Is it just me, or does all of the so-called "secessionist" rhetoric referenced by Christopher Erdman ("Secession: As American as Apple Pie?" November 27, 2012) seem strangely ironic during our sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War?
He states inaccurately that "All 50 states have signed an online petition to secede from the Union" (No "state" has submitted such a petition; the petitions have been submitted by individuals) but he is correct in stating that some of these petitions "have even acquired enough signatures, 25,000, to require a response from the White House."
The petitions to which Mr. Erdman alludes have been submitted online to "We the People," a feature of the White House website which was established (by the Obama administration!), according to the website, because "The right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it's sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."
Since our Constitution was adopted in 1787, there have been three more or less serious challenges to Federal authority in the United States - none of which have turned out that well for the challengers.
In the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, a group of disgruntled Pennsylvania farmers took up arms against the Federal government over a Federal excise tax on whiskey. George Washington himself - yes, that George Washington - led a force of federalized militias into Western Pennsylvania, scattered the whiskey rebels, rounded up the ringleaders, and tried and convicted them.
In the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833, South Carolina voted to "nullify" a Federal tariff and began preparations to defend its decision by force of arms. Congress passed the Force Act, authorizing President Andrew Jackson to raise troops to enforce the tariff, and, in the event, South Carolina backed down. And then, of course, there was the Civil War, when (eventually) eleven states actually tried to secede from the United States.
One would think that the results of that attempt to secede would have put an end to any future secessionist magical thinking, because if Antietam, Gettysburg, and Sherman's March to the Sea proved anything, they proved that secession really is a lost cause (with emphasis on the "lost").
"Can we be a free people if we can't rid ourselves of this overbearing government?" Mr. Erdman asks.
Well, no - of course we can't. But we rid ourselves of "overbearing governments" by having elections - not by espousing secession when an election doesn't go our way.
Lawrence F. Bassett
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom