The famous “Texas vs. White” U.S. Supreme Court case of 1868 declared, among other things, that Texans did not, in fact, secede from the U.S. in 1861, but were in a state of rebellion. It is dead wrong.
In this report, we will be quoting from “Cases Argued and Adjudged in The Supreme Court of The United States, December Term, 1868. Reported by John William Wallace, Vol. VII. Washington, D.C.: W.H. & O.H. Morrison, Law Publishers and Booksellers. 1869.”
The most often quoted portion of this case is summarized in the Syllabus by Wallace:
“Considered as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention, and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law. The State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens of the Union” (Wallace, p. 700).
A quick review of the case
Besides the declarations about Texas “rebellion,” the case is in itself most interesting. It centers around the ownership of U.S. bonds, which were presented to Texas in 1851 for payment of certain lands ceded to the U.S.
“In 1851 the United States issued its bonds — five thousand bonds for $1000 each, and numbered successively from No. 1 to No. 5000, and thus making the sum of $5,000,000 — to the State of Texas, in arrangement of certain boundary claims made by that State. The bonds, which were dated January 1st, 1851, were coupon bonds, payable, by their terms, to the State of Texas or bearer, with interest at 5 per cent, semi-annual, and ‘redeemable after the 31st day of December, 1864.’ Each bond contained a statement on its face that the debt was authorized by act of Congress, and was ‘transferable on delivery,’ and to each were attached six-month coupons, extending to December 31, 1864.”
The case went to the supreme court in 1867 following the attempt to cash the bonds with the U.S. Treasury by White and Chiles and other citizens of New York and other states. The bonds in question had been transferred to the New York investors by the “rebel” government of Texas in January 1865. White and Chiles purchased 211 bonds, 76 of which were deposited with banks in England, with the agreement that a large quantity of cotton cards and medicines would be delivered by the purchasers. “The former bonds were delivered to White & Chiles on the 15th March following, none of them being endorsed by any governor of Texas” (p. 706).
The “reconstruction” state government, with its military installed governor, filed the lawsuit seeking an injunction against the payment of any of these bonds issued by Texas during the “war of rebellion.” The supreme court then, in order to establish proper ownership of the bonds, was forced to settle the question of the legitimacy of the government which sold the bonds to White & Chiles.
Although the bonds clearly stated that they were payable to the “bearer,” with no stipulations on how they were purchased… the court took up jurisdiction on the case based on the fact that a state government may enter directly to that court to resolve the issue.
Lincoln appointees dominated the court
Chief Justice S.P. Chase of Ohio, a Lincoln appointee, delivered the opinion. Other associate justices and appointing presidents were Samuel Nelson, New York (Tyler); R.C. Grier, Pennsylvania (Polk); N. Clifford, Maine (Buchanan); N.H. Swayne, Ohio (Lincoln); S.F. Miller, Iowa (Lincoln); David Davis, Illinois (Lincoln) and S. J. Field, California (Lincoln).
The heavily dominated Lincoln court heard the case, with Chase delivering the opinion.
Chiles asserted that the State of Texas had no authority to file the suit and “that the State, having severed her relations with a majority of the States of the Union, and having by her ordinance of secession attempted to throw off her allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, has so far changed her status as to be disabled from prosecuting suits in the National courts.”
Chase responded by declaring that provision governor Andrew Hamilton and E.M. Pease as well as J.W. Throckmorton, elected after the adoption of the 1866 state constitution, proceeded with the suit under “an act of the State legislature relating to these bonds…” He continued, “If Texas was a State of the Union at the time of these acts, and these persons, or either of them, were competent to represent the State, this proof leaves no doubt upon the question of authority.”
The chief justice skimmed over the fact that Hamilton and Pease were appointed by Lincoln, outside of any constitutional authority to do so. Chase, as other tyrants throughout history have done, relied on the “act of necessity” resulting from a war to justify their unlawful actions. So-called “reconstruction” government agents operated unlawfully, backed by the power of military occupation. No election was held, none of the constitutional guarantees were observed, and Texans chafed under the heavy hand of armed force. Chase’s assertion that the Lincoln appointees were the legitimate government of Texas was a clear blasphemy to the U.S. and Texas constitutions.
