A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Allow me to say, right of, that I do not believe my fellow Americans now calling for secession will actually go so far as to secede. Although, eventually, there WILL be a breakup of the United States, that much is abundantly clear.
In my opinion, the petitions for secession are expressions of the frustration and anger of the general populace of America today. It is vox populi -- the voice of the people.
Now that those of you who have placed your names on those petitions are being derided as "traitors" Allow me to ask: Have you any more insight into why I take exception to my great-grandfather being called a "traitor" because he fought as a Confederate soldier for his home state of South Carolina?
The history of the era of the American Civil War has been so rewritten and sanitized to absolve the United States government of any fault, that it is really difficult to get to the truth behind what REALLY happened and what REALLY caused some 13 states, in whole or in part, to leave the Union.
Here is a quote from one of my favorite Confederate generals -- General Patrick R. Cleburne: "I am with the South in life or in death, in victory or defeat. I never owned a negro and care nothing for them, but these people have been my friends and have stood up to me on all occasions. In addition to this, I believe the North is about to wage a brutal and unholy war on a people who have done them no wrong, in violation of the Constitution and the fundamental principles of the government...We propose no invasion of the North, no attack on them, and only ask to be let alone." ... Patrick R. Cleburne
Later, Cleburne warned what would happen if the South lost. He was spot on! Here's what he said: "Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late... It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision... It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties." --- Maj. General Patrick R. Cleburne, CSA, January 1864
The point is -- Most of what modern America knows about the "War Between the States" and the causation of that war is WRONG!
There was nothing in the constitution forbidding states from seceding. There still isn't. However, if you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, eventually it will be accepted as truth.
Why, one of the country's most influential politicians of the day supported secession. He said the following: "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. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit."
Who was this man? Well, it was none other than Abraham Lincoln! Lincoln made these remarks on January 12, 1848, in a speech criticizing President James K. Polk's handling of the Mexican War.
Please note this sentence from Lincoln's remarks above: "Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it." See, RIGHT THERE Lincoln expresses his belief that a portion, or portions, of an existing government has/have a right to secede -- as in the states of my beloved Confederacy.
No, dear reader, if you want to know the real reason behind the War Between the States -- follow the money. It is (almost) always about money. What you will learn is that the southern states were supporting the Union financially. Lincoln knew, without a doubt, that if the southern states were allowed to leave, what was left of the United States would collapse. There would be no money to run the country of the US. THAT'S what the war was about. And all this time you thought it was about slavery, right?
Many, many, times I have told my readers that the conditions in America today mimic those of the decades prior to the War Between the States. Modern America is now getting a taste of what my southern forebears suffered -- the frustration and anger that drove them out of the Union. When a people's own government turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to their grievances, they sometimes take drastic action.
I'm not a fan of Abraham Lincoln. I'm not a member of the Lincoln cult, nor am I a subscriber to the Lincoln myth. In my estimation Lincoln was NOT a good man. Here's why: "His notable actions as president include the initiation of a catastrophic war in order to prevent secession, the murder of 350,000 Americans, the attempted deportation of all blacks to Liberia, the destruction of the Tenth Amendment, the suspension of habeas corpus, the Union blockade, the imprisonment of 15,000 political opponents without a trial, the shutdown of critical newspapers, the restriction of firearm ownership, the rigging of elections, the draft, the murder of draft protesters, the division of Virginia for an electoral advantage, the destruction, plundering, rape, and murder of Southern civilian towns, the nationalization of railroads, the Morrill Tariff, the National Banking Act, the use of greenbacks, the creation of deficits, the genocidal policy toward the Sioux, the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, the creation of a temporary income tax, the order to make medicine contraband, the attempted assassination of Jefferson Davis, the use of water torture on Northern civilians, and the cotton industry takeover." SOURCE: http://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln
Often many of Lincoln's enumerated actions above are excused by those who say: "But, he was trying to preserve the Union." Maybe so. But it has to be said that Lincoln was trying to preserve something the people of the country, at least 13 states and assorted territories, clearly did not want preserved. Sort of like preserving oh, I don't know, maybe Obamacare, for instance. You know, something the people do not want today.
Yes, I DO believe states have the right to secede from the US. The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution (known as the "Reserved Powers Amendment") says the following: "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."
Note the phrase: "nor prohibited by it to the States." There it is. If the constitution does not give a certain power to the federal government and doesn't prohibit the states from exercising that power, then, it is left up to the states, and/or the people, to decide IF they want to exercise that power, HOW they want to exercise that power -- or not. You can quickly see how a strong central government such as the one we have today (fathered, we might add, by Abraham Lincoln) finds this amendment a threat.
The secession petitions are a warning shot across the bow of the US government. Frankly, I expect the government to pay as much attention to these petitions as it did to the petitions of my southern ancestors in the 1850's. Unfortunately, if future events take their natural course we may expect civil unrest to follow, and then, well, I don't want to even think about that.
© J. D. Longstreet
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