January 28, 1861: Sam Houston Stands Alone

 

 

But if, through division in the ranks of those opposed to Mr. Lincoln, he should be elected, we have no excuse for dissolving the Union. The Union is worth more than Mr. Lincoln, and if the battle is to be fought for the Constitution, let us fight it in the Union and for the sake of the Union. With a majority of the people in favor of the Constitution, shall we desert the Government and leave it in the hands of the minority? A new obligation will be imposed upon us, to guard the Constitution and to see that no infraction of it is attempted or permitted. If Mr. Lincoln administers the Government in accordance with the Constitution, our rights must be respected. If he does not, the Constitution has provided a remedy.

Sam Houston, September 22, 1860

It took a fair amount of courage to stand against the tide of secession in the South in 1860-1861, but not even his most determined enemy, and he had many enemies, could say that Sam Houston ever had a shortage of that virtue.   As an ardent Unionist he  fought secession every step of the way.  As I outlined in an earlier post, which may be read here,  he realized that secession was a disaster for the South, and with eerie accuracy predicted a great war and military defeat for the South.

Houston, as governor of Texas, refused to bring the state legislature back into session to consider secession.  The Secession Convention, which held its opening session on January 28, 1861, voted to abrogate the treaty of annexation with the US on February 1.  Secession was put to a popular vote and won at the ballot.  Texas was admitted to the Confederacy on March 1, 1861.  Houston never recognized the legality of any of this, and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.

“Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas….I protest….against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.

Houston was removed from office on March 16, 1861.  On September 22, 1860 he had made a pro-Union speech.  It is a fascinating document.  If this gallant old man had been heeded, the nation would have avoided a fratricidal war that claimed 620,000 American lives.  Here is the text of the speech: (more…)

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Published in: on January 28, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 28, 1861: Sam Houston Stands Alone  
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The State of Jefferson

The proponents of dividing California up into six states have enough signatures for the proposal to be on the ballot in 2016.  I think this is an idea we will see more of in many states.  Urban areas and non urban areas have been growing increasingly antithetical to each other in state after state, politically and culturally.  The problems of dividing states, which would have to be approved by Congress as well as state legislatures, are huge but I think the movement for this will grow, and not just on one side of the political ledger.  As for myself, I would love to see Illinois divide into two states:  The Land of Lincoln and whatever Chicago wants to call itself.  If such a measure is ever approved in one state, I think this movement will rapidly sweep across the country.  We will see.

Proposals to divide up states and create new states is not a new idea in American history, the state of West Virginia being the prime example.  If the Union had been able to take control of east Tennessee more rapidly than it did, I suspect that East Tennessee might have become a state.

Just prior to Pearl Harbor there was a move afoot to carve a new state out of the rural regions of north California and south Oregon.  The new state to be called Jefferson, the same name as one of the proposed new states to be made from the division of California.   In October 1941 Mayor Gilbert Gable of Port Orford, Oregon, said that the Oregon counties of Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath should join with the California counties of Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc to form a new state.  This was started as a publicity stunt to draw attention to the terrible roads in the area, the people of the region feeling ignored by the legislatures of both California and Oregon.  The movement quickly gathered steam however and came suddenly to national attention when on November 27, 1941 a group of young men with hunting rifles national  stopped traffic on U.S. Route 99 south of Yreka, the county seat of Siskiyou County, and distributed copies of a Proclamation of Independence, stating that the state of Jefferson was in “patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon” and would continue to “secede every Thursday until further notice.” (more…)

Published in: on July 18, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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Lincoln and the Modern South

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(Originally posted at The American Catholic, I thought the Lincoln Mavens at Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

Lee Sigel has written a column for the Daily Beast in which he prays for the South to secede again:

Just think what America would look like without its mostly Southern states. (We could retain “America”: they could call themselves “Smith & Wesson” or “Coca-Cola” or something like that.) Universal health care. No guns. Strong unions. A humane minimum wage. A humane immigration policy. High revenues from a fair tax structure. A massive public-works program. Legal gay marriage. A ban on carbon emissions. Electric cars. Stronger workplace protections. Extended family leave from work in case of pregnancy or illness. Longer unemployment benefits. In short, a society on a par with most of the rest of the industrialized world—a place whose politics have finally caught up with its social and economic realities.

I will not link directly to his post as I do not want to give him any hits for his mind-bendingly foolish scribbling.  As most of our faithful readers know, I am one of Lincoln’s biggest fans in the Catholic blogosphere and my sentiments for the Union in the Late Unpleasantness are quite clear, but I must say if the South did secede today the new nation would have only one problem:  what to do with the hordes of Northern refugees, including me and my family, that would come flocking to live in Dixie.  As far as I can see the Southern states, much more so than most of the Northern states, would be a better fit for Lincoln today:

1.  They are Republican.

2.  They have a patriotism much more like Lincoln’s than the blame America first attitude prevalent in too many of the power centers of the North.

3.  They are pro-business as Lincoln was throughout his political career.

4.  They do not believe that self government consists of breathlessly waiting for the latest edict from the Supreme Court and chanting: Yes Masters. (more…)

Published in: on May 6, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Latter Day Leftist Secessionist

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I assumed that the Civil War Mavens at Almost Chosen People would enjoy reading it.)

