List of U.S. state partition proposals
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This is a list of official or otherwise noteworthy proposals for dividing existing US states into multiple states. It does not specifically address statewide or other movements to secede from the United States. The word secession can refer to political separation at different levels of government organization, from city to state to country; this list focuses on secession from (rather than by) U.S. states, particularly to form new U.S. states.
Article IV of the United States Constitution provides for the creation of new states of the Union, requiring that any such creation be approved by the legislature of the affected state(s), as well as the United States Congress.
Since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, four states have been created from parts of an existing state: Maine (from Massachusetts), West Virginia (from Virginia), Kentucky (also from Virginia), and Vermont (from New York and New Hampshire)—though New York's claim to Vermont was weak, as it was asked for its consent and Vermont was essentially an independent republic until 1791. In the case of West Virginia, it formed itself as the legitimate government of Virginia within the Union, then essentially gave itself permission to leave Virginia in order to avoid annexation by the Confederacy.
Many other state secession attempts resulted from internal divisions over the formation of the Confederate States of America. While majorities of states may have voted to secede and join the Confederacy, or remain in the Union, even in those years regional and cultural ties prompted portions of the populations of those states to strongly favor the other side.
Since the creation of West Virginia in 1863, no states have been successfully created from parts of already existing states. However, some territories in the West were divided into smaller territories prior to statehood, even after the Civil War.
- In 1923, some people in the Southeastern Division of the Territory of Alaska, headquartered at Juneau, openly agitated for a complete separation of and statehood for the Southeast. This was in response to some comments made by President Warren G. Harding on his visit to the region.
On February 10, 2011, Tucson politicians and activists representing at least three political parties launched the Facebook page "Start our State", seeking to secede from Arizona. The idea, first proposed in the 1980s by Hugh Holub, began to gather steam quickly after a front-page article about the movement in the Arizona Daily Star on February 24, 2011. Around 1986, Holub proposed to separate Arizona at the Gila River (between Phoenix and Tucson, which until the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 also formed part of the Mexico – United States border).
Partition gained new advocates during the governorship of Jan Brewer. The nascent movement, which excoriates Brewer's "open chauvinism", appears committed to making Pima County (and possibly surrounding counties, and part of New Mexico) the State of Baja Arizona. Pima County, by itself, is larger in area than both New Jersey and Connecticut, and has a population greater than Vermont and Delaware.
- In the mid-1930s, the Walsenburg World-Independent proposed that Huerfano County secede from the state. This was a pet project of Sam T. Taylor, sports editor, who went on to become a long-serving state senator where he also unsuccessfully pushed the idea.
Up until 1786, Connecticut enforced a claim to land in Pennsylvania, extending into the Wyoming Valley, that had been granted to the state in its colonial charter. Connecticut formed one county in this territory called Westmoreland County (distinct from present-day Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania) and encouraged settlement by Connecticuters. Between 1752 and 1782, there were a series of armed conflicts between Pennsylvanians and the Connecticut settlers, until Congress declared the area to be part of Pennsylvania. In response to the ruling in their favor, Pennsylvania annulled the voting and land rights of the Connecticuters and drove them out. In late 1784, the ousted settlers returned in force, overtook Fort Dickinson, and seceded the county from both states as the State of Westmoreland. To avoid civil war, Pennsylvania reversed itself in 1786 and granted Pennsylvania citizenship and property titles to the Connecticuters, and Westmoreland agreed to be subsumed into Pennsylvania as Luzerne County.
Prior to the American Revolution, the three counties of Delaware were known as the Lower Counties on the Delaware River, part of the Province of Pennsylvania but with a separate tax structure and court system. In 1776, after being granted "independence" from Pennsylvania control, Delaware declared independence from Great Britain as an outright state.
Politicians in the South Florida metropolitan area have made numerous proposals to split Florida into two states—North Florida and South Florida. They argue that southern Florida is politically and culturally distinct from northern Florida, and that not enough tax money goes to the Miami area. They also argue that politicians in Tallahassee ignore southern Florida. If South Florida became the 51st state, it would be made up of 4 counties: Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe.
