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By Timothy N. Baldwin, JD.
February 24, 2010

(Continued) Anti-Secessionist Argument: The US Constitution Does Not Grant the State’s The Right to Secede Individually, and even if it were admitted that secession is a right, it may only be accomplished with the permission of at least three fourths of the states.

Detrimental Reliance Theory Disproven by Article V Argument

If it is true (and it is not) that three-fourths of the states are required to allow a state to secede, then the “detrimental reliance” theory in no way binds an individual state to the union. Are you to argue that three-fourths of the states have the implied power to cause detriment to the remaining one-fourth of the states without any remedy being left to the remaining one-fourth of the states? Did not our constitution attempt to limit all vestiges of a tyrannical majority? This was just one of the main reasons why the states did not prefer a national form of government: because it has inherent risks of the majority abusing the freedom and interests of the minority. Thus, independent and sovereign states were left intact.

If the argument goes that the amendment clause put all of the ratifying states on notice that secession could only be accomplished through three-fourths of the states, then the remaining one-fourth of the states would most certainly argue that the amendment clause never admits the right of three-fourths of the states to deny them the use and benefit of the (permanent and perpetual) union itself, but only that the terms of the constitution could be changed--not the parties. As such, not even three fourths of the states have that power. But honestly, addressing this matter any further seems a waste of time since it has been already proven that the amendment clauses had nothing to do with the power to secede.

Why Not Require Three Fourths of the States to Correct State Action, As Opposed to Federal?

The following is written for cynic’s sake. It is very interesting that some will argue that the states may do nothing against the federal government (e.g. nullification, secession, levy, etc.) unless three-fourths of the states ratify such action, but when the suggestion is made that an individual state has the right to resist the federal government until and unless three fourths of the states declare otherwise through ratification, they reject it out of hand. There is an obvious bias to condone the federal usurpations of the constitution and to condemn a state’s defense of the constitution, despite the fact that the ninth amendment guarantees that “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Why is that?

Did not the federalist writers admit that the states (and not the federal government) would retain powers over the most fundamental issues of life, liberty and property? What is more fundamental to life, liberty and property than the power and freedom to govern yourself under whatever union or lack thereof that body-politic deems fitting for freedom? Why would we deny these agents the ability to protect the most precious freedoms we say we love? The reason is likely because those people prefer convenience (normally associated with commerce) of “one nation” over the inconvenience of a federal union.

Given the historical fact that the union is made up of sovereign states, through assent through a federal compact, the modes of interpretation and construction must favor the actions of the states where they are not contradicting a specific grant to Congress or an expressly waived area of the state. Justice Story admits, “one of the first elementary principles of all contracts is, to interpret them according, to the intentions and objects of the parties.” Joseph Story, Nature of the Constitution – Whether A Compact, Book 3, Chapter 3, sec. 331. The people of the states demanded that the constitution be not construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people and that all powers not delegated be retained. The right of secession is one of those fundamental rights and resisting usurpations against retained sovereignty is another.

Inconvenience: Friend or Foe to Freedom?

This right of secession would prove to be too inconvenient, unionists say, and thus it should be “unconstitutional.” Indeed, perhaps freedom has suffered for too long because of the desire for convenience (and wealth!). People casually say, “Freedom isn’t free.” In fact it is not free, but when people say that, do they realize that the cost of freedom has little to do with the US military than it does with United States’ citizens protecting freedom from domestic tyrants and exercising self-government principles every day on a local, state and federal level?


Is this not why our system of government instituted divided sovereignty, limited government, enumerated powers, checks and balances, whereby each political branch checked the other and was completely independent of each other and not responsible to each other, even though all swore an oath to uphold the same constitution? Were these not inconveniences inherently placed in the federal system? Well, these same inconveniences were left in place by maintaining state sovereignty in a Confederate Republic through a federal compact.

If you want freedom, expect inconvenience, hardship and labor. It is as US Senator John Taylor said in response to those who advocated that the US S CT possessed supreme power over state sovereign actions: “If the mutual control [of the state] is imperfect, and sometimes inconvenient, so are all other precautions for the preservation of liberty.” Taylor, 150.

Choose which you prefer: freedom or convenience, but as Benjamin Franklin said, “he who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.” Same goes for those who choose convenience over freedom: they deserve neither.


The matters of states’ authority, the power to secede, the true nature and character of U.S. constitution, the limitations of the federal government, the applications of limited government, dual sovereignty, federalism, etc. are crucial to one’s understanding of this current union called the United States of America and the relation of the members of that union: the states.

Secession is not about “taking my ball and going home!” or simply “getting my way!” Do you believe that was the attitude of our colonial forefathers in 1776?! If not, what justification do you give them for their right to secede from Great Britain? Do you think a dependent colony has more of a right to secede from a monarchy than an independent, sovereign state has in a federal compact? If they had any justification for secession at all, it was the rights each body-politic possessed under the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” It was not based upon any sort of union status, the Crown, Parliament, the English courts or the other colonies’ consent. Indeed, the colonies were more legally bound to their supposed superior sovereign than the states ever were or are to each other under the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution. Yet, each colony declared its right to secede and become an independent nation, not even having an expressed legal right under the crown of Great Britain.

