Secession or Declaration of Independence? Part 2 of 5

by Timothy Baldwin

Human nature and the nature of freedom demand the right of secession and independence. For centuries, western-world jurists and philosophers discussed these principles of independence thoroughly, which equipped our founding generation for the critical stages of our history: 1776, 1781, 1783 and 1787. Without their enlightened and studied work, the United States, as we KNEW it, would not have existed.

Important to the understanding of unions, political associations, governments and society itself, Emer De Vattel (one of the most well-known and recognized authoritative jurists) describes the purpose of each dynamic relative to an individual:

“For political or civil society being entered into only with a view of facilitating to each of its members the means of supporting himself, and of living in happiness and safety, it would be absurd to pretend that a member, whom it cannot furnish with such things as are most necessary, has not a RIGHT TO LEAVE IT.”[1]

Samuel Pufendorf (whom Vattel recognizes as an authority on the matter) admits similarly: “Nature has not bidden us to cultivate societies with the purpose of neglecting the care of ourselves.”[2] This end and purpose of our happiness and safety is never surrendered regardless of political and civil association or compact, but rather, it is “expressly established by God Himself.”[3]

Vattel further explains the same in context of a political association of nations (i.e. compacts of nations, treaties, etc.) and the eternal and universal right of separation to procure one’s own safety:

“[A weaker nation uses] the natural right common to all men [to dissolve its compact with the stronger nation], by which every one is permitted to endeavour to procure his own safety when he is abandoned by those who are obligated to grant him assistance.”[4]

On the same principle of unilateral separation from political associations to secure a body-politic’s happiness and safety, Vattel additionally points out,

“if the more powerful nation should assume a greater authority over the weaker one than the treat of protection or submission allows, the latter may consider the treaty as broken, and PROVIDE FOR ITS SAFETY ACCORDING TO ITS OWN DISCRETION. If it were otherwise, the inferior nation would lose by convention which it had only formed with a view to its safety; and if it were still bound by its engagements when its protector abuses them and openly violates his own, the treaty would, to the weaker party, prove a downright deception.”[5]

In such a case, the stronger nation “loses all the rights it had acquired by the convention, and that the other, being disengaged from the obligation it had contracted, re-enters into the possession of all its rights, and RECOVERS ITS INDEPENDENCE, or its liberty.”[6] As a note of observation, in the United States, there is no such thing as a “weaker state”: each state is deemed equal in importance, glory and independence. In fact, the federal government is not even a “state” of itself as each State in the union is; thus, the federal government does not even qualify as a “stronger” anything.[7] If the federal government disappeared tomorrow, no state would have perished. No people would have been eliminated. No territory would have been conquered.

Moreover, Vattel observes that the spirit of independence has created some of the greatest and freest states/nations throughout world history (the United States of course being a prime example):

“[T]his high attribute of sovereignty [held in a monarch] is no reason why the nation should not curb an insupportable tyrant, pronounce sentence upon him…and WITHDRAW ITSELF from his obedience. To this indisputable right [of the people,] a powerful republic owes its birth…As soon as a prince attacks the constitution of the state, he breaks the contract which bound the people to him: the PEOPLE BECOME FREE by the act of the sovereign, and can no longer view him but as an usurper who would load them with oppression.”[8]

To the contrary, the spirit of absolute obligation and “perpetual” governments has created some of the most tyrannical states. Thus, to counter the arguments that the “supreme law of the land” (i.e. the sovereign prince) cannot be resisted and that said supreme sovereign possesses the people’s (allegedly-surrendered) power of separation, Vattel states:

“They say that an absolute sovereign completely possesses all the political authority of the society, which nobody can oppose…We might be content with answering, that in this light there is not any sovereign who is completely and fully absolute. But in order to remove all these vain subtleties, LET US REMEMBER THE ESSENTIAL END OF SOCIETY…

“Could the society make such use of its authority, as irrevocably to surrender itself and all its members to the discretion of a cruel tyrant?…No…When therefore it [the people] confers the supreme and absolute government, without an express reserve, it is necessarily with the TACIT RESERVE THAT THE SOVEREIGN SHALL USE IT FOR THE SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE, AND NOT FOR THEIR RUIN.”[9]

Rights, independence, liberty and freedom do not come from a constitution. They come from God. In the same vein and on the same principle, a constitution cannot strip bodies-politic of their natural right of separation, which right exists inherently by virtue of the state’s existence: they are proportionately and intrinsically linked.[10]

