"We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled do declare and ordain […] that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the 'United States of America,' is hereby dissolved."
The New England states are also off on their own, something that both New Englanders and non-New Englanders find very appealing. Sometimes, New England is combined with the Mid-Atlantic to form a Northeast country or it joins Canada.
Alaska is fused with the Canadian territories to form another Inuit province, or the Russians take it back. In some cases, if Russia is in its Soviet Russia mode, it will be named as Alaskan SSR.
A powerless rump state in Washington DC (or elsewhere if DC was destroyed or overrun), still claiming descent from the Federal government and issuing grandiose proclamations which are ignored by the rest of the 'country'.
…and so on. More details below.
If you have trouble with the concept of a Balkanized America, consider the 38-state Union imagined by C. Etzel Pearcy, geography professor at California State University, Los Angeles, in 1975. Pearcy's strategy groups cities together based on population centers, shared services, and similarity of lifestyle (for example, the New York metro area would be one state, rather than expanding into New Jersey and using bits of Connecticut and Pennsylvania as suburbs), so they would make reasonable estimates of the territory each neo-state could control. On paper, such a concept could save the country billions each year, but the obvious political Flame Warnote In the proposed state of Allegheny alone, the battle between Cleveland and Pittsburgh over which would be the capital would be epic. And bloody. makes it extremely unlikely.
After the End settings can sometimes have this on a more-factured scale, with a bunch of city-states that barely have any contact outside the random trade route. Odds are, most of them won't resemble the smoking husks they were built on at all, unless it was a Cosy Catastrophe.
A downplayed version of this trope can include mentioning this in the fiction's history, but never really going over overt detail of it. If a work refers to "the first American Civil War", or something of the like, this trope is in play.
If there's still an "official" U.S. government, but its control over the country is massively weakened, this can overlap with Vestigial Empire and is usually Fallen States of America. See also Invaded States of America. The polar opposite of this is Expanded States of America, in which America instead grows larger. A subtrope of Balkanize Me. This can be combined with some form of Punk Punk.
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Shirow Masamune's Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell both take place in the same universe, and the United States split up into three countries. A peaceful resolution of the Cold War in 1988 resulted in a portion of the United States turning into the Ameri-Soviet Union (renamed the Russo-American Alliance post real-life-1992.) After World War III turned Nuclear in 1996, the rest of the United States would divide as well.
The democratic United States Of America is reduced to the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
The Russo-American Alliance consists of Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and all of the rest of the New England states. They become minor allies to the main characters in Appleseed.
Imperial Americana AKA the American Empire takes up all the rest, including Washington D.C. After Non-Nuclear World War IV in 2019-2020, This industrial and militaristic extreme right-wing conservative nation resorted to aggressive foreign policies to help stabilize their economy, casting them as antagonists in Appleseed and in the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as a result.
∀ Gundam, which largely takes place in the American south, has a few different independent nations. At one point the country known as Inglessa, whose geography is not terribly well defined, was at war with Louisiana.
Judge Dredd of 2000 AD has Mega-Cities One (includes eastern Ontario) and Two (later nuked) on the east and west coasts, Mega-City Three (Texas City), Uranium City (in Alaska), Las Vegas (also eventually nuked) and the ungoverned and desolated Cursed Earth in between.
In DMZ, a second American Civil War has the Midwest fighting against both coasts, to the point where New Jersey and New York are on opposite sides and the title location (the Demilitarized Zone) is Manhattan Island, where an uneasy cease-fire has formed. DMZ says the free state movement was more of an idea than a territorial location, making it more in line with modern 4th generation warfare.
In Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin's Birth of a Nation, after election fraud causes a George Bush look-alike to be elected president, the city of East St. Louis declares its independence from the United States to become Black Land. Very Anvilicious.
In Kurt Busiek's Alternate History comic Arrowsmith what would be the USA and Canada in our reality is (as of 1914) divided into the United States of Columbia, Acadia-Canada, Tejas, Deseret, California, Dakota, Newfoundland (Northern Canada and Alaska) and Grand Florida.
Played straight in the Superman story Red Son. The USA experiences a second civil war, with 16 "prodigal states" (including Georgia) successfully seceding. America gets better, but it takes President Lex Luthor to do so.
In the Old Man Logan story arc, the villains took over the US and it gotten broken up in several pieces with the US being the original thirteen colonies.
In the Captain Confederacy mini-series, the U.S. has balkanized into several different independent nations. One is trying to reunite them, by any means possible.
A smaller scale version than normal, but in the No Man's Land arc, Gotham suffers a massive earthquake that devastates the city. Rather than help fix it, the Federal Government and the state of New Jersey both carve Gotham out of their respective borders, turning it into a ruined city-state. Naturally, things got better and Gotham is back as part of the Union.
The 2012 Ultimate Marvel crossover Divided We Fall has this as its primary plot, as America is divided into several sovereign nations, with Texas now having access to nuclear armaments.
Dallas Barr had the Florida keys successfully seceding and forming the Conch republic.
Reimagined Enterprise features scenes set during the Postatomic Horror, where this has happened to the USA due to many competing continuity governments, and it is informally referred to as the Disunited States.
The Second Civil War depicts the break-up of the USA, starting with the secession of Idaho and snowballing from there.
The V for Vendetta movie, set in Britain Twenty Minutes into the Future, mentions a "Second American Civil War" afflicting "the former United States" (presumably by analogy with "the former Soviet Union"). There was no nuclear war in the movie, but from what little inter-national news is shown (on the propaganda-heavy television of the Norsefire Party) it looks like they have fallen into dire poverty and are plagued by disease to no end (though famine isn't among their problems, possibly).
In the Wild Wild West film, Loveless proposes to ally with some foreign governments to do this to the burgeoning United States. This has roots in the original series in which Dr. Loveless believed that California was rightfully his due to a Spanish land grant to his family before the Mexican Revolution.
