Constitutional Rights for Secission
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The Constitutional Right For Secession

Gary Alexander
November 15, 1315: In the Battle at Morgarten, the Swiss beat the powerful Austrian empire. This was the first great military triumph of the Swiss Confederation against the reigning Austrian Hapsburgs. In that battle, the men of Schwyz (canton) lured the Austrians into the hills, then ambushed them in a mountain pass, killing 1500, driving hundreds more into Lake Lucerne, and putting the rest to flight. Less than a month later, the Swiss confederation of three cantons decided to name their young nation after the men who fought so well at Morgarten. That's how "Helvetia" came to be called Switzerland.

On November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Continental Congress, modeled after the Swiss Confederation, which likewise contained 13 states (cantons), since 1513. These Articles vested the conduct of war and foreign policy in a federal government (Congress) and left the rest to the states. Article II stated, "each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to Congress."

On November 15, 1860, just nine days after Abraham Lincoln's election, South Carolina circulated a petition among the 13 southern states regarding creation of a new Confederacy, modeled after the 1777 confederacy, and, in turn, on the 1315 Swiss confederation. The odds against secession didn't faze them. The South justified their rebellion by analogy to the American & Swiss revolutions. Just as George Washington was painted as America's William Tell, Robert E. Lee soon became the south's Washington. --Gary Alexander's speech at New Orleans Investment Conference, 11/15/2000
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit. --Abraham Lincoln, January 12, 1848 speech in Congress

* Federalism is not when the central government graciously allows the states to do this or that. That is just another form of administration. True federalism is when the people of the states set limits to the central government. Fundamentally, federalism means states rights. The cause of states rights is the cause of liberty. They rise or fall together. -- Clyde C. Wilson

* For 134 years the American people have been led to believe that the right of secession had been overturned by a ?verdict of arms,? but that isn?t true?.It is true the shot fired at Fort Sumter was a mistake since it provided the pretext for the Southland to be invaded by foreign troop, but the right of secession realized through the ballot box remains an essential part of our constitutional order.
--George Kalas, , Chairman Emeritus, The Southern Party

* We are patient people and our goal long-term is good government and cultural renewal for the Southern people?.If by some miracle good government can be secured within the present federal system, so be it.
--George Kalas, Chairman Emeritus, The Southern Party
Over a hundred years ago, the Confederate States of America tried unsuccessfully to lead our nation into disunion for all of the wrong reasons - preservation of slavery, racism, and the 'southern way of life' After military defeat, occupation, and Reconstruction, they were dragged kicking and screaming back into the Union. Maybe it's high time the South reconsidered secession - this time for the right reasons. --Dr. Thomas Naylor, Downsizing the United States of America, Nov/Dec 1994 Challenge
* The American people, North and South, went into the {Civil} war as citizens of their respective states, they came out as subjects?And what they thus lost they have never got back. --H.L. Mencken

* Concerning Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, It is generally stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination - 'that government of the people, by the people, for the people, 'should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the states, i.e., of the people of the States. --H.L. Mencken, 1920
Contrary to popular belief, the War Between the States did not prove that the Southern States had no legal right to secede. In fact, many incidents both preceding and following the War support the proposition that the Southern States did have the right to secede from the Union. Instances of nullification prior to the War Between the States, contingencies under which certain states acceded to the Union, and the fact that the Southern States were made to surrender the right to secession all affirm the existence of a right to secede.

In addition, the national Constitution?s failure to forbid secession and the various amendments concerning secession that were proposed while the Southern States were seceding each strengthen the proposition: that the Southern States had an absolute right to secede from the Union prior to the War Between the States. --H. Newcomb Morse, "The Foundations and Meaning of Secession," Stetson Law Review 15 (1986) p. 420.

* Concerning CSA President Jefferson Davis, "He was imprisoned after the war, was never brought to trial. The North didn't dare give him a trial, knowing that a trial would establish that secession was not unconstitutional, that there had been no 'rebellion', and the South had got a raw deal.---but he refused to ask the United States for a 'pardon', demanding that the government either offer him a pardon or give him a trial or admit that he had been unjustly death with. He died, "unpardoned" by a government that was leery of giving him a public hearing." --James Street, The Civil War

* I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union.. --Thomas Jefferson

* ...the destruction of our State governments or the annihilation of their control over the local concerns of the people would lead directly to revolution and anarchy...--Andrew Jackson, the 2nd Inaugural Address

* That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. --Article of Rights, Constitution of Tennessee

* The future inhabitants of {both} the Atlantic and Mississippi states will be our sons. We think we see their happiness in their union, and we wish it. Events may prove otherwise; and if they see their interest in separating why should we take sides? God bless them both, and keep them in union if it be for their good, but separate them if it be better. --Thomas Jefferson
Over a hundred years ago, the Confederate States of America tried unsuccessfully to lead our nation into disunion for all of the wrong reasons - preservation of slavery, racism, and the 'southern way of life'

After military defeat, occupation, and Reconstruction, they were dragged kicking and screaming back into the Union. Maybe it's high time the South reconsidered secession - this time for the right reasons.

