Let me say up front that I have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. They also died fighting for the Confederacy. One of them, Pvt. Joseph Hughlett of the 40th Virginia Infantry, survived what we sometimes call "Pickett's Charge" at Gettysburg and was captured shortly after that battle. He died in a Yankee prison camp. I became a Confederate Civil War reenactor to honor them. When I got too old for the rigors of that hobby I joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans to insure that the heroism and truth of the Confederate soldier who be remembered. I was the charter commander of the charter camp in Wisconsin and the first commander of the Wisconsin Division of the SCV.
When someone broaches the word "secession" my ears perk up. Texas Governor Rick Perry hinted at that topic and I listened. It's not that I'm a die-hard for secession. While I do believe that it is the right of every state to voluntarily join and voluntarily leave the Union, I question the practicality of such a move. We've had over 130 years for the states to become almost slavishly interdependent in ways that our ante-bellum ancestors could never have dreamed of. Drive along I-94 between Milwaukee and Chicago and you'll see trucks galore hauling who knows what between the states. Mitchell Field handles the overflow from O'Hare. Business travelers use Crites Field in increasing numbers every year.
But there is something about secession. The War Between the States cost the lives of well over 600,000 young Americans both North and South. While the South lost, the question of secession was never settled. The only thing that was settled was that that attempt had failed. But let me put that to you in a different way. I first heard this at an SCV meeting and it took me a long time to come to the realization that it is true:
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland are not now part of the United States of their own free will. They had legally seceded, were invaded, conquered, subjugated, and made to do penance for over 20 years. But they never voluntarily rejoined the USA.
That is a truly scary thought. But it is an undeniable truth. True, the legislatures of some of those states DID vote to be readmitted. But those legislatures were sitting in session while still under the occupation by Northern troops. Sorta hard to vote against what the military authorities want you to vote.
It's a hard concept to accept, this idea that we forced our southern brothers and sisters to voluntarily join the United States. But that is exactly what we did. And we never did decide whether any state could do it again.