Yesterday, I posited that the U.S.
Americans often confuse the terms “state” and “nation” and
The U.S. federation is composed of the whole or part of 11 regional nations (some of which stretch over the boundaries of Canada and Mexico), each with its own cultural ancestry, values
Some are defined by cultural pluralism, others by reverence for their particular French, Spanish or “Anglo-Saxon” cultural heritages. Although their existence has been often overlooked,
Any argument that claims to identify a series of discrete nations on the North American continent must address the obvious objection: Can nations that were created centuries ago, and generally deprived of formal statehood, really have maintained their distinct identities to the present day?
We are a continent of immigrants and internal migrants,
Life in North America has been immeasurably enriched by the many cultures and people who settled there. I personally
My Irish-Catholic great-grandparents worked the iron and copper mines of the interior West, and their children grew up to be Far Westerners. My great-great-great grandmother’s family fled from
All of them, undoubtedly, altered the places to which they emigrated -- for the better, I hope -- but did the culture in
Becoming a member of a nation usually has nothing to do
A member of the (very nationalistic) Hungarian nation might
Cultural geographers came to similar conclusions decades
“Whenever an empty territory undergoes settlement, or an earlier population is dislodged by invaders, the specific characteristics of the first group able to effect a viable, self-perpetuating society are of crucial significance for the
The colonial Atlantic seaboard, he noted, was a prime
Tidewater was the most powerful nation during the colonial period and the Early Republic. It has always been a fundamentally conservative region where a high value is placed on respect for authority and tradition and very little on equality or public participation in politics.
Such attitudes aren’t surprising, given that it was founded
Tidewater elites played a central role in the foundation of the U.S. and are responsible for many of the aristocratic inflections of the Constitution, including the Electoral College and Senate, whose members were to be appointed by legislators,
But the region’s power waned in the 1830s and 1840s, its
Greater Appalachia was founded in the early 18th century by wave upon wave of rough, bellicose settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of northern Ireland, northern England and the
In the British Isles, this culture had formed in a state of near-constant war and upheaval, fostering a warrior ethic and a deep commitment to individual liberty and personal sovereignty. Intensely suspicious of aristocrats and social reformers alike, these American borderlanders despised Yankee teachers, Tidewater lords and Deep Southern aristocrats.
In the Civil War, much of the region fought for the Union, with secessionist movements in western Virginia (creating West Virginia), eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama. During Reconstruction, the region resisted the Yankee effort to
The borderlanders’ combative culture has provided a large proportion of the nation’s military, from officers such as Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett and Douglas MacArthur to the enlisted men fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. They also gave the continent bluegrass
The Deep South
The Deep South, by contrast, was founded by Barbados slave lords as a West Indies-style slave society, a system so despotic and cruel that it shocked even 17th-century English observers.
Beginning from its Charleston beachhead, the Deep South
After successfully resisting a Yankee-led occupation, it became the center of the states-rights movement and racial segregation, as well as labor and environmental deregulation. It
(Colin Woodard, a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the Chronicle of Higher Education, is the author of “The Lobster Coast,” “The Republic of Pirates” and “Ocean’s
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