On Texas’s successive secessions. A potential secessionist is now a potential president.  James Buchanan is considered one of our worst presidents in large part because he didn’t think he could resist secession.  But even Buchanan never suggested secession as an option, as Mr. Perry has.  The issue isn’t patriotism but one of inalienable rights.  At its heart, secession is contrary to the notion that all men are created equal.

By Peter

After stints as a trial lawyer and a church worker, Peter Stephens has settled in as a Virginia high school English teacher. Peter has read several books and poems. He wrote none of the posts below filed under "Passages." Click the link at the end of each post to see it in the context of the author's original post.


    1. Not enough theory in the Mexican-American War to hold my interest. Just your basic land grab. (I see that war from a Whig perspective.)

  1. The first of its secessions, after all, was its successful secession from Mexico. (And it strikes me as no wonder, now, come to think of it, that Texas should be so jumpy about an influx of illegal immigration: it has a history of illegal immigrants seizing political control!)

    The question of inalienable rights becomes much more vexing when you add in foreign democracies, doesn’t it? And idea of “self-determination,” which is still in many people’s minds virtually coterminous with “democracy.” Do Texans have a right to be Texans? And if so, why don’t the Mexicans in Texas have a right to be Mexicans?

    1. Self-determination does seem to get complicated when the entity pushing for it isn’t an established nation. When “nation” means “people group,” it sometimes seems like an excuse for territorial expansion. (I think I remember Hitler claiming something like self-determination for the Sudetenland.) I have sympathy for the groups wanting self-determination in Iraq because England invented Iraq.

      But I don’t think Locke or other natural rights theorists who believed in inalienable rights included either democracy or what we now call self-determination among them.

  2. I’m remembering now that U.S. Grant saw the Civil War as a judgment on the United States for being willing to dismember Mexico. (He always saw the Mexican War — in which he served with distinction — as completely unjust.)

    As you probably know, I’m no big fan of the idea of self-determination, which I think has caused much more trouble than it’s ever settled.

  3. That’s cool about Grant! I had no idea. I’ve read only one bio of him, and it was quite positive. It pointed out that, had he wanted it, the U.S. would certainly have given him a third term some years after he left office.

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