehensive Review of
It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.
Part Three of Five
Secession: The Constitutional Issue
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
At the end of this article, beneath the notes I have cited, is "Actual Citation from Book," two pages of Mitcham's endnotes for Chapters III and IV.
In Chapter III, Secession: The Constitutional Issue, Dr. Mitcham again cuts right to the chase when he writes:
The Issue of Secession can be dealt with very simply. The United States was a product of secession. The Declaration of Independence was the most beautiful Ordinance of Secession ever written.1
He discusses the Articles of Confederation (1781-1789) among the 13 sovereign states, which was supposed to be perpetual but "every state left or seceded from it by 1790."2
A Constitutional Convention was held starting in Philadelphia in 1787, and on March 4, 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into effect. Mitcham writes:
Every state (colony) recognized the right of secession in 1776 and again in 1789. The Constitution dealt with this right indirectly in Amendment Ten of the Bill of Rights, which states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." It was ratified by the states between 1789 and 1791 and added to the Constitution on December 15, 1791.
New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia did not wait for the addition of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution to ensure they could leave the Union if they wished. They explicitly reserved the right to secede when their legislatures ratified the Constitution on July 26, 1788 [NY]; May 29, 1790 [RI]; and June 25, 1788 [VA], respectively.3
Part Two of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., is entitled "The Right of Secession." I go into detail in 91 pages, which include "An Annotated Chronology of the Secession Debate in the South" in the year leading up to Southern states seceding.
I include much from Is Davis a Traitor by Albert Taylor Bledsoe, the 1995 reprint by Fletcher and Fletcher Publishing with Introduction by Clyde N. Wilson, emeritus professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of numerous books, hundreds of articles, and primary editor of The Papers of John C. Calhoun.
I also include an analysis of a Stetson Law Review article from Stetson University College of Law written by H. Newcomb Morse in 1986 that documents and brings up all the history and legal angles of secession and concludes:
. . . conceivably, it was the Northern States that acted illegally in precipitating the War Between the States. The Southern States, in all likelihood, were exercising a perfectly legitimate right in seceding from the Union.4
One of the most important things that I point out is what Dr. Mitcham just pointed out about New York, Rhode Island and Virginia reserving the right of secession.
Let me make it clear that because all the states entered the Union as equals, the acceptance of the reserved right of secession of New York, Rhode Island and Virginia by all the other states also gave it to them, though there is other, overwhelming, conclusive evidence that secession was a legal right accepted by all. Even Horace Greeley ("let our erring sisters go") and Abraham Lincoln believed in it until they realized it would affect their money. Then they wanted war as did the rest of the North as they watched property values sink and goods rot on New York docks.
In 1847, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, 14 years before he started the War Between the States in Charleston Harbor, Abraham Lincoln said:
Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.5
Mitcham writes that "the absence of any mention of secession in the Constitution and the intent of the Tenth Amendment remain quite clear." Mitcham means, of course, that nothing in the Constitution prohibits secession, and the Tenth Amendment gives all power not prohibited by the Constitution to the states or people, therefore the right of secession is clear. It is clear for numerous other powerful, conclusive reasons based in history, law, precedent and tradition, too.
Mitcham writes "The argument between Hamiltonians (large, strong, central government) and Jeffersonians ("governs best which governs least") continues---albeit in altered form---to the present day."
Ironically, as Mitcham points out, it was the Northeast, the New England states, who threatened to secede many times before the South actually did. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison wanted to secede through the 1840s and 1850s because he did not want to be in a country with slavery. The treasonous Hartford Convention led by Massachusetts threatened to secede during the War of 1812 while at the same time aiding our British enemies. That is the very definition of treason.
Southerners never did anything like that. They debated the issue of secession and voted democratically in conventions stating their intent all along in accordance with precedents set by our secessionist Founding Fathers who seceded from the British Empire for the exact same reason Southerners seceded from the federal Union: Independence and Self-government. [And judging by what the Federal Government has become today with its deep-state corruption, an FBI that lies to FISA courts on surveillance warrants so they can spy for the Democrat Party on political rivals and innocent Americans, a DOJ and attorney general, Merrick Garland, who sicced the FBI on parents at school board meetings who are protesting racist Critical Race Theory and transgenderism being taught to their children at school, etc., etc., Southerners were right.]
The most widespread phrase in the secession debate in the South in the year leading up to secession came from the Declaration of Independence:
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.
Anything that New Englanders thought would dilute their political power would provoke talk of secession. Mitcham writes:6
In all, New England seriously considered secession five times:
1) over the Louisiana Purchase
2) over Jefferson's embargo
3) because of the War of 1812
4) over the annexation of Texas
5) over the Fugitive Slave Act
After the War Between the States, which killed over 750,000 and maimed over a million, Northern historians vilified the South to excuse their war to establish the Northeast as the economic and cultural capital of our great nation. Mitcham writes, "Fortunately for Northern historians, the morally abhorrent institution of slavery---of which the North had only recently divested itself, from which it profited until 1885, and which largely funded its industrial revolution---was conveniently available."
