2011-08-03 / Columns


By Neil Dickey Commander, Sons of Confederate Veterans

To continue our history of secession in the U.S. we will go back to 1781 when a group of Essex County, Mass. Lawyers and businessmen under the name “The Essex Junto” advocated secession of five New England States – Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. This move failed due to the lack of support of major power brokers in New York.

In 1804 they again threatened secession over the Louisiana Purchase. During the War of 1812 they gained more support in the Northeast over loss of revenue to their shipping industry because of the British Blockade of American ports. During this period the Junto was also known and the “Blue Lights’ from U.S. Navy reports of them using blue lights to signal the British blockading ships when American ships attempted to run the blockade, or to alert British ships to come ashore and carry out illegal trade.

Massachusetts and Connecticut refused to subject their militias to the U.S. War Department orders, thereby not allowing them to fight the British.

In Oct. 1814, these five states sent 265 commissioners to Hartford, known as the Hartford Convention, to discuss constitutional amendments they felt were needed to protect their inter- ests. Massachusetts Governor Caleb Strong sent a secret mission to England to discuss a separate peace. Massachusetts sent three commissioners to Washington to discuss the findings of the Hartford Convention but on arrival found that the war had ended. This same group of states threatened secession 1845 over the annexation of Texas.

In my last column, secession was defined as “to withdrawn from an alliance, federation or association…” This can be from a country or state. History shows many acts of secession supported by the U.S. A short list would be: Kentucky from Virginia (1792); Tennessee from North Carolina (1790); Maine from Massachusetts (1820); West Virginia from Virginia (1862); The Republic of Georgia from the Soviet Union (1990’s); and as recently as this year when South Sudan separated from Sudan.

It should also be noted that the secession of West Virginia from Virginia was in violation of Article IV, Section 3, of the Constitution, yet it was supported and aided by the Union under Lincoln. Section 3 states, “…no new state may be formed from within the jurisdiction of any other state…without the consent of the legislature of the concerned state…” The legislature in Richmond had no voice in this action.

All information above can be found at Wikipedia-Secession in the U.S., and Cyclopedia of Political Science. Anyone with comments of criticism can contact me at ndickey@planters.net.

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