The subject of secession in the book, Bye Bye, Miss American Empire: Neighborhood Patriots, Backcountry Rebels, and their Underdog Crusades to Redraw America’s Political Map, by Bill Kauffman got me to thinking on a larger scale about the importance of local people determining what’s best for their own neck of the woods.
If we in Fairhope, Alabama are “eccentric,” as a city official claims because it was founded on the utopian principles of Henry George, and slap full of nudists, socialists, and worst of all, artists, then a crying jag for a new local school district was just the tip of the iceberg. I’m a patriot to the core. I grew up loyal to Falmouth, Massachusetts, hometown of America-the-Beautiful songstress Katherine Lee Bates, and I have now clearly realized something in my new hometown is amiss. The ratings of our state and national representatives are at an all-time low. Wars for democracy against tribal factions, and out of control spending are undermining core values of American independence. The nation or her respective states are too big to be governed from one city.
Take a deep breath here and keep an open mind. Let’s secede from the Union and form our own nation, or state. Treasonous you say! Well, yes, and that’s precisely what our nation’s foundation rests upon. What are our other choices? Refusal to pay taxes equals an automatic go directly to jail, so that’s not an option. Secession means to withdraw from and it’s not a new idea. In fact, its origin is in the Declaration of Independence, which states that England had “an absolute tyranny over these states.” Now our federal and state governments wield all the power.
Today, there is no self-governance in Baldwin County because Montgomery and Washington make our decisions for us. Beyond that they take our wealth and redistribute it throughout the state. I’m all for paying my share, but why are we paying more than our share? The Tea Party shouts reform, and I admire that and would join them if I thought that their movement could move mountains. The problem is that the federal and state governments are so big; they will simply swallow up the Tea Party over time by wearing it down and dividing it against itself, especially in a two-party system. Don’t be fooled by the shift in power at the state and national level either. We’ve seen it before and it doesn’t seem to matter who’s in charge.
Our separation idea is not unique as there have been other secession movements. It’s true. There was Secessionist talk in New England in 1804. Roughly a half century later South Carolina seceded and the War of Northern Aggression was on.
Please consider joining me in forming the new state, nation, or nation state of LA. In Lower Alabama, we’ll take along whoever is willing to break away, including Mobile, Mobile County, West Florida, and any adjacent counties in Florida clear across to Mexico. Maybe we could become the Gulf States of America or the good ole’ GSA. This area has been frontier territory for so long anyway that we should just break away. We’ve been under so many flags isn’t time we had our own? Perhaps we could put in a large claim to BP since we’d have most of the Gulf coastline.
Our community could do just what hundreds of other nations have done when forming a new nation, use the United States Constitution, and the earlier, and some say better, Articles of Confederation as a template. Experts argue today that the US Constitution is more suited to smaller countries, and that’s why no one here in America seems to be paying much attention to it anymore.
We don’t need to look any further than Alabama’s “proud” secessionist history. We can be inspired just cradling our buns in a porch rocker on the gray boards of the first White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, smart West Point graduates both, read William Rawle’s textbook, A view of the constitution of the United States of America, in 1825. It was in Mobile among the live oaks and tall pines on the Campus of the University of South Alabama that I have learned about Reverend Henry Highland Garnet, a former slave and fake leg wearer, like myself, who was a radical abolitionist. He gave a sermon to Congress when it was a place for doing the nations’ business and doubled as a religious congregation of more than 2,000 people. His sermon followed the passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. He was the first black man to speak in Congress. Another Montgomery/Davis connection is worth mentioning here too. Jefferson Davis’s brother Joseph owned a large plantation at Hurricane, Mississippi. After the war, the elder Davis gave property to his plantation business manager and son, Benjamin and Isaiah Montgomery. Isaiah founded the all black town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. (For further study on the Civil War come into my place of employment, the Fairhope Public Library, and feel free to browse our newest collection, all 129 volumes, including a fabulous color atlas, of The War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies / Prepared under the direction of the Secretary of War by Robert N. Scott If you decide to take a look at the volumes, you’ll be in mixed company. You may find yourself sitting between Canadian snowbirds, war re-enactor types straight out of Confederates in the Attic, or even the former editor of The New York Times, Howell Raines, who is working on a novel.)
The secession movements Alta California and the Nation of Alaska have been alive and dead, at the same time, since before the Civil War. Alta California was the brainchild of John Sutter, according to Kauffman’s book. Before gold was even discovered at Sutter’s Mill, Sutter fantasized about Alta California. His vision of a republic, he wrote in a German-language, would not answer to Washington. I wish I could tell you in a few sentences about the Nation of Alaska. They are such an independent minded people up there; they really don’t seem to care what we do in the lower 48. John McPhee, most famous for his essay, “The search for Marvin Gardens,” pretty well summed up the Alaskan attitude when he profiled John Vogler in his book, Coming into the Country. “A roamer, a garrulous companion, a sort of cartoon Alaskan self drawn,” is what McPhee wrote, but Kauffman really captures the man and mantra of Alaskans. Vogler is the “Tundra Rebel,” and, “a fuck-you-I’ll-do-it-my-way gold prospector.”
