The Function of Secession

The Function of Secession

by Bill Miller

There was a time—beginning with the founding of this Union—when our States believed in limited government, and if the central government exceeded its delegated authority, these feisty independent sovereigns had no qualms with either nullification or secession as a possible remedy. But once those eleven Southern States finally did secede in 1861, the horrific war that followed abruptly ended any further talk of resisting the dictates of an all too powerful federal government.

At least that was the case until the past decade or so, when—primarily due to a not so “United” States—the issue of secession has again been aroused.

Remember the “red state – blue state” flare-up after the 2004 elections; with talk of those “blue states” taking leave and joining with Canada? There have also been recent secessionist stirrings in Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, and other States, as well as talk of a Southwestern Republic del Norte and a Pacific Northwest Republic of Cascadia. Even Long Islanders have revived the idea of seceding from New York State.

For many years, our States failed to react to the federal government’s specious interpretation of the Constitution and their amassing of intrusive and burdensome authority—powers never delegated by the States. But now, perhaps spurred on by an unprecedented expansion of federal authority by a popular new president, some States have responded with “Tenth Amendment” resolutions, reminding the central government of the limitation of its powers, and in particular, their indifference to State sovereignty.

And then, along came Governor Rick Perry with his remark on Texas’ right to secede. Governor Perry wasn’t suggesting Texas leave the Union, just that it was their right should the federal government continue “to thumb their nose at the American people.”

The State Capitol of Texas at Dusk
Image by Stuck in Customs via Flickr

Perry’s affirmation of the right of secession—a statement rarely voiced by someone of such stature—had a number of supporters. But the widespread negative reaction to this innocuous comment—some even equated secession with treason—demonstrated just how uninformed the citizenry is regarding their right to resist the ever growing federal government’s encroachment on the authority and rights of our States and their people.

This is an unfortunate situation since the recognition of the sovereign nature of our States, including their right to nullify unconstitutional acts, and secede as a final option, is the ultimate check on a federal government that has exceeded their Constitutional bounds. Secession—the right to it, the lingering threat of it—is what gives ultimate power to the people in a political system. The right to secede gives the people control, as a last resort, over their government instead of the other way around. It implies a continual assent from the people that, for the moment, this government is the best one we can envision, and if it’s not, we have a right to either change it or form a new one more responsive to, and reflective of, our common needs.

Without the lurking threat of secession—the collective right to say we can’t take this anymore—the government, steadily growing and encroaching on the freedom and independence of its citizens, eventually establishes itself as the supreme sovereign authority, to which the citizens must pay homage.

If we are to ever return to our Founder’s vision of limited government, we must have some mechanism for thwarting this increasing infringement on our Constitutional rights. The public’s acceptance and recognition of our right to withdraw from such an overbearing government could be one such device …

The above content is quoted from the “about” page of Bill Miller’s site, Secession University. For more information please visit the page at this link:

Deo Vindice!

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One Response to “The Function of Secession”

  1. Secession, like the rattle of our noisy vipers, is first meant to warn, & then to bite, if trampled on or around.

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