America has a long history of secession. We seceded from Britain. The South attempted to secede from the United States. Did you know, several states resolved to secede from the new country even before there was an established federal government? The last post, Echoes of Succession, discussed the roots of secession. Several key issues remain the same in each incident. The first point included a group of people not feeling fairly represented by the government. The second points to the infringement and abuse of government power toward the people. Finally, the last point of contention is the movement away from the fundamental principles of the constitution. This post will answer the following questions using these key points as a springboard. Do we as individual states have a right to secede from the United States and would it be practical to do so?
The framers of the Constitution avoided addressing two key issues while writing and debating the course of our country. The issue of slavery and the provisions for secession were deliberately avoided. The founding fathers knew the addressing of these issues would mean the death of the Constitution. Leaving us no clear way to resolve slavery and secession, resulted in a four-year battle that affected every American from that time forward.
There are two theories when it comes to the question of the legality of secession. Those who hold the sovereign states belief and others who argue the United States is one country. Sovereign state supporters point to the Constitution to support their argument of legal secession. It is interesting to know, the Constitution does not use the phrase, sovereign states, anywhere in the document. The implications of sovereignty and states’ rights originated with the original 13 colonies. The colonies seceded from Britain as a separate states united by this one cause. They gathered their arms, volunteers and beliefs to secede from England. The mentality of separate sovereign states is clear. People of this new nation did not refer to themselves as Americans. They were still Virginians, South Carolinians and Pennsylvanians. The belief that your state was your country rings true from the conception of this country.
The second theory believes the separation of state will be the demise of the country as a whole. The North leading up to the Civil War vehemently argued this side of the story. Lincoln was a staunch believer in the county as one, with a powerful central government. During his first inaugural address, he clearly stated his legal position: (www.historynet/secession)
“No State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union, that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.”
Lincoln clearly believed that if he allowed the south to secede from the Union, it would lead to the destruction of the country as a whole. He rejected any notion of sovereignty of states. Yet, he allowed the secession of West Virginia because it benefited the Union. The final argument against secession became a verbal war of interpreting what “was meant” by articles and words within the Constitution. It all circles back to the fact there was no clear provisions to secession. If states want to secede from the Union, they must address the issues with the federal government.
The last civil war did not dispel the success or failure of secession. It was declared a rebellion, which then resulted in violence without the chance for a peaceful resolution. Nothing was solved by the last Civil war, the south returned to the Union under duress that is still seen today. If Texas succeeds in its petition to White House, it is my hope this issue is resolved without acts of war. The Civil War proved violence does not solve anything. The country suffered greatly during the Reconstruction period. Our country cannot afford to take a step back. Today we need to forgo violence and listen to each other. Our forefathers spent months arguing and compromising to create the best government model known in history. It took patience, compromise and perseverance.
The practicality of secession is possible. Texas is on the cusp of creating history for our nation. In order for them to succeed, it will take everything this country has to quiet their opinions and bigotry to listen and peacefully come up with solutions. This is no longer a fight for the freedom of one race, but it is a fight for the quality of life for the human race. History writes another chapter every day. What will the next chapter of the United States read?