Beyond the CSA: 12 Extinct Nations of the South, pt. 1

The South is probably forever linked to one failed nation: the Confederate States of America. Sure, the CSA lost, and the notion of state sovereignty went with it, but that’s what you get for mixing high-minded ideals with dirty business like slavery.

But did you know that up until the late 19th century, the South was a virtual breeding ground for failed nations, nation-states and republics? Here’s a quick run-down of some of the highlights … or low-lights, as they were:

The flag of the Alabama Republic

#7-12 The Pre-Confederates:

Alabama Republic
Republic of Florida
Republic of Georgia
Republic of Louisiana
Republic of Mississippi
Republic of South Carolina

Starting with the secession of South Carolina from the United States on December 28, 1860 and ending with the secession of Louisiana on January 26, 1861, six states left the union and declared themselves independent republics.

These sovereign republics were short-lived, disestablishing themselves to join the new Confederate States of America on February 8, 1861.

Flag of the Republic of Texas (1836-1839)

#6 – Republic of Texas

Most everyone knows that Texas was once an independent nation (from 1836 to 1845). However, it might come as a surprise to most Texans that they aren’t any longer. That’s right, you’re one of us now. That’s why we let you vote and inflict your governors upon as presidential candidates. (We’re looking at you, Rick Perry.)

During its decade of independence, Texas was led by five presidents, most notably Sam Houston, who held the office twice. Formed following the Texas Revolution, a reaction to the centralization of power by Mexican president Santa Anna, the former territory of Mexico lived under a constant threat of war. Mexico refused to recognize their independence. On another front, Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar launched a genocidal war against the Comanche, part of his campaign to maintain “Texian” independence and expand its territory to the Pacific.

Texas received diplomatic recognition from the U.S., France, Belgium, The Netherlands and the Republic of Yucatan, and maintained an embassy in London.

Riddled with debt, Texas accepted an annexation offer from the United States, bypassing the territorial phase and becoming a state on December 29, 1845. In 1850, Texas ceded its claims on lands outside its current borders in exchange for the U.S. assuming all its former debts.

New Echota, former capital of the Cherokee Nation (by Cculber007 via Wikimedia)

#5 – Cherokee Nation

Unlike its modern counterpart, the Cherokee Nation of the 19th century (actually 1794-1906, but who’s counting?) was an autonomous tribal government representing not only the Cherokee peoples, but also the Cherokee Freedmen (freed slaves once owned by Cherokee citizens and guaranteed Cherokee citizenship) and descendants of other tribes like the Natchez and Shawnee. Prior to 1794, the Cherokee existed only as a series of independent towns, but following the Chickamauga Wars, the towns united to form a nation government and named Little Turkey their Principal Chief. The Chickamauga, or Lower Cherokee, reunified with the Cherokee Nation (made up of towns or clans that had signed peace treaties with the U.S.) in 1809.

From 1802 to 1830, the U.S. government attempted to have the Cherokee voluntarily remove themselves from the state of Georgia to a reservation in the Arkansaw District. During this period the Cherokee Nation ratified a constitution (creating three branches of government like the U.S.), developed a police force and judiciary system and adopted Sequoyah’s written syllabary of their language.

This bright period of Cherokee independence was short-lived. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 began an ugly period of American history, as native tribes were forcibly removed from their homes and marched westward on the Trail of Tears.

The Cherokee Nation found itself in a new home with its constitutional government seated in Talequah – in what is now Oklahoma. As the United States set about creating the state of Oklahoma from the Indian Territory, the Cherokee Nation was eventually dissolved. The last attempt at the maintenance of sovereignty was the suggest State of Sequoyah, an effort by the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole to create a state within the union with a native constitution and government. The effort, needless to say, failed.

Coming tomorrow: #1-4

Today’s post covered nations and republics you’ve likely heard of. Tomorrow, we get to the fun ones! Come back then. And remember to share RSM’s post with your friends.

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  1. Beyond the CSA: 12 Extinct Nations of the South, pt. 2 | Real Southern Men - June 7, 2012

    […] We continue our look into short-lived nations and republics of the South. To read part one, go here. […]

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