If every acknowledged separatist group in North America (That is, Canada, America and Mexico) had succeeded, what would the borders of modern day North America look like? Let's assume the following conditions:

  1. If two movements share borders, the one with more resources will win.
  2. The effects these nations would have on outside history does matter, as in no butterfly effect.
  3. The borders and events outside of North America does not matter.
  4. Only separatist movements past the eighteenth century matter
  5. Aboriginal groups do not count as many lack a central government, that and there's hundreds of them
  • 13
    $\begingroup$ Here is your sensitivity award for "Aboriginal groups do not count" $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Oct 22, 2016 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion what do you mean? $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Oct 22, 2016 at 23:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Every state in the US has a sepratist movement as such there would be no US... $\endgroup$
    – Durakken
    Oct 23, 2016 at 5:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b: You know that there are native inhabitants of North America? Do you e.g. include the Navajo nation in your list of "acknowledged separatist group"? $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2016 at 13:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rule 1, as long as two countries share a border (maritime border included?), the weakest gets absorbed by the strongest nation. This continues until there is no other nations left to annex. That's how i understand, unless my logic is flawed. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Oct 23, 2016 at 18:46

4 Answers 4


The notion of all secessionist efforts succeeding isn't really coherent because one movement would impact others and the levels of seriousness of some of the efforts vary greatly.

But, some useful background data is here:

Quebec in Canada, has made secessionist bids (and failed). There have also been discussions at times about the maritime provinces of Canada forming a separate dominion.

Nunavut which was part of the Northwest Territories in Canada until 1999 received a semi-sovereign status as the equivalent of an Indian Reservation in the U.S.

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The Pacific Northwest, called the Oregon Territory was ceded from the U.K. to the U.S. in the Treaty of 1818.

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The Northern part of the Oregon territory was ceded back to the U.K. in 1846.

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Keep in mind that until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, most of the Mississippi River basin was under French Sovereignty.

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Until 1870, much of Canada was part of the U.K. and not Canada (Oregon Territory, all of which was once part of the U.S., included essentially all of what is shown as "British Columbia" on the map below).

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The state of Chiapas in Mexico, sometimes with the state of Oaxaca in Mexico has has insurgencies seeking indigenous people's rights. Part of Chiapas was once part of the Federal Republic of Central America (which existed in some form or another from 1821-1841).

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The republic consisted of the present-day states of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. (Panama was part of Bolivar's República de Colombia in 1821, Belize later became a British colony in 1862.) In the 1830s, an additional sixth state was added – Los Altos, with its capital in Quetzaltenango – occupying parts of what are now the western highlands of Guatemala and Chiapas state in southern Mexico. Maps and borders hardly existed at the time so locations are only approximate.

Obviously, there were the Confederate States of America including Texas which was an independent Republic for a while (with somewhat different borders). Also, parts of Kentucky and Missouri attempted to secede but failed, and West Virginia rejoined the union after Virginia's secession.

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Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, parts of Colorado and California and much of the territory in between was part of Mexico until in was acquired by conquest in the Mexican-American War (most of the action took place from 1846-1848). Prior to the Mexican-American War the boundaries of the region looked like this:

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Early on in the Mexican American War, Anglo settlers in the Mexican State of Alta California briefly attempted to form the Bear Republic, which might have persisted if annexation to the U.S. had not followed:

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A separate New England confederation was seriously discussed in the early 1800s and might have included some of the Maritime provinces of Canada.

Alaska was part of Russia until it was purchased by the U.S. in 1867.

Hawaii (f.k.a. the Sandwich Islands) doesn't necessarily have a secessionist movement, but it was an independent kingdom and there are efforts underway to give native Hawaiians recognized under a trust created by the former king legal status as an Indian tribe.

The legal term for territory in the United States subject to Native American tribal sovereignty is Indian Country.

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Puerto Rico has had an independence movement ever since it became a U.S. territory following the Spanish-American War in 1898 which also brought exterior possessions such as the Philippines to the U.S. that were later ceded.

Florida was ruled by Spain from 1513–1763, then by the British from 1763–1783, and then by Spain again from 1783–1821, after which it became a U.S. territory and then state until 1861 when it joined the Confederate States of America until it was forcefully returned to the United States in 1865.

A State of Deseret was proposed in 1849 and likely would have sought to secede if successfully formed. There was a short insurgency in Utah from 1857-1858 called the Utah War.

