No, Texas cannot secede; no, Texas can’t split itself

Rick Perry put his foot into something during one of the Astro-turf “tea parties” on April 15.  Someone asked him about whether Texas should secede from the United States, as a protest against high taxes, or something.

The answer to the question is “No, secession is not legal.  Did you sleep through all of your U.S. history courses?  Remember the Civil War?”

Alas, Perry didn’t say that.

Instead, Perry said it’s not in the offing this week, but ‘Washington had better watch out.’

He qualified his statement by saying the U.S. is a “great union,” but he said Texans are thinking about seceding, and he trotted out a hoary old Texas tale that Texas had reserved that right in the treaty that ceded Texas lands to the U.S. in the switch from being an independent republic after winning independence from Mexico, to statehood in the U.S.

So, rational people want to know:  Does Perry know what he’s talking about?

No, he doesn’t.  Bud Kennedy, columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (still one of America’s great newspapers despite the efforts of its corporate owners to whittle it down), noted the error and checked with Gov. Perry’s history instructors at Texas A&M and his old high school, both of which said that Perry didn’t get the tale from them.  (Score one for Texas history teachers; rethink the idea about letting people run for state office without having to pass the high school exit history exam.)

A&M professor Walter L. Buenger is a fifth-generation Texan and author of a textbook on Texas’ last secession attempt. (The federal occupation lasted eight years after the Civil War.)

“It was a mistake then, and it’s an even bigger mistake now,” Buenger said by phone from College Station, where he has taught almost since Perry was an Aggie yell leader.

“And you can put this in the paper: To even bring it up shows a profound lack of patriotism,” Buenger said.

The 1845 joint merger agreement with Congress didn’t give Texas an option clause. The idea of leaving “was settled long ago,” he said.

“This is simple rabble-rousing and political posturing,” he said. “That’s all it is.  . . .  Our governor is now identifying himself with the far-right lunatic fringe.”

Three false beliefs about Texas history keep bubbling up, and need to be debunked every time.  The first is that Texas had a right to secede; the second is that Texas can divide itself into five states; and the third is that the Texas flag gets special rights over all other state flags in the nation.

Under Abraham Lincoln’s view the Union is almost sacred, and once a state joins it, the union expands to welcome that state, but never can the state get out.  Lincoln’s view prevailed in the Civil War, and in re-admittance of the 11 Confederate states after the war.

The second idea also died with Texas’s readmission.  The original enabling act (not treaty) said Texas could be divided, but under the Constitution’s powers delegated to Congress on statehood, the admission of Texas probably vitiated that clause.  In any case, the readmission legislation left it out.  Texas will remain the Lone Star State, and not become a Five Star Federation. (We dealt with this issue in an earlier post you probably should click over to see.)

Texas’s flag also gets no special treatment.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard Texans explain to Boy Scouts that the Texas flag — and only the Texas flag — may fly at the same level as the U.S. flag on adjacent flag poles.  Under the flag code, any flag may fly at the same level; the requirement is that the U.S. flag be on its own right.

Gov. Perry is behind Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in polling of a head-to-head contest between the two to see who will be the Republican nominee for governor in 2010 — Hutchison is gunning to unseat Perry.  He was trying to throw some red meat to far-right conservative partisans who, he hopes, will stick by him in that primary election.

Alas, he came off throwing out half-baked ideas instead.  It’s going to be a long, nasty election campaign.


Update: A commenter named Bill Brock (the Bill Brock?) found the New York Times article from 1921 detailing John Nance Garner’s proposal to split Texas into five.  Nice find!

Another update: How much fuss should be made over the occasional wild hare move for some state to secede?  Probably not much.  A few years ago Alaska actually got a referendum on the ballot to study secession.  The drive to secede got nowhere, of course.  I was tracking it at the time to see whether anyone cared.  To the best of my knowledge, the New York Times never mentioned the controversy in Alaska, and the Washington Post gave it barely three paragraphs at the bottom of an inside page.

71 Responses to No, Texas cannot secede; no, Texas can’t split itself

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Another of many Scalia errors of history and law.


  2. Tony says:

    According to the late Antonio Scania TX does have the right to divide itself


  3. Billy says:

    First let me say that what you presented was factual, there was no secret clause or anything in the ratification by Virginia, New York and Rhode Island that allowed those three states to secede if they wanted to. I don’t disagree with the accuracy of what you posted.

    However, let’s talk about the moral aspect of it, what’s right and what’s wrong, regardless of what actually happened, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the time of the Civil War many decades later. I’m not arguing about the point that technically, according to the Constitution, no state has an inherent right to secede, something reaffirmed by a Supreme Court decision after the Civil War. The Constitution is what it is and it doesn’t allow for states to secede.

    I’m also not going to argue that the seceding states did so for any higher purpose than what they stated in their declarations of secession, namely the perceived threat to the institution of chattel slavery they saw in the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin which to them was seen as a dagger aimed at the heart of their entire way of life. It goes without saying that 1. chattel slavery is grossly immoral and 2. Lincoln and Hamlin were Free-Soilers, not abolitionists, thus if the ones making the decisions in the seceding states were less hotheaded and more patient they would have likely seen that the threat they were envisioning was very much overblown.

    My point however is this: regardless of what it says on the parchment of the Constitution, if one looks at purely the question of secession in the abstract, whether a state SHOULD have the right to secede from the larger country of which it is a part, common sense should tell you that it SHOULD have that right. It’s very similar to a marriage. Clearly when two people get married they don’t do so with the thought that the marriage is going to only last a couple of years and end in divorce. No, when they take their vows they are committing themselves to a perpetual union of two people, until death do they part. Obviously it doesn’t always work out that way so if either party to the marriage eventually finds that it is not at all working, that they don’t love the spouse anymore, they want out of the marriage for whatever reason then common sense should tell everyone except a Catholic that the marriage should be dissolved rather than two people continuing to make each other miserable needlessly, simply in order to fulfill the letter of a compact that either one or both of them regrets having entered into. If you believe a spouse has a right unilaterally to file for divorce, meaning even if the other partner in the marriage doesn’t want it to be over, then you believe that a state has a right to secede from the larger country of which it is a part. The alternative, and the equivalent to saying “No, once you’re a part of this or that nation then your state never under any circumstances has a right to secede” would be like saying that a husband should be able to hold his wife at gunpoint to prevent her from divorcing him when she clearly doesn’t want to be married to him anymore. Saying “Sorry honey, you took a vow that you’ll be my wife and I’m holding you to that, even if it means I have to keep you locked up in a closet to keep you from escaping”.

    It’s a simple matter of right and wrong. If you don’t believe a state has an inherent, moral right to secede then you don’t believe a divorce initiated by only one of the two partners in a marriage should be legal. Conversely, if you agree with common sense that either party to a marriage should be allowed to file for divorce then you agree that in principle a state SHOULD have the right to secede. I don’t give a damn what the Supreme Court says, as it has been wrong on numerous occasions, and I don’t care a whit what the Constitution says. It’s utter horseshit to say that it’s morally right for a state to be held at gunpoint in a union it no longer wants to be associated with. And horseshit written in fancy lettering on parchment is still horseshit.


  4. […] of other stories cover the question regarding Texas.  One of them notes that SCOTUS has previously taken up the […]


  5. JamesK says:

    Oh and you’re conveniently ignoring this part of the US Constitution too:

    US Constitution, article 6, 2nd clause:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    Since the US Supreme Court has ruled that there is no constitutional right to secede then all states, under Article 6, are bound to obey it. It’s the Supreme Law of the Land.


  6. JamesK says:

    The 14th amendment was added to the US constitution in 1868. Texas vs White was decided in 1869.

    Would you like me to draw you a map?


  7. JamesK says:

    To quote: The US Constitution is silent on the issue of secession. There is no provision in the Texas Constitution (current or former) that reserves the right of secession, but it does state that “Texas is a free and independent State, subject only to the Constitution of the United States” … not to the President of the US or even the Congress of the US.

