The Great Return

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Travis McHenry two weeks before leading the coup

The Great Return, also called the 2010 Coup, and the Overthrow of Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence, was an important turning point in the history of Westarctica that involved the return of the nation's founder, Travis McHenry, to a position of power in Westarctica.

The Great Return is celebrated annually as a public holiday in Westarctica on June 2nd, the day the actual transition of power occurred.

Pre-coup activities

On 22 May 2010, Wolf Tulier, Westarctica's Minister of Defense, sent an e-mail to Travis McHenry, who at that time was just beginning to rule over a new micronation in the California desert called Calsahara. In the e-mail, Wolf expressed frustration that he had not been able to get in contact with the ruler of Westarctica, Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence, for several months. He was concerned that having an absentee ruler and a leaderless country would result in the death of Westarctica and the claim to Marie Byrd Land that Travis had made in 2001.

Travis was surprised by Jon-Lawrence's disappearance, since he had come to the throne on a promise to revitalize Westarctica's fortunes after the disappearance of his predecessor, Grand Duke Philip. On 23 May, Travis sent Jon-Lawrence three e-mails to three different accounts, including the official Westarctica contact e-mail.

Over the next few days, Wolf and Travis discussed possible scenarios to take control of the government of Westarctica. They both agreed that their best path forward would be to create a new official website for Westarctica proclaiming themselves to be the legitimate leaders of the nation. Then they would have the power to begin immediate negotiations with the various micronations that had opposed Westarctica during the Siple War.

Wolf and Travis felt that so long as the founder of the country was authorizing the negotiations, the other countries would respect the outcome.

Coup

After waiting five days for a reply from Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence, on 28 May 2010 at midnight Pacific Standard Time, Travis McHenry instructed Wolf Tulier to contact the government of the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis and inform them that Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence was no longer the ruler of Westarctica and the new leaders were eager to secure a peaceful resolution to their competing claims on the continent of Antarctica.

At the same time, Travis sent an e-mail to Jon-Lawrence Langer informing him that, due to his failure to protect the 2001 claim to Marie Byrd Land as well as his failure to represent Westarctica as a public figurehead, his service as Grand Duke of Westarctica was no longer needed; however, he was free to retain his title and lands as the Duke of Moulton-Berlin.

Grand Duke Niels of Flandrensis

Over the next the next three days, negotiations between Westarctica and the allied nations of the Antarctic Micronational Union (AMU) erupted at a feverish pace. Wolf was the guiding voice in the negotiations, but eventually, Travis was communicating directly with Grand Duke Niels of Flandrensis and the opposing parties quickly came to a tacit resolution.

On 3 June 2010, Travis launched a new official Website for Westarctica at Westarctica.info. On the site, he announced the formation of a Transitional Government that had full power to negotiation treaties, create noble titles, and generally run the machinery of government.

Moments after the website went live, Grand Duke Niels sent a secret e-mail to the members of the AMU informing them that Westarctica's founder had returned to lead the nation and the disputed claims of all Antarctic micronations were being successfully resolved. Although some members of the AMU did not immediately embrace Travis' return, eventually, all parties accepted the terms of the peace settlement and recognized the joint rule of Travis and Wolf, who was appointed to the post of Prime Minister of Westarctica.

Post-coup celebration

Grand Duke Travis and friends celebrating a successful coup

On 4 June 2010, the day following the successful overthrow of Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence, Travis threw a lavish birthday party in a large suite at Disneyland's Grand Californian Hotel. As the conclusion of the coup coincided with his 30th birthday, many of Travis' friends were present at the party, including the Viscount of Whitmore, who had been flown in from Pennsylvania to enjoy the festivities.

Aftermath

The negotiations between the Antarctic Micronational Union and Westarctica continued until 24 September 2010 when the final peace terms were agreed upon and all parties signed the West-Antarctic Treaty.

Over the course of the next two years, most of the micronations that had claimed Marie Byrd Land fell inactive and their discarded claims were granted by the AMU to Westarctica. To resolve the territorial disputes once and for all, on 25 October 2012, Grand Duke Travis granted Grand Duke Niels of Flandrensis the title "Prince of Siple," thereby giving him sovereign authority over the last remaining vestiges of their disputed territories.

Reaction of Jon-Lawrence Langer

Jon-Lawrence Langer, former Grand Duke of Westarctica

For many years, Jon-Lawrence was silent about his overthrow and the events of the coup. He did not engage in public life in Westarctica, or in the community of micronations. As a result, his thoughts on the matter were not known.

On 2 November 2016, Grand Duke Travis posted a celebratory message on his Facebook page, showing a timeline of different Grand Dukes of Westarctica along with the flags that have flown over the nation during their reigns. In response to this picture, Jon-Lawrence Langer posted the comment:

Hard to believe it has been fifteen years. In all its incarnations, Westarctica has been and will be a testament to the genius of Travis McHenry.

Most observers considered this comment to formally end any lingering doubts concerning the legitimacy of the Transitional Government and the events of the coup.