In Idiocracy, the American flag has only twenty-five stars on it, so it’s possible half the states have seceded. On the other hand, there are only eleven stripes, so it’s possible it has simply been forgotten what the stars and stripes are supposed to represent. Or that nobody can count that high anymore.
Halo: Evolutions mentions a first American Civil War, hinting that the US fell into at least one more civil war between the present day and the 26th century.
Marie Lu's Legend Trilogy takes place with America being divided east to west: the dystopian Republic where the ghetto sectors are used for plague testing and the Colonies, which we have yet to learn about as of the end of Legend, but are suggested to be a shining utopia.
The Choose Your Own Adventure books Escape! and Beyond Escape! and the series Trio: Rebels in the New World took place in an America that had been split into the "nice" Turtalia, the evil Dorado, and Rebellium. This setting was explored in far greater detail in the Trio series (by the same author), which elaborated on the somewhat simplistic descriptions (and presented a more realistic view) by pointing out that Turtalia was a deliberate attempt to maintain the democratic ideals of the collapsed United States, while Dorado was a military dictatorship set up by a former crusading lawyer and the remains of the New Mexican National Guard, while "Rebellium" was simply a nickname given to the collection of warring city-states that made up much of the East Coast. There was a fair amount of corruption in Turtalia, as well as a number of soldiers in Dorado who sincerely believed that the only way to preserve civilization was to enforce totalitarian rule until things stabilized, and had no doubt that they were in the right and that the Turtalians were deluded idealists whose society would eventually collapse on itself.
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash takes place in a future where America has broken up into millions of "micronations", where a given McDonald's store, for example, would be on the sovereign soil of the McDonald's nation. The US government is still around, but they just mainly run the post office.
Max Barry (of NationStates fame) explored a similar setting in the novel Jennifer Government. Nearly all society and law is individually administered by corporations (right down to corporate sponsored schools and security firms), while what's left of the government is relatively weak and looked down upon. At the same time, however, what's known as "The United States" is a Space-Filling Empire, albeit one without a meaningful central government. It covers both North and South America, Great Britain, Australia, parts of Asia, and possibly other areas as well.
Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker series is set in a United States that never became one country to begin with. It features a New England still ruled from England by the Puritan Lord Protectorate, the hard-working United States, and the slave-owning southern Crown Colonies (home of the exiled House of Stuart), each a country unto itself. None of these reach further west than the Mississippi River, where the Native American nations stopped the colonial expansion.
Card also wrote a series of short stories (collected as "Folk of the Fringe") in which US society crumbled after a limited nuclear exchange with Russia. The Mormon church and the population of the mountain west establish a quasi-theocratic society called Deseret in Utah and the surrounding areas. While certainly not a utopia, this nation is implied to be relatively stable and successful, while much of the country has descended into anarchy.
Robert Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin trilogy takes place in a future where the United States is split into four pieces following the nuking of New York and D.C., with the northern states becoming an Islamic Republic and the southern states becoming "The Bible Belt", with Utah as Mormon territory and Nevada as a free state/American Amsterdam. The inside cover has a handy map.
In Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka's novel War Day, following a (relatively) limited nuclear exchange with the USSR, Washington DC has been destroyed and the US is slowly splintering into a collection of Balkanized nations, with California aggressively leading the pack.
The setting for his novel Friday balkanized the States in just this fashion, with Vicksburg being a center of a laissez-faire economy where the nation of Texas, for example, could go to hire mercenaries for use in battles along the Mississippi River. Meanwhile out on the west coast there is the California Confederacy, headed by a "Chief Confederate". There is also a Chicago Imperium which, despite the name, controls the entire Upper Midwest. Heinlein has it ruled by a "Chairman", thus averting an Anvilicious Take That to the Daley political machine in Chicago. Other nations included the Atlantic Union, Vegas Free State (centering on Las Vegas) and Deseret (Mormon-controlled Utah).
Another Heinlein setting (from his short story "If This Goes On...") had an oppressive theocracy as one part of a divided U.S. The theocracy ruled pretty much the whole U.S., with the exception of Hawaii (mentioned as an independent republic). His novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls had this as well. The theocracy, started by the prophet cum President Nehemiah Scudder, is part of Heinlein's "Future History," a title applied to a large percentage of his work which all takes place in the same Universe. Consequently, this version of the United States appears in much of Heinlein's fiction, though it may not be mentioned directly.
In His Dark Materials, Lee Scoresby is from the country of Texas. Supplemental material reveals that this world doesn't even have a United States; that area is instead taken up by New France and New Denmark.
The Wingman series by Mack Maloney (written in the 1980s) takes place in a setting where the United States was forcibly dismantled by the Soviet Union after being tricked into thinking that it lost World War III. However, by the end of the series, the country has reunited (primarily due to the heroes' efforts).
A Canticle for Leibowitz is set in a postapocalyptic North America and spans several hundred years. In the opening chapters, North America is divided into feudal kingdoms such as "Texarkana". Texarkana is the name of a city that straddles the border of Texas and Arkansas, likely one of the cities that managed to escape the war, and became a power center when people began to rebuild civilization.
Robert Silverberg's short story "The Palace at Midnight" is set in The Empire of San Francisco, in a really balkanised USA. One of the characters is the ambassador from the Republic of Monterey; also mentioned are the Holy Carolina Confederation, the Three Kingdoms of New York, the Realm of Wicca in Oregon, and The Grand Duchy of Chicago.
Richard Morgan's Black Man (also known as ''Thirteen' in North America) includes a United States that was forced to Balkanise through a mix of external and internal pressure; the remnants take the form of the fairly moderate, civilised North Atlantic Union, comprising the North East and New England, the extremely conservative, economically and socially backwards Confederate States of America (informally referred to as "Jesusland", in a nod to the common nickname for "Red State" America) and the capitalistic, libertarian Pacific Rim Union. The Union and the Rim don't get on particularly well, but both are united in their mutual distaste for the Republic, which is more than reciprocated.
