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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 ?
Henceforth, autonomy is replaced by aspirations towards independence and secessionism is set into motion.
That's our new form of secessionism, and is no way to ground the relational institutions that are indispensable for our flourishing as beings born to know, love, and (at least as biological beings) die.
He goes on: "Secessionism flies in the face of our modern European and global environment.
Over the past decades, South Asian nations have suffered the ignominy of being in the center of external and domestic conflicts - whether hardcore secessionism or extremism or bitter political polarization.
Worryingly, the only thing that looks likely in Syria's future any time soon is not peace, but secessionism.
For a country beset by warring militias, rival tribes and clans, and eastern secessionism, this dramatic upset victory in a major tournament could have significant implications in reaffirming Libya's sense of shared national identity and pride, commonality of purpose, and, indeed, united future.
(24) For background on the Southern Movement, see Katherine Zimmerman's "Yemen's Southern Challenge: Background on the Rising Threat of Secessionism," AEI's Critical Threats Project, November 5, 2009.
Before we can detail this 'ontology', which is to a large extent my own framing based on indigenous beliefs, I give an overview of the events that led to Bougainville's aspiration for secessionism and the declaration of the independent Republic of Me'ekamui.
Although the argument that Africa has a secessionist deficit is empirically sound, it has also served as ammunition for some other scholars to call for more secessionism in Africa.
Regarding the effect of Kurd secessionism on decrease of social participation, not doing investment, and regional development in the western part of Iran, the opinions shoed the following percentages: 13.9 percent very low, 11.8 percent low, 27.9 percent medium, 24.7 percent high, and 20.8 percent very high.
The international community, including the EU, US, GCC and the UN, (the sponsor of the National Dialogue Conference, which grew out of the ineffective GCC initiative) is touting the dialogue as Yemen's golden opportunity to make headway on the issues ignored by the GCC initiative, such as southern secessionism, the Huthi conflict in Sa'ada, and drafting a constitution that can bring stability to Yemen.