By way of Scotland: A 51st state for the U.S.?

  • In 2011, a political committee led by lawyer and former chairman of the Democratic Committee, Paul Eckerstrom, made a push to split southern Arizona from the more conservative north and create a new state called Baja, Arizona. Here, towering saguaro cactus grows profusely throughout the desert landscape in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. 
  • On Monday, a Senate hearing took place in which D.C. residents and lawmakers made their case that Washington D.C. should become the 51st state. Here, an aerial view of the US Capitol in Washington is seen on Sept. 12, 2014.
  • The most recent effort to create a 51st state called Long Island, or the Commonwealth of Long Island, came in 2008, when Suffolk County comptroller Joseph Sawicki Jr. argued that the home to 2.7 million New Yorkers had become the pocketbook of Albany, paying far too much in taxes for what it received, and proposed a plan to secede. Here, a sign for County Route 80 that links the East and West sides of Suffolk County, New York, is pictured. 
  • Lenticular clouds form over Mount Rainier while lower elevation clouds move over the Puyallup valley in Washington on Dec. 3, 2008. In 2005, a handful of Washington state politicians, mostly from the eastern half, clamored for the state to split in two, along the Cascade mountains, due to idealogical and economic differences that many felt rendered the two sides of the state distinctly separate.
  • Despite calls from two downstate Republican state representatives, Bill Mitchell and Adam Brown, that Cook County split from the rest of Illinois citing the abundant differences between Chicago and the rest of the state, their efforts yielded very little movement on the issue. Here, a view of Chicago as seen from the South Side of the city. 
  • On Sept. 3, 2013, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 for a declaration of secession from its southern brethren, fed up with what they see as a lack of representation at the state capitol and overregulation. Together with other rural counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon, calls to create a new state called the State of Jefferson have been popular over the years. Here, pedestrians cross Miner Street in Yreka, Calif., Feb. 20, 2008.
  • In 2012 some in the northernmost reaches of Michigan proposed to separate from the state to create a separate state by the name of Superior. Here, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, northern Michigan.
  • In the 1970s, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth Islands proposed to separate from Massachusetts. The movement never caught on. Here, children play in the shadow of the Edgartown Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Aug. 24, 2014.
  • The Northwest Angle, with a population of just over 100, and the result of a mapping error by Benjamin Franklin, was the subject of secession efforts in 1997 in an effort to leave the United States and join Canada. Only accessible in a car by driving through Canada, the Northwest Angle was left as a bit of a geographical oddity. The official port of entry into Northwest Angle is an unmanned videophone, where visitors are interviewed by U.S. and Canadian Customs officers. 
  • Last year, residents in a handful of mostly northern Colorado counties voted on whether or not to break away from their state. The largely conservative residents of the north didn’t feel their interests were being represented in Denver and wanted to separate (with one county wanting to become part of Wyoming). 


On Thursday, Scots will vote on a referendum to decide whether or not their country will split from the United Kingdom, after over 300 years of being part of that kingdom.

In the United States, secessionist chatter is also nothing new. Remember that in 1820, Maine seceded from Massachusetts and became its own state, although no other state has seceded since West Virginia split off from Virginia in 1863 – and that was during the Civil War.

The latest talk of statehood comes from none other than Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Senate hosted a packed hearing Monday – the first in over two decades – to debate whether the city should become the 51st state. Just two senators, Democrat Thomas Carper of Delaware and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, were in attendance, according to The Washington Post. Coburn called the idea a “legal and political absurdity” with “no chance of passage” and left after half an hour. 

In recent years, a number of U.S. states and cities have tested the waters of secession, but few movements have caught on. Here’s a sampling of just a few of the more recent secessionist moves to become the nation’s 51st state.