The State of Jefferson

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Not news, but news to me: the revival of an old-time quasi-secessionist movement in northern California and southern Oregon, known as the state of Jefferson. Driven by a rural community's feeling that their state governments don't respect them, apparently. Here's what they stand for, with some historical background here and the San Francisco Chronicle's take here.

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  1. Thanks for the history lesson. I went to college in Klamath Falls and thought Jefferson was a just a hippy thing. Easy to be confused since logging and mining were on the wane at the time and Earth First! was getting established.

    I remeber alot of jabber about how marijuana would be legalized if only we could create a 51st state. What a load of poop that was. Obviously the original proponents of statehood would never have allowed that. But I could be wrong. I was once already today.

  2. Well, the new state would certainly have a most lucrative cash crop….

  3. To its south will remain the State of Confusion.

  4. I grew up in Southern New Jersey where in the late 70s or early 80s, seven of the counties had a referendum (non-binding, obviously) on whether they should split from North Jersey. Over the years I’ve heard of: Martha’s Vineyard wanting out of Massachussetts, Western Nebraska wanting to join with Colorado, and just recently the Vermont Ski report that wants to join New Hampshire. Anyone know of any other movements like these.

  5. I’ve heard from a Canadian or two that there are people up there who want to join the U.S. I don’t remember what provinces they were from or if that’s even true.

    Those guys seemed mainly to want to get rid of Quebec.

  6. I once read an interesting article by Michael Lind on splitting the larger states into pieces to make the US Senate more evenly apportioned. For instance, CA and TX would each be broken into several states with 2 Senators apiece to make the Senate more reflective of population.

    He came up with funny names for some of the states proposed. e.g. the San Jose area would be called Siliconia, and a part of Florida with lots of retirees would be called Geritolia, while the Miami area would be called New Cuba.

    Not that it will ever happen, but the idea actually has some good libertarian underpinnings. Yes, I know, Lind is no libertarian, but the idea has some appealing aspects. In particular, making more states would decentralize state gov’t in the US. More Senators would be responsible to smaller constituencies. Breaking up large states would mean that more places would be in play during Presidential elections, so that more citizens would have a say in the process.

  7. Wooohoo! More power to them.

    Currently living in Butte county, CA, I’ve given up on this state and resolved myself to moving as soon as I graduate from college. Maybe there is a chance I can end up in a different state without physically moving. How nice.

  8. I think this is a great idea: more representation and less centralized power. However, I doubt their sale of “Black Helicopter” t-shirts is the best fundraiser to lend legitimacy to their campaign! 😉

    http://www.jeffersonstate.com/blackhelicoptercrowd.html

  9. Reminds me of Ernest Callenbach’s 1975 silly science fiction novel “Ecotopia”, about the secession of Oregon, Washington, and northern California from the US to form a so-called environmental state sealed off so no one else could move there.

    Ironic that Jefferson is not quite what Callenbach had in mind.

  10. Canadia is nice.
    Good beer.

  11. Wouldn’t it be more apt for greater Los Angeles to be “Siliconia?”

  12. This is funny, because I was just thinking the other day about how much better off California as a whole could be if we seceeded from the union. Advantages: virtutally no need for military spending, and no more redistribution of wealth from this great state to all of the crappier states. Disadvantages: there’s a historical precedent for this, and it doesn’t bode well for the cause.

  13. “Even the left-ish types are often fond of going ‘up in the hills’ to plink cans, & wonder what all the fuss about firearms is for.”

    Maybe we can import a few of those people as State of Jefferson ambassadors to the People’s Republic of Santa Cruz. Perhaps fellow lefties, speaking a similar political language, can explain the benefits of the 2nd Amendment to the avid gun-grabbers down here.

    I’ve been thinking of moving to the State of Jefferson for a number of years. As much as I love Santa Cruz and CA’s Central Coast (I was born only three hours south of here and have lived in the area most of my life), I think I would relocate to Jefferson State in a heartbeat if I could maintain a decent income, or if I had independent means. Sadly, their local industry has been depressed for many years. Perhaps, as a first step, true libertarians and individualists from Silicon Valley could relocate to establish a center of “clean” software and service industry in Jefferson. Call it a “Free The State Project,” if you will.

  14. A state of Jefferson would present an almost ideal location for something analogous to the Free State Project. Aside from the apparent political dispositions of the place (Greens who like guns vs. cranky woodsmen who want to be left alone), it presents an opportunity to “start from scratch”:

    Will the state of Jefferson instititute an income tax? Will it institute drug prohibition? Will it bother to reconstitute its own version of each and every regulator agency found in its parents states? Will it write into its constitution an iron-clad guarantee of gun rights? How much autonomy will local governments have?

