WASHINGTON Citizens from more than 40 states have filed petitions with the White House seeking to secede from the union, and by Wednesday, seven states had gathered enough signatures to qualify for a response to the largely symbolic protest.
The petitions, which have been signed by a small percentage of state residents, have virtually no chance of succeeding. The United States' bloodiest conflict, the 1861-1865 Civil War, erupted after 11 states withdrew from the union.
The White House has set up a "We the People" page on its website that allows Americans to file petitions on issues of concern. If a petition collects 25,000 signatures, the website says, the administration will review and respond to it.
The petition filed by Texas residents has racked up about 100,000 signatures. Six others from Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have collected 30,000.
Among the seven states, only Florida gave its electoral votes to Democratic President Barack Obama in last week's election.
The Texas petition says the United States is suffering from economic troubles stemming from the federal government's failure to reform spending. It also complains of alleged rights abuses committed by agencies like the Transportation Security Administration.
"Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union," it said.
A counter-petition has been filed calling for the state capital Austin to secede from Texas and remain part of the United States.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Stacey Joyce)