• Thanks for visiting the website of the North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Our organization, open to male descendants of Confederate veterans who honorably served their country during the War Between the States, is dedicated to honoring their memory and preserving their legacy for future generations. Please join us! Click on the "How To Join" page under the "Membership" tab and get started. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the contributions of our ancestors and our shared heritage are protected.

    For the South,

    Kevin Stone, Commander
    NC Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans

Wednesday 20 Jan 2021

Wasn't Secession Illegal? PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Hicks   
Saturday, 19 December 2009 15:20

Was secession an illegal act? Secession was entirely legal, because under the U.S. Constitution, individual sovereign states had freely united—for specific purposes and without surrendering their sovereignty. As founding fathers explained in The Federalist Papers, because states maintained sovereignty over their own affairs, they could withdraw from the union and exist alone or in confederation with others.

Though many later adopted the position that secession was illegal, as a way of rationalizing the war, even Northern politicians understood this basic right of states. In 1844, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, hardly a bastion of Southern sympathy, passed their own resolution threatening to secede from the Union in protest of Texas being annexed. Clearly, Massachusetts officials believed, less than two decades before the War Between the States, that states had the right to leave the Union.

Many contemporary arguments over secession fail to realize how very different the Union was in 1860 than it is today, largely because the federal government has since been delegated or has usurped powers our founding fathers never intended for a central government to hold.


Anyone pondering state sovereignty during the years surrounding the War Between the States needs to look no further than the fact that states, not a central government, supplied regiments of troops for the conflict, self defense being the primary responsibilities of any sovereign political unit.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 March 2010 13:22

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