Secession in the United States
In the context of the
Threats and aspirations to secede from the United States, or arguments justifying secession, have been a feature of the country's politics almost since its birth. Some have argued for secession as a
The most serious attempt at secession was advanced in the years 1860 and 1861 as eleven southern States each declared secession from the United States, and joined together to form the
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—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.
The right of revolution expressed in the Declaration was immediately followed with the observation that long-practised injustice is tolerated until sustained assaults on the rights of the entire people have accumulated enough force to oppress them; then they may defend themselves. This reasoning was not original to the Declaration, but can be found in many prior political writings: Locke's
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; ... mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms ("of Government", editor's addition) to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing ... 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.