On Independence Day, many Americans think about, at least briefly, the American Revolution. One important thing they should consider in this reflection is that the American Revolution is misnamed. A more appropriate name would be the American Secession.
And an appropriate question for now, when the power of the United States government and Americans’ dissatisfaction have become immense, is whether the time is right for another American Secession.
The misnamed American revolutionaries were not seeking to replace the king or parliament in Great Britain. That is what revolutionaries would seek. Instead, they wanted their respective colonies to become independent of the control of Great Britain — to secede.
Indeed, this American Secession could even be thought of as the Thirteen Secessions, pursued at the same time by thirteen separate colonies of Great Britain. There was coordination among colonies, and people from different colonies did at times fight together against Great Britain’s military. But, the secessions were pursued for individual colonies, not some overarching American government.
In the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, the July 4 ratification date of which has become the yearly day of celebration of Independence Day over the nearly 250 years that have passed, it is made crystal clear that it is thirteen colonies asserting their independence and that they are doing so as independent states, each of which asserts all the powers on its own as a state like Great Britain possessed:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
The understanding of the word “state” has become perverted over time in America since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The states of the United States gave up some power under the provisions of the United States Constitution a decade after their successful secession from Great Britain. Then, with time, the national government in Washington, DC continued to grow, grabbing up from states of the union many of the other powers that states had been understood to possess. The fifty states of the United States have to a large extent become mere administrative regions of the national US government.
Yet, the states still maintain a significant amount of independence. Consider that some states have been able to establish themselves as comparative tax havens by not having an income tax or a sales tax, that over the last quarter century many states have chosen to significantly liberalize marijuana laws while the US government maintains its war on marijuana, and that during the coronavirus scare states pursued quite different policies, though early on nearly all states’ policies featured very broad and extreme attacks on liberty.
What if the fetters of the US government were removed and the 50 states of the United States of America could become “Free and Independent States” as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Might that create a situation more desirable for Americans?
A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds that 85 percent of Americans say “the country is heading in the wrong direction.” And the dissatisfaction spans party lines. Respectively, Democrats and Republicans answer 78 percent and 92 percent that the country is headed in the wrong direction.
A big part of the reason for dissatisfaction today appears due to the US growing to control the many multiples larger area of now 50 states, plus several territories, and binding it all together under a national government with extensive and uniform laws. This vastly more powerful US government has to a very large degree rescinded the independence of the states since its creation in the late 1700s.
What if the US government were to dissolve, leaving 50 “Free and Independent States” to emerge in its absence? Might dissatisfaction fall? It is worth considering. The Declaration of Independence eloquently argues that, while seceding from a long in place government should be considered with much caution, it can, as was the case with the thirteen colonies asserting their independence in the 1770s, be the proper course of action:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
That is wise advice to consider this Fourth of July holiday. Is the time for “patient sufferance” passed and the time for secession come again for America? While people will disagree about the answer to that question, the one thing that should be clear to everyone is that the question itself is an important and relevant one considering the great powers that have been assumed by the national government at the expense of the states and liberty, as well as many Americans’ dissatisfaction with the current situation.
Dissolution of the United States and a return of truly “Free and Independent States” should be a major topic of discussion in America. Indeed, discussing the topic openly and fully now can be key to ensuring that dissolution, should it come, happens peacefully instead of through another Revolutionary — or Secessionary — War.