Secession: it’s the American way. After all, without secession, the U.S. would never be. We would still be a product of English imperialism. But that’s not what happened. The founding fathers decided that secession was required, and that free people have a right to secede from an oppressive government that was no longer “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Declaration of Independence stated that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” America was built on the idea of secession. Although secession is historically and morally significant, there is a far more effective tool to return sovereignty to the people. It’s called nullification.
With the re-election of Barack Obama, secession dialogues are back. The frustration with an ever expanding federal government, vast political differences, the unconstitutional “Obamacare,” NDAA, and many others, secession talk is running rampant. Historically speaking, secession is an appropriate check on the federal government. However, as our founding fathers were aware, a peaceful withdrawal from the U.S. is unlikely. Nullification, which eliminates the need to secede, and avoids violence, is the “rightful remedy.”
Looking through history, and the words of our founding fathers, it’s easy to see their views on the rights of States to secede. Take for instance Thomas Jefferson. To understand his visions, we can simply look to his words. In Jefferson’s first inaugural address, he said, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union . . . let them stand undisturbed.”
Jefferson wasn’t the only one. John Quincy Adams agreed that states could secede to create a “more perfect union.” Even nationalist extraordinaire, Alexander Hamilton, argued that “To coerce the States [to remain in the Union] is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised.” To the founders, the right to secede was engrained in the American spirit. With the threat of secession looming, an ever expanding federal government, with ever increasing powers would cease to exist. Secession is another check. Just as the three federal branches check the powers of each other, secession would do the same.
America is the land of the free. Free men are able to do as they please, which includes leaving something they no longer wish to be a part of. If freedom is the goal, then secession is a right of free people. As Murray Rothbard said,
“Once one concedes that a single world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states? If Canada and the United States can be separate nations without being denounced as being in a state of impermissible “anarchy,” why may not the South secede from the United States? New York State from the Union? New York City from the state? Why may not Manhattan secede? Each neighborhood? Each block? Each house? Each person? But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society.”
Even without the words of our founders, the right to secede can simply be found by understanding our Constitution. Given the fact that the federal government was created by a compact of the states, and that no single government (state or federal) is sovereign, but the people themselves that are sovereign, then it is the people that have the power to secede. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Since the power of secession is not delegated to Congress, it is the sovereign citizens of the States that have the right to determine whether or not secession is the solution.Details