He hits the nail on the head when he denies that slavery was the cause of secession or the war:
The fact that there is a vast body of evidence to the contrary and that Southerners of that time gave several other reasons for secession was, and still is, simply ignored. But this is a highly successful Marxist tactic: focus on something that people find highly repugnant and then build an analytic framework around it.7
Mitcham points out the many things that defined the antebellum era and led to the war. They began immediately after George Washington was inaugurated April 30, 1789. Three months later, on July 4, Washington signed the Tariff of 1789.
Tariffs were the "primary source of federal revenue" because there was no income tax in those days. Tariffs "placed an undue burden on the South, whose income, based on agricultural exports, was dependent on foreign imports."
A huge event that traumatized the entire South was the bloody slave revolt in Haiti that began August 14, 1791. Mitcham writes:
Within weeks, 100,000 slaves joined the rebellion. They killed 4,000 whites and destroyed 180 sugar plantations and 900 coffee plantations, as well as hundreds of large indigo farms. The revolution was characterized by extreme violence, torture, rape, and murder. Entire families were wiped out. Survivors often escaped with only the clothes on their backs. Many of them fled to the American South, carrying their stories of horror with them. Meanwhile, the whites who remained on the island formed militia units, which killed some 15,000 black people in an orgy of revenge. The fighting lasted until 1804, when Haiti became an independent republic under black leadership. It was the only successful slave insurrection in the history of the Western Hemisphere.8
Slave trading was not yet outlawed by the United States Constitution, which allowed slave trading until 1808, so New Englanders were going at it full steam. Of course, after 1808, New Englanders still made huge fortunes in the international slave trade picking up slave cargoes from African tribal chieftains and taking them all over the world including secretly into America. This they did until 1885, 20 years after the War Between the States ended.
But in the early antebellum days, Eli Whitney's cotton gin reversed the dying out of slavery and increased the demand for field workers dramatically, which Yankee slave traders were glad to meet.
The 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts of the Federalist Congress restricted immigration and "the speech of people who defamed government officials, including the president." [Sounds like TODAY with the Democrat Party using big tech and cancel culture to censor speech and destroy the businesses and lives of Americans who don't agree with their twisted woke idiocy.]
This led to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, which their legislatures passed in 1798. They "argued that individual states had the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional." A second Kentucky Resolution in 1799 "declared that if a state found a law unconstitutional, nullification was the proper remedy." Alexander Hamilton's solution was the opposite. He wanted "to send the army to Virginia to enforce the Acts."9
Jefferson won the presidential election of 1800, which caused racist New England to show its colors. It was a "racial trauma" for New Englanders because Jefferson had slept with a black woman. New Englanders
considered Jefferson racially tarnished and called him the "first Negro president." They also resented the fact that black folks counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes, which determined the allocation of electoral votes. If it had not been for this "three-fifths rule," Adams would have been reelected.
Southerners wanted black people to count as the whole human beings they are, but Yankees wanted them reduced to 3/5ths of a person so the North would have more political power.
Mitcham writes, "Northerners of that day were highly prejudiced against black people, and they kept this bias throughout the Civil War era."10
He talks about "Josiah C. Nott, a descendant of one of Connecticut's oldest families, and Louis Agassiz, a zoology professor at Harvard" who did research on the inferiority of blacks to whites, presenting theories that blacks were not of the same species as whites --- "Nott described his racial theories as 'niggerology.'"11
Ralph Waldo Emerson said blacks were "destined for the museums, like the Dodo." He thought they would die out if freed.
Southerners wanted to end slavery in a way that would work:
Thomas Jefferson once suggested that the slaves could go to the Western lands and find liberation. He received no support from the North, but Virginia statesman John Randolph thought it was a capital idea. He freed his 518 slaves in his will and caused them to be sent to Ohio, to lands they inherited from him, along with supplies provided by his estate. But Ohio refused to accept them. The free black contingent had to return to Virginia and ask to be made wards of the state.12
Tariffs increasingly became a problem. Mitcham writes about the "unintended consequences" of the Tariff of 1816:
First, the North became addicted to protective tariffs---and with incredible speed. Second, the nature of the tariff itself changed. It became a corrupt system for the redistribution of wealth by political means. Third, Northern manufacturers were now able to charge more for their own products and thus reap higher profits because the tariffs (taxes) on imported British goods were so high.13
That caused enormous economic problems for the South. They had higher costs, and a higher cost of living because of Northern tariffs.
