Winners Write the History Books

Keith Bessette
Apr 29 · 10 min read

WARNING: This image is NOT for those so misguided by the winning government’s indoctrination camps on the War for Southern Independence that they are unable to recognize a key principle Robert E. Lee stood for and fought for. Hint — this is not about slavery.

A fundamental principle defended by General Lee is that of self-governance. The question of secession is one about the higher authority of the states above the general government. This principle is recognized by both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

As is true in all of history, the winners write the history books.

While faithful SJWs following the cult of Critical Race Theory demand tearing down statues, rational folks should be fact checking. Rather than jumping on the preferred narrative for thumbs-up clicks on Facebook, we should look at Lee as an example.

Robert E. Lee was commander of the Army of Virginia, as well as commander of the Confederate forces in the war between the United States of America (USA) and the Confederate States of America (CSA). These roles are what he is most known for.

Not as well known is that prior to Virginia’s secession from the United States, Robert E. Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy (West Point) and superintendent of West Point. He was a distinguished officer in the US Army in the Mexican-American War. Wikipedia recognizes Lee as “an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years.”

Lee was the son of a Revolutionary War officer and married to a granddaughter of George Washington. He was from a patriotic family and was no exception to his family history. Lee was a believer in the fundamental principle of self-governance upon which the United States was founded, and he stood by that even when it was inconvenient.

Lee was a Virginian. When Virginia left the US as part of forming the CSA, Lee remained loyal to Virginia. He quit the US Army and left the United States. Even though he was offered a high-level position in the US Army for the war against the CSA, he chose to support the right of his state to secede.

At that time, people considered themselves citizens of their state. The general government enormously expanded its power in the 1860s, far beyond the Constitution and the principles of the Declaration. The concept of being a citizen of the United States of America took popular root after this. With this shift in mindset, the concept of self-governance and state authority declined and festered, sliding down to the bare shadow today of what the union of states is supposed to be.

In the Declaration of Independence, the principle of who is in charge of whom is well stated. “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government [. . .].”

While it is true that slavery was cited in the seceding documents of most southern states as one of the reasons for leaving, at the time leaders in both the north and south were guilty of what Frederick Douglass called the “shameless hypocrisy” of failing to apply the noble American principle of individual liberty to all people. In a discussion about why the southern states left the union and formed a new country, it is legitimate to condemn their support of slavery, but in this respect the north’s hands were not clean. Not all slave states joined the CSA, and from the outset of the war, the north happily tolerated slavery in those states.

Nor was slavery the only reason for the south’s secession. What we didn’t learn in government schools is how oppressive taxes and north-vs.-south economic contentions were key in the decisions of the southern states to leave and form a new general government. Some of the reasons southern states left the union were the same legitimate reasons the 13 colonies used to justify secession from Great Britain in 1776. Even more importantly, secession is not the same thing as war.

While slavery was one motivating factor for secession, the question of why secession led to war remains an independent one. Seceding doesn’t require a war. The colonies in 1776 leaving England didn’t require a war. England leaving the EU today doesn’t require a war.

The question about the war is a question that takes us back to the Declaration of Independence. Do the people create and control their government, or is it the other way around? Does the general government control the people and the individual states, or do the people control their governments in both cases?

The Declaration of Independence recognizes the people have the right to throw off their government and to create a new one. In fact, it says they have a duty to do so. From the Declaration: “It is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

The common name “civil war” is a lie. It is government propaganda from the victors. A civil war is use of force by factions within a country for control of the government. It is a war between competing groups of citizens of a single country for control and power over the whole. No such conflict took place in the 1860s. There was never any attempt of any southern state or the Confederate States of America to take power in Washington, D.C., to take over the United States of America, as would be the purpose of a civil war.

What the southern states did was leave the United States of America and form a new government. They followed the principle Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration on where the higher authority is. What the southern states did in the 1860s is identical to what the 13 states did in 1776. Identical to what Texas did in 1835, leaving Mexico and forming the independent country, the Republic of Texas. Identical to what England is doing today in leaving the EU. It is all secession and all the same question.

Yes, the first shot in the war was by the CSA, involving Ft. Sumter in Charleston Harbor. After South Carolina seceded and joined the CSA, the US military no longer had authority granted by the state to have a base within South Carolina and was told to leave. Negotiations failed to evict the trespassers. CSA forces fired across the bow of a resupply ship, causing it to leave (no one was killed). Three months later, in April 1861, after the US continued to refuse to leave occupied South Carolina property, and a last request to surrender was made, CSA opened fire on the fort. The US forces surrendered (no one was killed).

The first battle in the war was three months later, July 1861, near Manassas, Virginia, when the US attacked inside CSA territory (about 5,000 were killed). The war was entirely the north attacking the south, with the south defending itself.

The south never attempted to take over Washington, D.C., and rule the United States, as would be the intent in an actual civil war. The aggressor in the War For Southern Independence was the north, the United States of America. The war was the south, the independent country CSA, defending itself against initiation of force by the USA.

Self-governance is key to the Founders’ views of legitimate authority of any government. The states created the federal government, not the other way around. All power held and legitimately used by the federal government is delegated power from the states, as written in the Constitution. A delegation is a temporary assignment of power from a higher authority to a lower authority. The power is ultimately held by the delegating authority and can be rescinded for bad behavior. The federal government is delegated power in the same manner the french fry guy at McDonald’s is assigned a job by the manager.

