On Secession and Southern Independence

By Dr. Michael Hill

President, The League of the South

The voluntary union (or confederacy) of States known as the United

States was born of a secessionist movement against Great Britain,

and our Declaration of Independence is, at base, a secessionist

document. How, then, can secession legitimately be called "un-American?"

When our Founding Fathers broke the bonds of political association

with the British Empire in 1776, the former colonies became free

and independent States constituting thirteen separate communities,

each asserting its sovereignty. This state of affairs received confirmation

by both the Articles of Confederation (1778) and the Treaty of Paris

(1783). Thus Americans themselves, as well as their British foe,

acknowledged that each State was a separate and sovereign entity.

The sovereignty of the separate States is an important issue in

understanding exactly how the United States was formed under its

Constitution of 1787-88. When delegates from the States met in Philadelphia

in May 1787, they came as representatives selected by the people

(i.e. citizens) of their respective States. These delegates were

not given authority by the people of their States to make any binding

agreements, rather, they were only to discuss proposed changes to

the Articles of Confederation. Any changes to the Articles might

become effective only if they were ratified in convention by the

citizens of the separate States.

The result of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 was , of course,

the U.S. Constitution. However, that document did not become binding

until nine of the thirteen States had ratified it for themselves.

That happened in 1788, and thus these nine States entered into a

compact (or contract) with each other. By doing so, they created

the political union known as the United States. The four States

that remained outside of this union for a time were not bound by

the compact. Eventually, though, all thirteen States united under

the Constitution.

It is important to note here that no State (or States ) could answer

for another State. Each State acceded to the compact by its own

sovereign will. Moreover, all of them understood that they might

secede from the compact by the same means by which they had acceded

to it, and that is by a convention of the citizens or their representatives.

Nowhere in the Constitution is it forbidden for a State to secede

from this voluntary union. In fact, the Tenth Amendment (contained

in the Bill of Rights of 1791) expressly confirms that "the

powers not delegated to the United States by the Constituition nor

prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively,

or to the people." The power to force a State against its will

to remain in the union is absent among the powers delegated to the

general (or federal ) government, therefore, the right of secession

is reserved to the States, or more precisely, to the people of the


Some of the New England States actually threatened to secede several

times before 1860 (e.g. 1803, 1807, 1814, and 1844-45). At no time

did the Southern States deny them this right. However, when a number

of Southern States seceded in 1860-61, Lincoln and the Republican

Party went to war to prevent the South from exercising its Constitutional

right to secede. Simply put, Lincoln placed the forced unity of

the States above the Constitution itself, and this action set him

in opposition to the principles of the American Founders.

Lincoln’s "victory" in 1865 thus marked the end of true

Constitutional government in America. In its place he created an

"American Empire" that now defines the limits of its own

power without serious regard to the Constitution. Formerly free

and sovereign States have become little more than administrative

provinces of an all-powerful central government in Washington, DC.

Without the right of secession (which, by the way, the people of

the States still possess) we have no remedy for encroaching tyranny

on either a national or global scale. The New World Order is, after

all, the logical outworking of Lincoln’s assault on the South and

its guiding principle of State sovereignty. No people can be truly

free without the means of withdrawing from an illicit regime that

is destructive of life, liberty, and property. Our forebears in

1787-88 understood that at some time in the future their descendants

might find it necessary and profitable to dissolve the political

bonds that joined the States together in voluntary union. That time

came in 1860-61, and indeed it may be prudent again in the twenty-first

century if we are to be a free people.

Secession is nothing more than the assertion of the inalienable

right of a people to change their form of government whenever it

ceases to fulfill the purposes for which it was created. Under our

Constitution this should be a peaceful remedy. The decision of a

State or States to withdraw from a confederacy or league (and not

to overthrow it by rebellion) ought not be seen as a revolutionary

or insurrectionary act. To call the secession of a sovereign State

from a voluntary union an act of "treason" or "rebellion"

is sheer folly. Yet this is what most Americans –especially Southerners–have

been taught.

One of the most common criticisms that the League of the South

receives is that "secession is impractical and/or unattainable."

We agree that it certainly is both as long as the people of the

States remain ignorant of or apathetic toward the very practical

remedy to tyranny bequeathed us by our forefathers. The League’s

primary goal is to counter the lies and distortions that have lulled

people into a fatal misunderstanding of their condition and to bring

hope and encouragement in place of their despair. In doing so we

lay the foundation for a new Southern Confederacy. The people of

the States, though long languishing, indeed hold the weapon and

the legitimate power (sovereignty) to wield it against the current

tyranny. The only ingredient lacking is the will of the people to

wield it.

The League of the South, therefore, insists on the legitimacy of

the right of secession. May it be the will of God to favour our

honourable Cause.

© 2000 The League of the South

(800) 888-3163