Reading about the non-governmental organizations in support of the Texas secession movement, I've started to think if there were any States where such movements achieved something more.

My questions does not concern the American Civil War (which is too obvious), but instead, was there any situation in US history when one or more of the States announced they would secede? Was there an official way for states to secede?

By "on the official way" I mean that the local State government started any official actions in order to make their attempted secession from the USA legitimate.

  • 2
    Not a state but a town attempted to secede in 1850. It's a rather amusing story en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Opt
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 23:12
  • I don't think it's unreasonable to mention that all the 13 colonies who signed the declaration of independence were seceding from Great Britain in 1776, although many other colonies - now known as the states of Canada - refused to secede. Great Britain itself recently seceded from the European Union, but without a civil war. No state has ever seceded from the USA: unreasonably, the US Constitution provides no such mechanism, whereas the EU does have a democratic mechanism which permitted Britain to secede; in the Civil War, the Confederacy sought to do so, but was unsuccessful.
    – Ed999
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 12:05
  • 1
    Given that the USA was founded by reason of its members seceding from Britain in 1776, it seems unreasonable that the American constitution provides no legal means by which a member state can secede from the Union. This fact led to the American civil war, as the Confederacy had no legal means to leave the Union, and so was compelled to resort to violence. In the absence of a formal procedure for seceding, violence is inevitable. And in a democratic society it is hard to understand what moral justification the North had for opposing the democratic desire of the Confederacy to leave.
    – Ed999
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 12:15

3 Answers 3


Secession is unconstitutional, so I'm not sure how official the actions towards it could be. But I do know what you mean.

The Wikipedia page contains a few examples of both ridiculous and serious attempts of states to secede or to affirm their right to secede. It also details all the civil war stuff along side bizzare ideas for new states like State of Jefferson or Southern California.

  • Great! Somehow my Google search didn't show that one. Most probably my search phrase was too complicated and overly semantic. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 17:19
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    Now as I accept this answer (as it provides all that I wanted to know about the subject), I'm not sure if I shouldn't delete the question for being too easy and for the lack of research effort. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 17:21
  • @DarekWędrychowski I appreciate both the question and its answer and would advise against deleting the former (which FWIK would also take away his earned points from Nathan Cooper :)
    – Drux
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 17:33
  • I'm leaving it then. :) Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 18:14
  • Especially the new states proposals sound highly interesting. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 18:20

There was one other attempt. It was by South Carolina in 1833. The American President of the time was Andrew Jackson (from Tennessee). The Vice-President was John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, who was in favor of succession, and who said, "The Union, next to our Liberty, the most dear." Jackson retorted, "The Union, it must be preserved." Daniel Webster summed it up by saying, "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable."

Jackson threatened to hang Calhoun for treason if South Carolina seceded. It didn't.

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    +1, Very interesting dialog. I try to imagine them in the times of Gorbachev, saying "Liberty and USSR, now and forever, one and inseparable". Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 18:19

Pretty much from the foundation of the Republic, states have discussed leaving the union. List of proposals The Kentucky and Virgiania resolutions were the first step to separation from the union.

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