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To quote a Wikipedia summary of recent secessionist efforts (citations omitted):

Alaska: In November 2006, the Alaska Supreme Court held in the case [Kohlhaas v. State] that secession was illegal, and refused to permit an initiative to be presented to the people of Alaska for a vote. The Alaskan Independence Party remains a factor in state politics.

California: This was discussed by involved grassroots movement parties and small activist groups calling for the state to secede from the union, they met in a pro-secessionist meeting in Sacramento on April 15, 2010 to discuss advancing the matter. In 2015, a Political Action Committee called the "Yes California Independence Committee" formed to advocate California's independence from the United States. On January 8, 2016, the California Secretary of State's office confirmed that a political body called the California National Party filed the appropriate paperwork to begin qualifying as a political party. The California National Party, whose primary objective is California independence, is running a candidate for State Assembly in the June 7, 2016 primary.

Florida: The mock 1982 secessionist protest by the Conch Republic in the Florida Keys resulted in an ongoing source of local pride and tourist amusement. In 2015, right-wing activist Jason Patrick Sager called for Florida to secede.

Georgia: On April 1, 2009, the Georgia State Senate passed a resolution, 43–1, that asserted the right of states to nullify federal laws under some circumstances. The resolution also asserted that if Congress, the president, or the federal judiciary took certain steps, such as establishing martial law without state consent, requiring some types of involuntary servitude, taking any action regarding religion or restricting freedom of political speech, or establishing further prohibitions of types or quantities of firearms or ammunition, the constitution establishing the United States government would be considered nullified and the union would be dissolved.

Hawaii: The Hawaiian sovereignty movement has a number of active groups that have won some concessions from the state of Hawaii, including the offering of H.R. 258 in March 2011, which removes the words "Treaty of Annexation" from a statute. It has passed a committee recommendation 6-0 thus far.

With the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to hear District of Columbia v. Heller in late 2007, an early 2008 movement began in Montana involving at least 60 elected officials addressing potential secession if the Second Amendment were interpreted not to grant an individual right, citing its compact with the United States of America.

New Hampshire: On September 1, 2012 "The New Hampshire Liberty Party was formed to promote independence from the federal government and for the individual." The Free State Project is another NH based movement that has considered secession to increase liberty. On July 23, 2001 founder of the FSP, Jason Sorens, published "Announcement: The Free State Project", in The Libertarian Enterprise stating, "Even if we don't actually secede, we can force the federal government to compromise with us and grant us substantial liberties. Scotland and Quebec have both used the threat of secession to get large subsidies and concessions from their respective national governments. We could use our leverage for liberty."

South Carolina: In May 2010 a group formed that called itself the Third Palmetto Republic, a reference to the fact that the state claimed to be an independent republic twice before: once in 1776 and again in 1860. The group models itself after the Second Vermont Republic, and says its aims are for a free and independent South Carolina, and to abstain from any further federations.

Texas Secession Movement: The group Republic of Texas generated national publicity for its controversial actions in the late 1990s. A small group still meets. In April 2009, Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, raised the issue of secession in disputed comments during a speech at a Tea Party protest saying "Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that...My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that."

Vermont: The Second Vermont Republic, founded in 2003, is a loose network of several groups that describes itself as "a nonviolent citizens' network and think tank opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government, and committed to the peaceful return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and more broadly the dissolution of the Union." Its "primary objective is to extricate Vermont peacefully from the United States as soon as possible."[100] They have worked closely with the Middlebury Institute created from a meeting sponsored in Vermont in 2004. On October 28, 2005, activists held the Vermont Independence Conference, "the first statewide convention on secession in the United States since North Carolina voted to secede from the Union on May 20, 1861". They also participated in the 2006 and 2007 Middlebury-organized national secessionist meetings that brought delegates from over a dozen groups.

Republic of Lakotah: Some members of the Lakota people of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota created the Republic to assert the independence of a nation that was always sovereign and did not willingly join the United States; therefore they do not consider themselves technically to be secessionists.

Pacific Northwest: Cascadia: There have been repeated attempts to form a Bioregional Democracy Cascadia in the northwest. The core of Cascadia would be made up through the secession of the states of Washington, Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia, while some supporters of the movement support portions of Northern California, Southern Alaska, Idaho and Montana joining, to define its boundaries along ecological, cultural, economic and political boundaries.

