by Shorty Dawkins
Modoc and Siskiyou Counties, at the northern tip of California, have decided they want to look into seceding from the State and form a new State, tentatively called Jefferson. At least their respective County Boards of Supervisors have voted to do so. Supervisors in Butte County, a bit further South, have scheduled a vote for Oct. 22. Siskiyou Supervisors voted Sept. 3rd to begin the process, while Modoc voted 4-0, (with one absent), on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
It is the hope of Mark Baird, a spokesperson for the Jefferson Declaration Committee, to have 12 Counties join the effort, though he indicated they could do it with less.
The northern California Counties are not alone in their efforts to secede and form a new State, as this article posted on the Oath Keeper website indicates. A number of Colorado Counties are also intent on pursuing secession.
The secession movements in both States are driven by a growing rural-urban divide. The Counties feel they are not represented by their States over a variety of issues. As opposed to the larger globalization movement sweeping across the world, these Counties are seeking to decentralize authority, not to centralize it.
Large metropolitan areas have different concerns than less populated rural areas. Agriculture, ranching, timber and mining are on the minds of the rural areas. It is the highly populated metropolitan areas that have the political clout, however. It is the lack of political clout that is the main driver of the secession movements.
Does it make sense for metropolitan politicians to decide the political fate of rural towns of farmers, lumber workers and miners? In a perfect world it might not matter, but in reality, the group with the clout gets their programs and laws passed, while the low man on the totem pole has to suffer the will of the larger populated areas. Bigger is not always better. Centralized is not always the best way to go. Quite the opposite. One size does not fit all.
The framers of our Constitution recognized this simple fact. It is why they designed a system of a small General Government with limited powers, while leaving those powers not delegated to the General Government to the States and the People. Maine and Georgia are very different. It is nonsensical to give the General Government wide-ranging powers over both States. Let the individual States fashion their own laws, within the confines of the Constitution, that suit them. One size does not fit all. Unfortunately, the various States that joined the original thirteen, were generally arbitrarily drawn, and new cities and industrial areas were built up in an almost haphazard manner. Large States, in particular, had large agricultural and forested areas in one region and heavily industrialized areas in others.
When a County, or several Counties, feel divorced from their State, there is a mechanism to remedy the situation, though it is difficult and has rarely been used.
Step 1: The people of the area wishing to secede must vote to do so.
Step 2: The seceding region must obtain the permission of the State they wish to leave.
Step 3: Assuming the first 2 steps are successful, a new State Constitution must be drawn up and approved by the voters.
Step 4: The final step is to apply to the Federal Government for admission to the Union as a new State.
As can readily be seen, it is not an easy process. It is. To put it mildly, a political minefield. The region to successfully secede from a State and be approved for entry as a new State was West Virginia. This happened during the Civil War.
The following is the history of the formation of West Virginia:
“In Richmond on April 17, 1861, the 49 delegates from the future state of West Virginia voted 17 in favor of the Ordinance of Secession which provided for Virginia’s secession from the Union, 30 voted against, and two of those delegates abstained. Almost immediately after the adoption of the ordinance a mass meeting at Clarksburg recommended that each county in north-western Virginia send delegates to a convention to meet in Wheeling on May 13, 1861.
When the First Wheeling Convention met, four hundred and twenty-five delegates from twenty-five counties were present, but soon there was a division of sentiment. Some delegates favored the immediate formation of a new state, while others argued that, as Virginia’s secession had not yet been ratified or become effective, such action would constitute revolution against the United States. It was decided that if the ordinance were adopted (of which there was little doubt) another convention including the members-elect of the legislature should meet at Wheeling in June.
At the election (May 23, 1861), secession was ratified by a large majority in the state as a whole. But, in the western counties that would form the state of West Virginia the vote was approximately 34,677 against and 19,121 for ratification of the Ordinance of Secession.
The Second Wheeling Convention met as agreed on June 11 and adopted “A Declaration of the People of Virginia.” The document, drafted by former state senator John S. Carlile, declared that since the Secession Convention had been called without the consent of the people, all its acts were illegal. It further declared the pro-secession government in Richmond void and called for a reorganization of the state government, taking the line that all who adhered to the Ordinance of Secession had effectively vacated their offices. An act for the reorganization of the government was passed on June 19. The next day Francis H. Pierpont was chosen governor of the “Restored Government of Virginia,” other officers were elected and the convention adjourned. The legislature, composed of the members from the western counties who had been elected on May 23 and some of the holdover senators who had been elected in 1859, met at Wheeling on July 1, filled the remainder of the state offices, completed the reorganization of the state government and elected two United States senators who were recognized by Washington. There were, therefore, two governments claiming to represent all of Virginia, one owing allegiance to the United States and one to the Confederacy.