    According to the US Supreme Court in 1869’s Texas vs White…no there is no constitutional right to secede.

    So’re wrong when you claim the US Constitution is silent on the issue of secession.

    But if you don’t like the USSC’s decision there’s always the 1st clause of the 14th amendment which reads: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    pay attention to that part that says “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    a state seceding would be abridging the people living in said the state of the privileges and immunities of being citizens of the United States.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Interesting view; Wikipedia is generally pretty accurate, but in this case, I find it not so.

    The “readmission” process for southern states after the Civil War was contentious, even among the Radical Republicans. The issue was whether state officials had demonstrated that they were loyal to the U.S., and not to a government in rebellion nor a rebellious faction. Technically, that has nothing to do with the legality, or lack of legality, of secession.

    That 11 states rebelled did no make rebellion legal. That the citizens of those states were permitted to assume duties of citizenship after the rebellion should not be interpreted as making the rebellion legal.

    If one wishes to make an argument that secession is legal, one must overcome the clear statements of Lincoln, and the fact that the Constitution gives the government certain rights to deal with people and even states in rebellion.

    Yes, the Declaration says people have a right to alter their government. Under our Constitution, we call that the Amendment process — see Article V.

    The Constitution was not created by the states, but by the citizens of the nation, and the states are subservient both to the Constitution, and to the citizens.

    You’ve got 100,000 Texas yahoos who claim they want to secede? I’ve got 3 million Obama voters who say things are fine.

    Do you believe in majority rule?

    Those secessionist Texans may self-deport at any time. Their choice.


  9. Cooper says:

    (Copied from

    The US Constitution is silent on the issue of secession. There is no provision in the Texas Constitution (current or former) that reserves the right of secession, but it does state that “Texas is a free and independent State, subject only to the Constitution of the United States” … not to the President of the US or even the Congress of the US.

    Both original and current Texas Constitutions state that political power is inherent in the people and (just as the Declaration of Independence declares) “the people have the right to alter their government in such manner as they might think proper.”

    Texas and Hawaii are two states that were once recognized as independent nations, before choosing to join the Union. Their voluntary decision to join the Union did not come with an explicit agreement that they could never leave.

    Some people claim that the Civil War proved that secession is illegal. Whether one was in favor of the North or the South, all that war actually “proved” is that a state or group of states can be militarily forced to continue being a part of a group. Superior strength does not prove morality or legality as any citizen of the former Soviet Union can attest.

    Some people are under the mistaken impression that the US Supreme Court decision in Texas v. White “proved” that secession is unconstitutional. Actually, that decision was not based on any precedent or anything in the Constitution and was in direct conflict with the actions of the then-President Grant who had to sign an act to “re-admit” Texas into the Union and allow them to send Representatives back to Congress. If Texas had never left, as the Court declared, it would not have been required to be “re-admitted” and Grant would not have needed to sign the declaration. This is a conflict that has never been fully cleared up.

    Bottom line: There is no law forbidding or allowing secession. If Texas or any other state decides to secede, the resulting peaceful separation or war will depend not on law, but on the will of whomever happens to be Commander-in-Chief at the time.
    (To see the complete article paste


  10. […] This issue heated up last just after President Barack Obama took office and stopped the national slide into recession; Texans got ticked off that Obama hadn’t let them slip down the bung hole, and the Tea Party was born to push and make sure no one stopped such a slide in the future.  Rick Perry, our peripatetic occasional governor and head coyote persecutor, threw gasoline on the fire.  I posted this explanation back then. […]


  11. Ed Darrell says:

    You’re right, Vince. Thanks for the catch.


  12. Vince Treacy says:

    This is kind of late in the party, but I just wanted to add a brief footnote to one of Ed’s posts.

    He wrote: “Texas could split itself the same way all other states may split themselves — with legislative approval and approval from Congress. In the post that disappeared, I pointed out this has happened only once, when the western counties of Virginia were split from Virginia in 1863….”

    In fact, there was an earlier split, one that was a crucial episode in the history of the origins of the Civil War. In 1820, Massachusetts allowed itself to be split in two, with the area known as Maine being admitted as a free state to balance the slave state Missouri in the Missouri Compromise.

    At the time of the Revolution and ratification of the Constitution, all of present day Maine was part of Massachusetts. It should have been called the Maine-Missouri Compromise.


  13. Nick K says:

    Maybe Chris will address the curious fact that the only time Republicans and the right wing are remotely interested in “state’s rights” is when Democrats are in power. When Republicans are the ones in power they gleefully trample on “state’s rights” just as much as they pretend the Democrats do.


  14. Jim says:

    Hello Chris!

    Are you there? Welcome to MFB! It’s a wonderful place to discuss all kinds of things.

    May I ask you some questions? I hope you haven’t left. I’d be curious to know if you believe secession was correct…Constitutionally and morally in 1860?

    I am hoping you will address the issue of “States’ Rights.” Have at it!




  15. Nick K says:

    Chris says: “The South’s rejoining the Union at the point of a bayonet in the late 1860s didn’t prove secession is “not an option” or unlawful. It only affirmed that violent coercion can be used—even by governments (if unrestrained)—to rob men of their very lives, liberty, and property.”

    You mean property like slaves, Chris?


  16. Ellie says:

    Chris says: “The South’s rejoining the Union at the point of a bayonet in the late 1860s didn’t prove secession is “not an option” or unlawful. It only affirmed that violent coercion can be used—even by governments (if unrestrained)—to rob men of their very lives, liberty, and property.”

    I think my Irony Meter just blew up.


  17. Nick K says:

    From Wikipedia:
    Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869) 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 Civil War. The state filed suit directly with the United States Supreme Court, which, under the United States Constitution, retains original jurisdiction on cases in which a state is a party.

    In accepting jurisdiction, the court ruled that Texas had remained a state ever since it first joined the Union, despite its joining the Confederate States of America and its being under military rule at the time of the decision in the case. In deciding the merits of the bond issue, the court further held that the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were “absolutely null”.

    Oopsie…I guess Chris is wrong. Imagine that.


  18. Nick K says:

    US Constitution, 14th Amendment, 1st Paragraph:
    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Hm…no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…..

    Lets see…if Texas secedede it would be abridging the privilges and immunities of the citizens of the United States in texas who want to stay citizens of the United States. Oops…secession is a constitutional violation.

    Secondly..what in hell makes you think we wouldn’t just invade you again? After all..that is usually what happens to traitors. Not like you’d be able to defend yourself. Since Texas has no ownership claims to any US military base in Texas nor any military equipment in Texas. All those nice shiny tanks and machine guns and fighter jets belong to the United States, not you. Not even the Texas state guard owns its own military equipment. Its all on, in effect, loan from the federal military.

    And here is a list of the money Texas would lose:
    FEMA: Has sent 3 billion dollars in aid to Texas since 2001. Just for Hurricane Ike a few years ago you got 1 billion additional dollars from other federal agencies.

    When NASA would pull out of Houston you could kiss 26,000 jobs and another 2.5 billion dollars that would no longer be part of the Texas economy. Fort Hood would be shut down which is another 6 billion dollars that is no longer in your economy. Your own country? Get your own damn military.

    You could kiss Social Security and Medicare goodbye. That’s another several billion out of your own economy. Would have to get your own FDA, CDIC, FBI, CIA, NSA, NIH and so on. And where are you going to put the waste that your four nuclear power plants generate?

    Last year the US government gave Texas students a billion plus dollars in Pell grants. And you can be damn sure that we’d jack up the tuition that any Texas resident would pay in any US college if not just outright ban your kids from attending our schools.

