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Secession is in the Air

buchanan11No, it is not 1860 again.

But with all the talk of the 10th Amendment, nullification and interposition, states rights and secession — following Gov. Rick Perry's misstatement that Texas, on entering the Union in 1845, reserved in its constitution a right to secede — one might think so.

Chalk up another one for those Tea Party activists who exploded in cheers when Sister Sarah brought up the dread word in endorsing Rick Perry in the primary.

Looking back in American history, however, these ideas, these sentiments, decried as insane inside the Beltway, were once as American as "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical," wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison from Paris in January 1787, about Revolutionary War Capt. Daniel Shay's anti-tax rebellion in Massachusetts.

In the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, both of these founding fathers sanctioned the idea that states could interpose their own sovereignty and nullify acts of Congress. Both were enraged by the Alien and Sedition Acts of John Adams and the Federalists, written into law to combat sedition during the undeclared naval war with France.

On taking office, President Jefferson declared the acts unconstitutional, refused to prosecute those charged and freed the imprisoned writers.

In 1814, Timothy Pickering, another veteran of the revolution and secretary of state to both George Washington and Adams, was a force behind the Hartford Convention, which argued for New England's secession and reuniting with Great Britain. Massachusetts opposed Madison's War of 1812 that had caused the British blockade that destroyed their trade and prosperity.

The war's end and Jackson's victory at New Orleans, however, aborted the Hartford movement and finished off the Federalists forever.

In 1832, it was Vice President John Calhoun who inspired South Carolina to vote to nullify the Tariff of Abomination that was killing the cotton-exporting South and enriching Northern manufacturers. To the chagrin of Madison, Calhoun invoked his and Jefferson's Virginia and Kentucky resolutions in defense of Carolinian defiance.

In 1845, it was Massachusetts again. Ex-President John Quincy Adams declared that admission of Texas to the Union as a slave state might constitute grounds for secession and civil war.

With Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 and Republicans, the Northern party, assuming power, South Carolina, Georgia and the Gulf states seceded.

But not until after Fort Sumter, when Lincoln called for volunteers to march south and crush the rebellion, did Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas secede, rather than remain passive or participate in a war on their kinfolk.

Unlike the issues of yesteryear that tore the Union asunder, Tea Party issues are not sectional but national. Yet, they are rooted in a similar set of beliefs — that the federal government no longer serves their interests, but the interests of economic and political forces that sustain the party in power.

In 1860, the South saw power passing indefinitely to a new regime, a Republican Party that represented high-tariff industrialists and New England radicals and abolitionists who despised the agrarian South and celebrated the raid on Harper's Ferry by the terrorist John Brown, who had sought to incite a slave uprising, such as had occurred in Santo Domingo.

What called the Tea Party into existence?

Some are angry over unchecked immigration and the failure to control our borders and send the illegals back. Some are angry over the loss of manufacturing jobs. Some are angry over winless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some are angry over ethnic preferences they see as favoring minorities over them.

What they agree upon, however, is that they have been treading water for a decade, working harder and harder with little or no improvement in their family standard of living. They see the government as taking more of their income in taxes, seeking more control over their institutions, creating entitlements for others not them, plunging the nation into unpayable debt, and inviting inflation or a default that can wipe out what they have saved.

And there is nothing they can do about it, for they are politically powerless. By their gatherings, numbers, mockery of elites and militancy, however, they get a sense of the power that they do not have.

Their repeated reappearance on the national stage, in new incarnations, should be a fire bell in the night to the establishment of both parties. For it testifies to their belief and that of millions more that the state they detest is at war with the country they love.

The secession taking place in America is a secession of the heart — of people who have come to believe the government is them, and not us.

Obama's problem, like the Bushes' in 1992 and 2008, is that one thing these folks are really good at is throwing people out of power.

Patrick Buchanan is the author of the book "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

1 Responses »

  1. John Brown was not a terrorist. To call him a terrorist is to assume that life in the U.S. was stable, fair, and normative in terms of human rights. The U.S.A. in the antebellum era was nation that sanctioned enslavement, stolen labor, and the degradation of human beings as "property" with violent and tragic results. Four million people were enslaved or living under constant threat of being enslaved in the South or assaulted, insulted, and discriminated against in every aspect of life in the North. The real terrorism of the antebellum era was slavery. John Brown killed five pro-slavery thugs who were plotting against the lives of his family and associates because they were outspokenly in favor of equality of blacks with whites. John Brown's raid as a liberation effort, and what happened in San Domingo was simply the overthrow of white supremacy, not the broadscale massacre of whites. There was more humanitarianism shown to whites in San Domingo than there was shown to blacks in Virginia after the Nat Turner revolt, after which whites slaughtered innocent blacks by the hundreds. John Brown was a patriot who wanted his nation cleansed of this wickedness; he was a humanitarian and an authentic Christian. Most people who talk about Brown have little sense of the historical record; like Mr. Buchanan, they only parrot what they've heard. Had Brown been a terrorist, he could easily have massacred whites in Missouri and Kansas by the dozens. In Virginia, even his enemies testified as to his great kindness and humanity to his prisoners. John Brown is the most slandered figure in U.S. history and I'd like to believe that if Mr. Buchanan knew the facts, he would not further mislead his readers. Of course, I may be wrong. Perhaps his own prejudices would prevail. For the record, historians are digging deeper and doing more research than has been done on John Brown over the last 50 years. We know better now. He was the counter-terrorist, the good guy.