SPAIN TRIED AND FAILED TO SUPPRESS A VOTE FOR SECESSION IN ITS WEALTHY NORTHEASTERN CORNER OF CATALONIA TODAY (Sunday October 1, 2017). According to the latest tally I have seen on the BBC, 2,020,144 Catalan voters cast their ballots in favor of an Independent Republic, centered on the Mediterranean seaport of Barcelona. These two million plus voters constituted 90.09% of the 42-43% of the eligible electorate who voted, but Spain itself had urged pro-Spanish “no” voters to stay away from the Polls, and the massive police intervention and use of force must have discouraged some….
Although during the past 42 years that “Francisco Franco is still dead,” Spain has acknowledged the right of the several nationalities (Basque, Galician, Catalan) to assert regional autonomy, Spain has declared this vote illegal and non-binding. The Central Government of Spain in Madrid has been arguing ever since the election of the pro-Independence party in September of 2015, that Catalonia’s vote was going to be “illegal” and they threatened to, and actually did, try to suppress the vote by Police Action.
Most of the world (which has spoken) has either come out expressly in favor or seems tacitly on the side of Catalans who want independence. Only Madrid and the Spanish government seem strongly against it—fearful, undoubtedly, of losing prime Mediterranean beach resorts, Barcelona (the second largest city in Spain, seventh largest and “most successful” in all Europe), plus the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera). In essence, Catalonia includes some of the best real estate IN ALL OF EUROPE AND THE CIRCUM MEDITERRANEAN WORLD. This is indeed “the Spanish Riviera”.
The comparison to the Secession of the Confederate States of America is obvious, but it isn’t getting much currency in the U.S. or British Media, despite the fact that the Confederate States have made a renewed appearance in the news since April, here in New Orleans and around the USA…. and even in the consciousness of the whole world.
So, since nobody else is making the comparison (that I’ve seen so far, anyhow, I will). In 1860, the Southern states formed (per capita) the richest part of the United States. Catalonia had better hope that world opinion remains on its side! Because Spain has its eyes and tax collectors all focused on this rich province, and history tells us that the rich can be laid low when they try to retain their wealth….
For the record, Catalonia was originally, and has always considered itself, a separate “Nationality” (i.e. ethnolinguistic group). During the Middle Ages, the County of Barcelona became the Capital of the “Principality of Catalonia” which later became incorporated into the Kingdom of Aragon. Aragon, in turn, was one of the most powerful and richest states in the post-Reconquista/Crusader world of the Mediterranean. Then Aragon, later, under the 15th century reigns of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, merged to form the modern Nation-State of “Spain”, leading to 500 years of almost continuous unity, although Aragon and Catalonia have several times reasserted their identities as monarchies or republics.
As James Ronald & Walter Donald Kennedy have shown in their most recent book “Punished with Poverty: the Suffering South, Prosperity to Poverty and the Continuing Struggle” Columbia, South Carolina: Shotwell Publishing (2016), and as my dearly beloved grandmother always told me, THE SOUTH WAS THE WEALTHIEST PART OF THE UNITED STATES, “before the War” and the poorest part afterwards. The combined cash value of the crops in any of the three pairs of Virginia and Georgia or Mississippi and Louisiana or North & South Carolina (each pair taken alone) exceeded the cash value of all the manufactured goods produced north of the Mason & Dixon-Ohio River—as of 1860. But as of 1870, war had irreversibly altered the situation.
While neither historians or any Southerners today doubt that the people of the South overwhelmingly favored secession in 1861, the state legislatures only voted to hold popular votes as referenda/plebiscites/”propositions” in three of the thirteen states and one territory seceding (there were fifteen “slave” states, but a secession vote in the legislature in Maryland was suppressed at gunpoint and the state of Delaware never tried—West Virginia seceded from Virginia but kept its slaves and (ironically) after the war was among the most hostile toward enfranchisement of the newly freed slaves, as evidenced in several of the early major civil rights cases which emerged from that idiosyncratic Appalachian state opposite Ohio that seceded to nullify secession—oh, and Arizona was a territory constituting the southern half of what is now Arizona and New Mexico, but had then all been “New Mexico” until 1861).
In the states that held popular vote referenda, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, the votes in favor of secession were nowhere nearly as lopsided as the vote held in Catalonia today (Sunday, October 1, 2017), but it should be noted that NO NORTHERN STATE, nor the United States Federal Government, under President James Buchanan, ever questioned or attempted to quash secession in any state. From South Carolina’s legislature’s first Ordinance of Secession on December 20, 1860, through Louisiana’s secession as the sixth state on January 26, 1861, the popular support for separation from the Union never appeared to waver or be doubtful.
SOUTHERN SECESSION PLEBESCITES
In February of 1861, Texas’ legislature voted to dissolve the state’s barely 16 year old affiliation with the Union on February 1, and a popular referendum was held on February 23, wherein the vote was 3.13:1 in favor of disunion.
Virginia went through a similar two stage process in April and May of 1861, and the vote there (after Fort Sumter) was 3.53:1 in favor of taking the Old Dominion state into the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee had opposed secession, but IN THOSE DAYS ONE’S CITIZENSHIP BELONGED TO THE STATE, NOT THE FEDERATION. It would be comparable to calling us all “Citizens of the United Nations”—maybe some people WANT Global Citizenship, but so far, THANK GOD, no politically viable majority anywhere have ever voted for such a thing.
Finally, in May-June, Tennessee voted to secede, although the popular vote in that state was only 2.21:1 (for reference and comparison, NO PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HAS EVER WON ANY ELECTION BY A 2.21-1 POPULAR VOTE (although Lyndon B. Johnson came closest in 1964 against Goldwater at 1.58 to 1 comparable to FDR in 1936 against Alf Landon at 1.61 to 1—there being more third party votes in 1936 which reduced Roosevelt’s over all majority win very slightly).