Texas was a State
As to jurisdiction, Chase said, “If, therefore, it is true that the State of Texas was not at the time of filing of this bill, or is not now, one of the United States, we have no jurisdiction of this suit, and it is our duty to dismiss it.” He went on to elaborate on the seriousness of the question, and gave a lengthy definition of what constitutes a State:
“It describes sometimes a people or community of individuals united more or less closely in political relations, inhabiting temporarily or permanently the same country; often it denotes only the country or territorial region, inhabited by such a community; not unfrequently it is applied to the government under which the people live; at other times it represents the combined idea of people, territory, and government.” (p. 720).“A state, in the ordinary sense of the Constitution, is a political community of free citizens, occupying a territory of defined boundaries, and organized under a government sanctioned and limited by a written constitution, and established by the consent of the governed. It is the union of such states, under a common constitution, which forms the distinct and greater political unit, which that Constitution designates as the United States, and makes of the people and states which compose it one people and one country” (p. 721).
Chase then describes the court’s idea of the status of Texas:
“The Republic of Texas was admitted into the Union, as a State, on the 27th of December 1845. By this act the new State, and the people of the new State, were invested with all the rights, and became subject to all the responsibilities and duties of the original States under the Constitution.”
Chase conveniently overlooks the fact that neither the U.S. Constitution, nor the Republic of Texas Constitution, authorized the merger of foreign nations.
Chase continues his proposition:
“From the date of admission, until 1861, the State was represented in the Congress of the United States by her senators and representatives, and her relations as a member of the Union remained unimpaired. In that year, acting upon the theory that the rights of a State under the Constitution might be renounced, and her obligations thrown off a pleasure, Texas undertook to sever the bond thus formed, and to break up her constitutional relations with the United States” (p. 722).
No matter how many people approved, or how long such an arrangement lasted, the fact remains that there was and is no constitutional authority to annex or merge with foreign nations… or make foreign nations into new states. Although this argument was not introduced during the 1861 debate about separating from the U.S., it remains as true today as when opponents to annexation pointed this out in 1845. An unconstitutional act is unconstitutional and void, no matter what the U.S. Supremes say or how long the unconstitutional act is followed. Supreme court justices have frequently erred, and when found to be in error, future courts ignore the previous ruling. That is the nature of “man-made” laws.
For support from the U.S. courts, consider these two examples:
A practice condemned by the Constitution cannot be saved by historical acceptance and present convenience. [U.S. v. Woodley, 726 F.2d 1328, 1338 (1983)]It is obviously correct that no one acquires a vested or protected right in violation of the Constitution by long use, even when that span of time covers our entire national existence and indeed predates it. [Waltz v. Tax Commission of New York City, 397 U.S. 664, 678 (1970)]
1861 convention was unauthorized
Chase attacked the 1861 convention which called for separation:
“On the 1st of February, a convention, called without authority, but subsequently sanctioned by the legislature regularly elected, adopted an ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of Texas and the other States under the Constitution of the United States, whereby Texas was declared to be ‘a separate and sovereign State,’ and ‘her people and citizens’ to be ‘absolved from all allegiance to the United States, or the government thereof.’
“It was ordered by the convention and by an act of the legislature, that this ordinance should be submitted to the people, for approval or disapproval, on the 23d of February, 1861.
“Without awaiting, however, the decision thus invoked, the convention, on the 4th of February, adopted a resolution designating seven delegates to represent the State in the convention of seceding States at Montgomery, ‘in order,’ as the resolution declared, ‘that the wishes and interests of the people of Texas may be consulted in reference to the constitution and provisional government that may be established by said convention.’
“The convention, which had adjourned before the vote was taken, reassembled on the 2d of March, and instructed the delegates already sent to the Congress of the seceding States, to apply for admission into the confederation, and to give the adhesion of Texas to its provisional constitution.”
Apparently Chief Justice Chase was offended by Texans taking matters into their own hands, and behaving as if they were free people, able to make their own decisions.
