Secession in the United States

Secession in the United States

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Secession in the United States can refer to secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 of a state from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county.

Attempts at or aspirations of secession from the United States have been a feature of the country's politics since its birth. Some have argued for a constitutional right of secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 and others for a natural right of revolution
Right of revolution
In political philosophy, the right of revolution is the right or duty, variously stated throughout history, of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests...

. The United States Supreme Court ruled unilateral secession unconstitutional while commenting that revolution or consent of the states could lead to a successful secession.

The one serious secession movement was defeated in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. In 1860-1861, eleven of the fifteen southern states where slavery was legal declared their secession from the United States and joined together as the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. It collapsed in 1865 after losing the war with the northern states.

A 2008 Zogby International
Zogby International
IBOPE Zogby International is an international market research, opinion polling firm founded in 1984 by John Zogby. The company polls and consults for a wide spectrum of business media, government, and political groups, and conducts public opinion research in more than 70 countries...

 poll revealed that 22% of Americans believed that "any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic."

American Revolution


The Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 states:
Historian Pauline Maier
Pauline Maier
Pauline Maier is a popular scholar of the American Revolution, the preceding era and post-revolutionary United States. She is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ....

 argues that this sentence “asserted one right, the right of revolution, which was, after all, the right Americans were exercising in 1776.” The chosen language was Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

’s way of incorporating ideas “explained at greater length by a long list of seventeenth-century writers that included such prominent figures as John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

, Algernon Sidney, and John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, as well as a host of others, English and Scottish, familiar and obscure, who continued and, in some measure, developed that ‘Whig’ tradition in the eighteenth century.

This right to revolution in the Declaration was immediately followed with the observation that long practiced injustice is tolerated until serious, sustained assaults to the rights of the entire people accumulated to oppress them, then they could defend themselves. This justification had antecedents in the Two Treatises, 1690, Fairfax Resolves, 1774, Summary Views, 1774, Virginia Constitution, 1776, and Common Sense
Common sense
Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts." Thus, "common sense" equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have...

, 1776.
Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize...

 quotes John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

, “Only ‘repeated, multiplied oppressions’ placing it beyond all doubt ‘that their rulers had formed settled plans to deprive them of their liberties,’ could warrant the concerted resistance of the people against their government.”

Overview


The issue of secession was discussed in many forums, and even advocated in the North and South, in the years before the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. With origins in the question of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

, preceding the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

, historian Maury Klein describes the contemporary debate: "Was the Republic a unified nation in which the individual states had merged their sovereign rights and identities forever, or was it a federation of sovereign states joined together for specific purposes from which they could withdraw at any time?" He observes that "the case can be made that no result of the war was more important than the destruction, once and for all ... of the idea of secession".

Historian Forrest McDonald
Forrest McDonald
Forrest McDonald , is an American historian who has written extensively on the early national period, on republicanism, and on the presidency. He is widely considered one of the foremost historians of the Constitution and of the early national period.- Life :McDonald was born in Orange, Texas. He...

 argues that after the adoption of the Constitution "there were no guidelines, either in theory or in history, as to whether the compact could be dissolved and, if so, on what conditions". However during "the founding era, many a public figure . . . declared that the states could interpose their powers between their citizens and the power of the federal government, and talk of secession was not unknown." However in order to avoid the resort to violence that was necessary in the Revolution, the Constitution intended, according to McDonald, to establish "legitimate means for constitutional change in the future." In effect, the Constitution "completed and perfected the Revolution."

Whatever the intentions of the Founders, secession and threats of disunion were a constant in the political discourse leading up to the Civil War. Historian Elizabeth Varon writes that

Secession from the Articles of Confederation


The United States was governed under the Articles of Confederation for most of the American Revolution and the first few years afterwards. Amendments to the Articles required unanimous consent of the states. The Congress under the Articles authorized a convention to propose changes to the Articles, leading to the drafting of the United States Constitution as a replacement for, rather than an amendment to, the Articles. Instead of submitting the Constitution to Congress where it would require unanimous approval, the proposed Constitution required only the ratification of nine of the thirteen states in order to initiate government under the Constitution. Only states ratifying the Constitution would be included in the new government. For a time, 11 of the states operated under the Constitution without the non-ratifying states of Rhode Island and North Carolina.

Since the Articles spoke of a perpetual union, various explanations have been presented to explain the apparent contradiction and illegality in abandoning (or seceding from) one government and creating another that did not include all of the members of the original. One explanation was simply that the situation under the Articles was failed to protect the vital interests of the states. Necessity, rather than legality, was the relevant factor.

