Free State Project

Free State Project
Free State Project

Logo of the Free State Project
Motto "Liberty in Our Lifetime"
Formation September 1, 2001
Headquarters New Hampshire, United States
Membership 11,000+
Official languages English
President Carla Gericke

The Free State Project (FSP) is a political movement, founded in 2001, to recruit at least 20,000 libertarian-leaning people to move to New Hampshire in order to make the state a stronghold for libertarian ideas.[1]

Those who join the Free State Project sign a statement of intent to move to New Hampshire within five years of the group reaching 20,000 participants or some other trigger selected by participants. As of June 2011, around 900 FSP participants live in NH.[2] Approximately 11,000 people have signed the FSP statement of intent.[3] In 2010, at least 12 Free Staters were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.[4]

The Free State Project is a social movement generally based upon decentralized decision making. While there is a control group that performs various activities, most of the Free State Project's activities depend upon volunteers to promote the Free State Project in their own way.



The FSP mission statement, adopted in 2005, states:

The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.[5]

"Life, liberty, and property"—similar to "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"—are rights that were also enumerated in the October 1774 Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress.[6]

Statement of Intent

To become a participant of the Free State Project, a person is asked to agree to the Statement of Intent (SOI). The SOI states:

I hereby state my solemn intent to move to the state of New Hampshire. Once there, I will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.


The Free State Project is open to people over the age of 18. U.S. citizenship is not required, but the Free State Project does not currently assist people who wish to immigrate to the United States with obtaining resident visas. People who promote violence, racial hatred, or bigotry are not welcome in the Free State Project.[7]


The Free State Project was founded in 2001 by Jason Sorens, then a Ph.D. student at Yale University.[8] Sorens published an article in The Libertarian Enterprise highlighting the failure of libertarians to elect any candidate to federal office, and outlining his ideas for a secessionist movement, and calling people to respond to him with interest.[9] The movement has, since then, come to emphasize secessionism much less strongly, with Sorens publishing a note in the journal to this effect in 2004.[9] Sorens has stated that the movement continues an American tradition of political migration, which includes groups such as Mormon settlers in Utah and Amish religious communities.[10]

The flag of the Free State Project, a modified Gadsden flag

The organization began without a specific state in mind. A systematic review started by narrowing potential states to those with a population of less than 1.5 million, and those where the combined spending in 2000 by the Democratic and Republican parties was less than $5.2 million, the total national spending by the Libertarian Party in that year. Hawaii and Rhode Island were eliminated from this list because of their propensity for centralized government.[11]

In September 2003 the state vote was held. Participants voted using the Condorcet method to choose the state.[12] New Hampshire was the winner, with Wyoming coming in second by a 55% to 45% margin.[12] Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Vermont, and the Dakotas (North Dakota and South Dakota) were also on the list.[10]

The state of New Hampshire was chosen because the perceived individualist culture of New Hampshire was thought to resonate well with libertarian ideals.[13] The Free State Project, however, has drawn criticism from some New Hampshire residents concerned about population pressure and opposition to increased taxation. Republicans, on the other hand, have responded more favorably to the project, because of their espoused agreement on small government.[14]

Ideology and political positions

The Free State Project itself does not take official political positions, support candidates in elections, or support or oppose legislation.[15] The goal of the Free State Project is to move people to New Hampshire and not to directly affect any political process.[16]

Several early movers have been elected to the New Hampshire legislature. In 2006 one of its participants, Joel Winters, was elected to the state legislature, running as a Democrat.[13] He was re-elected in 2008 but defeated in 2010.[17] In 2008, 4 Free Staters were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, including Winters, according to group participants.[18] In 2010, at least 12 Free Staters were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.[4]

Annual events

The Free State Project is the official organizer of two annual events in New Hampshire:

  • The New Hampshire Liberty Forum is a convention-style event that was held from 2007 to 2010, with a wide variety of speakers, dinners and events.
  • The Porcupine Freedom Festival (PorcFest) is a week-long summer festival that takes place in a campground, and is designed to be a more laid-back event than the Liberty Forum.


On February 17, 2006, economist Walter Block publicly expressed his support for the Free State Project. He is quoted as saying,

You people are doing the Lord's work. The FSP is one of the freshest practical ideas for promoting liberty that has come out of the libertarian movement in the past few decades. May you succeed beyond your wildest dreams, and thus demonstrate in yet another empirical way the benefits and blessings of liberty.[19]

In 2007, the project was endorsed by two presidental candidates, Ron Paul[20] and Bob Barr.[21]

In 2010, Lew Rockwell from the Mises Institute endorsed the project. He referred to the city of Keene, New Hampshire as "The northern capital of libertarianism".[22]

In 2011, Peter Schiff revealed his endorsment for the project, stating that he had considered moving in one point.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Belluck, Pam (October 27, 2003). "Libertarians Pursue New Political Goal: State of Their Own". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ Live Free or Move
  3. ^ Free State Project. "Membership Statistics". Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  4. ^ a b "For Some Ron Paul Backers, a New Motto: Go East, Young Man (and Woman)". May 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ Mission Statement from the Free State Project website
  6. ^ "Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress". Avalon Project. Yale Law School. October 14, 1774. Retrieved 2010-11-11. "That the inhabitants of the English colonies in North-America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following RIGHTS: Resolved, N.C.D. 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any foreign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent." 
  7. ^ FSP Standard Disclaimer
  8. ^ Larry Clow (October 5, 2005). "The Free State turns two". The Wire. 
  9. ^ a b Sorens, Jason (July 23, 2001). "Announcement: The Free State Project". The Libertarian Enterprise 131. 
  10. ^ a b Joanna Walters (October 1, 2003). "Free staters pick New Hampshire to liberate for sex, guns and drugs". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ Joseph Spear, "An Experiment in Civic Engagement: The Free State Project", Oklahoma Policy Studies Review, Vol. 5, No. 1.
  12. ^ a b Pete Camp, "Free State Project Picks New Hampshire", Up & Coming Magazine, October 8, 2003.
  13. ^ a b Sarah Schweitzer (November 16, 2006). "Free State Project cheers on one of its own in Winters". The Boston Globe. 
  14. ^ Meredith Goldstein, "Free State Project pushes limits of liberty in N.H.", Boston Globe, October 19, 2003.
  15. ^ Introduction to the Free State Project
  16. ^ Frequently Asked Questions About the Free State Project
  17. ^ List of Nov. 2010 winners
  18. ^ "Ron Paul Republican wins seat in New Hampshire House". RidleyReport. February 15, 2009. 
  19. ^ Walter Block's endorsement of the Free State Project. 17 February 2006.
  20. ^ "Ron Paul Endorses the Free State Project". 
  21. ^ "Bob Barr on the Free State Project". 
  22. ^ "Lew Rockwell Endorses Free State Project!". 
  23. ^ "Peter Schiff (Euro Pacific Capital Inc.)". 

External links

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