    And exactly who are the Cowboys going to play? Same question with the Rangers and the Stars? What makes you think we’d let them stay in the NFL, NHL, and the MLB? And are your colleges in Texas just going to play each other? Because not like they’d be part of the NCAA any longer. As the tv ratings from those teams would no longer count in the United States its doubtful that any tv network would any longer want to broadcast such sporting events. You may want to look up what happened to most of Canada’s baseball teams when it came to tv revenue.

    And of course you’ll have to protect your own borders. That is of course unless Mexico decides that your precious Texas will return to its motherland and become the state of Tejano. Of course we’ll have to secure our new southern border to protect us from all the illegal Texan’s trying to cross the border and steal our jobs.

    Of course the Democrats would gain a fillibuster proof Senate. And most of Texas’ electoral votes would go to votes that are traditionally Democrat. You know…California, New York, Ohio and Michigan.
    And finally..lets remember Texas’ huge political nightmare coming up in less then 10 years.

    That, of course, being when the Latino’s outnumber the whites. By 2020 the Texas population will be 45% latino to 38% white. Mexico really wouldn’t even have to invade to get your state back in the fold. It could just wait. And it’s not like we’d have any reason to save your asses.

    And as I said before..the US Supreme Court ruled in Texas v White that there is no right to secede.

    Next time, Chris, I suggest that you turn your brain on instead of making yourself out to be an idiot. Your state doesn’t belong to you. It doesn’t belong to just Texans. It belongs to all of us and sorry, you don’t get the right to strip me of my ownership of it.


  19. Nick K says:

    Chris writes:
    No Texas isn’t going to leave the U.S anytime. But it can if it wanted to. Texas has the resources to sustain a viable economy and Military with out the U.S.

    Read Texas vs White sometime, Chris. In it the US Supreme Court declared that there is no right to secede..period.

    And no..texas doesn’t have the resources to sustain a viable economy or a military without the rest of us. Your state is one of the biggest welfare states in the country. meaning your state is one of the states most subsidized by the rest. Your state would be an economic black hole on its own.


  20. Ed Darrell says:

    Chris wrote:

    Likewise, each of the united States is “united” with the others explicitly on the principle that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” and “whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends [i.e., protecting life, liberty, and property], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government” and “when a long train of abuses and usurpations…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.” [3]

    That’s from the Declaration of Independence, and while it may inspire and suggest guidance, it is not law. Nor does it unite any states in anything — except, perhaps, the original 13 colonies in the conduct of the war against Britain. It was not intended to do that, either, however, and it did not suggest in any way that it did. The result of the war was 13 independent nations, not a United States of America.

    There is no path for secession under the Constitution of the U.S. Texas agreeing to be bound by the Constitution does not get it out from under the authority of Congress, nor the President, nor the Courts, which all are Constitutionally-created bodies.

    Gasoline taxes to build roads are not “usurpations.”


  21. Chris says:

    No Texas isn’t going to leave the U.S anytime. But it can if it wanted to. Texas has the resources to sustain a viable economy and Military with out the U.S.


  22. Chris says:

    Q: Didn’t the outcome of the “Civil War” prove that secession is not an option for any State?
    No. It only proved that, when allowed to act outside his lawfully limited authority, a U.S. president is capable of unleashing horrendous violence against the lives, liberty, and property of those whom he pretends to serve. The Confederate States (including Texas) withdrew from the Union lawfully, civilly, and peacefully, after enduring several decades of excessive and inequitable federal tariffs (taxes) heavily prejudiced against Southern commerce.[4] Refusing to recognize the Confederate secession, Lincoln called it a “rebellion” and a “threat” to “the government” (without ever explaining exactly how “the government” was “threatened” by a lawful, civil, and peaceful secession) and acted outside the lawfully defined scope of either the office of president or the U.S. government in general, to coerce the South back into subjugation to Northern control.[5]

    The South’s rejoining the Union at the point of a bayonet in the late 1860s didn’t prove secession is “not an option” or unlawful. It only affirmed that violent coercion can be used—even by governments (if unrestrained)—to rob men of their very lives, liberty, and property.


  23. Chris says:

    I know this is old. But here you all go.

    Q: Doesn’t the Texas Constitution reserve the right of Texas to secede?
    This heavily popularized bit of Texas folklore finds no corroboration where it counts: No such provision is found in the current Texas Constitution[1] (adopted in 1876) or the terms of annexation.[2] However, it does state (in Article 1, Section 1) that “Texas is a free and independent State, subject only to the Constitution of the United States…” (note that it does not state “…subject to the President of the United States…” or “…subject to the Congress of the United States…” or “…subject to the collective will of one or more of the other States…”)

    Neither the Texas Constitution, nor the Constitution of the united States, explicitly or implicitly disallows the secession of Texas (or any other “free and independent State”) from the United States. Joining the “Union” was ever and always voluntary, rendering voluntary withdrawal an equally lawful and viable option (regardless of what any self-appointed academic, media, or government “experts”—including Abraham Lincoln himself—may have ever said).

    Both the original (1836) and the current (1876) Texas Constitutions also state that “All political power is inherent in the people … they have at all times the inalienable right to alter their government in such manner as they might think proper.”

    Likewise, each of the united States is “united” with the others explicitly on the principle that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” and “whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends [i.e., protecting life, liberty, and property], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government” and “when a long train of abuses and usurpations…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.” [3]


  24. […] Texas Annexation Question – Can Texas divide itself into multiple states? – Texas State Library http://http://timpanogos.wordpress.c…-split-itself/ Basically, during the annexation process there was a ton of debate between the slave holding […]


  25. Nick Kelsier says:

    Oh by the way, Thom, in case you further want to argue that secession is a constitutional possibility then let me suggest you read one particular part of the US Constitution…well more specifically the admendments to that Constitution.

    That admendment you should read would be the 14th. Specifically it’s first clause.

    Have fun arguing that a state trying to secede is somehow not a massive violation of the line that reads thus: ” No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Because last time I checked, being a citizen of the United States brings certain privileges and immunities to said person who is a citizen of the United States. And logic would dictate that a state trying to secede would be by definition trying to abridge and violate those privileges and immunities.

    So if you don’t want to live in the United States then find some other country to live in. But that is the only choice you have. You do not have the choice to take what belongs to the United States with you on the way out the door.

    So to be blunt…get out or shut up.


  26. Nick Kelsier says:

    This pretty much sums up the problem with Texas seceding. Oh and Ill add this comment “No, the state of Texas is not special. It does not have special rights. It doesn’t get to play “lets flirt with treason.”


  27. Nick Kelsier says:

    Thom writes:
    De-annexation is very much a legal and consitutional possibility because it is an agreement with the other States and Texas that would allow Texas to leave peaceably

    THe other 49 states aren’t going to agree to it, the US government isn’t going to agree to it. Why? Because it would be pretty much the dissolution of the United States.

    And unless you and yours are willing to pay us all the money that we’ve spent in taxes for all the sh– you guys have gotten from us Texas is not solely yours. Or to put this bluntly, because I pay taxes that in part goes to Texas guess what I own much as you do. If you want Texas to be solely yours then you are going to be paying me and the rest of us who live in the other 49 states all the money back. And I can damn well guarantee you that would be enough to render Texas a third world nation. Have fun being pretty much the North American version of Somalia.

    The whole idea of “secession” and “deannexation” and whatever else you want to call it was rendered dead by the conclusion of the US civil war.

    If you want to not live in the United States then fine..I have no problem with that. Move somewhere else…but you’re not taking Texas with you. You simply don’t have the right. It isn’t yours. And you have no right to screw over all the people in Texas who would just as soon keep it in the United States.

    You say you’re a patriot? I say you’re a pretend patriot just like you’re a pretend secessionist. If you were really a patriot you’d knock off the secession talk. And if you really didn’t want to live in the United States you’d move out of the country.

    And as for my remark about the President it was in response to the fact that somehow Governor hairpiece, among other republicans, like to claim that they’re such loyal Americans…but the second a black man is President they all start ringing the “secession” bell.


