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Supreme Court Briefs - Texas v. White

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November 11 2017

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Preview Electric Needle Room's new album here: Want a specific SCOTUS case covered? Your idea gets picked when you donate on Patreon: Mr. Beat's band: Mr. Beat on Twitter: In episode 22 of Supreme Court Briefs, Texas sells bonds from a country it claims to no longer be a part of. After all is said and done, the Supreme Court decides whether or not Texas has a right to secede from the Union. Produced by Matt Beat. Music by Electric Needle Room (Matt Beat). All images found in public domain or used under fair use guidelines. Check out cool primary sources here: Additional sources used: Austin, Texas 1851 As promised in the Compromise of 1850, the United States Congress pays the state of Texas $10 million in bonds. Flash forward to February 1, 1861, and both Texas citizens and members of the Texas state legislature vote for the state to secede, or leave the United States. This was, of course, right before the American Civil War began. In 1862, as the war raged on and Texas fought on the side of the Confederate rebels, it began to run out of money. And so, the Texas legislature cashed in its remaining bonds to buy war supplies. To make sure the bonds wouldn’t be purposely made worth less by the U.S. Treasury-due to the fact that, I don’t know, Texas was now a foreign nation at war against them!-the Texas legislature hid where the bonds came from, and didn’t even have the governor at the time, George Washington Paschal, sign them. I probably should say that Paschal had remained loyal to the Union during the war. Two brokers named George W. White and John Chiles bought 136 of those bonds. After the Confederates surrendered and the Civil War ended, the Union forced Texas, as well as all other former rebel states, to create a new state constitution and new state government loyal to the United States. That new state government found about those bonds sold to White and Chiles, and now wanted them back. So they sued them. Oh, and check it. Texas wasn’t messin around. They took White, Chiles, and the rest of the bond holders directly to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, on February 15, 1867. White and Chiles, however, argued that the Texas government had no right to sue in the Supreme Court because Texas wasn’t even a part of the United States when they bought the bonds. But the Texas government argued that they never really left the Union. Sure, Texas seceded, but Governor Paschal never approved it. But wait, there’s more! White and Chiles also argued that looking at this case was out of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction since Texas residents, in 1867, were still under military rule and thus had no representation in Congress nor constitutional rights. The Court heard arguments in February 1869. The Court wondered...could Texas reclaim those bonds? Heck, was Texas even eligible to be seeking them with the Supreme Court? As in, were they or weren’t they a state during military rule during the Reconstruction period after the war? The Court announced their decision on April 12, 1869, voting 5 to 3 in favor of Texas. The Court argued Texas did have the right to sue for those bonds back. They also argued that when the Texas legislature voted to secede from the Union during the Civil War, um, yeah, that didn’t count. Throughout the war, the Court argued Texas was still a state, and that they couldn’t have seceded if they wanted to. Chief Justice Salmon Chase, a former Secretary of the Treasury for Abraham Lincoln, wrote, “When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation.” Chase did argue that while Texas still owned the bonds, it done messed up letting them go, and had to pay White and Chiles to make up for their troubles. Justice Robert Grier wrote the dissent, arguing that Texas wasn’t a state during the rebellion, and that Congress should be determining this anyway, not the Court. Texas v. White is that Supreme Court case that always gets brought up when talking about how states can’t secede from the rest of the country. Many argue that that the Constitution doesn’t let states secede, and this case often backs up their claims. So even though the majority of Texans wanted Texas as part of the Confederate States of America, and entirely new country, and despite the fact that Texans fought against and killed Union soldiers during the Civil War, they never technically left the United States. Sure, they thought they did, but it was pretend, right?

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