Special to the Triplicate
There have been many attempts at forming a new state consisting of Northern California and Southern Oregon. But the attempt of secession in 1941 brought national attention when the area designated itself the State of Jefferson.
There was unrest in the area due to the abundant supply of minerals and timber in Northern California and in Oregon, and the fact that it was largely inaccessible because of the insufficient roads and bridges into the mountain country. The local pioneering community was becoming tired of broken promises from capitals Salem, Ore., and Sacramento to help fund highway projects. The counties involved ranged from Douglass at the northwest to Lake in the northeast, and southern counties of Mendocino at the southwest to Plumas in the southeast and all in between, including Del Norte.
Representatives from the counties involved met in Yreka on November 17, 1941 to form a committee to request federal aid for the building and repair of bridges and roads. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $100 to research the possibility of seceding from the state of California and joining the other counties to form a new 49th state.
The local newspaper ran a contest to name the new state and the winning entry was Jefferson. The winner of the contest pocketed $2 for his submission. Yreka was designated the temporary state capital where the andquot;State of Jefferson Citizen's Committeeandquot; was formed.
Judge John Childs of Crescent City was a well-known figure in the secession attempt. Childs was the owner of the Crescent City News prior to his political career. In 1882, he was elected to county clerk of Del Norte, finally becoming Superior Court Judge in 1903 until 1920.
On Dec. 4, Judge John Childs was elected governor of Jefferson State. A torchlight parade complete with horses, marching bands and sign-carrying young people riding in trucks was held in Yreka followed by a inauguration held on the courthouse lawn. Childs inauguration speech as Governor of Jefferson State contained the following:
andquot;So when all the good people in the California-Oregon border counties saw that the governors hearkened not unto them, they answered the governors saying, 'What roads leading to strategic minerals for national defense do we have in this land? Neither have we roads in the same regions in the land of Oregon. Then to your tents, O Jeffersonians. Now see to thine own houses, governors.' So the Jeffersonians departed unto their tents.andquot;
In an attempt to gain attention to their cause, the State of Jefferson Committee proceeded to stop traffic on Highway 99 just outside of town and passed out flyers with the andquot;Proclamation of Independenceandquot; to travelers.
State of Jefferson Proclamation
andquot;You are now entering Jefferson, the 49th State of the Union.
Jefferson is now in patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon.
This State has seceded from California and Oregon this Thursday, November 27, 1941.
Patriotic Jeffersonians intend to secede each Thursday until further notice.
For the next hundred miles as you drive along Highway 99, you are traveling parallel to the greatest copper belt in the far West, seventy-five miles west of here.
The United States government needs this vital mineral. However, gross neglect by California and Oregon deprives us of necessary roads to bring out the copper ore.
If you do not believe this, drive down the Klamath River Highway and see for yourself. Take your chains, shovel and dynamite.
Until California and Oregon build a road into the copper country, Jefferson, as a defense minded state, will be forced to rebel each Thursday and act as a separate State.andquot;
Jefferson made the papers every day, competing with headlines of Germany's ravaging of Europe. The San Francisco Chronicle sent a young reporter, Stanton Delaplane, to cover the events, writing a series of colorful articles on the rebellion, which earned him the coveted Pulitzer Prize. Hollywood film companies were also present to record the events, including the highway barricades. The State of Jefferson was off to a great start. The news was to air nationally the week of December 8, 1941, but sadly on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor was bombed and the State of Jefferson rebellion of 1941 came to an end.
The people of the region went to work for the war effort. However, the State of Jefferson andquot;state of mindandquot; remains in the hearts and minds of people in the region and in Del Norte County.