--Dr. Thomas Naylor, Downsizing the United States of America, Nov/Dec 1994 Challenge
.....they turned in the final stages of resistance to thoughts about the nature of free government. In the end, they came reluctantly to the conclusion that secession was their only recourse. --James McClellan, Liberty, Order And Justice

Some people ask: "What happens when a country, composed of one rich province and several poor ones, falls apart because the rich province secedes?" Most probably the answer is "Nothing very much happens." The rich will continue to be rich and the poor will continue to be poor. "But if, before secession, the rich province had subsidized the poor, what happens then?" Well then, of course, the subsidy might stop. But the rich rarely subsidize the poor, more often they exploit them.
--F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), pp.76-77

* We are a nation born in secession, consecrated to the right of a free people to rule themselves, and our inherited desire for local control flickers on?But home rule is an old American story, and may be due for a revival by some band of cowlick Jeffersons. For when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands that have tied them to another, self-evident truths have a funny way of asserting themselves. --Bill Kauffman, "Smaller is Beautiful," American Enterprise, March/April 1995, p. 41.

* The first thing I have at heart is American liberty; the second thing is American Union. --Patrick Henry

* I expect to see trade wars, foreign policy disasters, a few race riots, a decrease in personal liberty, higher taxes, higher inflation and probably, economic collapse. The silver lining is, secession will probably become more feasible. --Charley Reese, What next four years has in store for us column Nov. 8.1996 in Orlando Sentinal
Up until the late unpleasantness of the Civil war, then, the right of secession was more or less taken for granted in many quarters, and there has never been any amendment or even a Supreme Court decision saying it's improper. --Samual Francis, Secession May Be Legal But Not Expedient, Conservative Chronicles

* If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union or to change its republican form, 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. -- Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address

* The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the States; and these, in uniting together, have not forfeited their Nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the States chose to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be difficult to disprove its right of doing so... --Alex de Tocqueville, Democracy In America
the great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration is that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed" so if the Southern states wanted to secede "they have a clear right to do so." If a tyrannical government justified the Revolution of 1776, "we do not see why it would not justify the secession of five millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861. --Horace Greeley, New York Tribune editor, Feb 18, 1861

* We hold with Jefferson that governments are made for the people and not people for the governments...When any portion of the Union large enough to form an independent nation shall show that, and say authentically. 'We want to get away from you,' regard for the principle of self-government will constrain the residue to say "Go". We shall willingly do nothing that looks like bribery or wheedling any state or section to remain in the Union... --Horace Greeley

* Brilliant though the crafters of the U.S. Constitution may have been, they could not have anticipated the size and diversity of the United States today. We have created an unworkable mega-nation that defies central management and control. The time has come to begin planning the rational downsizing of America. States such as Vermont should be allowed to secede - an act which clearly is not prohibited by our Constitution.
--Dr. Thomas Naylor

* If it {Declaration of Independence} justifies the secession from the British empire of 3,000,000 of colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of 5,000,000 of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861. If we are mistaken on this point, why does not some one attempt to show wherein why? --New York Tribune, December 17, 1860
The United States has become too big, too authoritarian, and too undemocratic. Its states assume too little responsibility for the solution of their own social, economic, and political problems. So starved for revenue are our states that they are all too willing to abdicate to the federal government their responsibilities for public education, criminal justice, employment, and environmental protection. Fine tuning or patch our badly crippled political system will do little to turn the situation around. There is only on solution to the problems of America- peaceful dissolution, not piecemeal devolution. --Thomas H Naylor & William H. Willimon, Downsizing the U.S.A.

* The error is in the assumption that the General Government is a party to the constitutional compact. The States...formed the compact, acting as sovereign and independent communities. --John C. Calhoun

* The Constitution has admitted the jurisdiction of the United States within the limits of the several States only so far as the delegated powers authorize; beyond that they are intruders and may be rightfully expelled. --John C. Calhoun

* When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected then with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal status to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitles them a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
--The opening sentence of The Declaration of Independence

Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.