Free State Project (FSP) is an Internet-based
political movement, founded in 2001, to get at least 20,000
libertarian-leaning people to move to New Hampshire in order to make the state a stronghold for
Those who join the Free State Project sign a statement of intent to
move to New Hampshire within five years of the group reaching
20,000 participants. Those who move to New Hampshire in advance of
the FSP reaching 20,000 participants are referred to as "early
As of November 2, 2009, there are 9,754 participants, of which 766
have already moved to New Hampshire.The movement achieved a victory
in 2006 when one of its participants, Joel
, was elected to the New Hampshire General Court
Winters ran as a Democrat
. In 2008, six Free
Staters were elected to the New Hampshire House of
, including Winters, according to group
Several project participants also belong to the New Hampshire Liberty
Stances and mission statement
The organization identifies itself as supporting free markets
and constitutional federalism
. The organization's mission statement,
adopted in 2005, states:
State Project was founded in 2001 by Jason Sorens, then a Ph.D.
student at Yale
Sorens published an article in The Libertarian Enterprise
highlighting the failure of libertarians to elect any candidate to
federal office, and outlining his ideas for a secessionist
movement, and calling people to respond to him with interest. The
organization has, since then, come to emphasize secessionism much
less strongly, with Sorens publishing a note in the journal to this
effect in 2004. Sorens has stated that the movement continues
an American tradition of political migration, which includes groups
such as Mormon settlers in Utah and Amish religious communities.
Process of choosing a state
The group originally was founded without a specific state in mind.
A systematic review started by narrowing potential target states to
those with a population of less than 1.5 million, and those where
the combined spending in 2000 by the Democratic
parties was less
than $5.2 million, the total national spending by the Libertarian Party
year. Hawaii and Rhode Island were eliminated from this list due to their
propensity for centralized government.
A ballot in September 2003 was held to choose a state to focus the
movement's efforts on. The ballot used the Condorcet method
to choose the target
Hampshire was the winner, with Wyoming coming in
second by a 55% to 45% margin. Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Vermont, and the
Dakotas were also on the list.
The state of New Hampshire was chosen by the movement because the
perceived individualist culture of New Hampshire was thought to
resonate well with libertarian ideals. The movement, however, has
drawn criticism from New Hampshire residents, mostly Democrats
and those in
towns with spending problems, concerned about population pressure
and backlash to increased taxation. Republicans, on the other hand,
have responded more favorably to the project, due to their espoused
agreement on small government.
The Free State Project is the official organizer of two annual
events in New Hampshire; The New Hampshire Liberty Forum
Porcupine Freedom Festival (PorcFest), respectively. The New
Hampshire Liberty Forum is a convention-style event that takes
place in a hotel each winter, and hosts a wide variety of speakers,
dinners and various events. PorcFest is a week-long summer festival
that takes place in a campground, and is designed to be a more
laid-back event than the Liberty Forum.
Other Unaffiliated Activities by Free State Participants
There are many projects created by Free State Project participants,
with similar ideas to the Free State Project, but are not
unofficial initiative is Free Keene, which encourages people to move
specifically to Keene, New Hampshire.
The website lists "111+ Reasons to Move to
Keene", and also documents activity already happening in Keene.
Free Keene places a large emphasis on civil disobedience, rather
than political activism.
Several Free State Project participants have taken part in acts of
Hampshire. Lauren Canario
arrested for driving without a license, and then refused to
co-operate with legal proceedings. She was arrested for a second
time when she entered a court building without permission to
retrieve a camera that had been taken from her.
On January 10, 2009, Andrew Carroll, an 18-year-old Free State
Project participant, took part in an act of marijuana
civil disobedience. Though he does not
smoke it himself, he openly possessed marijuana, in order to
demonstrate what he believes to be the stupidity of the drug war
. Carroll was arrested for this, and was
found guilty - but is opting to spend eight days in jail and appeal
the conviction rather than pay a $420 fine.
Most recently, in April 2009, Sam Dodson was arrested for filming
in a court lobby. As he refused to give his name (asserting his
right), he was held in jail for nearly two months
before being released for unknown reasons.
New Hampshire Free Press
The New Hampshire Free Press
is published in Keene.
Originally known as the Keene Free Press
, the paper began
as a web-based newspaper in November 2005, expanding to a twice a
month print edition on February 23, 2006. The name of the paper was
then changed, to its current form, in 2008. The print edition has a
printing volume of 5,000 copies. The printed paper is available
free at locations throughout New Hampshire.
The Free Press
is edited by Russell Kanning, an organiser
of the New Hampshire Underground website, and is called the
Free State Gazette
by many of the residents of
Kostric, a New Hampshire resident and Free State Project
participant, made news on August 11, 2009 when he was recorded
carrying a sidearm openly while participating in a protest at a
town hall meeting of President Barack
Obama at Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire.
First noted on the TV news network MSNBC
Kostric later gave interviews with several media outlets, including
The Wall Street
, The Boston
, the New York
, the radio shows Free
and The Alex
, the television shows Hardball with Chris
and The Alan
, and the Internet video blog The Ridley Report
Kostric never attempted to enter the venue of the town hall, but
rather stood some distance away, on the private property of a
nearby church, where he had permission to be.
He held up a sign reading, "It's Time to Water the Tree of
Liberty!", a reference to a quote from Thomas Jefferson
"What country before ever existed a century and a half
without a rebellion?
And what country can preserve its liberties if their
rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve
the spirit of resistance?
Let them take arms.
The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and
What signify a few lives lost in a century or
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time
with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."
In Kostric's interview with The Ridley Report
mentioned that he wishes for "30, 40, 50, 100 open carriers" at
public protests and demonstrations. Four days later, on August 16, as more
Obama supporters and protesters converged on the Phoenix
Convention Center "about a dozen" people were noted by police to be
openly carrying firearms, one of which was an AR-15 semi-automatic
rifle, at another public address by President
Pam Martens, who writes on corporate corruption for
CounterPunch.org, claims that the organization's formation was due
largely to a corporate agenda to increase corporate profits by
limiting government regulation. Martens also spotlights the Free
Town Project - a short-lived, unaffiliated offshoot of the Free
State Project - which planned to immigrate into Grafton, New
Hampshire. Various Free State Project participants have criticized
her articles as factually inaccurate, while claiming that Martens'
antagonism stems from a personal dispute with one of her neighbors
(who happens to be a participant in the Free State Project).