Today in 1850, a man in California decided to start his own country.
And while it didn’t last, and may not have happened at all, the name is unforgettable: the Great Republic of Rough and Ready.
There is a Rough and Ready, California today, an hour or so north of Sacramento.
The community started in 1849 when about 25 miners came through the area and found gold.
One of them, A.A. Townsend, had served in the military under then-President Zachary Taylor, who was known as Old Rough and Ready.
So he suggested naming the new town Rough and Ready as a tribute to his old boss.
Lots of people came to California during the Gold Rush, but the ones who came to Rough and Ready apparently didn’t like paying mining taxes.
On April 7, 1850, a Colonel E.F. Brundage reportedly wrote a manifesto, which I guess you could call a rough declaration of why the area was ready for independence.
And he declared that neither the soil nor the gold it contained was under the authority of California or the United States.
We’re not totally sure if the Great Republic of Rough and Ready ever existed.
It could have just been an idea that Brundage or someone else had.
But either way, it didn’t last long.
Talk about independence died down, or the locals decided it wasn’t working out.
One story suggests that Rough and Ready residents went to another town to buy liquor and were told that as foreigners, they couldn’t buy anything!
So by Fourth of July 1850, they rejoined the U.S.
But the story has continued.
In fact, Rough and Readians have held an annual festival and chili cook off to celebrate their history.
It’s called Secession Days.
Easter is on Sunday.
Last year, the BBC reported on Sally Evans of Newport, Wales.
In 1951, her brother bought the then 11-year old a big chocolate Easter egg with the money from his first job.
More than 70 years later, it was still in its box.
“To eat it,” Evans said, “would be sacrilege.”
Independent Bent : Rough and Ready Still Celebrates Its 1850 Secession (Los Angeles Times)