Texas was in treasonable rebellion
Chase added that all officers of the State were required to swear an allegiance to the new confederacy, and those who didn’t, were ejected from their offices Chase then interjected the popular opinions of his day:
“The position thus assumed could only be maintained by arms, and Texas accordingly took part, with the other Confederate States, in the war of rebellion, which these events made inevitable. During the whole of the war there was no governor, or judge or any other State officer in Texas, who recognized the National authority. Nor was any officer of the United States permitted to exercise any authority whatever under the National government within the limits of the State, except under the immediate protection of the National military forces (p. 724).
Armed conflict came only after an invasion by a foreign army. Mr Chase, like others supporting the use of force to maintain unity, puts the blame for rebellion on the backs of those who desired to be free of meddling and control by the northern states. His position is no different that Joseph Stalin and the old Soviet leaders who followed him… forcing subjected people by armed might to kneel as slaves to the all powerful united states.
“Did Texas, in consequence of these acts, cease to be a State? Or, if not, did the State cease to be a member of the Union?
No avenue for separating from the union
Chase’s opinion declared that it is “needless to discuss, at length, the question whether the right of a State to withdraw from the Union for any cause, regarded by herself as sufficient, is consistent with the Constitution of the United States.”
“The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form, and character, and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these the Union was solemnly declared to ‘be perpetual.’ And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained ‘to form a more perfect Union.’ It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?” (p. 724-725).
By this reasoning, Great Britain would still be ruling Americans… for it was the attitude of the English and their king that all colonists were bound in perpetuity as loyal British subjects. Chase would have been a great defender of the status quo, had he ruled on the king’s high court during the American “rebellion” of the 1770s.
However, Chase’s words must be heeded by those of us who believe we have the inherent right to reclaim our independence: “The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.”
This U.S. Supreme Court decision is full of contradictions. The most obvious of these is the contention that Texas never ceased to be a state, yet, the people of Texas were denied representation as a state until they agreed to certain “reconstruction” acts of the U.S. Congress. Among those requirements was accepting a new state constitution dictated by the U.S. through armed force. Stalinists did the same thing to coerce independent nations into the “indissoluble Soviet Union.”
If Texas never ceased to be a state, then the 1845 Texas constitution would have to be the proper constitution, since it was the constitution in force at the time of the “rebellion.” The 1868 “carpetbagger” constitution, and the 1876 constitution, were both ratified under the cloud of armed invasion, and restricted the vote for ratification in defiance of the 1845 constitution, making both those ratification efforts invalid.
Using the U.S. Supreme Court’s own decision, the proper state constitution must be the 1845 document, for it was the constitution approved by the people prior to the rebellion.
Here is what Chase says about Texas statehood:
When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican form of government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States” (p. 725-726).
An indissoluble union… perpetual?
Here is another contradiction… the union is indissoluble… that means it can never be broken, and no parts may become separated… ever. Yet, the U.S. supremes allow for two exceptions: revolution and consent of the States. Either the union is indissoluble, or it isn’t. If there is to be a method of dissolving, as this court apparently believes, then the union is not indissoluble as it claims.
Obviously, nothing created by mankind is ever indissoluble. Change and alteration is constant.
And so we ask: Are we bound forever to the decisions of our ancestors? If this be the logic of opponents to establishing an independent Texas, how do they justify the actions of our ancestors, who threw off their bondage to England? According to the great American Declaration of Independence, every individual has the inherent right to determine his or her destiny. Jefferson himself, the author of that profound document, declared that a rebellion would be necessary on a regular basis in order to secure our individual rights.
We are not advocating a rebellion. We are advocating a peaceful and lawful process of change. We advocate the right of each individual to decide his or her own future.
Unlike Mr Chase and the other U.S. supremes who so arrogantly denied the right of Texans to decide their own future, we believe that to be truly free, each of us must have the unrestricted right of free association, to form compacts and agreements among ourselves as to how we shall live. Those among us who wish to continue in an enslaved condition to the U.S. must be allowed to do so, but they must not be allowed to force that slavery on the rest of Texas.
We recognize the obstacles set before us, including those who will insist on enforcing the 1868 U.S. Supreme Court decision. So be it. But the final and ultimate decision on our political future is solely and exclusively in the hands of Texans.