Much to the chagrin of the many who like to mess with Texas, the White House two years ago told the Lone Star State that it could not, in fact, secede from the United States. But the secessionist sentiment that drove that petition is alive and well in Texas, and it's kicking up something of a brouhaha. The New York Times takes a look at the Republic of Texas—which is to say not the nation that existed for 10 years in the mid-1800s where the 28th state is now, but a group of "harmless, clueless, and interesting ... generally nice older guys with too much time on their hands," in the words of a former land commissioner who's been on the receiving end of the group's "amusing letters" demanding he leave office. Group members are fond of minting their own currency, debating legislation, warning about foreign (think: Oklahoma) intervention, and the like. Then came the group's Valentine's Day meeting, and things got a little hairy.
The Republic of Texas had no sooner handed out roses to the ladies in attendance at the VFW in Bryan when, as the Houston Chronicle reported at the time, in swept local cops, sheriff's officers, agents with the state DA, Texas Rangers, and FBI. They searched and fingerprinted all 60 members in what one sheriff acknowledges was a "show of force" in response to a summons the group sent a local judge. "I don’t have a problem with this group, but when they do things that violate the laws of this state, then I have to take action," he says. Among those accusing authorities of overkill is the Republic member who signed the summons: "They came in looking like John Dillinger and the gang were hiding out." Feathers are decidedly ruffled, the group's profile has risen, and one member is demanding $3 million in money order or gold from a sheriff's investigator for "trespass upon liberty." As for secession, says the group's president, "We in the Republic do not need to secede, because we never ceded it to them to start with." (Read more Texas stories.)