Rob McCoy: Civil War—A Constitutional Crisis for America By Michael Hernandez

By Michael Hernandez

(Editor’s Note:  The American Legacy Series continues with a lecture given by Councilman Rob McCoy every Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. at Godspeak Calvary Chapel, 2697 Lavery Court, Suite 14, Newbury Park.  All are welcomed to explore “the origins of our American Government, how it is relevant, and how it is shaping our future.”)

NEWBURY PARK—In the Civil War, the nation faced four quadrants:  “On the southern side, slavery was right and the state is sovereign vs. the northern side where slavery was wrong and we the people are sovereign,” said Rob McCoy at the Week 11 American Legacy series lecture held at Godspeak Calvary Chapel, 2697 Lavery Court.

According to McCoy, the nation’s Civil War extended the passionate cry of the prominent English abolitionist, Josiah Wedgewood remembered for his “Am I Not a Man And a Brother? anti-slavery medallion.  This had became the most famous image of a black person in all of 18th century art and propelled Wedgewood from 1787 until his death 1795 as a key abolitionist in England.

“Southerners believed slavery was right and African American were not equal to a white human—they were sub-human—and they were doing African Americans a favor because God’s will was that the white man rule over an inferior race.

“If we look at the writing of the founders, some who were slave holders, they were all in agreement to remove slavery from the United States,” which they hoped to happen within a single generation.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which was reaffirmed on August 7, 1789, prohibited slavery and established the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slavery territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River and stated:  “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory.”

Unfortunately, the Northwest Ordinance helped set the stage for national competition over admitting free and slave states which eventually led to the Civil War despite the Three-Fifths Compromise—a compromise reached between delegates from southern states and those from northern states during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention. The debate was over whether, and if so, how, slaves would be counted when determining a state’s total population for legislative representation and taxing purposes.

The issue was important, as this population number would then be used to determine the number of seats that the state would have in the United States House of Representatives for the next ten years. The effect was to give the southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free persons had been counted equally, allowing the slaveholder interests to largely dominate the government of the United States until 1861.

“The tensions between southern states and northern states increased and by 1860, there were three million slaves in southern states and about 19 slaves in the north,” said McCoy.

All this was ready to erupt, despite the Missouri Compromise of May 8, 1820 which allowed the admission of Maine as a free state along with Missouri as a slave state, maintaining the balance of power between north and south; and the

Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska which led to pro-and anti-slavery elements to flood into Kansas with goal of voting slavery up or down.

These legislative acts led up to the debates between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860—the 19th presidential election won by the new Republican Party (founded in 1854) candidate Abraham Lincoln after the Democratic Party broke into northern and southern sections.   The result was that seven cotton states in the south, formed the Confederacy in February, 1861 before Lincoln took office and were joined by four more southern states causing the outbreak of the Civil War.

The 1860 election marked the end of the South’s political dominance over the nation.  Between 1789 and 1860, Southerners had been President for two-thirds of the era, and had held the offices of Speaker of the House and President pro tem of the Senate during much of that time.  Moreover, since 1791, Southerners had comprised a majority of the Supreme Court.

“Abraham Lincoln stated that states did not have the right to secede—no state can lawfully get out of the Union” because the people are sovereign “not the states,” said McCoy.

“Our nation survived a constitutional crisis at the cost of 650,000 people dying.  We would no longer have slave state or partial slave states.  We became a free nation.”

McCoy stated that America can survive a constitutional crisis.   “The only reason we wouldn’t survive is if our Constitution is destroyed because of ignorance. Elitists can say you are ‘deplorables.’  I am smarter and know what is best for you.  But now they are not our representatives; they are our rulers.” 

(Editor’s Note:  For complete video link to week 11 of the Legacy Series go to:

Pastor Roy McCoy: Photo by Micheal Hernandez

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in West Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.  Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email:

Mr. Hernandez is dedicating himself to advance the 13 spheres –as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships.

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