The State of Jefferson secession movement of 1941

     The State of Jefferson was a dream, that Northern California and Southern Oregon shared, to succeed in  creating a new state.  The concept of the State of Jefferson started 1852 when a bill was introduced in the California State Legislature meeting at Vallejo. This bill died in committee and the proposal was never acted upon. After Oregon was incorporated as a state in 1859, miners in the area refused allegiance to either state government and declined to pay taxes.  During the Civil War some settlers were interested in creating a northern haven for slavery, but fortunately this  failed.

      By 1941 the dream was sparked when certain counties in California and Oregon decided that they were not being fairly represented by Sacramento and Salem.  This was a  region that earned  a living off the lumber, fishing, and other harvesting businesses in the area and they felt the government  was not distributing  infrastructure funding equally to the area. Mainly, poor road quality and lack of bridges made it difficult to earn a living in this remote area.  They wanted to break away and form their own state to improve their lifestyles by governing themselves with their own laws.

      Yreka, a town in Northern California, liked the concept of forming the 49th state. The Yreka Chamber of Commerce persuaded the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors to look into the possibility of forming a 49th state.  The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $100 to research the possibility.  It was to consist of Siskiyou County, Del Norte County, and Modoc County, California; and Curry County, Josephine County and Jackson County in Oregon.

     The Chamber of Commerce decided the new state name would be "Mittelwestcoastia," but the local paper, The Siskiyou Daily News, ran a local contest to name the new state.  Such names as "Orofino," "Bonanza," "Del Curiskiyou," "Siskardelmo," "New West," "New Hope," "Discontent" and "Jefferson" were some of the names submitted.  In the end, the name Jefferson was chosen and the winner of the contest, J. E. Mundell, was awarded two dollars.

     The State of Jefferson Citizens Committee was formed, which was made up mostly of members of Yreka's 20-30 club, and announced that the State of Jefferson would be created every Thursday until recognized.  Each Thursday committee members  would go out to highway 99 at the location where it entered the boundaries of the State of Jefferson, and would cover the signs with sheets that said "State of Jefferson" on them.  They would then set up roadblocks and activists on horse-back with guns, would stop traffic and hand out out copies of the Proclamation of Independence, and red and blue windshield stickers which read, "I have visited JEFFERSON, the 49th State."  and then let the people through.  Most people thought the whole thing was a joke, but that didn't upset the activists at all.

      In the meantime, Yrekans were not amused when a California legislator  commented on the floor of the State Assembly that the "Northern border counties bartered only in bear claws and eagle beaks."   This attitude led the citizens of the area to be receptive when the Siskiyou Daily News ran a banner headline stating "Siskiyou Has Been Double Crossed Again" on November 3, 1941.  Thus, Yreka, California was designated "Temporary State Capitol" and the "State of Jefferson" seal was created. The seal was a mining pan etched with a double cross - representing the long-time injustice suffered by the provincials at the hands of Salem and Sacramento.  The seal clearly illustrated that the area had been double-crossed once too often.