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Two Illinois secession petitions to fall short of required signatures

by Meghan Anne Bunchman
Dec 05, 2012


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Illinois petitions request peaceful secession from the United States.

Meghan Anne Bunchman/MEDILL

Chicago residents react to the secession petitions.

More than 10,000 people in Illinois have “signed” petitions to secede from the Union.

The state is among all 50 that have posted secession petitions through the “We the People” program, located on the White House website. The program, created only a year ago by the Obama administration, seeks to give American citizens a more democratic voice within their government.

“We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country,” says the site. “We created We the People because we want to hear from you.”

By mid-November more than 675,000 digital signatures were filed via 69 separate secession petitions, according to a Daily Caller analysis. There are two existing secession petitions for the state of Illinois. Both were filed on Nov. 11.

We the People’s website protects each citizen’s anonymity by only revealing the petitioner’s first name, last initial and city and state.

Illinois R. (no last name) of Pekin created one of the two Illinois petitions. 

“The Constitution gives the citizens of the United States of America protection from tyrannical governments, guaranteeing basic rights,” said alias Illinois R. “When these basic rights are threatened not only by legislation, but by the erratic spending of a government in debt, it is only natural that we, the citizens of the United States stand to defend them.”

Illinois R.’s petition has received 5,421 signatures. The other Illinois petition, created by Chris H., has received 5,501 signatures.

If the required signature numbers are not reached within the next week, the two petitions will expire on Dec. 11.

To receive an official response from appropriate parties, petitions must reach 25,000 signatures within a 30-day period. We the People’s website encourages concerned citizens to endorse existing petitions that pertain to their interest rather than creating one of their own. By avoiding duplicate petitions, citizens are more likely to meet the site’s digital requirements.

David Doherty, a political science professor at Loyola University, said, "This type of political participation is really cheap –‘just click here!’ -- and the fact that only a few thousand people have even bothered to do that suggests that these efforts don't reflect much in the way of meaningful public calls for secession.” 

Although multiple Chicago residents acknowledged signing the petition, they have asked to stay off-the-record.

Doherty said that those who are unhappy with President Obama’s re-election try to justify their digital signatures on the grounds of states’ rights.

"I suspect that most Illinoisans would be pretty reluctant to give up Social Security, Medicare, national defense, and all of the other benefits we get from the federal government," Doherty said.

The last time a state successfully seceded from the United States was Dec. 20, 1860. South Carolina’s split from the Union led to 10 more states withdrawing. The resulting Civil War lasted nearly four years and more than an estimated 600,000 people died.