To begin with, let us look at something that the man who is so often held in such high esteem by modern Americans, Abraham Lincoln, said in his inaugural speech. (Quotation pulled from Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative. I trust he faithfully recounted the words of the men he wrote about.)
"It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination...No state upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union."
Interesting and perhaps convincing, isn't it? But before we laud his seemingly patriotic and logical idea, let us take a quick, expository glance through history, as well as the implications of what Mr. Lincoln said March 4, 1861.
First, note this phrase "a provision in its organic law for its own termination". What is meant by this?
To my prehaps unskilled mind, this means that no government can of it's own volition end itself. I find that particular notion slightly confusing, but not so much as to completely befuddle me. I don't think this takes into account the complete corruption which will totally destory things from the inside out, but more the idea that a government cannot just end itself with no warning or creation of a provisional government to take its place.
According to Mr. Lincoln's meaning here, he was accusing the South of terminating its government. This is simply not true. The 11 States of the Confederacy did not terminate the government that they had previously been under--instead they removed themselves from under it (which is a completely different thing from destorying it).
"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another..."
These words from the American Declaration of Independence, signed July the 4th, 1776, state the exact same sentiment that the Southern states declared in their secession from the union. Neither nation destroyed (i.e. terminated) the government they had been under up until that point--they simply removed themselves according to these words: "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government..."
Therefore, Lincon's charge of governmental termination is both invalid and self-defeating--for in denouncing the South, he denounced his own forefathers and the country he himself was being sworn into as the 16th president.
Furthermore, his statement of: "No state upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union" denies the basis of what was so founational to the very beginnings of the United States--the sovereignty of the individual state. The individual state was it's own sovereign entity that was voluntarily bound together with the other states under the Constitution of the United States (which is why many referred to the nation, not as "the United States", but "these United States").
Going back once again to the foundational notions of civil government, there is no legitimate means by which the Federal government could hold a dissatisfied state in the Union. Therefore, the anti-secessionist argument is self-defeating for in decrying the South's legitmate self-removal from the Union, it also denies the legitimacy of the original thirteen colonies self-removal from the bonds of British tryanny.