Just over a three hour's drive from St. Cloud -- way up in the Iron Range and 50 miles NE of Grand Rapids -- is Minnesota's most rebellious town: Kinney, MN.

I'm not originally from Minnesota, so I don't know if the story of the Republic of Kinney is common knowledge to Minnesota natives or not. I only learned of the story of Kinney this week, and I couldn't believe I'd never heard it before! The story of a small Minnesota community that took matters into its own hands, theirs is the stuff of legends and -- I think -- the kind of story that ought to be taught in every Minnesota history class!

According to Atlast Obscura, Kinney (pop. 192 in 2019) was established in 1910 as a "makeshift mining town." Only designed to support the population working the local iron mines, an unexpected population boom quickly took a toll on Kinney's already-weak infrastructure. The municipal water system, especially, felt the strain, but every attempt to secure federal funds to upgrade the system met a wall of red tape. Frustrated, the locals meeting at Mary's Bar -- a tavern owned by then-Mayor Mary Anderson -- began to joke, "If we can't get domestic aid, maybe we should just secede from the Union and apply for foreign aid!" Over time, the ridiculous idea began to sound more appealing, and on July 13, 1977 the little village of Kinney, Minnesota sent a letter  to U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance announcing that they would be seceding from the United States and becoming a foreign country forthwith known as the Republic of Kinney.

"Be it resolved that the City Council of the City of Kinney, in Kinney, Minnesota, has decided to secede from the United States of America, and become a foreign country," reads a copy of the letter acquired from the Minnesota Historical Society by MinnPost. "Our area is large enough for it. We are twelve square blocks, three blocks wide and four blocks long. We will be similar to Monaco. It is much easier to get assistance as a foreign country, which we need badly, and there is no paper work to worry about."

Minnesota Historical Society via MinnPost
Minnesota Historical Society via MinnPost

The letter goes on to say that the residents of the Republic of Kinney are even prepared to declare war against the United States of America, if necessary, as long as they can "surrender real quick" so they can all get back to work.

The story went viral (as viral as a story could in the late 1970's), even making an NBC Nightly News report. A local pizza mogul named Jeno Paulucci donated some "foreign aid" who donated 10 cases of frozen pizza and a 1974 Ford LTD with 50,000 miles on it to serve as the Republic's new squad car. The Republic of Kinney never did wage war against the U.S. -- or, for that matter secede from the Union -- landing two government grants worth more than $250,000 for its water system upgrade within a year.

Did you know about the story of the Republic of Kinney before reading this article?

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