There’s this belief among some people that southern states wishing to secede from the United States in the Civil War were acting not because of slavery, but because of “states rights”. I saw this the other day in a Facebook thread.
I never gave it much thought until I watched Mississippi Burning and thought to look up the succession declarations of southern states. Here are two declarations of why Mississippi and Texas voted to secede (emphasis mine).
It [The U.S.] has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain.
It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.
It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole popular mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.
It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.
They have for years past encouraged and sustained lawless organizations to steal our slaves and prevent their recapture, and have repeatedly murdered Southern citizens while lawfully seeking their rendition.
They have impoverished the slave-holding States by unequal and partial legislation, thereby enriching themselves by draining our substance.
They have refused to vote appropriations for protecting Texas against ruthless savages, for the sole reason that she is a slave-holding State.
And, finally, by the combined sectional vote of the seventeen non-slave-holding States, they have elected as president and vice-president of the whole confederacy two men whose chief claims to such high positions are their approval of these long continued wrongs, and their pledges to continue them to the final consummation of these schemes for the ruin of the slave-holding States.
We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.
By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South.
State sovereignty is a sugar coating for treason. Southern states did not like the supreme law of the land binding on their states, and specifically their economies.
Yet in an idiotic twist, the Confederate Constitution they ratified all but denied the right of succession. Claims that a state could secede and “do so peacefully” were vague and thrown out. States feared a state might borrow a bunch of federal money then secede and never pay it back.
Further still, southern states took most provisions from the US Constitution en bloc that represented a denial of states rights. Under the Confederate Constitution, no state could, for instance, enter into an alliance, make a treaty, or coin money. John Nicolay wrote years later that the Confederate Constitution, “…represented a sweeping practical negation of the whole heretical dogma of supremacy upon which they had built their revolt.”
Next time someone fluffs this “state’s rights” line, ask them how they square up Texas’ declared reasons for leaving and joining a worse union.