Emphasis – May 24
10:38 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Remembering the Governor of Forgottonia

For this week’s Emphasis, we present the documentary Remembering the Governor of Forgottonia.

Neal Gamm in Fandon, the capitol of Forgottonia
Neal Gamm in Fandon, the capitol of Forgottonia
Credit WIU Libraries Archives & Special Collections

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tongue-in-cheek political campaign that helped put western Illinois on the map – sort of.  Neal Gamm, a bushy-haired, energetic, theater student at Western Illinois University, declared 16 counties should secede from the US and found the Republic of Forgottonia.

Gamm said he chose that name because politicians had largely forgotten about the region.  Gamm proclaimed himself governor of Forgottonia. He said the new nation-state would declare war on the US and immediately surrender to apply for foreign aid. 

It was all a ruse to gain monetary support from state and federal lawmakers and to call attention to the area – and to a certain extent it worked.  Reporters from across the nation started contacting Gamm and wire services picked up the story

This documentary features interviews conducted with Gamm shortly before he passed away in November, 2012. It also includes thoughts from friends and acquaintances of Gamm.