Many Russian science fiction writers include in their novels a mention that the US has been split into several nation-states due to ideological differences and/or corruption. One notable exception is Mikhail Akhmanov's novel Invasion, in which the US actually merges with Canada to form United States and Canada (USC) and is as strong as ever (with Russia by its side).
The Deathlands action/adventure novels (by Jack Adrian et al) has a post-nuclear United States consisting entirely of feudal baronies, as no-one has the technology to control anything larger.
In The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, the main character visits a future in which the northeastern part of the United States has become a theocracy and closed itself off from the rest of the country.
In Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer, Appalachia is a dystopian theocracy independent from the United States.
Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia details the titular country, composed of the entire West Coast minus Southern California. A forerunner of "Cascadia", discussed elsewhere on this page.
The historical background of the Vorkosigan Saga involves the United States falling apart due to internal conflict. The borderline utopian Beta Colony in the series was an attempt to preserve the best of America and is a rather "Blue State" kind of place.
Stoney Compton's Russian Amerika features an alternate universe where North America is made up of The United States, The Confederate States, The First People's Nation, New France (Quebec), British Canada, The Republic of California, Deseret, The Republic of Texas, New Spain (Mexico), and the titular Russian Amerika (Alaska).
By the end of William R. Forstchen's One Second After China has taken over the West Coast, Mexico has grabbed a large chunk of the South West, the US Government controls the East Coast and the rest of the country is more or less up for grabs and in chaos.
In L. E. Modesitt's Ghosts series, history is different due to the presence of actual, scientifically-verifiable ghosts that appear after a violent death in which the person knows he or she is dying. North America is split into Columbia (a United States analogue where the Dutch are one of the prominent people), the Mormon Theocracy of Deseret, New France, and Quebec, among other things.
Daniel da Cruz's Republic of Texas trilogy. The title says it all.
Neil Cross's Christendom has this as part of its backstory—America collapsed into anarchy, but eventually the fundamentalist Christian nation of New Jerusalem arose on the East Coast and took back the rest of the country. After a series of wars, it went on to 'reclaim' parts of Australia, India, China, and northern Europe, as well as all of Egypt and Japan.
Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents takes place during the "Al-Can War", when Alaska successfully secedes from the United States. The rest of the country is in shambles and is being run by a fundamentalist Christian leader.
In Harry Turtledove's Alternate History/sci-fi work Disunited States of America, every state becomes its own country after the United States cease to exist because they kept the Articles of Confederation. California is an economic and technological superpower in the region and is one of the most liberal societies, while many former slave-owning states in the South have a racial caste/hierarchy/apartheid system where the white people are the top of the ladder while the blacks are treated as trash (with the exception of Mississippi, where the racial oppression is reversed). Some states are also geographically different, including a united Virginia, a united Carolina, and the state of Boone (Kentucky and half of Tennessee). Since every state is its own country, there are many conflicts in North America, such as the Florida Intervention (the state was forcibly split into three parts, one of which becomes owned by Cuba). Most of the plot centers around Virginia, where Ohio decided to piss off that state and start a war by spreading a genetically modified measles virus and supplying weapons to the oppressed black population in Virginia.
Another Turtledove work, The Vally-Westside War, depicts a US even far more throughly broken up in the aftermath of a nuclear war in 1967. A hundred years later, there are a score of sovereign nations in the territory of the city of Los Angles alone - each with its own national pride, specific system of government, hereditary enemies, miniature national army and even protective tariffs to defend the national product. In the whole of the former US territory there must be many thousands of such mini-states.
Still another Turtledove work, a series called Timeline-191 by its fans, is set In a World where the Confederacy won the Civil War. Along with the obvious, some of the states in this timeline are different from real life. North and South Dakota are one state (just called Dakota), and Arizona and New Mexico are also just New Mexico. Down South, the Confederates are sold the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora. They also have Oklahoma, which is called Sequoya and was given to Native Americans. The books range from the year 1881 to the 1940s, and a lot more changes take place, such as a piece of Texas being broken off and renamed Houston.
In Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks, John Brown constantly predicts the takeover of the United States by pro-slavery forces which, he says, will force New England to secede.
In S.M. Stirling's Emberverse novels, the world suffers 'the Change', in which electricity and gunpowder suddenly cease to work. Much of America ends up as a bone-littered wasteland, but in the inhabitable parts, small countries and fiefdoms of every stripe spring up; what used to be Oregon ends up with a half-dozen or so.
In the later books, all the little nations in Oregon have formed a UN-like organisation, and we have the Church Universal and Triumphant that initially occupies what is roughly Montana, the United States of Boise which is basically Idaho (but calls itself just the United States because it thinks of itself as the Vestigial Empire), and New Deseret, the Mormon theocracy based in Utah. So large states do survive in some areas.
Further east, about a dozen new nations form around the east side of the Mississippi—the Republics of Fargo, Marshall and Kirksville, the Provisional Republic of Iowa, the State of Nebraska and the Emergency Powers Zone of Concordia (basically Kansas). The rest of the U.S. is either a death zone full of corpses and cannibals (the highly populated areas, like the East Coast and California), or small townships, in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the remote parts of the Appalachians. This is a completely Justified Trope; considering just how much our civilization relies on the electricity and oil that become useless, it's not surprising that this occurs - though of course Author Appeal applies as well, considering that Great Britain survives with its monarchy intact.
In the Hunger Games series, the United States has been renamed "Panem" and split into a Capitol (the Rockies) and twelve distinct and separate Districts in various parts of the country, such as Appalachia. The name "Panem" is derived from the Latin phrase "panem et circenses" or "bread and circuses", hence Peeta being the son of a baker and the titular "Games" serving as circuses to entertain the masses and keep them in check. It could also mean "Pan-am", as in "Pan-American".
