A petition filed by Jesse W. (no last name provided) on behalf of Arkansas reads:
As the founding fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776:
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
"...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government..."
Micah H. (no last name provided) of Arlington, Texas filed a petition that says:
The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.
The efforts come in the wake of Barack Obama securing a second term in the White House over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. From New York to South Carolina, the states where residents have filed secession petitions spans a wide range.
Texas GOP official Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican party, argued for an "amicable divorce" from the United States last week.
"Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government?" he wrote in an op-ed in a Tea Party newsletter, according to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram. "Let each go her own way."
Despite the rhetoric and number of secession petitions, it's unlikely states will be withdrawing from the United States. Robert Wilonsky at The Dallas Morning News points out that secession is not an option for the Lone Star State.
The White House website explains of the review process for petitions that get 25,000 signatures in a 30 day period: "If a petition meets the signature threshold, it will be reviewed by the Administration and we will issue a response."
States where residents have filed secession petitions include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
(The list above has been updated to include petitions filed by residents in additional states since this post was published.)
Ultimately, secession efforts are nothing new. Below, a look back at previous attempts.
Left-leaning Arizonans attempted to get a measure on the ballot in 2011 that would create a new bastion for liberals in the state. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the measure would have given voters a choice to decide whether to chip off Pima County from the rest of Arizona, creating another state: Baja Arizona. It's an idea that's long been discussed, but The Tucson Sentinel reports that the most recent action was spurred by a desire for greater control over local issues and discontent with proceedings at the Phoenix statehouse. "Every bill we've heard about here is either anti-abortion laws or anti-Mexican laws. These are not laws that are geared toward solving the real problems that we have," David Euchner, treasurer of Start Our State, the group behind the secession push, told the Arizona Daily Star.
Republican Maine State Rep. Henry Joy brought forth legislation in 2010 to divide northern and southern Maine into two autonomous states. According to Joy, the move was necessary because of a proposal that would have turned millions of acres of northern woodland into a nature preserve, leading to the forced relocation of residents in the area. While that measure never passed, Joy was apparently not keen on the prospect of being removed from his home turf. Joy's bill, which eventually failed, would have allowed the northern portion of the state to retain the name Maine, while the southern section would have been ordained Northern Massachusetts. Joy proposed similar legislation in 2005, which also failed.
Democratic Utah State Rep. Neal Hendrickson submitted legislation in 2008 for the creation of a new state within Utah. Hendrickson contended that "citizens in the more populated areas of northern Utah have many interests that stand in stark contrast to the interests of southern rural areas of the state, which feel they do not have the influence on state policymaking that citizens along the Wasatch Front enjoy." His bill, which he said would "provide the citizens of what is presently southern Utah increased access to their state government," didn't pass.
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed onto a non-binding resolution claiming constitutional overreach of the federal government in 2009, some may have thought it was simply a symbolic display meant to show solidarity with a right-wing base disgruntled after the passage of President Barack Obama's stimulus package. A day later, however, Perry took his rhetoric to another level, implying that Texas might secede if "Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people," by strapping his state with unsustainable taxation, spending and debt.
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), a Republican primary candidate for governor, piggy-backed off Texas Gov. Rick Perry's secession comments last year, telling Hotline on Call in a discussion about federal mandates in the health care law that states such as Tennessee might be "forced to consider separation from this government" depending on the outcome of the elections. Wamp eventually lost the gubernatorial primary to Knoxville mayor and eventual winner Bill Haslam.
In 1998, Republican Maryland State Sen. Richard Colburn filed a bill that would have paved the way for the Eastern Shore of his state, as well as parts of Delaware and Virginia, to branch off into a separate entity called Delmarva. Upset with regulations being forged in Annapolis and passed down to the Eastern Shore, Colburn encouraged Maryland's coastal residents to work toward a referendum that could get the measure on the ballot. It never passed muster.
Lawmakers across New York have long floated secession as a potential way to rectify what they see as imbalances in the burdens of taxes and other economic factors. From local proposals to split New York City off into its own state, to pushes to turn upstate New York or Long Island into their own sovereign entities, all efforts at secession have failed.
The tiny Rhode Island enclave of Block Island made a stir in the 1980s when its residents pursued secession after being invaded by a population of moped-riding mainlanders. The state senate and supreme court initially refused to allow the island's governing body to regulate the offending mopeds, which resulted in a successful vote to declare independence from the rest of Rhode Island. Massachusetts and Connecticut reportedly reached out during the process in the interest of annexing the island. Weeks later, the Rhode Island legislature approved a bill giving Block Island regulatory control over mopeds on the island, which sufficiently appeased residents.
Republican West Virginia Delegate Larry Kump floated a proposal earlier this year to let a number of his state's panhandle counties secede and rejoin Virginia. Citing economic concerns, Kump said his longshot legislation was an attempt to alleviate pressure brought on by the state's struggling manufacturing sector. It failed to gain support both among West Virginians and state legislators.