An attempt was made in 2008 to split Florida into North Florida and South Florida, but that proposal failed. However, as recently as 2011 proposals were still being made to split Florida in half, as in this quote from South Floridians:
"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."
- Dade County, in the northwest corner, had no roads connecting it to the rest of Georgia until 1939; the only ways to access Dade County were through either Alabama or Tennessee. In the days leading to the Civil War a local politician seceded Dade from the state of Georgia, and thus the Union, rather than wait for Georgia to secede. This created the Independent State of Dade. In 1939, when the state of Georgia purchased land that would become Cloudland Canyon State Park, the State of Dade finally became connected to Georgia. In 1945 the State of Dade passed a resolution "officially" rejoining Georgia and the Union over 80 years after the end of the Civil War. The area is still known today as the State of Dade.
- In January 2008, columnist Bill Shipp wrote an editorial urging the creation of two Georgian states. This proposal in the article was largely attributed to a severe drought and concerns over infringement of the water rights of citizens in southern Georgia by politicians and officials from the Metro Atlanta area and North Georgia.
- In 1925, Cook County, which contains Chicago, considered seceding from Illinois as a new state named Chicago. This proposal was revived in November 2011 by State Representatives Bill Mitchell and Adam Brown, who felt that all of Illinois outside of Cook County should become a separate state due to Chicago "dictating its views" to the rest of the state.
- In 1861, the southern region of Illinois, known as Little Egypt, made a proposal to secede from the rest of Illinois due to cultural and political differences from Chicago and much of Central and Northern Illinois.
- In the early 1970s residents of Forgottonia in western Illinois protested what they felt was a lack of concern for its needs, sparking a secession proposal.
- In 1992, a group in southwestern Kansas advocated the secession of a number of counties in that region from the state. The group was nominally headed by Don O. Concannon, a lawyer and former gubernatorial candidate from Hugoton. Various media reports indicated as few as five or as many as two dozen counties were involved in the movement. The state was to be called "West Kansas", and early meetings included proposals for official state bird (the pheasant) and state flower (the yucca). The proposal stemmed from state laws raising the state property tax and shifting state education funding away from rural school districts and into more urban areas, though the secessionists' call was the fairly generic "Give us equality or set us free." Though organizers arranged for a series of straw polls that demonstrated widespread support for secession in at least nine of the counties, the movement died out by the mid-1990s.
Maine was initially part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its boundary with British North America (now Canada) was in dispute for several decades; John Baker unilaterally declared the disputed territory (now part of Aroostook County) to be the "Republic of Madawaska" in 1827, an action that led to the Aroostook War and eventually being settled (and the unrecognized "Republic" dissolved) by the Webster–Ashburton Treaty in 1842.
Politicians of Aroostook County have proposed spinning off the county as a new state since the 1990s. As recently as 2005 the question has been brought up before the state legislature. Proposed names for this state include Aroostook, Acadia, and North Maine.
- Three times in the Maryland General Assembly legislators have submitted a bill for the 9 Eastern Shore counties of Maryland to secede from the state and combine with the three counties of the State of Delaware to the northeast and the two Virginia counties to the south to form the state of Delmarva. The most recent was in 1998.
- In September 2009, Frederick County Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. proposed that the County should secede from Maryland. The proposal failed, with Thompson being the only Commissioner to vote in favor of secession.
- Maine, which is not connected to Massachusetts by land, was separated from it as a new state in 1820, as one of the provisions of the Missouri Compromise.
- During the abolitionism era some supporters of William Lloyd Garrison sought the secession of Essex County from the state.
- In 1977 a Martha's Vineyard Statehood Support Committee existed, promoting the secession of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket from Massachusetts largely in response to redistricting which associated the islands with Cape Cod. All three areas are known for their status as oceanfront summer resort and vacation communities.
- As part of the most geographically divided of the contiguous states, Michigan's Upper Peninsula has a distinct and proud regional identity. A few have called for the Upper Peninsula, possibly along with portions of Wisconsin, to become a new State (possibly named "Superior", after Lake Superior) or to secede from the United States.
