38

How can I take back my sovereignty from the American government and start my own micro nation?

I've read about starting a foreign company with my name in all caps but I want a lawyer's answer.

  • 34
    You need to hire a lawyer, if you want legal advice. – user6726 Nov 4 '16 at 21:23
  • 42
    Nations are not made by lawyers. You'll have to win a war of seccession agains US goverment, and then win several wars against entities that would try to conquer you. There are reasons why goverments don't generally stay small. – Eugene Ryabtsev Nov 5 '16 at 15:06
  • 6
    An interesting question would be what "sovereignty" means to you. If nations are merely contractual entities which you may abstain from, surely "sovereignty" is just a word. – Cort Ammon Nov 5 '16 at 15:45
  • 40
    Declaring sovereignty is easy: all you need to do is say you're sovereign. The trick is getting other countries to recognize it, something that usually requires an army. – Mark Nov 6 '16 at 1:48
  • 24
    You have a food-growing process that is closed-cycle yet "infinite" and produces carbon nanotubes as a byproduct? Forget US law, I suspect you're breaking some laws of thermodynamics somewhere... – anaximander Nov 7 '16 at 16:09
50

You are courting seduction by the sovereign citizen doctrine. This is a crackpot legal theory that will get you nowhere. Run away as fast as you can.

See, for example, Can a natural US person hold citizenship while remaining non-juridical?.

See also "Mercedes-Benz Financial (DCFS Canada Corp.) v. Kovacevic, 2009", CanLII. This person fared particularly poorly because his argument relied in part on the UCC, which is a United States model code, but he was arguing in a Canadian court.

Still, even in a US court, he would have lost. See What are "freemen of the land" or "sovereign citizen" theories and do they hold any water?.

  • 37
    @GabrielConnorNelson but the ideas you're asking about have the unmistakable hallmarks: the idea that spelling your name in all caps would have any legal effect, and the idea that you can somehow reclaim your presumed sovereignty. Ask yourself this of the data you've received: can you find any credible evidence anywhere that anyone has ever used these maneuvers successfully? – phoog Nov 5 '16 at 3:47
  • 4
    The third reference in your answer read like a thrilling spy-novel. Every word was riveting. My only criticism is that the ending was a cliffhanger with no resolution! Now I'm dying to know how it ended! – Mowzer Nov 5 '16 at 13:59
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    @Mowzer The next chapter in the story is: canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2009/2009canlii9423/… – Dan Neely Nov 5 '16 at 20:12
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    @TheSpooniest I know what sedition is, and I meant seduction. I obviously didn't mean it in the sexual sense. I mean that the rhetoric is seducing the OP into a belief that he is somehow able to free himself from the jurisdiction of the US. – phoog Nov 7 '16 at 19:05
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    By the way, there are a very small number of cases where "sovereign citizens" prevailed in the judicial system, generally because the State made some error or decided to drop an issue in the interest of justice. But it's important to understand that none of the long list of crazy legal arguments that they make has ever prevailed in a court of law and they are frequently sanctioned for making frivolous arguments. (Link goes to "tax protestor" arguments, but there's a lot of overlap and the merits are comparable.) – David Schwartz Nov 7 '16 at 19:56
41

Unfortunately for you, as long as you remain physically inside the borders of the United States you will be subject to the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States and whatever other state, county, city or town (each with its own separate body of law) you are also located at the time. (FYI: This multi-level jurisdictional framework is called federalism and is rooted in the founding of the United States and the creation of the U.S. Constitution).

I think your best option is to explore the possibility of renouncing your American citizenship and explore relocating to somewhere like the Pitcairn Islands (in the South Pacific). Last I read, they were giving away free land in an effort to populate the island. There are only about 50 people living there so you might be able to work out a deal.

Taken from their website:

http://www.government.pn

With a population of only around fifty, the people of Pitcairn are descended from the mutineers of HMAV Bounty and their Tahitian companions. Pitcairn Island is approximately 3.2km (2 miles) long and 1.6km (1 mile) wide with the capital Adamstown located above Bounty Bay and accessed by the aptly named road, "The Hill of Difficulty".