Throughout the political writings of jurisprudence which shaped and founded American ideology, it was recognized as a fundamental maxim that secession is retained by the people. This was considered true even in cases where the people supposedly granted supreme and sovereign power to the prince of an empire. These natural “right[s of separation are] derived from what is the object of all political society,–the SAFETY OF THE NATION…IS THE SUPREME LAW.”[11]

In truth, the Supreme Law of the Land foundationally is not a constitution, but rather is the freedom and rights of the people granted by God, so that those people may pursue their own happiness and safety. Constitutions bind governments, but may be removed, altered or amended by bodies-politic for their happiness and safety, and in fact, the Declaration provides us with a pertinent illustration of the practical means of accomplishing that end: secession.

Some propose today that the PEOPLE are bound by the constitution, but the government is, in all practicality, not. The people are supposed to jump through the hoops of politics and “democratic process” decade after decade to effect change (presumably for their posterity, because it certainly is not for their own generation), hoping to accomplish what the government is supposed to be doing automatically in compliance with their oath: faithfully staying within their bounds.

Consequently, the minority of bodies-politic in America that may desire an actual effective method of obtaining freedom stay chained to the tyranny of this bully government (which does not even possess the attributes of a real State) because the constitution (which the bully does not follow nor has for generations) supposedly says so. To this end, the constitution is used against the people and in favor of the tyrant.[12]

Constitutions are designed to secure the individual’s and body-politic’s freedom and right to pursue happiness, but in no wise is the constitution to stand above or in the way of the freedom it was designed to protect or to perpetuate corrupted and degenerate governments. On this ground, secession and independence have been declared as a fundamental right by bodies-politic throughout human history, to their glory and praise.[13] As we have learned most assuredly in America, “[w]hen men revolt against an established evil it is their loyalty to the outraged truth we honor.”[14]


[1] Emer De Vattel, The Law of Nations, (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008), 223.

[2] Samuel Pufendorf, Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, Book 2, Observation 3 (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2009), 319.

[3] Samuel Pufendorf, Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, Book 2, Observation 3 (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2009), 326.

[4] Emer De Vattel, The Law of Nations, (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008), 209.

[5] Emer De Vattel, The Law of Nations, (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008), 209-210.

[6] Emer De Vattel, The Law of Nations, (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008), 208.

[7] The federal government: has no territory, other than Washington D.C.; existed only as a creation of the people of the States; can be completely destroyed by the expressed terms of the Constitution; has no autonomous existence outside of what each state grants to it through its independent politic sovereign power.

[8] Emer De Vattel, The Law of Nations, (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008), 104.

[9] Emer De Vattel, The Law of Nations, (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008), 105.

[10] “Everything, in so far as it is in itself, endeavors to persist in its own being; and the endeavor wherewith a thing seeks to persist in its own being is nothing else than the actual essence of that thing.” Will Durant, Ph.D., The Story of Philosophy, quoting Baruch Spinoza (Garden City, NY, Garden City Publishing, 1927), 195.

[11] Emer De Vattel, The Law of Nations, (Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Fund, 2008), 108.

[12] “The constitution…[is] a security for the liberty of the citizens. But this constitution is a vain phantom, and the best laws are useless, if they be not religiously observed.” Vattel, Law of Nations, at 93.

[13] “[Good men of years past] were not builders, but overthrowers of government: their business was to set up aristocratical, democratical, or mixed governments, in opposition to that monarchy, which, by the immutable laws of God and nature, is imposed upon mankind…[T]hey were rebellious and disobedient sons, who rose up against their father; and not only refused to hearken to his voice, but made him bend to their will.” Algernon Sidney, On Discourses of Government, Vol 1 of 3, (Deare and Andrews, reprinted in 1805), 310.

[14] Terrence McSwiney, The Principles of Freedom, (New York, NY, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1921), 99.

One Response to Secession or Declaration of Independence? Part 2 of 5

  1. […] Por Timothy Baldwin La naturaleza humana y la naturaleza de la demanda de la libertad del derecho de secesión y la independencia. Durante siglos, los juristas del mundo occidental y filósofos discutieron los principios de la independencia a fondo, que dotar a nuestra generación fundadora de las etapas críticas de nuestra historia: 1776, 1781, 1783 y 1787. Sin su ilustrado y estudio de trabajo, los Estados Unidos, como [. . . ] URL del artículo original […]

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