IS FREEDOM TO CHOOSE REALLY TREASON?
How many of you have been divorced? No, it’s a serious question. How many of you have been divorced AFTER taking a vow “Til Death do Us Part”? I was born an “Anglo-Catholic” (i.e. Episcopalian) and my wife was born Greek Orthodox in Greece. My parents, despite their vows, split up when I was pre-school/kindergarten and it had a major impact on my life, mostly negative. I especially regret now, looking back on it, how my grandmother taught me to scorn my own father. That MIGHT have been a bad thing… Anyhow, my point was this: my wife Elena and I swore personally to each other, quite aside from the marital vows, that we would never be divorced, that we would always stick together. And we made collateral agreements that made I think this was actually a genuine promise that we would really keep, but we didn’t. She hired the nastiest team of divorce lawyers (and their wives) in the entire state of Texas. She turned into a monster. Now, I blame the system, not her, but we split up, and it wrecked me.
But, in a sense, as one of my law school professors of international law at the University of Chicago said, “the nations of the world are all in a Roman Catholic marriage with one another.” Or are they? Are legal unions really indissoluble? Most people do not believe that law should stand in the way of divorce, although most marital lawyers want divorce to be as much like an expensive world war as humanly possible. So: is divorce “normal” or is divorce “treason?”
I have to admit, I led a fairly pro-Southern, sheltered life. Even when I lived up north and attended Harvard GSAS (A.M., Ph.D.) and the University of Chicago law (J.D.) programs, I never ever heard ANYONE ever call the Southern Confederacy TREACHEROUS or the Southern Confederates called “Traitors”—as a matter of fact, everyone I knew at Harvard kind of went out of their way to apologize for Harvard’s apparent iconography of Yankee imperialism and to point out the rather obscure stained glass windows on Memorial Hall and inscriptions dedicated to the graduates of Harvard who fought for the South—(There were 257, significantly more than you might think, including five major generals, eight brigadier generals, and fully 38% of all Harvard Graduates who died in combat 1861-1865 died in the service of the armies the CSA, including three of those brigadier generals).
So, I confess I was shocked, bowled over in fact, while I was standing in line at the very first public debate held in New Orleans on a steaming day in July in 2015 and an exceedingly unpleasant and unattractive woman in line started talking about how Confederates were all TRAITORS.
Wall Street JOURNAL MODERATE MUGWUMP: Allen C. Guelzo
“A YANKEE VISITS CHARLOTTESVILLE, WHERE GEN. LEE IS UNDER COVER.”
Some writers take poetic license, some take journalistic license. But let’s face it: some writers DO NOT DESERVE A LICENSE. Allen C. Guelzo is such a writer, and yet he writes for the Wall Street Journal…. and this is a disaster. This USED TO BE a conservative, respectable journal***. But no decent or respectable conservative would ever write that:
“As a Yankee, I find it a little difficult to grasp why monuments to Lee are here in the first place. He lost, and if there is one sin American culture still prefers to bury from sight, it’s losing. Worse, Lee committed treason against the flag and the Constitution. And behind that is the ugly truth that the Confederate cause was, when all the rhetorical chaff is swept away, designed to protect Chattel slavery, the singular birth defect of the American republic.”
This is one of those sad moments when I have to admit I’m glad I’m not Chairman Mao or Uncle Joe Stalin…. because if I were, Guelzo would be TOAST—there wouldn’t be enough left of him to fill a matchbox, I promise.
UNLIKE THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT IN CATALONIA ON SUNDAY OCTOBER 1, 2017—NO POLICE OR TROOPS TRIED TO STOP THE SOUTHERN LEGISLATURES FROM SECEDING OR THE PRO-CONFEDERATE POPULAR VOTES FROM HAPPENING
So, if secession didn’t bother the outgoing President James Buchanan, or if it bothered him he didn’t do anything to stop it. Buchanan was a Democrat, but he was a PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRAT—a Yankee….the only Pennsylvanian ever to be elected President and the last President born in the 18th century.
Buchanan supported his own Vice-President, John C. Breckinridge, in the election of 1860—Breckinridge being the choice of the “Southern Democrats” over Stephen Douglas of Illinois. Breckinridge became a Confederate general—that’s right folks, the Vice-President of the United States who came in Second in the Electoral Vote and Third in the Popular Vote in 1860 became a Confederate General. Was he a traitor too?
I ask you (and Guelzo) somewhat rhetorically: IF the Vice-President of any country decides to take up arms agains that Country—don’t you suppose that there are some MAJOR issues at stake? If James Buchanan believed that he had no constitutional power to stop secession, where did Abraham Lincoln get the idea that he had that power?
For the moment, I will leave that idea to you, but recommend to all my readers the words of James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy, but also of Von Mises Institute Economist Thomas James DiLorenzo.
But is it significant that England would surely have allowed Scotland to opt out of the UK if Scotland had voted to do so several years ago? Is it significant that Spain is trying very hard to look like a bully as it tries to bully Catalonia into submission, but that the world will almost certainly accept Catalonian secession in fairly short order?
***The Wall Street Journal was a feature of life in and around my maternal grandparents’ home in Highland Park in Dallas from the time I went to live there at age 6 years, two months, until my grandmother’s death in May 2001. I respected it as perhaps the best newspaper in all of North America—I even arranged to have the WSJ delivered to Hacienda Chichén (and later the adjacent Casa Victoria) when I lived there, and made it the headquarters of my Harvard-Peabody-National Geographic-Chichén Itzá Archaeological Project 1983-1988. Arranging such things by courier delivery from the Aeropuerto Internacional de Cancún in the 1980s was no piece of cake.