As of July 4, 1776, states have had more than a natural power to declare independence. They have actual sovereignty paid for by a bloody seven year war and solemnly declared by the Declaration of Independence, their state constitutions and union ratification declarations, the Treaty of Paris, the Articles of Confederation and US Constitution. Still, some would have the states to become more dependent on the federal government than the colonies ever were to Great Britain, depriving them of the most fundamental power of any sovereign body-politic: to make and unmake constitutions. How foolish and dangerous is that proposition.

I believe it is appropriate upon the end of these articles to allow the late Woodrow Wilson to give you his thoughts about secession. I use Wilson not because he was a states’ rights guy, or because he was sympathetic to the true understanding of the union’s formation at all. Rather, I use Wilson because he is known for his utter depreciation of states’ rights and his preference for a national form of government, as his administration clearly proved. Indeed, Wilson held true to what he believed during his administration, regardless of what the actual intention of the ratifiers and drafters of the US Constitution actually was. Wilson states in his book, Division and Reunion (1918):

“It may…be doubted whether [the federal government constituted one nation created by the whole people, independent of the sovereign states as parties to a compact] was the doctrine upon which the Union had been founded. It seems impossible to deny that the argument [that the union was created by sovereign states through assent to a federal compact] contained much more nearly the sentiment of 1787-89.

“There are no indications that [the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1789] were considered treasonable at the time they were passed; they do not even seem to have shocked the public sense of constitutional duty. Indeed, the doctrine that the States had individually become sovereign bodies when they emerged from their condition of subjection to Great Britain as colonies, and that they had not lost their individual sovereignty by entering the Union, was a doctrine accepted almost without question, even the courts, for quite thirty years after the formation of the government.

“Those who worked the theory out to its logical consequence described the sovereignty of the federal government as merely an emanation from the sovereignty of the States. Even those public men who loved the Union most, yielded theoretical assent to the opinion that a State might legally withdraw from the government at her option, and had only practical and patriotic objections to urge.” Woodrow Wilson, Disunion and Reunion, 1829-1909, Ed. Albert Hart, (Longman’s, Green and Co., (Chicago, IL, 1918), 45-46 (emphasis added).

Of all of the Presidents in America to argue that the states did not have the right to secede, one would think that Woodrow Wilson would be among the top. But this is not true. Wilson recognized the true historical facts proving that the union was in fact formed by sovereign states through assent to a federal compact. Wilson acknowledged that the most studied and knowledgeable men on the matter never denied the states’ right to secede, but only argued on the matter of pragmatics.
He at least had the character to admit this much and to admit that he simply did not care, because of his preference for a national form of government. Today, we have too many people hiding behind unsustainable arguments, pretense and trickery, who act as if they care about what the true intentions of the people of the states were at that time.

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Secession is about self-preservation, self-defense, perpetuating the principles of freedom held sacred by the overwhelming majority of our founding generation and forefathers before. As a citizen of your state, it is your duty to yourself, to your posterity and to God to study this matter, to become familiar with the issues, facts and philosophy relevant thereto and to take a stand one way or the other. At the end of the day, freedom is protected not by the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, the President or even three-fourths of the states. It is protected by each individual passionate about these immutable laws of God, which have formed the principles of our country from its inception.

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1- A Dissenting Opinion on "Secession"

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Timothy Baldwin is an attorney from Pensacola, FL, who received his bachelor of arts degree at the University of West Florida and who graduated from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. After having received his Juris Doctorate degree from Cumberland School of Law, Baldwin became a Felony Prosecutor in the 1st District of Florida. In 2006, he started his own law practice, where he created specialized legal services entirely for property management companies.

Like his father, Chuck Baldwin, Timothy Baldwin is an astute writer of cutting-edge political articles, which he posts on his website, Baldwin is also the author of the soon-to-be-released book entitled, Freedom For A Change, in which Baldwin expounds the fundamental principles of freedom believed by America’s forefathers and gives inspiring and intelligent application of those principles to our current political and cultural standing.

Baldwin is involved in important state sovereignty movement issues, including being co-counsel in the federal litigation in Montana involving the Firearms Freedom Act, the likes of which is undoubtedly a pivotal and essential ingredient to restoring freedom and federalism in the states of America. Baldwin is also a member of freedom organizations, such as The Oath-Keepers, and believes that the times require all freedom-loving Americans to educate, invigorate and activate the principles of freedom within the States of America for ourselves and our posterity.

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Given the status of these states as independent and free states, they necessarily had the power to do what independent bodies-politic have: the power to make (accede to) and unmake (secede from) constitutions.








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