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26 minutes ago, Col_Kelly said:

On the Lincoln part I have to fold, I really lack the knowledge there. I read your first answer though, which is why I quoted Art. 1 section 8

However can you really compare those early rebellions with the secession of a recognized political entity ? Daniel Shay and his band had no legal status unlike the SC governor. Same for the 'Whiskey boys'. These were clearly insurrections, secession seems different as SC did not take up arms against the Federal governement in the first weeks.  

As for 'implicit' rights to prevent secession I still feel that's not enough to enforce repression in such a case. 

Well the secession of these states was immediately followed by the armed take over of Federal forts, garrisons, and post offices, all of which are insurrectionist according to US law. 

The Hartford Convention was a convention to consider secession of the New England States. Madison, the "Father of the Constitution" moved in troops to end the convention. This was viewed as perfectly legal, and seems to establish a pretty strong precedent for the ability for the government to shut down Disunion movements. 

You have to remember that Disunion was, in-and-of itself viewed as insurrectionist. Americans spoke of Disunion like an apocalypse, and the act of Disunion alone was viewed politically as an act of extreme violence (Elizabeth R. Varron wrote a book on this word and its implications a few years ago, definetly worth a read)! Do not underestimate the power of that act. Insurrection in the US did not require direct acts of violence. However, even if it did, the YOung Confederacy provided that in the immediate days following the secession of SC, in the form of capturing post offices, forts, et cetera. 

 

26 minutes ago, Col_Kelly said:

 

As for the european analogy the UK decided to stay out of the Eurozone so they're not bound by their rules. (EU and Eurozone are different things). But France or Germany would obviously had to leave if they wanted to produce their own currency. 

Embarrassing mistakes like this are why I'm usually wise enough not to play in other people's playgrounds :p. Apologies for the mix up lol.

 

22 minutes ago, Col_Kelly said:

 

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Forgot about the armed take over of forts and arsenal, I guess the South truly screwed itself here.

I'm now going to humbly put my disciple suit back on and ask you another question. 

Do you think, as Gary Gallagher argues, that the South really had a decent chance of winning the war ? He basically said that since a draw was good enough for the rebels it made up for their lack of manpower and industrial resources. I personally feel that it ignores the nature of this war where even victories are excessively costly (aside of Fredericksburg the casualty ratio has always been close to 1/1 for the South, even with Lee's greatest victories).

I'm obviously not a Lost cause partisan but I still feel that the Civil war was a desperate move. Had it not been for Lee it would have all been over by 1862, 1863 at best imo. 

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1 hour ago, Col_Kelly said:

Forgot about the armed take over of forts and arsenal, I guess the South truly screwed itself here.

I'm now going to humbly put my disciple suit back on and ask you another question. 

Do you think, as Gary Gallagher argues, that the South really had a decent chance of winning the war ? He basically said that since a draw was good enough for the rebels it made up for their lack of manpower and industrial resources. I personally feel that it ignores the nature of this war where even victories are excessively costly (aside of Fredericksburg the casualty ratio has always been close to 1/1 for the South, even with Lee's greatest victories).

I'm obviously not a Lost cause partisan but I still feel that the Civil war was a desperate move. Had it not been for Lee it would have all been over by 1862, 1863 at best imo. 

:P disciple suit? You flatter me to much :) 

I totally agree with Dr. Gallagher on this. The South had several opportunities to win the war. Militarily, battles like Glendale and Gettysburg might have provided an opportunity to conquer a peace. Had Lee been more cautious in invading Maryland, the Confederacy may have even enjoyed British support in 1862. Strategically, the Confederates could have fought the Federals to a stand still as late as 1864, and indeed nearly did. 

The Confederates enjoyed almost every possible advantage in that war, except for industrial resources and manpower. If the Confederates made a strategic error in declaring war, it was perhaps in declaring war to soon and doing so as the aggressors. On that note, Donald P. Stroker argues, and I heartily agree, that the confederates failed to ever manufacture a harmonious grand strategy, and rarely, if ever, elevated their strategic thinking beyond the operational level. A mistake the Union did not make. 