Secession is a cultural issue, not a patriotic one. Conservatives, liberals, and independents are working together separately attempting to break away from Uncle Sam. Did you know that Vermont was a Republic that governed itself once? The Second Vermont Republic wants another crack at self-governance. There is no doubt that the south is beginning to look a lot like the rest of the United States too. The Holiday Inn Express, a Waffle House, or Cracker Barrel sits at the bottom of every exit ramp. We must defend local diversity against national conformity!
Can secession work?
What of currency you say? Well shinplasters worked for Fairhopians, and by gum, they oughta’ work for us too. In the early 1900s, the Fairhope Industrial Association created association scrip AKA shinplasters. They were accepted at the cooperative store and were used to pay teachers too. (I don’t have the space to explain Fairhope’s complicated yet colorful beginnings, so Google any of the key terms in this paragraph, or socialist movement, Fairhope Founder E. B. Gaston’s “cooperative individualism,” utopian community, or Familistére for more background). Back then, the Single Taxers even used shinplasters to buy shares so they could build Fairhope’s first wharf for commerce, that’s now become the pier, the city’s signature recreational attraction.
Now that we have our currency, let’s use Aaron Burr’s likeness on the money since he passed through Baldwin County. In irons. If you check your history, you’ll find buried in the wee small print somewhere that he was found not guilty. The key is to make sure the new nation’s dollar holds its value and for that you need a commodity to trade.
My vision, snatched from history, is to build a new wharf, a “green” port to export our goods. What goods? Agriculture, of course, in the tradition of early settlers is our best and already existing prospect. If Texas can have an Organic Cotton Growers Association, then LA or GSA can have a cannabis crop. Yes, there is a long storied farm history in Baldwin County of growing cotton, soybeans, strawberries, peanuts, pecans, corn, and potatoes. I believe under this new pot plan, there will be again. What crop has extremely high value and can be cultivated on a large scale that has an unlimited market? Marijuana. Forget legalized gambling, that’s so Native American. Let’s re envision Jefferson’s Agrarian south. Yeah, let’s grow thousands of acres of grass. And not just centipede, the heat tolerant perennial called grass. Plush commercially grown centipede in Baldwin County is resurging. Truckloads of the rolled or rectangular sod are earmarked for farmland turned over for subdivisions and marked for new single family homes. But now, we could also have the large scale farmers cultivating Columbian or Acapulco gold. Micro growers could be focused on high quality, high THC strains of Kush, Goo, and Skunk. We’d be competing against our former government for customers. The U. S. Government has been growing pot in Mississippi and has been selling it to people, including Floridian Irv Rosenfeld, since the 1980s. Yes, the 1980s. Here in Alabama, we could get two crops in each year too, I’d bet, but I don’t have to bet because we’ve got farmers, and after a little studying they’ll know exactly what Mother Earth can yield. Maybe the Auburn University Cooperative Extension off County Road 104 could help us out. People would look at our crop and think we’re crazy, so we’d have to continue to grow some pecans and pea-nuts.
The local food initiative would supply our community with food. We’ve got lots of loca-vores already. Heck, the Master Gardeners that frequent the Fairhope Library easily outnumber the librarians. Hippie types who not only live green, they look green. Grass stains, dirt under the nails, a few sticks and twigs in their hair. Their community gardens at Homestead Village and off St. James Avenue are thriving and could become models for expansion.
Simply reducing the layers of government and its regulations means more and better local control. We decide; not some Washington pencil pushers. These are the same bureaucrats who conducted a study on the population of “Walruses” and “Sea Lions.” In the Gulf of Mexico! Our own studies, I assure you, will include manatees and dolphins. Our crop needs to be out of the grow houses and back outdoors. In Alabama, we already have the “Sunshine Law,” which shines a light on government activity to make sure our state leaders are acting on the up and up. The GSA Sunshine Law will shine Mother Nature’s light on our buds.
Let’s consider national security. Our former police chief hailed from Miami, a city of, like, 10 million people. I’m confident he can protect LA and even GSA. With everyone so happy with our national crop, I hardly see a need for a defense budget. I like the sound of local militia. It has a revolutionary ring to it and it’s grounded in community. Moms, I’m sure, would be glad to keep their sons and daughters on their own nation’s soil. Well perhaps the Mexican drug cartels would have a beef, but most of these criminal gangs are growing marijuana crops in the US. They’re already using national parklands and forests.
So, that’s the way I see it. At least think about joining my secession movement. But don’t take too long, or I’ll have to take my leg off and start beating some sense into yall.