Secluded in the extreme northwestern section of the State of Georgia reside the independent and free spirited people of Dade County.
Unlike much of the state, Dade County is positioned in the Appalachian Mountains and boasts of breathtaking mountain vistas including the 1,800′ deep Cloudland Canyon – complete with two waterfalls cascading into pools below.
Since the county’s formation in 1837, the people of this rugged land were forced to adopt a self-reliant attitude. Separated from the rest of their state by a massive canyon, the State of Georgia did not have a road connecting to Dade County until 1939. Prior to that time, the county could only be accessed through Alabama and Tennessee.
Feeling forgotten by state officials in Atlanta, county leaders seized the opportunity to make a clean break from the state during the onset of the Civil War.
Robin Ford, a local reporter, described the county’s secession in the following words:
“Dade County, sick and tard of Georgia’s shillyin’ and shallyin’ at the beginning of the Civil War, seceded individually from the Union in 1860, declaring its independence not only from the U.S. but from a state that couldn’t make up its mind. Thus the feisty little county was a sovereign nation – the Independent State of Dade…”
Unlike the rest of the southern states that seceded from the union in the opening days of the Lincoln Administration, union officials overlooked forcing Dade County to officially rejoin the union, following the war. A tiny detail that was not overlooked by county residents, who continued to claim sovereignty over the next 85 years.
It wasn’t until the end of World War II – in a frenzy of patriotism – that the county chose to once again officially pledge allegiance to the United States. On July 4, 1945, a telegram from President Harry S Truman was read at a celebration marking the county’s rejoining the Union.
According to Ford, “There was a military band playing, a crowd of an estimated 4,000 in front of the Dade County courthouse thunderously voting ‘aye’ to rejoin the U.S., a national radio broadcast and a triumphantly waved telegram from President Harry S. Truman congratulating the tiny nation of Dade on its reentry into the Union. ‘Welcome home, pilgrims,’ concluded Truman’s message.”
So for the next half-century all seemed good… until the State of Georgia’s official state quarter was released on July 19, 1999.
Residents of the forgotten county immediately noticed that the state’s northwestern boundary curved inward, just east of the northwesternmost county of Dade.
State leaders, as well as the federal mint, maintained that the county had been accidentally left off the quarter; though many residents of the historic community claim it was no accident – suggesting they were excluded intentionally.
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