In God We Fail

The recent flood of secession petitions in the wake of the re-election of President Barack Obama has raised secession to something more than the curiosity or esoteric joke that it has been heretofore.  In the 1990’s an occasional newspaper article appeared about the League of the South or the Vermont independence movement, treating them as a harmless band of Don Quixotes or Yankee eccentrics.  That was then.  What is happening now is something the country has not experienced since the early 19th century: a growing sentiment among millions of Americans that they would rather their state or region separate from the mass of states and be free from a general government that many regard as tyrannical.  There is no recent book more timely or prescient than Colin Woodard’s American Nations.

For readers over 40, the title will bring to mind Joel Garreau’s 1982 cult classic , of which it is the worthy sequel.  It owes much also to David Hackett Fischer’s revisionist sensation Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (1989), whose theory of cultural hearths and cultural transmission it adopts and expands.  It will also call to mind, at least for students of American regionalism, Frederick Jackson Turner’s The Significance of the Sections in United States History (1932)...

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