ABOUT TOM WOODS

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis). A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)



The Tom Woods App


The Constitutional Right of Secession

10th May 2013      by: Tom Woods     

Mike Church and Brion McClanahan have produced what looks to be an excellent new edition of Albert Taylor Bledsoe’s 19th-century work Is Davis a Traitor? or Was Secession a Constitutional Right Previous to the War of 1861? Having read the book myself years ago, I can tell you it is indeed an excellent work, full of information no one encounters in school, but which helps you break out of the establishment’s suffocating box.

You can download a free chapter here.

The brain dead establishment’s contribution to this discussion is to shout “neo-Confederate!” or express outrage that we peons would even raise what our betters have told us is a closed question. But the arguments for the constitutionality of secession are very strong, and are not refuted by calling secession backward, out of date, stupid, not-progressive, etc. — especially after the experience of the 20th century, for heaven’s sake — or pretending that anyone who favors decentralization secretly supports or is indifferent to slavery. The massive slave states of the 20th-century world could have used rather more decentralization, wouldn’t you say? William Lloyd Garrison favored the secession of the North; presumably even the thought controllers would balk at calling Garrison a “neo-Confederate.”

Thanks to Mike and Brion. I am proud to say that Brion McClanahan teaches U.S. history with me at my LibertyClassroom.com.

Unlearn the Propaganda!

  • Luke Sunderland

    I doubt the thought controllers would call Garrison a neo-Confederate. It’s more likely that they would respond with “Who the heck is William Lloyd Garrison”?

  • Scott Lazarowitz

    The anti-secessionist propagandists (such as Rachel Maddow) do not believe in the individual’s right of independence and freedom from the intrusions of the majority. And they criticize secession by bringing up slavery. Yet they support the power of the centralized federal government to enslave the states and the people of the states. Talk about irrational!

  • http://twitter.com/Urban_Savant Ruben Lamigueiro

    I find it quite ironic that many Liberals I know have absolutely no problem with Catalonia seceding with Spain, but when any U.S. State so much as lifts its finger against the federal government, we can’t have that! Hypocritical much!

  • franco aventine

    I have run into that exact same issue in political conversations with both liberals and conservatives and they trip themselves up on it every time, then stare at me doe eyed when I call them on it.

  • Mike

    Yeah I know. The hypocrisy is pathetic and hilarious at the same time. LOL! Brain dead zombies all the way.

  • Anonymous

    I recall that Justice Scalia said that the states have no right to secede. He said this issue was settled by the Civil War. I did find a reference. Justice Scalia responded to a question from Dan Turkewitz who was writing a screenply about Maine seceding from the Union: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/11/13/there-is-no-right-to-secede-see-the-letter-where-justice-scalia-shoots-down-idea-of-leaving-the-union/

    “I am afraid I cannot be of much help with your problem, principally because I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court. To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, “one Nation, indivisible.”) Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit.

    “I am sure that poetic license can overcome all that — but you do not need legal advice for that. Good luck with your screenplay.”
    So the use of force is a legitimate way to resolve a constitutional issue? Really, Justice Scalia?

  • Gullible-White-Cattle

    what is the point of seceding, if white people dont benefit. blacks, browns, asians certainly dont want to secede. this is not an ideological battle of left vs right, GOP vs Dems, Socialism vs liberty. This is war against White people.

    Why do hostile globalist elite defend Israel as a Jewish ethnostate with Jewish only immigration, but ravage White majority Europe/North America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with dystopian non-White colonization?

    East Asia is 99% yellow. Africa is 90% Black. West Asia is 99% Brown. But 3rd world colonizers, Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics, are aggressively advancing their agenda by annihilating gullible Whites, just as China annihilates Tibet.

    How long will gullible Whites cuckold for murderous anti-White elite, who confiscate our guns, infiltrate/subvert our banks/FBI/CIA, indoctrinate White kids in academia/mass media, plunder White jobs/wages, & butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars?

