Pronounced “konk” Definition: (noun) –
1. any of various edible tropical marine gastropods of the genus Strombus having a brightly-colored spiral shell with large outer lip. The Florida Keys Favorite the Queen Conch – Strombus gigas – verrrrry tasty!
2. Florida Keys Native. Native people in the Keys call themselves conchs. The original conchs came from the Bahamas to the Florida Keys.
The Conch Republic
The Conch Republic was created with the secession of the Florida Keys from the United States of America, on April 23rd, 1982. The secession was a response to the Border Patrol’s blockade setup on U.S.1 in Florida City just to the north of the Florida Keys. This isolated Keys citizens since US 1 was our only artery to and from the mainland. The roadblock forced Keys residents to prove their citizenship in order to drive onto the Florida mainland, the same as if they were returning from a foreign country! This was the first and only time such a border check point had been set up over 100 miles inside the U.S.
We protested! A totally American thing to do! Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlow and other Conchs, went to Federal court in Miami to seek an injunction to stop the federal blockade. When this didn’t work, on the Federal Court House steps, Mayor Wardlow announced to the world, through TV crews and reporters, that “Tomorrow at noon the Florida Keys will secede from the Union!”
At noon, on the day of secession, at Mallory Square in Key West, Florida, Mayor Wardlow read the proclamation of secession and proclaimed aloud that the Conch Republic was an independent nation separate from the U.S. He then kicked off the Conch Republic’s rebellion by breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform. After one minute of rebellion Prime Minister Wardlow turned to the Admiral in charge of the Navy Base at Key West, and surrendered, demanding $1 Billion in foreign aid to rebuild our nation!
This was the beginning of the Conch Republic. We are proud to be both Conchs and Americans, and will fight for the right to be both!
The name “Conch Republic” refers to all of the Florida Keys, northward to the Last Chance Saloon in Florida City. Key West has been designated as the Nation’s Capitol. Areas north of Key West are referred to as The Northern Territories. These boundaries were established by the U.S. Government when they set the Border Patrol blockade in front of the Last Chance Saloon, thereby establishing a new United States border!
To enforce the validity of our secession, the Monroe County Commission, in 1994, by unanimous vote, passed a County Resolution recognizing Mayor Wardlow’s actions, on the 23rd of April in 1982, as by, of and for the people of the Florida Keys.
We celebrate our Independence every year with a week long celebration.
In another protest, beginning in 2008, the northern keys including Key Largo formed a separation of the Conch Republic known as the Independent Northernmost Territories of the Conch Republic. Proponents claim this separation is a result of disagreements over the definition and use of the term ‘Conch Republic’. There was even a court battle over the use of the term Conch Republic.
They developed this flag and held separate festivals. This dispute had calmed down in recent years.