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Secession, Division, Decolonization: Who Will Be the 51st State?

Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career with a passion for all things libertarian to become the Libertarian Opinionizer.

Don't laugh, we coulda had a 124-star flag already.

Don't laugh, we coulda had a 124-star flag already.

Facts and Fun From the Libertarian Opinionizer

New states, seceding states, disjointing states, recombining states, re-entering states, 124 states – how many stars can Old Glory stuff into her star field?

Most Americans don’t know their own history. From its earliest days, the Union has been a fractious family, a quarrelsome quorum of states and intractable tracts of territorial wannabe joiners even as other jurisdictions jockeyed to disjoin from the majority. So, where to start?

How about here? Two small chunks of American real estate, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are vying to be instated as states, and both may make it because: Democrats.

One article states the state of statehood for Puerto Rico this way: “Puerto Rico Voted For Statehood… Or Did It?” Actually, 52% of a record-low turnout voted for statehood on November 3, 2020. But one law professor professed his opinion, as others have professed about the 2020 presidential election, that it was “a complete exercise of fiction” and that it was “the product of an illegitimate process.” Sound familiar? Besides, statehood still requires a majority vote in the US Congress which Republicans reject because they see PR as a guaranteed Democratic Party state.

The District of Columbia may be on the cusp of 51st statehood. In June 2020, the US House of Reps voted to change DC’s District distinction to State status. Republicans rejected it because they saw it as a guaranteed Democratic Party state. Democrats agree and, with their near one-party ruling power, will certainly bestow statehood upon both PR and DC. More on DC in a bit.

Stirring the Political Pot

But these two plots of terra firma aren’t the only ones seeking a change in their political identities. As far back as 2012, the LA Times was reporting that a few to hundreds of thousandfold folks in all 50 states petitioned the White House for independence. While details have shifted and reshuffled since then, these statehood stances have effectively remained in stasis.

From time to time, many states have either officially considered to, attempted to, or argued in favor of the right to dis-unite (secede) from the United States of America while a few non-state “possessions” have mulled the idea of uniting with and becoming an officially legal full-fledged state of the union.

This is a longstanding tradition that didn’t start with the secessionist southern Confederate States of America as most assume but with the northern Yankee states. “From 1800 to 1815,” according to economist and historian Thomas DiLorenzo, “there were three serious attempts at secession orchestrated by the New England Federalists” over various unacceptable political situations of the times.

DiLorenzo also quotes historian Edward Powell who wrote, “the right of a State ... to withdraw from the Union was … not disputed” in those days.

More recently, many states have demanded the right to split up into smaller multiple states, (Some Californians want to split up into as many as six separate Californias), and some parcels of existing states want to secede from their state and become a new state (In 2013 five rural counties voted to separate themselves from Colorado and enter the union as a then-unnamed state with a then-unnamed capital) while true-blue Texans just want to secede outright and return to their former status as the independent Lone Star Republic.

Mansfield University geography professor Andrew Shears created this "alternative history" map in 2011 showing how the USA would look if all of history's proposed states had been accepted.

Mansfield University geography professor Andrew Shears created this "alternative history" map in 2011 showing how the USA would look if all of history's proposed states had been accepted.

After all, Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820, when it voted to slice itself off from Mass, became a separate state, and joined the Union as state number 23.

In fact, seven of the first 13 states ceded western land claims so new states could be made from them; the Louisiana Purchase was eventually carved up into seven states plus parts of eight others, and when Texas joined the Union, it handed over territories that would later become parts of five new states.

If every proposed state had made it into the Union, we might be saluting a 124-star flag today.

But back to Puerto Rico, which has from time to time, as mentioned, held referenda after referenda about becoming an official US state, a free “associated state,” an independent country, or retaining its status as a Commonwealth, with the latter winning virtually every time. Meanwhile, the United Nations has been demanding “decolonization” (i.e., anti-commonwealth) for the island since 1953.

One alternative status offered to Puerto Ricans since the 1800s was some form of sovereignty variously called “Sovereign Associated Free State” or “Free Associated State” or some variation thereof.

“An associated state is the minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory with a degree of statehood and a (usually larger) nation, for which no other specific term, such as protectorate, is adopted” (Wikipedia).

But any election that didn’t offer the ballot options of “Commonwealth” or “independence” was considered a rigged vote because either way the US retained possession of the island.

With all the political prevaricating over Puerto Rico by those who favored the status of territory, associated state, sovereign state, commonwealth, independence, ceding it to another country or statehood (but never as a potential Libertarian Free State) that left the District of Columbia as the leading and longest-running dark horse candidate for 51st state.

Before and after Maryland's contribution to the District of Columbia was returned. Imagine! Politicians once actually managed to Downsize DC!

Before and after Maryland's contribution to the District of Columbia was returned. Imagine! Politicians once actually managed to Downsize DC!

The Great State of Columbia

Over time the pint-sized parcel of property dubbed the District of Columbia agitated for statehood. Considering that its capital, Washington, which is, of course, also the capital of a whole nation/empire/allegedly Free World, would have the same city limits as the capital of a new state of Columbia would have state boundaries, we're talking more city-state here than state.

Currently, not being an official political entity known as a "state," they are subject to "taxation without representation." Not only does the phrase appear on DC license plates but it's registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Does that mean saying "taxation without representation" is now a violation of intellectual property?

