Why No Secession or Talk of Secession?
DLaycock at law.utexas.edu
Wed Jun 28 07:27:01 PDT 2006
There's been a little secession talk in the loonier fringes of the left, and among oil producing states in the 70s, and probably other times and places. But it gets no traction. I think it is the Civil War stupid, plus the powerful economic and cultural forces of integration and nationalization that the Civil War acclerated, but which also have economic and technological causes quite independent of that.
In the energy crisis in the late 70s, there were bumper stickers that said "Let the Yankee bastards freeze in the dark." And there was a bit of secession talk. Governor Edwards in Lousiana responded by saying, "They whipped us last time. And this time, they've got the bomb."
The nation's propensity to fight is much less than it was in 1861; on the other, federal institutions and federal troops are planted all over the country in a way that is fundamen tally different from 1861.
Alice McKean Young Regents Chair in Law
The University of Texas at Austin
Prof. Douglas Laycock
University of Michigan Law School
625 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of RJLipkin at aol.com
Sent: Wed 6/28/2006 9:17 AM
To: CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Why No Secession or Talk of Secession?
I have a queer question--so what's new?--that perhaps is off-topic. Although I do not pretend any expertise in historical scholarship, I've developed an interest in the periods in our history when there was talk of secession, for example, 1790s, 1800, 1814, 1830s (that's as far as I've gotten). One striking feature, of course, is the degree of political polarization at least among the ruling elites. My sense is that presently the American electorate is as polarized as any earlier time at least in my lifetime. The war in Iraq, alleged abuse of executive power, torture, presidential and media leaks, and so forth are just some of the examples. My question is this: Why is there no talk of secession? Believe me, I'm not advocating secession. Nor do I think it is a remotely plausible or desirable proposal. But what has changed in American political society from earlier eras to the present that renders secession an impossible (ridiculous?) prospect? Is the simple (and completel) answer: "Duh, it's the Civil War, stupid."?
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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