North Colorado and 10 Other Proposed States That Didn't and Won't Happen


The last time a state seceded from another was in 1863. During the Civil War, West Virginia, orginally named the State of Kanawha, seceded from Virginia and became a pivotal frontier for fighting the Confederacy. Now, more than 10 counties in Colorado are moving to form a 51st state called "North Colorado." In conjunction with organizers in Kansas and Nebraska, representatives of each county met in Weld County to begin mapping out the boundaries of the proposed new state. The movement was exacerbated when state legislators voted to increase renewable energy standards, increase gun control, and increase oil and gas regulations. Sean Conway, a Weld County Commissioner says,"80% of the oil and gas revenue in the state of Colorado is coming out of northeastern Colorado … we are economic drivers." He also states that the county is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware.

According to the Constitution, Article IV Section 3, seceding from a state to form a new one is permitted but must be voted on by the state legislator and approved by Congress. There is a substantial history in the U.S. of state secession. Currently, the only states to successfully secede from other states and become accepted into the Union are West Virgina, Maine, Vermont, and Kentucky. As we monitor the progression of "North Colorado" toward potential statehood, here is a quick glimpse at several proposed states, some of which were brought to a congressional, state, or popular vote, but never became functioning bodies.

1. The State of Jefferson

On four separate occasions, beginning in 1854 and leading up till the early 1940s, groups have sought to create the state of Jefferson. Other proposed states such as the State of Shasta (1852) and State of Kalamath (1853) contain the same Pacific areas. The name of the state is in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the U.S. Jefferson had envisioned the creation of a separate Pacific nation when he sent Louis and Clark on their famous expedition to the West. Originally, miners in the Rocky Mountains banded together and requested the Kansas government grant them the land. The second and third proposals were located in Texas and intended to split the state into two. The last big push occurred in rural areas of Northern California and southern Oregon right before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The movement lost its momentum once the bombings took place.

2. Transylvania

Before the name was made famous by Bram Stoker's short story Dracula, Transylvania was the 14th unofficial, extra-legal colony formed in 1775. Comprised of land in modern day Kentucky and Tennessee, it was purchased by the Transylvania Company from Cherokee Indians in the "Treaty of Sycamore Shoals."

The owner, Richard Henderson, hoped that the British would allow him to operate the territory as an autonomous region. The Treaty was eventually made void when it was determined that the purchase was illegal according to British law, in addition to the lands having already been claimed by North Carolina and Virgina. 

3. The State of Lincoln (Northwestern)

There have been numerous proposals to create a state intended to honor President Abraham Lincoln. The first two proposals (1865 & 1901) included the Panhandle of Idaho and Eastern Washington. In the 1920s, a third proposal was made, combining portions of Eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana. Recently, in the late 1990s and in 2005, there have been other, less prominent proposals, suggesting the secession of the State of Lincoln.

4. The State of Lincoln (Southern)

Texas was the topic of significant reconstruction debate after the end of the Civil War. Unlike the majority of proposals, the State of Lincoln was presented to Congress. It proposed that the area's west and south of the Colorado River be seceded from the state of Texas. Similar to the others, it failed.

5. Superior (Sylvania)

The most logical secession proposal has been upper region of Michigan. The two distinct land masses separated by Lake Superior have continued to draw secession proposals over the year, though nothing concrete has resulted.

6. The State of Delmarva

The Delmarva Peninsula is located on the East Coast and spans 170 miles in length, occupying mostly Delaware and parts of Maryland and Virgina. The land mass has a population of 1,400,000, which is similar to the population of Hawaii. Residents have suggested that the parts of Maryland and Virgina already a part of the Delmarva Peninsula secede from their states in order to fashion the state of Delmarva.

7. The State of New York City

In 1969, during the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin suggested that the five boroughs of New York City should form the 51st state of the U.S. This was a solution to "free the city of upstate legislators who [didn't] care about the city but control our schools, police, house, and money." Recently, in 2008 City Councilman Peter Vallone reintroduced a bill for the secession of NYC after Mayor Bloomberg had dislcosed that NYC give the state around $11 billion more than it gets back.

8. The State of Long Island

Initially proposed in 1896, the secession of Long Island from the state of New York was recently revitalized by Suffolk County and New York comptrollers Joseph Sawicki and Keith Durgan. With a population of 2.7 million, the proposed plan would keep Long Island taxpayers' money on Long Island rather than being spread out across the New York state. Every plan for secession from New York has been rejected by the state legislature.

9. Westsylvania

If recognized, Westsylvania would have been the 14th state in the newly formed Union. Before the Revolutionary War, the Grand Ohio Company, a land speculation company, proposed the creation of a British colony named Vandalia located south of the Ohio River. When the War ended and Americans achieved independence, the Vandalia-settlers suggested the incorporation of a state named Westsylvania. The proposal was never considered by Congress, and eventually Pennsylvania passed a law affirming that any discussion of the secession of Westsylvania would be viewed as treason and punishable by death.

10. Absaroka

Named after the Absaroka Range of the Rocky Mountains, parts of Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming proposed secession in 1939. Though no formal proposal was ever made to the state legislature or Congress, Absaroka did produce state license plates and held a "Miss Absaroka" beauty pageant contest.