John R. Houk
© September 30, 2009
The American Revolution found that 13 British colonies on the North American Continent agreed on at least one issue. Via the propertied elite the colonies had become weary of British management of North American colonial affairs. The American colonies felt themselves just as much as British citizens as those back in merry ol’ England. When the American colonialists began experiencing taxation and commerce management that benefitted Mother England and caused economic hardship in the colonies, resistance to British law crept from disgruntlement to outright rebellion by 1775.
By 1776 the British colonies in America declared themselves independent from British rule. American government from 1777 to 1788 was under the loose authority of the American Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation became the unanimous rule of law by March 1781 when Maryland became the 13th sovereign State to get on board with the new American government.
The new United States of America for all purposes were free of British control when Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown in 1781.
The Brits made USA sovereignty official ending the American Revolution in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris.
From 1781 to 1788 13 sovereign American States used the Articles of Confederation making the Continental Congress the Head of State. The loose unity of 13 States became an Inter-State problem with enforcing a national rule of law. Each State regarded each other as an independent entity with the Articles of Confederation as a symbol more than as an American government. Americans at this time would call themselves a citizen of their particular State before calling themselves an American.
The elite leaders of the Revolutionary War eventually banded together to institute an interesting experiment of combining a central government along side sovereign Statehood linking the USA to an enforceable rule of law. Thus the Constitutional Convention convened with delegates from most of the 13 States with General George Washington as its moderating President.
It was no easy task of a group of men from sovereign States discussing a means for a central federal government yet maintaining State sovereignty. After a lot of debate and compromises a Constitutional document was written with James Madison as the primary architect.
The Constitutional Convention merely presented a document for the sovereign States to ratify before it became the rule of law for the USA. The next step was selling the Constitution to the 13 States who more than likely would ratify or not according to the State legislature rather than a direct voting plebiscite.
The architect for the Constitution – James Madison – was joined by Alexander Hamilton and John Jay writing a series of essays to convince States to ratify the Constitution. These essays grouped together became known as the Federalist Papers. There were a group of people very much against the Constitution’s implication of removing some of each State’s sovereignty and against the implication of national taxation outside the loop of sovereign States. This group of men became known as the Anti-Federalists. It is less well known that there are some Anti-Federalists writings to counter the Federalist Papers.
By June 21, 1788 the U.S. Constitution became ratified as the new government and the law of the land when New Hampshire became the ninth State voting for ratification. Here is a list of the States which were hold-outs to ratification yet eventually followed through:
- • Virginia – June 25, 1788
• New York – July 26 1788
• North Carolina – November 21, 1789
• Rhode Island – May 29, 1790
Hence began a national struggle of power sharing between the Federal government and each State of the Union of the USA. This struggle came to a head when several southern States did not want the Federal government to have its tentacles into their laws and lifestyle culture. Citing the principles of the Revolutionary War these States decided to secede from the Union of States in the USA governed by the U.S. Constitution. The secession began with South Carolina in December 1860 and culminated with Tennessee June 8, 1861. Eleven States in all seceded to form the Confederate States of America with the issue of States Rights in mind if not more so than the issue of anti-slavery sentiment of the Northern States.
- • South Carolina – December 20, 1860
• Mississippi – January 9, 1861
• Florida – January 10, 1861
• Alabama – January 11, 1861
• Georgia – January 19, 1861
• Louisiana – January 26, 1861
• Texas – February 1, 1861
• Virginia – April 17, 1861
• Arkansas - May 6, 1861
• North Carolina – May 20, 1861
• Tennessee – June 8, 1861
As a Yankee from Washington State I learned that the war was called the Civil War. It had other names depending on where you are from such as the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression.
The North won the war roughly with the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse, VA. Although it was definitely unneeded formality Confederate President Jefferson Davis assembled his Cabinet (or what was left of it) for the last time on May 5, 1865 at Washington, GA. The Confederacy was dissolved and five days later the Union Army caught up with a fleeing Davis at Irwinville, GA.
In my humble opinion the Union victory began an incremental lack of capacity for American States to assert State sovereignty over law issues the U.S. Constitution reserved for State authority. The “federalism” of a constitutionally instituted federalist republic has slowly become the absolute hegemony of centralized national government over the federalist sovereignty of State government.