Historian John Ferling wrote that by 1786 the Union under the Articles was falling apart. Founders such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton believed that stability was needed in order to protect both property and commerce. Both favored a stronger central government. He wrote:
Other explanations focus on the Articles of Confederation as an international agreement between sovereign states as opposed to a consolidation that “totally annihilated, without any power of revival” the sovereign states. The Articles required that all states were bound to comply with all requirements of the articles. Permanence was linked to compliance. Emmerich de Vattel, at the time a recognized authority on international law, wrote that “Treaties contain promises that are perfect and reciprocal. If one of the allies fails in his engagements, the other may ... disengage himself in his promises, and ... break the treaty.” This argument was relied on by proponents of the Constitution and was featured by James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 in Federalist No. 43
Federalist No. 43
Federalist No. 43 is an essay by James Madison, the forty-third of the Federalist Papers. It was published on January 23, 1788 under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all the Federalist Papers were published. This paper continues a theme begun by Madison in Federalist No. 42...

.

Some argue that this secession from the Articles was a legal precedent for future secessions from the Constitution. For example, St. George Tucker
St. George Tucker
St. George Tucker was a lawyer, professor of law at the College of William and Mary, and judge of Virginia's highest court. In 1813, upon the nomination of President James Madison, he became the United States district judge for Virginia.-Early life:Born in St. George, Bermuda, near Port Royal...

, a respected jurist in the early republic era, wrote in 1803:
Others deny that a precedent was set. Akhil Reed Amar writes:
Others argue that the language of “perpetual union” from the Articles carried forward into the Constitution. Historian Kenneth Stampp writes:

Secession and the United States Constitution


Constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar
Akhil Reed Amar
Akhil Reed Amar is an American legal scholar, an expert on constitutional law and criminal procedure. Having been the Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale Law School, he was named the Sterling Professor of Law there in 2008...

 argues that the permanence of the United States changed significantly when the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

 were replaced by the adoption of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. This action “signaled its decisive break with the Articles’ regime of state sovereignty.” By creating a constitution instead of some other type of written document, it was made clear that the United States was:
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

 represented a strong voice for the Anti-Federalists who opposed adoption of the Constitution. Questioning the nature of the new political organization being proposed, Henry asked:
The Federalists would point out that Henry exaggerated the extent that a consolidated government was being created and acknowledged that states would continue to serve an important function even though sovereignty had been transferred to the American people as a whole. However, on the issue of whether states retained a right of unilateral secession from the United States, the Federalists made it clear that no such right would exist under the Constitution.

The Federalist Papers
Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles or essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788...

, a primary source for interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, described in detail the dangers of disunion. Hamilton used stark language in Federalist 6 to predict that disunion would lead to war, much as occurred constantly in continental Europe.
Hamilton repeated his of disunion in Federalist 7, predicting that if America lacked a strong union it would "be gradually entangled in all the pernicious labyrinths of European politics and wars." Madison echoed these fears in Federalist 41, observing that peace on the American continent depended on distance from Europe and a strong union. Disunion would lead to large standing armies and war much as occurred in Europe.

Natural right of revolution versus right of secession


Debates on the legality of secession often looked back to the example of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 and the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

. Law professor Daniel Farber
Daniel A. Farber
-Life and work:Born in Chicago, Illinois, Farber graduated the University of Illinois, earning his B.A. , M.A. , and J.D. degrees. He graduated summa cum laude from the College of Law, where he was class valedictorian...

 defined the borders of this debate:
In the public debate over the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

 the separate issue of secession was also discussed. James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

, often referred to as “The Father of the Constitution”, spoke out against secession as a constitutional right. In a March 15, 1833, letter to Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 congratulating him on a speech opposing nullification, Madison discussed “revolution” versus “secession”:
Also during this crisis, President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

, in his Proclamation to the People of South Carolina
Proclamation to the People of South Carolina
The Proclamation to the People of South Carolina was written by Edward Livingston and issued by Andrew Jackson on December 10, 1832. Written at the height of the Nullification Crisis, the proclamation directly responds to the Ordinance of Nullification passed by the South Carolina legislature in...

, made the case for the perpetuity of the Union while also contrasting the differences between “revolution” and “secession”:
In the midst of the secession crisis that would lead to the Civil War, President James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

 in his final State of the Union
State Of The Union
"State Of The Union" is the debut single from British singer-songwriter David Ford. It had previously been featured as a demo on his official website, before appearing as a track on a CD entitled "Apology Demos EP," only on sale at live shows....

 speech acknowledged the South, “after having first used all peaceful and constitutional means to obtain redress, would be justified in revolutionary resistance to the Government of the Union”, but he also reiterated the difference between “revolution” and “secession”:

Alien and Sedition Acts


John Taylor of Caroline
John Taylor of Caroline
John Taylor usually called John Taylor of Caroline was a politician and writer. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the United States Senate . He wrote several books on politics and agriculture...