- On several occasions after the Missouri Compromise of 1820 it was proposed that, if certain territories were to enter the Union as slave states (e.g. Kansas Territory), the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would enter the Union as a Free State in order to keep a balance in representatives in the Senate.
- On July 13, 1977, the town of Kinney in northern Minnesota announced its secession in hopes of receiving foreign aid from the U.S. government. The new nation was called the Republic of Kinney. The national news story broke on February 7, 1978. Many in the town still claim its independence.
- 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.
- Because of laws restricting fishing, some residents of the tiny Northwest Angle region of the state suggested leaving the United States and joining Canada in 1997. The following year, U.S. Representative Collin Peterson proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the residents of the Northwest Angle, which is part of his district, to vote on seceding from the United States and joining Canada, angering the leaders of Red Lake Indian Reservation, which holds most of the Northwest Angle's land. Northwest Angle is not connected by road to the rest of the state, and can only be accessed by land through Manitoba, Canada.
- McDonald County declared itself a territory (the McDonald Territory) for a brief period of time in July 1961.
- In 1939, a brief state secessionist movement proposed the State of Absaroka to be drawn in portions of Montana, with adjacent areas of Wyoming, Nebraska and parts of North and South Dakota. The craze was reflected in state automobile license plates bearing the name; the only "Miss Absaroka" contest, held in that year; and a minor league baseball team called the Absaroka (Rapid City) Eagles.
In the 1890s residents of the Nebraska Panhandle tired of the state government's refusal to enact water laws (like Wyoming had) to encourage irrigation into the area. Area leaders threatened to secede from Nebraska and join Wyoming, which finally prompted the state to enact the desired laws.
With so much disparity between Las Vegas and Nevada's state capital, Carson City, 450 miles (720 km) away, some have proposed splitting Nevada into two or more states. One proposal has northern Nevada linking with northern California, Southern Nevada splitting away with other regional areas, and eastern Nevada becoming part of Utah. There has also been talk of the city of Wendover, Utah merging with West Wendover, Nevada to become Wendover, Nevada, due to tax and economic divides.
New Hampshire 
New Hampshire's history is dotted with various movements of communities desiring to secede from the state.
- In the 1830s, a portion of New Hampshire called the Republic of Indian Stream declared its independence in protest at being claimed and taxed by both the United States and British Canada. It maintained its own organized, elected government for three years before being occupied by the New Hampshire Militia.
- In 2001, the communities of Newington and Rye considered seceding from the state in response to the enactment of a uniform statewide property tax.
New Mexico 
- Between 1970 and 1990, local activists proposed that the southern half of the state become part of Trans-Pecos (West Texas).
- The eastern half of the state, known as Llano Estacado, wanted to join the proposed state of Jefferson/Lincoln (North Texas).
New York 
- Long Island residents have discussed becoming a new state, on the grounds that their tax money gets sent to the state, yet the money is not used to fund programs in their counties. These proposals may include the entire island (Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties) or the two counties (Nassau and Suffolk) that are outside the realm of New York City (with the possible formation of a third, Peconic, from the eastern portion of Suffolk).
- In the 1990s, former State Senator and U.S. Congressman Randy Kuhl, from rural upstate Hammondsport, advocated splitting the state into "New York" and "West New York" and introduced several bills to that effect during his time in the state senate. 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. Fred Smerlas, in discussing a potential platform for a 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." Both factions of the Tea Party movement in the Buffalo region support some form of separation.
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. 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.
North Carolina 
In 1784, the western counties of Greene, Washington, Sullivan, and part of Hawkins county, all of which were then part of the Washington District, North Carolina, voted to secede from the state. They formed the provisional State of Franklin, with Revolutionary War hero John Sevier elected as governor. By 1789, the provisional government had collapsed.
In 1790, the North Carolina state government, relinquished it to the federal government, creating the Territory South of the River Ohio. Six years later, the territory (including the former counties of Franklin) became the State of Tennessee, with Sevier as governor.
In 2005, James B. McCarthy, the county executive of Summit County, which contains Akron, publicly advocated that his county (and the rest of Northeast Ohio) secede as a new state. Northeastern Ohio has a history of being distinct from the remainder of the state. It was once known as "New Connecticut," and encompassed the Connecticut Western Reserve.
