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In 1855, the California State Assembly passed a plan to trisect the state. All of the southern counties as far north as Monterey, Merced, and part of Mariposa, then sparsely populated but today containing about two-thirds of California's total population, would become the State of Colorado (the name Colorado was later adopted for another territory established in 1861), and the northern counties of Del Norte, Siskiyou, Modoc, Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Tehama, Plumas, and portions of Butte, Colusa (which included what is now Glenn County), and Mendocino, a region which today has a population of little more than half a million, would become the State of Shasta. The primary reason was the size of the state's territory. At the time, the representation in Congress was too small for such a large territory, it seemed too extensive for one government, and the state capital was too inaccessible because of the distances to Southern California and various other areas. The bill eventually died in the Senate as it became very low priority compared to other pressing political matters.

I found myself interested in some possible state border differences in the course of writing my setting, and this one stuck out to me as a really interesting one. What if it had split back in 1855? Taking a look at how California actually turned out, offhand it looks like the result would be:

1.) Shasta: Northern section. Comparatively rural and conservative, like some of the mountain states.

2.) California: Middle section. Contains the modern silicon valley. Mini-California, basically. Solid economy based on how much of real California's economic production comes from the Bay Area.

3.) Colorado: Southern section. The Hollywood part. (Los Angeles, Colorado...interesting ring to it) Based on actual economic data, this would be the most productive one.

This seems too simplistic to leave things at, though. There is, of course, the issue of The Civil War. Since this trisect happens in the lead up to The Civil War, and Californians originally voted adamantly to be a Free State, it seems obvious a trisect would result in three Free States. From what I've read, the various compromises on the issue were really starting to fray by this point, so maybe this accelerates the issue if it actually went through.

Given how huge California is, one would think a trisected one to have other consequences. California has such a huge economy that many of its rules wind up affecting things outside the state, as it's just economical to do go along with them, for one rather than not be compliant with such a big consumer base. However, given how concentrated that economic power and associated clout is in the southern and middle trisected parts (especially the southern one), I wonder just how much would actually change. There's also bound to be some legislative stuff, but there's so much there I'm not sure where to start.

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    $\begingroup$ Please narrow down the scope to a specific problem. "What if X happened?" is overly broad $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 20 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ You are asking a question about politics, which can go any way you want it to. Here's an example: A rabblerouser in Shasta convinced and daunted it to rejoin Mexico instead of the USA, drawing the USA and Mexico into a second war followed by a tepid peace. Mexico rallied support to defeat the Hawaiian coup of 1898, and supported the insurgencies in Cuba and Phillipines, followed by a third war in 1916 that kept the USA out of WW1, Without the USA's involvement, the Great War ended differently: Germany and Austria-Hungary survived intact. Etc. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Apr 20 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, it would make more sense than the monolithic huge thing that California is nowadays. It tries to represent so many different cultures, different interests, with the differences imposed by geography. Realistically, California is not a state, it is a country. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Apr 20 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Sam, sorry you didn't get an answer to your question. Why don't you try asking it at alternatehistory.com? The boards there are pretty active, they're happy to answer open-ended questions that don't fit the StackExchange format, and there are already a few threads on similar topics :) $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ In your speculation, you are ignoring just how Southern California got to be like it is today. It pulled a lot of water from the rest of the state (and electricity). Without the rest of the state, LA would not be able to have grown. It would have been a desert like Baja California. So, to make it as economic as today, it would have needed to forge close ties with the other two parts. That might not have happened and it might not have grown. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Apr 20 at 21:23

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