Secession: The Redress of Grievances

January 1, 2016

by Russell D. Longcore

(Editor’s Note: I wrote this in 2009, revised for today.)

Secession is much in the thoughts and on the lips of many Americans today. We have all witnessed the rise of the Tea Party across the nation as people expressed their disgust with government and confiscatory taxation. Four years ago, Texas Governor Rick Perry actually made comments in favor of Texas secession. He was widely derided by the national media.

Look back at the plight of the American colonies in the 18th century. They experienced oppressive taxation and ever-increasing regulation from King George. Their individual rights as English citizens were trampled or ignored. In individual colonies, small groups of colonial citizens banded together to seek independence from England.  Only after repeated abuses from the King, and repeated entreaties to the King went unheard, did the colonies band together and secede, each colony declaring that it was a sovereign nation.

All through the first 60 years of the 19th century, state secession was a recurring topic. During the Andrew Jackson presidency in 1832, South Carolina advanced the concept of nullification, stating that it had the right to nullify high Federal tariffs, and that it also had the right to secede from the Union. Jackson fought and won this battle over nullification and secession.

But secession reared its head again in late 1861 when the eleven Southern states did secede and form the Confederate States of America.

In each instance, patriots sought peaceful and legal means to resolve their differences.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he wrote that “they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” He wrote that “Governments long established should not be changed for light or transient causes,” but that they had a “duty to throw off such government.” Much of the remainder of the document was the listing of the tyrannical acts of the King, and the actions of the colonies to gain a remedy. Then he says that “Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” Finally, Jefferson summarizes by asserting that each state is, and by right ought to be, free and independent states.

In the coming days, some American states may actually give secession some serious thought. Along that line, I make the following observations.

State legislatures that intend to give serious debate and credence to the idea of secession from the United States of America must not do so lightly. Rick Perry of Texas was not serious about a new Republic of Texas. He was simply entertaining a crowd with hubris and applause lines. His words simply kept his name in the headlines for a few days of free publicity.

A State that is serious about secession will likely begin by creating a “paper trail” showing all of the “petitions” they have made to Washington that were answered by repeated injury. They will make additional petitions with the expectation that additional injuries will ensue. This should not be a difficult task, but merely a time-consuming one.

I do believe that the Federal government will collapse, and then from that collapse will emerge sovereign nations. Washington will collapse when the world forsakes the US Dollar as the world reserve currency. But that eventuality is radically different than the 1776 or 1861 secession.

I do not believe that there is any one American state that will ever secede from the Union prior to the collapse of the Dollar. I do not believe that that brand of courage exists anywhere in America.

But I do believe that once the Dollar collapses, secession and state sovereignty may appear to be the only logical choice for survival.