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A House Divided: November 21, 2010 - November 27, 2010

Stephanie McCurry: Did South Carolina have a Constitutional right to secede?

Disunionists in South Carolina and other southern states routinely claimed that they possessed a constitutional right to secede. But there are a number of problems with accepting that as a statement of fact...

By Stephanie McCurry  | November 27, 2010; 8:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
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Craig Symonds: Did South Carolina have a Constitutional right to secede?

The southern argument was that since each State (or the people thereof) had voluntarily ratified the Constitution, they could also voluntarily UN-ratify it -- which is what the secession ordinance did...

By Craig Symonds  | November 23, 2010; 7:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
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David Blight: Did South Carolina have a Constitutional right to secede?

There was and is no "right" to secession from the Union. Diehard believers in John C. Calhoun's theory of the "concurrent majority," or in the doctrine of nullification (the alleged right of a state to reject or overtly repeal federal legislation within their borders) may claim a logical extension to the act of secession...

By David Blight  | November 23, 2010; 7:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
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Chandra Manning: Did South Carolina have a Constitutional right to secede?

If one looks at the Constitutional Convention as what it professed (at least at first) to be, as a convention to improve, modify, and correct the Articles of Confederation, but not to reject it or the country created by the signatories to it entirely, then the Constitution prohibits secession, because the Articles of Confederation declared the Union to be “perpetual,” and the “more perfect Union” invoked by the Constitution implicitly accepts and affirms the “perpetual” union dictated by the Articles of Confederation...

By Chandra Manning  | November 23, 2010; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
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Harold Holzer: Did South Carolina have a Constitutional right to secede?

The answer — so powerfully echoed by the sacrifices of the 340,000 federal soldiers killed in the war to save the nation — is no. Nothing in the nation’s founding documents, once ratified, anticipated or justified their nullification. Secession, as Abraham Lincoln put it, was “legally nothing.”

By Harold Holzer  | November 23, 2010; 7:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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