They are apparently still a British Colony and, therefore, subject to British Law. But there is a United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization that might be helpful in obtaining independence.

FYI, the tale of the mutiny of the Bounty has been retold countless times and offers an intriguing and unique backstory to the origin and founding of the nation of Pitcairn.

Wikipedia

  • I read somewhere or other that an American millionaire once tried to buy (from the British Crown) the sovereignty of an uninhabited islet near Pitcairn, and was rebuffed. – Anton Sherwood Nov 5 '16 at 23:10
  • 1
    @chell: and the county? ;) – user189035 Nov 6 '16 at 9:58
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    Given that Pitcairn's legal system recently affirmed that it is subject to British oversight I highly doubt that any attempt to set up a micronation there these days would get you very far. – Periata Breatta Nov 7 '16 at 15:05
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    @PeriataBreatta: The article you cite notes the U.K. has never formally claimed the Pitcairn Islands. It is conceivable that an individual could offer the Pitcairn government sufficient value (e.g., a small population of new arrivals (particularly female), plus, say, earth moving equipment, construction skills and labor) to induce the Pitcairn government to sell a piece of the Island, however (arbitrarily) small, and recognize that sold piece as an independent nation. If the U.K. never disputes the sale, the purchaser could, indeed, have a new micronation. Or at least a claim of one. – Mowzer Nov 8 '16 at 0:02
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    @Mowzer No, but it is relevant. The ability to determine who is subject to prosecution is usually considered a key factor of sovereignty. It seems, therefore, that at least de facto, Pitcairn is not a sovereign state, whatever they may claim, and therefore they do not have the ability to grant sovereignty to anyone else. A formal claim is irrelevant - in practice, the British govenment exercises authority in Pitcairn and would continue to do so for anyone else relying on the Pitcairn governments' claims of independence. – Periata Breatta Nov 11 '16 at 4:17
27

You can't.

This was decided definitively by the American Civil War - if a state can't leave, you certainly can't. There is no provision in the US constitution that allows for any part f the nation to leave.

Of course, you can renounce your citizenship and leave.

  • 11
    Not me - I'm not American – Dale M Nov 5 '16 at 3:06
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    @GabrielConnorNelson The 14th Amendment did nothing of the sort. There is no such thing as "straw man law." People were not made chattel, nor were constitutional rights taken away by the 14th Amendment (the exact opposite, actually: pre-14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights did not restrict state governments). – cpast Nov 5 '16 at 4:15
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    @GabrielConnorNelson The Declaration of Independence is not US law - it was a political (and illegal) statement about a rebellion against English rule. – Dale M Nov 6 '16 at 0:45
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    Rebellions are legal if, and only if, they succeed. The Continental Congress won, so it ended up independent. The Confederacy lost the Civil War, so it ended up not independent. Given the difference in military power between the US and the OP, I predict the OP will not gain independence. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 6 '16 at 3:46
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    @PatriciaShanahan America gained independence because the British made a *political• decision to accept the current status quo in the battlefield. An agreement not to hold rebels responsible for their illegal activities was part of the peace agreement. The rebellion was still illegal - its illegality was irrelevant. Indeed, ongoing differences about the limits of American sovereignty led to the War of 1812. – Dale M Nov 6 '16 at 5:46
19

You simply claim whatever you want. Getting other sovereigns to acknowledge your legitimacy is a more difficult problem. The solution is typically to gather followers, amass armies and enforce your claim as required. The US succeeded in this in the Revolutionary war. The Confederate States ultimately failed in the U.S. civil war. But the idea is the same.

