North Carolina secession petition exceeds needed signatures

Published: Nov. 12, 2012 at 9:13 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:13 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Just a week after President Barack Obama was re-elected as President of the United States, seven petitions, including North Carolina, have reached the minimum number of signatures needed asking that their state secede from the U.S.

The petitions, started by residents and not government officials, have gone viral since they were posted on the White House's website last week.

On Monday, there were 23 petitions on the site asking 21 states to secede from the Union - two states had duplicate petitions.  On Wednesday afternoon, that number had jumped to 56 petition.

The petition for North Carolina to secede from the U.S. reached the needed 25,000 signatures, to be considered by the White House, on Wednesday.

North Carolina was joined by Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Texas to have reached more than 25,000 signatures.  South Carolina had more than 20,000 signatures on its petition as of noon on Wednesday.

In less than three days, the petition for the state of Texas surpassed the 25,000 signatures needed and continues to grow - nearing 100,000 on Wednesday afternoon.

The South Carolina petition, which quotes the opening line of the Declaration of Independence, was posted on Saturday by someone who identifies himself as "Cody W" from Summerville.

"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."

The petition calls for the state of South Carolina to "Absolve its Allegiance to the Union" and declare its independence as sovereign nation state.

"It is, I think, a dramatic protest against the results of an election," said Don Doyle, a history professor at the University of South Carolina. "If it's only that, that's just part of a democracy. Maybe people will decide that they're not going to defend that protest to the death."

In 2004, Cory Burnell believed the nation was so far off the proper path he wanted South Carolina to split from other states. The southern independence movement fizzled out.  Secession isn't all that strange, worldwide.

"Since the break up of the Soviet Union, you've seen dozens more, small nations enter the so-called family of nations and they are they can be de described not perhaps as secession but break away states," said Doyle.

The petition then quotes, in part, another sentence from the historic document:

"...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..."

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley responded to the petition during a brief moment in a Wednesday news conference.

"Didn't we try that once before," the governor joked.

As the media contingent laughed, Haley composed herself and offered a better explanation of her position.

"I love this country. I'm going to fight for this country. I'm going to do everything I can for this country, and this country is going to be great," said Haley.

WEB EXTRA: The South Carolina petition | The North Carolina petition

Randy Dye from Pittsboro, NC created the petition for North Carolina on Friday.  He also quotes the beginning of the Declaration of Independence in his petition.

Dye told WBTV he was surprised by the response, but doesn't anticipate real change.

"This will go absolutely nowhere," said Dye. "I'm a realist on that. It's more of an ideology that we're sending  all our money to Washington and letting them decide what they're going to do with our money."

He said the petition is a direct result of President Obama's re-election. He said he may not have launched one if Mitt Romney had been elected President.

But some of the new petitions on the White House's website include petitions against the secession petitions.

One petition entitled "Deport Everyone That Signed A Petition To Withdraw Their State From The United States Of America" was created on Monday and has more than 15,000 signatures as of Wednesday.

And while Texas leads all states with the number of signatures on its petition to seceded - not everyone in the Lone Star state agrees.

Another petition calls for the "city of Austin to withdraw from the state of Texas & remain part of the United States."

"[The city] continues to suffer difficulties stemming from the lack of civil, religious, and political freedoms imposed upon the city by less liberally minded Texans," the petition states. "It is entirely feasible for Austin to operate as its own state, within the United States, in the event that Texas is successful in the current bid to secede."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, no stranger to secession talk himself, having invoked the potential of the Lone Star State to become its own nation in 2009, released a statement to the Dallas Morning News saying that he "believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it."

Southern states aren't the only ones with petitions.

Petitions have popped up from other states, including New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Michigan, Colorado and Indiana.

Furman University Political Science Professor Don Aiesi said that the Constitution does not allow for the secession of states, but it does allow citizens to leave the country if they are unhappy with the government.

"Constitutionally, 'We the people,' is what our country is about," Aiesi said. "There's nothing that restricts an individual. They have the right to leave this country, and the right to renounce their citizenship. They have the right to go wherever they wish, but they do not have the right to take all the people of a state with them."

As for South Carolina Republicans, the state GOP released a statement of their own to say leaving the Union is not the best use of their energy. 

"The South Carolina Republican Party honors the Constitutional right of free people to petition their government, but we believe that our energy is best spent in working to solve our nation's toughest challenges," said the statement.

While the sentiments seems strong, Doyle doesn't believe this movement will turn to war.

"Lincoln felt strongly that this was a trial of democracy and that he could not afford to let any state secede because it would only be a matter of time until the next election, or the next piece of legislation," said Doyle.

Aiesi also pointed out that the point of the Civil War was to stop the Southern states from leaving the Union.

In December 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede before the start of the Civil War less than a year later.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.