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8 Secessionist Movements in American History

Rob Lammle
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We all know about the Confederate states leaving the Union. But that was far from the only secessionist movement in American history. Here are some rebellious regions you won't find in too many history books.

1. The Kingdom of Beaver Island

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2. The State of Superior

Concern over a perceived lack of interest from the Michigan state government, the people of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.), affectionately known as "Yoopers," have been trying to secede and form the State of Superior since as far back as 1897. The movement gained momentum after 1957 when a bridge connecting the U.P. region to Lower Michigan made it easier for southern "Trolls" (people who live "below the bridge") and Yoopers to mingle. This animosity continued into the mid-1980s, when 20,000 signatures were collected and submitted to the state for a secession request. However, the number was shy of the 36,000 required, and the request subsequently denied. The secessionist drive lives on today, as numerous grassroots organizations are trying to muster support for another official attempt at an independent U.P. Until that day comes, though, the Yoopers and Trolls will just have to try to get along.

3. The Great Republic of Rough and Ready

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But just three months later, as the Fourth of July approached, The Great Republic of Rough and Ready wanted to have a celebration (which seems odd considering they were no longer, technically, Americans). When nearby Nevada City wouldn't sell liquor to "foreign miners," it was decided that maybe America wasn't so bad after all. The townspeople voted themselves back into the Union on the very same day and the party went off as planned.

4. The Conch Republic

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5. The State of Absaroka

Feeling that the Democratic southern half of Wyoming was not working in conjunction with the rest of the state, a secessionist movement was launched by northern Republicans in 1939 to create a new state that would better serve its more conservative population. This state, Absaroka—so named after the nearby mountain range—was to be made up of northern Wyoming, southeast Montana, and the western region of South Dakota. While the secessionist movement was never very large or pursued through legal channels, that didn't stop A. R. Swickard, the street commissioner of Sheridan, WY, from appointing himself governor of the "state."

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The movement went so far as to press Absaroka license plates and crown a Miss Absaroka beauty queen. Absaroka could even brag about a visit from a foreign dignitary, King Haakon VII of Norway (though he was officially visiting Wyoming and just happened to be in Absaroka).

Despite all of the hoopla, the state never came to be, and now, so many years later, the intent of the secessionist movement is in question. Some believe there was a genuine attempt to create a new state, while others say it was just a fun way for cowboys to distract themselves during tough economic times.

6. The State of Jefferson

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On December 4, 1941, Judge John Childs was elected governor of Jefferson in the state's temporary capital of Yreka, CA. The event was filmed by numerous newsreel companies who were set to air the footage during the week of December 8th. History had other plans, as the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor the day before the big premiere. Driven by a sense of national obligation, the Jefferson secession was put aside and never really regained momentum. While the official movement might have died out, the residents of this region still hold the concept in their hearts, with many identifying themselves even today as the population of the great state of Jefferson.

7. The McDonald Territory

Noel, Missouri, located in McDonald County in the far southwest corner of the Show Me State, has been a popular tourist destination for many years. Therefore, when the Missouri State Highway Commission left Noel off their annual "Family Vacationland" map in 1961, the region was not happy pleased. To display their dissatisfaction, McDonald County drew up papers of secession and presented them to the state legislature, declaring itself the independent McDonald Territory. The county went so far as to elect officials, form a territorial militia, and even printed up visas that were issued to visitors so they could travel throughout the territory.

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And here's one more secessionist movement recently covered here on the _floss:

8. Alaska For decades, a well-organized separatist movement has campaigned to turn America's largest state into its own nation. The bitterness dates back to 1958, when Alaska's citizens were given a simple yes-or-no vote on statehood. Many Alaskans felt they were denied more options on the issue, prompting a land developer named Joe Vogler to organize a re-vote that would offer Alaskans four possibilities—remain a territory, become a state, take commonwealth status, or become a separate nation. Using the vote as his platform, Vogler ran for governor in 1974—and soon made a habit of it. With colorful slogans such as, "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions," Vogler spearheaded the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP), and his campaign has twice topped 5 percent of the vote. More surprisingly, former U.S. interior secretary Wally Hickel got elected governor on the AIP ticket in 1990. Unfortunately for the party, Hickel only ran on the ticket because he lost the Republican primary. Never a supporter of the plebiscite idea, Hickel left the AIP and rejoined the Republicans in 1994. Today, the AIP continues to draw about 4 percent of voters statewide. And in 2006, Alaska took part in the first-ever North American Secessionist Convention, joining other groups from Vermont, Hawaii, and the South. As for Vogler, he was murdered in 1993—reportedly the result of an argument over a business deal. On a brighter note, honoring his wish to never be buried in U.S. soil, Vogler was laid to rest in Canada's Yukon Territory. "“Jeff Fleischer (From '9 Modern-Day Independence Movements')

Rob Lammle is probably the only cartographer you'll ever meet who has an English degree. Read more on his own site, spacemonkeyx.com.

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Forgotten American Border Disputes
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The George Costanza Candy Identification Quiz

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