In this article, I will define secession and make a case why secession is the only reasonable, logical and pragmatic solution to further the cause of human liberty and functional governance.
What is secession?
"Secession" is broadly defined as "the act of withdrawing formally from membership in an organization, association, or alliance." We are defining it specifically as the action of a state to cease its participation in the United States of America and for that state to create itself as a new independent, sovereign nation.
The American Revolution of 1776 was, by definition, an act of secession. An association of English colonies banded together and issued a Declaration of Independence that was presented to King George III. The King did not accept the secession and a civil war ensued.
Remember that the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was not the legal, formal secession document originating within any state Governor’s offices or the state legislatures. The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were lawyers, merchants, farmers and others who took it upon themselves to place the King on notice of the intentions of a small minority of Royal subjects who did not wish to be subjects any longer, and who were leading a revolution against the King. (Read Secession and Attorneys)
Another secession event happened in the United States in the 1860s. This time, it was the actual state governments that issued formal secession documents.
The misinformation widely prevalent in America about secession was written by the winning side of the American War Between The States of 1861—1865. They called it the Civil War. But it was not a civil war by definition.
James Fearon, a civil wars scholar at Stanford University, defines a civil war as “a violent conflict within a country fought by organized groups that aim to take power at the center or in a region, or to change government policies.” Usually, one side of the conflict is the State.
Based on that definition, the actions of the 11 Confederate states in 1861 did not constitute starting a civil war. They weren’t looking to take power, overthrow the US government or change government policies. They just lawfully and peaceably seceded from the Union. The United States actually invaded a sovereign nation, the Confederate States of America, with the intent of overthrowing their government and bringing the states of the CSA back into the USA.
The most recent example of state secession happened in 1989 when the fifteen republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) seceded from the USSR. The USSR ceased to exist as all of the republics rejected the Kremlin government and became sovereign nations. (Go to: Mikhail Gorbachev and Secession)
Despite the fact that the USSR was the second most powerful nation on the planet, it was completely powerless to stop secession. Once the republics reasserted their sovereignty as free nations, the USSR dissolved into the dustbin of history.
What is the difference in secession and nullification?
Nullification is the legal principle holding that any US state has the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal law which that state has deemed unconstitutional. It has its legal foundation in the 9th and 10 Amendments of the US Constitution. Nullification has been used by the states throughout US history to prevent unjust laws from being enforced.
The most noteworthy use of nullification by any state was the so-called Nullification Crisis of 1832. Congress had enacted a high tariff that South Carolina rejected in its Ordinance of Nullification, which stated that the tariff was unconstitutional, and therefore unenforceable in South Carolina. The state made military preparations to resist anticipated federal enforcement. Congress responded by passing a Force Bill, authorizing President Andrew Jackson to use military force against South Carolina to enforce the tariff. But Congress simultaneously passed a new lower tariff that was satisfactory to South Carolina. So, Congress wisely chose to back down and compromise against the South Carolina nullification action.
Thirty-nine states of the United States have passed Tenth Amendment resolutions in recent months, stating that they are prepared to re-assert their authority to determine which Federal laws will be enforced within their borders. A few have enacted firearms legislation which states that firearms and ammunition manufactured and sold within the borders of a particular state are not subject to Federal law and regulation. It remains to be seen if Washington will recognize the nullification of Federal gun laws.
So, we see that nullification is a method whereby a US state may effectively control the legislative process of the US Federal Government as it pertains to how Federal law is enacted and enforced within any state. Compare that process to secession, in which a state formally withdraws from the United States to become a sovereign nation. Secession asserts that the relationship between parties has ceased, and that all previous commitments are null and void.
Why should a state consider secession?
First, secession should never be considered for light or transient reasons. Disagreements come and go between parties, and can usually be negotiated to the satisfaction of all parties. But when a long list of abuses exists, when repeated usurpations of state authority are enacted, when the sovereignty of states is trampled and ignored, and when citizens suffer a diminution of both their natural rights and economic freedom, it is the duty of states to solemnly consider either altering or abolishing the government that abuses that state and its citizens.
Who benefits from secession and what are the benefits?
In today’s America, any seceding state will benefit from the repudiation of the United States’ debt load, which will result in the savings of hundreds of billions of dollars that the citizens of the seceding state will never have to pay. Otherwise, if a state secedes and forms a government just like the one from which they seceded, there is limited benefit to the state or the citizen. But if the state protects individual liberty, life and property rights, the citizens will be infinitely more free.
