|General John C. Pemberton, CSA|
That the south should not wish to celebrate on a day that marked one of their most pivotal defeats is understandable, however, I would submit that the overriding issue of secession is not so clear cut. It is, occasionally, even today remarked upon that if secession from the British Empire was valid, then secession from the United States must have been as well. An American celebrity (whose name escapes me) actually said as much to President Lincoln himself upon the outbreak of the great crisis in 1861. When asked where he stood, this man said that if secession was just and valid then his sympathies must be with the south but if secession was not just and valid then he must say, "God Save King George". It is certainly a case which has a certain logic to it. However, I cannot quite see it in that way which requires a sort of distance being placed between oneself and the actual events 'on the ground' as it were. If the Confederates were wrong, does that mean that the colonists were too? I do not think so but I would see it, rather, in terms that the Confederates could be right but the colonists still wrong and I think the American War for Independence actually proves rather than disproves such a position which, I confess, must seem contradictory to many.
|King George III|
To put it another way, the southern states had precedent on their side which the rebel colonists did not. There was a time, albeit brief, when they were not part of the Union and so they could revert back to not being part of it again. The colonies, on the hand, had never not been part of the British Empire, had never not been subject to the laws and sovereignty of England (I say England rather than the Crown as, during the Cromwellian dictatorship, there was a period when they were not subject to the Crown but were still subject to the authority of the English government). The United States of America was a product of a new, "Enlightenment" way of political thinking. It was based on a more business-like relationship between two parties. One party consented to be governed under a given code and when the state of South Carolina believed this code to no longer be beneficial, voided the contract and withdrew from membership in the Union. The United Kingdom of Great Britain was not established on such a basis. It was partly for this reason that Britain and America went to war in 1812. The Royal Navy impressed sailors into its service which included, the U.S. argued, American citizens, which is to say British subjects who had taken American citizenship. However, at that time (unlike today), the British did not regard any subject as having the ability to change their allegiance. They were British by blood and subjects of the British Crown by birth and no document from the American government could change that fact.