Northwest Front: The Northwest Front is a white separatist movement that is advocating for the formation of an independent sovereign republic in the Pacific Northwestern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana, that will serve as a "white homeland" for white people throughout the world. The nationalist movement is led by Harold Covington. League of the South: The group seeks "a free and independent Southern republic" made up of the former Confederate States of America. It operated a short-lived Southern Party supporting the right of states to secede from the Union or to legally nullify federal laws.

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  • $\begingroup$ Am I reading that correctly? Georgia's state senate decided they can just declare the Constitution void and break up the United States? I suppose all the other states would just shrug and say, "Oh, well, if Georgia says so, then I guess that's the end of that." $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Oct 23, 2016 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ I actually have a name for that kind of behavior. I call it the "sovereignty of the group" because the larger a group decision making body is the harder a time it has of limiting itself to externally imposed constraints. The Georgia Senate is a large enough decision making body that it tends to behave in that manner. $\endgroup$
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 24, 2016 at 0:34

Well, if you want to account for history within the past 200 years or so, the first obvious one is that the southern states would have seceded after the U.S. Civil War. Then, if you don't care about individual U.S. state borders, you might assume the rest of the present-day contiguous United States belongs to the Union.

Without a strong definition of what you mean by a separatist movement, you can argue that Texas might even be an independent state entity, following independence from Mexico and subsequently either never joining the U.S., or later seceding from it.

And, of course let's not forget the noble Conch Republic.

Things get tricky when you include Native American Indian populations in the discussion (and by that I mean all Native American groups throughout North America). We don't tend to think of Native American Indians as "separatists," per se, but I suppose in a technical sense you could look at them that way. If you do then that opens a whole other can of worms that hurts my head just trying to think about how things could play out.

It might be helpful to narrow your parameters a bit for us.

Finally, just some food for thought:

Insofar as "history" in the technical sense, we don't have written documentation of most indigenous groups until Europeans encounter them (directly or through second-hand knowledge). So, the first accounts of many of groups start roughly between the 1490s to the 1540s for Central America, South America, and the Southern United States. European contact of the Northeast U.S. and Canada is in swing by the 1600s, and gradually moves west over a long period of time.

I highlight the years here because the arrival of European explorers generates new conflict in areas that already had their own conflicts going on before Europeans showed up. For example, Cortés' expedition found things pretty antagonistic between groups and attempted to use those sentiments to his advantage to garner support against the Aztec empire.

Anyway, my point is, you might want to consider not looking at cases in a pure vacuum. I'm not saying Butterfly Effect, as you mention, but taking into account events that occur near each other temporarily or physically could be useful.

In a somewhat vaguer sense, the archaeological record also suggests to us just how fluid geopolitical factors can be, but that's probably beyond the scope of this question.


Although not directly speaking of separatist movements, Joel Garreau's book "The Nine Nations of North America" lays out a fairly compelling case that much of North America can be divided into regions corresponding roughly to ecological zones.

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The Nine Nations of North America

This makes a certain amount of sense since the primary industries and wealth creation of a region often depends on factors like what can be grown there, or if there is enough rainfall to support hydroelectric energy, to cite two top of the head examples. Even if historical separatist movements were created for political reasons, often this can be traced to changing demographics and economics in certain regions. "Dixie" very roughly corresponds to much of the Confederacy, and their agricultural society was rapidly being eclipsed by the more productive industrial economy of the Union (corresponding very loosely to New England and "The Foundry"). The ultimate contest between the Union and Confederacy was over who would control the remainder of America, and in particular who would set the conditions for slavery? You could see that in a stalemated post Civil War America, there would be possibilities of the USA and CSA to undergo further transformations as areas like "The Breadbasket" realized that their interests were not aligned with the other parts of America.

More recently, Robert Kaplan has written a book called "An Empire Wilderness". While it is also written from a "Geography is History" perspective, Kaplan views things in a much more granular fashion, looking at micro regions like river valleys and drainage basins as elements defining how people will align themselves in the future (often ignoring existing state and political boundaries). Certainly political separatist movements would derive a great deal of strength from regions feeling ignored or set upon by other regions, and especially where there seems to be little recourse.

Canada's "Western Separatist Movement", for example arose out of the frustration of Western Canada being regarded as a source of raw materials for central Canada. Since there were not enough Parliamentary ridings across the Western provinces, politicians generally ignored Western concerns, but gleefully plundered Western resources (for example a net $2 billion/year tax transfer from Alberta to fund political initiatives in Quebec under the guise of "Equalization"). This finally abated as demographic shifts mean no Canadian government needs to assure a majority in Quebec to be elected.

