Latin secession-, secessio, from secedere
- Date: 1604
Secession (derived from the Latin term secessio) is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.
Some theories of secession emphasize a general right of secession for any reason (“Choice Theory") while others emphasize that secession should be considered only to rectify grave injustices (“Just Cause Theory”). Some theories do both. A list of justifications may be presented supporting the right to secede.
- United States President James Buchanan, Fourth Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union December 3, 1860: "The fact is that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it can not live in the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possesses many means of preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was not placed in their hand to preserve it by force."
- United States President Thomas Jefferson: "If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation...to a continuance in union... I have no hesitation in saying, 'let us separate.' "
- The right to liberty, freedom of association and private property
- Consent as important democratic principle; will of majority to secede should be recognized
- Making it easier for states to join with others in an experimental union
- Dissolving such union when goals for which it was constituted are not achieved
- Self-defense when larger group presents lethal threat to minority or the government cannot adequately defend an area
- Self-determination of peoples
- Preserving culture, language, etc. from assimilation or destruction by a larger or more powerful group
- Furthering diversity by allowing diverse cultures to keep their identity
- Rectifying past injustices, especially past conquest by a larger power
- Escaping “discriminatory redistribution,” i.e., tax schemes, regulatory policies, economic programs, etc. that distribute resources away to another area, especially in an undemocratic fashion
- Enhanced efficiency when the state or empire becomes too large to administer efficiently
- Preserving “liberal purity” (or “conservative purity”) by allowing less (or more) liberal regions to secede
- Providing superior constitutional systems which allow flexibility of secession
- Keeping political entities small and human scale through right to secession