Return to Middlebury Institute home pageWe, the participants in the First North American Secessionist Convention, though representing many different and diverse groups and constituencies, agree on the following principles as representing the truths of natural law and historical experience:
The Burlington Declaration
Adopted at the First North American Secessionist Convention, November 5, 2006, Burlington, Vermont
1. Any political entity has the right to separate itself from a larger body of which it is a part and peaceably to establish its independence as a free and legitimate state in the eyes of the world.
2. Governments are instituted among peoples, deriving their just powers from the consent of their citizens, and whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the legitimate goals of life, liberty, prosperity, and self-determination, it is the right of the people in democratic fashion to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
3. Any government formed by and dependent upon a constitution to regulate its actions and affairs has certain legitimate powers delegated to it, but any powers not so delegated are reserved to the people of that state and their democratically chosen political bodies.
4. Nations once independent should engage in peace, commerce, good will, and honest friendship with all nations, and observe good faith, justice, and harmony toward all, but establish entangling relationships with none, nor engage in colonial dominance, political or economic, over any.
5. Direct democracy, with one vote for each and every citizen (as the polity shall designate citizenship), has proven to be a desirable form of governance among people, but it can operate with justice and equality only when at a small enough scale that each person may be known to every other person; when representative forms of government are undertaken, they should likewise best be established at a scale small enough so that each representative can be informed of the opinions and beliefs of the general run of the people in the constituency or community which that person is chosen to represent.
It is within this body of principles that we ask all governments to operate and it is by them that we ourselves, individually and the organizations we represent, intend to be guided.