In After America, John Birmingham's second book in his Wave trilogy about a mysterious energy field called "the Wave" that wipes out the populations of huge chunks of Canada, the United States, Mexico and Cuba (especially the United States, only Alaska, Hawaii and a small piece of Washington state are unscathed) then keeps those sections unenterable for a year before disappearing, most of the continental US remains uninhabited three years after with a renegade general becoming the Governor of Texas and running it as a quasi independent state, Manhattan being a battleground between jihadis, pirates, European mobsters and the reestablished US government and said government, based out of Seattle, trying to create seed colonies scattered around the country. By the end of the trilogy both Manhattan and Texas are back under control.
Dean Ing wrote a trilogy beginning in Systemic Shock with World War IV: the Chinese-Indian alliance launches a massive nuclear and bio-weapons strike that kills roughly 100 million Americans. Afterward, the U.S. government quarantines the southern East Coast, where most of the bio-weapons spread, from New York down to the tip of Florida, and west to the Mississippi. Mexico grabs a strip of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and almost all of the California coast; New England and each northernmost state along the border become a Canadian Protectorate. The rest is "Streamlined America."
Clive Cussler showed in Flood Tide a secret plan to carve a Latin nation called "Hispania" in the Southwest east from Los Angeles, and a Chinese-run nation of Pacifica on the West Coast from San Francisco, through Seattle and Vancouver up to Alaska. Even the President (in this book, a less honorable guy) feels that this is inevitable.
In Bruce Sterling and William Gibson's The Difference Engine the USA is split into Union, Confederacy, Texas and California. Among the minor characters is Sam Houston, an emissary from the Republic of Texas. A Marxist Manhattan Commune, actually founded by Karl Marx, is also mentioned.
In The Passage both California and Texas secede when the Vampire Apocalypse hits. California didn't last. Nearly a century later the Republic of Texas is still a going concern.
In Mike Resnick's The Buntline Special the United States of America's border, as of 1881 stops at the Mississipii River thanks to Indian (specifically Cheyenne and Apache) magic. There are white settlements west of the river but they are independent entities and exist on Indian sufferance.
Walter Jon Williams's Hardwired has a heavily balkanized territory formerly known as the USA, in which Hovertank jockeys make a fortune flying contraband across fortified state borders.
In John Barnes's Mother of Storms, set in 2028 (written in 1994) Alaska successfully petitioned the UN for its independence.
Kim Newman's Dark Future's America plays on the Southern States leaving—Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Kentucky are unofficially known as the Independent States of America. Utah was sold to an Expy of the Mormon Church and was renamed Deseret by them. It's a sufficiently separate state that its citizens have their own passports.
On E3 in Ian Mc Donald's Planesrunner there are the Confederate States of America, which apparently seceded in the 1850s, the United States and Mexica which is the west coast and used to belong to Mexico before it seceded.
Poul Anderson's "No Truce with Kings" features this in a recovering post-disaster world.
In Matt Ruff's The Mirage the Christian States of America is composed of 17 States, 18 after Mississipii joins in 1990. An attempt to annex Louisiana results in the Mexican Gulf War. There is also an Evangelical Republic of Texas that also claims Oklahoma, New Mexico and the Mexican state of Coahuila although the inhabitants of these place all beg to differ, a Rocky Mountain Nation that controls,more in theory than fact, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas because it itself is split up into small tribal factions, a Mormon nation although it's based in Missouri rather than Utah and a Pentacostal Heartland State of Gilead. How big the latter is is unstated but Tennesee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan form it's eastern edge.
Though it doesn't impact the story directly, in George Alec Effinger's Marid Audran series, this is mentioned as one of the reasons that the Islamic world has risen to dominate world politics. Bill the cab driver was born in the nation of Deseret, centered around the former state of Utah.
Although technically still a single nation the United Seven States of America (USSA), in Jerry Jenkins's Soon, has been divided into seven semi-independent districts as depicted in this fanwork.
In Maurice Dantec's Cosmos Incorporated the combination of the Grand Jihad and the Second Civil War results in an America with three capitals (Detroit, Washington DC, which is little more than a city-state surrounded by a Muslim Caliphate controlling the east coast and Atlanta). There is also a Mohawk nation straddling the former US-Canada border.
In It Can't Happen Here, widespread revolts erupt after Haik assumes power, and America is quickly divided into areas that dissidents control and areas that Haik's government controls.
In the alternate universe created by the prevention of JFK's assassination in Stephen King's 11/22/63, Maine is a Province of Canada.
In Metatropolis a series of environmental and energy crisises have reverted civilization into city-states. There's the anarcho-environmentalist community of Cascadiopolis hidden in The Other Rainforest, the decaying slums of Detroit, the tightly controlled "zero-footprint" city of New St. Louis...
Resurrection Day, a novel by Brendan Dubois, explores a world after a Cuban Missile crisis where nobody blinked. The resultant nuclear exchange destroyed Russia and devastated the USA, leaving Europe largely untouched. A crippled rump USA hangs on, but roles have reversed: a resurgent Britain is now effective leader in the English-speaking world and is succouring the Americans with aid. This is not given unconditionally; as the book progresses it becomes clear the British are planning to take over and reverse the whole 1776 thing, exploiting deep divisions and resentments in what is left of America.
At the end of Spider Robinson's Night of Power New York City secedes and declares itself a black homeland.
Live Action TV
Amerika (1987): The Soviet Union plans to do this to the United States in order to prevent a resurgent America from posing a threat. At the end of the series the protagonist Devin Milford is shot by the leader of Heartland's defence force as he's about to make a radio broadcast calling for Americans to resist the breakup; this is viewed as 'treason' against Heartland.
Boston Legal: The town of Concord, Massachusetts tried to secede from the United States in one episode, citing reasons involving disagreement with the government's current policy. Judge Brown threw it out as ridiculous.