    “Native” Americans! invaded from East Asia. Yellow & Brown races committed 10-times more genocide, slavery, imperialism than Whites. Since Old-Testament, Whites have been victims of Jewish/Crypto-Jewish, Turkic, Muslim, N.African imperialism, slavery, genocide.

    Gullible Whites should reject subversive anti-White ideologies – libertarianism, feminism, liberalism, & reject hostile slanders of racism. Love to all humanity, but White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. Spread this message. Reading list: goo.gl/iB777 , goo.gl/htyeq , amazon.com/dp/0759672229 , amazon.com/dp/1410792617

  • Repeal Government

    The idea of secession actually occurring again is at best a comforting delusion. The American sheeple are much too content with their junk food and television to want to go through such an arduous process. That is the grim reality. We who support the idea of secession will press onwards and continue to complain, but all we are as protesters are fleas to be swatted by lavishly funded Federal goons. Too many millions of people are apathetic towards the idea of breaking up the union; these folks just want to live in a “safe” bubble until they grow old and wither away. Quite a shame, but this is what we’ve become. You can’t stop these sort of glacial shifts once they’re set into motion. All one can feasibly do, short of exiling one’s self from the country, is to live life as happily as possible while realizing we are witnessing the intermediate stages of the decimation of freedom. Perhaps free speech will be the last right to go because it is the right most citizens hold dearest, but that time, you can be sure, is coming once the inter-generational bias against liberty has been sufficiently sown.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Claudia-Doyle/1177407576 Claudia Doyle

    Government has become so BLOATED and insatiable it has become the BIG house of horrors…”feed me Seymour”…except Seymour will eventually be bled dry..and that time is fast approaching.

  • Anonymous

    The pledge of allegiance is “to the Republic”. The US hasn’t been a Republic since Lincoln trashed the Constitution, ignored habeas corpus, violated free speech and denied the right of self determination to the southern states. He had the gall to invoke the Declaration of Independence at the same time he was violating it’s ,most basic principles.

    As far as Scalia goes? He is one of a long line of political Supreme Court judges who clearly believe in the Hobbesian .State…….Might makes right.

  • Anonymous

    I have read Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s two books on LIncoln, so you will get no argument from me.

  • Gil

    It’s also noting many Libertarians point out the American Revolution wasn’t worth it and very few people gained any more freedoms after the Revolution. If anything most people lost more rights after seceding from the British Empire.

  • marvin nubwaxer

    we’d love to dump all the right wing extremist moocher southern states, but we made a deal and 660,000 dead during the civil war should mean something. imagine the republic of texas having a nuclear weapon with governor oops finger on the trigger.
    i know it’s an idea resistant to reasonable thought but consider what “united” as in united states means. and while your at it telling government to keep its hands off you social security and medicare ask whether “social” in the name might not give you a hint that we already have socialism. you probably slept throught that lesson in class.

  • marvin nubwaxer

    we’d love to see you go but we can’t afford more foreign aid, and who would build the fence to keep the stupid out of the usa.

  • ChrisMichaels

    *Ignored habeas corpus*

    Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution:states, “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

    The South Seized Federal Property, Fired on Federal Property and Forcibly Removed US Citizens? In what way is that not an Act of War and Rebellion?

    If it is a matter of Congress, in March 1863 Congress passed the Habeas Corpus Act, effectively endorsing Lincoln’s actions.

    What Act passed by the Southern Congress allowed and/or endorsed Jefferson Davis’ suspending of Habeas Corpus?

    I realize, I am in a vast minority, however, your complaints about the actions of Lincoln, were the same actions performed by the Southern Government.

  • Anonymous

    South Carolina had an absolute right to secede from the federal leviathan as did the New England states who threatened to do the same because of the union’s unalloyed aggression against Canada and overall bellicosity regarding the war of 1812.

    Reference to Article !, Section 9 without consideration of both the ninth and tenth amendments is just another manifestation of Jesse Jackson’s gem: text, without context, is pretext.

  • Anonymous

    According to Gary North, the Crown’s total take of colonial American income was approximately 1% circa 1770.