 pushed for Virginia's secession at the time of the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts
Alien and Sedition Acts
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th United States Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution's reign of terror and during an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War. They were signed into law by President John Adams...

 and his participation in the Republican response—the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions—demonstrated how seriously he took the reserved rights of secession and interposition (nullification) belonging to the States. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 also communicated to James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 his conviction in "a reservation of the rights resulting to us from these palpable violations [the Alien and Sedition Acts]" and, if the federal government did not return to "the true principles of our federal compact," he was determined to "sever ourselves from that union we so much value, rather than give up the rights of self government which we have reserved, and in which alone we see liberty, safety and happiness." Jeffersonian Republicans were not alone in claiming "reserved rights" against the federal government. During the War of 1812, Federalist Founding Father, Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris , was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a native of New York City who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. Morris was also an author of large sections of the...

 (a Hamilton ally) stated that "secession, under certain circumstances, was entirely constitutional."

New England Federalists and Hartford Convention


The election of 1800
United States presidential election, 1800
In the United States Presidential election of 1800, sometimes referred to as the "Revolution of 1800," Vice-President Thomas Jefferson defeated President John Adams. The election was a realigning election that ushered in a generation of Democratic-Republican Party rule and the eventual demise of...

 saw Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party on the rise with the Federalists in decline. Federalists became alarmed at what they saw as threats from the Democratic-Republicans. The Louisiana Purchase was viewed as a violation of the original agreement between the original thirteen states since it created the potential for numerous new states that would be dominated by the Democratic-Republicans. The impeachment of John Pickering
John Pickering (judge)
John Pickering served as Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court of Judicature and as Judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire...

, a Federalist district judge, by the Democratic-Republican dominated Congress and similar attacks by the Democratic-Republican Pennsylvania legislature against that state's judiciary further alarmed Federalists. By 1804, the viable base of the Federalist Party had been reduced to the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware.

A few Federalists, led by Timothy Pickering
Timothy Pickering
Timothy Pickering was a politician from Massachusetts who served in a variety of roles, most notably as the third United States Secretary of State, serving in that office from 1795 to 1800 under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.-Early years:Pickering was born in Salem, Massachusetts to...

 of Massachusetts, considered the creation of a separate New England confederation, possibly combining with lower Canada to form a pro-British nation. Historian Richard Buell, Jr., characterizes these separatist musings:
The Embargo Act of 1807
Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 and the subsequent Nonintercourse Acts were American laws restricting American ships from engaging in foreign trade between the years of 1807 and 1812. The Acts were diplomatic responses by presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison designed to protect American interests...

 was seen as a threat to the economy of Massachusetts and in late May 1808 the state legislature
Massachusetts General Court
The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the Colonial Era, when this body also sat in judgment of judicial appeals cases...

 debated how the state should respond. Once again these debates generated isolated references to secession, but no clear cut plot ever materialized.

Spurred on by some Federalist party members, the Hartford Convention
Hartford Convention
The Hartford Convention was an event spanning from December 15, 1814–January 4, 1815 in the United States during the War of 1812 in which New England's opposition to the war reached the point where secession from the United States was discussed...

 was convened on December 15, 1814, to address both the opposition to the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 (which lasted until 1815) and the domination of the federal government by the Virginia political dynasty. Twenty six delegates attended—Massachusetts sent 12 delegates, Connecticut seven, and Rhode Island four. New Hampshire and Vermont decided not to send delegates although two counties from each state did send delegates. Historian Donald R. Hickey noted:
The final report addressed issues related to the war and state defense and recommended seven constitutional amendments dealing with "the overrepresentation of white southerners in Congress, the growing power of the West, the trade restrictions and the war, the influence of foreigners (like Albert Gallatin
Albert Gallatin
Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin was a Swiss-American ethnologist, linguist, politician, diplomat, congressman, and the longest-serving United States Secretary of the Treasury. In 1831, he founded the University of the City of New York...

), and the Virginia dynasty's domination of national politics."

Massachusetts and Connecticut endorsed the report, but the war ended as the states' delegates were on their way to Washington, effectively ending any impact the report might have had. Generally the convention was a "victory for moderation", but the timing led to the convention being identified as "a synonym for disloyalty and treason" and was a major factor in the sharp decline of the Federalist Party.

Abolitionists


Sectional tensions, with the North and New England pictured as the victims of a slaveholders’ conspiracy, arose again in the late 1830s and 1840s over the related issues of Texas Annexation, the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

, and the expansion of slavery. Isolated voices of separation from the South were again heard. Historian Joel Sibley writes of the beliefs held by some leaders in New England:
In the May 1844 edition of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison
William Lloyd Garrison
William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer. He is best known as the editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, and as one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, he promoted "immediate emancipation" of slaves in the United...

 wrote "Address to the Friends of Freedom and Emancipation in the United States." In this strongly disunionist editorial, Garrison wrote that the Constitution had been created “at the expense of the colored population of the country”. With southerners continuing to dominate the nation because of the Three-fifths compromise
Three-fifths compromise
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the...