Jericho: Has two federal governments by Season 2 in the wake of a Cosy Catastrophe; the larger of the two's flag is at the top of this article. It is the Allied States of America, a corporate dictatorship (at least some of whose leaders were behind the catastrophe) which rules the states west of the Mississippi (except Texas) and has its capital in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The other is what's left of the federal government, with its capital in Columbus, Ohio (notably the city Hawkings was supposed to deliver his bomb to). Off on its own, able to tip the balance, is the fully independent Republic of Texas. Season 1 makes a mention of six federal governments, and briefly shows a map with Sacramento, California; Cheyenne, Wyoming; San Antonio, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Albany, New York; and Montgomery, Alabama marked as capitals. There is also mention of a senator from Oregon making a claim to the presidency. By season 2, though, this has been narrowed down to the above two governments and the Republic of Texas.
This map (first shown in episode 5) shows how the United States (and to a lesser extent Canada and Mexico) have been broken up. For those who can't read the map. Note that since some of these nations extend into Canada and/or Mexico this trope is combined with Expanded States of America:
The Monroe Republic: New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes areas as well as the Canadian Maritime Provinces and Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River
The Georgia Federation: The Southeast. Apparently the major rival to the Monroe Republic, and possibly allying with the Plains Nation to eliminate it
Texas: Texas, with what appears to be parts at least of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, as well as a sizable chunk of Mexico
The Plains Nation: the Midwest from Minnesota to Montana
Wasteland: Utah and the Rockies
The California Commonwealth: The West Coast including a sizable chunk of British Columbia and all of Baja California. Considered to be "heathens" by at least one high-level Monroe Militia officer (Neville)
Sliders: Used this premise at least once for its alternate universe settings, resulting in a gunslinging, modern Republic of Texas.
Similarly, in the Tabletop RPGDeadlands: Weird West, set in the 1800s in America, the discovery of ghostrock has fostered the continued division of the Union and the Confederate States. The various states' focus on managing their own territories has kept them from expanding into areas of what would otherwise become U.S. territory. Four nations pop up instead: Mormon-run Deseret, the native Coyote Confederation, the theocratic Free and Holy City of Angels in California, and Sioux territories.
Steve Jackson's Tabletop RPG Car Wars features something like this in an After the End of easy oil scenario. Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma fall away to become a spirited republic (convenient for the Austin-based Jackson), a theocracy, and a corporate plutocracy. Utah tries breaking away as well. Quebec makes a run for it from Canada, too.
The Tabletop RPG Dogs In The Vineyard never specifically mentions any real-world locations or dates, but it takes place in an area similar to the pre-Civil War American west, in the lands of the Faith (analogous to the Mormon nation of Deseret). The Terrestrial Authority of the East is analogous to the US government and the east coast states. Though in this setting, the lands of the Faith are technically still part of the Terrestrial Authority, they give little regard to it.
Shadowrun's back history includes the secession and/or annexation of parts of the US (and other nations) as corporations and mystic elements cause social upheaval. The map in the back of the Fourth Edition book splits what used to be the United States into eight separate nations, with three more in what was Canada. Mexico has absorbed much of the Southwest into the new nation of Aztlan. Probably the most entertaining: California spent so long debating over whether or not to secede that the UCAS (United Canadian-American States) finally got sick of it and threw California out of the country, creating the California Free State.
Rifts has rebuilt portions of the US and Canada into an alliance called the Coalition States. The rest of the continent is made up of independent cities and towns separated by wilderness.
In Castle Falkenstein, America consists of the United States of America (from the east coast to the Mississippi), the Republic of Texas, the Bear Flag Empire of California (ruled by Emperor Norton!), the Twenty Nations Confederation and the Unorganized Territories.
The GURPSInfinite Worlds meta-setting includes no less than six "Dixies" and one "Gallatin", where the States didn't really Unite in the first place. And that's not counting parallel timelines where the American Revolution failed, where Native Americans held on to their lands, or where other colonial powers managed to establish lasting colonies. Of course, many of the more divergent timelines like Ezcalli, Roma Aeterna or Midgard never had anything remotely similar to the United States.
The Kazei 5 sourcebook for 6th edition Hero System takes Canada, the United States, and Mexico and chops/blends them into Alta California, Cascadia, Deseret, Nunavut, Republic of Quebec, Republic of Texas, United North America and the United States of America.
R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk. Five of the original fifty states have broken off and become Free States: Alaska, Nevada, California, the Republic of Texas and Utah. California has further split up into Northern and Southern California.
Otherverse America, a d20 Modern campaign setting, plays with the trope. America is still one country, but civil authority has partly collapsed due to the Abortion War, and both the "Choicers" (a covenant of believers in various pagan faiths united by pro-choice views) and the Lifers (predominantly fundamentalist Christian antiabortionists) have forced the government to allow them to govern themselves as "pseudonations." Choicers and Lifers are citizens and voters in America, but also citizens of their own communities, and various groups within the two movements are fighting terrorist wars against each other.
The backstory of a Midway fighting game called Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. in a nutshell. America is divided by an event called the "Techno-Industrial Civil Wars" and all the states are turned over to the control of Mega Corps who use violence to increase their standing. The gameplay itself is the solution cooked up by the fragmented government to mediate these gargantuan corporations in order to avoid a second Techno-Industrial Civil War.
In the Back Story for Deus Ex, parts of the United States declared their independence when the federal government ignored them due to half of California sinking in the ocean. The NSF at this time was the Northwestern Secession Forces. The U.S. got them back, but the war allowed Mexico to take back parts of the Southwest when they aligned with Russia. In some sense, the US still is in a Civil War, with many of its citizens in open revolt by being part of the NSF. At any rate, some dialogue said by JC hints that the United States may be due for a third round of all-out war.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution seems to be setting up the said civil wars for Deus Ex. Radio broadcasts and newspapers will mention secession sentiment in states that will soon be part of the Northwest War. A conversation overheard between NPCs in the Sarif Industries lobby after the Milwaukee Junction mission imply that this has already happened, when one of them mentions the Texas Secession.
