McDonald Territory was an extralegal, unrecognized territory of the United States that existed for a short time in 1961. The area comprised all of present-day McDonald County, Missouri, United States. A provisional government chose the name when they attempted to secede the county from the state of Missouri in 1961. The government of the territory, while democratically elected, was never recognized by the State of Missouri nor the United States Congress.
In 1961, the Missouri State Highway Commission published its annual Family Vacationland map and distributed it around the state. Officials in McDonald County, upon reviewing the map discovered that Noel, a small but economically vital Ozarks resort town, was inadvertently omitted from the publication.
Noel, located in the extreme southwest corner of the state, was one of the most popular tourist destinations in that part of the state, due to its resorts, bluffs, caves, and rivers. Its absence on one of the most-read pieces of tourist literature in the state was sure to affect the county's livelihood negatively.
To demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the state's inattention to detail and apparent lack of respect for their rural, isolated county, local officials drafted a resolution to secede from the state, possibly forming a 51st state in union with Benton County, Arkansas and Delaware County, Oklahoma. There were proposals for McDonald county to join the State of Arkansas, and Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus was willing to accept McDonald County into Arkansas. There was even a proposal for the county to join into Oklahoma, or to become a part of the Cherokee Nation. They went so far as to set up a provisional government, elect officers, and print their own tourism literature. A local Territorial Militia was formed and visas were issued. Vehicles entering the territory were stopped by militiamen and, if the occupants were not local residents, they were given entry visas and local tourism information.
The provisional government of the territory also established or licensed a private dispatch service, which provided mail service from the Territorial Post Office to the nearest U.S. Post Office. This private service issued a two cent stamp to charge for its services.
- Forster, Louis. "MacDonald Territory". Retrieved 2007-09-08.
- Missouri Senate Resolution Number 51; McDonald Territory Secession Attempt website page; retrieved May 2016; text: ...study of the feasibility of taking the necessary steps to form the fifty-first state of the Union, to be composed of that territory now within the boundaries of McDonald County, Missouri; Benton County, Arkansas; and Delaware County, Oklahoma...
- Elected Officials of McDonald Territory, Missouri; A Provisional Government; McDonald Territory Secession Attempt website page; retrieved May 2016