, it was time “to set the captive free by the potency of truth” and “secede from the government.” on the same day that this issue was published, the New England Anti-Slavery Convention endorsed the principles of disunion from slaveholders by a vote of 250–24.

From this point on, with the introduction of the Wilmot Proviso
Wilmot Proviso
The Wilmot Proviso, one of the major events leading to the Civil War, would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War or in the future, including the area later known as the Mexican Cession, but which some proponents construed to also include the disputed...

 into the public debate, talk of secession would be primarily a southern issue. The southern theme, increased perceptions of helplessness against a powerful political group attacking a basic southern interest, was almost a mirror image of Federalist beliefs at the beginning of the century.

South Carolina


During the presidential term of Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 had its own semi-secession movement
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

 due to the 1828 "Tariffs of Abomination
Tariff of 1828
The Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by the Congress of the United States on May 19, 1828, designed to protect industry in the northern United States...

" which threatened both South Carolina's economy and the Union. Andrew Jackson also threatened to send federal troops to put down the movement and to hang the leader of the secessionists from the highest tree in South Carolina. Also due to this, Jackson's vice president, John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

, who supported the movement and wrote the essay "The South Carolina Exposition and Protest
South Carolina Exposition and Protest
The South Carolina Exposition and Protest, also known as Calhoun's Exposition, was written in December 1828 by John C. Calhoun, then vice president under John Quincy Adams and later under Andrew Jackson. Calhoun did not formally state his authorship at the time, though it was known.The document was...

", became the first US vice-president to resign. South Carolina also threatened to secede in 1850 over the issue of California's statehood. It became the first state to declare its secession from the Union on December 20, 1860, with the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union and later joined with the other southern states in the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

.

Confederate States of America


See main articles Origins of the American Civil War
Origins of the American Civil War
The main explanation for the origins of the American Civil War is slavery, especially Southern anger at the attempts by Northern antislavery political forces to block the expansion of slavery into the western territories...

, Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 and American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.


The most famous unsuccessful secession movement was the case of the Southern states of the United States. Secession from the United States was declared in eleven states (and failed in two others); they joined together to form the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 (CSA). The eleven states of the CSA, in order of secession, were: South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 (seceded December 20, 1860), Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 (seceded June 8, 1861). Secession was declared by its supporters in Missouri and Kentucky, but did not become effective as it was opposed by their pro-Union state governments. This secession movement brought about the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The position of the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 was that the Confederacy was not a sovereign nation, but that a rebellion had been initiated by individuals. Historian Bruce Catton
Bruce Catton
Charles Bruce Catton was an American historian and journalist, best known for his books on the American Civil War. Known as a narrative historian, Catton specialized in popular histories that emphasized colorful characters and historical vignettes, in addition to the basic facts, dates, and analyses...

 described President Abraham Lincoln's April 15, 1861, proclamation after the attack on Fort Sumter, which defined the Union's position on the hostilities:

Supreme Court rulings


Texas v. White
Texas v. White
Texas v. White, was a significant case argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1869. The case involved a claim by the Reconstruction government of Texas that United States bonds owned by Texas since 1850 had been illegally sold by the Confederate state legislature during the American...

was argued before the United States Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 during the December 1868 term. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase read the Court's decision, on April 15, 1869. Australian Professors Peter Radan and Aleksandar Pavkovic write:
However, the Court's decision recognized some possibility of the divisibility "through revolution, or through consent of the States".

In 1877, the Williams v. Bruffy decision was rendered, pertaining to civil war
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 debts. The Court wrote regarding acts establishing an independent government that "The validity of its acts, both against the parent state and the citizens or subjects thereof, depends entirely upon its ultimate success; if it fail to establish itself permanently, all such acts perish with it; if it succeed and become recognized, its acts from the commencement of its existence are upheld as those of an independent nation."

Historian Kenneth Stampp notes that a historical case against secession had been made that argued that "the Union is older than the states" and that "the provision for a perpetual Union in the Articles of Confederation" was carried over into the Constitution by the "reminder that the preamble to the new Constitution gives us one of its purposes the formation of 'a more perfect Union." Concerning the White decision Stampp wrote:

Texas secession from Mexico


The Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 successfully seceded from Mexico in 1836. Mexico refused to recognize Texas as an independent country, but the major nations of the world did. In 1845, Congress admitted Texas as a state. Contrary to popular myths, the documents governing Texas' accession to the United States of America do not mention any right of secession—although they did raise the possibility of dividing Texas into multiple states inside the Union. Mexico warned that annexation meant war and the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

followed in 1846.