  • 10
    @GabrielConnorNelson Assume for a moment that was possible. That would mean you were no longer protected by the same law, so what prevents them from shooting you? The price of ammunition? In fact, what prevents them from handcuffing you, reading you your "rights" (even though you no longer consent to having them), and taking you to a small room locked from the outside? – immibis Nov 7 '16 at 0:10
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    @GabrielConnorNelson: diplomatic immunity is given to particular (and recognized) officials of a government with which a different government wants to deal. It can be revoked, and staying within the state which has revoked recognition is usually followed by arrest. Given that you would be the only citizen of your state, and thus are obviously an agent of that state, you arrest, trial, and eventual execution for spying would be recognized as legally just in most countries. – jmoreno Nov 7 '16 at 1:42
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    @GabrielConnorNelson Seeing as you don't seem to have found the chat: Why do you think the government will treat you as if you have diplomatic immunity? Just like saying "I'm my own country!" doesn't stop a policeman shooting you in the head, neither does saying "I have diplomatic immunity" stop a policeman shooting you in the head. If a policeman does shoot you in the head then the consequences for them and you don't depend on whether you claim to have diplomatic immunity. – immibis Nov 7 '16 at 2:35
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    @GabrielConnorNelson Your argument is that the US will let you refuse to abide by its laws for the simple reason that you choose not to abide by them. That is nonsense. If it were true, then only the very stupidest people would be in jail. Anybody else would just get themselves excused from any crime by asserting that they do not consent to the law before committing their criminal act. – David Richerby Nov 7 '16 at 9:14
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    @GabrielConnorNelson Diplomatic immunity isn't something you just get by saying "I no longer consider myself a US citizen"; it's something that is granted by the US government to certain representatives of a country that they recognise and wish to have smoother dealings with. Law exists because the country who set them can enforce them. It's a two-way deal: the nation requires you to follow the law, and in return, they let you live there, be protected by their army, police, etc. People who choose not to abide by the law are called criminals, not micronations or sovereign citizens. – anaximander Nov 7 '16 at 9:58
12

You could have a chat with 'Prince' Michael Bates of the Principality of Sealand. In September 1967 his father, 'Prince' Roy Bates, did something similar to what you appear to have in mind.

In international law, the most common schools of thought for the creation of statehood are the constitutive and declaratory theories of state creation. The constitutive theory is the standard nineteenth-century model of statehood, and the declaratory theory was developed in the twentieth century to address shortcomings of the constitutive theory. In the constitutive theory, a state exists exclusively via recognition by other states. The theory splits on whether this recognition requires 'diplomatic recognition' or merely 'recognition of existence'. No other state grants Sealand official recognition, but it has been argued by Bates that negotiations carried out by Germany following a brief hostage incident constituted 'recognition of existence' (and, since the German government reportedly sent an ambassador to the tower, diplomatic recognition). In the declaratory theory of statehood, an entity becomes a state as soon as it meets the minimal criteria for statehood. Therefore, recognition by other states is purely 'declaratory'

If you can make any real sense of the above quote then you are a more dedicated man than I. As far as I can tell, the general idea is that if you can find (or construct) any land that is not already claimed, you may claim it. But whether or not your independent 'nation state' is recognised by others is discretionary. Even without recognition, at that point, you're probably in a position to avoid being under the duress of your birth nation so long as you don't physically reside there.

  • 3
    What's difficult about the quoted passage? – Anton Sherwood Nov 6 '16 at 0:00
  • 3
    @AntonSherwood: It seems to define "declaratory theory" by saying what is is not (constitutive theory). And as a student of Political Science, the only theory we bothered with is constitutive theory. That's for a simple reason: everyone who counts, including all UN member states, subscribe to the constitutive theory. There's no hard consensus on exactly which states to recognize (Israel/Palestine etc) but that's details. Declaratory theory if anything is academical. – MSalters Nov 7 '16 at 13:37
  • 2
    @MSalters Transnistria exists. If you travel to that territory, you'll have to worry about the rules and restrictions that Transnistrian authorities put on you. That's not academic. – prosfilaes Nov 8 '16 at 3:15
9

While I wholeheartedly agree with others who have said "you can't", and it is practically true, and the "All Caps" thing is definately BS, you can, theoretically start your own Micro-nation. The difficulties will be finding a place which is not governed and getting recognition of other nations.

(Tongue firmly in cheek) — Maybe you can find a barge somewhere, build an island, or do a deal with Mars One.

