Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America's Imperfect Union

October 31, 2020
Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America's Imperfect Union

The novel and fiery thesis of Break It Up is simple: The UnitedStates has never lived up to its name—and never will. Thedisunionist impulse may have found its greatest expression in theCivil War, but as Break It Up shows, the seduction of secessionwasn’t limited to the South or the nineteenth century. It was thereat our founding and has never gone away.With a scholar’s command and a journalist’s curiosity, RichardKreitner takes readers on a revolutionary journey through Americanhistory, revealing the power and persistence of disunion movementsin every era and region. Each New England town after Plymouth was asecession from another; the thirteen colonies viewed their Union asa means to the end of securing independence, not an end in itself;George Washington feared separatism west of the Alleghenies; AaronBurr schemed to set up a new empire; John Quincy Adams brought aMassachusetts town’s petition for dissolving the United States tothe floor of Congress; and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrisondenounced the Constitution as a pro-slavery pact with thedevil.From the “cold civil war” that pits partisans against oneanother to the modern secession movements in California and Texas,the divisions that threaten to tear America apart today havecenturies-old roots in the earliest days of our Republic. Richlyresearched and persuasively argued, Break It Up will help readersmake fresh sense of our fractured age.