A small island in the middle of a big ocean, Key West has always made a virtue of its isolation. In 1982, for example, an onerous Border Patrol checkpoint on U.S. Route 1, which links the Keys to mainland Florida, resulted in the island's declaring itself the autonomous Conch Republic. This was, of course, mostly a joke ("We Seceded Where Others Failed" was its e pluribus unum), but the mayor's declaration of independence did include a twinge of real anger and a vow that "we have no intention of suffering in the future at the hands of fools and bureaucrats."
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