“ALL STATES HAVE THE RIGHT TO SECEDE”
by Michael Gaddy, ©2016
People who seem to know everything there is to know about how to extricate themselves from a failed marriage do have issues attempting to remove themselves from a government from which they have lost that loving feeling.
Of course, there is no mention of secession in our Constitution for the people of our founding era were well acquainted with the concept having just seceded from Great Britain and the Articles of Confederation. Perhaps that is why Thomas Jefferson in his First Inaugural Address, being fully cognizant of the ill will his election had created in the New England states with those of the Federalist persuasion, stated the following: “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.” Notice, if you will, Jefferson said nothing of raising an army to invade those states or killing hundreds of thousands of folks to prevent secession from occurring.
One can be reasonably sure that the newly elected President Jefferson was also aware of the document his home state of Virginia had signed when they had ratified the Constitution in the summer of 1788. That document read in part,
“… the powers granted under the Constitution.” being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression…”
Ironic as it may seem, New York and Rhode Island placed similar statements in their ratification agreements. Considering Article IV Section II para I of our Constitution states, “The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states” all states have the right to secede, even Californians.
The leader of the New England secessionists was Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, who had served as George Washington’s chief of staff, his secretary of war and secretary of state, as well as a congressman and senator from Massachusetts. “The principles of our Revolution [of 1776] point to the remedy – a separation,” Pickering wrote to George Cabot in 1803, for “the people of The East cannot reconcile their habits, views, and interests with those of the South and West.” “The Eastern states must and will dissolve the Union and form a separate government,” announced Senator James Hillhouse. Similar sentiments were expressed at the time by such prominent New Englanders as Elbridge Gerry, John Quincy Adams, Fisher Ames, Josiah Quincy, and Joseph Story, among others.
The New England secession movement gained momentum for an entire decade but ultimately was abandoned at the Hartford Secession Convention when the war of 1812 ended. Throughout this struggle, wrote historian Edward Powell in Nullification and Secession in the United States, “the right of a state to withdraw from the Union was not disputed.”
Read the rest here.