The citizens of a state that secedes benefit to the degree that the seceding state "institute(s) new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." (from US Declaration of Independence)
Also, any persons who immigrate to the seceding state can experience benefits if they renounce their former citizenship and become a citizen of the seceding state. But, an émigré who did not change citizenship would still receive benefit from simply living in the seceding state.
The business community in the seceding state will benefit instantly as the crushing weight of US Federal regulations would vanish. No longer would businesses be required to be the tax collector for the IRS. The economy of a seceding state would be expected to explode with new commerce directly attributable to the competitive advantages of the new state.
The new state government of the seceding state would benefit as they would be free of US government rules, regulations, usurpations and unfunded mandates. No longer would the seceding state be required to enforce US Federal law.
The seceding state would benefit from a general shared attitude of most people of hope, optimism and excitement about the future.
Immigration to the seceding state would explode as liberty-loving individuals worldwide would bring their talents, experience, assets and gifts to the new nation, seeking a bright future for themselves and their progeny.
Who doesn’t benefit from secession?
In this specific example of secession from the United States, the parties who do not benefit are the United States Federal Government and the states that remain in the Union. To them will fall the unconstitutional debt load in greater percentage than before secession. The US Federal Government will also receive no further revenue from the seceding state. Also, the citizens of the seceding state will no longer be available to the United States for military service. And, individual secessions will occur as Americans leave the USA to immigrate to the new nation…people voting with their feet.
Will state secession cause a military conflict between parties?
There is no reason in law or in fact that the parties may not mutually and amicably agree to separate from each other. It would be mutually beneficial to both parties to negotiate the secession issues, which would include issues of Federal lands inside state borders. But it should be stated that, in the 1783 Treaty negotiated between King George III of England and the United States of America, the King "relinquished all claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.”
The seceding state would also be aware that, if the United States Federal Government dissolved or collapsed in like manner to the Soviet Union, any previously negotiated issues or treaties would be null and void.
Can secession be done without armed resistance?
As stated in the previous paragraph, secession should proceed without military conflict. But, the Second Amendment of the US Constitution states that because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. So, while no reason for armed conflict exists, that does not prevent it from occurring. A seceding state should revitalize its militia and prepare them for armed resistance and the defense of the borders of the seceding state from invasion by the United States military, its hired mercenaries, or United Nations troops.
Can Liberty be restored in America without secession?
The Washington political machine is spinning wildly out of control. Both political parties are two sides of the same coin. Neither party stands for Constitutionality, small government and fiscal responsibility. Even if you elect new representatives, senators and Presidents, the Washington culture will quickly corrupt them by requiring the officials to court contributions while lobbyists shower them with money and perks. In addition, Congress has created vast bureaucracies that grow and infest the nation unabated. Finally, and most importantly, the elected officeholders in Washington do not recognize any control or restraint on their power to enact unconstitutional laws and spend money in excess of tax revenues. Washington has borrowed trillions of dollars from the world that will never be repaid. If there is a solution to bring Washington back into compliance with the Constitution, I have not seen it to this date.
When should secession be done?
Secession should be solemnly deliberated by the elected representatives and the state citizens. Secession should be initiated at the moment that any state reaches the point at which it will no longer accept the despotic tyranny and unconstitutional laws coming from the US Federal Government in Washington, DC. Each individual must come to his or her own conclusion that secession is the only way to regain liberty, and each state must make its secession decision independently.
How would secession be done?
There is no written, formal method for initiating and completing an act of secession. If history can be our guide, we see that the conventions of the seceding states of 1860 wrote and ratified a Declaration of Secession. Each Declaration enumerated that particular state’s reasons for secession, in like manner to the 1776 Declaration of Independence.
Then they passed an Ordinance of Secession. Here below is the simple, succinct wording of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession of 1860.
AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.”
We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the “United States of America,” is hereby dissolved.
Done at Charleston the twentieth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
That is the sum of all the words necessary to complete the secession.
In conclusion, try to envision yourself and your family in a new nation created by secession. All the people you meet are excited and breathless in their anticipation of the future. The general opinion of the populace is pure unbridled optimism. The new nation’s economy is booming, the money is backed by gold and silver, and there is no inflation. "Now Hiring" signs are in all the shop windows. The newspaper’s "Help Wanted" ads are packed full. Prices for goods and services are low, and the stores are loaded with goods. Manufacturers are streaming into the new nation to take advantage of the rare pro-business atmosphere. Wages are climbing steadily in manufacturing jobs as companies compete for the best and brightest to be their employees. New businesses are being created at a fever pace. Residential and commercial construction is at a high level to meet the demand of the new residents.
All because one state recognized this historic opportunity and chased the dream of liberty through the process of state secession.
Secession is the hope for humanity. Who will be first?