A proposed State of Sequoyah—separate from the Oklahoma Territory—would have consisted of the lands of five Native American tribes (the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Creek Nation (or Muskogees), Seminole Nation and Osage County). The creation of the state was proposed to Congress, but rejected in favor of the state of Oklahoma in 1907.
- In 1941 some counties of southwestern Oregon joined counties of Northern California and ceremonially seceded as the State of Jefferson. See also California above.
- Some talk has been made of Eastern Oregon seceding (and perhaps merging) with Eastern Washington were it also to secede from its parent state (see Washington below). In both states distinct political, geographic, and cultural divides exist on either side of the Cascade Mountains. A more formal movement was proposed in 2008.
- In 1787 the residents of the Wyoming Valley attempted to secede from the state as the State of Westmoreland. Before the issue was decided, the state militia was mobilized to put down any attempt to make good on the threat.
- During the era following the American Revolution, there were proposals to split Western Pennsylvania from the rest of the state to form Westsylvania. Western Pennsylvania retains a distinct identity from the rest of the Commonwealth today, having more in common with Ohio, West Virginia, Western New York, and Western Maryland than the eastern side of the state.
Rhode Island 
- In 1984, angered over the state's refusal to enact noise pollution laws, the township of New Shoreham, located on Block Island, threatened to secede from the state. Reportedly, both Massachusetts and Connecticut expressed interest in annexing the island. The state compromised, giving the island ability to limit the sale of noisy mopeds.
- While it would not technically constitute secession, under the joint resolution of Congress by which the Republic of Texas was admitted to the Union, it had the right to divide itself into as many as five different states. It is not clear whether this provides any power beyond that already provided by the Constitution. What is clear is that the Texas Legislature would have to approve any proposal to divide the state using this prerogative. There was a significant number of Texans who supported dividing the state in its early decades. They were generally called divisionists.
- 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. The opposition of Nevada Senator Harry Reid blocked the bill's consideration in the Senate.
- In 2008, Joint Resolution 6 'Consenting to Creation of New State Within Utah' was proposed by Representative Neal Hendrickson. This resolution called for "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". The bill died in committee in March 2008.
The town of Killington has twice voted (March 2004 and March 2005) to secede from Vermont and become part of the state of New Hampshire. Because the town is not adjacent to the New Hampshire border, this would create an exclave. A similar motion was attempted in Winhall, but was voted down.
- For years, residents and businesses of Northern Virginia have complained that their region, which has about a third of the state's population, sends about half its tax revenues to the State and gets back only 25 cents on the dollar. Some residents argue that Northern Virginia is part of the state in name only, saying that the region is so different from the rest of Virginia, it’s as though the New Jersey suburbs were grafted onto South Carolina. This situation has led some to propose that northern split into the separate state of Northern Virginia. During the 2008 Presidential Election, John McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer created a minor controversy making a distinction between northern Virginia and “real Virginia,” which she said is the “part of the state that is more Southern in nature...”
- Present-day Washington is divided into Eastern and Western regions by the Cascade Mountains. The original request for the territory omitted much of the east. From as early as 1861, some eastern residents have proposed forming a new state, sometimes in combination with the Idaho Panhandle or other nearby states. Suggested names for such a state include East Washington, Lincoln, and Cascadia.
- When Washington Territory was established, the populated Puget Sound region in the west dominated public affairs. The discovery of gold in present-day northern Idaho enticed settlers eastward. This shift in fortunes was followed by a proposed "Territory of Walla Walla", which was defeated in the territorial legislature in 1861. The gold discovery however did contribute to the 1863 creation of Idaho Territory, establishing Washington's current eastern border.
- By 1864 some residents of northern Idaho called for a new "Territory of Columbia" including parts of Washington east of the Cascades or east of the Columbia River. (The name Columbia was originally proposed for Washington.)
Washington, D.C. 
