Union Without Unity

An interesting article on secession movements in US history from Chronicles

By Betsy Clark, Chronicles

Break It Up; by Richard Kreitner; Little, Brown and Company; 497 pp., $30.00

Stamped on the United States’ three-dollar Continental bill in 1783 was the phrase, “The Outcome Is in Doubt.” A more appropriate phrase for our own time could hardly be found. It also serves as the subtext of journalist Richard Kreitner’s fascinating new book, which chronicles the rocky history of our union and the many secession movements that have arisen from colonial times to the current day.

Kreitner describes Americans as a people ever in search of a unifying purpose, whether it be shared history, common enemies, territory, or even in devotion to political documents such as the American Constitution. Even before the 2020 electoral crisis, Kreitner wondered whether the trajectory of our troubles would lead to another disunion.

One begins to think the current American story is playing a rerun when reading Kreitner’s account of the country’s long conflicts over race, immigration, impeachment, presidential elections, and Supreme Court decisions, as well as historical instances of riots, massacres, populist movements, “fake news,” and conspiracy theories.


Categories: Secession

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