The secessionist movements of upstate New York have a long history. In 1777, an upper portion of New York successfully seceded during the American Revolution and officially became the state of Vermont in 1791. Since then, various movements from upstate New York have been formed around the basis that upstate New York should secede from downstate.

The most pressing reasons are presented to be political. Baker v Carr (1962) and Reynolds v Sims (1964) established the precedent of “one man, one vote” giving New York City (NYC), a small portion of New York State (NYS) which holds a significant percentage of the population, political influence in both state and national legislatures. Most recently, in February 2013, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley introduced a bill that would allow each county in NYS to provide feedback regarding a possible partition.

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

Secessionist groups are wishing to secede from New York State. Currently, there is a demographic divide between downstate and upstate New York. While downstate NY occupies roughly 4,000 square miles, it houses over 12 million people, while upstate stretches across 54,000 square miles while only housing 7 million. The economic differences are also important to note. Downstate residents have a GDP per capita of $71,181 while upstate residents have a GDP per capita of 51,807, below the US average GDP per capita of 53,041. Demographically, downstate NY has a higher percentage of non-white minorities and immigrants, while upstate NY tends to be more Caucasian and house generational families.

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. As mentioned before, upstate New Yorkers are mostly Caucasian and are not recent immigrants, and they have a shared history dating back to the colonial period, when much of upstate was not yet part of New York State. 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.

On our website, we would like to examine this movement’s history, including its origins, motives, and strategy, and make our research on this topic accessible to the public. We plan on including interactive elements, such as a timeline to show the movement’s history and a map of New York State districts.