(Centennial Fellow) Responding to Bennett and Schaller on the matter of secession then and now, here’s a somewhat different approach. First, who or what in fact, originally revolted and seceded from England? We all know the obvious answer, which is Jefferson’s. The first line of the Declaration states “when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people….” Thus, there had to have been, in some sense, a large group of people who consider themselves a nation. By this I mean, a group of people who have strong ties to a common identity. So, the nation of Israel is over 5000 years old, while the state of Israel is relatively young. Did this “nation” exist? It seems to me the best analysis here comes from Carl Degler who claims the colonies were split: one third for secession, one third against secession, one third who just did not care.
A discussion of secession ultimately centers on the question of “quitting,” and more specifically, when is it right to quit, if ever? There are two basic questions that must be asked: first, does such a fundamental right exist; and second, is it Constitutional. Whenever talk of secession arises, whether in the early to mid 1800’s in America or now, a dissatisfied group of citizens expresses their frustration by demanding a break of political ties and a separation from the Union.
Editor: A poll from 2008 on secession talk in the USA caught my attention and that of Centennial Fellow Vincent McGuire, who teaches politics at CU-Boulder. James Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge and contributor of this month’s Centennial Review on the roots of American liberty, himself a Centennial Fellow, penned this thoughtful commentary at our invitation. The poll findings and a few words from Vince and me follow the main article.