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Proposed flag of the Western Separatist Movement

A similar idea surfaced not too long ago to split California into several parts, one key reason would be the distinct geographical divide between the well watered Northern California and the relatively parched Southern California.

So while this may not be a historical survey, thinking of geographical factors may help you pinpoint areas where the separatist movements of the past were more serious, or had greater possibilities of success.


Alternate state partitions
(source: washingtonpost.com)


There used to be a real neat map floating around the internet, which had what you were looking for. I can't find it via Google, it may only live in people's hard-drives (for example, I'm sure I saved it... somewhere).

And here's a few off the top of my head:

  • Hawaii (a conquered, occupied nation)
  • Confederate States of America
  • Alaskan Independence Party
  • Arizona
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Ontario
  • Puerto Rico
  • Quebec
  • Rhode Island
  • San Juan Islands
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Alberta and British Columbia
  • State of Absaroka
  • State of Chicago
  • State of Delmarva
  • State of Jefferson (4 different locations)
  • State of Kanawha
  • State of Sequoyah (indigenous, but organized)
  • State of Superior (Ontonagon)
  • State of Westmoreland
  • Free State of Winston
  • Free and Independent State of Scott
  • Republic of Lakotah
  • Republic of Cascadia
  • Republic of Indian Stream
  • Republic of Madawaska
  • Republic of New Afrika
  • Republic of Vermont
  • Second Vermont Republic
  • Great Republic of Rough and Ready
  • Conch Republic
  • People’s Republic of North Star
  • Maritime Republic of Eastport
  • Artist's Republic of Fremont
  • Trans-Oconee Republic
  • Essex Junto
  • New England
  • Ishamelites
  • Cimaroon Territory
  • Huron Territory
  • Jefferson Territory (different from the State)
  • Lincoln Territory
  • McDonald Territory
  • Northwest Angle
  • Toledo Strip
  • Christian Exodus
  • Kingdom of Beaver Island
  • Free District of Michigan
  • Free City of Tri-Insula
  • Acadia
  • Adelsverein
  • Albania (in the US)
  • Alcatraz Nation
  • Ararat
  • Arizona Strip
  • Atlantis, Isle of Gold
  • Azatlan (indigenous, but organized)
  • Baja Arizona
  • Block Island
  • Boston
  • Boon Island
  • Carson's Valley
  • Charlotina
  • Chesapeake
  • Cherokee Nation (indigenous, but organized)
  • Chippewa (indigenous?)
  • Comancheria
  • Cuba
  • Cumberland Association
  • Dade County
  • Dakota
  • Deseret
  • East Florida
  • West Florida
  • South Florida
  • Eastern Shore
  • Forgottonia
  • Franklin
  • Galveston Island
  • Golden Circle
  • Great Dismal Swamp
  • Greenland
  • Guyana
  • Half-Breed Tracts
  • Hazard
  • Howland
  • Iceland
  • Jacinto
  • Justus Township
  • Kenney
  • Kingdom of Paradise
  • Little Shell Pembima Band of North America (indigenous?)
  • Long Island
  • Lost Dakota
  • Lower California
  • Martha's Vineyard
  • Miner's Compact
  • Mohawk Nation (indigenous?)
  • Montezuma
  • Muscongus Island
  • Muskogee
  • Nataqua
  • Natchez
  • Navajo (indigenous, but organized)
  • Navassa
  • Negro Fort
  • New Columbia
  • New Connecticut
  • New Sweden
  • New York City
  • Newfoundland
  • Nickajack
  • No Man's Land
  • North Dumpling
  • North Slope
  • Northern Colorado
  • Northern Massachusetts
  • Oyotunji
  • Panama
  • Popham
  • Potomac
  • Rio Rico
  • San Francisco
  • Shasta
  • Sonora
  • South California
  • South Jersey
  • South Nebraska
  • South Texas
  • Sylvania
  • Texlahoma
  • Transylvania (in the US)
  • Vandalia (Westsylvania)
  • Vegas
  • Washitaw
  • Watagua Association
  • West Kansas
  • Whiskey Rebellion
  • Winneconne
  • Wyoming Valley
  • Yazoo
  • Yucatan

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