As etymology would have it
I’m speaking of legality here.
Etymologically speaking, the Confederates were still traitors.
Referencing the Constitution, this cannot be categorically stated. It’s a valid opinion, but just that. It’s debatable rather than clearly factual.
As Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution declares: “No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation…” An argument can be made, then, that South Carolina and other states that formed the Confederacy were in violation of the Constitution. Therefore, their government and individual acts of secession can be invalidated.
That is indeed one possibility. Yet, secession was discussed prior to Lincoln’s election, and the issue of legality was not settled one way or another.
But again, if we’re basing our discussion purely on my initial argument, I was speaking to the etymology of treason, and etymology and legality are two separate issues. What is “legal” is not always right, either, but still etymologically true. Think Muslim ban/religious discrimination.
I acknowledge the difference between legality and morality. Not sure a 90-day ban on several Muslim-majority nations qualifies as religious discrimination, but let’s not digress.