A Modest Proposal: Secession

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There seems to me to be a very simple solution to all of this political furor in the news. Why don't the states who voted for Bush form one country and the states who show by their votes that they want to continue under the communist dictatorship of Bill/Hil/&Al keep Washington and be the other country. The rhetoric today is so black and white there doesn't seem to be any room for compromise. If New England and the West Coast want more political correctness and social engineering, well, let them have it. If those states that were colored red for Bush on election night want to restore the U.S. Constitution, well, let them.

Really, if the Democrats and Republicans were a married couple, I think any reasonable person could see that the best possible thing would be an amicable divorce. There is no communication any more. There is no way to agree. Listen to TV and NPR a while, then listen to shortwave and the internet a while--they sound like they are talking about different realities, different dimensional planes instead of just different opinions.

Instead of vilifying each other and screaming contention why not simply let the socialist/big government gang build the kind of nightmare they want and leave us freedom loving/Constitutionalists alone. I don't want to live in a place that would elect Hilary Clinton and I'm sure most New Yorker's wouldn't like a place with the Ten Commandment displaying Chief Justice we just elected to our state Supreme Court in Alabama.

Even the liberals think China should free Tibet; why can't they see the logic of Washington freeing the South and West. Most Americans don't think Taiwan should be forced into Red China. Well, why should the South be forced into Red Amerika? Maybe the western states think they should actually own and run their own territory; they perhaps might think they could at least provide more sensible forest fire prevention practices. If California wants to totally disarm everybody but the SWAT teams and the urban gangs, well fine, just leave us cowboys and Rebs alone--we like the 2nd Amendment just fine, thank you.

This is an easy idea to make fun of, but I am asking the question seriously and calmly. I am not talking about revolution; I am talking about better management. If you don't think dividing into separate countries is reasonable why not? Think about it: if the election was this divisive this year, can you imagine what a mess the NEXT election will be?

-- Rags (RaggedReb@aol.com), November 24, 2000


I am all for it. One way or another push has come to shove and that is just the reality of it. By the way, reality has the distinct advantage of not having to meld with whatever your perception of it might be. Reality is like gravity, whether you give it permission or not, it exists independent of your opinions.

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), November 24, 2000.

Well, if it comes down to that, I hope it happens *before* we move!! That way we can make sure we move to a part of the coutry that shares our values! If New England was solidly for Gore, we certainly wouldn't want to continue with our plans to move to Maine, when we might be better off with Missouri!! But seriously, it isn't going to happen. People who are in power do not allow a good chunk of their subjects (tax base, economic support) to just walk away without so much as a protest. And once the dividing process started, where would it stop?

-- Kathleen Sanderson in NH (stonycft@worldpath.net), November 25, 2000.

But where would us Libertarians live? We can't stand either Gore or Bush! Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (annie@1st.net), November 26, 2000.

I'm with Annie, what about us that don't like either one of these guys??? They both want way more "government" than I want. All we want is a piece of land to live on and do what we want under the guidance of the 10 Commandments. It sure can't be found in the country. We own 40 acres on what we thought was a stream with a little brook running across the woods in the back end. It turns out 117 years ago it was dredged out some and now it is going to be turned into a big DITCH because some guys want to drain and develop some land a few miles from us. An the kicker is we supposedly benefit from it so we get to pay 8 percent of the cost. Did I mention they bulldozed the trees and everything back 100 feet from the creek to bring in the big diggers and then dumped it all on our land. Check it out folks, if you are on water you might not own it at all. Ours was never found on the title search or was it ever recorded anywhere except the drain commissioners office. diane in michigan

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), November 26, 2000.

Hi Rags,

Well, if secession is the order of the day, which side gets Florida :) Seriously Rags, the Republicans get one country and the Dems another? What about fesity independents like me. Both sides can take a flying leap! Like it or not, we're stuck with the 3 principles of government suggested by Thomas Jefferson. 1) Compromise. 2) Compromise. 3) Compromise. .

As far as the NEXT election? Take all the punch card voting machines and ship them to Cuba. At least there, you can't make a mistake in your ballot, now, can you? .

And will all due respect to Mr. Cheney. Do you REALLY think he's going to make it alive to the NEXT election? They say the Vice President is only a heart beat away from the presidency. Don't you want someone whose ticker is in a little better shape?


-- Craig (CMiller@ssd.com), November 27, 2000.

Sorry Craig but I disagree with you about Cheney. None of us have any guarantee that we will live any longer than the guy next to us. At least Cheney is aware of his medical problems and seeks treatment for them. Others just ignore the signs and drop dead instead. As long as he is mentally competent, I have no problem with his physical ailments. Any one in his position, regardless of their known health could check out the day after inaugeration day. We just don't know. That doesn't mean we just stop living and sit back and wait for death. He is getting on with his life and living it to the fullest. Another man could just as easily be killed in a car or plane crash (Missouri governor ring a bell?) I don't know your age but, speaking for myself (age 47) I would sure resent it as I got older if someone told me I couldn't pursue my dreams because I "might" get sick or die so I better quit trying. I intend to be kicking and screaming until I take the last breath.