  28. Thom Hill says:

    Nick. I never said anything about the US having a black president nor mentioned anything about keeping anything in Texas that didn’t belong in Texas. My head is definitely not in my a** just because I don’t want Texas to be part of America. I didn’t want Texas to be part of the US when Bush was president and he was from Texas. I also know Texas history very well since I am from Texas and know very well all the facts about Texas’ annexation, secession, and re-admission after the Civil War. De-annexation is very much a legal and consitutional possibility because it is an agreement with the other States and Texas that would allow Texas to leave peaceably. It may never happen because of everything it entails. But it is very much legal, constitutional and I am not crazy because I believe differently from you and want a free Texas. Just as you are not crazy because you believe differently from me. I am not a traitor. I am very much a patriotic American and will support the constitution and America until susch time as I am no longer American (which would be if Texas ever gained independence, peacefully and with US support and agreement).


  29. Nick Kelsier says:

    Thom, since you missed history apparently this is what happened:
    1844: Texas was annexed by the United States
    1860: Texas seceded from the United States
    1866: Texas is readmitted into the United States after the end of the Civil war.

    Or to put this another way…there is no “deannexation of Texas” possible because Texas deannexed itself in 1860 and got, to put it bluntly, conquered. Your ancestors rendered the whole annexation moot by seceding in the first place. There is nothing to unannex because you guys were no longer annexed after 1860. And there is no constitutional right to secede because 1: the US Constitution doesn’t grant it and 2: it got rendered moot by the conclusion of the civil war. Not to mention 3: There is no way in hell the rest of us are going to agree to you guys wandering off on your own and, to put it bluntly, stealing our property.

    And even if you want to argue that you have a constitutional right to secede the fact is the second you do secede you lose all protections the US Constitution grants you which means the rest of the United States would be within its rights and definitly within it’s power to conquer you guys…again. And if you think the rest of the world would recognize an independent country of Texas and risk pissing the United States off then you’re even more crazy then I already think you are.


  30. Nick Kelsier says:

    Oh and thats not even bothering to mention the fact that you and your fellow white people, Thom, are going to become a minority in Texas within the next twenty years.

    Gee…I wonder if the hispanics in Texas really want to become a country separate from either the United States or Mexico.

    Somehow I rather doubt it. But have fun fighting against the Mexican military when it comes knocking on your door looking to get its land back if you secede, Thom. Somehow I doubt without all those nice shiny US military equipment you will have very much success. Because we sure as shit aren’t going to let you keep all those tanks, machine guns, artillery pieces, fighter jets, bombers, submarines, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers and whatever else by way of the US military we have stationed in Texas.


  31. Nick Kelsier says:

    And I would prefer that Texans who want secession get their heads out of their a–, quit throwing childish hissy fits especially over *gasp* the fact that a black man is President, and start acting like rational human beings.

    Barring that I would prefer that said secessionists move to some isolated island where they can do whatever they want. Just don’t mind the presence of the US navy outside said island’s territorial waters..its only to ensure that no secessionists engage in illegal immigration back to the United States. That way Texas can belong to the people that actually own it…that would be the people of the United States in totality. I have no tolerance for traitors…I have even less tolerance for stupid traitors.

    Because if Texas seceded it would become a third world nation. Because Texas’ economy would collapse. Why? Because a very large part of Texas’ budget is paid for it by…wait for it…the rest of the states. And you could kiss NASA not to mention the presence of the US military and all said equipment good bye. Plus I really doubt large companies in Texas would choose to stay in Texas since Texas would be under an economic sanctions from the US if it tried seceding. Oh and I guess all professional sports teams in Texas would move because its kind of pointless to have professional sports teams if they have no one to play against. So you, Thom, could kiss your state’s economy goodbye. Unless of course you’re going to pay the rest of us back for all the money we’ve pumped into your state, yes? It would only be several hundred trillion dollars, if not more, your state could easily afford that right?

    And this is forgetting the fact that trying to secede would be a massive violation of the civil rights of all Texans who didn’t want to secede in the first place.

    I just love how those who run around claiming to be such patriots turn out to be such traitors.


  32. Thom Hill says:

    While not a historian or constitutional lawyer but from (I think) a rational, reasonable person’s perspective, I submitting a few comments for discussion (thought his thread seems a little old):

    Texas cannot secede in the normal sense of the word, i.e., just unilateraly declare it is not part of the United States. It could separate through “revolution or consent of the States”, as stated in Texas vs. White.

    So what is “consent of the States”? Presumably acceptance by the US Congress and the other states legislatures. By what margins TvW doesn’t specifiy. Plurality or quorum? Basically it could happen through formal de-anenxation. This is a long, drawn out legal and consitutional process as Quebec can attest in its efforts to separate from Canada.

    How to initiate a de-annexation is not specified in the constitution. Presumably (again), the Texas Legistature could petition the US Congress to consider de-annexing Texas (could this just be to rescind the 1845 joint resolution annexing Texas?). How could the Legislature do this? A bill. A state referendum (which Texas does not have). Questions abound.

    If the Legislature petitioned Congress and no action was taken, what could Texas do? Would the UN, World Court, etc. hear a case for Texas de-annexation? Not without political support from other countries, if at all. Congress could be persuaded by popular opinion in the US from the other states or from state legislatures. So forth and so on.

    It’s an interesting political question. I personally would prefer Texas be independent but obstacles are massive, if not insurmountable. It should be pursued nonetheless, in my humble opinion.


  33. Ed Darrell says:

    I think most Christians would be aghast at your claim that Christianity strives for one world government. Try telling that to Pat Robertson, or Pat Buchanan.

    The trend for at least the past 110 years has been toward more states, not necessarily smaller, but formal recognition of people as self-rulers. There were fewer than 150 nations when the United Nations was formed in 1946. Today there are more than 200.

    Most Christians regard the freeing of peoples to determine their own fate as a good thing, and not bad.


  34. May I interject that the course of history is not toward smaller state divisions but to one final large state encompassing the Planet. Democracy is a nice enough procedure, among friends, but the others must contend with the logic of nature. The discourse on your page operates out of the assumption that the democratic right you hold as citizens of the greater polity, allows you to detract from that greater union. It doesn’t, anymore than your drivers license entitles you to sleep on a public highway.

    I cannot keep myself from shouting out to all dissatisfied souls that our work is building the Heavenly Kingdom upon the surface of the Planet, and we need more community bonding and political integration, not less.



  35. […] by more than 3-to-1, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said secession can’t legally happen. No, Texas cannot secede; no, Texas can’t split itself Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub […]


  36. Nick Kelsier says:

    Just to add to my list:

    Fema has sent 3 billion dollars in aid to Texas since 2001. Other federal agencies sent an additional 1 billion dollars since just last year. NASA employs 26k people in Texas and injects nearly 3 billion dollars into the Texan economy. Fort Hood injects 6 billion into the Texan economy. And where does Texas plan to store the nuclear waste from it’s 4 nuclear power plants? Texas got a billion dollars in Pell Grants for the academic year 2006-2007. The Blue states would gain 24 electoral votes, the red states would split the remaining 10.

    And in 11 years the Hispanic population in Texas will outnumber the Anglo population 45% to 38%. By 2040 the Anglos will number 25% of Texas’ population.

    So really…what again would be the point of secession? Not like the other states would fare any better economically.


  37. Nick Kelsier says:

    Not legally it can’t, Robert.

    Ok lets say Texas wanted to secede.

    It would have to give up NASA, all the equipment on all US military bases.

    It would need to create it’s own CIA, FBI, CDIC, FDIC, NSA, FAA, FEC, SEC, IRS and all the other federal departments.

    And it would be suddenly out at least 12 billion dollars every year that Texas gets in tax money from the rest of us. In other words, Robert, Texas’s economy would collapse.

