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  • The Great Republic of Rough and Ready October 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Pascal and Small Coloured Things’ visit to Beachcombing’s Italian house is continuing, Little Miss B is changing her sleeping patterns, to the consternation of all, and Mrs B is not getting any (sleep). But, not withstanding this whirl of inactivity, Beachcombing can still find it in himself to slip down to the study with a manilla-coloured envelope entitled ‘US Micronations’ and, praying that no one in the house wakes for the next half hour, he pulls out a sheet entitled ‘Rough and Ready, Great Republic of’.

    Rough and Ready is a town in the State of California about a hundred clics from Sacramento. Its unusual name needs a little explanation. In 1849 it was founded by a Wisconsin mining concern called the Rough and Ready Company: Rough and Ready, in fact, began life as a mining community. The Rough and Ready Company had borrowed in turn from the US’s president, Zachary Taylor’s nickname (‘Old Rough and Ready’).

    Beachcombing likes to think, however, that the name presaged the Rough and Ready’s difficult constitutional future.

    In April 1850 about six months after the town had come into being the decision was made to secede – not ‘seceede’ as the plaque illustrated above would have it – from the Union under their now president Colonel E. F. Brundage: a new mining tax was getting on everyone’s nerves.

    In the noble words of Brundage’s Manifesto: ‘We deem it necessary and prudential to withdraw from said Territory (of California) and from the United States of America to form, peacefully if we can, forcibly if we must, the Great Republic of Rough and Ready.’

    Beachcombing can’t help but admire the street attitude in evidence here. A few score Californian miners ready to take on the Federal Government and be damned: the mouse that roared, the spirit of Pimlico, micronations of the world don’t unite!

    It has to be said that several southern states were to try the same thing a decade later and even under one of the finest American generals in history, Robert Lee, they did not get very far.

    The Great Republic – Beachcombing likes that ‘Great’ too –  had though something that the South never had: irrelevance. If their pronouncement ever reached the Federal Government the suits in Washington either didn’t know where to file the letter or, just possibly, some wise old soul dropped the letter in a bin before anyone with a gun could see it.

    Meanwhile back in Nevada County – not Navada as on the plaque, sigh – things were getting uncomfortable for the Roughers and Readiers. Local liquor providers had ceased to serve the town’s people because they didn’t sell alcohol to ‘foreigners’. There was also the problem that nearby communities were heating up for July 4 celebrations and Rough and Ready felt, well, left out.

    By almost universal acclaim the town voted to rejoin the Union, pay their mining tax and get hopelessly legless: a bit like the plaque writer perhaps?

    What began as a noble endeavour in state-making had turned into a hiccup in drunk miner’s beer-bamboozled afternoon nap. Beachcombing shakes his head in sadness. What would Robert Nozick have said?

    Beachcombing is always up for other Forgotten Kingdoms in the US of A – click for the Republic of Little Stream – and he would love to gather more material on Rough and Ready’s experiments with nationhood – still celebrated on the last Sunday in June, if anyone is passing through and can take photos or measure ‘attitude’. Is the dream of secession there really dead? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com