IN THE EARLY 1940s, RESIDENTS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AND SOUTHERN OREGON had become increasingly frustrated over the lack of attention paid to them—particularly the lack of attention paid to their need for more and better roads—by the governments of their respective states. Given the area’s rich natural resources, residents felt that the lack of infrastructure development was limiting their economic development—and citizens felt they lacked the voice in government, despite being taxpayers, to effect the changes needed. Thus began the State of Jefferson secession movement.
After finding support for a plan which would see seven total counties secede from Oregon and California to form a new, 49th, state, the Siskiyou Daily News held a contest, which contest paid two dollars to the winning suggestion for a name—Jefferson. Beginning in November, the area would “secede” weekly, on Thursdays.Jefferson was to be formed with an overall laissez-faire attitude: few restrictions on economic development and even fewer taxes.”
A state seal was created, literature was forcibly handed out along highways, and the movement garnered national media attention. On December 4th, a parade was held in the middle of Yreka celebrating the inauguration of Judge John C. Childs as Jefferson’s governor. The festivities included two leashed bears, Itchy and Scratchy, leading the parade. And serving in a sense, as mascots.
On December 7th, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, and the secessionist movement lost most of it’s muster. However, it has never truly died out, with a long-lasting general sentiment in the region punctuated by small sparks of activity. Most recently in September of 2013, Siskiyou County supervisors voted to begin seceding once again.