Secession

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Secession

The act of withdrawing from membership in a group.

Secession occurs when persons in a country or state declare their independence from the ruling government. When a dissatisfied group secedes, it creates its own form of government in place of the former ruling government. Secessions are serious maneuvers that lead to, or arise from, military conflict.

A secession can affect international relationships as well as the civil peace of the nation from which a group secedes. Most countries consider secession by a town, city, province, or other body to be a criminal offense that warrants retaliation using force. Because the primary mission of most governments is to maximize the comfort and wealth of its citizens, nations jealously guard the land and wealth that they have amassed. In rare cases a government may recognize the independence of a seceding state. This recognition may occur when other countries support the independence of the seceding state. However, for most countries, the involuntary loss of land and wealth is unthinkable.

Most countries have laws that punish persons who secede or attempt to secede. The United States has no specific law on secession, but the federal government and state governments maintain laws that punish Sedition and other forms of insurrection against the government. On the federal level, for example, chapter 115 of title 18 of the U.S. Code Annotated identifies Treason, rebellion, or insurrection, seditious conspiracy, and advocation of the overthrow of the government as criminal offenses punishable by several years of imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines. These are the types of crimes that can be charged against persons who attempt to secede from the United States.

The U.S. Civil War was the result of the single most ambitious secession in the history of the United States. In February 1861 South Carolina seceded from the Union, and Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee followed suit shortly thereafter. These states seceded because they objected to attempts by the federal government to abolish the enslavement of black people. The mass secession led to four years of civil war and the death of hundreds of thousands of people. The seceding states established their own government called the Confederate States of America and fought the U.S. military forces with their own army. When the Confederate forces were defeated in April 1865, the seceding states rejoined the United States.

Cross-references

U.S. Civil War.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
As a result, Donald argues, he mishandled the secession crisis, utterly misjudging the South's resolve.
DONETSK, Ukraine: The United States Tuesday accused Russia of sending "agents" to stoke a flaring secession crisis in eastern Ukraine that Moscow itself conceded could spill over into civil war.
Although this reviewer disagrees that Lincoln ran out of options--McClintock himself states that Lincoln would not or could not consider all of them--it is clear that Lincoln and the Decision for War is a must-read work that will become a centerpiece of historiographical debate on the secession crisis for the foreseeable future.
Potter originally had used the diary as a source for Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis. As noted, he subsequently admitted that he would not do so again because the "Diary of a Public Man was, if not a forgery, at least not what it purported to be." But his account of decision making in early 1861 remained consistent with the diary.
In the first chapter, he covers the secession crisis and war.
Harrison County residents' use of localized memory was essential in buttressing loyalty to their state's past, which ultimately created an easier method of relating ideologically to their present situation during the secession crisis. Blending local loyalty and memory not only planted the seeds for a smooth transition to Confederate nationalism but also inaugurated a trend that would be used consistently throughout the war to reinforce and cultivate locals' sense of duty to the Confederacy.
He examines the question from the Southern point of view during the secession crisis in the late fall and early winter of 1860-61.
Donald's Lincoln is relatively passive politically, at first inexperienced, even blundering (as during the secession crisis).
Unionist Benjamin Andrews spoke for most of the correspondents when he wrote that "the political opinions of the petitioner underwent no change during the Rebellion." (28) Even individuals who viewed themselves as unionists during the secession crisis and then embraced the Confederacy claimed to have remained true to their new allegiance until "the surrender of Genls.
Slaves had not rebelled for John Brown; during the secession crisis or after the firing on Fort Sumter; after Union victories at Forts Henry and Donaldson; after Union occupation of New Orleans, the Sea Islands, or Tennessee; or as Union forces invaded Virginia.
Then it examines the emergence of these two groups in every Deep South state by midcentury, their importance during the 1850s, and finally the role the two sides played in the secession crisis. (9)
However, Rable might have provided a fuller discussion of the secession crisis by including an examination of Governor William H.