However, as James M. McPherson has argued in an essay dedicated to Confederate defeat, these things do not happen in a bubble. We must consider that the Union won the war, and not just that the South lost. Ultimately, as McPherson says in "Embattled Rebel" the Civil War was the North's victory, not simply the Confederate's defeat. 

PS This is an extremely short answer, I'm happy to go into more detail on various aspects.

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@Col_Kelly

I believe the better question is not whether the South had a chance to win the war, so much as how much longer the Union wanted to fight for.

So long as the Union can contain the Confederates, the Union would just expand into the West, and strictly speaking have an even greater resource advantage than what the South can natively grow while it is getting blockaded. The South would still lose on a manpower issue eventually.

Politically speaking is a different question.

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I have a nice one: 

is the civil war a prime example of history written by the victors (example: Shermans March) or is saying it is a prime example of historicism?

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49 minutes ago, Kloothommel said:

I have a nice one: 

is the civil war a prime example of history written by the victors (example: Shermans March) or is saying it is a prime example of historicism?

Great question! :D 

In my opinion, the Civil War is actually a fantastic example of history written by the losers. Indeed, the Civil War destabilises the simple trope that "History is written by the victors." Or at the very least what "victor" means. In this case, the Union one the war but, in the words of Professor Arthur Schlieschenger Jr, "The South, as if by conciliation, was allowed to write the history."  The Historiography of the Civil War was dominated by history sympathetic to the Confederacy until the Civil Rights Movement. Men like Dunning, Randall, Freeman, et cetera filled the histories with dashing tales of gallant Confederate generals, who fought not for slavery but "State's Rights," and won every battle (save for Gettysburg). In Southern schools it was practically a crime to use textbooks which failed to sufficiently praise the Confederate movement, made any mention of slavery, or did not sufficiently villianise Lincoln and the Union armies. Because textbook companies had to meet Southern demands, and because it was easier to sell one set of textbooks to all schools, soon Northern boys and girls were also reading of the hero Lee, the happy and content slave, and the misguided Lincoln with his hordes of foreign invaders. For the South, the aftermath of the war and Reconstruction was a desperate strugle to re-write this history in their favour. As time moved forward, the people fo the North moved on, and slowly but surely, allowed the South to dominate the historical narrative, and fictionalise it to an almost comical degree.

Sherman's March is actually an excellent example of this. The public concept of the March was Sherman raping, pillaging, murdering and burning his way through Georgia and the Carolinas. In actual point of fact, Sherman explicitly only targeted public property, property relevant to the war effort, and the property of slave owning Confederates. The poorer citizens were, the less likely his boys were to molest their property. Rape was severely punished by Sherman's army. Only %30 of Atlanta was burned, and Charleston's immolation was an accident, and largely the fault of retreating Confederates, who lit the town's cotton aflame amidst high winds. Casualties from the march, including civilian, were some of the lowest of the Civil War. 

And yet, the legends of Sherman the tyrant, the American Ghengis Khan, the Architect of Total War remain. All false, but all indelibly burned into the public conscious by a history written not by the military victors, but by their defeated and humiliated foe. The South lost the war, but it would be damned if it lost the history.

In many respects, the historiography of the Civil War in the past fifty years has been dedicated to overcoming these falsities, it is one of the reasons why The Civil War is one of the most misunderstood periods of modern history.

The word "historicism" doesn't really make sense here? At least, not its academic meaning :P. Can you elaborate? 

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1 hour ago, Mr. Mercanto said:

**Epic wall of text**

The word "historicism" doesn't really make sense here? At least, not its academic meaning :P. Can you elaborate? 

Firstly, I wasn't aware of that historiographical evolution, thank you for this. It does explain the "romantic" view of the southern soldier and a couple of bad movies (Gods and Generals was pretty "in love" with the South) as well as the views of Shelby Foote in the Civil War series. 

And as for the last one, I made a mistake there, I wanted to use the term presentism. To me the Civil War in a lot of historical discours is nailed on the pillars of history as a war to free the slaves. But somehow I feel like that wasn't the main reason at all, as to me it's more a conflict of increasing federalisation and resitance to said federalisation.

Edited by Kloothommel

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1 hour ago, Mr. Mercanto said:

Great question! :D 

In my opinion, the Civil War is actually a fantastic example of history written by the losers. Indeed, the Civil War destabilises the simple trope that "History is written by the victors." Or at the very least what "victor" means. In this case, the Union one the war but, in the words of Professor Arthur Schlieschenger Jr, "The South, as if by conciliation, was allowed to write the history."  The Historiography of the Civil War was dominated by history sympathetic to the Confederacy until the Civil Rights Movement. Men like Dunning, Randall, Freeman, et cetera filled the histories with dashing tales of gallant Confederate generals, who fought not for slavery but "State's Rights," and won every battle (save for Gettysburg). In Southern schools it was practically a crime to use textbooks which failed to sufficiently praise the Confederate movement, made any mention of slavery, or did not sufficiently villianise Lincoln and the Union armies. Because textbook companies had to meet Southern demands, and because it was easier to sell one set of textbooks to all schools, soon Northern boys and girls were also reading of the hero Lee, the happy and content slave, and the misguided Lincoln with his hordes of foreign invaders. For the South, the aftermath of the war and Reconstruction was a desperate strugle to re-write this history in their favour. As time moved forward, the people fo the North moved on, and slowly but surely, allowed the South to dominate the historical narrative, and fictionalise it to an almost comical degree.

Sherman's March is actually an excellent example of this. The public concept of the March was Sherman raping, pillaging, murdering and burning his way through Georgia and the Carolinas. In actual point of fact, Sherman explicitly only targeted public property, property relevant to the war effort, and the property of slave owning Confederates. The poorer citizens were, the less likely his boys were to molest their property. Rape was severely punished by Sherman's army. Only %30 of Atlanta was burned, and Charleston's immolation was an accident, and largely the fault of retreating Confederates, who lit the town's cotton aflame amidst high winds. Casualties from the march, including civilian, were some of the lowest of the Civil War. 

And yet, the legends of Sherman the tyrant, the American Ghengis Khan, the Architect of Total War remain. All false, but all indelibly burned into the public conscious by a history written not by the military victors, but by their defeated and humiliated foe. The South lost the war, but it would be damned if it lost the history.

In many respects, the historiography of the Civil War in the past fifty years has been dedicated to overcoming these falsities, it is one of the reasons why The Civil War is one of the most misunderstood periods of modern history.

The word "historicism" doesn't really make sense here? At least, not its academic meaning :P. Can you elaborate? 

Spoken like a Yankee.

I could not disagree with you more, my friend. 

Allow me to rebutt when I'm not on a phone. 

I shall return. 

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You guys need to slow down.

I was in the beginnings of my work day (east coast US of A) and as such, only have my phone for coming here, and I personally hate posting by using the phone.

Here we are now 3 pages deep into this and I have to go back and read everything to this point and try to compose some of my thoughts as I could possibly find "errant" "misleading" "misinformed" comments. :P

Too bad I have to face Malvern Hill tonight too. ...

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27 minutes ago, Andre Bolkonsky said:

Spoken like a Yankee.

I could not disagree with you more, my friend. 

Allow me to rebutt when I'm not on a phone. 

I shall return. 

Of course, tough bear in mind that my scholarly sources are Mark Grimsly (Hard Hand of War) and James M. McPherson (Battle Cry of Freedom). While I'm not asking for page citations, I do ask that your reciprocate with scholarly sources. This may be difficult as few serious minded modern historians would argue that Sherman's March was as savage as the myths claim. No serious minded historian would deny the Southern domination of the historiography. 