In the strategy game Shattered Union, the United States breaks into seven factions: the New England Alliance, the traditionalist Confederacy, the freedom-loving Republic of Texas, the Great Plains Federation, the environmentalist Pacifica, the California Commonwealth, and the grievously unpopular European Union Occupation zone in and around the ruins of DC. Hawaii goes off on its own (rejoining after America is reunited), and Alaska gets invaded by the Russians.
The leader of the Believers faction in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is specified as coming from the "Christian States of America." She is identified in the background material as born in Athens, Georgia. It seems to be a mixture of Deep South and Christian Fundamentalists. These "Christian States" obviously do not reach far north, for the Pirates' leader, Ulrik Svensgaard, comes from Gloucester, MA, which is listed as being in the United States. And the background material actually gives Miriam's country of origin as the USA.
The backstories of the game mention that nations were constantly rising and falling during the last days of Earth, meaning that the CSA, and the USA coexisted, or the USA became the CSA, or something wild. Bottom line, Earth wasn'tin the best shape.
Fracture has America's East Coast joining with Europe to form the cybernetics-using Atlantic Alliance, while the West Coast joins with Asia in the genetics-focused Republic of Pacifica.
The Fallout games have the US split into thirteen commonwealths before the Great (nuclear) War, which is not this trope (the commonwealths replaced the states as the level under the federal government), but has some slight influence on the post-War American polities. The United States also annexes Canada shortly before the Third World War. Roughly a century after the nukes fly, the US is broken into independent city-states—such as The Hub, Junktown, Necropolis, the Boneyard (within which is Adytum), and Shady Sands. Fallout 2 Introduces San Francisco (within which is Shi Town), Vault City, Broken Hills, and … well, New Reno—and small nations such as the New California Republic, with the wilderness in between dominated by raider clans and native-styled tribes. Other major players include the Brotherhood of Steel, descendants of an army unit that rejected their illegal and unethical orders that emerged after the war, and the Enclave, the fascist remnants of the éminence grise of the federal government and military industrial complex, which regards itself as a legitimate authority despite being in hiding almost the entire time.
Fallout 3 also introduces the Institute in the Commonwealth (Massachusetts) which makes Ridiculously Human Robots, The Pitt (Pittsburgh) which is the local industrial powerhouse and Ronto (Rumoured to be Toronto) which seems to be significant military power.
Fallout: New Vegas: The New California Republic has incorporated most of California and good portions of Baja California, Nevada, and Oregon, and has now set its sights on New Vegas, now ruled by a technocrat. They also contest Hoover Dam with The Legion, a group of Roman Empire wannabes in Arizona led by a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Honest Hearts expands on the In Name Only New Canaan giving more backstory, as well as several characters that escaped.
Most Paradox Interactive games include ahistorical "revolter nations" in case you badly mismanage your empire or get conquered. In Europa Universalis these include Quebec and Louisiana, and Hearts of Iron includes California, Texas and a reinstated Confederacy. Their ideology is technically dependent on what ideology an eventual occupier who wishes to partition the USA has, but the Confederacy ministers are all fascist, the Texas ministers are all paternal autocrat, and the California ministers are all social democrat. Other nations can be similarly divided (like Russia, China and large sections of the British Empire)
Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun not only includes the Confederacy but also the nations of Texas and California, as well as nations for the Cherokee, the Sioux, Mormon Deseret, a possible New England secession and the Manhattan Commune (of course, given the period covered, several of these nations are historical). Canada gets in on it to, as it has both a Quebec and a Metis Confederation. The sequel adds even more, including even the Holy Kingdom in China with a patch. Why yes, Paradox doesdo a lot of research.
Supreme Ruler 2020 normally begins with a relatively realistic view of what the world might look like in 2020. Alternatively, you can start in a world where total economic collapse has led to many countries drastically changing, including the US states all being independent countries.
Homefront makes mention of the individual states squaring off amidst the chaos, Illinois threatening Texas with military action after border guards killed several migrating Chicagoans and such. That and the country literally being divided when the GKR occupies the Western half of the country and poisons the Mississippi with radioactive waste.
This was the motive of the titular "Sons of Liberty" in Metal Gear Solid 2. Solidus Snake, disgusted with the U.S.'s plans for an unprecedented censorship of oncoming data on the internet (using an A.I. to immediately filter, alter, and discard any inconvenient truths), planned to cut Manhattan loose from the mainland with an EMP bomb. The dormant island, now run by Solidus and his confederates, would be patrolled by a stolen fleet of Metal Gears, effectively turning it into a free republic. Things didn't quite pan out as such... Solidus hoped to be 'inaugurated' on the steps of Federal Hall just like George Washington two centuries to the very day, but he was assassinated on the steps instead.
In one Railroad Tycoon 3 add-on scenario, the location is a USA where the revolution never happened, with various territories such as New England, Roosevelt (Pacific Northwest), Dixie, and the Texahoma Republic.
Crimson Skies is set in an alternative universe where the USA has dissolved into several independent nations.
Fracture has the United States split in two, East and West, over genetic engineering.
In S.S.D.D, the "Tower Of Babel" storyline starts with an animated map of the states and their progressive division. California, Oregon and Washington are under the Maytec Consortium's control. New Texas has all of the southeast except Florida, which is independent. And the northeast states from New England to Wisconsin joined the Collective of Anarchist States (which also controls England and parts of Europe and the Middle East).
Roswell, Texas takes places in an alternate timeline where the Republic of Texas won at the Alamo and remained independent, and also controls Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico. California is also an independent nation, run by President For Life, Walt Disney. (It takes place in an alternate 1948.) The space in between them is referred to as "the Deseret Corridor" indicating it's run by the Mormons.
Orion's Arm had California and Cascadia (which added the Yukon, Northwest Territory, and Alaska) secede from the U.S. in the late 22nd century. Both of which were regional superpowers with multiple colonies in the Asteroid Belt and outer solar system until the Nanodisaster.
