10 Most Short-lived Countries

The Great Republic of Rough and Ready
Gold miners in northern California were none too pleased with increased taxation, but not so fed up that they'd want to maintain an entire independent country for more than a few months. VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images

Head northeast out of Sacramento for about an hour and you might stumble across signs for the town of Rough and Ready, California. The current population barely scrapes 1,000, but once upon a time, back in 1849 or so, there were at least triple that number hard at work mining gold.

The California Gold Rush swelled the local population with independent-minded types. Legend has it that in 1850, when a new mining tax was imposed, they reacted unfavorably. On April 7 a Col. E.F. Brundage read out a manifesto at a mass meeting. He declared a new nation, independent of both California and the U.S. federal government, dubbed The Great Republic of Rough and Ready. The brand-new country elected Brundage as its president and set about creating a new set of laws.

But running a country can be onerous, especially if you're busy mining gold. Just 12 weeks later on July 4, the young republic called it quits and reunited with its mother country. Whether the miners ended up paying the revolting new tax is unknown [source: Hillinger].