Support the Right to Self-Determination? It Means Secession Too
by AJ Oatsvall
At one point in the year 2009, there was actual talk and discussions in the mainstream media of one or more of the several states leaving the Union. This brought up much debate on both sides of the issue over the topic. Many inferred that secession implies Confederate-style racism. Many also believe that states cannot leave the Union at all. That would be true, however, if the United States had kept the Articles of Confederation (and Perpetual Union) instead of ratifying the Constitution.
But most Americans do not seem to understand one fundamental thing about every state that makes up this nation we call the United States of America: the states are sovereign, independent unto themselves, even without the existence of the federal government. Even as part of the Union, as per the Constitution, the states are not beholden to the federal government. It’s the other way around. That’s the difference between unitary and federal systems! The United States Constitution, like any political charter, by definition, is a contract. A contract between the several states and the federal government. And like any contract that it is breached by the contracted party, the contract becomes null and void.
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So, if the federal government goes against this contract or beyond the enumerated powers listed, essentially assuming powers it has not been granted by what is the Supreme Law of the Land, then we have a breach of contract. The United States does not exist and the states have every right, as sovereign and independent states should, to work towards protecting their way of life and the lives and property of their citizens. What the secession talks were really about, back in 2009, was not leaving the union, but rather to reaffirm their sovereignty: That the federal government exists because of them and not the other way around.
Nowhere in the Constitution is secession expressly forbidden. Unless, of course, one considers the Articles of Confederation (and Perpetual Union) to be in full effect alongside the Constitution. This, however, is impossible. Because once the Constitution of the United States of America was fully ratified, the Articles of Confederation became null and void, ending the perpetual union clause that existed during the last four years of the American War of Independence. Ergo, the states have the right to leave the Union, just as the thirteen colonies had the right to secede from Britain.
Our Founding Fathers established a confederation of American states to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity because of the atrocities enacted upon the colonies by their so-called “mother country.” But the American colonies didn’t really have a mother country. It may be true that the colonies were governed by the British Empire, but many colonists in both the northern, middle, and southern colonies were from many different countries, such as Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands, as well as England and Wales, to name a few. Just as many modern Americans are descendants of people from even many countries!
It is said that the Revolutionary War was not the only war of independence that Americans fought. Nor the only revolution in the history of the United States. The first being the American War of Independence which started in 1775. And just over twenty-five years later America had to reaffirm its sovereignty by fighting against Britain, again, in the War of 1812. And while our first revolution for freedom had been successful but not fully realized, the drums sounded again in 1861 with the outbreak of the American Civil War. Needless to say, the war could have been avoided if the instigators had merely paused and reflected on the consequences of attempting to put down the rebel factions, just as Parliament should have rethought its strategy after Lexington and Concord.
And while some like to think the Civil War was to end slavery, as purported by the Union to the north, it was considered a defense of states’ rights by the Confederacy in the south. But this is not a discussion of why that war was fought. Whatever the case may be, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that the federal government has grown by leaps and bounds ever since completing its conquest of the southern states. The Confederate States were not trying to impose slavery on the northern states, but the United States imposed abolition upon the southern states. Again, this is not a debate about why or for what reasons the war was fought.
The American Revolutionary War secured our independence from Great Britain. The American Civil War, though, secured domination over all of the states by the federal government. The southern states, by practicing slavery, did not agree with or want the federal government interfering with their state laws, essentially overstepping its bounds as set forth in the United States Constitution. So what did the southern states do? They left the Union, forming the Confederacy only after several states seceded. When the states seceded there was no fighting, no bloodshed, no war. After the Confederacy was established February 4th, 1861. That’s over two months before the outbreak of the Civil War! Only after the war did secession become a taboo; for some reason, due to its association with the deadliest war in all of American history.
But the onset and conclusion of the Civil War allowed the federal government to ignore the Constitution and initiated plans to expand its power, its control, over the entirety of the people. The American Civil War was a war of conquest. Sherman’s March to the Sea is proof of this. It is the kind of campaigning our founders protested against when they drafted the Declaration of Independence! And so the “north” conquered the “south” and readmitted them to the Union. The southern states didn’t have a choice in the matter. This was the same process of conquest and assimilation that the Roman Empire used centuries before. A neighboring state or population is conquered, granted representation in the senate, and becomes part of the “greater good.” Now, over a hundred years later, the American nation has become the exact thing it had declared independence from over two hundred and thirty years prior.
The time has come to complete another revolution. One that will bring about a peaceful declaration of independence not just to the world, but to the institution of government in general. Americans never needed anyone or anything to look after them; we’ve been independent and free-spirited ever since our forefathers first came to this continent to get away from government control and interference in the “old world”. Americans never needed anyone or anything to tell them what to do; we all know the difference between right and wrong. We the people have always had a mind to be self-reliant, self-capable, and self-determined. We have minds of our own and we know that if the rights of our fellow citizens, or of a foreigner, were to be ignored, then we would not be far from the same fate ourselves.
The thirteen colonies seceded from Great Britain. The existence of the United States of America is based entirely on the act of secession, or breaking away, from the British Empire and declaring our independence. Secession is a fundamental ingredient for the preservation of freedom. The Articles of Confederation clearly established a perpetual union between the first thirteen states but when the the Constitution was ratified the Articles became null and void; just like any other contract. Yet, it clearly states in the Bill of Rights, with the tenth and ninth amendments, that anything not expressly delegated to the federal government, or prohibiting the states from doing so, is retained by the states and, or, the People.
The united States of America have always been a beacon of hope to the world. But now we have become a broken dream. A promise of false hope and lies. The Founding Fathers did not trust the British Parliament, so why should the American people of today trust Congress? With an enormous debt held over our heads by a frayed thread and our freedoms becoming a “burden” to the government, we find ourselves strained by the prospect of more and more taxes; the same crossroads the American colonists faced before the onset of the War of Independence. But what are we to do?
The answer is quite simple: We reaffirm our sovereignty! America is the land of the free and home of the brave. But what freedom will we have if none of us are brave enough to stand up? We cannot be free if we are not brave! The time is now to chant that old cry for freedom: Give me Liberty or give me Death!
Thus, if the People, of one particular state, decide they no longer like being part of a nation ruled by a government that ignores the principles upon which it was founded, then they have a right, as well as a duty, as human beings, to secede from such a union completely and dissolve the bands that united them in the first place. This was essentially the same reasoning behind the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. Let us not, as heirs apparent, discourage or reprimand fellow patriots who describe similarities between our modern political atmosphere with that of the government from which we declared independence from. Instead of inciting hatred and fear amongst each other, like we so foolishly did before, let us sit down and talk things out to find a peaceful solution.
What differences are there between Great Britain’s old colonial empire and America’s present democratic one today? Should the states be allowed to secede? Do We The People not have the right to self-determination? Isn’t that why we have elections? Is secession the answer? If voting is the means to a peaceful revolution, then what are we going to do to make it happen?