Capto Iugulum: The United States after the Scottist regime collapses spectacularly. Jacksonia [California] and Florida (actually in Texas) break away as independent republics, and stay independent. Most of the American South gets taken by revolting proletarist blacks and eventually becomes the United Proletarist Republics of America. The rest gets split among a rump United States, other republics in New England and in the Great Lakes region, and numerous warlord states in the West. All of the latter gets reunited under a "Second Union" within a few years, and the United States remains a secondary power, albeit much reduced in strength.
Parodied in an episode of Futurama in which a map is shown of a heavily balkanized United States, including the state of Pennsylvania having split into the "Penn Republic" and "Sylvania." Washington, DC is, however, the capital of Earth.
Parodied in comically small-scale in Family Guy episode "E. Peterbus Unum", in which Peter secedes from the United States (It Makes Sense in Context), creating the nation of Petoria—consisting of his house and yard. Peter annexes Joe's backyard pool and rechristens it "Joe-hio", provoking American sanctions. A much larger-scaled version happens in an Alternate Timeline from "Back to the Pilot", where Brian's efforts to the prevent 9/11 attacks causes the formation of a second Confederacy. All in the name of bashingBush once again.
There are quite a few active organizations arguing for peaceful secession. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main complaints cited are high taxes and an overbearing Federal government.
This idea seems much less likely than fiction writers would have it. There are many cultural, economic, and military factors to discourage such a split, and all but the fringiest of U.S. regional and factional interests seem agreed to pursue their interests through the shared democratic process. Historically, though, scenarios like this often seem impossible … right up to the second they become inevitable.
The legalities involved in state secession can go several ways. On one hand, as all thirteen of the original colonies predate the United States by definition, since it was these states which ratified the Constitution and brought the federal government into existence. Under the Compact Theory of government, any U.S. state can lawfully secede from the Union if the state legislature decides to do so. On the other hand, the Civil War made it clear that on the topic of secession, Might Makes Right, and the US Supreme Court additionally ruled in Texas v. White that unilateral secession is illegal note *: The idea being that the US was originally founded under the Articles of Confederation which specified that the states would stand in "perpetual union," and that the Constitution specifies that it was written "to form a more perfect union." The court ruled that a union that was even "more perfect" than "perpetual" could not, logically, be broken unilaterally.. Additionally, the Confederate Constitution made it clear that the Confederacy wouldn't look too kindly on states attempting to secede from it (Georgia came close to trying).
Even the naming conventions in the United States hint at a looser union than actually exists. The subdivisions of the US are called "states", a term which normally applies to an independent or quasi-independent entity. The name of the country, the "United States of America" is a phrase describing the political union rather than the name of a State per se. These are all a result of the original "United States" being thought of as a loose coalition of the former colonies with the states being the primary powers and the federal government being much less relevant.
The United States has already fought one Civil War, which resulted in four years of fighting and at least 700,000 deaths. This is still a sore subject in many places. Special mention should go to the South, where a few people still think the Confederacy should have won, and even those who don't still proudly fly its flag and will attempt to whitewash it of any wrongdoing. Note that some Southerners still use the terms "The Late Unpleasantness" and "The War of Northern Aggression," both examples of different names used to refer to the Civil War.
An interesting historical footnote: When Congress started debating the Kansas–Nebraska Act (or maybe it was the Missouri Compromise), some northern senators threatened to secede from the Union in protest against the way the debate was going. If they had actually done it, the North would have been the people rebelling against the Union.
The non-fiction book The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau is about how this continent is divided geo-culturally into "New England", "Dixie", "The Bread Basket" etc. There are also anomalies (Manhattan, Washington DC, Hawaii and Alaska) that are their own subcultures.
In 1998, Russian professor Igor Panarin gave a 55% chance that the United States would break up by 2010. It gained a lot of media attention around the time of the 2008 financial crisis, though unless every news outlet in the world has been lying to us all for the past several years, his prediction has not come to pass. One of Panarin's conclusions was that a US breakup would be bad for Russia insofar as much of its trade is dependent on the US. He advocated trying to steer such a break-up more along peaceful lines like Czechoslovakia rather than what happened in Yugoslavia in the early 90's.
In the 2002 edition of the Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations, the author defines a stateless nation as a group that self identifies as a distinctive group, displaying outward trappings of a national identity (especially, but not always, a flag) and the formation of political pressure groups for great autonomy. It has within the United States: New Englanders, Texans, Southerners, Californians, Mormons, at least five American Indian nations, Alaskans and Cajuns.
The infamous Jesusland Map, which shows how the U.S. tends to split in half in terms of political candidates. With the exception of a few "swing states," it's a pretty decent guide to political leanings in the U.S.
After the 2012 elections, petitions were sent out to the "We The People" government website asking to leave the Union. At least one for each state was eventually sent.
It is important to note that many of the founding fathers were federalists and that the constitution incorporates several federalist ideals. One of federalism main goals is to try to avert this trope by making all states have significant power in terms of representation.
Oregon journalist Chuck Thompson has written a book titled Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, whose central thesis is that the Southnote which he defines as all states of the former Confederacy except Texas, plus West Virginia and Kentucky stands alone as its own cultural nation among the geographical regions of the current United States and should be allowed to peacefully secede to allow the rest of America to move forward.
Florida is only considered a "Southern" state by default. Many peninsular citizens have proposed secession, either as a state or as their own county. The Conch Republic didn't take this as seriously as others. Curiously, there was a Republic of West Florida for a brief period in 1810, but it consisted of what is now southern Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Even more confusing is that North Florida is considered part of the South, while the more recently developed South Florida is considered 'Yankee'. This is demographics at work—until the 20th century South Florida was economically useless, much of it being swampland. It only developed when the idea of idyllic resorts (and railroads) came into vogue, around the same time industrialization kicked into high gear. The result was rich Northerners looking for sunny (and frost-free) real estate, and South Florida farmers exporting citrus and winter fruit and vegetables north.
