This is a short essay I wrote while thinking about government, the title-transfer theory of contracts, sovereignty and the right to secede:
There is no such principle or natural law by which an individual must submit himself to the mercy of some other body to govern him forevermore. An individual’s property right in his person is inviolable; no contract can be perpetually binding on an individual if they change their mind. To operate on some other principle violates the individual’s sovereignty over his own body; to force an individual to complete some object of labor, give up some article of property, submit to the will of others, etc. based on a promise is rightfully deemed slave labor. If no exchange has taken place, if no exchange of titles to property has taken place, then there is no obligation on the part of either party; it is merely a promise.
By extension, this principle applies to governments. In delegating certain portions of their sovereignty to their agents, government, the people (in America acting through their respective states) are choosing to allow government to act on their behalf; presumably this is because of the perceived benefits they receive by such an association. There are no transfers of titles occurring in such a situation. Thus we see that this voluntary agreement cannot be binding on an individual and they may at anytime withdraw their consent to the agreement. Certainly the individual will not choose to do this for light and transient causes if there are perceived benefits attached to this association, but they nevertheless ALWAYS reserve this option. If anything, this agreement is binding on the government as they must act on behalf of the people who have delegated their authority to it.
An objection might be made that since government provides benefits, it can be said we are bound to obey it since this constitutes a transfer of titles to property. Certainly, we can say that governments provide certain benefits to individuals living in their jurisdiction; however, this is not truly a title transfer. For one, the state is not an independent entity that can own or possess property in and of itself and therefore transfer (redistribute) it; any property accumulated by the state must be acquired from the people. So, when a government distributes benefits, it is essentially giving back the title of property it had originally taken from individuals, usually in different form. Also, in order to acquire property, the state must use coercion through taxation or outright theft. This necessarily means that the State can never have a valid title to any piece of property in its possession. It cannot be said that individuals are bound to accept the dictates of government because it transfers titles of property to its constituents, constituting an enforceable contract.
From this, we may clearly derive the right of an individual or a state as an association of individuals occupying a specific territory, under natural law, to secede or withdraw his sovereignty from any form of government. If governments derive their power from the consent of the governed, and the people wish to revoke their consent by an act of secession, we would be tyrannical to force them to remain in a union against their will. If it is conceded that people may alter or abolish their government when it becomes destructive of its ends, as it is stated in the Declaration of Independence, we must also concede they may revoke their consent and simply secede; a much more mild course of action than the revolutionary act of altering or abolishing the government. To deny the ability to secede is to recant the whole Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. Secession is truly a fundamental American principle.