Anyway, for reasons unknown to libertarians, it seems that in some people's minds, taxation by a bloated, greedy, domineering, power-hungry government is somehow better if it's represented than if it's unrepresented.

Beginning with a mere 13 states at the birth of the new nation on the North American Continent, the number of states "united" in America has remained stable at 50 since 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii tag-teamed the nation for the official designation of "statehood."

Still, it now seems inevitable that this odd-shaped shard of landscape, sometimes called The District, will eventually snatch the status of the tiniest state from the grip of Rhode Island, so perhaps a hank of history would be helpful here.

Columbia is named, oddly enough, after Cristoforo Colombo, an Italian explorer freelancing for Spain who never touched toe on what subsequently became United States soil. George Washington, after whom Columbia's now-only city is named (having absorbed Georgetown), envisioned the district as a tidy diamond-shaped realm wrenched from Maryland and Virginia.

For various political reasons, none of which included actually adopting the axiom "the government that governs least governs best," the politicians committed modern political heresy by returning Virginia's 39 square miles to Virginia, leaving Columbia as a diamond with a chunk bitten out, making it difficult for second-graders to draw and color.

Reinventing Columbia

The thing is, Columbia has been pretending to stateness for years. The enclave already sports statelike trappings such as a flag, a motto and an official song.

Some see substantial problems with admitting this Lilliputian land into the union. First, there’s the difficulty of adding another star to the already overcrowded field on the flag. Fifty-one is just such an awkward number. Maybe this remnant of real estate should be repatriated to Maryland and have done with it. Or perhaps it could be coupled with another contender, fifty-two being a better number, like Alaska and Hawaii’s joint join-up in 1959.

Potential partners might be Puerto Rico, as already noted, US Virgin Islands, or American Samoa. From a libertarian perspective, however, the best candidate would be one of 11 US territories like Wake Island, Palmyra Atoll, Kingman Reef, or Bajo Nuevo Bank since they have no native or permanent populations, hence no one to represent. These tiny bits of land would be unable to inflict yet more politicians upon us pretending to be public servants while primarily representing themselves.

Proposed flag for the State of Columbia, host to the most powerful and wealthy force on earth.

Proposed flag for the State of Columbia, host to the most powerful and wealthy force on earth.

Second, the new state of Columbia needs a new flag. The current District standard, three red stars above two red bars, is based on the first president’s coat of arms. But this is supposed to be the state of Columbia, not the state of Washington. (Hint: we already have one of those.)

The new flag of Columbia, like all flags, should embody the essence of the polity’s soul. In this case, that would be coercion and tax bucks. For libertarians, then, a meaningful motif for the flag of the seat of empire might be a vertical mailed fist rising from a horizontal line of crooked dollar signs bleeding red or some similar suitable symbolism.

But much more work awaits. Many states have not just an official animal and official food and official fish and tree and insect and, in the case of Minnesota but an official muffin (no kidding, it’s blueberry) but also an official reptile. The Texas state reptile, for example, is the “Texas horned lizard,” nicknamed by many Texans as the “horny toad.” Appropriately, Columbia’s official state reptile could be the “Congressional horny lounge lizard.”

The official state flower needs changing. Currently, it’s the American Beauty Rose, which is politically incorrect because it sounds too much like the name of a bikini-clad beauty pageant contestant, thereby making it sexist. While DC is famous for its Cherry Blossoms, politicians perpetually on the take for graft, grease, bribes, kickbacks, payola, payoffs, buy-offs, and all other forms of under-the-table pelf will instead likely adopt the Forget Me Not.

Another appropriate floral choice would be a member of the Amaryllidaceae family: the Narcissus.

Many states have an official state dinosaur or fossil. Alaska chose, as you might expect, the woolly mammoth. California, ever stylish, selected that La Brea Tar Pits favorite, smilodon fatalis, aka Pleistocene saber-toothed cat.

Columbia’s state fossil should be the Twelveterm Slobber-Jowled Senile Senatorsaurus.

And a few other state things:

State food: Liberal Hardshelled Antigun Nut.

State animal: Duckabill Platitudepuss.

State fish: Largemouth Bloviating Taxsucker.

State gemstone: Pearl-inlaid gold-plated diamond-encrusted lobbyist-gifted money clip.

State Tree: The Moneygrowson Evergreen

State Song: The War Mangled Banner

Alternatives to Statehood

Here are a couple of other considerations before we go adding more stars to Old Glory:

1. Wait for the future Libertarian Free State of New Hampshire to secede and replace it with Columbia. Still fifty stars in the flag. All problems solved.

2. The libertarian solution: Take the taxbucks previously earmarked for erecting a wall along the Mexican border and wall off Washington instead. That way, the money-grabbing freedom-defacing folks would be locked away where they can do harm only to one another while productive workers will enter the economy unencumbered from the south.

We’ll end up with a better class of citizens that way.

Unless the entire country discovers libertarian values, there’s zero chance of Columbia becoming libertarianized under some appropriate name, such as Libertopia or Liberterria, since the place was created, occupied and permanently damaged by the statist government.

Still, if Columbia must become a state, it must be renamed after a non-white multiply-mixed race self-identified non-gendered human entity and not after a “murderous, enslaving, sexual-abusing, treacherous colonizer” like Italian white male Chris Columbus, and further lets at least endow it with a truly appropriate state motto:

Taxim Uppa Rectum.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.