History of the New England Independence Campaign

The New England Independence Campaign was founded in 2014 by Alex Gilbert in Oakland, ME. After watching the political and cultural landscape in America furrow clear and intrusive divides, he founded the NEIC to show ordinary New Englanders a way out of constant division and fighting. From 2014 to 2016 the campaign existed as Alex’s personal advocacy project. Due to unforeseen events in November 2016, the NEIC movement began to swell in popularity and many more individuals joined as team members or supporters.

Why independence now?  Issues such as government spending, taxation, war and other conflicts, the environment and trade are major topics which New Englanders tend to disagree with much of the rest of the US on.  Support for corrupt foreign dictatorships, endless wars, corporate welfare and destruction of our environment are not values for New Englanders. And certainly the chaos brought on by tyrannical strongmen these last few years are of very great concern to us.

We can do better!  A free and independent New England means a nation committed to justice, peace and harmony with the rest of the world, working in concert with our allies to be better stewards of the earth.

History of New England

The yearning for a free and independent New England goes back to colonial days. Yes, everyone knows about the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and the start of our Revolution. But even earlier than that, the New England Confederation, an alliance between the New England colonies, was established.  However, King James II, recognising a potential threat to English sovereignty, replaced the Confederation with the Dominion of New England  in 1686. The King chose Sir Edmund Andros, former governor of New York and New Jersey, to govern the Dominion.  Representative government was abolished and the hated Navigation Acts which prohibited New Englanders from trading with non-British countries were strictly enforced.  Finally in 1689 the Dominion was abolished when William and Mary ascended to the English throne and Governor Edmund Andros was removed from office.

Less than ninety years later, in 1775,  the desire for self-governance and abolition of taxation without representation manifested itself at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, leading to the War of Independence. At the end of the War for Independence in 1783, the New England colonies with the exception of Vermont joined nine other colonies to form the new nation of The United States of America (Vermont would join this union in 1791 and Maine, formerly part of Massachusetts, would join in 1820)

The next serious movement towards independence occurred in 1814 with what is known as The Hartford Convention. On December 15, 1814, delegates to the Hartford Convention met in secret at the Old State House in Hartford. The Massachusetts legislature had requested the conference in October and delegates from the Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire legislatures met for three weeks to draft a formal protest against the Federal Government’s continued involvement in the War of 1812, which allied the United States with France against Great Britain.

The delegates represented the dominant political party in New England at the time, the Federalists, who favoured peace—and strong trade relations—with the British. Rumours abound that the Convention would call for New England’s secession from the United States in order to achieve the Federalist’s aims. Most New England Federalists, however, held more moderate views and feared that even talk of secession might lead to a civil war.

The Federalists wanted to address the policies of two successive US presidents from the opposing party: Republicans James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who the term prior had implemented the Embargo Act of 1807. Jefferson had tried to use the embargo as an economic force to address the conflict with Britain but the Federalists viewed the embargo as a policy that devastated New England’s economy. Madison imposed more economic sanctions but by June 18, 1812, Britain and the United States were at war. The New England states did not support the war. They feared a land invasion and refused to place their militias under federal control.

The Hartford Convention resulted in a declaration calling on the Federal Government to protect New England and to supply financial aid to New England’s badly battered trade economy. It also advanced recommendations for a few Constitutional amendments, including requiring a two-thirds majority vote in order for war to be declared. The Convention’s final report was issued on January 5, 1815, and read into the records of the US House and Senate. Its timing, however, proved ill-fated. News reached the United States in January that on December 24, 1814, while the Hartford Convention was still in session, US delegates in Europe had signed the Treaty of Ghent which ended the war with Britain. Thus ended the last serious movement towards independence for New England.