There had been sentiment even before the war for the northwestern counties of Virginia to break away and form a new state. However, the federal Constitution did not allow a new state to be created out of an existing state unless the existing state’s legislature gave its assent. The pro-northern Restored Government asserted its authority to give such approval, and authorized the creation of the state of Kanawha, consisting of most of the counties that now comprise West Virginia. A little over one month later, Kanawha was renamed West Virginia. The Wheeling Convention, which had taken a recess until August 6, reassembled on August 20 and called for a popular vote on the formation of a new state and for a convention to frame a constitution if the vote should be favorable.
West Virginia Independence Hall, site of the Wheeling Convention.
At the election (October 24, 1861), 18,408 votes were cast for the new state and only 781 against. At this time West Virginia had nearly 70,000 qualified voters, and the May 23 vote on secession had drawn nearly 54,000 voters. However most of the pro-Confederate elements no longer considered themselves citizens of the United States; they saw themselves as citizens of another country (the Confederacy) and did not vote in elections sponsored by the United States. Votes from the secessionist counties in the October 24 vote on statehood were mostly cast by refugees in the area around Wheeling, not in the counties themselves. In secessionist counties where a poll was conducted it was by military intervention. Even in some counties that had voted against secession, such as Wayne and Cabell, it was necessary to send in Union soldiers.
Returns from some counties were as low as 5%, e.g. Raleigh County 32-0 in favor of statehood, Clay 76-0, Braxton 22-0, and some gave no returns at all. The Constitutional Convention began on November 26, 1861 and finished its work on February 18, 1862, and the instrument was ratified (18,162 for and 514 against) on April 11, 1862.
The composition of the members of all three Wheeling Conventions, the May (First) Convention, the June (Second) Convention, and the Constitutional Convention, was of an irregular nature. The members of the May Convention were chosen by groups of Unionists, mostly in the far Northwestern counties. Over one-third came from the counties around the northern panhandle. The May Convention resolved to meet again in June should the Ordinance of Secession be ratified by public poll on May 23, 1861, which it was. The June Convention consisted of 104 members, 35 of which were members of the General Assembly in Richmond, some elected in the May 23rd vote, and some hold-over State Senators. Arthur Laidley, elected to the General Assembly from Cabell County, attended the June Convention but refused to take part. The other delegates to the June Convention were “chosen even more irregularly-some in mass meetings, others by county committee, and still others were seemingly self-appointed”. It was this June Convention which drafted the Statehood resolution. The Constitutional Convention met in November 1861, and consisted of 61 members. Its composition was just as irregular. A delegate representing Logan County was accepted as a member of this body, though he did not live in Logan County, and his “credentials consisted of a petition signed by fifteen persons representing six families”. The large number of Northerners at this convention caused great distrust over the new Constitution during Reconstruction years. In 1872, under the leadership of Samuel Price, former Lt. Governor of Virginia, the Wheeling constitution was discarded, and an entirely new one was written along ante-bellum principles.
At first the Wheeling politicians controlled only a small part of West Virginia. However Federal forces soon drove the Confederates out of most of West Virginia.
On May 13, the state legislature of the reorganized government approved the formation of the new state. An application for admission to the Union was made to Congress, and on December 31, 1862 an enabling act was approved by President Lincoln admitting West Virginia on the condition that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted in the Constitution. The Convention was reconvened on February 12, 1863, and the demand was met. The revised constitution was adopted on March 26, 1863, and on April 20, 1863 President Lincoln issued a proclamation admitting the state at the end of sixty days (June 20, 1863). Meanwhile officers for the new state were chosen, and Governor Pierpont moved his capital to Alexandria from which he asserted jurisdiction over the counties of Virginia within the Federal lines.”
As can be seen, it was the secession of Virginia from the Union which was the catalyst for the creation of West Virginia. Since West Virginia’s formation and entrance into the Union, no secession movement has been successful, though there have been many attempts.
Throughout California’s history, there have been more than 220 attempts to divide California into multiple states including at least 27 serious proposals
SUPPORT OUR BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN
Placing billboards outside of military bases to remind service members of their oath
Please donate and support Oath Keepers mission, every little bit helps!