List of U.S. state partition proposals

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Since the establishment of the United States in 1776, there have been many proposals put before the Congress to partition an existing state or states in order that a region within might either join another state or to create a new state. Article Four of the United States Constitution provides that:

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Of the 37 states admitted to the Union by Congress (added on equal footing with the 13 original states), four have been created from parts of an existing state:

The following is a list of U.S. state partition proposals. Proposals to secede from the Union are not included. Neither are proposals to create states from either organized incorporated or unorganized U.S. territories.

Arizona

  • In February 2011, Tucson politicians and activists formed the group "Start our State," to advocate secession for Pima County and other southern counties to create a state called "Baja Arizona". The group wanted the Pima County Board of Supervisors to put the issue on the 2012 ballot, but it was rejected by the Board due to lack of authority, so the group circulated petitions.[1] Interest in secession grew when Republican Governor Jan Brewer and her allies enacted Arizona SB 1070, regarding illegal immigration.[2] Furthermore, the state had passed laws affecting Tucson elections and how the city bids for public works projects.[3] A historical justification was found in that the northern part of Arizona was ceded to the United States in 1848, but that the southern part of Arizona, south of the Gila River, was acquired by the United States in 1854 with the Gadsden Purchase.[citation needed]

California

Colorado

  • In the mid-1930s, the Walsenburg World-Independent proposed that Huerfano County secede from the state.[4] This was a pet project of Sam T. Taylor, a sports editor, who went on to become a long-serving state senator,[5] continuing to pursue the idea unsuccessfully.[6]
  • In 1973, nearby Costilla County had expressed interest in seceding from Colorado and joining New Mexico.[7]
  • On June 6, 2013, commissioners in Weld County announced a proposal to secede and to form the state of North Colorado, citing concerns with state policy and recently enacted legislation relating to the region’s main economic drivers, including agriculture and energy. The commissioners stated that they would hold public meetings to gather input before crafting a ballot initiative by August 1, and that the proposal had aroused preliminary interest from fellow commissioners in Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma and Kit Carson counties.[8]

Florida

  • Politicians in the South Florida metropolitan area have made proposals to split Florida into two states - North Florida and South Florida. One such proposal was made in 2008 by the North Lauderdale commissioners.[9] The idea occasionally pops up in later news articles.[10]

    "We'd have Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami. They'd have Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. We'd have Donald Trump. They'd have Donald Duck. We'd have the Keys. They'd have the Redneck Riviera. We'd have Big Sugar. They'd have Big Citrus. We'd have the Dolphins and the Hurricanes. They'd have the Gators and the 'Noles. We'd have the Everglades. They'd have Busch Gardens. We'd have casinos. They'd have school prayer. We'd have same-sex marriages. They'd have the defense-of-marriage act." - Michael Mayo, writer for the Sun-Sentinel[10]

Georgia

  • In the late 1850s, a local politician threatened to have Dade County secede from the state of Georgia if the latter did not leave the Union. The result was that the area was termed "State of Dade". In 1939, when Georgia purchased land that would become Cloudland Canyon State Park, the State of Dade finally had a road connecting them to Georgia (prior to this, they only had roads to Tennessee and Alabama). In 1945, the State of Dade passed a resolution to officially rejoin Georgia.[11]

Idaho

  • An early twentieth century proposal cited a desire for portions of northern Idaho and eastern Washington to form a state named Lincoln[12]

Illinois

  • Between 1840 and 1842, several northern counties in Illinois, including Jo Daviess County, Stephenson County, Winnebago County and Boone County, voted to reattach to Wisconsin, from which the counties were ceded to Illinois by Congress in 1818. The split was precipitated by the mutual antagonism between northerners and southerners due to social and political differences. The split was never realized due to lack of support from Chicago and Cook County, as the benefits of the Illinois and Michigan Canal linking northern to central and southern Illinois outweighed secession.[13]
  • In 1861, the southern region of Illinois, known as Little Egypt, proposed secession due to cultural and political differences from Chicago and much of Central and Northern Illinois.[14][15]
  • In 1925, Cook County considered secession to create the state of Chicago.[16]
  • In the early 1970s, residents in western Illinois were upset over the allocation of state funds for transportation, prompting a student at Western Illinois University to declare 16 counties the Republic of Forgottonia. Although the declaration was meant to be a joke, the secession idea was picked up by the Western Illinois Regional Council, until State Representative Doug Kane showed that the counties had received funding that was more than what they paid in state taxes.[17]
  • In November 2011, State Representatives Bill Mitchell and Adam Brown introduced a proposal to make Cook County a state of its own. They felt that all of Illinois outside of Cook County should become a separate state, due to Chicago's "dictating its views" to the rest of the state.[18]