    And I would personally advocate building a border fence on its northern border because I don’t want know “illegal Texas immigrants” coming into the United States. And if I was President and didn’t order an invasion of Texas myself I’d contact the government of Mexico that hey..if they wanted their former territory back they can go right ahead.

    And Texas wouldn’t be able to defend itself because it would have no military…because of not having any military equipment such as rifles, machine guns, missiles, helicopters, fighter jets, bombers, tanks and such in which to defend itself.

    Now I have a question for you, Robert. how is it that the Republicans…the party that so loves to wrap itself in the flag of the United States and claim they’re super patriots..are the ones that run straight towards treason just because they lose a presidential election?


  38. Robert Mcfarland says:

    I have a question for all you brainiacs about if texas could seperate. wasnt there a superpower that the usa was in a cold war with for years ,that found itself in an economic mess. Did not the end result with several areas of this superpower seperating and are still seperated today.and some are now members of nato.if it can happen in russia, it can happen here! end of decussion.


  39. Nick Kelsier says:

    Gee, Larry, and which party contributed in no small part to that “crushing debt”? Oh wait…the Republicans. All that “debt on our children” that they’ve been crying about has been created in no small part due to their own actions.

    So tell me, Larry, is it really fair that you seem to think that it would be okay that some of the states leave the Union and therefor run like deadbeat fathers trying to get out of having to pay their share of the burden? Just to use Texas as an example, not so many weeks ago Governor Hairpiece was telling the feds to quit telling Texas what to do. Last week Governor Hairpiece was begging the feds to send Texas more money and anti-virals to deal with the swine flu outbreak. Governor Hairpiece should be thankful that I’m not the President because the first condition on Texas being given that aid would have been the requirement that Governor Hairpiece get on national tv and renounce what he said earlier.

    It is not a “rights and freedom” issue. Because there is no right to secede and as for freedom..gee the secessionists would be sacrificing the freedom of the ones in their states that don’t want to secede. As I said before…secession is a violation, just to name one violation, of the 14th Admendment.

    Those who advocate secession are advocating treason. If they want to leave the country they are free to renounce their citizenship and move to some other country. They are not free to take the state they live in with them. The state doesn’t belong to them.

    Or more specifically..the state doesn’t belong to only them.

    To quote a certain episode of West Wing:
    Well, first of all, let’s clear up a couple of things. “Unfunded mandate” is two words, not one big word. There are times when we’re fifty states and there are times when we’re one country, and have national needs. And the way I know this is that Florida didn’t fight Germany in World War II or establish civil rights. You think states should do the governing wall-to-wall. That’s a perfectly valid opinion. But your state of Florida got $12.6 billion in federal money last year – from Nebraskans, and Virginians, and New Yorkers, and Alaskans, with their Eskimo poetry. 12.6 out of a state budget of $50 billion. I’m supposed to be using this time for a question, so here it is: Can we have it back, please?


  40. Larry says:

    I seriously doubt a civil war would ever take place in the US.
    That said, I think the question of seceding will eventually be fought in court. It’s just a matter of time before it happens, could be 5 yrs, could be a hundred. But it will become an issue for the courts at some point. I think it will become a rights and freedom issue, But economically driven for survival out from under the crushing debt of the Federal Government.


  41. REALhistory says:

    the only “Texans” if you wanna call ’em that, are stupid rednecks and business owning, Oil tycoons; and everbody else in the middle and Im sorry. they’re NOT the status quo, folks.
    Perry is LAUGHABLE and inept in his words of “secession” as he has been as governor of Texas.

    not only would it be illegal as hell (and the US would NEVER go for it), do you really think Mexico and the their drug cartel government would hesistate a second on trying to reclaim their old northern province?? and without the backing of the Federal gov’t Texas would stand NO chance of winning that war.
    we’re losing the “war on drugs” as it is and there still isnt a 2000 mile border wall up.

    secession? really?? AHAHAHAHAHAHHHH!!!!

    unfortunately, the majority of Texans are decent minded people that hate these morons trying to cause trouble. sigh…but the media will only show Texans as idiots as usual.

    texas is to bible-thumping “patriotic” whackjobs,
    as Afghanistan is to a a haven for terrorists.


  42. Will Howard says:

    Wonderful reading ! I’ll gesture it in the Texas Parlor.


  43. Nick Kelsier says:

    Higgin, the people of the south at time of the civil war would not have had cause to consider the ramifications of what they did on the outcome of WW2.

    However, Higgin, it is incumbent on those advocating “state’s rights” and “secession” and the “right of states to secede” in this day and age to consider what the ramifications would have been.

    People like Jim want to pretend that there would have been no ramifcations on what is now our history if the south had been allowed to secede 160 years ago. That was the point I was making. Jim and the other “state’s rights advocates” want to pretend that there would have been no price that would have been paid. They want to pretend that, using the examples I gave, that Hitler still would have been stopped. They want to pretend that the Soviet Union still would have fallen. They want to think that if the south had seceded back in the mid 1800’s that US history and world history would have continued on exactly how it did.

    As for whether states have the right to they don’t. The civil war put an end beyond doubt to that question. And as for constitutionally, just one violation of the Constitution that a state would commit now if it tried to secede is that it would be violating the 14th Admendment.

    But people like Jim don’t want to recognize that. They want to think that the states have the right to nullify the federal government and the US Constitution at whim. And all because of their interpretation of the 9th and 10th admendments to the US Constitution. They want to think that the Federal government only has the rights and powers that are specifically mentioned in the US Constitution and that is not the case. They want to play this “strict constructionist” bit with the US Constitution but the thing is they are going to give up things they aren’t going to want to give up to do so. Like the right to privacy.


  44. Ed Darrell says:

    I originally posted because I thought someone would provide (from a rational rather than emotional perspective) some information on the validity of the secession issue, i.e, what are the rules, laws, whatever having bearing on whether states are allowed to secede from the union, especially prior to the Civil War.

    Legally, secession is considered a nullity. Can’t do it. Consequently, there are not rules for how to do it.

    Here’s a discussion at Daily Kos — take it for what you want to value it:

    The key Supreme Court case in the issue is Texas v. White, in which the issue was whether the rebel legislature in Texas during the Civil War had the right to spend $10 million in bonds issued by the U.S. — the Court said “no” because secession is a nullity, so the rebel legislature had no such authority — here’s the case at the Oyez site (which is great for a lot of other stuff, too):

    All joking aside, it’s pretty much a one-way street, joining the union. As a pragmatic matter, what idiot would want out, weighing benefits against problems? That pragmatic view is why Rick Perry’s off-hand remarks caused such a storm. Joking, secession is great material. In real policy terms, it’s stupid as hell.


  45. j a higginbotham says:

    I don’t have the time or inclination to further address all the absurdities in Nick’s arguments. Let me just pick out one point and see if anyone can make it any clearer to me. [Background: lab technician, no significant background in, study of, or interest in either the Constitution or the Civil War in particular or history and especially politics in general.]

    I originally posted because I thought someone would provide (from a rational rather than emotional perspective) some information on the validity of the secession issue, i.e, what are the rules, laws, whatever having bearing on whether states are allowed to secede from the union, especially prior to the Civil War.

    Instead I get the information (picking just one argument and it is taking a lot of self control to stick to just one), repeated by Nick in at least 3 separate comments, that secession is not ok because then the US would have been unable to defeat Hitler. This seems to me to be one of the most ridiculous statements I have heard in a long time. Perhaps someone can explain (rather than just repeating that it is logical and reasonable) how any analysis of the principles behind the formation of our government can relate to preparing a military capable of beating Hitler?
    Do the Constitution or other documents anywhere assert that our government should do whatever is necessary to defeat (certain) foreign dictators? Should the Southerners debating whether to secede should have addressed the issue of what secession would mean to the possible future abilities to fight wars against unknown enemies?
    Could anyone suggest any intermediate steps in going from (words of the Constitution) to (we can do nothing which would hamper our ability to defeat Hitler)?


