With the border crisis in Texas and elsewhere, talk of secession has cropped up in serious circles: presidential candidate Nikki Haley had to walk back some statements. Greg Abbott and the support Texas has received from other states to defy the federal government has been noteworthy.

Alaska and the Alaskan Independence Party have long been part of this issue, and universally misunderstood, thanks to the controversial nature of America’s misnamed “Civil War,” the party’s founder Joe Vogler, Walter Hickel and Sarah Palin’s 2008 run for the vice-presidency with John McCain.

Let us define secession as a unilateral withdrawal from an established sovereign government, without permission, and with an ability to back secession through self-defense. Meaning war.

This would fit the American War for Independence and the sectional conflict between the North and South in 1861-65, more accurately defined not as a civil war or rebellion, but as a war for Southern independence.

The North also made a far more serious threat to secede with the Hartford Convention of 1814, which was called to discuss the topic of secession.

That the former American colonies understood that what they accomplished had no legal mechanism within the British Empire, is demonstrated by the Declaration of Independence, and that they were not a single nation but rather allies in self-defense.

Secession was also an unstated but accepted principle once independence was secured by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which recognized not one, but 13 sovereign states or nations. A future hypothetical secession was accepted in Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, demonstrating that the Declaration’s principal author would not invade any state that wished to withdraw. Indeed, the 10th Amendment implied this right.

In 1801, as larger states entered the union west of the Appalachians, New England saw its power and influence beginning to wane with Kentucky, Tennessee and soon-to-come Ohio, Indiana, Alabama and many more states. From the point of view of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and newly-admitted Vermont, their economic interests would be threatened.

Here is what Jefferson said: If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.

It even continued as late as 1845 when ex-president-turned-congressman John Quincy Adams stated that the admission of Texas into the union was such a disgrace that secession – for the North – would be justified.

The North also made a far more serious threat to secede with the Hartford Convention of 1814, which was called to discuss the topic of secession. It came from a far greater threat to the safety and economic livelihood of the New England states, what with the unpopular War of 1812 underway. World trade had come to a standstill for the seafaring New England economies, and an invasion by the British from Canada was a real possibility.

While the convention did not secede, it gave a virtual ultimatum to the rest of the union with proposed constitutional amendments: war could not be declared, nor new states admitted, unless a 2/3 majority of congress was obtained, and the southern states would not be allowed to count any slaves in their census reports for congressional representation. The threat of secession soon evaporated as the Napoleonic Wars were concluded and Andrew Jackson’s knock-out victory in New Orleans settled the issue of British threats.

No one called these people “traitors” or “rebels.” That came later, under Jackson’s and Lincoln’s presidencies. That is because the living memory of unilateral secession was part of American politics.

It even continued as late as 1845 when ex-president-turned-congressman John Quincy Adams stated that the admission of Texas into the union was such a disgrace that secession – for the North – would be justified.

Let Adams, who was with his father as a boy when the peace treaty with England was negotiated, speak for himself:

[Admitting Texas into the union] … would be so injurious to the interests and abhorrent to the feelings of the people of the Free States, as, in our opinion, not only inevitably to result in a dissolution of the Union, but fully to justify it; and we not only assert that the people of the Free States ‘ought not to submit to it,’ but we say, with confidence, they would not submit to it.

Further, the Alaskan Independence Party, while recognizing the right, has never advocated unilateral secession.

And later, he clarified:

We may admit the same right as vested in the people of every state in the Union, with reference to the General Government, which was exercised by the people of the United Colonies, with reference to the Supreme head of the British empire, of which they formed a part – and under these limitations, have the people of each state in the Union a right to secede from the confederated Union itself.

Thus stands the RIGHT. [Emphasis in the original]

Andrew Jackson’s role in threatening to invade his own native South in the nullification crisis of 1832 had nothing to do with slavery, but with tariffs. The “Tariff of Abominations” was crippling the South every bit as badly as was Jefferson’s 1807 embargo and Madison’s war of 1812-15 were crippling the North. It had more to do with Jackson’s own frontier historical ignorance and egotism.

But it set the table for Old Abe 30 years later.

You were never told these truths in school. Why? Because socialists – who have been writing our history texts since the 1890s – frankly prefer consolidated, centralized and tyrannical government power. Check out the words of our much-vaunted Pledge of Allegiance, created by a socialist who made sure that God was left out of the pledge until it was inserted by congress in the 1950s: “One nation, indivisible” is as good a piece of brainwashing as can be found anywhere.

And thus, has unilateral secession always been whitewashed as connected with slavery, rather than with free trade economies – the true engine that drove our colonial forefathers to secession and many, but admittedly not all, of ante-bellum southerners.

