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Featured Map: Conch Republic's 35th Anniversary
"We Seceded Where Others Failed!"
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Conch Republic's declaration of independence from the United States, celebrated throughout the Florda Keys over ten days of festivities.
Events begain on 18 April 1982 when the U.S. Border Patrol set up a roadblock and checkpoint just north of the The Last Chance Saloon in Florida City, near the junction of US 1 and Card Sound Rd., the only two roads connecting the mainland to the Florida Keys. The vehicle inspections created traffic jams stretching at least 17 miles long (reports vary, with some saying the backups were as long as 23 miles). The impact on tourism in the Keys was substantial and the Key West City Council complained to the federal government. That complaint was ignored and courts rejected an injunction so five days later the city council declared independence, noting that if the U.S. was going to treat the Keys like a foreign nation they might as well be one. Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlow was named Prime Minister of the Conch Republic.
The Conch Republic flag was raised over Key West's city hall and the new country declared war on the United States. The schooner Western Union sailed into the harbor and attacked U.S. Coast Guard cutter Diligence (WMEC-616) with water balloons, Conch fritters, and stale Cuban bread. The Diligence returned fire with fire hoses. Prime Minister Wardlow soon surrendered and demanded $1 billion in foreign aid from the United States, which soon removed the roadblock (but failed to provide any foreign aid).
Today's Featured Map shows the cities of the Conch Republic served by airports and/or seaplane bases (the complete list can be found by searching for "Conch Republic") along with the approximate location of the roadblock.
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