  46. Ed Darrell says:

    And no one has addressed the more basic question of why people can be bound in perpetuity based on the actions of their distant forebears. “The Constitution is supreme because it says it is” makes no more sense than “the Bible is true because it says it is”.

    Not only does it make more sense in the Constitution than in the Bible, that’s the law.

    The Constitution is a compact between citizens, not holy writ. While the Constitution makes no claim to be “true,” at least not in the sense that a claim for veracity of the Bible would made, it does make a claim to be a valid rendering of the agreement between us citizens as hammered out in Philadelphia in 1787.

    If we can’t take at face value the Constitution’s clear statement that it was intended to be the supreme law of the land, we can’t use much of anything in it. As scripture, the claim might fail. As a legal document, it’s perfectly valid — and remains the supreme law of the land.


  47. Nick Kelsier says:

    US Constitution, Article 6, Paragraph 2:
    This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Now…what part of “supreme law of the land” are you trying to pretend doesn’t exist, Higgins?

    Frankly, if you don’t like the fact that the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land, you are free to renounce your citizenship and move out of the country. But as long as you choose to live here and be a citizen of the United States you are bound to obey the US Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land…whether you like it or not. Sorry, there is no in between on that issue.

    Oh and as for my means of driving the “literalist interpretation of the Constitution” in to the involves listing everything that exists in this country, such as the US Air Force, that is not specifically allowed by the US Constitution and waiting for you to cry foul. Never met anyone yet who claimed to hold to that particular interpretation of the US Constitution who could follow through that stated belief all the way. And I very much doubt you or Jim will be the first.


  48. Nick Kelsier says:

    Higgins, if the US had split and the remaining United States..meaning the North had gotten involved in WW 2 it would not have had the ability to beat Hitler or stand up to the Soviet Union. That isn’t appeal to emotion..that is appeal to logic. Why? Because the United States, or what remained of it, would not have had the manpower or the industrial capacity to beat Hitler or bankrupt the Soviet Union. To pretend otherwise is to engage in a childish game of “What I do has no ramifications whatsoever.”

    As for the rest of what I said, it’s your logic that’s twisted. You are trying to have it both ways. You are trying to say the southern states had a right to secede..and then also trying to say that they retained constitutional protection after they left.

    And curious that you just blithely ignore the 14th Admendment in this.

    It’s clear that the one who isn’t able to argue this logically is you. Which is why you blithely ignore why you’re wrong, the arguments you’re up against and just engage in halfassed nonsense. Simply and bluntly put..for a state to secede it would have to be wholesale violating the rights of its citizens. Which a violation of the 14th Admendment.

    The US Constitution is indeed the Supreme Law of the Land..because it says it is. To say otherwise is to argue that the, for example, the 1st Admendment doesn’t exist despite the fact that the words are there. It’s not circular logic, child. The US Constitution simply says that it is the Supreme Law of the Land. So tell me..if it’s the Supreme Law of the land how are the states able to ignore it on whim?

    And as for you quoting the DOI..sorry not relevent. The DOI isn’t a legal document of the United States and the US Constitution isn’t subservient to it. And only an jackass would argue that the form of government is destructive to those ends..whether the government be the one that exists now or the one that existed then.

    And I have to be amused that you say “And no one has addressed the more…” when you’re the one trying to argue that we’re bound in perpetuity to your supposed interpretation that the US Constitution grants the states right to secede.

    They seceded, they got their ass kicked, they lost the civil war, their argument lost. Just like in the end your argument is also lost. Because this issue was already settled.

    Let me know when you want to bother to be an intelligent and honest person instead of this dishonest “I’m not going to acknowledge what I don’t like” child you’re being.


  49. j a higginbotham says:

    Nick: As Ed can attest

    I’d love to hear Ed’s comments on your line of argument here.

    I’m going to make one more brief attempt to address Nick’s comments.

    Instead of a logical argument, I get a blatant appeal to emotion which is also unsupported.

    The plight of the Jews in WWII has no affect on the right to secession. Bringing up the Nazis and the USSR is an emotional argument, not a logical one.

    Also there is no way to know that either Hitler or the Russians would have won if the US had split. I might as well claim that if the US had not split from Great Britain the resulting super power would have prevented WWI and thus WWII and also saved the Tsars. This would result in more lives saved than Nick’s scenario.

    Nick also brings up the 14th Amendment as precluding secession; at the same time he says the southern states violated the Constitution. He can’t have it both ways.

    He also states that (despite secession not being allowed), the southern states gave up all rights when they left giving the North a valid reason for conquering and return to the fold. I can’t quite follow this twisted logic.

    If anything is clear, it is that Nick cannot discuss this matter in a calm and rational fashion. There may be reasons to argue that secession should not happen, but Nick has done nothing to advance this cause.

    Ed makes the interesting observation that “perpetual union” disappeared when the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation. Why? [See quote from Jefferson above.]

    And no one has addressed the more basic question of why people can be bound in perpetuity based on the actions of their distant forebears. “The Constitution is supreme because it says it is” makes no more sense than “the Bible is true because it says it is”.

    Don’t forget “That, to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”


  50. Nick Kelsier says:

    Oh and Jim & Higgins please don’t be asinine enough to play that “literalist interpretation of the US Constitution” game with me. As Ed can attest I’m quite good at tearing that one apart.


  51. Nick Kelsier says:

    Jim, I’m quite aware that the 14th Admendment was not part of the US Constitution until after the civil war. The point I was making is that is the admendment that would be violated if a state seceded now.

    Before I asked you what constitutional protection would a state have after it seceded. And you answered none. Therefor..the states that became the Confederacy lost their constitutional protection when they seceded. So they became fair game to be conquered by the ones that remained. Sorry, they don’t get to argue “state’s rights” in order to justify seceding from the United States…and then turn around and complain about the result of what happened. They lost their constitutional protection…they lost their “state’s rights” when they left. They left, they got their ass kicked in the civil war, end of argument.

    In other words I really could care less whether you want to argue that they had some right to leave because the result of the civil war is that no..they didn’t.

    Frankly, the south and you and your fellow “state’s rights advocates” need to get over yourselves, you need to accept the fact that your position lost and you need to move on.

    And as for President John Tyler…he’s a traitor.

    That Lincoln didn’t deal with him and the others as traitors was because Lincoln was more interested in trying to heal the wounds of the civil war…he wanted it to be an easy reconciliation. It wasn’t because he didn’t think they had committed treason in other words.

    And as for who was better to know the intentions of the founders…gee…Abraham Lincoln. John Tyler sacrificed any such expertise when he committed treason. As for why I called you a moron…well more specifically your position is moronic…you’re being one by advocating this “states have the right to secede” nonsense. The simplest reason that you are one is because you are arguing a position that died over 150 years ago. You are arguing the same false position as if you were arguing that slavery should still exist. Sorry…not all arguments are deserving of respect. Your position is also moronic because as I pointed out you have given no thought to the ramifications that would have resulted if your position had been the one to win the day.

    As for who was right between Lincoln and Tyler.that’s easy. Who’s position is the one that resulted in being the position that applies?

    John Tyler took an oath to uphold the US Constitution. He took an oath to serve the United States. By breaking that oath, Jim, John Tyler committed treason.

    Just like Governor Hairpiece in Texas took an oath to uphold the US Constitution and to serve the United States.

    As I said in a previous post, if the Governor wants to leave the country then all he has to do so is resign his position, renounce his citizenship and move to some other country. That is his only choice because nowhere does he have the choice to take the entire state of Texas with him. He doesn’t own Texas…the United States does.

    And as for you..the problem with you is that you are thinking that you know the intentions of the founding fathers better then anyone else and you are hiding behind John Tyler in that delusion. Simply and bluntly put John Tyler was wrong and it led him to commit treason.

