The State of Jefferson

The proponents of dividing California up into six states have enough signatures for the proposal to be on the ballot in 2016.  I think this is an idea we will see more of in many states.  Urban areas and non urban areas have been growing increasingly antithetical to each other in state after state, politically and culturally.  The problems of dividing states, which would have to be approved by Congress as well as state legislatures, are huge but I think the movement for this will grow, and not just on one side of the political ledger.  As for myself, I would love to see Illinois divide into two states:  The Land of Lincoln and whatever Chicago wants to call itself.  If such a measure is ever approved in one state, I think this movement will rapidly sweep across the country.  We will see.

Proposals to divide up states and create new states is not a new idea in American history, the state of West Virginia being the prime example.  If the Union had been able to take control of east Tennessee more rapidly than it did, I suspect that East Tennessee might have become a state.

Just prior to Pearl Harbor there was a move afoot to carve a new state out of the rural regions of north California and south Oregon.  The new state to be called Jefferson, the same name as one of the proposed new states to be made from the division of California.   In October 1941 Mayor Gilbert Gable of Port Orford, Oregon, said that the Oregon counties of Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath should join with the California counties of Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc to form a new state.  This was started as a publicity stunt to draw attention to the terrible roads in the area, the people of the region feeling ignored by the legislatures of both California and Oregon.  The movement quickly gathered steam however and came suddenly to national attention when on November 27, 1941 a group of young men with hunting rifles national  stopped traffic on U.S. Route 99 south of Yreka, the county seat of Siskiyou County, and distributed copies of a Proclamation of Independence, stating that the state of Jefferson was in “patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon” and would continue to “secede every Thursday until further notice.”

A governor of the new “state”, John C. Childs of Yreka, was inaugurated.  The movement collapsed after Pearl Harbor when the secessionists, along with the rest of the country, focused on the war effort.  A curious footnote in American history, which might have amounted to a bit more, but for the advent of World War II.


Published in: on July 18, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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  1. New York State should secede from New York City, and the City state should join to itself the northeastern counties of New Jersey and perhaps a bit of Connecticut. And I wonder whether inland Massachusetts really feels so very close to Boston. In Italy this impulse has manifested itself mainly in the creation of new “provnices” – local administrations the size of an English county, rather larger than an American one – to the extent that in twenty years they have gone from about 90 to 104. There also is a fairly new region – the regions are the equivalent of US federal states,- Molise, but that is rarer.

    • In many states Fabio in the US we have a growing divide between urban and non-urban. I really think that divisions of states will occur in the next two decades. Time, as it always does, will tell.

  2. Colorado has a movement too, a movement that stalled after the last election. The article notes the last time a state gave up territory was Massachusetts, in 1820. Unfortunately for the 51st staters, Colorado has no urgent need to stick it to another section of the country.

    • I find more an more articles in mainstream publications talking about state division Whimsy. If it happens just once in one state I think it will spread like a grass fire on the prairie.

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