Harry Cabluck/AP
Texas Governor Rick Perry

Speculation, Concern About Secession Moves Outside Texas

April 24, 2009 05:00 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Texas Gov. Rick Perry sparked some controversial ideas about secession recently at a tax day tea party, but his state isn’t the only one coping with the possibility.

With or Without Texas?

According to The Washington Post, Gov. Perry “seemed to suggest that if the federal government continued on his current path secession might be an option.”
“Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that,” the Abilene Reporter-News quoted the governor as saying.

“My hope is that America, and Washington in particular, pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot, to boot.”

Some people have bristled at the idea, despite the fact that polls indicate that some Texans would be happy to go.

Later, Perry said, “America is a great country, and Texas wants to stay in that union and help our way out of this. I’m trying to make Washington pay attention to the 10th Amendment. We are Americans, proud Texans, and we will do everything we can to get America back on track.”
In Montana, a resolution in the state legislature also has some wondering whether it “was a call for secession or an affirmation of the U.S. Constitution,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle wrote.

The Chronicle quoted Rep. Michael More, the sponsor of the resolution, as saying, “For those of you who would like the abbreviated version, here it is: The right to govern is derived from the consent of the governed. That is what this resolution is all about.”

But the measure failed in a party-line vote in the state’s “evenly divided House” after moving through a committee, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

Accusations flew that the bill amounted to “right-wing extremism,” but More countered, “The goal is to reiterate the desire of Montanans for self-determination, such that we can chart a course for the future according to existing law and of our own volition, not according to the distant political will of those who should be serving us in Washington, D.C.”

“That’s all this is—asking them to live by the rules that we agreed to when we joined this Union in 1889,” Rep. Krayton Kerns said. “There’s talk of secession. I see this thrown out there. No one’s saying that, but that is the big stick in the room that we have to occasionally display.”
Others didn’t seem so certain. Rep. Franke Wilmer said that after conducting further research about the language of the resolution, she learned that other states had considered similar measures before. According to the Great Falls Tribune, she stated, “When New Hampshire debated a version of this resolution the headlines read, ‘First shot in the Civil War.’”

Analysis: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”

The Dallas Morning News noted that a recently released poll of 500 Texans indicated that 31 percent of them wrongly believed the state has the right to become an independent country. Some said that given the opportunity, they would vote for leaving the Union.

While the state may operate under the tourism motto “Texas: It’s like a whole other country,” there is one piece of information that remains.

“The fact is, the treaty under which Texas joined the U.S. provides that it could be divided into five separate states. But it is not empowered to leave the union,” the paper explained.

Historical Context: Confederate states and the Civil War

During the Civil War era, South Carolina was the first state to leave the Union on Dec. 20, 1860. PBS notes that after Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency, six more states had followed suit by March 1861. Following the attack at Fort Sumter, and an order by the president for troops to stop the trouble that was brewing, the total number of states that had seceded grew to 11.

Related Topic: Tax day “tea parties”

With the 1773 Boston Tea Party as inspiration, this year’s tax deadline day saw “tea party” protests against President Obama’s policies on taxes and spending around the country. Tens of thousands turned out for the events.

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