The erosion of State sovereignty has actually led to the popularization of secessionist movements in individual States. Most of the secessionist movements are slanted Right politically however some of the secessionist movements are slanted Left. The one commonality in the political spectrum is the distrust to the disgust of the operation of the national Federal government inserted into the lives and local cultures of various States in which secessionism has evolved to a more noticeable profile than mere fringe politics.
I found an interesting article about American secessionist movements. The article is fascinating because it is an illustration of the early American Colonialist dissatisfaction with British meddling in the Colonies’ well being via arrogance, taxation and regulation. As the American colonialists viewed British oversight from an ocean away as contemptible, so also in the present American secessionist movements are becoming dissatisfied with the meddling of the national Federal government in the social, cultural and economic lives of State citizens.
Take a gander at the article I found at the Jewish World Review for a little more definition of American secessionist movements.
Secession movement moves well beyond Texas
By Anna M. Tinsley
Jewish World Review
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/ (MCT) AUSTIN, Texas — As head of the Texas Nationalist Movement, Daniel Miller of Nederland believes it's time for the Lone Star State to sever its bond with the United States and return to the days when Texas was an independent republic.
"Independence. In our lifetime," Miller's organization proclaims on its Web site.
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested that some Texans might want to secede from the Union because they are fed up with the federal government, the remarks drew nationwide news coverage and became fodder for late-night comedians.
But to Texas separatists like Miller and Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Kilgore of Mansfield, secession is no laughing matter. Nor is it exclusive to the nation's second-largest state.
Fanned by angry contempt for Washington, secession movements have sprouted up in perhaps more than a dozen states in recent years. In Vermont, retired economics professor Thomas Naylor leads the Second Vermont Republic, a self-styled citizens network dedicated to extracting the sparsely populated New England state from "the American Empire."
And on the other side of the continent, Northwestern separatists envision a "Republic of Cascadia" carved out of Oregon, Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia.
While most Americans dismiss the breakaway sentiments, sociologists and political experts say they are part of a larger anti-Washington wave that is rapidly spreading across the country.
More commonplace are states' rights movements to directly challenge federal laws, a citizen revolt that one scholar says is unparalleled in modern times. Among the actions in which states are thumbing their nose at Washington:
—Montana and Tennessee have enacted legislation declaring that firearms made and kept within those states are beyond the authority of the federal government. Similar versions of the law, known as the Firearms Freedom Act, have been introduced in at least four other states.
—Arizona lawmakers will let voters decide a proposed state constitutional amendment that would opt the state out of federal health care mandates under consideration in Congress. The amendment will be placed on the November 2010 ballot. Republican state Rep. Nancy Barto said five other states considered similar versions of the amendment this year and at least nine others are expected to do so next year.
—Nearly two dozen states have approved resolutions refusing to participate in the Real ID Act of 2005, which requires that driver's licenses and state ID cards conform to federal standards.
—A campaign called "Bring the Guard Home" is pushing legislation in 23 states that would empower governors to recall state National Guard units from Iraq on the premise that the federal law authorizing such deployments has expired. "It's gaining momentum, to say the least," said Jim Draeger, program manager for Peace Action Wisconsin. He said the initiative has a respectable chance of passing the Legislature in his state.
Rising public anger over the way Washington does business has produced a growing outcry for state sovereignty and strict adherence to the 10th Amendment, which says powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution belong to the states.
Texas was an epicenter for this year's "tea party" protests, in which thousands of Americans displayed their contempt for rising taxes and federal intrusion.
Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center in Los Angeles, a think tank that monitors states' rights activity, said defiance of federal policy is "unprecedented" and cuts across the philosophical spectrum, ranging from staunch conservatives to anti-war activists to civil libertarians. Legislatures in 37 states, he said, have introduced state sovereignty resolutions and at least seven have passed.
Perry, who faces a hard-fought Republican primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, has made state sovereignty one of his signature themes. During the 2009 Legislature, he endorsed an unsuccessful resolution supporting the 10th Amendment, asserting that "our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state."
After a tea party rally in April, Perry told reporters that secession might be on the minds of some Texans disgusted with the federal government. He later stressed that he wasn't advocating secession, telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "America is a great country, and Texas wants to stay in that union and help our way out of" the nation's economic downturn.
