Vital Signs

Finding the Right State for States’ Rights

It seems ironic that a man identified with the cause of states’ rights and the South’s quest for self-determination attended a school in the heartland of Yankee centralism.  Yet John C. Calhoun was Yale man, a graduate of the Congregationalist institution that formed part of the intellectual center of New England’s eventual domination over the rest of America—something that Calhoun opposed and feared.

Another Yale graduate student, Jason P. Sorens, is trying to carry on Calhoun’s work today, even if the Elis are loath to admit that Calhoun attended school in New Haven.

“My wife’s a South Carolinian, and she grew up not too far from where Calhoun lived and worked,” Sorens said.  “From that, and my time here at Yale, and through my own views on states’ rights, I’m quite aware of his legacy.”

That legacy of states’ rights and nullification is part of Sorens’ Free State Project (FSP), a libertarian group that has a plan to put into action Calhoun’s views on the states’ need to act independently of the federal government in defense of their own interests.  The FSP hopes to attract 20,000 or more liberty-loving people to join them and to agree to relocate to a single, small U.S. state in order to move that state’s body politic toward the principles of a free society.  The group was formed in the...

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