-- Colleen (pyramidgreatdanes@erols.com), November 27, 2000.

There's a fence built just about all around the state of Texas. The plan is to finish building the fence when the state secedes from the union. Wonder if its time is getting close.

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.

Secession and Liberty
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

The presidential election of 2000 showed that America is now divided into two great political classes: the productive, taxpaying class and the parasitic, live-at-others’-expense class. The latter group includes millions of welfare bums, federal, state and local government bureaucrats and "contractors," and their massive supporting propaganda apparatus in the universities, on television, and in print journalism. Now that the vast majority of what the central government does is unconstitutional, there is almost no restraint at all on the extent to which the latter class can use the coercive powers of the state to plunder the former class.

The federal system of government that was created by the founding fathers was designed explicitly to deter this outcome, but that system was overthrown in 1865. The founders understood that democracy would inevitably evolve into a system of legalized plunder unless the plundered were given numerous escape routes and constitutional protections such as the separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, election of senators by state legislators, the electoral college, no income taxation, most governmental functions performed at the state and local levels, and myriad other constitutional limitations on the powers of the central government.

The most important protection was the right of secession, which Peter Applebome of the New York Times suggests we should revive in light of the election returns. This was quite natural, for the United States were founded as the direct result of a war of secession waged against Great Britain. The very principle of the American Revolution was the right of secession against tyrannical government. The founders understood that even the threat of secession would hold would-be governmental tyrants in check.

In his 1801 First Inaugural Address one of the first things Thomas Jefferson did was to support the right of secession. "If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union or to change its republican form," the author of the Declaration of Independence said, "let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

Jefferson and James Madison were the authors of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 which held that "where powers were assumed by the national government which had not been granted by the states, nullification is the rightful remedy," and that every state has a right to "nullify of its own authority all assumptions of power by others. . ." Nullification of unconstitutional federal actions was a means of effectively seceding.

The election of 1800 was a battle between Jefferson and the supporters of limited, decentralized government and the Federalist Party, which advocated a more powerful and centralized state. The Federalists were so bitter about their electoral defeat that they immediately began plotting to secede from the Union. The important point about this episode is that this secession movement, which was based in New England, was led by some of the most distinguished men of the founding generation and was never opposed on principle by Jefferson or anyone else. It was argued that secession might have been an unwise strategy, but no one denied that states enjoyed a right of secession.

The leader of the New England secessionists was Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, who had served as George Washington’s chief of staff, his secretary of war and secretary of state, as well as a congressman and senator from Massachusetts. "The principles of our Revolution [of 1776] point to the remedy – a separation," Pickering wrote to George Cabot in 1803, for "the people of he East cannot reconcile their habits, views, and interests with those of the South and West." "The Eastern states must and will dissolve the Union and form a separate government," announced Senator James Hillhouse. Similar sentiments were expressed by such prominent New Englanders as Elbridge Gerry, John Quincy Adams, Fisher Ames, Josiah Quincy, and Joseph Story, among others.

The New England secession movement gained momentum for an entire decade, but ultimately failed at the Hartford Secession Convention of 1814. Throughout this struggle, wrote historian Edward Powell in Nullification and Secession in the United States, "the right of a state to withdraw from the Union was not disputed."

At the outbreak of the War for Southern Independence in 1861 the vast majority of Northern opinion leaders still believed that a right of secession was fundamental, and that the South should be allowed to go in peace. The abolitionist Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Daily Tribune and the preeminent journalist of his day, wrote on December 17, 1860 that "if tyranny and despotism justified the American Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861" (Howard Perkins, Northern Editorials on Secession). "Nine out of ten people of the North," Greeley wrote on February 5, 1861, "were opposed to forcing South Carolina to remain in the Union," for "the great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration . . . is that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed." Therefore, if the southern states wanted to secede, "they have a clear right to do so."

Similar statements were made by newspapers all throughout the North on the eve of the war, and are perhaps best represented by an editorial in the Kenosha, Wisconsin Democrat, which on January 11, 1861, wrote that secession is "the very germ of liberty" and declared that "the right of secession inheres to the people of every sovereign state."

"If military force is used," the Bangor Daily Union wrote on November 13, 1860, then a state can only be seen "as a subject province and can never be a co-equal member of the American union."

