Connecticut’s Hartford Times of November 7, 1860, after
referring to the danger that the Southern States would “form a separate
confederacy, and retire peaceably from the Union,” proceeds to say “If
they do decide and act, it will be useless to attempt any coercive
measures to keep them within the voluntary co-partnership of States . . .
We can never force sovereign States to remain in the Union when they
desire to go out, without bringing upon our country the shocking evils
of civil war, under which the Republic could not, of course, long
The misunderstanding of “treason” is noted in the text below, but its
actual definition is found in Article II, Section 3 of the United
States Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist
only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies,
giving them Aid and Comfort.” It is clear then, whoever waged war upon
the several seceding States (them) was guilty of treason. Outgoing
President James Buchanan understood this and admitted no authority to
wage war against a State, as did his Attorney-General.
A Civil War in the North?
“Prominent supporters of Mr. Lincoln asserted that “secession is
treason, and must be treated by the government as treason,” and that
“the government has the right and the power to compel obedience.” A
considerable number of Republicans, while they emphatically denied the
right of secession, questioned the policy of forcibly preventing it.
They held, that, if an undoubted majority of the adult population of any
State deliberately pronounced for separation, the rest of the States,
though they might legally compel that State to remain, would do better
to assemble in national convention, and acquiesce in her departure from
the Union. Withdrawal under these sanctions is the only secession ever
deemed valid or permissible by any number of the supporters of Mr.
Lincoln. Many who had voted against him also concurred in this view.
Some of the opponents of the President-elect denied the right of
secession, but claimed there was no constitutional remedy against it.
The greater part held that the recusant States were theoretically if not
practically right; that the United States was simply a confederation of
sovereign States, any one of which possessed a constitutional right to
withdraw whenever it should consider the arrangement no longer
profitable. They deemed an attempt to coerce a State, in order to
vindicate the supreme authority of the Federal Government and to
preserve the territorial integrity of the Union, to be both illegal and
The opponents of Mr. Lincoln . . . asserted that the Southern people
had abundant provocation for their . . . conduct. They . . . declared
that the conservatives of the North would never consent to coercion;
adding the not infrequent menace, that, “if war is to be waged, that war
will be fought in the North.”
(History of Connecticut During the War of 1861-1865; W.A. Croffut and John M. Morris, Ledyard Bill Publisher, 1869, pp. 30-32)