CLAIM: ALABAMA’S RADICAL REPUBLICANS RECOGNIZED SECESSION BY DECLARING IT ‘NULL AND VOID” IN 1865
INVESTIGATOR: John Needham
FACT CHECK DETAILS: FACTUAL ACCURATE
During May and June 1865, Alabama had no legally constituted government; Governor Thomas Hill Watts and other prominent leaders had been arrested by the United States military. On June 21st, President Johnson issued a proclamation, establishing a provisional government for the State headed by Lewis Parsons who had been loyal to the Union. In September a convention adopted a new constitution for Alabama, abolishing slavery, repealing the Ordinance of Secession, and repudiating the State’s war debt. By declaring the act of secession in a legislative context “null and void”, the radicals recognized the act of secession as a legitimate power enacted by a sovereign nation.
SOURCE: The Constitution, and Ordinances Adopted by the State Convention of Alabama by J.W. Sheperd, September 12, 1865 – LINK
Secession was and still a legal opinion of the States today. There has to be a specific constitutional prohibition on secession for it to be illegal. Conversely, there did not have to be a specific constitutional affirmation of the right of secession for it to be legal. Why? Because the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
There was no constitution prohibition on secession, nor was there a constitutional sanctioning of any kind of federal coercion to force a state to obey a federal law because to do so was to perpetrate an act of war on the offending state by the other states, for whom the general government was their agent.