Most of the top military commanders in the war (on both sides) were educated at West Point, where the one course on the U.S. Constitution was taught by the Philadelphia abolitionist William Rawle, who taught from his own book, A View of the Constitution. What Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and others were taught about secession at West Point was that to deny a state the right of secession "would be inconsistent with the principle on which all our political systems are founded, which is, that the people have in all cases, a right to determine how they will be governed."

Lincoln never attended West Point, but he supported secession when it served his political plans. He warmly embraced the secession of West Virginia from Virginia, for example, and was glad to permit slavery in West Virginia (and all other "border states") as long as they supported him politically. Indeed, in a July 4, 1848 speech Lincoln said, "Any people whatsoever have the right to abolish the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right." Lincoln biographers never seem to get around to quoting this particular speech.

After the war Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in the harshest of conditions but was never tried for treason, and for good reason: The federal government knew that it had no constitutional case against secession, as Charles Adams describes in his brilliant book, When in the Course of Human Events. After his release from prison Jefferson Davis wrote what would have been his legal defense of secession in the form of a two-volume book, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.

The centralization of governmental power not only leads to the looting and plundering of the taxpaying class by the parasitic class; it also slowly destroys freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. One of the first things every tyrannical government does is to monopolize the educational system in order to brainwash the young and bolster its political power. As soon as Lee surrendered at Appomatox the federal government began revising history to teach that secession was illegitimate. This was all a part of Lincoln’s "revolution" which overthrew the federal system of government created by the founding fathers and put into motion the forces of centralized governmental power. Peaceful secession and nullification are the only means of returning to a system of government that respects rather than destroys individual liberty. As Frank Choderov wrote in 1952: "If for no other reason, personal pride should prompt every governor and state legislator to take a secessionist attitude; they were not elected to be lackeys of the federal bureaucracy."

November 28, 2000

Thomas J. DiLorenzo is Professor of Economics at Loyola College in Maryland.

Copyright 2000 LewRockwell.com

Presented for Educational and Discussion purposes only. Not for personal use.

-- William in Wi (thetoebes@webtv.net), November 28, 2000.

William, that is excellent. Very powerful stuff. I gave a brief answer above to Rags proposal, which may have seemed a little facetious. We've talked about seccesion on other threads, too. My concern has been and still is, that I don't think the ideological differences between people are clearly enough also geological differences, to be able to geologically divide the country along ideological lines. In other words, the pepper has gotten too well mixed with the salt to just be able to draw out one pile and say, "This is the pepper pile," and draw out another pile and say, "This is the salt pile." We would actually have to physically shift people around according to their beliefs, and this would not only be extremely difficult to do, it is fraught with potential serious problems and abuses. Maybe it needs to be done, but it is something that should only be undertaken with extreme caution and care that we aren't jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. That's if it isn't entirely too late already -- I don't trust Clinton or Gore any farther than I could throw them, which isn't very far. My husband was saying last night that Clinton has literally thousands of pages of executive orders ready to sign into law should Bush actually be elected. I would really like to know the content of those, and I think it's about time that the power to enact executive orders was removed from the President's hands. It is far too easily abused.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (stonycft@worldpath.net), November 28, 2000.

I am wondering if anyone remembers Vietnam? Lots of men left the country or went to jail because of "ideological differences". During that time we learned that democracy did not necessarily mean that the majority won. Read your history, this is about money and power and has nothing to do with democracy or ideological differences. The only freedom we really have is what is in our minds. Just try and exercise your "ideological differences" if they are not according to the many, many laws which governs every little thing in our lives. We have given up our "freedom" to chose almost everything, inch by inch. We have freedom to speak, and freedom to think, but we have far less freedom to act than most of us even realize.

-- Diane Green (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.

When it comes right down t it most political processes are about money and power. The demarcation lines seem to me to be Constitutional correctness or Socialist. You pick. If we don't determine where we want to be geographically we will just end up with an entire country embroiled in armed conflict without definitive goals. We have to make decisions instead of allowing them to be made for us.

How do we do it? Good question. I have tried my best to propose non violent methods but evidently we aren't there yet as a nation and the only things that will spur us to action are the knocks on our own doors. So my bet is violence it will be.

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), November 28, 2000.

Doreen: There is a non violent way to sucession. It is called non- participation. As homesteaders that is what my husband and I are chosing to do to the best of our ability. What you do not earn, is not taxed, what you do not spend is not taxed. If you grow it yourself, make it yourself and use it yourself the government does not get a piece of it. We have been unable to avoid property taxes, unless of course we want to do a Ruby Ridge, but pay very little else. We have a phone now to have the computer access, a new thing for us. Lost some to gain some. I am still not sure it was the best choice, but I do love this forum!!! diane in michigan

-- Diane Green (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.

The fiance and I were discussing secession the other day. Then we began discussing what form we thought this country might be in say 200 years from now. Will it still be one country? Will it be split into several? How many? What do you think?

