UPDATE: After much request, I’ve posted the name of the person that responded.
UPDATE: Comments off topic will no longer be approved. Let’s confine the conversation to talking about this particular situation, and not a flame war over whether or not the South has a Constitutional Right to secede, or what the Civil War was over.
The defenders of Southern Heritage use typical talking points when arguing over secession. One of my favorites is the comparison between Southern secession during the Civil War, and colonial “secession” during the American Revolution. Many heritage advocates argue that the two movements parallel while I maintain they do not for obvious reasons. In these discussions, a couple of heritage advocates referred me to this essay at the website monticello.org, operated by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. The essay says,
America did not secede from the British Empire to be alone in the world. Instead, the Declaration proclaimed that an independent America had assumed a “separate and equal station” with the other “powers of the earth.” With this statement, America would occupy an equal place with other modern European nations, including France, the Dutch Republic, Spain, or even Britain. America’s independence signaled a fundamental change: once-dependent British colonies became independent states that could make war, create alliances with foreign nations, and engage freely in commerce.
I’d like to point out that a foundation website, without footnotes, is really not a adequate source. Out of curiosity, I did what Historians are trained to do, I investigated. I sent an email to the foundation asking what led them to the conclusions on that particular page. It took a while before I got a response, to be honest I gave up on hearing back; but the other night, low and behold, I received a response. I must say, it left me with more questions than answers. I forwarded their response to some friends of mine, as well as to other Historians/Bloggers such as Brooks Simpson, who recommended blogging the reply. So here it is:
Dear Mr. Baker,
I am responding to the following question that you posted on Monticello.org:
The justification of the word “secede” in the referenced essay is that the 18th century British Empire was a federal union. Derived from the Latin word foedus meaning “treaty,” a federal union was an alliance or confederation of political entities created for mutual interest or benefit. Thus, the British American colonies originally entered into this confederation as semi-sovereign polities who agreed to offer loyalty to the British crown in exchange for protection from the British king. During the Imperial Crisis of the 1760s and 1770s, revolutionary patriots argued that Britain was no longer upholding its end of the bargain—it was neither protecting nor serving the interests of the American colonies. Instead, British Americans believed that Parliament and King George were impinging on their “rights,” most specifically, property right. These points became the justification for the colonies’ legitimate secession from the federal union that constituted the British Empire in 1776. Patriots promptly created their own federal union by establishing and uniting the new American states—this union survived until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
Please let me know if you have further questions.
I replied of course, but I do not expect a response. I am trying to figure out how the British Empire, including the colonies, represented a “federal union”, while at the same time being a “confederation” of which the colonies entered into. If this be true, and mutual benefit between England and her colonies was sought, then why the system of mercantilism? And where, pray tell, is there any documentation that states the colonies entered into a “confederation”, to exchange loyalty for protection? Reach much? I also pointed out that the colonial patriots entered into a loose Confederation during and after the revolution which dissolved in in 1787-1788 when a new government was formed, a federal one, and that said union did not simply dissolve during the Civil War. My theory is that due diligence was not paid when the word “secede” was used in the original essay and now there is hesitance to go back on it.
So what do you think?