3 Nov 12
Since the founding of our nation, many have lamented that no state was ever named after Thomas Jefferson, our third president, although the suggestion has come up several times. For example, the territory that eventually became “Colorado” was nearly named “Jefferson,” as was what today is the Texas Panhandle. Neither of those movements went much past the discussion phase. But, “The Great State of Jefferson” nearly became a reality, in present-day CA and OR, in the early 1940s.
In his day, Jefferson himself worried that present-day American Northwest would fall under British influence. He therefore suggested in several letters that “Cascadia” become an independent nation, “the Republic of the Pacific.” President John Quincy Adams would later refer to the area as “Astoria” (after fur-trade tycoon, Jacob Astor), and second Jefferson’s motion, but believed “Astoria” would be eventually be absorbed into the fledgling nation of which he (Adams) was then president.
Not much additional discussion of the subject took place until the 1940s, when residents of southern OR and northern CA, believing themselves under-represented in both state legislatures, and proudly citing Jefferson and Adams, proposed seceding their collective real estate from the jurisdiction of both states and forming a new and separate state, the “Great State of Jefferson!”
Jefferson’s name was invoked because it was he, while president, who had sent Lewis and Clark into the region in order to explore the “Louisiana Purchase.”
Jefferson’s capitol was the City of Yreka, CA, and surrounding counties were extended an invitation to join. Only seven did, four in OR, three in CA.
A governor was inaugurated, and the new state’s flag depicted a gold-pan with two “Xs” in the middle, the first slightly lower than the second. This represented sarcastic recognition of the “double-cross” of which residents of the area thought they had been victim.
The official announcement ceremony declaring the establishment of the new state was scheduled for Monday, 8 Dec 1941. Of course, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese the day before, Sunday!
In the aftermath of the Japanese attack, the Jefferson successionist movement instantly withered and died, not to rear its head again. The “State of Jefferson” thus came close to becoming a reality, but unforeseeable circumstances conspired to insure that it never saw the light of day!
Another accident of history!