Grammar

Secede or Succeed? Let’s Not Have a Civil War Over It!

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Hours after estimates projected Joe Biden won the presidency, a Mississippi lawmaker said his state should ‘succeed’ from the Union. Did he mean secede or succeed?

Anytime we’re talking about a state leaving the Union, people get confused over secede or succeed. You don’t spell or pronounce them the same way. But that doesn’t stop people from making the mistake.

A Mississippi lawmaker, upon learning that former Vice President Joe Biden apparently defeated President Donald Trump, took to Twitter. He said his beloved Magnolia State should “succeed” from the Union rather than be led by a Biden Administration.

He since deleted the tweet.

That’s a good thing. He meant to use the word secede. But I would like to believe he didn’t seriously meant either. Too many of my fellow Southerners have this romanticized view of the Civil War. To them, breaking free of the “North” means being able to sit on your front porch and enjoy a Mint Julep. Somehow, they ignore the bloody reality of the Civil War. The Civil War still stands as the nation’s bloodiest conflict, with an estimated 620,000 dead.

Secede or Succeed?

You pronounce secede with a softer C: it comes out as suh-SEED. It means to withdraw or remove yourself from an organization, politcal party or federation.

You pronounce succeed with a harder C: it comes out as suk-SEED. It has two primary meanings, one of which you probably recognize immediately.

The first meaning is to be successful at something, to make an accomplishment. We all want to succeed at what we do; doingo makes us a success.

The second meaning is “to come next after another in office or position or in possession of an estate.” If the projections prove true, President-Elect Biden will succeed President Trump in the White House.

My alma mater, the University of South Carolina, just parted ways with its head football coach. They are now searching for the coach that will succeed him.

That Mississippi lawmaker, by the way, apologized for his comment about seceding from the Union. He wrote, in part:

“I am extremely sorry for my comment it was inappropriate and in no way represents the will of my constituents or myself.”

Unfortunately, he made another grammar error there: Myself is a reflexive pronoun; he shouldn’t have used it that way.

But hey, at least he acknowledged that seceding was, in fact, a ridiculous idea.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.