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Residents of southern Oregon and northern California pursue the dream of seceding to form the state of Jefferson. Peter Laufer knows the area and the issues quite well, and shares, in this in-depth interview.Click here for free audiobook download from Audible, and earn $15 for the PBC Podcast!
Laufer is an independent journalist, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker working in traditional and new media. He is the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.
Laufer spent many years traveling through the region dubbed "Jefferson" by many residents, when his parents lived in Ashland. In his new book, he recaps the history of this region, and aspirations for separation dating to 1854, driven in part by pro-slavery forces. He details the 1941 efforts to form Jefferson, driven by the mayor of Port Orford and a highly creative columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Stanton Delaplane. While Pearl Harbor dealt a major setback, Delaplane's partly-fictional reporting won him a Pulitzer.
Laufer's book introduces us to an array of characters who support the idea of creating a new state, who offer different inaccurate accounts of the history and the potential for an independent state to survive. Laufer notes that, despite local perceptions of being ignored by Salem and Sacramento, the region gets more tax dollars than it pays; the prospects of getting statehood through Congress and the economic viability of statehood are equally dim, but realities do not seem to deter proponents.
At one point, we talk about a pretty talented music group called State of Jefferson, you can hear their music here.