    The first session of the Jefferson legislature would have to debate these issues. Although I harbor no illusions that the libertarian side would prevail on all or even most of these, surely there would be some victories, based on the (apparent) political predispositions of the electorate.

    Indeed, the lefty types might make for strong advocates of decentralization and local control if they believed that the more conservative types would command a majority in the new state. (Then again, there’s no telling whether conservatives would remain committed to principles if they saw a clear majority for themselves.)

  15. There have been been quixotic attempts to divorce all or part of Long Island from NY State, as far back as the 1830’s. Scroll down about 60% on this page:
    http://www.newsday.com/extras/lihistory/lihj/lihj98.htm

    There was also a light-hearted late 1970’s campaign for the secession of the off-shore islands and peninsulae, such as Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard south to the east end of Long Island, to form a new country, The Windmill Antilles. Instead of Uncle Sam, they’d have Windmill Aunt Tillie. Nantucket and the Cape had a statehood movement, motivated by losing legislative seats that got merged with one’s on the mainland of Massachusetts.

    More on NW secesh @

    http://www2.jeffnet.org/state_of_jeff.html

    “More Recently . . .

    Again in 1956 groups from Cave Junction and Dunsmuir wreaked minor havoc in their respective state capitals by threatening to secede and take the “State of Shasta” with them. Quick action on their grievances at the state level temporarily mollified them.”

    Some loons wanted to take NY City out of the Empire State in the 70’s. The PBS NewsHour had its origins in a WNET local news show called The 51st State. This trial balloon quickly went bust when it was pointed out that half the city’s budget consisted of funds sent down from Albany. Even with that, the Big Apple had to go into receivership at the end of the decade.

    Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, sometimes along with some Northern Wisconsin counties, have had agitation for a State of Superior.

    Kevin

  16. When I lived in Klamath Falls I was a registered Libertarian. A local guy got my name as well as all other registered Libertarians off the county voter list and invited us to a picnic. Three people showed up including him. They had their wives in tow. They were Democrats.

    There is alot of “state of mind” thinking going on, but there are still alot of mainstream ranchers and loggers whose families go back 150+ years. But 20 years ago when I was there the place was filling up with crackpots, some of them very dangerous.

  17. Douglas Fletcher,

    Those Canadian provinces home to small, but growing, secessionist groups you were wondering about are British Columbia and Alberta.

  18. As a Palo Alto resident I have often wanted to secede from my idiot city. As many as 5 different states have been proposed to carve California into, all to no avail.
    I have always believed that
    seccession must be made easier. People should not be shotgun wedded and kept that way. When in the course… You know the drill.

  19. The way to unite the Greens and Libertarians is through a “left” libertarian philosphy…

    http://holisticpolitics.org

  20. another minor movement: A small number of people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the top third of the Lower Peninsula want to take that area and split off into a new state. Proposed name for the new state is Superior.

  21. Heh. I lived there (Ashland, OR) fer 4 years.
    The State of Jeffersom stuff is all over (the local NPR affiliate is ‘Jefferson public radio’, there’s a state of jefferson travel guide, ISP, chamber of commerce, and even a local beer named fer it.) The unofficial motto is ‘A State of mind’. Mostly it’s not very serious. The folks who started the serious seccesion movement in the ’30s and ’40s basically got overshadowed (they were going to go nationwide on newsreels in 1941 to promote their cause, but, their message, planned to go out on Dec 8th, 1941, never did, due to erm…. Other events showing up.)

    BTW, the ‘official seal’ of the State of Jefferson is a gold pan with 2 X-es on it. The local folks were feeling ‘double-crossed’, you see…

  22. BTW, if Jefferson ever did become an actual state, it probably would be the only state in the union where the main political contests would be between the Green party and the Libertarians. The population is rougly a 50-50 mix of Green leaning NewAge-y types, and staunchly independant, mind-yer-own-business woods-folk and farmers (with a few deeply conservative, but well off-mainstream, religious groups thrown in fer good measure). There is almost no centrist middle-of-the-road types.

    There’s also quite a local gun culture. Even the left-ish types are often fond of going ‘up in the hills’ to plink cans, & wonder what all the fuss about firearms is for.

  23. The only such secession movement I can think of ever suceeding is West Virgina, and that was during the Civil War. Parts of colonies were split off, but not while they were states in the union. Each of the 50 states exists as a pretty organic entity at this point, even if there were various levels are arbitariness when their borders were drawn. I can’t imagine any such thing happening while the existing political order remains.

  24. CA secession might actually be well-received:

    In CA, the fiscal benefits are clear. CA pays more in federal taxes than it receives in federal spending, so even if CA took over all functions currently done in and on its borders by the feds it would still have a surplus.

