Humboldt Journal of Social Relations


Since the mid-19th century, disaffected citizens of California’s far northern counties have conspired with their fellows in southern Oregon to break free from distant state governments and remedy by themselves the social and economic ills they blame, in part, on the relative unimportance the rest of their states attaches to them and their territory. Impoverished relative to the urban centers of Oregon and California, the Jeffersonians’ sense of economic and political marginalization strengthens their connection to a regional identity. Jefferson’s population today is at most just over half a million, a tiny fraction of California and Oregon. But the frustrations that motivated these iconoclasts to seek relief via threats of autonomy continue, and their experiences provide a window to understanding similar frustrations across the United States. The growing distrust of government, confusion about what constitutes a vibrant democracy, the rise of populist leaders—all factors on the national stage—are key themes in the regional story of Jefferson.