I set this page up to be more of a question/answer thread, not a debate. So I don't want to get into one unless its quick, clean, and based on academic research. :P I mean no offence of course, I know you're a serious minded person, I'm just not sure what scholarly sources you could call upon to challenge me here. While my point may refer to sophisticated scholarship, its conclusions are widely accepted in the academic world of Civil War Studies. 

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10 minutes ago, A. P. Hill said:

You guys need to slow down.

I was in the beginnings of my work day (east coast US of A) and as such, only have my phone for coming here, and I personally hate posting by using the phone.

Here we are now 3 pages deep into this and I have to go back and read everything to this point and try to compose some of my thoughts as I could possibly find "errant" "misleading" "misinformed" comments. :P

Too bad I have to face Malvern Hill tonight too. ...

Just remember that if you are challenging an answer, use modern, peer-reviewed scholarship. I don't want this thread to be mired in pedantic pseudo-intellectualism like "The War for Abolition" thread. While I am of course open to disagreement, I want this thread to be free of non-scholarly and misleading sources. 

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36 minutes ago, Andre Bolkonsky said:

Spoken like a Yankee.

I could not disagree with you more, my friend. 

Allow me to rebutt when I'm not on a phone. 

I shall return. 

Gonna go get my popcorn and 3D glasses. 

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1 hour ago, Kloothommel said:

Firstly, I wasn't aware of that historiographical evolution, thank you for this. It does explain the "romantic" view of the southern soldier and a couple of bad movies (Gods and Generals was pretty "in love" with the South) as well as the views of Shelby Foote in the Civil War series. 

And as for the last one, I made a mistake there, I wanted to use the term presentism. To me the Civil War in a lot of historical discours is nailed on the pillars of history as a war to free the slaves. But somehow I feel like that wasn't the main reason at all, as to me it's more a conflict of increasing federalisation and resitance to said federalisation.

Gods and Generals is an excellent example of the modern Lost Cause historiographical romanticism. The best example by far is "Gone with the Wind."

Ah! Yes presentisim makes much more sense here! Presentism is a slippery thing. In the case of the Civil War, its really not at all presentist to recognise the fundamental role of slavery within it. The war did not begin strictly speaking to "free the slaves," however the war was inescapably caused by slavery, and by 1863 it became clear that slavery would need to be harmed severely or outright destroyed to win the war. By 1864, slavery and Union were indissoluble. 

Its actually more presentist, in my opinion, to see the war as Federalism and resistance to it. State's Rights and Federalism have almost always been very fluid ideas politically. Political factions support State's Rights when it suits them, and Federalism when it suits them. For example, in modern America Leftists have championed Federalism as a tool of pro-choice and Gay rights, while using State's Rights as a vehicle for cannabis legalisation. Conservatives have used State's Rights to restrict sexual equality and women's right to choose, but have been rabid Federalists on the issue of gun control (or lack there of). 

Such has always been the case. In the Antebellum, the Slave-holding South was pro Federalist when it suited expanding slavery (making Kansas open to slavery, mandating a Federal slave code, repealing Northern Personal Liberty Laws, implementing the Federal Fugitive Slave Act) and were in favour of State's Rights when it suited slavery (allowing for slavery's expansion based on state laws, and claiming the right to secede in order to form a slave nation). The Civil War is not Federalism vs Resistance to it. The North called upon State's Rights to oppose slavery as much as the South called upon Federal supremacy to maintain and empower slavery. The notion that it was a binary Federal vs State crisis is really manufactured in order to make sense in the context of America's current Federal vs State questions. 

History rhymes in our memories. :P

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13 hours ago, Col_Kelly said:

Were they 100 000 black confederates fighting in the southern army ?

I think an article by John Stauffer does a decent job of covering the history. The short answer is no, but blacks did support and fight for the South, usually unwillingly but not always.

10 hours ago, Acika011 said:

From a legal point of view, did states have a right to peacefully leave the Union in that time period?

