Breakaway republic in the U.S.A.

Suppose the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio decide that they’d be better off without the rest of the United States.

They tell Washington that they’re on their own, and they satisfy the constitutional requirements for secession.

My questions are:

(1) How likely would the Federal Government be to let this happen?

(2) How viable would the new republic be?

(3) Assuming that Washington acquiesces and the republic thrives, what if anything would happen to the rest of the Union?

(4) What would the new republic be called (other than Bigtenia)?

“Where there is clarity, there is no choice. And where there is choice, there is misery. But then, why should I speak, since I know nothing?”

What constitutional requirements are you talking about? IIR, after the civil war, the supreme court stated that you can’t seceed: the Southern states never seceeded they shouldn’t have their statehood revoked. So there’s not much to discuss.

“There are many sweeping generalizations that are always true” -Space Ghost

I can’t answer the legal questions, but speaking as a Michiganian, I can say at least this much…

You’ll never get Michigan and Ohio to agree on anything.

Yes, you will.

Constitutional requirements for secession? I wasn’t aware there were any. I’m no constitutional scholar or anything, and I admit that it’s been a while since I read that great document, but I don’t recall any clause that said “Hey, if any of you guys want to split at any time…” But like I said, I could be wrong.

In any event, those states seceding would immediately bring about the Second Civil War. If my home state of New Mexico seceded, it would be years before anybody noticed.

Oops, clarification needed - By “constitutional requirements for secession” I meant those particular states’ internal requirements… to make sure it was the will of the people, etc.


There nowhere like Canada to secede in peace.

They’re ain’t no such animal that permits states to say, ptui I spit and leave. We fought a Civil War over it.

A lot of rights are reserved to the states and to local government. Of course some militia wackos interpret local as “me”, but to continue…

Over that is a netting of federal control. At least in theory that’s the stuff that applies to ALL Americans, no matter what state they live in, e.g. civil rights, environmental protection, supporting the interstate highway system, post office and military, etc. Since each state has its own government, the application of some of this stuff gets, shall we say, creative. And Washington is fond of making majesterial decisions and leaving paying up to the local yokels. This is what makes politics fun.

But splitting the union? Nah. I appreciate your example (Bigtenia?! grin!) but in fact the carnage of the Civil War ended slavery and in Shelby Foote’s words, made us a “we”. For good or ill, we have a clear centralized government in the way that Canada, for example, does not. (No value judgement, Canadians: observation!)

So secession is not a constitutional option, on the state or local level. We did that, and have a lot of dead to show for it. As far as “Bigtenia” seceeding, the viability issue is too complex to guess, militarily and diplomatically speaking. In a historical sense, they’d probably be some of the last to consider secession, anyway. Check out Civil War battlefields; Ohio, Michigan, Indiana all lost a lot of people to hold the union together.

But extrapolating your point, what about states in the southwest seceeding? After all, they were just plain swiped from Mexico to begin with, so there are some real historical and cultural reasons…

(intellectual speculation is not treason!)

Veb: you made an error in your last posting above. There were still slaves in the Union after the end of the Civil War.

The example of Michigan and Ohio breaking away is, of course, a silly hypothetical. But here’s a thought that’s NOT so hypothetical or far-fetched:

Every few years, Puerto Rico holds a referendum to decide whether they’ll become a state, become an independent nation, or stay a commonwealth. “Stay a commonwealth” always seems to win. Now, the percentages vary from election to election, but the pattern seems to be that (roughly) 45% of Puerto Ricans want to keep things as they are, 40% want statehood, and 15% want independence. Right now, most mainland AMericans would be happy to grant them any of the three choices. Fact is, most mainland AMericans don’t think or care much about Puerto Rico.

Well, suppose that, next time out, Puerto Rico votes to become a state. COngress quickly agrees, and Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state.

Problem is… within a few years, the anticipated economic benefits of statehood never materialize; taxes are higher; and some additional confrontations with the Navy get ugly.

Now, suddenly, the 15% who wanted independence are up in arms, and their numbers are growing. My question is, how eager/willing would the USA be to keep Puerto Rico in the Union, if things got ugly? Would we be as willing to shed blood over them as we were over the COnfederacy?

A better example would be Texas.

Texas’s joining the Union in the 1840’s included a provision allowing it to secede as a sovereign nation, should it choose to do so, or to divide itself into 2-5 smaller states.

