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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 ?
Since war is itself a questionable moral enterprise, it could not serve as an interpretive measure for whether the secession was justifiable or not.
Members of the Secession were mainly concerned with architecture and the figurative arts but its members also exhibited furniture, metalwork, ceramics and textiles that soon attracted interest from around Europe.
With the law governing the secession of states being opaque and riddled with inconsistency and uncertainty, Dugard (a former law professor and member of the International Law Commission) nevertheless attempts to identify some consistent principles for recognizing new states coming into being through secession, basing his analysis on judicial rulings, scholarly writings, the record of successful secessions (e.g., Israel, Bangladesh, Yugoslavia, Eritrea, and South Sudan), focusing in particular on the case of Kosovo Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice.
McClintock's stand is a bold one, considering the strong current of ethnic, social, and cultural analyses of antebellum politics that have all but swept aside the traditional way of interpreting the fateful events of the secession that winter and spring.
(2) Furthermore, this applies if the secession is anchored in the national law of the mother state and follows the respective secession procedure.
The secession crisis has never had a more ambitious historian than William W.
The Swiss Confederation, on the other hand, does make secession at least theoretically possible, as is visible not only in the secession of Jura from the Canton of Bern, effective in 1979, but also in Article 53 of the current Swiss Constitution, which reads as follows:
The Secession Reference and the federal Clarity Act have set out a process whereby Quebec could leave Canada--a process supported by the precedent of Montenegro's recent secession from Serbia, and one that voices from within the sovereigntist movement have started to acknowledge.
These theories typically require that a territorially concentrated majority express a desire to secede in a referendum or plebiscite for the secession to be legitimate, and they do not require that the seceding group demonstrate that they are the victims of injustice at the hands of the state or the majority (remainder) group on the territory.
Ethiopia's multiethnic federal system is significant when set alongside other federal systems because it provides for the secession of any ethnic territorial unit.