In Part 2, we will analyze Lincoln’s own historical ignorance and warped view of the Constitution.

Further, the Alaskan Independence Party, while recognizing the right, has never advocated unilateral secession. Instead, it calls attention to the fact that Alaska’s entry into the union in the 1950s violated international treaties signed by the federal government, and congressional promises that were guaranteed at statehood.

We will also explore something you probably never heard about: that the people of Alaska actually voted in favor of reassessing our relationship with the union – in 1980.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

OPINION: Texas & Alaska: Unilateral v. Peaceful Secession – Part 1

Bob Bird
Bob Bird ran for U.S. Senate in 1990 and 2008. He is a past president of Alaska Right to Life, a 47-year Alaska resident and a retired public school teacher. He has a passion for studying and teaching Alaska and U.S. constitutional history. He lives on the Kenai Peninsula and is currently a daily radio talk-show host for The Talk of the Kenai, on KSRM 920 AM from 3-5 pm and heard online


  • Chuck Anziulewicz says:

    You want to secede from the Union? Good luck with that.

    • Reggie Taylor says:

      No wishes of luck come from me. This is incredibly dangerous talk. After the last civil war (or whatever propagandists wish to call it) came a SCOTUS decision that supercedes the political opinions of previous elected leaders. In Texas v. White (1869), : “……..When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States………..”
      Any attempt to secede through the political process (vote of the state’s residents, approval of Congress and SCOTUS, and signature of the POTUS) is never going to happen, and any war of independence is suicide. I can’t believe sane Americans are wandering into these fields of insanity. Read the words put to paper by W.T. Sherman before the war and especially delivered to the political leadership of the city of Atlanta immediately before the city was burned to the ground. This world is going insane. It’s time to dig a very deep hidey hole, because those inexperienced in residing in a war zone apparently need to feel it to become believers.

    • Ben Hotlz says:

      They need more than luck. Russia will be VERY interested in this little idea lol

  • Akdale says:

    we have drifted so far from the intended purposes defind by our founders that there is no turning back. the nation is no more. We may sputter along for a while longer but we are quickly becoming that which our founders fled. God help us.

    • Ben Hotlz says:

      The Founding Fathers were relying on stolen land and stolen labor, that was what made the exponential growth of this country. Since there is no land or people to exploit anymore, or rather it’s getting harder because there’s so much competition, so many people trying to exploit others for short-term gain without a thought to long-term building of society.

  • Ed Martin Jr says:

    Bob, thank you for the unspoken truth, should have Alaskans had a right to vote it’s own New & Independent Country ? Yes, I dear say! Should it now ? YES, I dear say! Should Alaska own all it’s lands within its boundaries ? YES, I dear say! With the leadership we currently have now. Hell NO! I dear say!

  • Douglas says:

    As we continue to see more socialist, progressive, liberals picking away at our Declaration of Independence and Constitution to remove our rights and freedoms, secession is a moot point if these two greatest of government documents splinter and dissolve (and freedom alone with them). That is the socialist true agenda in our schools, work, speech, spiritual houses, and homes…produce dependency on government to ensure totalitarian power over the masses. The current government has for decades worked quietly to set the stage for a United States implosion. Reagan was right saying that our enemies from without will not be our demies, but it will be from within.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      The difference about today is that they are not hiding anything anymore, but the demons are hitting us from every angle quickly and all at once, so it is difficult for people to keep on top of everything going on. I ask for God Almighty’s blessings for strength and perseverance for everyone standing up in this fight against the evil.

  • Clark says:

    You guys aren’t very smart. The United States OWNS our mineral rights. The only places they don’t own are owned by Native Corps instead. If Alaska ever tried to secede, the rights to control all our oil and mineral rights would revert to the United States. Additionally, technically Russia would have a claim to occupy us, because Alaska wasn’t supposed to have been a permanent transaction. So if the US were to cede ownership, Russia could legally claim they own us. Neither of these options is a good thing. Without out oil and mineral rights, we have basically no economy. If we pretend Russia stays out of the equation, all the oil and mining companies would owe the US government all the royalties from our oil drilling and mining instead of us. Thats built into the Statehood Act. So of we stop being a US State, oir whole economy is gone. No PFD, no oil, no mineral mining. If we tried to steal those things for ourselves, the US(or Russia), or maybe both!! Could invade us to force us. Almost all of our military is federal….they would already be gone. The National guard would be disbanded with no authority because we werent part of the nation they are sworn to defend. Our militias would get curb-stomped by either military.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Clark, quit using the lefty-trained A.I. to produce your talking points. I see the fear-mongering in your statements. By the way, show the documents that prove that the Alaska sale was only temporary. I would like to read those!

