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Classroom guide: New Hampshire secession and the U.S. democratic experiment

In this podcast episode hosts Mike Dunbar and Anna Brown discuss a proposed New Hampshire constitutional amendment to secede from the United States. They discuss the challenges that would face the nation of New Hampshire (such as border security), the tax tradeoffs, and new efforts to remove secessionists from state office.

Length:

Podcast includes 11 minutes about the New Hampshire proposal to secede from the United States, 3 additional minutes of "fun facts" about how Killington voted twice to secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire.

Key concepts/standards

  • Federalism and the different powers/responsibilities for state and national government
    • SS:CV:8:2.2: Compare and contrast the structure and major responsibilities and services of government at the local, state, and federal levels as set forth in the New Hampshire Constitution and the United States Constitution, e.g., taxation, transportation, or education. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)
    • SS:HI:8:1.4: Analyze the tension between states' rights and national authority, e.g., the nullification crisis of 1832 or school integration of the 1960’s. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, H: Individualism, Equality and Authority)
    • SS:CV:12:1.1: Identify the structures and functions of government at various levels, e.g., county—role of the sheriff’s office, or nation—role of providing the defense of the country. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)
  • State constitutional amendments
    • SS:CV:8:2.1: Define the organization and responsibilities of federal government that are set forth in the New Hampshire Constitution, the United States Constitution and their amendments, e.g., Separation of Powers, Division of Powers, or the Bill of Rights. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)
  • Tension between state identity and national identity, tension between liberty and order
    • SS:HI:12:1.4: Examine the impact of sectionalism on national crises and United States government policies, e.g., Hartford Convention or Brown v. Board of Education. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change, I: Patterns of Social and Political Interaction)
    • SS:HI:12:5.1: Explore the tensions between the values of unity and pluralism in defining our national identity, e.g., the Puritans vs. Anne Hutchinson or the counter-culture vs. the silent majority. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change, I: Patterns of Social and Political Interaction)

Discussion questions

  • What does it mean for a state to “secede”?
  • Why would New Hampshire—or any other state—choose to secede? What are the pros and cons of doing so?
  • Discuss the tension that exists between state governments and federal government. Do you think it is better for communities to have greater local control, or should most decisions be made at the national level? Discuss pros and cons of each.
  • What would change for New Hampshire if we became an independent nation? Would any aspects of your daily life be impacted?
  • Do you think New Hampshire would benefit from secession? If the answer is no, under what circumstances do you think secession would be the right move for the state?
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