However, the general antipathy between the Northern and Southern portions of the state predates the Civil War at least, and likely has to do with the massive differences in economics, as South Florida mainly focused on cattle, sugar and shipping, while North Florida and the Panhandle were heavily invested in plantation agriculture and King Cotton. The lack of easy overland travel really only exacerbated the issue.
The Republic of New Afrika was a proposed country for African-Americans that was to be made from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, plus black-majority counties in neighboring states. Its proponents also called for reparations from the US government for centuries of slavery. As the group was involved in several violent confrontations, the FBI considered them a seditious group.
First there was the Texas Revolution—originally not to secede from Mexico, but to balkanize the Mexican state of Coahuila y Texas to give the recently immigrated Anglo Texans more control over local politics. Eventually the rhetoric changed to favor complete separation, when it became clear the Mexican Government was not going to compromise. The increasingly anti-slavery stance of the Mexican government also contributed to this shift.
Ten years later, after the Republic of Texas was peacefully annexed by the United States, the territory's original borders were minorly balkanized—parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico once belonged to the Republic of Texas.
While that annexation treaty did not actually allow the state of Texas to secede if it wished, as is sometimes incorrectly implied, it does allow Texas to balkanize itself into up to five separate states if it so wishes.note Of course, if Texas did decide to partition itself, it might mean 10 Texan senators. The joke is that this will never happen because no one would agree on who gets to keep the Alamo.
This one is believed by some to be a common urban legend. Article IV of the Constitution specifies that Congress must consent to any subdivision of an existing state. In addition, there was no "annexation treaty," just a joint resolution, the same as with every other post-Revolutionary state. As noted below, the organic act by which Congress gave assent to Texas' joining the Union gave it the power to divide itself "without further permission of Congress," which would imply that Congress gave consent for a future split as a part of the original admission.
However, in the Joint Resolution congress did allow a provision for the state to divide itself. During the Republican era of Texas and early in its statehood there was a significant political faction known as the 'divisionists' who argued that the former republic was too large to be governed effectively by a single body. The point was rendered moot with emergence of a Texan national culture.
Texas then seceded from the USA during the Civil War, though it saw very little action compared to the other Southern states. It did, however, send a relatively large contingent of soldiers for its population size.
By some estimates, Texas is the most economically independent state in the Union. Notably its power grid is almost completely isolated from that of other states, and in the places it is not it only transfers power out. Its agriculture and industry are also both robust enough to be self sustaining. There would still be vast economic consequences if a succession did happen, but Texas could handle this better than most states.
Hawaii was an independent monarchy before Americans living in Hawaii deposed Queen Liliuokalani in a coup d'état. The United States supported the coup and eventually annexed Hawaii based on trumped-up claims that the Queen's government was oppressing the American immigrants. To this day, the Native Hawaiian community itself is divided over what they want to do about it—some want total independence from the U.S. while others want Hawaii to remain a state but for the Native Hawaiians to have sovereign rights similar to the ones Native Americans have … and there are lots of "in-between" and "none of the above" views mixed in there as well.
The Alaska Independence Party, which advocates a new referendum that would include the option of Alaska becoming an independent nation, was founded in 1974. It became an officially recognized party in Alaska in 1984, and has maintained that status ever since. In 1990, the AIP even elected a governor, Wally Hickel, but Hickel did not actually support Alaska independence or a new statehood/independence referendum, and he rejoined the Republican Party in 1994. The AIP received some attention in 2008 over allegations that Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin had once been a member (she never was, but her husband Todd was for a time and she once addressed their convention as governor...but only by video, not in person).
California was briefly a sovereign nation, until U.S. troops moved in and forcibly made it a territory as part of the Mexican-American war. It was mostly a given that it would become a state even before that, though unlike Texas its limbo was solved much sooner, by the Compromise of 1850.
Cascadia is more of a thought experiment than an actual effort to secede, but this is a cession of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia (and sometimes Northern California as well) from their governments into a separate, socially liberal, environmentalist nation. There's a website for the Cascadian independence party here.
The State of Jefferson from the 1940s and 1950s, covering the most out-there libertarian Redwoods counties of southern Oregon and Northern California. The ball got rolling in October 1941, and continued on through November and early December, culminating in men stopping traffic and handing out proclamations of independence. Those who note what date would come up very soon after this period can guess how the movement got quashed for the time being.
Vermont was also an independent nation from 1777 until it joined the Union in 1791. Of course, though Vermont considered itself an independent nation, the rest of the early U.S. just wasn't sure whether it was part of New York or New Hampshire.
Much of northern New Hampshire and a goodly chunk of the Lake Champlain valley in New York considered themselves, and were recognized by Vermont, as part of the Republic of Vermont. Part of the deal when Vermont joined the Union was the abandonment of the claim on this "Greater Vermont".
The Vermonters then turned to the British for recognition during the War of Independence, but the war started winding down before negotiations really got rolling. Much like Texas, a certain number of Vermonters still cling to the notion that they have the right to secede, and an active secessionist movement there is "committed to the peaceful return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and more broadly the dissolution of the Union". According to some calculations, Vermont pays more to the Federal government in taxes than it receives back in federal funds.
New England was the first region to consider secession from the United States, in the form of the Hartford Convention of 1815, which discussed primarily forging a separate peace with Great Britain. Important background: Americans were not unanimously in favor of the War of 1812, despite whatever impressions you may have gotten from your history textbook. While today, textbooks primarily cite the British practice of stopping American merchant ships they suspected were bound for France (who they were at war with at the time) and seizing goods or even kidnapping American sailors, many, especially New England, saw the war as a naked attempt to appropriate the land of Native Americans, many of whom were allied with Britain. New England even traded with Canada and Britain throughout the war in defiance of federal laws, which is the main reason they were spared the bulk of the fighting despite being the only area to border a British territory.