The first record of an attempt at secession in northern California and southern Oregon was in 1852. A bill was introduced in the California Legislature, which met in Vallejo, to create a new state consisting of several California counties and parts of the Oregon territory. The bill failed. In 1855 a declaration was signed by citizens from both sides of the border. They were also attempting to form a new state. In 1859, before Oregon was granted statehood, petitions were circulated to create a new California county which would include parts of the Oregon Territory. Oregon’s admission to the Union ended that effort.
The issue was and continues to be, taxation without representation. Residents of northern California and southern Oregon felt that their tax money was being spent everywhere but in the counties where it was collected. Adequate roads and safe bridges were needed for the economic health of the area. Those two items seemed to be of the lowest priority in Sacramento and Salem.
Why did they choose the name Jefferson State? Most likely because Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States, expressed certain views. For instance;
“What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned, from time to time, that the people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”
On November 17, 1941 representatives of Oregon and California border counties met in Yreka , California to form an alliance to obtain federal aid for the repair and construction of bridges and roads. The feelings of inadequate representation had persisted and the threat of war was imminent although it was thought that Germany would be the instigator. The Siskiyou County, Ca. Board of Supervisors committed $100 to research the possibility of seceding from the union to form a new state.
A local newspaper held a contest to name the new state and, once again, the name Jefferson was chosen. The movement progressed. Motorists on Highway 99 were stopped and given copies of the Proclamation of Independence. On December 4, 1941 a judge from Yreka was elected Governor of the State of Jefferson.
Unfortunately, the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 put an end to the movement.
The Jefferson State Shooting Association has chosen to commemorate the independence and self reliance of those who campaigned for statehood. We use the seal of the State of Jefferson in our logo. It depicts a gold miner’s pan with two crosses in the bottom, a reminder of the doublecross which the citizenry felt had been perpetrated by their government. We also have included two pine trees, the traditional symbol of liberty.