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New OPB Oregon Experience Documentary Explores History of the State of Jefferson in Southern Oregon and Northern California


“State of Jefferson” airs Nov. 17 at 9:00 p.m. on OPB TV; advance public screenings in Klamath Falls and Ashland

OPB will premiere a new, half-hour Oregon Experience documentary that explores the history and roots of the proposed U.S. state of Jefferson— comprised of the mostly rural area of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

“State of Jefferson” airs Monday, November 17 at 9 p.m. on OPB TV.

Known as the “Mythical State of Jefferson” and “A State of Mind,” Jefferson is more of an idea than a place. As far back as 1852, there were efforts to create a new, independent state in the area. Since then, there have been numerous secession attempts throughout the region.

The most famous effort came in 1941 when counties in Southern Oregon and Northern California staged what they called a “patriotic rebellion.” Residents joined together and threatened to form the State of Jefferson. Armed men built roadblocks and handed out a Proclamation of Independence to passing motorists. In what was called the “Yreka Rebellion,” a torchlight parade made its way through city streets. Thousands gathered to watch as supporters inaugurated a governor and unveiled the state seal. It was a gold pan with two “Xs”, representing how residents had been double-crossed by their governments.

The movement didn’t last. With the start of World War II, the efforts died.

Today, the State of Jefferson is a source of local lore, regional identity, propaganda, and pride for its residents. To some, particularly in far Northern California, it continues to be an active movement, as resentment over lack of representation has fueled a new effort to create a separate state of Jefferson. Supporters have signed petitions, received endorsements from county commissioners, and even got the issue on the ballot.

While so far in Oregon, Jefferson remains a state of mind.

With rare historical film, photos, and interviews with the people first involved with the secession attempts, this new Oregon Experience documentary explores the history of the State of Jefferson and asks such questions as, “was the movement genuine or just an attempt at attention? Could Jefferson have been a real state? Could it still?”

Those interviewed in the program include:

  • Geoffrey Riley, News Director for Jefferson Public Radio
  • Jeff LaLande, historian
  • Anthony Intiso, chairman of the Jefferson Action Committee
  • Stan Statham, former California assemblyman
  • Peter Laufer, author & Journalism professor at the University of Oregon
  • Members of the State of Jefferson band and several residents from Port Orford and Etna Valley, and more.

“State of Jefferson” was written and produced by Kami Horton and edited by Lisa Suinn Kallem. It airs Monday, November 17 at 9 p.m. on OPB TV. For more information, please visit http://www.opb.org/television/programs/oregonexperience/segment/state-of-jefferson/.

OPB will be hosting two free, public screening events for the community in advance of the premiere:

  • Klamath Falls – Wednesday, Nov. 12 at the Ross Ragland Theater Cultural Center. There will be two screenings that evening: 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) and 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.). Hosted by the Klamath County Museum and OPB, in partnership with Southern Oregon Public Television (SOPTV) and Jefferson Public Radio (JPR). More information: http://opb.is/sojkf
  • Ashland – Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at Meese Auditorium at Southern Oregon University. Hosted by OPB, SOPTV, JPR and Southern Oregon University Department of Communications. More information: http://opb.is/sojashland

Both screening events will feature the full-length documentary and a special Q&A with producer Kami Horton.


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About Oregon Experience
Oregon Experience is an exciting history series on OPB TV that brings to life stories that help us understand this place where we live and that reinforce our shared identity as Oregonians. Co-produced with the Oregon Historical Society, the series draws upon the Society’s skilled researchers and extensive photography and moving-image archives. The program also incorporates OPB’s own film and video resources and the expertise of some of Oregon’s finest historians. Each episode features captivating characters – both familiar and forgotten – who have played key roles in building our state into the unique place we call home. This program is supported in part by the Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust, the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Clark Foundation. For more information, please visit http://www.opb.org/programs/oregonexperience.

About OPB 
OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by members across Oregon and southern Washington. For more information, visit www.opb.org.

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