Secessio Plebis

Have you noticed that whenever mention is made of secession, establishment types always say, “that issue was settled in 1865”?

Even leaving aside the absurdity of the suggestion that military victory could settle a legal issue (let alone a moral one) – isn’t it another establishment mantra that the Civil War was solely about slavery?

They seem to be trying to have it both ways. If the Civil War was solely about slavery, then the most that it could have settled is the illegitimacy of secession-to-protect-slavery, not the illegitimacy of secession per se. After all, present-day secession advocates are not exactly trying to protect slavery (unless Kirkpatrick Sale has a secret agenda we don’t know about).


3 Responses to Secessio Plebis

  1. Nick August 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Earlier this year, Martin Kettle wrote about The Guardian’s coverage of the war

    Surely the paper, every bit as much a pillar of Victorian Liberalism as Lord Hartington, was solid in the union cause? So you might think, if you only read history through the eyes of the present. Yet the Manchester Guardian was as conflicted as many others of progressive views – and some of those inner conflicts of view have resonance even today.

    The issue that caused the problem for the Guardian was not slavery. The Guardian had always hated slavery. But it doubted the Union hated slavery to the same degree. It argued that the Union had always tacitly condoned slavery by shielding the southern slave states from the condemnation they deserved.

    Full article is here.

  2. Kevin Carson August 10, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Defenders of secession are in a position a lot like that of the Jacobites in 18th century Britain: they argued that by the fundamental law of England the throne could never be vacant and the succession could never deviate from the rules of primogeniture — victories on the battlefield notwithstanding.

    The more intelligent Whigs admitted that there had been a fundamental constitutional shift to Parliamentary sovereignty, despite Burke’s “veil of decency” that had been drawn across the events of 1689. Likewise, the more intelligent defenders of federal power argued that there was a de facto constitutional revolution and that the new union reconstituted after 1865 was fundamentally different from the union of 1788-89.


  1. Attack the System » Blog Archive » Secessio Plebis - August 10, 2011

    […] From Roderick Long and Secession Plebis. […]

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