Yes. There is a very large body of evidence that, at the time, secession was considered as a drastic but quite legitimate response to political issues. Indeed, quite a few Northern newspapers were supportive of peaceful Southern secession in the period before the war started. One of the best sources is Northern Editorials on Secession, by Perkins, which is a rather large collection of Northern newspaper editorials collated in 1942 and is not available online as far as I can tell. However, a book review at the time had this to say:

Quote

They show, for example, that after Sumter the North did not spring to arms as one man; on the contrary, most of the numerous newspapers that had been standing for peace continued to stand for it.

One of the most obvious takeaways from Perkins' editorial collection is that very few people at the time doubted the legitimacy of secession - they were much more concerned about it actually happening or not happening. Lincoln was part of a relatively small minority in his insistence that the Constitution legally forbade secession.

10 hours ago, Hethwill said:

Not a USA citizen myself, but aren't ( weren't ) the States foundation based upon the Union itself ( articles of association and confederation and ultimately constitutional states )?

Furthering the above response, the states existed independently for years before the Articles of Confederation were signed - let alone the Constitution. In fact, it's a quirk of history that the states that ratified the Constitution by definition seceded from the United States formed by the Articles of Confederation - the 1787 Convention ignored the process for modification included in the Articles and instead drafted a new Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation were very explicit in detailing what they were. Article 2 of the Articles reads:

Quote

Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation, expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

The Articles were thus explicitly an agreement between independent states to form a national government, not the formation of a national government that then delegated powers to the individual states.

Edited by Aetius

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Thanks for the clarification. From 1787 to 1850's surely have been new amendments ?

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3 minutes ago, Hethwill said:

Thanks for the clarification. From 1787 to 1850's surely have been new amendments ?

Precisely 12 amendments preceded the civil war, but the 12th amendment was ratified a half century prior, in 1804

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Okay. So I suppose those were in the light of fortifying the states own legislatures in the light of a union congress ? Sorry for asking so much.

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5 minutes ago, Hethwill said:

Okay. So I suppose those were in the light of fortifying the states own legislatures in the light of a union congress ? Sorry for asking so much.

Don't apologise! :D That's what this thread is for! 

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7 minutes ago, Hethwill said:

Okay. So I suppose those were in the light of fortifying the states own legislatures in the light of a union congress ? Sorry for asking so much.

The first ten amendments are better known as the Bill of Rights, all were ratified in 1791. The 12th amendment had to do with presidential elections. The 13th amendment freed the slaves. 

The 11th amendment was about states rights, so you're on the right track. 

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14 minutes ago, Hethwill said:

Okay. So I suppose those were in the light of fortifying the states own legislatures in the light of a union congress ? Sorry for asking so much.

No. The first ten amendments were the Bill of Rights, which were primarily  concerned with explicitly protecting specific individual rights from the intrusion of the newly formed federal government. They were adopted on the heels of the Constitution itself. The only amendment in the Bill of Rights that dealt with state power was the 10th Amendment, which was largely a restating of Article 2 of the Articles of Confederation. The 11th and 12th Amendments came slightly later, and were basically housekeeping - the 11th was the belated establishment of sovereign immunity, and the 12th was a bugfix, as the original process for Presidential election allowed for a deadlock.

Edited by Aetius

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1 minute ago, Aetius said:

No. The first ten amendments were the Bill of Rights, which were primarily  concerned with explicitly protecting specific individual rights from the intrusion of the newly formed federal government. They were adopted on the heels of the Constitution itself. The only amendment in the Bill of Rights that dealt with state power was the 10th Amendment, which was largely a restating of Article 2 of the Articles of Confederation. The 11th and 12th Amendments came slightly later, and were basically housekeeping - the 11th was the belated establishment of sovereign immunity, and the 12th was basically a bugfix - the original process for Presidential election allowed for a deadlock.

Houskeeping, now that's a funny way to put it. I'm no constitutional law scholar, Mercanto should weigh in. 

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36 minutes ago, Aetius said:

I think an article by John Stauffer does a decent job of covering the history. The short answer is no, but blacks did support and fight for the South, usually unwillingly but not always.

