Session Type: Section Programs
Session Capacity: N/A
Floor: Third Floor
Daniel Farber paper - “Secession and the Original Understanding”
The constitutional status of secession was deeply intertwined with conflicting antebellum views about the relationship between state and national citizenship. The citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment made national citizenship paramount, thereby establishing that Americans owed their primary allegiance to the federal government rather than their states.
Paul Finkelman paper - “States' Rights and Nullification in the North: Opposition to the Fugitive Slave Laws”
Most people think of states' rights, nullification, and secessionist arguments as coming from Southern supporters of slavery and segregation. But from the 1820s to 1861 Northern opponents of slavery and some Northern state governments adopted states' rights arguments in the face of a proslavery national government and the implementation of a proslavery constitution. The most radical abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, argued for the secession of the free states under the slogan "No Union with Slaveholders." This paper explores the application of states rights theory by opponents of slavery.
Daniel W. Hamilton paper - "Still Too Close to Call? Rethinking Stampp's 'The Concept of a Perpetual Union.'"
In a classic article in the Journal of American History, Kenneth Stammp made the claim that the arguments in favor of the constitutionality of secession made by the Southern states were as strong, if not stronger than the constitutional arguments made, then and now, in opposition to secession. In light of the 150th anniversary of secession it is useful to re-consider Stammp's famous thesis to examine the questions it raises about our current understanding of the meaning of the Civil War. Did Stammp, in his emphasis on constitutional thought standing alone, shed light on secession or mischaracterize the centrality of slavery in the secession crisis? Is it possible to answer the question: was secession legal? If so, and the answer is, as Stammp suggests, likely yes, then does this change our assessment of Lincoln's drive to war? If there is no definitive answer to the question, then are there other essential issues revolving around the Civil War that are equally indeterminate?