The State of Jefferson is a Ghost State. This week I wrote about towns named Jefferson City and the many towns named Jefferson because of Thomas Jefferson. Things got very interesting when I learned about the state of Jefferson that was once proposed for Northern California. Way back in 1941 it was suggested that a new state be created called Jefferson in Northern California. It never became a reality for several reasons. The states of California and Oregon were created instead and became entrenched. But then the citizens of both states became divided politically.
Some thought that a new state should be created from both. This new state was to be called Jefferson. There is only one state named after a President. That state is Washington. Jefferson would have been the 2nd state named for a President, but it never happened. The new state of Jefferson that was to be carved from California and Oregon never happened.
Should it have been created, it would not have included the city of San Francisco. Its capital would probably have been the small town of Yreka in Northern California. Modesto, CA would have become its largest city. Other towns became candidates like Port Orford, OR and Redding, CA. Both were proposed as capitals. In 1941 a Declaration of Independence was offered but the state of Jefferson never happened.
Years passed. On September 3, 2013, the political climate in both states, Oregon and California, was politically explosive. The idea of a state of Jefferson was revived. The County of Siskiyou in Northern California was responsible for the rebirth of the state of Jefferson when its voters asked for a revival of the idea with a 4 to 1 vote to revive the idea. If the voters in favor had prevailed, a new state would have been created called Jefferson from among counties in both states. It would have been the 39th most populous state in the Union and would have been slightly smaller than West Virginia. Jefferson would have been created from 4 counties in Southern Oregon and 3 in Northern California. COVID restrictions in both places were responsible for the idea. Today it was more of a state of mind than an actual reality. This Ghost State would have served the purpose of satisfying the beliefs of those residents in the seven counties who believed that their interests had not been taken seriously. Unfortunately, weapons were involved. World War II had occurred and interest in the state of Jefferson was revived. Eleven counties in Northern California declared their intention to secede if Jefferson was not created. Only one more county was needed in California to put the measure on a ballot for statewide voting.
In the meantime the situation in eastern Oregon was heating up, Many Oregonians wanted to secede from their state and join more conservative Idaho. As recently as December 20, 2022, citizens in 9 Oregon counties voted to support a withdrawal initiative. Oregon was happy to consider the idea of these counties joining them because they represented timber, mineral, and water interests.