  • Mike

    Uh, we’re well aware that we already have socialism genius; that and corporatism. And hey, they can keep their so-called social security and medicare provided they get out of our lives completely.

    The only thing 660,000 dead meant was the establishment of tyranny
    in the US.

    ” imagine the republic of texas having a nuclear weapon with governor oops finger on the trigger”

    And that is somehow worse than the US government having thousands of nuclear warheads? Uh, yeah.

  • http://twitter.com/Urban_Savant Ruben Lamigueiro

    If being concerned for my individuals rights as a human being and the means by which to protect them makes me stupid, then so be It. You happen to love unconstitutional government, no?

  • ChrisMichaels

    *South Carolina had an absolute right to secede from the federal*

    We can certainly get into the Supremacy Claus if you would like. Put simply, Texas vs White begs to differ. If that is a problem, blame the 3rd Article of the Constitution.

    The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution, is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.
    -Alexander Hamilton

  • Franklin

    “…we made a deal…”
    Did ya now? And did ya sign it back then too, time traveler?

    Once you study a bit, and synthesize the underpinnings of the secessionist construct and the libertarian paradigm, perhaps in another few years, come back and try to contribute.

  • Franklin

    Woods has submitted profound and brilliant arguments wrt to the oft-misunderstood Supremacy Clause. Sadly, the typical statist thinks he’s flipped the bird to alleged “neo-confederates” by superficially and melodramatically hand-waving “Supremacy…” like Joe McCarthy and his paper lists. It is erroneous.
    Further, Chris, the issue is not as deliberately and liberally (pun intended) de-contextualized as statute vs. constitution; that is fencing over symptoms. The heart of the issue is the judiciary’s failure to abide by constitutional intent — what to do when an unconstitutional law is deemed acceptable by a handful of black-robed stubborn, political hacks. One answer is to go back and attempt repeal, which of course ends up back on the same judges’ mahogany desks.
    Or there is constitutional amendment, an ironically gamed system, based on the protocol for passage.
    Yet even here I fall into the same trap — playing with the royalty’s fixed dice.
    The root dilemma is incomprehensible to most government apologists. They cannot imagine that this fight is one over a basic human right — true ownership of property and opting out of a warped and devolved oligarchical environment.

  • Franklin

    And Britain and the American colonies c. 1776 are so similar to the UK and the States of present day.

    Get a thought.

  • ChrisMichaels

    Dr. Woods’, arguments, while profound and
    brilliant as they may be, are just that, arguments. Opinions. The 3rd Article of the Constitution makes it clear where the ruling on such matters exist.

    *Sadly, the typical statist thinks he’s flipped the bird
    to alleged “neo-confederates” by superficially and melodramatically hand-waving “Supremacy…” like Joe McCarthy and his paper lists. It is
    erroneous.*

    As far as the title of Neo-Confederate. There’s nothing alleged about it, by definition.

    *Further, Chris, the issue is not as deliberately and
    liberally (pun intended) de-contextualized as statute vs. constitution; that is fencing over symptoms.*

    Please explain.

    *The heart of the issue is the judiciary’s failure to abide
    by constitutional intent*

    That, again, is your opinion, because you disagree with the Judicial system, set up by the Constitution. The Constitution’s intent is that Federal laws are valid and are supreme, so long as those laws were adopted in pursuance of—that is, consistent with—the Constitution. Where is pursuance of secession consistent with, and or in the Constitution?

    *what to do when an unconstitutional law is deemed
    acceptable by a handful of black-robed stubborn, political hacks.*

    I suppose blame should be placed squarely where it belongs: The Constitution, a number of Founding Fathers and James Madison for including the 3rd Article.

    *Or there is constitutional amendment.*

    Like the 14th.

    *Yet even here I fall into the same trap — playing with
    the royalty’s fixed dice.*

    Indeed.

    *The root dilemma is incomprehensible to most government apologists.*

    Most of us “apologists” understand your root dilemma swimmingly. We simply disagree with your interpretation of the Constitution and your history.

