One hundred and fifty years after the end of the War Between the States, America finds itself embroiled in socio-political controversies that are resurrecting old issues with a new vigor. Among these issues are the proper relationship of the states to the federal government, and the question of whether a state has any right to secede from the Union should Washington's partisan hand grow too heavy. In response, some argue that these questions are meaningless, given the Union's victory over the Southern Confederacy in 1865. Others, however, argue that questions of right cannot be resolved by means of force, and that the only question the war answered is which side could win a military victory over the other. One Nation Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution
takes a hard look at the issues involved with the question of secession in light of the Constitution and various objections raised by such noteworthy historical figures as Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln, men whose views have largely been accepted as gospel in political circles. More modern objections are also considered.
In Part One, the Compact Theory of the Union is contrasted with the Nationalist Theory on such questions as when the Union began, whether it was created by the states or the American people as a whole, and what sort of government the Founding Fathers intended to give us.
Part Two continues the discussion with a specific focus on Abraham Lincoln's arguments against the secessions of the Southern states in 1861. Among the issues examined here are whether the Union is perpetual, whether the states possess sovereignty, whether states would need the permission of the whole Union in order to secede, whether secession itself is the "essence of anarchy," and the circumstances under which the war between the United and Confederate States began.
Part Three moves on to considering more modern arguments against secession, including the idea that secession is simply "un-American," whether the Constitution was suspended under Abraham Lincoln, whether the war between North and South was a moral crusade to end slavery, whether the question of secession should lie exclusively with the Supreme Court, and whether America is too important in world affairs to permit secession.
Part Four concludes the study by examining current political trends and whether secession might have any place in America's future.
Originally published in 2006, this edition is revised and updated.
"The federal government's growth of power at the expense of individuals and natural human communities has been the trend so long now that it has seemed inevitable. But thoughtful people of late have been rediscovering the true decentralist origins of the United States. Robert Hawes states the case beautifully for the forgotten decentralist tradition - which may be our only hope for the preservation of freedom."
- Clyde Wilson, Professor of History, University of South Carolina (review of the first edition)