Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Secesh Talk from the disgruntled citizens of Bigfoot country

"We have nothing in common with you people down south. Nothing," said Randy Bashaw, manager of the Jefferson State Forest Products lumber mill in the Trinity County hamlet of Hayfork. "The sooner we're done with all you people, the better."

A movement for the upper tier of counties in California, along with the southernmost part of Oregon, to secede and form the State of Jefferson, first gained steam in 1941 but was pushed out of the news by the attack on Pearl Harbor. It's not an idea that has entirely gone away, however, as the articles at this web site attest.

The people of this sparsely populated region feel ignored by Sacramento and Salem, though surprisingly the people of Yreka (pronounced Why-reeka), the "cradle of secession" in this part of the country, live closer to the state capital of California than do 2/3rds of the rest of the state's citizenry. And this even though Yreka is close to the border of Oregon. Many people do not appreciate the sheer length of the Golden State. At it's most distant points, it is 770 miles long (with 840 miles of coastline). That's farther than the distance from Chicago to Atlanta. Even though San Francisco is 400 miles north of Los Angeles, there is still over 300 miles of country above San Francisco before one hits the Oregon line.

I'm sure the secessionists are right to feel forgotten in the halls of power, but democratic power is (in theory) determined by votes, and the votes are in the population centers. San Diego is 500 miles from Sacramento, but it's also one of the largest cities in America.

Secessionists in the antebellum era could see the writing on the wall. The same principle was at work. For most of the life of the Union up to the Civil War, the political power of the slave states kept pace, even dominated the three branches of the federal government. But the shift was steady and inevitable. In 1860, only one of the nation's ten largest cities, New Orleans (168,675), was in a slave state, and its population was just a fraction of that of New York (813,669) and Philadelphia (565,529). In 1859, on the eve of the war, there were 237 seats in Congress (following the admission of Oregon). If I've done my math right, counting the border states of MO, KY, DE, and MD., slave states were able to muster 90 Congressmen before the admission of Kansas, versus 147 Congressmen from free soil states. With the vast territories of the West lining up for statehood, and northern population expanding exponentiallyand spilling out into the Westit's not hard to understand why southern states with a common overriding interest, slavery, decided to start the game over with a new Congress all their own.

Alas, the good people of the State of Jefferson don't have much in the way of armories, mints, or shipyards to seize, nor do they have a Robert E. Lee. So they're going to have to do this the hard way, through legislation. And that brings us back to the problem of votes, something else they don't have enough of.

[at top: the flag of the State of Jefferson. One source says the two X's signify the double-crossing by the state capitals of Oregon and California. Purchase all your stylish State of Jefferson gear here.]

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