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New group to advocate N.H. secession, independence

Comparing the United States to the Roman Empire in decline, five New Hampshire residents have established a nonprofit group to advocate for the Granite State’s secession and independence.

“This nation has grown too large to be represented by a few people, a few bureaucrats, in Washington. . . . New Hampshire is a small state, and we here in New Hampshire can take care of our own,” said Neal Conner, a technology consultant from Manchester and treasurer of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence.

The foundation was established as a nonprofit corporation Sept. 14, with an office in Manchester and the goal of educating residents “on the benefits of the state of New Hampshire peacefully declaring its independence and separating from the United States,” according to a filing with the secretary of state’s office.

The group, in its filing, said its work “will remain exclusively educational, and will in no way make any attempt to influence legislation.”

The foundation has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a website, nhindependence.org. It’s preparing to formally launch this week.

“No nation is immune to the ravages of time,” its website declares. “Even the mighty Roman Empire fell under the crushing weights of burdensome taxation, a declining civic culture and a hopelessly corrupt governing class. The Foundation believes that we are quickly nearing the time when the United States’ size and disregard for the rule of law as embodied in its founding Constitution must inevitably lead to the dissolution of our own once-great nation.

“However,” it continues, “the end of the United States as a political entity need not mean the disruption of our own civilization and culture in New Hampshire.”

The group has a five-member board of directors: Conner, President Vince Perfetto of Manchester, Vice President Mike Segal of Manchester, Secretary Chandler Gabel of Bedford and Chris Miranda of Manchester.

Conner said he moved to New Hampshire from Florida in 2009 and was inspired to relocate by the Free State Project, but he declined to say if the other board members also are involved with the project, which is trying to convince 20,000 liberty-minded people to move to New Hampshire.

He said the group hopes to spread a nonpartisan message about the federal government’s many violations of individual rights.

“There are many people from all walks of life who are just tired of bureaucrats in Washington micromanaging their lives,” he said.

The foundation is accepting donations, and Conner said it is seeking recognition of its tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service so it can accept tax-deductible gifts.

“I can see the irony,” he said of seeking federal recognition to help finance secession, “but that just goes to highlight some of the restrictions that the federal government places on organizations.”

Of course, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t provide for any state to leave the union, and in 1869 the Supreme Court ruled that secession is illegal and unconstitutional.

“To deny that the state of New Hampshire has the right to leave the union is to deny that the original 13 colonies had the right” to declare independence, Conner said. “There’s a difference between what’s a right and what those people in Washington, D.C., may think is legal. . . . Regardless of whether or not the federal government may recognize that right, as individuals we do have that right for local self-determination.”

And the group’s creation comes 150 years after the Civil War, when 11 Southern states attempted to secede over the issue of slavery.

But unlike that four-year conflict, organizers of the foundation promise a bloodless separation.

“We want to seek peaceful separation, peaceful independence,” Conner said.

On its website, the foundation has a frequently asked questions page that includes, “Won’t the United States military bomb NH with fighter jets and invade NH with tanks and infantry if we peacefully declare our independence?”

The answer: “Absolutely not. Even the thought of a bombing and invasion sounds so outlandish, it hardly deserves a reply. This is the 21st Century. There is no room for civilized, modern Western nations to become violent if the people of a section of their nation decide to leave.”

There’s a similar movement next door in Vermont, where a group called the “Second Vermont Republic” advocates for the state’s secession. (The first republic ran from 1777, when Vermonters declared independence from Great Britain, to 1791, when Vermont was admitted as the 14th state.)

The New Hampshire movement represents “a personal journey” for its leaders, Conner said, and they don’t endorse any other groups’ efforts.

“However,” he said, “I think any movement for greater local control ­– as long as it’s peaceful – is a step in the right direction, as opposed to an overreached, out-of-control federal government.”

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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