The Rebirth of Liberty: The United States or America?

Questions surrounding the dissolution and foundations of government have plagued Americans since the earliest times. The migration of Europeans to begin new colonies in North America eventually culminated in one of the most significant political secessions in world history: the separation of the people in those thirteen colonies from their mother country. When Thomas Paine published his pamphlet, COMMON SENSE, on January 10, 1776, he opened his essay by examining the origin and design of government. He noted that many writers 'have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.' Paine was one of the earliest thinkers in a long string of liberty-minded writers to make this observation. Perhaps it was most succinctly stated by Felix Morley in THE POWER IN THE PEOPLE: 'The State, in short subj[ugates] people; where as Society associates them voluntarily.'

When the Constitutional Convention was called in 1787, its original purpose was to amend the Articles of Confederation, not supersede or annul them. Under the Articles the States were pledged to a perpetual union, and no provision had been made for dissolving their association--except that any changes in the Confederation had to be done by unanimous agreement of all the States. During those hot summer months in Philadelphia the arguments among the delegates seemed interminable. As life went on around them, Benjamin Franklin 'is said to have warned the delegates : 'Gentlemen, you see that in the anarchy in which we live society manages much as before. Take care, if our disputes last too long, that the people will come to think they can very easily do without us'.'

While this story may be apocryphal, there were very difficult questions to settle that summer: If a new Constitution were to be offered for adoption, how were the Articles to be dissolved? How was a new federal constitution to be ratified, and, if so, could it be implemented in a manner that would be consistent with the existing Articles of Confederation? Would the States, joining a new Union, have the right to secede should they be dissatisfied with the new association, and assuming that such a right did exist, what assurances did they have that it would be respected in the years to come? In hindsight, we now know the answers to most of these questions.

The federal government, which was established over two hundred years ago, expanded its control and conquest over society until when most people think of America, today, they automatically think of the United States government. But the United States is not America. America is the social power of the churches, the clubs, the businesses, the co-ops, the private schools, the families, the charities, the fraternal organizations, and all the other voluntary institutions and groupings that flourish here. America is the dream of opportunity to achieve one's goals without interference from others. America is the spirit of individualism, inventiveness and hard work; the spirit epitomized by doing without rather than asking for a handout. It was this dream of opportunity--not the guarantee of success--which made America a beacon for the oppressed peoples of the world. The courageous, the daring and resourceful flocked to these shores, knowing full well that no one else would be responsible for their welfare. In truth it was not the actual land these people sought, but rather an attitude of mind and spirit that they carried with them to their new homes. This was not the only continent with 'spacious skies,' or 'amber waves of grain,' but it was the land where opportunity beckoned the most and where the State was the weakest.

THE REBIRTH OF LIBERTY: THE UNITED STATES or AMERICA? is to be an anthology devoted to the following thesis:

Resolved that the federal government of the United States ought to be dissolved nonviolently, and that the individual states, and the inhabitants thereof, be left to voluntarily associate among themselves as they please.

Never before has there been a book dedicated to presenting the historical, practical, theoretical, moral, and legal reasons to support this resolution. Original papers, as well as those previously published, on subjects related to the dissolution of the United States government are now being solicited for consideration. If you have a topic to suggest or wish to write about, a suggestion of an article to include, or an idea for disseminating this 'Call for Papers' please contact Carl Watner, Box 275, Gramling, SC 29348. Day telephone (864) 472-2876; email -

Possible topics to include:

The history of secession in North America

Separatist movements in the United States: past and present

Dissolution of federal governments in other centralized countries

The Vermont movement for independence

The rise and fall of centralized states

Citizenship and dissolution: the case for individual secession

A constitutional analysis of the Southern rebellion

Ways and means to dissolution

Tax revolts in American history and their significance to separation

Conscientious objection

Is smaller government really better?

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