The Constitution is a compact, a legal contract between the states, forming the general government. It was written and ratified by the states. The federal government is not a legal party to this contract, not a signer of it — impossible, as federal government was formed by it. The states came first by 13 years, determined which of their powers they wished to delegate to the general government, and listed them all in the Constitution.

Sovereignty, in order of higher to lower, is:
1. The People
2. The States
3. The Federal Government

The Constitution of the United States contains no provision barring a state from leaving the agreement. Therefore, a state can do so. This contract, whereby the states formed the general government, has no implied agreements.

The Constitution has several requirements states must follow to be members of the union, but unless it specifically and expressly bars a state from an action, then it doesn’t inform us on what a state can do. The Constitution does not bar a state from doing anything not expressly called out.

The states are the higher authority and retain all powers not specifically disallowed for a member state. The Constitution expressly delegates everything the federal government is allowed to do, and it can legally do nothing that is not listed. For states, it is the opposite; only what is prohibited is banned, and everything else is allowed by the Constitution. This is a key difference between state and federal authority.

As the 10th Amendment reminds us: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Secession is not prohibited to the states by the Constitution. The federal government is not delegated a power to use force to keep a state in the Union. Therefore, leaving is constitutional. Therefore, using force to stop a state from leaving is unconstitutional. This is a simple question.

To be intellectually consistent requires letting Virginia leave England in 1776, letting Texas leave Mexico in 1835, letting Virginia leave the United States in 1861, and letting England leave the EU in 2021. It is all the same question: Do people have the right to determine what government best suits them? The Founders said yes. King George said no. As did the Mexican government in 1835 and Lincoln in 1861.

In the first three cases, a war was started by the government that didn’t want to relinquish control over those who chose to leave. In the 1780s, the colonies won the war England started and remained independent. In the 1830s, Texas won the war Mexico started and remained independent. In the 1860s, the opposite happened. The attacking country won and took over the land and people. In the fourth case, 2021, we don’t expect Brussels to send bombers to London to keep England in the EU but rather a relatively peaceful separation in Brexit.

The War for Southern Independence was a war between two different countries. It was a war where one country attacked another, overthrew it, and annexed the territory. Keep that in mind.

Would you have been on the king’s side in 1776, siding with King George against the 13 seceding states and against the concept of self-governance? How about in 1835 in Texas when Mexico attacked? How about in 1861 in Virginia when the USA attacked? It is all the same question and should have the same answer.

Would you have sided with Lincoln in the 1860s? Or with the principles of Thomas Jefferson so eloquently laid out in the Declaration of Independence? The two had drastically opposing views on federal authority.

The US won the war in the 1860s, overthrowing the CSA and annexing the southern states back into the United States. Victors write the history. Hence we learned in the government indoctrination camps the misnomer “Civil War,” as if the war was competing factions for control of a country by two groups of citizens of one country. A well-designed, manipulative lie.

There is a lot of talk about fixing Washington. Last year was worse than normal. Much talk about voting for this or that person, passing this or that new federal legislation, rescinding this or that passed bill, getting better Supreme Court justices. Blah, blah, blah.

We should just vote better? That’s the best solution we can come up with? I have been voting for decades in federal elections, and it hasn’t mattered in the slightest.

In a marriage, one party has the right to leave the contract. If the other party objects, force is not a legitimate way to keep the union of two individuals intact. It is the same with groups of people formed into a society and a shared government — a common fundamental ideology is needed for the union to thrive. If one party wishes to split off and start a new life, force is not a moral response by an objecting party. Moral questions can’t legitimately have different answers for individuals and groups; if a different answer is arrived at, one needs to examine the premises and fix the faulty ones.

History shows that reining in Washington, D.C., by voting and sending better people there is an unlikely direct path to liberty. The states are the higher power, and sometimes they need to act like it.

Without secession on the table as a possible way to handle the problem of ever-growing federal domination, I fear we can’t stop D.C. from continuing its ongoing expansion of overreach and control.

Happily I live in Florida, where publicly honoring defenders of liberty and self-governance remains allowed. This includes street names and statues, such as “General Lee Terrace” pictured above. Robert E. Lee and others from the War for Southern Independence are heroes of principle of self-governance and authority of the people via their states. These heroes should be honored for defending this principle, not cancelled.

Even though Florida and Texas became part of the US involuntarily, after being attacked and overthrown, perhaps most Floridians and Texans today are okay with membership. We do have Netflix, beer, pizza, and air conditioning, so why worry about a bit of tyranny?

Recently, I have been wondering if we here in Florida should give up and try again with a new general government. Set up one that is in favor of the fundamental principles the Founders wrote down. We already have a Constitution — we could get it out, dust it off, and follow its principles again. Anyone go for a Flexit? Perhaps I should write it as FLExit.

Are you Texans in for trying one more time? Time for Texit? After all, Texas already seceded three times so far. Texans know how to do this. Texas left Spain as part of forming independent Mexico, left Mexico when forming the Republic of Texas, and left the US when forming the Confederate States of America. Texas got two out of three successes, which is a high success rate in new governments. Maybe we can get Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana onboard so that we can drive to visit and trade. I heard people there are fed up with Washington, D.C., too.

Hey, Texas, we here in Florida could use your experience in secession. At least put it on the table, putting D.C. on notice. LMK.

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