CAN A STATE CONSTITUTIONALLY SECEDE?
Constitutionally, there can be no such thing as secession of a State from the Union.
But it does not follow that because a State cannot secede constitutionally, it is obliged under all circumstances to remain in the Union.
There is a natural right, which is reserved by all men, and which cannot be given to any Government, and no Government can take it away. It is the natural right of a people to form a Government for their mutual protection, for the promotion of their mutual welfare, and for such other purposes as they may deem most conducive to their mutual happiness and prosperity; but if for any cause the Government so formed should become inimical to the rights and interests of the people, instead of affording protection to their persons and property, and securing the happiness and prosperity, to attain which it was established, it is the natural right of the people to change the Government regardless of Constitutions. For be it borne in mind, the Constitution is an agreement made among the people that the Government formed by it is to be just such a Government as it prescribes; that when it recognizes a right to exist, it must protect the person in the enjoyment of that right, and when it imposes a reciprocal duty upon a portion of the people, the performance of that duty it will have enforced. When a government fails in any of these essential respects, it is not the Government the people intended it to be, and it is their right to modify or abolish it.
So, if the rights of the people of the United States as recognized by the Constitution, are not secured to them by the Government, and the people of any State have no other means to redress their grievances except by separating themselves from their oppressors, it is their undoubted natural right to do so. Now it is unquestionable that one of the rights recognized to belong to the Southern people by the Constitution, and pledged to be respected by the other States, and secured to them by the Government, has nevertheless been violated, wilfully and intentionally by twelve Northern States; and this course towards the South has been virtually approved of by a large majority of the Northern people at the recent election.
What then is the South to do[?] Suffer the compact which brought them into the Union to be violated with impunity, and without means of redress; submit to incursions into their territory and trespass upon their property by northern abolitionists[?] Look on submissively upon every aggression upon their domestic institutions[?] Who expects, who desires the South to submit to all this? The South will not do it. The South ought not to do it.