Yes. There is a very large body of evidence that, at the time, secession was considered as a drastic but quite legitimate response to political issues. Indeed, quite a few Northern newspapers were supportive of peaceful Southern secession in the period before the war started. One of the best sources is Northern Editorials on Secession, by Perkins, which is a rather large collection of Northern newspaper editorials collated in 1942 and is not available online as far as I can tell. However, a book review at the time had this to say:

One of the most obvious takeaways from Perkins' editorial collection is that very few people at the time doubted the legitimacy of secession - they were much more concerned about it actually happening or not happening. Lincoln was part of a relatively small minority in his insistence that the Constitution legally forbade secession.

Furthering the above response, the states existed independently for years before the Articles of Confederation were signed - let alone the Constitution. In fact, it's a quirk of history that the states that ratified the Constitution by definition seceded from the United States formed by the Articles of Confederation - the 1787 Convention ignored the process for modification included in the Articles and instead drafted a new Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation were very explicit in detailing what they were. Article 2 of the Articles reads:

The Articles were thus explicitly an agreement between independent states to form a national government, not the formation of a national government that then delegated powers to the individual states.

This is an interesting comment. I disagree with many of the details :p, or at least don't think they quite prove your point. Thank you for including sources by the way :)

I wrote out a lovely response to each of these points....then my laptop crashed....I generally don't write things twice, so you're getting the point form now lol. Sorry :P 


Stauffer's article is interesting but highly problematic. Kevin Levine, a leading historian in the field of the Black Confederate myth, responds in this brief essay. http://cwmemory.com/2015/01/20/john-stauffer-goes-looking-for-black-confederates-and-comes-up-empty-again/

Focusing on the collation of editorial views on secession, though interesting, is not really reflective of the question at hand, that being the legality of said action. As it happens, the people voted overwhelming for Lincoln, despite his declarations that secession was illegal as early as 1859. 

Speaking of which, claiming Lincoln's views of the perpetual Union is honestly at odds with the history. Madison, Jackson, and several others on both sides of the aisle had stated in no uncertain terms throughout the history of the nation that the Union must be preserved. In 1813, Madison called out federal troops to shut down the secessionist Hartford Convention. In 1832, Jackson did the same to the Nullification Crisis. In "Disunion: The Coming of the Civil War: 1787-1859" Elizabeth R. Varron chronicles the the debates over "Disunion." While proving the broader complexity of the issue, Varron also demonstrates that the concept of is illegalisty was not so "minority a view." Finally, the overwhelming elections of Lincoln and his party, as well as cross-party co-operation in preserving the Union, does rather demonstrate that Lincoln's feelings on secession's illegality were anything but in the minority. 

I think your last point on the Articles is an interesting one. The Constitution eschewed such language about state sovereignty because it was designed to create a perpetual Union, which kind of proves my point ;). Broadly speaking though, the Articles are kind of irrelevant legally after 1787.

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8 minutes ago, Aetius said:

No. The first ten amendments were the Bill of Rights, which were primarily  concerned with explicitly protecting specific individual rights from the intrusion of the newly formed federal government. They were adopted on the heels of the Constitution itself. The only amendment in the Bill of Rights that dealt with state power was the 10th Amendment, which was largely a restating of Article 2 of the Articles of Confederation. The 11th and 12th Amendments came slightly later, and were basically housekeeping - the 11th was the belated establishment of sovereign immunity, and the 12th was a bugfix, as the original process for Presidential election allowed for a deadlock.

This may the first time "bugfix" has ever been applied to a discussion of Constitutional history...


I love it. 

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7 minutes ago, GeneralPITA said:

Houskeeping, now that's a funny way to put it. I'm no constitutional law scholar, Mercanto should weigh in. 

Unlike Aetius's first comment, I find nothing disagreeable about this summary of the 12 Amendments. Though I think its important to note that while Article 11 AoC article II, it does not make a claim for State sovereignty. Aetius did not claim it did, I just want to make that clear :)

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