In the 1970s, there was a region controlled by the United States which felt forgotten. Highway projects zoomed around them, railroads scurried by them, and there was no development going on at all. They received less in funds from the Federal government and their protests were ignored.

They were also divided by water from their neighbors. They had been acquired by their government in the aftermath of a war. As their economy slipped, people left. The region sank into poverty.

The 16 counties in the region decided to declare themselves a State. When that also was ignored, they declared war on the United States, and promptly surrendered without a battle. This, too, was ignored. Some thought their region should be the 51st State and some talked about it as though it were a country, although it was always under the control of the U.S.

The region was Western Illinois, and the people of the region were pulling a publicity stunt to draw attention to the lack of attention they were receiving from the Federal government. They were always part of the State of Illinois, and they never seriously pursued Statehood. Their declaration of war was a joke, designed to attract attention to the problems they faced.

But if they had wanted to leave Illinois and become their own State, it would not have been impossible for them to do so. Several States, including Vermont, Kentucky, and West Virginia had previously been claimed by other States. Western Illinois didn’t want to become the 51st state, but they were not willing to accept the unequal treatment they received when it came to infrastructure investments, development, and transportation.

Forgottonia intended to make the point that they should have equality with the rest of Illinois, across the river. They should be treated equally with neighboring states when it came to highway building and grants.

As a State, Illinois — and even the 16 counties that briefly became Forgottonia — has a right to expect equal treatment from the Federal government. The protest had some success, and both railways and highways were built there.

As an unincorporated territory, Puerto Rico doesn’t get that right. As a State, she would. Use the form at right to tweet your legislators, or email them if you prefer, and let them know that Puerto Rico should have equality.



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