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It's an interesting historical and Constitutional question. Lincoln argued that the Constitution was an inviolable compact- once you were in you couldn't get out, therefore secession was illegal. Southern states would argue that under the 10th Amendment (as well as the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves) they had the power since it was never prohibited by the Constitution.

This is the academic part of the debate, the practical reality was that the US government had several forts in Southern states and once the south started shooting at those the rest of the debate doesn't matter so much.
 

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You might want to have your students read the secession resolutions, particularly that of South Carolina. Contrary to what you will hear from many posters here, it is clear that the reason they tried to secede was to preserve the right to own human beings. If you think it's decent and humane to honor that, go right ahead.
This is where the debate gets muddy. Whether slavery was right (obviously it wasn't) and whether secession was legal are two separate issues. The North's attempt to ban slavery is the reason that the South wanted to secede. It has nothing to do with whether or not it was legal.

One thing to keep in mind, by 1819 the South had lost any possibility of having control in the House of Representatives. With the Compromise of 1850, they lost parity in the Senate- an arrangement that had kept the peace for 30 years. In 1860 a President was elected who did not receive a single electoral vote from a Southern state- and was in fact not on the ballot in most Southern states. The increasing alliance between Northern and Western states had rendered the South politically irrelevant. The system was fairly well stacked against them.

Also, fundamentally, revolution is the right of any people. When a government does not meet the needs of the people it is the right of the people to rebel, or to removed themselves from that government.

Any talk about Southern invasions of the North is simply foolish. As Jefferson Davis said in his inaugural address "All we ask is to be left alone."
There was never any serious intent to invade the North.

As I said before, all of this becomes academic once the South begins firing at Federal forts- that was an act of war and the North responded in kind.
 

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As far as Confederate troops firing upon Yankee forts, it was bound to happen, as the Yankees were seen as an occupying force.
It did happen. But it didn't have to happen. Had cooler head prevailed, there might have been a possibility of a negotiated settlement.

As for segregation in the South, it was there in the North. I grew up in NJ, my father was born in the Italian section of Philadelphia. Now I live in SC and teach high school history. A few days ago one of my students was picked up by his grandfather, an older African American gentleman, who was wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat. When I asked him about it, he told me he grew up in South Philly. I told him my dad did too. He asked me where, and I told him. His response was "Oh, that's water ice territory, we never went down there." (The reference here is to Italian Water Ice, for those who don't know). I told my dad the story and he l said that whenever they went to the movies, which was in the African American neighborhood, they ran the risk of getting beat up. Whenever black kids went into the Italian neighborhood, they ran the risk of getting beat up. That was in the 1930s and 1940s and there are still vestiges of it in modern Philadelphia.

It's easy to oversimplify these things, the North was not the progressive, egalitarian, color blind society that people want to think. The slogan of the Democratic Party in the Northern Congressional elections of 1862 was something like "The Union as it was, the Constitution as it is and the {N-word} in their place." They wanted to make clear their opposition to Emancipation. There were several regiments that refused to fight after the Emancipation Proclamation. There was significant racism on both sides, and while many opposed slavery, few whites, even among the Boston abolitionist crowd saw Blacks as equal.
 

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What a weird dialogue. Craziness I say. The same posters who are pro-southern are also against Obama. Hmmm what to think of that. Why do opinions of the Civil War correlate to political ideologies? Ick at Confederate flag. Who would want to remember that heritage? I guess Germans would want to have Nazi flags to remember that heritage. With that being said I will take my Hitler award now please thanks.
I guess that's aimed at least partially at me. And I will say for the record that I am not pro-southern. I am very happy the war turned out the way it did. I am also an historian, and I realize that historical debates are more complicated than which team you cheer for. I understand the Southern point of view, just as I try to understand the point of view of the Visigoths against the Romans (Anyone care for that debate?) This is a debate I've heard several times. It is usually very simplistic. It goes something like this: Slavery was bad, so the North was right. It's not that simple. Slavery was surely an issue, but it has very strongly influenced the debate in a direction that is fundamentally wrong. Slavery and secession are two separate issues. New England threatened to secede in 1815 over the War of 1812. South Carolina threatened to Secede in the 1830s because the Tariff of 1828 made imported goods too expensive and helped to ruin the economy of the South.

As to why there is a correlation between people's political opinions and this issue, most people who favor a limited federal government believe that power should rest with the states on most issues. That's the way the Constitution was set up, and that's why the 10th Amendment was adopted. If the Federal government is not given a power, if the states are not denied a power, and if no personal liberties guaranteed by other parts of the Constitution are at stake, then powers are supposed to rest with the states. So that line of reasoning leads us back to the issue of state's rights and responsibilities.

Lastly, it has always been my experience that when people use Hitler as an example in any debate it's only because they have nothing useful to say.

Oh, and I vote for free will.
 

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You can see this on a micro-level in high school cafeterias. Even in racially mixed schools. I taught in a school in NJ that was about 30% African American and white and black students rarely sat together at lunch time. It was very odd to me.
 

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Regarding this and neighborhoods, how much is actual discrimination based and how much of it is just human nature? Most men will have guy friends because they find they relate to them more in life experiences, interests, etc just as women will have female friends. The nerds hang out with the nerds. The russians and chinese move to their own neighborhoods. We find comfort being around people that we feel we can relate to, people who we feel like have experienced like the way we have. I'm not a sociologist so I can't cite the studies that I'm sure are out there but I think sometimes we assume something is more sinister than it really is. I think many of us have an unrealistic expectation of how people need to show "diversity."
That's really the question. How much of it has to do with race, and how much is just wanting to associate with people you already know or think are like you?

I don't have the answers, and I am not sure anyone does, but there are a couple of interesting dynamics at work. I've noticed some interesting things when new students come to schools that I've worked at. When white students enter a school they will gravitate toward groups that are like them, either in manner of dress (emo, preppy, punk when that was around) or socio-economic status (rich kids hang out with other rich kids). Black students in my experience are more ready to "take in" a new black students. What I mean by this is that black students at a school will actively welcome a new black student. White students at a school are more likely will let the new student seek them out. I have no proof of this other than personal observation, but I've seen it several times. It may just be that the white populations are larger, whereas the black populations are smaller and perhaps feel more of a need to "stick together."

It probably works the same way with neighborhoods, people just gravitate toward people like them and people moving to a city know where people of their group live. But, there have also been racist practices in real estate, where minorities were discouraged from moving into areas that were predominately white.
 

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Crusier,

Good post, I agree completely. When I was an undergrad I took a class on the fall of the Roman Empire. At one point one in the class one of the students was going on and on about how "immoral" the Romans were. The professor interupted her and asked "Would you judge the actions of the Roman empire based on the values of a 14th Century Chinese Peasant?" The woman said, no of course not. He said, "Then why do you think its relevant to judge them by the standards of a 20th Century American college student?" It's always important to take into consideration the values of the society you are judging.
 

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There is a scene in an episode of The Simpsons where Apu is taking his citizenship test. He is asked the question "What was the cause of the Civil War?" He begins to explain that there were actually several causes, social, political and economic, when the man giving him the test interrupts him and says "Just say slavery."

For some people, this is all they can understand: The war was about slavery. The North were the good guys, the South were the bad guys.

Trying to explain that it was actually much, much more complicated than all that only confuses these people. It's best not to try (I also learned that from The Simpsons.)
 
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