The District of Columbia is an insular federal district separate from any state and under direct control of the United States Congress. Residents of the capital have no voting representation in Congress, nor complete control over their local government. There has been a recurring movement since the 1960s to make the District of Columbia into a state in order to permit residents full voting representation in Congress and control over local affairs. An alternate proposal is for Congress to return most of the District of Columbia (excepting the immediate vicinity of the Capitol and White House) to the state of Maryland (a process known as retrocession), as was done with the Virginia portion of the District in 1846.
- In 1967, the village of Winneconne seceded from Wisconsin for one day to protest its omission from the new state highway map.
- A culture common to the northern counties of Wisconsin, together with Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northeastern counties of Minnesota that is not shared as strongly with the southern portions of each state has resulted in considerations of forming a state known as Superior. These have not been taken very seriously, as most of the northern counties are dependent on the southern parts of their states for funding.
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Upon the secession of Alabama from the United States during the American Civil War, Winston County debated seceding from the state, to become the Republic of Winston, and pledged its alliance with the Union. Today some citizens of the county still refer to it as the Free State of Winston, which drives the local tourist industry.
During the Civil War, five counties, including Madison County and possibly Marion 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.
Shortly before the Civil War, southern Illinois considered seceding from Illinois and joining 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.
The Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky was the area of strongest support for the Confederate cause. On May 29, 1861, a group of Southern sympathizers from Kentucky and Tennessee met at the Graves County Courthouse to discuss the possibility of aligning the Purchase with West Tennessee. Some records of the actions taken at that meeting were later lost in a fire, and there remains some dispute over exactly what occurred at that meeting.
On November 20, 1861, representatives from several counties met at Russellville calling themselves "the Convention of the People of Kentucky" (later known as the Russellville Convention) and passed an Ordinance of Secession. It established a Confederate government of Kentucky with its capital in Bowling Green. Although it remained in the Union, Kentucky was represented by a star on the Confederate battle flag and national flag.
- During the Civil War, congressman Frank Blair urged St. Louis to secede from the state if it decided to join the Confederacy.
- Around the same time, Callaway County proposed seceding from Missouri, but with the opposite inclination. Callaway County is sometimes still called "Kingdom of Callaway" and hosts an annual "Kingdom Days" celebration. There is also a city named Kingdom City there.
New York 
- In 1861, the hamlet of Town Line voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. The town contributed several troops to the Confederate Army over the course of the war, but there is no evidence that the Confederacy ever officially recognized Town Line as one of its own. During Reconstruction, the status of Town Line was eventually forgotten, but the area still claimed sovereignty. It was eventually discovered in the 1920s that Town Line residents were not paying taxes and were still "outside the Union." In 1946, after significant media attention, town residents voted to rejoin the union.
- In February 1861, in the early days of the Confederacy, the Southern-sympathetic county of Franklin petitioned the state to allow it to secede and join Alabama which had recently seceded from the Union. By June Tennessee had decided to secede as well, eliminating the reason for Franklin to secede.
- Conversely, the more pro-Union East Tennessee area disapproved of state secession and some proposed seceding from Tennessee to rejoin the Union. Some, however, have characterized this sentiment as mere contrarianism against the sentiment of the western half.
- Scott County in eastern Tennessee did officially pass a proclamation during the Civil War to secede from Tennessee and form the "Free and Independent State of Scott." In 1986 when it was discovered that this county law was still on the books the proclamation was finally repealed and Scott County actually petitioned the state of Tennessee for readmission even though the secession had never been recognized by either the state or federal governments.
- In the early days of the Confederacy, Lunenburg County grew impatient that the state had not yet seceded from the Union, and threatened to secede from Virginia itself, possibly to join North Carolina.
- 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.
- Two islands on the Atlantic coast of the Delmarva Peninsula – Chincoteague and Assateague – also sided with the Union, and provided the Union with seafood and a Southern base of operations. Because of its loyalty, the US Navy helped Chincoteague reconstruct its lighthouse after a devastating storm; the lighthouse still stands today.
See also 
- List of active separatist movements in North America
- List of U.S. county secession proposals
- Urban secession
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- Secession: The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law, Thomas S. Ulen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- "West Virginians covet new Ky. home", Lexington Herald-Leader, Mar. 4, 2002
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