"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 were.

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 tyranny.

That's our flag. It has a conch on it. We secede from the United States.

We've raised our flag, given notice, and named our new government.

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 and bureaucrats.

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 that.

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 enough.

We're happy to secede today with some humor. But there is some anger, too.

Big trouble has started in much smaller places than this.

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

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