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has an unforgettable look at a book written by splenetic Leftist, Chuck Thompson, who wishes that the South would secede:

It may interest you to know that a significant number of those Americans who think that Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was a devastating tragedy, maybe even most of them, reside north of the Mason-Dixon Line and probably have never been to, have no ancestors from and have no interest in visiting that large area south of it.

If a leftist Yankee travel writer named Chuck Thompson, author of Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, ever put together a list of the worst American presidents, George W. Bush would probably come in second behind Abraham Lincoln.  In the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim reviews the book:

On the first page, the author wonders why the American electoral system must be “held hostage by a coalition of bought-and-paid-for political swamp scum from the most uneducated, morbidly obese, racist, morally indigent, xenophobic, socially stunted, and generally ass-backwards part of the country.” You expect him to let up, to turn the argument around, to look at the other side of question. But he never does. For more than 300 pages, Mr. Thompson travels through the South observing customs, outlooks and people and subjecting them to an unremitting stream of denunciations.

The American South is certainly not above criticism or satire.  And many writers from other parts of the country or the world have visited the South and written useful and interesting books about their experiences.  Thompson, on the other hand, made up his mind beforehand and went looking for what he thought he needed to see. (more…)

Letter to Webster

 

 

During the Nullifcation crisis, James Madison, one of the last survivors of the Founding Fathers, was an ardent foe of both secession and nullification.  In a letter to Senator Daniel Webster dated March 15, 1833, Madison set forth his thoughts on secession: (more…)

Published in: on February 10, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Letter to Webster  
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May 23, 1861: Virginia Votes to Secede

On May 23, 1861 Virginia held its referendum on Secession.  The results were 132, 201 to 37, 451 opposed.  The referendum was voted down in most of the counties that would eventually form West Virginia, and the stage was set for a civil war within the Civil War in Virginia, as ultimately 29,000 Union troops would be raised in West Virginia.  Here is the text of the Ordinance of Secession approved by the referendum: (more…)

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 5:51 am  Comments (4)  
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January 28, 1861: Sam Houston Stands Alone

 

 

But if, through division in the ranks of those opposed to Mr. Lincoln, he should be elected, we have no excuse for dissolving the Union. The Union is worth more than Mr. Lincoln, and if the battle is to be fought for the Constitution, let us fight it in the Union and for the sake of the Union. With a majority of the people in favor of the Constitution, shall we desert the Government and leave it in the hands of the minority? A new obligation will be imposed upon us, to guard the Constitution and to see that no infraction of it is attempted or permitted. If Mr. Lincoln administers the Government in accordance with the Constitution, our rights must be respected. If he does not, the Constitution has provided a remedy.

Sam Houston, September 22, 1860

It took a fair amount of courage to stand against the tide of secession in the South in 1860-1861, but not even his most determined enemy, and he had many enemies, could say that Sam Houston ever had a shortage of that virtue.   As an ardent Unionist he  fought secession every step of the way.  As I outlined in an earlier post, which may be read here,  he realized that secession was a disaster for the South, and with eerie accuracy predicted a great war and military defeat for the South. 

Houston, as governor of Texas, refused to bring the state legislature back into session to consider secession.  The Secession Convention, which held its opening session on January 28, 1861, voted to abrogate the treaty of annexation with the US on February 1.  Secession was put to a popular vote and won at the ballot.  Texas was admitted to the Confederacy on March 1, 1861.  Houston never recognized the legality of any of this, and refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.

“Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas….I protest….against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.

Houston was removed from office on March 16, 1861.  On September 22, 1860 he had made a pro-Union speech.  It is a fascinating document.  If this gallant old man had been heeded, the nation would have avoided a fratricidal war that claimed 620,000 American lives.  Here is the text of the speech: (more…)

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (7)  
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December 20, 1860: The Union is Dissolved

The video at the beginning of this post celebrates, I think that is the correct term, the secession of South Carolina on December 20, 1860.  The video is hilariously inaccurate, most notably in not recognizing the historical fact that a right of secession had been hotly debated and contested prior to the Civil War and in failing to breathe a word about slavery, the reason why the secession crisis occurred.    In contrast to this Neo-Confederate balderdash, I think the words of former Congressman James L. Petigru at the time were apt:  “South Carolina is too small to be a Republic and too large to be an insane asylum.”   Here is the ordinance of secession for the little state that started the big war: (more…)

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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The Framers and Secession

I thought this would serve as a useful follow-up to Donald’s post below.   Putting aside the question of whether or not the Civil war was fought over slavery, or whether slavery served as the impetus for the war, the next logical question is: did the southern states have the right to secede?  The evidence, as supplied by the writings of the men who wrote our Constitution, suggests that the answer is definitively NO.

Mac Owens has gone to the trouble of analyzing this issue in great detail already.  It’s a very thorough piece, so I suggest that you read it in its entirety.  I will just pull one little selection from it in order to give you all a flavor. (more…)

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm  Comments (11)  
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Jefferson Davis on Secession

 

Jefferson Davis often wrote about Secession, especially after the War, when he dedicated the remainder of his life to defending the memory of the Confederacy.  His two volume The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government is basically a lengthy defense of Secession.  The most concise treatment of his views on Secession was contained in his farewell address to the Senate on January 21, 1861.  His defense of the right of Secession boils down to one word:  sovereignty.  The states, even those created, like Mississippi, under the Union, are sovereign and may therefore leave the Union anytime they please.  Davis on Secession: (more…)

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 5:16 am  Comments (3)  
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