The State of Jefferson is a proposed U.S. state that would span the contiguous and mostly rural area of Southern Oregon and Northern California, where several attempts to secede from Oregon and California have taken place in order to gain statehood.
This region on the Pacific Coast is the most famous of several that have sought to adopt the name of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson sent the Lewis and Clark expedition into the Pacific Northwest in 1803, and envisioned the establishment of an independent nation in the western portion of North America which he dubbed the "Republic of the Pacific", hence the association of his name with regional autonomy. The independence movement (rather than statehood) is instead known as "Cascadia".
The name "State of Jefferson" has also been used for other proposed states: the name was proposed in the 19th century for Jefferson Territory (roughly modern Colorado), as well as in 1915 in a bill in the Texas legislature for a proposed state that would be created from the Texas Panhandle region
In October 1941, the mayor of Port Orford, Oregon, Gilbert Gable, announced that the Oregon counties of Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath should join with the California counties of Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc to form a new state, later named Jefferson.
Gable proposed creating this new state to draw attention to the condition of the state roads along the Oregon-California border, which at the time were oiled dirt roads that became impassable in rain or snow, and handicapped economic development.
Gable's act found sympathy throughout the region, which perceived the state legislatures as indifferent to their needs. Siskiyou County especially embraced the cause: the county seat Yreka became the provisional capital, where in November 1941, county representatives met and selected the name Jefferson for their state, in commemoration of Thomas Jefferson, the nation's third president.
While inhabitants in Lassen and Shasta counties in northern California flirted with joining the secession movement, only the counties of Curry, Siskiyou, Trinity, and Del Norte actually endorsed the idea.
A naming contest held by the Siskiyou Daily News in November 1941 considered the possibilities for the would be state: Orofino, Bonanza, Discontent, Jefferson, Del Curiskiyou, and Siscurdelmo.
On November 27, 1941, a group of young men gained national media attention when, brandishing hunting rifles for dramatic effect, they stopped traffic on U.S. Route 99 south of Yreka, and handed out copies of a Proclamation of Independence, stating that the state of Jefferson was in "patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon" and would continue to "secede every Thursday until further notice."
The secession movement came to an abrupt end, though not before John C. Childs of Yreka was inaugurated as the governor of the State of Jefferson. The first blow was the death of Mayor Gable on December 2, followed five days later by the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. Secessionists focused their efforts on the war effort, which crippled the movement. Coincidentally, the "state of Jefferson" was one of the few places in the continental USA to be the subject of an attack during World War II, when Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita dropped bombs on the Oregon Coast near Brookings on September 9, 1942.
Jefferson is commemorated by the State of Jefferson Scenic Byway between Yreka and O'Brien, Oregon, which runs 109 miles along State Route 96 and U.S. Forest Service Primary Route 48.
The field of the flag is green, and the charge is the Seal of the State of Jefferson: a gold mining pan with the words "The Great Seal Of State Of Jefferson" engraved into the lip, and two Xs askew of each other. The two Xs are known as the "Double Cross", and signifies the region's sense of abandonment from the state governments in both Salem, Oregon and Sacramento, California.