Kingdom of Beaver Island
|Area:||71 square miles|
|Capital:||Saints James and Joseph|
|Currency:||NAL Pound, Beaver Island Pound|
|Established:||1850 (as a Kingdom)|
1885 (as a separate Territory)
|State Religion:||Mormonism (Strangitism)|
|King:||Josiah III Marks (2001)|
|Lands Minister:||Gerald Scanlon (1990)|
|Moderator:||Thomas J. Gurley (1995-2002, 2005-)|
The Kingdom of Beaver Island is a territory of the NAL-SLC. The island, plus its companion islets, is situated in Lake Mishigami between the provinces of Utawia and Mascoutensi. Since the 1860s, Beaver Island has been ruled by its own king, who is also head of the Strangite Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Kingdom's origins date to the succession crisis that split the Latter Day Saints following the death of Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1844. Mormon leader James Strang's claims to be Smith's legitimate successor were rejected by the main body of the Twelve Apostles. However, Strang was able to gather enough supporters to establish a new community separate from the supporters of Brigham Young, leader of most of the faithful in Louisianne. Strang's disputes with the main body of the LDS church were numerous, but prominent among them was his insistence on monogamy.
Strang's band was drawn to the Northwest Territory, an NAL-ruled region outside direct influence from Philadelphia, where they could hopefully exist without persecution. Conflict with loggers from Ouisconsin as well as with local Natives led Strang's group to move again. In 1848 they purchased land on Beaver Island from a group of Odawa Natives and established their new community there. From Beaver Island, Strang reached out to Mormon communities in the NAL who had not followed Smith into Louisianne. He forged a viable network of Strangite churches, with as many as 12,000 adherents in 1850.
That year, Strang set up a monarchial government on the island. Taking the title of king, he claimed authority only over his own church on the island and was content to leave the non-Strangites alone. As trade on Lake Mishigami grew, Beaver Island's strategic position helped the Strangites make enough money to pay off most of the outsiders, effectively making Strang's ecclesiastical monarchy the sole government on the island. The Strangites' main settlement was named St. James after Strang, later renamed SS James and Joseph to honor Joseph Smith.
Strang designated one of his chief followers, William Marks, as his successor to the kingship of the church. Marks' succession was challenged by John Bennett, a flamboyant polygamist who had been excommunicated from Young's church in Louisianne. Bennett's controversial policies - including his claims of Prophethood and his sexual behaviors, both within and outside his marriages - sparked conflict with Beaver Island's non-Mormons, as well as with the island's neighbors and with visiting traders. The Northwest Territorial Militia intervened, briefly occupying the island in 1864.
The Territorial authorities were interested mainly in stability; following standard ELB policy, they were content to otherwise let the island handle its own affairs. In that spirit, they negotiated with Strangite leaders, representatives from the Odawa, and Beaver Island's small Newcomer trading community to form a new civil government for Beaver Island. The island was recognized as an autonomous community within the Territory, and Marks was acknowledged king by all parties. He was forced, however, to separate the civil and ecclesiastical administrations over which he reigned, and to proclaim tolerance for non-Mormons on the island. A Quorum of Twelve Apostles was re-established as the ecclesiastical authority for the Strangite church body both on and off the island. A parliament was formed to govern the island's affairs.
For stability's sake Marks also agreed to a hereditary succession for the kingship. When he died in 1872 he was succeeded by his son Llewellyn. The Strangite Church adopted the same hereditary succession as the island, so that the King of Beaver Island would always be the same person as the King of the Church. Far from seeing this as an inappropriate collusion of civil and religious authority, the system was instead seen as a way to prevent two rival claimants from again emerging on the island.
Beaver Island was not included in Utawia or Mascoutensi when they became provinces in 1877 and 1883, respectively. This left it as the sole remaining part of the Northwest Territory. A Treaty of Association and Commerce in 1885 dissolved the NWT and established the island's current status as a semi-sovereign state in NAL waters, all external affairs handled by the League through the Extraterritorial Lands Bureau.
From a low point in the 1950s or '60s, the Strangite Church has grown to an all-time high of around 50,000 members in recent years. Strangitism remains most popular in the western parts of the NAL, but missionaries have been active in the Floridas and Saint-Domingo since the end of the Florida War.
1861-1872 William I (John Bennett led faction as rival claimant until 1864)
1909-1936 William II
1936-1972 Josiah I
1972-2001 Josiah II
2001-present Josiah III
Fishing and tourism make up the bulk of Beaver Island's economic activity. It is no longer a major center of trade on the lake. Donations from Strangite churches are an important source of revenue and help keep the Kingdom running, as do sales of Beaver Island coins to collectors. These are minted intermittently in Chicago and are engraved with an effigy of the King, with the title IOSIAS REX INSULAE CASTORUM. So many collectors snatch these up, in fact, that they are seldom encountered on the island itself. Beaver Island's notes get a little more use, but most transactions are made using NAL currency notes, as in the rest of the League (see NAL Currency).
With a population of only about a thousand people, Beaver Island's government has a local, small-community feel, despite its royal accoutrements. Its main organs are Crown, Council, and Parliament. All three meet in the capital village of SS James and Joseph, universally called "Jim and Joe" even in government publications.
The Crown is hereditary, passed on by uterine primogeniture. This means that if the king has no sons, his daughter's husband may inherit. The current king, Josiah III, is a descendant of Strang's chosen successor William Marks. Constitutionally the king is head of state and head of the church, but Church and State remain separate institutions.
The Council consists of eight ministers. Six are named by the king in his civil capacity with the advice and consent of Parliament; in practice, these ministers are usually MPs. One is named by the king in his capacity as ruler of the church; and one is determined by the NAL's Extraterritorial Lands Bureau who provides ministers to several territories that coordinate high level government functions between local authorities and the NAL's federal government at Philadelphia. The current Lands Minister for Beaver Island is the Rt. Hon. Gerald Scanlon. The rights and powers of both the Lands Minister and the Church representative are prescribed by law, treaty, and custom. The head of government, usually one of the councillors from Parliament, is termed the moderator.
The Parliament consists of a single chamber of 21 elected representatives. It makes laws for the island in its annual meeting and in special sessions called from time to time. Both the king and the Lands Minister have the authority to summon Parliament, but only the king may dissolve it. The Lands Minister may veto any bill or any provision of any bill passed by Parliament ad extremum only if said provision or bill should constitute some breach of national security or international affairs. To date, no Beaver Island Lands Minister has had to issue such a veto.