      • Lucinda says:

        FOSOH: You can’t refute Clark’s statements. Secession is a terrible idea and would destroy the humanity living in Alaska.

    • Douglas says:

      Clark, you are not very smart as it relates to the concept of secession. What “rights” did Britain claim when the colonies declared independence. Answer: ZERO. Because the colonies declared and acted independent from Britain, no “rights’ or claims of Britain were honored or reverted to them. Really Clark? If Alaska wanted to secede it’s because they want autonomous freedom from everyone, period. Whether this idea is practical, attainable, and/or safe is a whole other debate subject. And on the subject of mineral “rights,” every state should never have their mineral, farm, or open land rights in the hands of the federal govt…ever. It should all be given back for each state to enjoy, manage, and determine what future it provides its state residents.

      • Clark says:

        Umm you realize all the ‘Americans’ were British citizens living on British soil, right? The only rights any of the Colonists had were there SOLELY because England granted them. Declaring Independence was an act of Treason…and they DID reaffirm their right to control the colonies as was the LAW. Thats why there was that whole War thing. And btw, America pretty much owes its independence to the sexual exploits of Ben Franklin and to an out Gay general that taught the confederate armies how to fight like the Prussian military, while porking several army Captains. France and Spain financed our independence and armed us against the British just like how Ukraine is asking for our help to not be reconquered and oppressed by Russia. In your succession narrative…who exactly do you think would offer to help you? You have 1 geographical border neighbor that is a US ally, and you are next door to Russia. Those are your options.

    • Joe says:

      Of course they aren’t very smart. Look any of these wing nuts up and they’ve never done a thing in their lives.

  • Reggie Taylor says:

    “……….Whether this idea is practical, attainable, and/or safe is a whole other debate subject……..”
    It is not practical, it is not attainable, and it most certainly is not safe. All this blabbering about secession or “a national divorce” is literal insanity. It solves no problems, cannot solve any problems, and can only create more and bigger problems. “…….you cannot have Peace and a Division of our Country. If the United States submits to a Division now it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is Eternal War………”

    • Douglas says:

      I would be interested in hearing the reply from the Founding Fathers and residents of the colonies who actually did achieve peace, freedom, and liberty…to the extent today that you, Reggie, can freely express your opinion. At the same time, I agree massive problems would evolve and continue if secession were attempted. The list is long related to politics, economics, healthcare, supply chains, military creation and sustainment, environmental and wildlife protections (to include our vast ocean, river and fresh water fisheries)…and many many more.

  • Toscano says:

    Eternal war? We have had that since 1775. Noticed? Against Britain, Seminoles, Mexico, Sioux, Spanish, Apaches, Germans, Comanches, Italians, Nez Perce, Koreans/Chinese, Vietnamese, Iraqis, Afghans, ad infinitum. A PERFECT world: impossible. A BETTER world: possible. See what the Filipinos did with their independence: they ENLIST in the U.S. armed forces and protect their country that way. My, my … why wouldn’t that fit for us? Independence does NOT mean we would abandon hemispheric defense with a U.S. that no longer controlled our natural resources and acted with utter contempt towards states rights and used the Constitution as a cafeteria that suited its selective whims.

  • Are we like the Ukraine? says:

    Just wondering how many people that are saying secession is impossible/a terrible idea/ insane have the Ukrainian flag flying on all their social media profiles. Why is it good for them and not us? (Not that I think it’s good for them, just trying to show a parallel example.)

    • Clark says:

      Umm because they are a sovereign Nation that actually has a representative republic and supports democracy. And they have been a US ally since they became a country.

      I already pointed out the dynamics. Alaska can’t survive in its own. It sucks up more federal funding per capita than any other state. What economy we do have exists because of the Statehood Act. But if we stop being a state…then the minerals rights go back to the USA…thats been the law now for like…what over a hundred years?

  • Ril Lri says:

    The mineral rights belong to the one who has nuclear arms. Ukraine gave up to Russia over 600 nuclear warheads based on the US guarantees. We see the results. We may not want to succeed from the US but the US may not last. Ukraine didn’t succeed from the USSR in 1991 but Russia did and that broke up the USSR. Can you imagine today elements of the US armed forces taking over DC in January of 2025? On that day we will wish we have succeeded in November of 2024 and did not give up the weapons at our bases. We can remain a member of the US (or its successor) Commonwealth in case the US reconstitutes itself like Russia has. The brake up of the USSR was followed by 10 years of lawlessness that morphed into a dictatorship. I hope we are not following in the USSR steps but being at least mentally prepared and ironing out a strategy doesn’t hurt.