“The Stars and Stripes waved in a gentle breeze today above Dade County Courthouse, last citadel of the Confederacy.”
~Chattanooga Free Press, July 4, 1945
The story of the Independent State of Dade is, without question, a murky one. Some say that the event never actually happened, while others contend that Dade County was indeed an independent nation for 85 years. You decide.
In 1860, the Representative from Dade County, Georgia, Bob Tatum, gave a fiery speech on the floor of the state Capital in which he stated, “By the gods, gentlemen, if Georgia does not vote to secede immediately from the Union, Dade county will secede from the state and become the independent state of Dade.” When Georgia failed to pass a resolution to secede from the Union, Tatum returned to Dade County where, in a public meeting, the citizens of Dade decided to secede from the Union and the state of Georgia. Tatum sent secession proclamations to both the state and to Washington, D.C. and although neither Georgia nor the federal government recognized or even took the proclamations seriously, the citizens of Dade County took their independence seriously.
Dade County’s geographical position in the state added to the confusion of the region’s independence. At the time that Tatum made his proclamations in 1860, Dade County was very isolated. There were no roads that lead to the county from Georgia. To get to the county seat of Trenton, travelers had to leave Georgia into Tennessee then reenter Dade from the north; or leave the state into Alabama and reenter from the south. It would not be until 1940-41, when Highway 136 was constructed, that Dade County was officially connected to the rest of the state. Five years later (July 4th, 1945) the county fathers of the Independent State of Dade declared that they were readmitting themselves into the Union. The event was widely covered in local, state and national newspapers. “Dade County Ends ‘Secession’” was the headline in the New York Times. President Harry Truman dispatched a telegram of congratulations from Washington to the citizens of Dade County which ended with “Welcome home, pilgrims.”
It must be noted here that the U.S. Mint, in its 1999 creation and printing of the Georgia state quarter left the far northwest corner of the state off of the coin. It left out the Independent State of Dade. You decide!