July 21 is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday, though today’s show is actually about his brother.

Like his famous sibling, Leicester Hemingway was a novelist and a storyteller.

But he did something big brother never got to do: he created his own micronation.


By his own admission this wasn’t 100 percent serious; he said once that the goals were to have fun and make money.

Nonetheless, on July 4, 1964, Leicester Hemingway announced that he had founded the Republic of New Atlantis on an island off the coast of Jamaica.

The “island” was actually an 8 foot by 30 foot raft anchored in place by an old engine block.

And the country was only half of the raft; the other half he claimed for the United States through a 19th century law intended to secure guano deposits.

Hemingway created a constitution, mostly based on the American one.

His wife sewed a New Atlantis flag, there was a currency called the scruple, cause you never want to be without scruples.

And he sold stamps, even though the Universal Postal Union didn’t recognize them or their host country.

In 1965, Leicester Hemingway was elected the first president of his own micronation, and he would be the last.

The raft vanished a couple years after the founding of New Atlantis.

But not before its founder added another memorable quote from a Hemingway: “There’s no law that says you can’t start your own country,”


On this day in 1958, TIME Magazine reported on an Ira Tossie of Orlando, Florida, who had just made his first payment on a new Chevrolet.

Why report on a car payment?

Because Ira Tossie was a farmer, who brought his first payment to Williams Brothers Motors in the form of 7,800 pounds of potatoes.

And yes, they accepted the payment!

Contents of a country: Leicester Hemingway’s Republic of New Atlantis (University of Texas)

Miscellany, Jul. 21, 1958 (TIME)

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Flag by Hyméros, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.