IIRC, no one has fully resolved the issue of whether Texas lost these rights when it seceded & joined the CSA & then rejoined the Union, or if these rights still exist.

I suspect that As soon as the feds caught wind of a serious secessionist movement here, the issue would be decided (foregone conclusion - no way would the US allow TX to secede 150 years after being given the statutory right to do so) and Fort Bliss & Fort Hood would start sending out tanks, as the Air Force dropped the first leaflets over Austin, Houston, DFW, & San Antonio making it clear what the consequences would be…

In the meantime, it’s fun to pretend… a la Lonestar’s claim to be the national beer of Texas!

Sue from El Paso

IIRC, the Southern states felt while they had entered into the Union some decades earlier, that they retained many sovereign rights, including the right to secede.

Not being a constitutional scholar, I’m not sure that I agree–there are very specific requirements for admission (although I believe they were waived in the case of WV), and I would assume that the same requirements would apply to secession.

Regardless, court decisions after the Civil War said that we were one “indissoluble nation.”

The movie (and book) “Birth of a Nation” echoes that sentiment: the end of individual state sovereignty, and the “birth” of a single nation.

Another question comes to mind:

If the Southern states had seceded, but not started a war, would the Northern states have sent troops marching?

The Constitutional requirements for admission are pretty simple:

  1. Republican form of government.
  2. Not be created out of another state without that state’s consent.

(#2 was what was waived for West Virginia – the gist of what Congress did, IIRC, was to pass a resolution requesting Virginia’s permission. Since Virginia was at that point a member of the Confederacy, it didn’t respond. Congress said, in essence, “silence means assent. The constitutional requirement has been satisfied” and admitted WV.

In point of fact, there are a bunch of non-constitutional hurdles, e.g., population size, lack of economic competition with economies of existent states, that a territory wishing statehood must get past. (Hawaii requested statehood in 1893, got it in 1898, because the sugar industry fought its admission due to Hawaii’s sugar production, which would harm their profits.)

It would be interesting to see if Texas’s treaty “right to secede” was ever brought up in 1861 when it declared independence and secession to join the Confederacy.

Polycarp–Hawaii got statehood in 1898? Mmmmm…No.
Texans–I’ve heard this “Texas has a special right to secede” line in so many various forms and from so many people that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s an UL. Is it, or can someone quote the relevant line from Texas’ constitution, or where ever?

The Constitution states that “New states may be admitted by the Congress…”

Again, I’m not a legal or Constitutional expert, but that implies to me that since a state can be admitted only by Congressional consent, that they can be “removed” only by Congressional consent–which the Southern states clearly did not have.

I don’t remember the Texas admission specifically having a provision for secession. If it does, well, that was settled at the point of a gun a long time ago.

It does however, have provisions for the subdivision of Texas into as many as five states–without the consent of Congress. I have read that (in the admission document). You should be able to find it online without too much troublet. I did (some months ago).

BTW, even the subdivsion provisions would probably not pass a legal challenge today. Remember that laws don’t mean what they say–they mean what judges say they say.

One thing to keep in mind is that the tradeoff for not being able to secede is that you can’t be kicked out, either. :slight_smile:

There are times I think New Jersey and California remain states only because no one has figured out how to get rid of them… :wink:

I said:

Yes, they just kept it a secret until 1960. Actually, I meant admission as a territory and had a severe case of Monday-morning foggy head. Sorry!

whc03grady wrote:

Not only is this story an Urban Legend, but so’s the story that Texas never officially entered the Union to begin with. (This argument was used by the so-called “Republic of Texas” members two years ago.) Apparently, Texas was approached by the U.S. some time in the 1840s, not to long after it won its independence from Mexico. Two proposals were on the table for Texas’s legislature to consider: (1) become a state immediately, without having to go through being a U.S. territory, and retain the right to split up into as many as 5 smaller states later on; and (2) keep their status as an independent nation, but enter into a tight alliance with the U.S… Texas chose option (1). A century-and-a-half later, the so-called “Republic of Texas” group based their entire hair-brained neo-secessionist platform on the mistaken theory that option (2) had been chosen by the Texas legislature instead.

Incidentally, the Republic of Texas bruhaha came out shortly after the State of Texas launched a televised ad campaign, whose slogan was: “Texas: It’s Like a Whole Other Country.” :slight_smile:

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Maryland, for one area. Hey, don’t tell me you think Lincoln freed the slaves in the areas not in rebellion!