With Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 and Republicans, the Northern party, assuming power, South Carolina, Georgia and the Gulf states seceded.
But not until after Fort Sumter, when Lincoln called for volunteers to march south and crush the rebellion, did Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas secede, rather than remain passive or participate in a war on their kinfolk.
Unlike the issues of yesteryear that tore the Union asunder, Tea Party issues are not sectional but national. Yet, they are rooted in a similar set of beliefs -- that the federal government no longer serves their interests, but the interests of economic and political forces that sustain the party in power.
In 1860, the South saw power passing indefinitely to a new regime, a Republican Party that represented high-tariff industrialists and New England radicals and abolitionists who despised the agrarian South and celebrated the raid on Harper's Ferry by the terrorist John Brown, who had sought to incite a slave uprising, such as had occurred in Santo Domingo.
What called the Tea Party into existence?
Some are angry over unchecked immigration and the failure to control our borders and send the illegals back. Some are angry over the loss of manufacturing jobs. Some are angry over winless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some are angry over ethnic preferences they see as favoring minorities over them.
What they agree upon, however, is that they have been treading water for a decade, working harder and harder with little or no improvement in their family standard of living. They see the government as taking more of their income in taxes, seeking more control over their institutions, creating entitlements for others not them, plunging the nation into unpayable debt, and inviting inflation or a default that can wipe out what they have saved.
And there is nothing they can do about it, for they are politically powerless. By their gatherings, numbers, mockery of elites and militancy, however, they get a sense of the power that they do not have.
Their repeated reappearance on the national stage, in new incarnations, should be a fire bell in the night to the establishment of both parties. For it testifies to their belief and that of millions more that the state they detest is at war with the country they love.
The secession taking place in America is a secession of the heart -- of people who have come to believe the government is them, and not us.
Obama's problem, like the Bushes' in 1992 and 2008, is that one thing these folks are really good at is throwing people out of power.