New Jersey Libertarian Party

The Party of Principle

South’s secession wasn’t treason

This letter was published in the The Record, 9/14/2017, USA Today, 9/13/2017, and the Suburban Trends, 9/20/2017

While racism, bigotry and hate deserve to be condemned, I can't help but observe that many of the letter writers to The Record display an appalling lack of historical knowledge despite their noble intentions.

For example, I see the concept of secession being labeled as treason when applied to the South in 1860. If that’s the case, then the original 13 colonies should be condemned for seceding or breaking away from England in 1776. Keep in mind that the states brought the federal government into existence not the reverse.

I can find nothing in the Constitution that says a state may not withdraw if it so chooses. The Constitution would never have been ratified in 1787 if any of the state delegates thought that membership in the Union was irreversible. Also secession wasn’t just a Southern idea. During the Hartford Convention of 1814-1815, the New England states talked about secession because of their opposition to the War of 1812 against England with whom the North had close trade and commercial relations with.

If the South seceded in 1860 just to preserve and expand slavery, then why did the Confederate constitution in Article 1, Section 9, prohibit the importation of any slaves from abroad? In short, there is nothing inherently wrong with secession as a last resort against centralized government power. It is rather ironic that those who call secession “treason” see nothing wrong with defying the federal government with regard to issues like marijuana laws or Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

The 10th Amendment says that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved to the states or the people. No government at any level can ever really be trusted as we libertarians are well aware, so I would urge all people to be eternally vigilant to safeguard all of our liberties without exception.

Mark Richard
West Milford, NJ

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