The crazy but true story of how inventor Dean Kamen seceded from the U.S.
Did you know that there has already been a successful, peaceful secession from the United States? It was lead in 1988 by none other than Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway (among hundreds of other things). He’s also the founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization created to build students’ interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Kamen, age 72, is a native of Long Island, NY. In 1986, he purchased North Dumpling Island for $2,500,000. The island is two acres (8100 m2), located three miles from Noank, Connecticut. It lies within the territory of the town of Southold on Long Island in New York State. It came with a mansion and a lighthouse.
North Dumpling’s Path to Independence
In a presentation Kamen gave to a small group in May 2015 (with additional details from this New York Times article), this is the story of North Dumpling Island’s secession.
Kamen wanted to build an electricity-producing wind turbine on the island to power his home. But New York bureaucrats told him he couldn’t. They said the proposed turbine was “too big”, and the noise would disturb his neighbors…. Kamen owned the entire island!! They told him he couldn’t build any structure more than 40 feet tall without a variance. He wanted to build a 100 foot tower.
In November 1988, Kamen threatened to leave the state of New York and contacted Connecticut State Senator George L. Gunther, Republican of Stratford, about annexation. ”I thought it might be better if North Dumpling Island annexed Connecticut,” said Mr. Gunther. He went on to become Mr. Kamen’s Secretary of Interstate and now holds dual citizenship.
Kamen spoke with a friend at Harvard, who happened to be an expert on constitutional law. They found a loophole that allowed him to secede… not just from New York State, but from the U.S.! As Kamen relates it, “’We worked out a diplomatic settlement to avoid an armed conflict”.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, New York State didn’t acknowledge the legitimacy of North Dumpling as a separate nation. It continued to send Kamen warning letters about his wind turbine. Kamen responded by sending the letters to the New York press with this statement: “See how disrespectful New York bureaucrats can be – they dare threaten the head of an independent nation-state.” Eventually, the warning letters stopped coming.
The Sovereign State of North Dumpling
North Dumpling has its own flag, constitution, visas, and passport stamp. It also has a Cabinet, a newspaper (the North Dumpling Times) and currency, called “the dumpling”. The exchange rate is 1000 dumplings to one U.S. dollar. It has its own Navy (a surplus amphibious vehicle) and an Air Force (a helicopter). Kamen playfully refers to himself as “Lord Dumpling”.
It also has a national anthem, with lyrics written by a Broadway director, Paul Lazarus, Minister of Brunch. The first verse, sung to the tune of ”America, the Beautiful,” goes:
With star-filled skies
And crashing waves of foam
From Moonwatch Hill
to Great Stonehenge
O blessed second home.
While visiting the White House, Kamen even got then-President George H.W. Bush to sign a nonaggression pact with North Dumpling.
A local morning talk show visited North Dumpling to do a broadcast. Kamen asked one of the show’s hosts if he’d like to convert his U.S. dollars to dumplings. The host expressed skepticism, asking if dumplings were “real currency”. Kamen accurately pointed out that U.S. dollars are the currency that should really be questioned! The dollar had been taken off the gold standard decades earlier and was now backed by nothing but thin air.
The nation of North Dumpling even gave foreign aid to the United States. On the wall of his home, Kamen has a framed “Foreign Aid National Treasure Bond”, in the amount of $100. The reason for the aid is printed on the certificate:
Once the technological leaders of the world, America’s Citizens have been slipping into Woeful Ignorance of and Dismaying Indifference to the wonders of science and technology. This threatens the United States with Dire Descent into scientific and technological illiteracy… The Nation of North Dumpling Island hereby commits itself to helping rescue its neighbor Nation from such fate by supporting the efforts of the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology in promoting excellence in and appreciation of these disciplines among the peoples of the United States of America
North Dumpling Foreign Aid National Treasure Bond
North Dumpling Island is the world’s first carbon-negative nation.
Despite being the supreme ruler of the independent nation of North Dumpling Island, Kamen spends most of his time right here in New Hampshire. He has a home in Bedford, and founded and works at DEKA Research and Development Corp., headquartered in Manchester.
The New York Times article about North Dumpling Island points out “his lordship can always create another new country on the mountain he recently purchased in New Hampshire.”