(redirected from seceded)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


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.


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 ?
South Sudan formally seceded from Sudan on July 9 under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the North, but many fighters who sided with the SPLA against Khartoum remained on the Northern side of the new border.
"In recognition of thousands of queer lives portrayed on our stage, and the thousands upon thousands of queer people who have inspired, witnessed and been inspired by those lives, I declare our mainstage seceded ground and proclaim our theater an extraterritorial state that recognizes, encourages and condones same-sex marriage."
According to one study, the town's taxes would be halved if the town seceded to New Hampshire.
Between the election and Lincoln's inauguration in March 1861, seven states seceded from the Union.
When the first Southern states seceded just after Lincoln's election, Adams argues, it was to escape these higher taxes.
The Armenian Apostolic Church seceded from Rome over 1,500 years ago in a theological dispute on the nature of Christ.
The Genoveses--grumbling about the capture of the historical profession by the forces of political correctness--have seceded from the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association to form the Historical Society.
By 1861, 11 Southern states, whose economies were based on slavery, had seceded from the Union (that is, left it), partly to protect slavery.
Lincoln always felt that the States which seceded from the Union had not constitutionally seceded, and that he was therefore merely dealing with individuals who had rebelled against the authority of the United States.
As a border state, Maryland never formally seceded from the Union, although the majority of its "landed gentry" owned slaves.
In that interval, ten more slave states seceded. On February 4, 1861, the states that had already seceded met in Montgomery, Alabama, and set up what they called the Confederate States of America.
Texas seceded from the Union, following a state convention's recommendation of Feb.