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|Texas Defender wrote:
When an person takes an oath to become an officer (military or civilian), he pledges to defend the Constitution of the United States. As long as he occupies that position, he is bound to honor his commitment.
However, the officer has the option to resign his office. If the office is vacated, that person cannot be legally or morally bound to that oath. The oath is for the period of time that the person is a federal officer. It is NOT some kind of lifetime commitment.
When I chose to become a military officer, I pledged to protect the Constitution, and to obey the orders of those military officers appointed to higher office. If I had resigned my commission, I would no longer have had to obey the orders of military officers. Nor would soldiers have been bound to obey orders from me.
The idea that officers who resigned their commissions, whether to join the Confederate service or not, somehow violated their oaths of office is fallacious. The idea that because General Thomas chose to remain in the federal service and Robert E. Lee did not does not mean that Lee did not take his oath of office as a federal officer as seriously as George Thomas did his.
If the officer performed his duties faithfully and well while in the federal service, he fulfilled his obligations under the oath of office that he took. When he resigned that office, his obligations ended.
I don’t know about that. Dumping his oath as an expediency to join an enemy of his former country sounds a bit Machiavellian to me! Gee! I think I’ll keep this oath as long as it serves my purpose, then when it doesn’t I’ll quit and take someone else’s oath. When the going gets tough, jump ship, or change loyalties. On April 20, three days after Virginia seceded from the Union, he submitted his resignation from the U.S. Army. On April 23 he became commander in chief of the military and naval forces of Virginia. Changing sides has some quick benefits. Eh?
So, as I said, I think Thomas thought his oath meant something more. Maybe that’s why people likened him to a Rock.