    And as for the Founding Fathers…if they had wanted to set up a weak central government that the states could ignore and abrogate at whim..they would have retained the Articles of Confederation. They didn’t. They created the US Constitution which created a strong central government and the US Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land. For any state to secede that state would have to be putting it’s law above the US Constitution…meaning that the US Constitution would not be the Supreme Law of the Land.

    So when it comes to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, Jim, you and Tyler are on the wrong side of that argument.


  52. Nick Kelsier says:

    What I said, higgin, is perfectly reasonable.

    The United States, if the south had been allowed to split, would not have had the manpower or the industrial capacity to defeat Hitler and Germany, Japan or later on the Soviet Union. It wasn’t “manifest destiny” at play there that led to their defeats. It was simply they were an evil that needed to be stopped. Or are you saying that the world’s Jews should have been sacrificed on the altar of “state’s rights.”?

    If you want a constitutional reason that the states can’t secede…it’s the 14th Admendment. Because said secession is a violation of the people’s rights.

    To quote the 14th Admendment’s first paragraph:
    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Now notice…these particular parts: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States” and “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”.

    You and Jim can have fun trying to argue that somehow secession isn’t a wholesale violation of that but you’re charging windmills there Don Quixote.

    If Governor Hairpiece in Texas wants to leave the United States he is free to do so. All he has to do is resign his governorship, renounce his US citizenship and move to some other country. But Texas belongs to the United States and neither he nor the other whackos on the right wing fringe have any right to decide different.

    And as for the crack about “Pharyngula” it’s not my fault that neither you nor Jim can bother to think through to see the ramifications of your position. Because from where I stand, Higgins, the ones being irrational are you two.


  53. j a higginbotham says:


    Thanks for the response. I was unfamiliar with the Articles of Confederation. They certainly call for a perpetual union (XIII). But were they replaced by the Constitution, which does not (?) mention perpetual union? I find Lincoln’s argument that a “more perfect union” implies no decrease to be less than persuasive. [I think the country would be a lot closer to perfection if some elements were removed.] And certainly even at the time (according to Wikipedia), this idea of perpetuity was not unanimous.

    ” If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation . . . to a continuance in union . . . I have no hesitation in saying, let us separate.
    — Jefferson letter to James Madison, 1816

    This view motivated discussions of secession and nullification at the Hartford Convention, the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, and the Nullification Crisis. In his book Life of Webster Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge writes

    It is safe to say that there was not a man in the country, from Washington and Hamilton to Clinton and Mason, who did not regard the new system as an experiment from which each and every State had a right to peaceably withdraw.[26][27]”

    So are there any contemporary comments on why “perpetuity” did not make it from the Articles to the Constitution? [I haven’t looked up any of the discussions listed in the penultimate quoted paragraph.]


  54. j a higginbotham says:

    Nick writes that states have no right to secede because otherwise the US would have not been able to compete with the Nazis and Communists.

    There are no smiley faces so I have to assume this is serious.

    I ask what about the formation of the United States prohibits secession and I get slavery is bad and we need a big country to fight others.

    This is the sort of nonsense I would expect at Pharyngula but I was hoping for a more reasoned response than an extension of Manifest Destiny.


  55. John Mashey says:

    Consider that state boundaries sometimes make little sense, politically. If you haven’t seen Joel Garreau’s “The Nine Nations of North America”, it’s a little old, but still relevant: (better map at a fun site)

    That model would imply splitting TX into 3 states, one part each to Dixie, The Breadbasket, and Mex-America. I’m not sure what belong to, but then, I’ve never been really sure that was part of TX anyway.


  56. Jim says:

    Ed and Nick, I read your posts. I was not aware that any state ratified the U.S. Constitution other than the 13 original.
    Ed, you wrote that Vermont declared independence from Britain. New York declared independence from Britain in 1776. Vermont was a part of New York. So Vermont was a part of the Union. Vermonters declared their independence from New York, not Britain, it seems to me. If Vermonters were in the Union one day, and then out of it the next, that is secession, says I.
    Nick, You wrote that secession violates the 14th amendment. That is not what Abraham was referring to when he said Confederates violated the Constitution. When Abraham was alive, there were only 12 amendments to the Constitution. So you, Abraham and I all disagree with each other. I still have no idea what part of the Constitution he meant.
    You think I am a moron for calling Abraham a liar. I don’t think you are a moron. Please think about this. You are calling the 10th President, John Tyler, a liar. He was a member of the Confederate Congress till he died in 1862. He thought a state had a right to secede just like I do.
    Who do you think was in a better position to know what were the intentions of the law makers when the country was young? John was born in 1790 and reared in Virginia. Abraham was born in 1809 and reared in Indiana and Illinois. In his first inaugural address, Abraham said that the intention of the law giver is the law. I agree. And I think John knew a thing or 2 about interpreting the Constitution and what the intentions of the law givers were. When William Henry Harrison died, John claimed that since he was Vice President at the time, he, John, was now the President. Some people disagreed with him since the Constitution doesn’t read that way. But everyone today agrees with John, that he was the President. If he were wrong, then Abraham Lincoln would be the 15th President, not the 16th. So I presume that you think John correctly interpreted the Constitution one time and was wrong a second time. I think he was right both times. I still disagree with you about which one was a liar. But they cannot both be right.


  57. Nick Kelsier says:

    Oh and Jim..I would suggest to you, in your advocacy that it’s perfectly ok for the states to secede, that you engage in this intellectual exercise.

    1: If the United States had been split in two, what would have happened to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
    2: What would have happened to the Soviet Union.

    Consider that a suggestion based on the fact that really….you are advocating a position that you can’t have possibly thought through much less given any consideration to the ramifications of it. You know that old line about the road to hell being paved with good intentions….you’re walking it.


  58. Nick Kelsier says:

    It is prohibited by the 14th Admendment among others, Jim. Or do you honestly think that, just for example, that if Texas seceded tomorrow that it would 1: seek the approval of all of its citizens…and 2: get the approval of all of its citizens?

    You are trying to say that the US Constitution is as weak as the Articles of Confederation were..that the states can abridge and ignore the federal government at whim. They cant..they never could. The civil war settled that issue for all time.

    You and the rest of the south can argue all you want that the civil war was about “protecting state’s rights” and you can argue that states have the right to secede all you want..but they don’t. And sorry..the 9th and 10th Admendments dont grant that. Under your interpretation of the 9th and 10th admendments, the states have the legal right to engage in genocide against it’s own citizens. After all…the US Constitution doesn’t specifically outlaw it.

    This is not about ‘state’s rights.” This is about one minority group of people throwing a hissy fit that they can’t do as they damn well please. And the civil war was about, for the south, protecting slavery…the enslavement of an entire segment of humanity merely because the whites wanted to pretend that they had the right to declare the blacks to not be human.

    Simply and bluntly put..any secession is an automatic violation of the 14th admendment. After all..the states dont have the right to abridge or violate the rights of its citizens.

    And if I had been President at the end of the civil war, Jefferson Davis and the rest of his cohorts would have been shot for treason. Which is exactly what I’d advocate be done to the governor of Texas if Texas seceded. Sorry..there is no constitutional right to treason.

    And sorry..despite your fervent wish to the contrary..the US Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land. There is no abridging it. The states can’t secede because that would be exactly what they’re doing.

    You call Lincoln a liar. Fine…I call you a moron.


  59. Ed Darrell says:

    Lincoln’s line in his first inaugural address:

    Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that, in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution, was “to form a more perfect Union.” But if [the] destruction of the Union, by one, or by a part only, of the States, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

    Vermont was not part of that union, you’re right. No secession necessary.

    I don’t see anything about Vermont seceding. They declared independence from Britain in 1777, but that’s not secession from any American federation. I just don’t see that as analogous to the southern states’ secession from the post-1787 union.

    Wikipedia notes, I’m sure confirmed by other sources:

    On 10 January 1791, the Republic of Vermont ratified the U.S. Constitution – the only state apart from the original 13 to do so. Vermont was admitted to the union as the fourteenth state a few months later.