  • 4
    Problem is there is no way for anyone not very quallified to get there. (Mars One is a scam). Would finding a large piece of land in the middle-of-nowhere and subsistence farming it without interacting with the outside worldscratch your itch? I found there is nothing like working land with older tools to make me value just how valuable being linked to society is. – davidgo Nov 5 '16 at 18:55
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    I'm told that the Convention on the Law of the Sea forbids private parties to build islands, presumably to prevent a repeat of the Minerva Reef attempt. – Anton Sherwood Nov 5 '16 at 23:09
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    I think another difficulty will be defending yourself when the pirates show up (and I'm serious). Unlike Captain Phillips if you're not a citizen you can't call their military to rescue you. – gman Nov 6 '16 at 7:05
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    Buying a boat and living off the sea is probably the most viable solution. Technically you'd be a pirate, and you'd be on your own dealing with other pirates, but it's a big ocean. And as long as you don't harass anyone else, chances are that no navy is going to bother sinking your ship. You're not going to have internet, obviously, or any of the other benefits of modern life. – MSalters Nov 7 '16 at 13:42
  • 3
    @MSalters - "You're not going to have internet, obviously" ... you may not be able to get high speed broadband, but there are services available. – Periata Breatta Nov 7 '16 at 15:18
9

Leave the USA

If you want sovereignity over a piece of land, then you would need to figure out how to handle anyone else who claims sovereignity over it. The government of USA is currently claiming sovereignity over all its territory and (as far as I know) is not willing to negotiate over it. As long as you are on USA soil, they are free to ignore any declarations, assert their claim of sovereignity, and enforce their laws on you without your consent. The answer to "How can I take back my sovereignty from the American government?" is "make them", and forcibly making the USA government to do that is left as an exercise for the reader.

You may have better success claiming sovereignity somewhere else, there are territories worldwide that are less interesting to others and where your claim of sovereignity is less likely to be contested.

5

Not only will you need to find unclaimed land (unless you want to wage war); you may also have trouble renouncing your US citizenship. I was sure that the government can refuse to let you go until you pay all owed tax; but all proof I could find for that was a non-official web site claiming that "if a court determines that you are expatriating to avoid paying a tax or taxes, they can force you to stay against your will".

But it is official that by renouncing your citizenship you give up all privileges while you retain many duties towards the government or other citizens. Among others you will still be subject to criminal prosecution and military service and be forced to pay owed tax and child support.

2

You can try, but prepare to face the consequences.

The "only" thing you need is to be acknowledged by other countries. Having the support of at least one of superpowers, territory and population is often not enough - see Taiwan, Somaliland, Kosovo, South Osetia...

There's no unclaimed continental territory. Everything is either claimed or proclaimed the international, free territory (Antarctica). So you'll need to claim the rights to some part of other country (see Crimea). You'll be almost surely proclaimed terrorist and fighted to death, so make sure you have enough manpower and weapons and international support before you can do. If you can find some success stories other than Crimea and Kosovo, see the history of Texas. They first colonize a part of Mexico territory, then (with support of United States) proclaimed independence (to finally end up as one of the US states).

You could claim some uninhabited islands, but it won't be anyway easier. As an independent nations, you have, by international maritime law, claims to exclusively use the maritime territory around your new state, which would otherwise be international territory of all nations. Don't expect them to appreciate that fact, with the exception of the nation you choose to be your patron, and give her the rights to exploit "your" territory for the protection. And don't be surprised if you get bombarded in some unfortunate accident during "maneuvers" on the "international" territory. See Spratly Islands to see how serious the things can be.

The easiest way would be to simply buy a part of some other country's territory, maybe some almost uninhabited part of Siberia? Or Canada? A few (hundred) billion dollar should be enough. As long as your new country is useful (as tax paradise for the richest, for example), this deal might even be respected in the future.

Or maybe you could finance the expedition to the Mars, and buy a permanent space base there. The international law considers all the space as the international territory, which cannot be claimed by any state, however, international law change, so once the other nations acknowledge the sovereignty of your newly formed state, so will be it. You'll need a bit more than a funny few billion dollar to achieve that, though. But the option is open.

protected by feetwet Nov 5 '16 at 15:51

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