I’ve studied pretty in depth the arguments for the right of secession. I’ve been trying to figure out why in the world so many in the North felt that Southerners were traitors and why, despite what seems like pretty overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they felt that secession was unconstitutional.
So, I began by reading Lincoln’s first inaugural address. In it, he says, “May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say.”
Since the secessionists viewed the restriction of slavery in the territories as an unconstitutional affront to the Tenth Amendment and a breach of the compact worthy of rescission/secession, I’m wondering if you know of any founding era sources that would shed light on whether popular sovereignty was provided for during ratification, or whether the founders acknowledged the Federal authority to prohibit slavery(or impose other restrictions on incoming states) outside of where it existed.
Is there anything in the record that would justify Congress refusing to admit slave states into the Union?
What is the rebuttal using constitutional history for Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech about this topic?
Is it true that there was no clear answer to this question, and that therefore it had to be decided by bloodshed? What should we make of Lincoln’s claim that such attempts were permissible in light of the Northwest Ordinance?