"We, the people of Key West are called Conchs... Sometimes
we are called Conchs with affection, sometimes with humor,
and sometimes with derision.
I proclaim that Key West shall now be known as the Conch
Republic, and as the flag of our new republic is raised, I
thereby state to Washington and the rest of
the United States, and the world that the Conchs are and
When Jamestown, Virginia was settled by Englishmen fed up
with the arrogance, the derision, the abuse of rights by a
despot, a King without compassion or a sense of humanity,
another group was settling in the Bahamas and they were called
"Conchs." They were known as "Conchs" because they hoisted
flags with the tough, hard conch shellfish indicating they'd
rather eat conch than pay the King's taxes and live under his
That's our flag. It has a conch on it. We secede from the
We've raised our flag, given notice, and named our new
We serve notice on the government in Washington to remove
the roadblock or get ready to put up a permanent border to a
new foreign land.
We as a people, may have suffered in the past, but we have
no intention of suffering in the future at the hands of fools
We're not going to beg, to beseech the nation of the United
States for help. We're not going to ask for something we should
naturally have as citizens - simple equality.
If we are not equal, we'll get out. It's as simple as
The first step was, like Mariel, up to Washington. This step
is up to us.
We call upon the people of the Florida Keys to join us or
not, as they see fit. We're not a fearful people. We're not a
group to cringe and whimper when Washington cracks the whip
with contempt and unconcern. We're Conchs, and we've had
We're happy to secede today with some humor. But there is
some anger, too.
Big trouble has started in much smaller places than
I am calling on all my fellow citizens here in the Conch
Republic to stand together, lest we fall apart - fall from
fear, from a lack of courage, intimidation by an uncaring
government whose actions show it has grown too big to care for
people on a small island.
Dennis Wardlow, Prime Minister
April 23, 1982