But others are advocating secession.
In a poll of 1,209 respondents conducted by Zogby International last year, 22 percent said they believed that "any state or region" has the right to secede and become an independent republic, and 18 percent said they would support a secessionist movement in their state. Conversely, more than 70 percent expressed opposition to secession.
Kirk Sale of Mount Pleasant, S.C., formed the Middlebury Institute in 2004 for the study of "separatism, secession and self-determination." The institute conducted the Third North American Secessionist Convention in New Hampshire in 2008, drawing delegates from about two dozen secessionist organizations in the United States and Canada.
Secessionist organizations are operating at various levels of activity in Texas, Vermont, New Hampshire, Alaska and Hawaii. Breakaway sentiments and anger at Washington also run high within the Southern National Congress, a 14-state organization to "express Southern grievances and promote Southern interests."
Chairman Tom Moore, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, says the group is "not explicitly a secessionist organization," although "most of our people probably do favor that option."
For many, the mention of secession brings to mind the most turbulent years in American history, when 13 Southern states broke away from the Union in 1860 and '61, plunging the country into a Civil War that claimed at least 618,000 lives but put an end to slavery. In contrast, modern-day secessionists stress that they advocate a peaceful departure and emphatically dismiss criticism that their organizations embrace racism and white supremacy.
"We maintain an open-door policy," said Miller, who began forming the Texas Nationalist Movement early in the decade from the remnants of an earlier Texas independence movement. "If you're about freedom — individual freedom — and liberty and Texas independence, we call you brother or sister."
Miller says the group includes Hispanics, African-Americans, women, lifelong Democrats and union members. "We don't argue race; we don't argue Democrat or Republican," he said. The movement also "predates Obama," he said, pointing out that his organization started well before the president took office in January.
Miller, 35, said his involvement comes from a deep-rooted civic responsibility that began when he would accompany his father, a union ironworker, on the picket line. When Miller was 18, he made an unsuccessful run for mayor of White Oak, a small community outside Longview in East Texas. His call for Texas independence, he said, stems from a belief that Washington's failures are dragging down the Lone Star State. Texas, which outpaces most other states in mineral wealth, agriculture, technology and other sectors, would be far better off as a separate country, he said.
"We currently have one of the strongest economies in the world," said Miller, a Web-based radio entrepreneur who lives in deep Southeast Texas. "We've got everything we need to be, not just a viable nation, but a thriving, prosperous nation, except for one thing — independence from the United States."
Kilgore, a telecommunications consultant in Mansfield, has made secession a high-profile theme of his Republican campaign for governor. Though overshadowed by the two dominant Republicans in the race — Perry and Hutchison — Kilgore believes his candidacy is stoking interest in secession, and vice versa. He said he gets at least a half-dozen calls and 15 e-mails each day on the issue, in addition to "all kinds of Facebook hits."
"A lot of people have given up on the federal government," Kilgore said.
If he becomes governor, he said, he would call a constitutional convention to create a nation of Texas, with voters asked to approve a constitutional amendment to cement the process. Texas emissaries would negotiate with Washington for separation, he said, predicting that the United States and Texas could "still be friends after we split."
From his home in Charlotte, Vt., Naylor said he also believes that his small New England state would fare much better outside what he derisively calls the "empire."
Vermont, which, like Texas, was a republic before achieving statehood, has a population of 625,000, is the nation's leading supplier of maple syrup and has a vibrant tourism industry. "We would not only survive, we would thrive," he said.
Naylor, who describes himself as "a professional troublemaker," grew up in Mississippi and taught economics at Duke University in North Carolina for 30 years.
During his years in the South, he said, he was "pretty much a vehement anti-secessionist" and refused to stand whenever Dixie was played. But, after moving to Vermont, he said, he began to rally against the "tyranny" of corporate America and the federal government, although he acknowledges the perceived "absurdity" of tiny Vermont rising up against the most powerful nation in the world.
"The empire has lost its moral authority. It's unsustainable, ungovernable and unfixable," he said. "We want out."
Are the Early Stages of a New American Revolution Arising?
John R. Houk
© September 30, 2009
Secession movement moves well beyond Texas
© 2009, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.