1777 – upper portion of upstate NY secedes
1791- seceded portion becomes the State of Vermont
1962 and 1964 – precedent of “one man, one vote” established
2013 – Stephen Hawley introduces a bill that would allow each NYS county to provide feedback for possible secession
Currently, there are various groups calling for upstate secession, with various amounts of cohesion. Upstate New Yorkers claim that they have been adversely affected by policies created by New York City politicians, causing them economic and social hardship. Some have called for New York State to be split up into New York (downstate) and New Amsterdam (upstate). One of the largest disputes among various secession groups is where to classify upstate and downstate. Some say the southern border of New Amsterdam should stretch horizontally from Pennsylvania, while others say that New Amsterdam should encompass everything except Long Island and the NYC Metro Area. The biggest actors currently are: NewAmsterdamny.com, UpstateNYSecede, State Senator Joseph Robach, and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.
While the upstate New York secessionist movement is not based on ethnic identity, upstate New Yorkers share a cultural identity based on shared history as well as political, economic, and demographic factors. Upstate New Yorkers generally also share political and economic interests, which provides both cultural unity within upstate as well as significant reasons to break away from downstate. Upstate tends to be a blend of conservatives and moderate liberals. Also, Upstate New Yorkers share certain economic concerns, such as the loss of manufacturing jobs and the flight of businesses that once were central to upstate New York’s economy. Upstate New Yorkers in favor of secession believe that NYC, which is more liberal and has economic interests that are quite distinct from those of upstate, has too much influence in Albany. They argue that this negatively affects upstate, particularly by pushing a more liberal agenda and passing regulations that are driving business out of upstate, resulting in decreasing economic opportunity and freedom. The strategy of upstate New York secessionists is mainly based around amending the NYS Constitution. To do this, the proposal for a NYS Constitutional Convention on the 2017 ballot would need to be passed, and delegates who will support the amendment that would split New York into two different states would have to be elected.
Mission Statement and Goals
In our project, we are tracking the upstate New York secession movement, from the founding of New York State to the present. We are hoping to provide a comprehensive, easily navigated, website that would consolidate information about various upstate NY secessionist groups, as well as explain and analyze their motivations and goals.
We will start by looking at the history of upstate NY secession, by looking briefly at the Vermont secession. Then we will proceed to making a timeline about the movement and tracking it through history. We will focus a lot on the specific grievances presented by upstate NY secessionists and how they evolved over time, specifically since we are dealing with a movement that related to politico-economic grievances. We will end by looking at the current status of the movement, putting emphasis on the various groups currently engaged in upstate secession activism and the legislators in the NYS assembly and senate with upstate NY secession on their agendas. Finally, we will look at the future of the NYS secession movement by researching the upcoming NYS constitutional convention and efforts made by secessionist groups to influence constitution writing.
One goal of our site is to consolidate information on one database, since there are currently many web pages, news articles, and social media pages dedicated to various upstate NY secession movements. However, our primary aim is to explain and analyze the goals and motivations of the many groups involved in the upstate New York secession movement. This includes both leadership analysis and regional analysis of the movement.
Our audience will be primarily college students in this course, our professors, and future employers who might want an example our our technical skills. We will further make a consolidated effort to make accessible to other New Yorkers looking for research about upstate secession and activists hoping to find information and link up to groups using our page. Because of the diversity of New York State, we will ensure to use layman’s terms to describe political concepts and use simple interactive imagery, so it would be accessible to older generations of site visitors. It is our mission to also make the site very hyperlink heavy, to lead visitors to more information and primary sources, since this is a contemporary, and quickly evolving issue.
Basic Site Structure and Intended Features
Our site will consist of multiple sections with different focuses. We will have a homepage with a brief overview and pictures. There will also be an “About” section where we talk about the class and the project and and “About Us” section where we introduce ourselves. A page or section will be devoted to the history of the movement, including the Vermont secession, relevant court cases, and relevant past legislation, to act as a primer to the movement and its history in upstate. This is where we will put a timeline of events. In the history section, we will analyze the various motives and grievances that have led the upstate NY secessionist movement and further calls for autonomy in the past. There will be another section to address more current aspects of the movement. This will include pages on individual actors, group actors, legislation, and strategy. This is where much of the analysis on leadership and specific movements will be focused. A final section will be focused on the future of the movement, particularly the potential NYS constitutional convention and possible outcomes.
For our WordPress site, we will use the Hemingway theme because it readily displays pages and subpages. We will incorporate interactive elements into our website, specifically a timeline and a map. For the timeline, we will use TimelineJS. For the map, we will use StorymapJS. We will use Canva graphic design software to edit images.
In terms of our page layout, we intend to have a static home page giving a brief overview of the Upstate New York Secession movement. In the About Tab, we intend on having a brief blurb about the class itself, and then our own mini biographies. Then in history, we plan on consolidating all our history onto one page (since we are a rather current movement) and have the timeline on the History tab. In the Present Day tab, we intend on having a page dedicated to the interviews we did with the State legislators, a page detailing the New Amsterdam Movement, and a page detailing other Upstate New York secession movements we found on social media. Finally, we will have a page speculating on the future of the movement, specifically dealing with the upcoming referendum vote in New York State.
- February 13th – initial visit to Livingston County Historical Society for inquiry regarding possible information about upstate secession (Maria)
- February 17th – reach out to several key legislators who have sponsored bills regarding upstate NY secession in the past (Maria)
- February 23rd – Homepage, About page, and About Us page (Rachel)
- February 25th – meet in person again and go over contract edits (Rachel + Maria)
- February 27th – first draft of timeline (Maria) and storymap (Rachel)
- March 6th – Bibliography of secondary materials to be consulted (Maria + Rachel)
- March 10th – March 19th – Spring break, work on individual pages (Rachel: Politicians and Future; Maria: History, New Amsterdam, and Social Media Groups)
- March 20th — final contract due
- March 23rd – meet and go over website draft (Rachel + Maria)
- March 27th – first draft of website due
- March 27th – April 24th – meet weekly to consolidate individual progress
- April 24th – website must be completed (Rachel + Maria)
- April 25th – GREAT Day presentation