by Bill Miller
One of the most frequently voiced arguments against the right of States to peacefully withdraw from the Compact is that secession is treasonous and un-American. Interestingly enough, the Constitution contains a precise legal definition of treason, and before flinging the charge, an understanding of the term as found in Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution is in order:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
Remembering that when our Founders put their pen to the Constitution, the plural term of “United States” referred to the States as a confederation of independent States, not some consolidated nation called the United States in the singular. Therefore, the constitutional definition of treason refers to “levying War against them [the States], or in adhering to their [the States] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
Also, Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language offers several definitions of treason, with one being:
In general, it is the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance.
The Constitution, and Webster’s definition of the term, makes it absolutely clear that unless a secessionist movement is intending on overthrowing their government, or supporting others with the same intentions, there is no act of treason.
Furthermore, since the act of treason, according to the Constitution, relates to the individual States, not the federal government, those in the South defending their homeland during the Civil War most certainly did not perpetrate any acts of treason. The idea of, “We just want to go our own way and be left alone,” as applied to the Civil War or any modern day movement to peacefully withdraw from the Union, is most assuredly not treasonous.
As for un-American, how can one of our God-given natural rights, upon which our American ideals were established, be called un-American? One must remember that our most sacred founding document, The Declaration of Independence, proclaimed:
That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
Clearly, anyone shouting, “Un-American!” at those seeking a free and independent State might just as well claim that our enthusiasm for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is also un-American.
The charges of treason, or simply being un-American, are nothing more than false accusations flung by those without a proper understanding of these terms, our history, and the sovereign authority of our free and independent States.
© 2010, Secession University.
Reprinted with permission.