    *They cannot imagine that this fight is one over a basic
    human right — true ownership of property*

    Another salient issue is, your side of the fence dismisses, one tiny little part of this property ownership in defense of secession. Slavery.

    Am I saying you or Dr. Woods are endorsing slavery. No. However, I do take issue, as do, among others, the Declarations of Causes and the Cornerstone Speech, with this revised sentiment that the institution of slavery played little to no role in the War of Northern “Aggression.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/JClintRamey Clint Ramsey

    Wow bud thats pretty delusional. When is the human race going to realize, we are all the same freaking species.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JClintRamey Clint Ramsey

    Obscure movie reference FTW.

  • Anonymous

    I guess you missed that suspension of habeas corpus is under Article I,. (Section 9, clause 2). That means it falls under the Legislative branch. Lincoln suspended before Congress “endorsed” his action with the remaining Congress after the South had seceded. The evidence in earlier debates on the ratification of the Constitution also clearly stated that the suspension of habeas corpus was to be by the legislative branch.

    BTW, the courts had already ruled on this issue and affirmed that ONLY the Congress had the authority to suspend habeas corpus. Chief Justice Taney also affirmed this and declared Lincoln’s action to be unconstitutional at the time; citing Madison’s ruling Ex Parte Bollman and Swartwout .

    As far as “rebellion”? What rebellion? There was secession by a number of states. No Constitutional authority exists for the Federal government to send troops to suppress a secession that is authorized by that states legislature. .Only when a a rebellion WITHIN a state against that states legal government occurs is the Federal government authorized to intervene. Or in the case of “domestic violence” when requested by the states legislature or states executive if the state legislature is unable to convene. That’s Article IV, Section 4.

    Note that IF one accepts that the seceding states were doing so illegally, and there is no real evidence that this was the case, then the Federal government violated Article IV, Section 3 in breaking up Virginia and creating West Virginia.

    Much of the above is in more detail here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/813646/posts

  • Sarah Goodwich

    Fortunately it only take one state to secede.
    The People of Texas seem likely, but they need to be informed of the legal facts, not the falsehoods presented by Daniel Miller and all of the other pseudo-experts who make false legal claims which only hurt their case.

    Only VALID claims will do.

  • Sarah Goodwich

    That’s 20/20 hindsight; the Founders had no way of knowing what lunacy would prevail down the road, which turned out to be far worse than anything the British foisted on them.
    But Jefferson did say that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” and the People slept on their freedoms; the INSTANT that the federal government claimed secession was unconstitutional, they should have barred their doors and closed their borders, formed alliances with foreign countries and declared a state of siege.
    But they just kicked that can down the road, and it came back bigger and badder under Lincoln.

  • Sarah Goodwich

    About as obscure as “Use the Force.”

  • Sarah Goodwich

    The issue is not individual rights but international law, by which each state is just as independent from each other as France from Germany.
    Smug pseudo-intellectuals are the standard employees of MSNBC.

  • Sarah Goodwich

    The Constitution is an international charter like the UN.
    The more you know…..

  • Sarah Goodwich

    It depends on whether it’s a national or international Constitution.

    A dispute against a national authority would be considered a revolution, and therefore would be decided by force– just like the colonies against Great Britain.

    However the Constitution, just like the Articles of Confederation, was INTERNATIONAL, being compacts among the sovereign nations formed OUT of that revolution.
    And so they CAN secede; and no amount of force can ever change that fact.
    So that’s Scalia’s mistake: PROBLEM SOLVED!

  • Sarah Goodwich

    Correction: Lincoln conquered the sovereign nations who were originally members of the national republic, to form a single imperial pseudo-state under brute-force dictatorship and censorship.

  • Sarah Goodwich

    Retraction to above: the states formed an international federal republic, not national.

  • Sarah Goodwich

    The issue wasn’t the amount, but the premise that the colonies should be not be a source of revenue and tribute to Great Britain.
    This was the same issue with the Southern vs. the Northern states; however the difference is that the states had already won their independence, and were not the property of an empire (or “Union”) as Lincoln claimed.



Find me on Google