Kansas

  • In 1992, a group in southwestern Kansas advocated the secession of a number of counties in that region from the state. Nominally headed by Don O. Concannon, a lawyer and former gubernatorial candidate from Hugoton, the group called the new state name "West Kansas", a state bird (pheasant), and a state flower (yucca). The proposal was in reaction to laws raising real estate taxes, and shifting state education funding away from rural school districts and into more urban areas. Though organizers arranged for a series of straw polls that demonstrated widespread support for secession in nine counties,[19] the movement died out by the mid-1990s.[20]

Maine

  • Maine was initially part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts before being admitted to the Union as a state in 1820. However, its boundary with British North America (now Canada) had been in dispute for several decades. In 1827, John Baker unilaterally declared the disputed territory (now part of Aroostook County) to be the "Republic of Madawaska". The declaration was rejected by Maine in 1831. Following the undeclared Aroostook War in 1838-39, the United States and United Kingdom signed the Webster-Ashburton Treaty on August 9, 1842 to settle the border issue.
  • In 1998 and again in 2005, state representative Henry Joy proposed legislation to partition Maine into northern and southern states. He cited concern for the rural northern part being affected by "anti-business policies" and "overzealous environmental safeguards," and related the southern part to an extension of Massachusetts.[21]

Maryland

  • Westsylvania, proposed during the American Revolution, would have been created from parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia and a small part of Maryland.
  • In 1998, state legislator Richard F. Colburn proposed to the Maryland General Assembly that a referendum be held to allow nine counties representing the Eastern Shore to secede from the state. They would invite counties from Delaware and Virginia to form the state of Delmarva.[22][23][24]
  • In September 2009, Frederick County Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. proposed that the county secede from Maryland because the county pays more to state government in taxes than it receives in services and benefits. The proposal was rejected by the other commissioners in the county.[25]
  • In February 2014, it was reported that residents from Western Maryland started petitions to form a new state, citing taxes and gun control as issues. Possible names for such a proposed state included Liberty, Antietam, and Augusta.[26]

Massachusetts

  • Maine, which was physically separate from the rest of Massachusetts, had proposed secession multiple times in the early 19th century, eventually winning approval by Massachusetts in 1819, and a vote by Maine in 1820. The formation of the state of Maine as the 23rd state occurred on March 15, 1820 as one of the provisions of the Missouri Compromise.[27][28][29]
  • During the abolitionist era some supporters of William Lloyd Garrison sought the secession of Essex County from the state.[30]
  • Boston Corner, in the southwestern corner of the state, was ceded to the state of New York in 1857, due to Massachusetts being unable to administer the hamlet.
  • In 1977, the islands of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth Islands proposed to separate from Massachusetts because of a redistricting bill that would have deprived Dukes County, consisting of Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, and Nantucket County of separate representation in the General Court. At local town meetings, culminating in the All-Island Selectmen’s Association Conference, residents and community leaders voted in favor of secession with an "overwhelming majority". When the Nantucket state representative filed a bill with the Massachusetts Legislature, Grasso the Governor of Connecticut suggested that the islands join her state, the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the Rhode Island Senate each passed resolutions inviting the islands to join their states, and the Governor of Vermont and the Vermont General Assembly both supported annexation to their state. Although the redistricting bill passed, the state representatives pledged to assign aides for the two counties that would report to their state representative, and the area received much positive publicity.[31][32]

Michigan

Minnesota

  • There has been intermittent advocacy for the Arrowhead of Minnesota, the three northeast counties of the state adjacent to Lake Superior, to join with northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to form a new state to be named "North Country" or Superior, with Duluth as its capital.[34][35]

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

  • In the 1890s, residents of the Nebraska Panhandle threatened secession when the state refused to enact water laws that would encourage irrigation.[41]

New Hampshire

  • In 2001, the communities of Newington and Rye considered secession in response to the enactment of a uniform statewide property tax.[42][43][44]

New Jersey

New York

Proposed map of an independent Long Island and New York City
  • In the New York City mayoral election of 1969, writer Norman Mailer ran in the Democratic Party primary on a ticket with columnist Jimmy Breslin, who ran for City Council President. Part of their joint platform was a proposal that New York City should secede from New York State and become the 51st state.[45][46] At around the same time, a public-affairs series on the local educational TV station, WNET-TV, channel 13, was called The Fifty-First State.[47]
  • In the 1990s, Randy Kuhl, from rural upstate Hammondsport, had advocated secession by regularly proposing bills to that effect while he was a state senator. His 1999 bill would have New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland Counties become a separate state of New York, while the rest of the counties would be grouped as West New York.[48]
  • From 2007-2009, Long Island residents discussed secession on the grounds that their tax money is not used to fund programs in their counties.[49] Proposals were made for the entire island (Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties) and for just the two suburban counties (Nassau and Suffolk).[50][51][52][53][54]
  • State senators Joseph Robach, Dale Volker, and Michael Ranzenhofer, all Republicans from western New York, proposed a nonbinding referendum to gauge support for dividing the state in November 2009.[55] The referendum was again proposed by Stephen Hawley in 2013 and 2015, with members of the Long Island delegation to the state legislature also backing the 2015 bill.[56]
  • 2010 gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino's supporters, Rus Thompson and James Ostrowski in the Buffalo region, have supported secession of western New York from New York City and its nearby counties.[57] Fred Smerlas, in discussing a potential platform for a 2010 Congressional run from western New York, stated that he would make the separation of New York City and upstate a top priority: "My first act if I ever got elected would be to take a big saw and cut New York City off."[58]
  • Fifteen towns in the Southern Tier of New York proposed potential secession in 2015.[59]