The debate over the admission of Missouri as a slave state exposed the North's hypocrisy. Mitcham writes:
Among the leaders of the anti-admission faction was Northern flesh peddler Senator James DeWolff of Rhode Island. DeWolff was one of the wealthiest men in the United States. He made his money in the New England slave trade. His company ran eighty voyages to Africa before Washington shut down the importation of human beings to the U.S.A. in 1808. After that, DeWolff's ships engaged in the global slave trade.14
To make it worse, there were heavy federal subsidies of New England business interests including fishing and manufacturing. Like a drug addict, Yankees were addicted to other people's money and their method of theft was the federal government and their domination of it.
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 brought Missouri, a slave state, and Maine, a free state, into the Union.
The "Black Codes" such as were adopted in Lincoln's Illinois prohibited free blacks from entering Illinois.
Lincoln believed, his whole life, in sending black people back to Africa or into a climate they could handle. He was a member of the American Colonization Society and "secretary of the Illinois branch for several years." Lincoln "and his colleagues, who included President James Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall, Alexander Hamilton, Daniel Webster, and Stephen Douglas, had a simple solution to the 'Negro problem': return every African American to Africa, including those born in the United States."15
Meanwhile, a violent abolitionist movement rose in the North with leaders such as Lysander Spooner of Massachusetts, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips and others.
The one thing that Southerners feared worse than all else, after the slaughter in Haiti, was a slave insurrection, but rather than trying to solve the slavery problem with good will, abolitionist extremists who were well-financed by New Englanders "flooded the South with handbills calling for slave revolts."
Mitcham points out that Henry Clay was Abraham Lincoln's idol. Clay was a slaveholder who believed in sending black people back to Africa. He also advocated for the "American System," a system of government largesse to help U.S. manufacturing compete with the British. The American System called for high tariffs, internal improvements for the North at taxpayer expense, and other of what today would be "corporate welfare."
Southerners were not against internal improvements but they believed that states should pay for whatever improvement they wanted. Improvements in one state should not be paid for by the people in another.
This is a prime example of the difference in the South's States' Rights philosophy and that of the North, which wanted to take over the federal government and rule for its own benefit only. Alexis de Tocqueville warned that if one state ever got the power to take over the federal government, it would do exactly as the North did: make the rest of the country tributary to its wealth and power.
Mitcham sums it up well:
The Tariff of 1824 was a sign of Northern political dominance in the United States. It was also a sign that Northern hegemony meant economic exploitation and poverty for the South. To Southerners, it proved that Northerners would ignore the Constitution if its economic interests were involved. James Spence wrote: 'The idea of a moderate system, generally beneficial to the industry of the country, without grievous hardship to any particular class, became altered into the reality of corrupt political bargains between special interests, to impose heavy taxation on all others for their own profit.'16
Two more slave revolts, one in 1811, and the Nat Turner revolt in 1831, kept Southerners on edge about slavery. Mitcham points out that "Abolitionists were irresponsible. Immediate, uncompensated liberation would have resulted in chaos and economic collapse for both the North and the South."
If the North really cared about ending slavery --- which they didn't --- they could have offered a plan of gradual compensated emancipation such as Northern states themselves used to end slavery. But Northerners were not about to spend hard-earned sweatshop money to free the slaves in the South who would then go North and be job competition.
It is clear that most Northerners did not give a damn about Southern slaves and surely did not want free blacks in the North or West. During this time period the hypocritical North was still slave-trading all over the globe bringing huge fortunes constantly into the North.
Northerners also murdered abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy in Illinois in 1837.
Promoting the murder of Southern men, women and children so the North could gain politically and some could signal their "superior" virtue, was not going to end slavery or help black people, but that was not the goal.
Political domination and Northern wealth and power were always the goal as Alexis de Tocqueville had said.
A Comprehensive Review of
It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.
Part Four of Five
(Scroll down for:
It Wasn't About Slavery, Actual Citation from Book)
1 Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War (Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2020), 19.
2 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 20.
4 H. Newcomb Morse, "The Foundations and Meaning of Secession," Stetson University College of Law, Stetson Law Review, Vol. XV, No. 2, 1986, 436, in Gene Kizer, Jr., Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. (Charleston and James Island, SC: Charleston Athenaeum Press, 2014), 107, 121, available on www.CharlestonAthenaeumPress.com.
5 Abraham Lincoln, 1847 Congressional debate in the United States House of Representatives in John Shipley Tilley, Lincoln Takes Command (Hashville: Bill Coats, Ltd., 1991), xv. Tilley's source, as state in footnote #4 on page xv, was Goldwyn Smith, The United States: An Outline of Political History, 1492-1871 (New York and London, 1893), 248, in Kizer, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, Note 104, 109-110.
6 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 22-23.
7 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 23.
8 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 25-26.
9 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 27.
10 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 27-28.
11 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 28.
13 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 29.
15 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 31.
16 Mitcham, It Wasn't About Slavery, 33.