Thursday, August 15, 2013

Colorado’s Secession Wildfire Spreads to Northern California: Siskiyouans Raise “State of Jefferson” Flag


The push among a handful of northeastern Colorado counties to form a 51st state of the United States at first seemed part of the political silly season, and a tongue-in-cheek redneck riposte to the state’s decriminalization of marijuana last year.  (See a recent report on the statehood movement in this blog.)  But the idea hasn’t gone away, and is even picking up steam—and maybe spreading to other parts of the inland west.


[Note: For North Colorado and 51st-state updates since this article was published, see this recent article.)


Siskiyou County, California
In California’s mountainous north, along the border with Oregon, the board of supervisors for Siskiyou County, northern California’s largest subdivision, apparently considered a resolution on August 13th to secede from California and become a separate state.  The resolution was put forward by an organization called Scott Valley Protect Our Water.

... or 51st ... or 52nd ... ?
As has often been the case in the long history of California partition movements, water resources are the source of political divisions, with rural northerners’ resentment of the thirst of Southern Californian cities being the key grievance.  (See the 1974 film Chinatown for an inkling of how intractably corrupt California’s hydropolitics are.)  However, there are strong hints of Tea Party–style partisanship and red-state-vs.-blue-state animosities here as well—much in the manner of the Republican-driven South California secession movement in the rural high deserts east of San Diego and Los Angeles, as reported on in this blog late last year.  The new Siskiyou resolution cites Second Amendment rights and “property rights violations” (which is Teabonics for “any environmental regulation whatsoever”) along with the usual gripes about diversion of water.  The resolution calls for “a ‘New State’ which represents the needs, provides opportunity, protects the rights, liberties, public health, and safety of the people of the new State of Jefferson.”
Some envision even more counties joining.
“The State of Jefferson”??  Yes, as in Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition more than 200 years ago that brought this corner of the continent into the U.S. fold in the first place.  Students of history will recall that in 1941 the mayor of Port Orford, Oregon, called for four southwestern Oregon counties—Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath—and the three Californian ones along the border—Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc—to form a new State of Jefferson.  Yreka, the Siskiyou County seat, was to be the capital.  Water was the issue there, mostly.  However, the attack on Pearl Harbor suddenly put secession way far down the local political agenda, behind victory gardens and scanning the coast for Japanese submarines.  In the Tea Party era, the State of Jefferson idea has been revived, and some rural barns in the region sport the large State of Jefferson flag, which has two Xes (see photo at the top of this article) representing city-slickers’ “double-crossing” of rural people and their interests.

On December 6, 1941, the State of Jefferson rebellion was big news.
On December 7, 1941, other matters grabbed headlines, dooming the movement.
Last year, in the largely racially-undertoned backlash to Barack Obama’s reelection, the State of Jefferson was, along with all 50 states, one of the entities demanding secession from the United States in a wave of petitions that filled up the White House’s “We the People” feedback page (as reported at the time in this blog (with a follow-up article as well)).  The only other non-state movement represented by such a petition was the Republic of Molossia, a micronation near Reno, Nevada.


How California might be bifurcated is a parlor game as old as the state itself.  In addition to the State of Jefferson, some have suggested calling a northern entity the State of Klamath, the State of Siskiyou, or—in the days before the Colorado Territory was admitted—the State of Colorado.  (Just to make things more confusing, the Colorado Territory briefly considered calling itself the State of Jefferson upon admission.)

Colorado’s secessionist heartland
Speaking of which: things are moving ahead in the Mountain State as well.  County commissioners in Weld County, where the North Colorado statehood movement began earlier this summer, told media on August 12th that eight counties are solidly on board (many more are interested, including some in Nebraska) and that the envisioned 51st state is to be called New Colorado (slightly less derivative and lame than North Colorado, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of North Carolina already having the postal abbreviation NC).


Weld County is committed to putting secession on the ballot.  And, just to its southeast, Morgan County’s board of commissioners has now set a deadline of August 26th for the gathering of 2,300 signatures—15% of the electorate—to put it on the ballot there as well.  The race has begun!

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it some time in 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

1 comment:

  1. If at first you don't Secede......try, try again!

    ReplyDelete

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