Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Territory of Colorado: Secession of Southern California

Secession of Southern California
The proposed Territory of Colorado (based on the boundaries of the counties in 1859)

I want to make a series of posts concerning countries which just didn’t make it into reality. While I was investigating this I also noticed there have been a lot of embyo US states which just didn’t make it into real statehood. In honor of commenter Nate I’ll start with the secession of Southern California.

In 1859, nine years after California joined the Union, Assemblyman Andrés Pico submitted a bill that called for the secession of the southern counties along the northern border of San Luis Obispo County. These cow countries were annoyed by the unfair tax laws; they had to pay twice as much property tax as the mining regions, while they had only 5% of the population of these mining regions.

The southern region would have become a federal territory named after the Colorado River (the present state of Colorado wasn't named until 1861). The legislature passed this bill (the ‘Pico Act’), two-thirds of voters in the affected counties approved it, and it was signed by the Governor John B. Weller. But in Washington, due to the crisis in 1860, the proposal never came to a Congressional vote.

Andrés Pico


 
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3 comments:

  1. I never knew this! I could have been living in Colorado? This is a fun fact to know! You may not have come across this, Rob, but there is a renewed effort to separate California into two states along very similar borders! It very unlikely to be successful, but the cultures of Northern California and Southern California are still very different today.

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  2. Ha ha ha! Thanks for the shout out, Rob! This wasn't the first proposal and it's certainly not been the last. The most numerous proposals go with splitting the state right in two, north and south, usually right along the northern boundary of San Luis Obispo, Kern and San Bernardino Counties - as this forms a straight line. A summary of many of the proposals can be found on Wikipedia here:
    http://tinyurl.com/6o8xj52
    A couple big issues have usually killed all the proposals:
    1) NorCal has most of the water, but SoCal has more people, so when they realize this, SoCal never votes to give up the water.
    2) 56.5% of California lives in 5 of California's 58 counties, so large urban areas dominate the electorate, but its the rural areas that usually want to separate from the urban ones, not the other way.
    3) No matter how you propose to split it up, usually some part of California gets stuck with either San Francisco or Los Angeles areas which most of the rest of the state would rather see in someone else's state (even people in Orange County right next to Los Angeles would rather not be part - in fact Orange County even seceded from LA).

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  3. I learned a lot about California! A niece of mine told me California is her favorite state, because there you've got everything within a reasonable distance; mountains, sea, forests, etc... So you better not split up!

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