My search continues (off and on of course, I’m working on a thesis) to find a solid explanation as to why anyone should call the American Revolution an act of secession. In this search, I decided the most direct approach was to find a credible website that argues that the colonies seceded from Great Britain, and then email the author for the scholarship validating such a claim. I used this same tactic recently after a couple of Southern Heritage defenders pointed out this essay at Monticello.org. Although I did receive a response, the explanations as to “why?”, used little scholarship and contained very inaccurate information. Regardless, the information I did receive, and the subsequent comments and posts, lead to a decent amount of conversation. So, here goes round two in the hopes of that continued discussion.
After doing a few searches, I came across the Weider History Group’s website, Historynet.com. The Weider History Group is one of the largest publishers of history related magazines in the world, including such titles as “America’s Civil War”, “Civil War Times”, and “Military History.” You might recall Kevin Levin’s article on Silas Chandler in the “Civil War Times” two years ago. It’s safe to say, this is fairly reputable group. Historynet.com also has numerous articles and essays dealing with a plethora of historical topics. Luckily for me, I found what I was looking for.
One of the articles I found dealt with the topic of secession. In that article, the author makes the claim that the American Revolution represented an act of secession.
From Articles of Confederation to “A More Perfect Union.“ Arguably, the act of secession lies deep within the American psyche. When the 13 colonies rebelled against Great Britain in the War for American Independence, it was an act of secession, one that is celebrated by Americans to this day.
Sadly, I cannot provide the original image of the text, the above quote is a copy and paste from my email. I will explain why later. The above text, in particular the line, “it was an act of secession, one that is celebrated by Americans to this day.” was the argument I was looking for. I immediately emailed an inquiry stating:
In the article about Secession (found here:http://www.historynet.com/secession), there is this statement.
“From Articles of Confederation to “A More Perfect Union.” Arguably, the act of secession lies deep within the American psyche. When the 13 colonies rebelled against Great Britain in the War for American Independence, it was an act of secession, one that is celebrated by Americans to this day.”
I’ve found little scholarship to support the American Revolution as being an act of secession. I was wondering if the article’s author could provide citation for such a conclusion. Thanks.
Inside of one business day, I received a response.
Mr. Baker,You make a good point, but the reality is that many Americans, particularly in the South, regard the actions of 1775-76 and those of 1860-1861 as identical, That was true in the 1860s and is still true today. I do think, however, that the wording in our article should reflect the fact that there are conflicting beliefs on the matter rather than asserting the AWI was an act of secession. I’ve edited the passage as follows (second paragraph is unchanged; I’m including it to let you see the flow from paragraph one to paragraph two):
Many people, especially those wishing to support the South’s right to secede in 1860–61, have said that when 13 American colonies rebelled against Great Britain in 1776, it was an act of secession. Others say the two situations were different and the colonies’ revolt was a revolution. The war resulting from that colonial revolt is known as the American Revolution or the American War for Independence.
During that war, each of the rebelling colonies regarded itself as a sovereign nation that was cooperating with a dozen other sovereigns in a relationship of convenience to achieve shared goals, the most immediate being independence from Britain. On Nov. 15, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the Articles of Confederation—”Certain Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union”—to create “The United States of America.” That document asserted that “Each State retains is sovereignty, freedom and independence” while entering into “a firm league of friendship with each other” for their common defense and to secure their liberties, as well as to provide for “their mutual and general welfare.”Thank you for taking time to write and call this to my attention.Sincerely,Gerald Swick
Senior Editor for Digital Media
Weider History Group
I must say, Mr. Swick acted as a true professional in his response; much better than the reaction I received from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. If it is not apparent, the reasons I could not provide an image for the original document is because Mr. Swick edited the article before I ever had a chance to screen capture it. Here is the article in its current entirety. So the search continues, though I doubt I will ever come across a legitimate document that provides proof of the great American Secession of 1776.