-- debra in ks (solid-dkn@msn.com), November 28, 2000.

Diane, that isn't really secession. That is non participation. It is only effective as log as you stay in your driveway and don't use any services which are taxed on a federal level. It's a good thing, but it isn't secesion and it doesn't have an impact on whomever it is decided has jurisdiction over you.

Don't get me wrong, that is one of he major draws to homesteading for me. I am all for non participation and thwarting the system in non violent methods, but secession is complete political removal. Removing a populace from the control of a government which no longer reflects their desires, needs, nor philosophies.

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), November 28, 2000.


To the citizens of the United States of America, In the light of > your failure to elect a President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves,we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence effective today.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchial duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The rt. hon. Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium". Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary". Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed".

2. There is no such thing as "US English". We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. > It really isn't that hard.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American "football". There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays"American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together atleast a US rugby sevens side by 2005.

7. You should declare war on Quebec and France, using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. The 98.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. "Merde" is French for "shit".

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 8th will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day".

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

10. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

Thank you for your cooperation. > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), November 30, 2000.

Secession sounds good, but really is impractical in this large country. I'm all for hitting the government where it hurts, in the pocketbook. If they continue to do what we don't like such as spending money out of control and taking land they don't own for "environmental" reasons, don't pay taxes! If enough people refuse to feed the monster, they'll get the message. They can't arrest millions of people, only a few as examples to put fear into everyone. This nonsense has got to stop somehow, and it's time for a quiet, grassroots effort.

-- Mary in East TN (barnwood@preferred.com), November 30, 2000.

Umm...I'm a Canadian, but speaking as one who has experienced the FACT of a secession vote (Quebec has held referendums on this very topic in recent years) I have to tell you that this isn't a clear solution, either. If an area decides to seccede (sp?), it buys a whole lot of other problems -- as in, who gets what. It's kind of like divorce -- but between a couple with billions and billions of dollars and millions and millions of kids. Think about it.

Isn't the whole democracy issue about free speech, essentially? You live in a democracy -- at least on paper. If you don't like the way things are -- write a letter, call your congressman, or run for office yourself. It is allowed -- if challenging.

From what I understand, though -- the American people thrive on a challenge. My mother was American, and she sure did (that was one lady you DID NOT cross!). To borrow a line from Hollywood, don't just "move to Florida, hitch up your pants to your arm pits and complain about the government full time". Do something. Like they say -- if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

-- Tracy (trimmer@westzone.com), December 01, 2000.

Tracy, what 'paper' are you refering to? Um...the Constitution??? It says nothing about a democracy....we are a Constitutional Republic. We have a Democratic style of government (which is a term for any popularly elected government). The individual people of this country do not decide what goes on in it on an individual basis. We elect people who are supposed to keep our interests and beliefs at heart while they are directly voting for what happens in this country. I get so tired of all the crap on television about "we're a democracy! Blah, Blah, Blah." This may seem like a technicality, but it's not it more revisionist history and most people don't notice because they don't know history. Our Constitution does not give our government the powers that it has today! They were slowly grabbed over time and it's still going on today.

-- JC (survivors00@hotmail.com), December 01, 2000.

JC -- granted. When I say "paper" I meant as a commonly held belief - - not that there was a document somewhere guarenteeing democracy.

However, if the government has been taking liberties with their (and your) rights -- I restate my question. What are you doing about it? Are you running for office? Are you speaking publicly about your beliefs to other people in your area?

People tend towards sheeply characteristics. They will go where herded. American, Canadian, British, Scandinavian, it doesn't matter -- human nature is what it is -- and the road of least resistance tends to be the one most travelled. When we REALLY disagree with what our elected officials do or say, what do we REALLY do about it? Isn't it out duty to inform them that we disagree by telling them?

A few years ago (more than I care to count at this point) -- the Canadian government tried to go against something it promised a group of aboriginal Canadians up here. They sent the troops in because these people were, essentially, governing themselves. Note here that this is a right guarenteed to the native peoples of Canada BY TREATY. A lot of people didn't agree that the troops had any right to go in with guns at the ready against a small band of native people who were just protecting their land (sound familiar, folks?). Quite a few people felt this way. We marched -- staged demonstrations, you name it. The government backed down -- the soldiers were ordered out. I'm not saying that this is effective every time -- as a matter of fact, probably not even a minor percentage of the time -- but unless you stand up and be counted, you can't complain. Secession is an option to those who really believe in it, but my original point was this -- remember what you do have, and don't think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

I stand by my analogy -- secession of a state, like that of a province, is like the breakup of a family -- a step only to be taken in extreme circumstances and only when there is no other option.

-- Tracy (trimmer@westzone.com), December 01, 2000.

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