Cumberland Times-News

November 13, 2013

Secession?

Don’t look for counties to break away any time soon


Cumberland Times-News

— As you can see from our Quote of the Day, Maryland isn’t alone in having people who want to secede and form their own state.

Eleven rural Colorado counties recently voted on an effort to form their own state. Five approved it and six rejected it, including Weld County, whose commissioners were behind the idea.

We haven’t heard from it for some time, but a movement was started to have Western Maryland’s five counties secede from Maryland on grounds that the state’s government pays little attention to them.

Unlike the commissioners of Weld County, two commissioners in Allegany and Garrett counties don’t care for the idea.

Jim Raley of Garrett says “an amicable relationship” exists with the rest of the state, and Michael McKay of Allegany County says the movement is a distraction from the real issues.

They’re both right. All things considered, there are far worse places to live than Maryland — and few that are better. Although we sometimes disagree with its government, we love Maryland.

Also, the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition, which has 10 member counties and represents nearly a million Marylanders, has had success influencing matters in the General Assembly. (As fiddle-playing Charlie Daniels said in the TV commercial, “That’s how ya do it, son.”)

Besides, barring the outbreak of Civil War II, it’s likely that West Virginia will be the only state formed by counties that seceded from another state. The Constitution provides that no state can be divided against the will of its legislature, and it’s unlikely that the general assemblies of either Maryland or Colorado will endorse a secession.

President Abraham Lincoln dealt with this technicality and signed the West Virginia statehood bill on grounds that having seceded from the Union, Virginia was no longer legally represented by the Richmond government. He recognized the Wheeling government as the legitimate government of Virginia, and it wanted to form its own state.

The matter was put to referendum in the counties of the proposed new state and it passed with a huge majority in a relatively small turnout.

One explanation for this is that anti-statehood votes simply weren’t counted in some counties.

It’s also likely that many people already considered themselves citizens of another country — the Confederate States of America — and refused to vote in a Yankee election.