New York City secession

New York City secession

New York City secession, the secession of New York City (and possibly neighboring areas) from New York State and/or the United States, has been proposed several times in history. These movements have been in some ways just extreme manifestations of the ordinary tensions between the city area and the government based in the economically and politically distinct Upstate New York region at Albany.

New York City Secession

Post-Revolution Era

In the battle over the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787-88, Governor George Clinton in Albany, wishing to preserve his independent power, led the local Anti-Federalists in opposition, with support for the Constitution coming from Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists, largely urbanites who saw opportunity in a stronger national union, and famously published as their manifesto the Federalist Papers in New York City newspapers. There was a real divide, and with the recent independence of Vermont, a real threat of secession of New York City and the southern counties to join the new Federal government. The leaders of Richmond County, which always had a somewhat ambiguous position, threatened to join New Jersey. With secession threatening to marginalize Governor Clinton and a lightly developed upstate, ratification was finally agreed and the divisional crisis passed.

Civil War Era

In the period of national crisis immediately preceding the American Civil War, Democratic Mayor Fernando Wood, widely considered the most corrupt in the city's history, proposed the secession of the city as a sovereign city-state to be called the "Free City of Tri-Insula" ("Tri-Insula" meaning "three islands" in Latin), and incorporating Manhattan, Long Island and Staten Island. In an address to the city's Common Council on January 6, 1861, Mayor Wood expressed a Copperhead sympathy with the threatened seceding states and a desire to maintain profitable cotton shipping, confidence that the city-state would prosper on the import tariffs that then supplied 2/3 of the Federal revenues, and especially dissatisafaction with the state government at Albany. But the idea of leaving the United States proved too radical even in the turmoil of 1861 and was poorly received, especially after the Southern bombardment of Fort Sumter starting on April 12. The war, and especially conscription, was nevertheless often unpopular in the city, sparking the deadly New York Draft Riots.


In 1969, writer Norman Mailer and columnist Jimmy Breslin ran together on an independent ticket seeking the mayoralty and City Council Presidentship, challenging Mayor John Lindsay with an agenda to make New York City the 51st state. When questioned as to the name of the new state, Breslin said the city deserved to keep "New York" and that upstate should be renamed "Buffalo", after its largest city.

Post 9/11 Era

On February 26, 2003, a bill was introduced by Astoria, Queens, Council Member Peter Vallone, and sponsored by 20 of 51 City Council members, reviving the idea of referendum for secession from New York State in the context of the red state vs. blue state divide and opposition to the policies of Governor George Pataki. A committee report was written but otherwise little action was taken, and the bill was reintroduced with one additional sponsor on the same date in 2004. Like Mayor Wood, Council Member Vallone has emphasized the fiscal benefits of secession, with revenue now derived not from tariffs, but from Wall Street. Council Member Vallone has reintroduced the bill in 2006.

In January 2008 City Council member Peter Vallone, Jr. again offered a bill for the secession of New York City from New York state. After Mayor Michael Bloomberg testified to New York state legislators that New York City gives the state $11 billion more than it gets back, Vallone stated: "If not secession, somebody please tell me what other options we have if the state is going to continue to take billions from us and give us back pennies. Should we raise taxes some more? Should we cut services some more? Or should we consider seriously going out on our own?" The New York City council planned to hold a meeting on the topic. [Benjamin Sarlin, [ A Secession Plan Is Floated for New York City] , New York Sun, January 30, 2008.]

Long Island secession

Meanwhile, on Long Island, there have been calls for Nassau and Suffolk Counties to separate from New York State as well. Suffolk County comptroller and former state assemblyman Joseph Sawicki has called for a separation of Long Island from the rest of the state, saying that the region, one of the wealthiest in the state, receives only $5,200,000,000 in state payments and pays $8,100,000,000 in taxes to the state. [Brand, Rick. [,0,923448.story Long Island: The 51st state?] New York Daily News. 27 March 2008.]

Upstate secession

A parallel "Upstate New York statehood movement" seeks separation due to taxation and economic concerns. [ "The Big City; The Moochers From Upstate? Cut 'Em Loose"] , John Tierney, The New York Times, May 24, 1999] Former State Senator and current U.S. Congressman Randy Kuhl, from rural upstate Hammondsport, was a significant advocate of such an action and introduced several bills to that effect during his time in the state senate. However, the "Public Policy Institute of New York State" said in May 2004 "Secession would be impossible, and the last thing New York needs is some kind of destructive Upstate-Downstate showdown. But given the prolonged lag in Upstate’s economy, it is time to think seriouslyabout whether there is a way of restructuring the relationship to give Upstate the opportunity — indeed, the freedom — to reduce some of the disadvantages that are smothering its economy." [ "Could New York Let Upstate Be Upstate?"] , The Public Policy Institute of New York State, May 2004]

ee also

* Urban secession
* City of Greater New York - Staten Island's proposed secession from New York City.
* Peconic County - proposed county for the secession of the five easternmost towns in Suffolk County, New York.
* List of U.S. state secession proposals
* Proposals for new Canadian provinces and territories
* Nine Nations of North America
* The Day America Told the Truth


External links and references

* [ Politics in New York State: Federal Period to 1800]
** [ Mayor Wood’s Recommendation of the Secession of New York City]
* [ The Independent Republic of New York] - New York Magazine
* [ Long Live the Free Republic of Gotham] - New York Press
* [ Throwback or FutureWorld? New York City As The 51st State ] - Southeast Queens Press
** [ Text of Vallone's bill of February 26, 2003] ; [ as reintroduced February 26, 2004] ; [ as reintroduced May 10, 2006] .
** [ Committee Report of May 1, 2003]
* [ NYC Statehood] - Website devoted to New York City Statehood

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