Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Other California & Oregon Counties May Be Jumping on “State of Jefferson” Bandwagon

The fires of secession lit in California’s remote northern Siskiyou County last month (as first reported in this blog) may be spreading. The county’s board of supervisors voted 4-1 on September 3rd (as reported here) to seek separation from the rest of California as the State of Jefferson, with the idea that other counties in northern California and southern Oregon might join in.  Talk of northern California splitting off, as either the State of Klamath, the State of Siskiyou, or the State of Shasta, dates to the 1850s, but the far more serious State of Jefferson movement in 1941 aimed to create a 49th state out of California’s three northern border counties and a seven-county block in Oregon’s mountainous southwest.  Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor chased Jeffersonian statehood off of people’s priority lists, but some feel it may be time again.  By now, the idea of splitting from ultra-liberal California is a pipe dream not of farmers and loggers, as in earlier eras, but of Republicans of the Tea Party persuasion who have a beef with the state government’s approaches to guns, taxes, and the environment.  California’s usual rural–urban and north–south rifts over water allocation play a role as well.

It took a week or so, but other counties have started chiming in.  To Siskiyou’s east, the board of supervisors in Modoc County, which borders both Nevada and Oregon, plans to vote on secession on September 24th.  Members of the board of commissioners in Klamath County, one of Oregon’s original “Jefferson” counties, said this week that they found the secession idea appealing and would confer with their Siskiyou counterparts this month or next on the subject.  Klamath borders Siskiyou, whose county seat, Yreka, was in 1941 the proposed Jeffersonian state capital.

I’m not sure this metaphor works.  What’s inherently “independent” about toilet paper?
And who wants their T.P. rough anyway?
Then, on September 10th, a member of the public urged the board of supervisors of Tehama County, a large rural jurisdiction to Siskiyou’s south, to consider joining a secessionist State of Jefferson; the citizen, Tom Mohler, promised to begin organizing a petition to that effect.  In fact, a rancher and radio broadcaster in Yreka, Mark Baird, says he has had expressions of support from no fewer than fifteen California counties.

Over the years, proposals for which counties should be in a State of Jefferson have varied.
Most politicians at the state level or higher pooh-pooh the idea as impractical while acknowledging the ideological rift that divides California’s urbanites from the less populous hinterlands.  But Doug LaMalfa, of the United States House of Representatives, told media that if the majority of citizens in the region supported a State of Jefferson then he would too.  He even, who knows how seriously, offered his services as governor.  Rep. LaMalfa represents California’s 1st Congressional Districts, which includes Siskiyou and covers a large inland swath of the state’s northeast, almost to Lake Tahoe.

It remains to be seen if Jefferson statehood will catch on as quickly as last month’s secessionist rebellion in northeastern Colorado, where eleven states now plan to include a referendum on the formation of a State of North Colorado or New Colorado on the November ballot.  (See my articles on North Colorado here and here.)  Already, the 2013 Jefferson statehood movement is eclipsing last year’s aims to set up a State of South California, consisting mostly of Republican-dominated areas of rural south and central California, plus, oddly, San Diego (a movement discussed in detail at the time in this blog).  I predict more counties will be lining up to join the movement soon—though perhaps without the original proposed state’s coastal counties, which are a little less rural and isolated now than they were in 1941.

A State of Jefferson flag displayed in the history museum in Klamath County, Oregon
[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.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon