7 U.S. States That Might Have Been

The United States Constitution requires that the creation of a new state be approved by the legislature of the affected state or states, as well as the United States Congress. Throughout American history, proposals by legislators and ordinary citizens to partition and create new states have ranged from sensible to strangely pointless. Maine, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Vermont were all partitioned out of existing states. Practically speaking, most partition or secession movements are designed to bring attention to the grievances of an underserved population, often living in rural areas of a state. There are also proposals that amount to nothing more than political posturing. Here are seven U.S. States that might have been.

  1. Texlahoma

    In the early 20th century, northern rural Texas and western Oklahoma wanted roads for the then-new invention, the automobile, and needed to get the attention of politicians who could make this happen. The Texlahoma proposal, a threat by residents of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles to create their own separate state, was created by Oklahoman A.P. Sights. Sights believed legislators of this new state, called Texlahoma, would work to build the much needed roadways. In spite of support from Texas and Oklahoma politicians, including Vice President James Nance Garner IV, the proposal failed to capture widespread support of residents of either state.

  2. Acadia

    Maine representative Henry Joy has repeatedly called for the state to be split into two states, the northern region to be called "Acadia" and the bottom "Southern Maine." Most recently, Rep. Joy warned of an environmentalist plot to take control of several millions of acres in northern Maine and hand it all over to the government for preservation, ending all hope of chopping down more trees for development. The split has yet to happen, in spite of popular support from northern Maine's "woodsy" residents, who, unlike their southern neighbors, want to "shoot more fauna and chop more flora."

  3. Lincoln

    Going as far back as 1889, counties of Eastern Washington, sometimes including the Idaho panhandle, have proposed splitting from Western Washington, mainly due to perceived differences in the cultural and political beliefs of the residents of these two geographical areas. As recently as 2005, folks like Washington State Senator Bob Morton have proposed the creation of a new state, to be called either East Washington, Columbia, Cascadia, or, most popularly, Lincoln. Despite years of contentious campaigning, the level of enthusiasm for splitting up Washington state is pretty much the same as it was back in the 19th century.

  4. South Florida

    With a tacit agreement that the town of Jupiter serves as the boundary line, North and South Florida have always nurtured a contentious relationship, due to differences in culture, topography, politics, and most importantly, where state tax dollars go. As recently as 2011, North Lauderdale commissioners have passed or proposed resolutions to divide Florida into two states. South Florida would be, if it ever gets past state legislation, made up of four counties, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe.

  5. Absaroka

    At the time of the Great Depression, South Dakota ranchers and citizens of small towns were frustrated with the lack of federal aid from the New Deal. Residents in northern Wyoming felt similarly, and a secession movement took shape, with the creation of a new state called Absaroka as its goal. By 1939, the movement had gained enough momentum to inspire the printing of Absaroka license plates and a beauty queen contest! Surprisingly, State legislators in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana began paying more attention to the grievances brought to them by their constituents. With the arrival of World War II, the movement died out.

  6. Long Island

    Long Island and the State of New York have always behaved like two street gangs struggling to honor a grudgingly agreed upon peace treaty. In 2008, then Long Island comptroller told the New York Times, "Albany thinks of Long Island as their personal A.T.M. I believe the economics of the situation justifies a secession movement." The next year, Long Island legislators campaigned for secession to protest a payroll tax funding New York City's subway system. State lawmakers refused to consider Long Island's proposal. More recently, a cut to those payroll taxes was signed into law by New York Governor Cuomo, which means the Metropolitan Transit Authority will return to screaming about their budget. And the beat goes on.

  7. West Kansas

    In 1992, a group using the slogan, "Give us equality or set us free," pushed for the secession of anywhere from five to two dozen Kansas counties to protest the raising of state property taxes and shifting of funds from rural to urban area schools. The new state would have been called "West Kansas," with the pheasant as its official state bird. People in West Kansas love the pheasant, and they love to shoot it. Despite some genuine support for the secession in nine Kansas counties, the movement died out by the mid-90s.

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