The title United States of America to many has come to mean a nation proud and strong, joined together under all circumstances. In the year 1860 that all changed. With the election under way, the nation began to divide over four candidates, one of whom was Abraham Lincoln. When the results were announced the nation would never be the same. Lincoln received about 40% of the popular vote and had failed to carry any of the southern states, yet his victory was a landslide. Within days of the election results South Carolina seceded from the Union and six other southern states soon followed suit. The southern states reacted to the election as a small child who didn t get their way. It is because of these circumstances and many more that the south should not have seceded from the Union.
Because the south s presidential candidate was not elected to be president of the United States of America, gave them no right to secede from the Union. This nation is based on a system whereas the majority rules. According to the constitution, the south should have accepted the election results without retaliation. For, in joining the Union southern states initially had to sign a document stating that they agreed to abide by all terms set forth by the constitution, one of those terms being, the majority rules.
South Carolina and other southern states did not legally have the Constitutional right to secede from the Union of the United States of America. They clearly defied the Constitution when they seceded from the Union. Article 1, Section 10 (Powers Denied to the States), Clause1, of the original Constitution of the United States of America states that: “no state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation.” When southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederation, they defied this section of the Constitution. Article 6, Supremacy of the National Government, states that: “The Constitution and the laws of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, to anything in the constitution.” Since the Southern states mutually agreed to uphold all Articles of the Constitution, it would be illegal to go in opposition to any part of them. When the states of the South signed the Constitution, they bound themselves together as one nation. Therefore, they illegally seceded from the Union. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution says, “And to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or office.” This is called the elastic clause, which allows Congress to deal with many matters not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Therefore, Congress has to decide if a state can secede or not. The South’s secession was illegal because Congress did not vote on it. Some other supporting facts are: no state can pass any bill or law impairing the obligation of contracts. The South went against that because they ignored everything that they agreed to from the Constitution. Also, the Constitutional definition of treason is limited to starting war against the United States or joining or giving aid to its enemies. Therefore, as a result of the secession issue made by the South a war was started and thus the south committed treason.
Finally, the Confederacy started the Civil War at fort Sumter by firing the first shot. The Union had just been peacefully replenishing supplies at the fort when P.G.T. Beauregard gave the order to fire the cannons. According to Article 1, Section 10 of the constitution, no state shall, without the consent of congress, engage in war. By separating from the Union, the Confederacy was now on their own. They had no outside help. European countries wouldn t become their allies and the navy supported the North. Had the southern states not seceded from the Union their economy at the end of the war would not have been such a disaster.
The south argued that they had the right to secede for being treated unfairly. However, realizing that the Union could be destroyed, Senator John Crittendon proposed a compromise to make peace. The Crittendon Compromise suggested six amendments to the Constitution in favor of the South. It denied the right of Congress to abolish slavery. However, the South turned up their noses to the compromise and seceded anyway. This contradicted the South’s argument that they had the right to secede for being treated unfairly. According to the Declaration of Independence, a government should not be changed for light and transient causes.” Thus, the south really had no reason or right to secede from the Union, especially after they were given such a generous offer.
From the Civil War to Reconstruction and even until today, the south s decision to secede from the Union dramatically changed the course of the United States forever. After General Lee s surrender, there would never again be legalized enslavement of people in the United States of America. Yet, because of the south s decision to secede more than 645,000 American soldiers died. More Americans were killed in the Civil War than in all other American wars combined. Due to overwhelming evidence and Constitutional support, it can be concluded that the south should not have seceded from the Union. Although, if for a second, you disregard all the evidence presented to you and just think about how tragic the war was in terms of human costs, and what caused it the South s secession you will understand why the south should not have seceded from the Union.