Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lincoln on the sacred right of secession

Taken from Judge Andrew P. Napolitano's book, Dred Scott's Revenge: A legal history of race and freedom in America . . .

In his first inaugural address Lincoln equated secession with anarchy and said, ". . . no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.” [p. 71]

Yet in January, 1848, as a congressman from Illinois, Lincoln stated that
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right -- a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit. [p. 75]