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Ethics of Secession - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal
Feb. 2nd, 2003
12:17 pm -
Ethics of Secession
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February 3rd, 2003 06:22 am (UTC)
Like many abstract political arguments, the right of secession is in favor when it's convenient or of benefit, and out of favor when it no longer serves. Thus, the New England states considered secession to get out from under an economically-devastating trade embargo prior to the War of 1812, but when the South considered it 50 years later to protect slavery, it became anathema.
If you were Lincoln, and had worked all your life to get where you were, and saw half of your power base threatening to scoot out from under you, your natural reaction would be to do as he did. If you were really committed to principles of self-determination, you might resist the temptation, but Lincoln's ambition overruled his principles. Politicians back then were no more committed in action to the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution than they are today, except in rhetoric. Most 19th-century politicians showed some signs of at least having read both documents at some point in their lives, unlike today's crew.