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For other uses, see Secession (disambiguation).

Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or political entity. Typically there is a strong issue difference that drives the withdrawal. The word derives from the latin term secessio.


Political secessions

American Revolution

A proposed example of successful secession in the modern era is American Revolution by which the Thirteen Colonies separated from the British Crown. Some argue that this was a secession movement as opposed to a revolution. Revolutions seek to replace current governments or to seek independence from colonial rule, while secession movements seek to separate from current governments in which the party seeking separation already has a voice.

Confederate States of America

Other secession movements include the case of the Southern states of the United States seceding to form the Confederate States of America. Less dramatically, new U.S. states were commonly formed out of an older state as the United States grew, such as in the northeast (Maine created out of Massachusetts), the mid-Atlantic (Kentucky created out of Virginia) and then repeatedly in the western territories. The formation of such states are not typically considered secessionist because they were officially accepted by the parent state and the national government. During the American Civil War, West Virginia seceded from the state of Virginia (which had joined the Confederacy) and became the 35th state of the U.S.

Local examples in the United States

Local examples of secession also exist, such as the attempt of Staten Island to break away from New York City in the late-1980s and early 1990s. San Fernando Valley recently lost a vote to separate from Los Angeles County but has seen an increased attention to its infrastructure needs. Several cities in Vermont including Killington are currently exploring a secession request to allow them to join New Hampshire over claims that they are not getting adequate return of state resources from their state tax contributions.

There have been other modern secessionist movements to create new states. There was a short-lived effort to create a Jefferson State out of counties in southern Oregon and northern California in 1941, in part motivated by requests for better roads, but it was quickly shelved by the outbreak of World War II. Advocates in the upper peninsula of Michigan, with off and on intensity, have called for it to become a separate 51st state. A movement in Western Massachusetts, harkening back to Shays' Rebellion, seeks to secede from Massachusetts. There have been calls for formation of Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest. A less ambitious plan would create a new state from Washington east of the Cascade Mountains, along with northern Idaho, northwestern Montana, and possibly northeastern Oregon. It would be centered on Spokane, Washington (the largest city in the region), and called "Columbia" after the Columbia River.

The Great Republic of Rough and Ready was a small, short-lived self-declared independent nation that existed in Nevada County in northern California in the United States in 1850. Founded in the town of Rough and Ready by miners largely as a protest against a recently-introduced tax on new mining claims and the prohibition of alcohol in Nevada County, it never achieved formal recognition of any government and was abolished after only three months. The incident has become part of the colorful folklore of the region.

At the time of the "secession", the town was populated largely by miners from Wisconsin. The declaration of independence was sent to Washington, DC, but was lost along the way. The United States Congress never got official word that a small town in the newly-admitted State of California was seceding from both the state and the Union, and thus the U.S. government never had the opportunity to take formal action against the "secession."

Had it achieved true independence, it would have become the world's smallest nation, with an area of only 0.75 square miles (1.9 km²). The citizens disbanded the Republic the following summer, supposedly when they realized to their dismay that they could not celebrate Independence Day on July 4, since they were no longer part of the United States.

The history of the Republic is now celebrated annually in Nevada County on Secession Days during the second weekend of April.

There are also web sites currently advocating a separate California nation, and independent nation of Hawaii as well as other sections of the United States. A humorous response to an alleged infringement of the Constitutional protection against unlawful search and seizure inspired the brief formation of the Conch Republic in the Florida Keys.

Many articles after the 2004 Presidential election questioned whether the so-called "blue" and "red" states can continue to co-exist or ever reconcile or if they might be drifting toward irreparable policy differences and social conflict and possible future separation. Alternatively it is possible the political conflict may result in gradual diminution of the federal government- for lack of a true national consensus - and perhaps a greater emphasis on state rights to permit them to chart more of their own domestic agendas while maintaining the federal union for a more limited set of national actions than undertaken today and for international purposes.


In addition, Canada has had the chronic threat of the province of Quebec seceding in some fashion from the confederation. This has led to two referendums which voted repeatedly to defeat the move, but the possibility of another remains. See Secession of Quebec. There is also a growing Secessionist sentiment in the province of Alberta, see Alberta Separatism.

World of art

In the world of art, the term Sezession has been applied to withdrawals from official academies by artists seeking greater freedom to exhibit avant-garde or controversial work. Three such withdrawals occurred in the German-speaking world in the last years of the nineteenth century: the Vienna Secession and the Munich and Berlin Secessions.

See also

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