  60. Jim says:

    Ed, You wrote that there was no Union from which Vermont seceded. Either you or Abraham Lincoln is a liar. I think it is you. In his first inaugural address, he said that the Union was formed in 1774 by the Articles of Association. I think delegates from 12 of the colonies signed it in October of 1774. Georgia was the one colony without delegates. Vermont was a part of New York, and New York was in the Union.
    Vermont never ratified the Constitution. How could it? It was not one of the 13 original states. It was a commonwealth from 1777, when it seceded from the Union, until 1791 when it became the 14th state in the U.S.
    Nick, You asked about what constitutional protection a state has after it secedes. It would not have any. It would be a country on its own just like Sweden or Spain. Once a state secedes, it is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Constitution. You also asked about where in the Constitution a state is allowed to secede. I say you are asking the wrong question. You should be asking “Where in the Constitution is it prohibited?”
    As I wrote before, I think it is allowed by the 9th and 10th amendments. Ed wrote in the post that secession is not legal. My logic is there has to be some law violated for something to be illegal. Ed seems to think otherwise. I say he is wrong. He postulates some things that I don’t think are right. At least Abraham Lincoln tried to come up with 2 laws that the Confederates violated. But he lied. So I will ask again, does anybody know anything about Abraham’s universal law? Anyone who is literate in English and can get their hands on a copy of the Constitution can read it and find out for themselves that Abraham was a liar.


  61. j a higginbotham says:

    I too am curious about the secession issue. Presumably there is no mention, pro or con, in any early documents. I also would assume this issue must have been considered at the time the constitution was ratified.
    But I am dissatisfied with Ed’s response.
    I think the situation is somewhat analogous to land ownership. We have also sorts of laws and documents detailing who owns what piece of land and what rights they have. There are even title companies which trace ownership. But ultimately there is no original title – the land was originally unoccupied or taken from prior occupants.
    Today courts within the US determine who owns what. But between countries (eg, India and Pakistan over Kashmir), force is what determines ownership. There is no higher authority in which the two sides are members (as in deals within a single country) which can make a determination.
    So if there is no higher authority, and if there is no mention in the Constitution, why is it the default position that states cannot secede?

    PS It would be nice if responses did not mention the Civil War or the Confederacy.

    PPS Nick’s question is also perplexing. He seems to be asking where the Constitution says the Constitution is constitutional. If people sign a contract, the legality of that contract is determined by the laws of wherever they are (to keep it simple). If states contract to form a Union, what rules govern that contract?


  62. Nick Kelsier says:

    Jim, I have a question for you.

    Where in the US Constitution does it say that the country has to let a state secede? You are trying to argue that a state has a constitutional right to secede. So..what constitutional protection is a state given when it secedes?


  63. Ed Darrell says:

    1777 was a dozen years before the Constitution. There was no union for Vermont to secede from, nor was Vermont even a separate colony. Vermont ratified the Constitution in 1788, as I recall — before Connecticut, even.

    Under the Constitution, in Madison’s view (and most others’ views as well), we have a limited government. Where in the Constitution is the process for secession spelled out? It’s not there? Then the right doesn’t exist, for a state. It’s not enough that it not be prohibited — there’s no provision for a state to pull out of the union.

    That’s a simplistic answer. Causes of the Civil War were more complex, including the issues around who held title to Union property held in Confederate territory (the cause of the conflagration at Ft. Sumter).

    Jefferson Davis was just one guy. Most members of the Confederate government and military were not allowed full citizenship rights until they reaffirmed allegiance to the Union. Most were not prosecuted for treason, healing the national wounds being the ultimate goal of most of the people making the decisions.


  64. Jim says:

    I think a state has the right to secede from the Union. Vermont did so in 1777. I know of no law that prohibits it. I have heard and read that the U.S. is a country of laws, not men. So how is Abraham Lincoln’s view of the Union being almost sacred relevant to the question of whether secession is legal? If secession is illegal, there must be some law against it. Can anyone quote that law, or those laws, if there are more than one?
    In his first inaugural address, Abraham said that the Confederates violated a universal law and the U.S. Constitution by seceding. I think he lied. I have read the Constitution, as probably anyone reading this has, and I don’t know where secession is prohibited. In fact, I think the 9th and 10th amendments allow it. Does anyone know anything about Abraham’s universal law?
    After the U.S. Civil War, Jefferson Davis was never tried for treason or anything else for his part in the secession. I think the reason was because some people in the judicial branch of the U.S. government realized he broke no law and therefore would be found innocent by a jury of his peers. If he did break a law as Abraham said, he should have been tried and convicted.
    I have never had anyone tell me what makes secession of a state from the Union illegal. “Because Abraham said so” doesn’t satisfy me.


  65. Ed Darrell says:

    Did my post from yesterday disappear? Weird.

    Mr. Mashey is correct, and so is Mr. Hanley. Texas could split itself the same way all other states may splet themselves — with legislative approval and approval from Congress. In the post that disappeared, I pointed out this has happened only once, when the western counties of Virginia were split from Virginia in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. I can all but guarantee that there was no approval from the Virginia Assembly. The split is considered valid, today, however.

    And, we’re still looking for a map of John Nance Garner’s 1921 proposal, if anyone should happen to stumble across one . . .


  66. Scott Hanley says:

    Ed, you’re a bucket of cold water to those of who’d like to shed Texas!

    SO: the question remains, *could* TX split itself if its own legislature said yes, and the US Congress said yes? The latter seems unlikely, especially in the Senate. :-)

    Article IV, section 3: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

    That seems to mean, Yes, they could, however unlikely it is to actually happen.

    Then there’s that little matter of West Virginia …


  67. Mike Licht says:

    Rick Perry: If at First You Don’t Secede ….



  68. John Mashey says:

    Hmm, this post deserves a more relevant comment than the first response.

    I’m curious: any special right TX may have had to split itself disappeared upon reentry to the Union, but can you point to anything in the US Federal Law that forbids this in general.

    The Constitution says:
    “Section 3. New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.”

    Which seems to say that the idea is at least possible, in general.

    California has a long history of trying to split into 2-3 states. The last major referendum was around 1992.

    I’ve never seen these referenda dismissed as being unconstitutional, but maybe I missed something.

    SO: the question remains, *could* TX split itself if its own legislature said yes, and the US Congress said yes? The latter seems unlikely, especially in the Senate. :-)


  69. notscarenews says:

    I have to make it public. It’s suppose to be secret, however most people in Austin, Tx knows about it. The police department has machine that can read your mind. A machine that can read someone’s mind will be used to violate EVERYONE’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!!! It can also change the way you feel. Sexual impulses, anger, and paranoia are all feelings they can induce to you at their fingertips. This means it can cause a girl or boy to feel sexual, and get raped thinking they wanted to. Its like a drug. This is just one of the many crimes they commit with this machine RIGHT NOW!!!! They are using it right now to spy on their citizens RIGHT NOW!!! People will be spied on in there homes, without a warrant. (this means someone will be able to watch you during sex without your knowledge.) There are a lot of people all over the United States knowing about this machine. The police department is able to use it to spy on people in their own home. During interrogation they keep a person dazed, confused and not sound of mind to cohersed them into making certain statements. This is a violation of these people’s constitutional rights. Start thinking about how the government has given the police department a weapon to commit not only one of the biggest civil and constitutional rights violations of all time, but to commit war crimes such as rape, brainwashing, and toturing people without the victim’s knowledge. I know it is hard to believe, however if you happen to know someone in the police department who cares for you enough, just ask if they have a machine that can read and control people’s mind. After that, I would also like people to think about how we are able to get the government to stop letting the police department violate the people’s civil and constitutional rights, and committing war crimes against there own citizens. Major media companies have knowledge of this, but are not willing to broadcast it. People need to find out and talk about this issue.


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