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Why a ‘National Divorce’ Cannot Be Civil, but Would Inevitably Mean Civil War

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Many conservatives have talked recently about the need for a “national divorce” due to irreconcilable differences with the progressive left. We should be clear about what we’re talking about, though, when we suggest the prospect of a “national divorce.”

We are talking about secession. And secession, in America, is anything but a civil or amicable process, and it’s useless to imagine it would be otherwise.

It’s only truly been attempted once, after all, and it led to the bloodiest war in our history.

Certainly, there are practical differences between secession and civil war. But in America, these are distinctions without meaning, because with secession comes “civil war,” if one chooses, as we have, to characterize the American conflict of 1861-1865 that way.

Perspective matters when it comes to defining these circumstances. The American colonials sought independence in 1776, for example, and would have gladly done so peacefully. In their eyes, the cause for independence from Britain was a righteous assertion of a natural right, and their war was a defensive one. In the eyes of the British, however, the colonials were treasonous rebels to be subjugated with ruthless force.

Such was the state of opinions in 1861, in a remarkably similar set of circumstances. However, there was a difference. In 1861, the seceding states believed not only that their cause was righteous, but that they had asserted not only a natural right but the legal right to achieve independence via legislative self-determination.

And they certainly sought a peaceful separation. As Jefferson Davis openly declared, the newly formed Confederate States of America in 1861 sought “no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were formerly confederated; all we ask is to be let alone.”

Neither the declaration of the desire for a peaceful separation nor this presumed legal right to legislative self-determination by the seceding states made any difference, as we know. The attempt was militarily thwarted with ruthless force by the Union armies in order to subjugate the treasonous rebels who sought........

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