Catalonia is seriously considering a divorce from Spain. Scotland feels the same way about the maybe-not-so-United Kingdom. And on a White House website, a flurry of post-election petitions have been filed by all 50 states asking for permission to secede from the Union.
Among the few notables to take seriously the eruption of secession fever is Rep. Ron Paul, the retiring libertarian lawmaker. Without endorsing nationhood for Vermont or his native Texas, he stirred the pot a bit, remarking: “Secession is a deeply American principle. This country was born through secession. Some felt it was treasonous to secede from England, but those ‘traitors’ became our country’s greatest patriots.”
In reply to Paul, pundits at publications from The Christian Science Monitor to U.S. News & World Report insisted the Civil War had “settled” the matter and announced that further discussion of secession was “deeply un-American.” Whatever the fate of the current secession petitions, if the U.S. were to escape any adjustments to its borders, it would be a rare case. Polities from the Roman Empire to Yugoslavia have risen, splintered, and disappeared, proving every bit as mortal as their inhabitants. Born in a Declaration of Independence, the United States will almost certainly see parts of its territory take separate paths someday.