Due to cultural divides, the borders of New York State have been contested since the state was founded. Though the Vermont secession might not seem relevant in the context of upstate New York secession, the cultural heritage of a successful secession movement right near the borders of upstate New York is embedded into the memory of New Yorkers. Culturally, upstate New Yorkers might share more with residents of Vermont or Pennsylvania, than with their downstate New York counterparts. Upstate geographical proximity to those other states makes the division between upstate and downstate even more tangible with those who are unsatisfied with the way their government is run.

The historical and modern argument for secession has been economic and resource based. In the early years of New York state, development between the urban center of New York City and the rest of the state was far more even than it is today. While the city was a population center, technology and business had not yet evolved the city into the wealth creating behemoth that it is now. Furthermore, agriculture was traditionally a profitable source of income, and therefore wealth and population were much more evenly distributed among the state. As wealth and population disparities increased, so did the desire for secession.

Historically, however, it was not always upstate that was dissatisfied. In 1969, there was a downstate push to secede from upstate New York as dynamics in the state capitol of Albany held up social reforms that the city wanted to pursue. However, as politics, population, and resource flows evolved, it was upstate New York that grew frustrated with the progress of the state.

Today, economic issues become interwoven with social ones. Because of the relative cultural and demographic homogeneity of upstate New York, upstate residents inevitably “other” downstate residents, making reconciliation difficult. The more cultural grievances and divides are presented against residents of downstate, the harder meaningful reconciliation and compromise via legislation and wealth distribution will be.