jpete wrote:Does it matter if they had "justification"?
Of course it does. According to your following quotation a state or people can only justifiably "throw off such government" after a list of unaddressed abuses and grievances have built up over a long stretch of time (the long train) and constitute an effort (design) to subject the aggrieved to despotism.
A state can not, without some reasonable justification, simply up and leave the union. The union invests in the states and the states invest in the union, if any state could just up an leave without clear justification then there would be no incentive for states to invest in the union or for the union to invest in the states, all we'd have would be a loose federation of states with almost nothing binding them together.
If a state does secede and the other states do not agree that they're justified, then they run the risk of those states asserting their natural claim to the investments made in them.
Actually, sounds a lot like divorce.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Where does that say they need a good reason? If the government wasn't serving their purposes, they had a DUTY
to do something about it.
If it wasn't serving their purposes then they had a reason. If they were following the guidelines of that quote, then they must of had a very sound justification to believe that the federal government had acted over a long period to create a system in which they were despotically ruled by the federal government.
I'd argue they were no where near close to that.
South Carolina seceded from the union on December 20, 1860. They asked the north to remove their troops from what was now a foreign country. The north refused. So the south cut the fort off. The Union soldiers were nearly out of food but tried to stall until reinforcements and supplies could arrive. Obviously, the Confederacy couldn't allow the Union to dig in so they shelled the fort. Seems like a reasonable course of action to me.
They had already stopped a resupply ship from performing that function while Buchanan was still in office, they didn't need to shell the fort. Just because they decided to secede didn't mean the rest of the country had to accept it and it certainly didn't mean they had a right to seize federal forts which were not taking forceful action against them and were effectively being starved to death through denial of resupply anyway.
No one has yet to tell me why Lincoln felt he had a right to preserve the union. Buchanan didn't seem to feel he had the right. One of them was wrong.
Buchanan only had a couple months left when all this started going down. He obviously was unwilling to forfeit the federal forts to their control, so it would seem he was conflicted at some level. More evidence of this conflict; Buchanan did not believe that states had the right to secede, he just didn't see a constitutional power to forcibly keep a state in the union. It's a nuanced, contradictory set of positions to hold, but again he only had to punt for a couple months until the next guy got the big chair.
Lincoln felt he had the right because he didn't recognize the right of the states to secede. As such he considered the southern secessionist states to be in open rebellion against the nation and, as with any rebellion, fair game for quelling. But he didn't jump to the military option without provocation. Again, the Union army was not called up until after Ft Sumter was taken by force. Up to that point Lincoln's response had been mere denial and threat of force if the forts were seized (along with a round of failed secret negotiations with the secessionist states), not an unreasonable position to take for a person wanting to keep the union together. Would he still have gone military if the attacks on forts didn't happen? No one knows. But actions have consequences. The south was forewarned of the consequences for taking the forts, they did so anyway. On the flip side, taking military action cost the union four strategically important border states, likely the reason the war lasted as long as it did.
And while we are on that subject, when was the declaration of war voted on by Congress.
The army initially fielded was comprised of troops volunteered by all the union states (except four of the border states which, when asked for troops, decided to take sides with the confederates). As a practical matter this amounted to the vote of the states to engage in the war or not. Note that the four border states that would not volunteer forces were not declared part of the confederacy or states in rebellion, they themselves threw in with the confederates. Also, since since they didn't recognize the secession as being legal there was no foreign state to declare war upon, so no official/traditional declaration of war and no formal document declaring an end of the war.
EVERY president takes an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend, the Constitution" of the US. Not "The Union" as some argue. How did Lincoln uphold his oath based upon his actions?
His thinking was that defending the constitution was accomplished only by preserving the union, one did not exist independently of the other. He did not want to preserve it through use of force, but he was not willing to have federal forts taken by force without an equal response of force. And so the fighting began, the blockades started, and the conflict blossomed into a full blown war.