    In the rest of the US, the GOP might be receptive. Current predictions for the current Presidential election run the gamut from tossup to easy victory for Bush. No matter which camp you fall in, it’s clear removing a bloc of 55 electoral votes guaranteed to the Democrats would be enough to guarantee victory for Bush this year. And even though there’s no way CA secession would happen this year, it’s clear that in future elections the GOP would be in a much better position if that bloc of 55 Democratic electors was removed.

    The House and Senate remain closely divided. The GOP has an edge, but it’s a small one. Removing 2 Democratic Senators and a House delegation that leans Democrat by a margin of 30-20 or so would give the GOP a much more comfortable position.

    OK, it isn’t likely to happen, but one can dream….

  25. Is Colorado a state?
    Why?

  26. I, for one, would be extremely happy to see California ejected from the Union.

    Will in Colorado

  27. > how much better off California as a whole could be if we seceeded from the union.

    How would California fair without the water coming in, without the military contracts and bases? (Don’t believe the US would let the bases go). The Navaho nation could bloom with all the water diverted from the Colorado. Owens Valley, the whole of the land east of the Sierra’s could stay with the US. If Cally thinks the price of a gallon of gas is high, water could go higher.

    In theory, California is composed of Americans!

  28. It would so totally kick ass if the English-speaking Canadians broke off and joined the US!

  29. The first leak in the dam union will be DC. The formation of a citi-state will be the ruin of the US. The government bldgs and grounds could go to the state parks, the government branches and departments disperse around the country to help spread the wealth, join the distantly governed, and foil terrorism and missle targeting. The city proper of DC should go back to Maryland just like Alexandria went back to Virginia. Maybe the cesspool that is DC could be diluted — dilution is the solution. Or, upstate NY would get its wish and see NYC become a citi-state, being more populous than most states. Then Houston, Philadelphia, LA, Chicago, etc would join in, making the flag become a field of white stars intermeshed with blue stars,or the red and white stripes taking up less room than the field of blue with a hundred stars.

  30. The constitution of the State of Texas, as approved by the US Congress for entry into the Union, allows for the division of the State into as many a six separate states at the consent of the citizens of Texas.

  31. D.C.nians should be allowed to register to vote in any state of their choosing. Teddy would be re-elected for life.

  32. JC,

    I live in Maryland. Trust me, we don’t want DC back. It’s what one would call “damaged goods.”

  33. Marylanders and Virginians are perfectly happy to earn their money in the district, then spend it thd suburbs, all the while talking about what a shithole DC is.

    Wait, that’s not fair. They buy their liquor, coke and hookers in DC.

  34. I have a vision: Jefferson becomes a state, adding apparently a small, conservative, rural state. To maintain political balance, DC becomes a state, adding a small, liberal, urban state.

    Balance is maintained, and the people living in those respective states get more autonomy and representation.

  35. Where do you think the capital of Jefferson would be? On the State of Jefferson website (I forget the URL), they list possible candidates as Eureka, Redding, and Medford, Oregon. I would suggest Redding, since it’s located on I-5 and the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad linking California’s cities, Portland, and Seattle. I’m not sure, but I think it has airline service too. It becoming a capital city would certainly become a commercial boost for it.

    There are some websites about making upstate New York a separate state. If that ever came about,I might suggest the name of Genesee. I believe that was a region near Buffalo which became a phrase for much of the Upstate region in pioneer days.

    If DC became an independent state, what would its postal code be? CL for Columbia? What would New York City be if it secedes from the state? Would they have to bend the rules and allow for a three-letter postal code (NYC)?

    You gotta admit, it’s fun to imagine redrawing the map. Almost like creating your own country.

  36. Where do you think the capital of Jefferson would be? On the State of Jefferson website (I forget the URL), they list possible candidates as Eureka, Redding, and Medford, Oregon. I would suggest Redding, since it’s located on I-5 and the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad linking California’s cities, Portland, and Seattle. I’m not sure, but I think it has airline service too. It becoming a capital city would certainly become a commercial boost for it.

    There are some websites about making upstate New York a separate state. If that ever came about,I might suggest the name of Genesee. I believe that was a region near Buffalo which became a phrase for much of the Upstate region in pioneer days.

    If DC became an independent state, what would its postal code be? CL for Columbia? What would New York City be if it secedes from the state? Would they have to bend the rules and allow for a three-letter postal code (NYC)?

    You gotta admit, it’s fun to imagine redrawing the map. Almost like creating your own country.

  37. The capitol should be Happy Camp – because its in the center of Jefferson and we want more tourists to come through here.

    I find it funny that people think there’s a lot of Libertarians here. My current poll at http://www.happycampnews.com shows this isn’t the case.

    [From a member of the State of Jefferson Citizen’s Committee]

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