North Carolina

Ohio

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

  • In 1984, the township of New Shoreham, located on Block Island, threatened to secede because the state had denied them the ability to ban or to control the use of mopeds on the island. Both Massachusetts and Connecticut were reported as having interest in annexing the island. After the town voted to put the issue on the state ballot for June, the Rhode Island government eventually compromised by allowing the island to control the number of mopeds on the island.[64][65]

Texas

  • Under the joint resolution of Congress, the Republic of Texas joined the Union with the right to partition itself into as many as five states. As a result, Texas "divisionists" would occasionally propose partitioning in its early decades.[66][67]

Utah

  • In 2002, the United States House of Representatives voted to allow Wendover to leave the state and join Nevada, merging with the city of West Wendover.[68][69] However, Nevada Senator Harry Reid blocked the bill's consideration in the Senate, citing that it would affect the investments of the casinos in the border town.[70]
  • In 2008, state representative Neal Hendrickson proposed Joint Resolution 6 (HJR006): "the creation of a separate state, consisting of the southern portion of the present state of Utah with a northern boundary stretching east and west across the present state of Utah at the southern border of Utah County".[71] The bill did not pass.[72]

Virginia

Vermont

  • In 2004 and 2005, the town of Killington voted to secede from Vermont to join New Hampshire, despite being situated in the center of the state.[73] A similar motion was attempted in Winhall, but was voted down.[74]

Washington

Wisconsin

  • On July 21, 1967, the Village of Winneconne seceded to become the Sovereign State of Winneconne in order to protest its omission from the state's highway map. After negotiations restored the village's location, Winneconne rejoined the state.[76] The village has since celebrated the secession with an annual Sovereign State Days event.[77]
  • Portions of the northern counties were included in proposals for the State of Superior.

Wyoming

Confederacy-related proposals

The following proposals were made following the establishment of the Confederate States of America. Many of the proposals involved regions desiring to change loyalties in the American Civil War.

Alabama

  • Winston County considered seceding from the state in order to remain neutral during the Civil War. This led pro-confederate Richard Payne to call them the "Free State of Winston" or the Republic of Winston.[78]

Arkansas

  • Five counties, including Madison County voted against secession from the Union at the second Arkansas Secession Convention. When called upon to renege, four counties did, but Madison, represented by Isaac Murphy, later the state's governor under Reconstruction, resisted. Men of his county fought for the North during the war.[citation needed]

Illinois

  • Counties in southern Illinois considered secession to join the Confederacy; a proposed name for the new state was Little Egypt after the region's local name. However, speeches by Union General John A. Logan, a native of the region, convinced many in the region to remain in the Union.

Kentucky

  • On November 20, 1861, Confederate sympathizers, calling themselves the "Convention of the People of Kentucky", met at Russellville to pass an Ordinance of Secession for its regions. This established the Confederate government of Kentucky, which was recognized by the Confederacy. Its capital was Bowling Green.

Missouri

Missouri was claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy, had two competing state governments, and sent representatives to both the United States Congress and the Confederate Congress.

  • Congressman Frank Blair urged St. Louis to secede from the state if Missouri decided to join the Confederacy.
  • In contrast, Callaway County declared itself the "Kingdom of Callaway", and attempted to secede from the state should it join the Union.[79]

New York

  • In 1861, the unincorporated community of Town Line voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. Although the town sent soldiers to support the Confederate Army over the course of the war, the Confederacy did not officially recognize Town Line as one of its own. During Reconstruction, the secession of Town Line was eventually forgotten, but in the 1920s, Town Line residents still considered themselves "outside the Union" and were not paying taxes. In 1946, after significant media attention, town residents ceremonially voted to "rejoin" the Union.[80]

Tennessee

  • Scott County passed a proclamation to secede from Tennessee and form the "Free and Independent State of Scott" in order to support the Union. When it was discovered in 1986 that this county law was still on the books, the proclamation was finally repealed. The county then petitioned the state of Tennessee for readmission, even though the original secession had not been recognized by the either the state or federal government.[81]

Virginia

  • After Virginia declared its secession from the U.S. in 1861, its mountainous western half formed the pro-Union Restored Government of Virginia; the Union Congress recognized this as Virginia's legitimate government, with authority to approve its own partition. In 1863, the area was admitted to the Union as the state of West Virginia.
  • The islands of Chincoteague and Assateague also sided with the Union.

See also

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Further reading

External links