Secessionist Rumblings and a Thought Experiment

Yesterday’s Washington Post carried a short piece about “The Once and Future Republic of Vermont,” in which a publisher and a political science professor explain why a considerable number of people in Vermont are actually working toward secession from the United States. I wonder how much irony The Post intended to communicate by publishing this particular op-ed on April 1. But this is not a joke. A couple of years ago, I heard a lecture by an advocate of the Second Vermont Republic, and to my surprise the arguments advanced in favor of the proposal were not entirely crazy. (In case you’re wondering, the first Vermont Republic lasted from 1777 until 1791; Vermont was the fourteenth state rather than one of the thirteen original colonies, though part of present-day Vermont seems to have been part of the Province of New Hampshire.)

Certainly up until the time of the Civil War, the arguments in favor of a right of secession were considered quite strong, stemming from a background understanding that the several states were the pre-existing communities and it was the states rather than the people who called the Union into being by voluntarily joining it. Read the rest of this entry »

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