Have you ever given that much thought?
Some will say that “annexation” is an opposite, others will be more negative and limit it to conquest. After all, that is what happened to the Southron States that seceded back in the 1960s. The website thesaurus.com has a ridiculous, even brain-dead list of antonyms. And frankly, some of their synonyms don’t make sense, either. Some political scientists (I know, more brain-dead people) and historians suggest “accession” as the opposite. Eugene Kontorovich even wrote an article about that about a decade ago in The Volokh Conspiracy.
We would like to suggest another few, based on world and American history: admission: as in a being admitted to the Union as a State. Federation or even Confederation might be considered as well. Union or amalgamation might work.
The problem with all of these, like the word secession itself, is the political baggage they have.
We very much overlook that although the word is used almost exclusively in political writing and even history for the American War Between The States and the Confederacy, there are MANY examples of secession in American and world history. Successful examples. At least as defined by success in obtaining separation from another polity.
Here in the Fifty States, we start out with colonies: North Carolina separated from Carolina (thereby creating South Dakota) in a de facto manner in 1691, due to social and economic differences. The split was made official in 1712. Vermont seceded from New York on 15 January 1777, after the American “War of Independence” began fighting for secession from Great Britain (later officially the United Kingdom), and remained independent until 1791 when it asked for and was admitted to the Union.
In fact, it all gets a bit confusing. For example, the two colonies which later merged (amalgamated) into the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation might be considered to have seceded way back in the 1630s and amalgamated in 1643. And Massachusetts Colony was formed by the union of three separate English colonies.
There is more: Kentucky seceded from Virginia in 1791, and Maine seceded from Massachusetts in 1820.
Texas (Tejas) was one of the United Mexican States until 1835 when it seceded from Ciudad Mexico and became the Republic of Texas, and then acceded to the United States.
California, as the Bear Flag Republic, also seceded from the United Mexican States in 1845, which is why it (like Texas) was never an American territory. Some historians argue that the formation of the Bear Flag Republic itself was an amalgamation of separate governments (and therefore nations) by a mixture of Mexican, Spanish, American, and Indio (AmerIndian) groups in “Northern” and “Southern” California.
There are fewer examples of amalgamation or union in North America, just four: the establishment of the United States in 1775 and reestablishment in 1787 (under the new Constitution); the establishment of the Central American Federation in 1824 by five nations which had seceded from Spain in 1821 (it only lasted about 15-20 years), and of course, the Confederation of Canada in 1867.
In 1899, Cuba seceded from Spain. The most recent successful secession was that of Panama from Columbia in 1903. The most recent example of union was the decision of Labrador and Newfoundland in 1947 to join Canada.
It is important to note that virtually EVERY ONE of these actions to secede or unite were supported by the FedGov in DC and most of the American (federal) States. Either before, during, or after.
But the actions of Congress, a long list of American Presidents, and Supreme Courts – together with their puppetmasters – has stained the idea of secession beyond belief. Or reality.
We could look at the rest of the world for more examples, of course. But these are enough to see that both secession AND its opposite, amalgamation or unification or admission, has a long and honorable history.
Amalgamation also has been known to happen in the States: Texas gave up Greer County to the State of Oklahoma in 1912. Before that, Nevada expanded three times by taking over land that had been part of the State of Deseret (also a nominally independent and de facto nation which was absorbed by DC) and then Utah Territory. Nebraska was given a county in 1889 that had been part of Dakota Territory.
So the idea that Americans who seek independence either from the once-Federal Union (American Empire) or from various States in order to join other States is NOT a kooky one. Not common, but not unknown.
Something to think about!