The North State's 1941 Attempt to Create the 49th...

State Of Jefferson

Secession Thursday

November 27, 1941, old Highway 99 blockade south of Yreka, California.
The new State Seal was the double cross inside a gold pan.

The mythical State of Jefferson was a notion that originated shortly after California was admitted into the union in 1850. In California's history, 45 major division proposals have been attempted. Whenever serious grievances against state governments emerge, it is fairly certain that someone will call for splitting the state as a solution.

Booming gold rush populations above Sacramento influenced political power and taxation at first. Slowly the power shifted about the swelling Los Angeles basin. (Realize that California's expansive area, some 163,707 square miles, contains climatic, geologic and geographic diversity equal to nine east coast states.) As central and southern California battled, the far north remained the harshest, most isolated environment and was largely ignored.

One of the biggest problems were the neglected roads. While highways turned into freeways serving the sprawling big cities, the north residents struggled along trails barely fit for mountain goats. For many years even the railroad tracks ended at Redding and Medford. While timber and mineral resources were extracted out of the area, no tax money was returned to fix the roads. The bridges had 10-ton limits. Most commercial trucks weighed that much empty.

The most colorful and publicized movement to split the state commenced on Secession Thursday, November 27, 1941. The State of Jefferson Committee put a blockade across Highway 99 south of Yreka. They presented handbills proclaiming Jefferson to be the 49th state. Every Thursday thereafter the defense minded state rebelled in protest of the despicable roads over which strategic minerals for the European War effort were transported.

The new state was to include the California counties of Siskiyou, Del Norte, and Trinity- plus Curry County in Oregon. It had a population of 11,707. W.W.II brought an abrupt end to secession with an almost immediate improvement to the roads.

The Jefferson spirit remains alive in many people of the north. It is a simple belief of individuals in their constitutional right to live and manage their surroundings without edicts from government or a far removed society.

Brian Helsaple

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