The 11 Nations That Comprise the United States

2013-11-15 The American Nations

Although the emphasis of this article is explaining the gun control debate in the United States, it offers a really compelling vision into the nature of our American society in general. As the map indicates, there are 11 different “nations” that make up the current US, and–since these nations don’t fall neatly into state lines–state level red vs. blue analysis tends to not pick them up. Just to give some idea of what this is all about, here are the descriptions for two of the nations. As a classic “blue” nation, we’ll start with “Yankeedom”.

YANKEEDOM. Founded on the shores of Massachusetts Bay by radical Calvinists as a new Zion, Yankeedom has, since the outset, put great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders. It has prized education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and broad citizen participation in politics and government, the latter seen as the public’s shield against the machinations of grasping aristocrats and other would-be tyrants. Since the early Puritans, it has been more comfortable with government regulation and public-sector social projects than many of the other nations, who regard the Yankee utopian streak with trepidation.

Then, taking up a portion of my home state of Virginia (but not where I live), we’ve got “Greater Appalachia”:

GREATER APPALACHIA. Founded in the early eighteenth century by wave upon wave of settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Appalachia has been lampooned by writers and screenwriters as the home of hillbillies and rednecks. It transplanted a culture formed in a state of near constant danger and upheaval, characterized by a warrior ethic and a commitment to personal sovereignty and individual liberty. Intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike, Greater Appalachia has shifted alliances depending on who appeared to be the greatest threat to their freedom. It was with the Union in the Civil War. Since Reconstruction, and especially since the upheavals of the 1960s, it has joined with Deep South to counter federal overrides of local preference.

A lot of this theory overlaps work from other historians and sociologists, but I thought the finer breakdown into 11 different groups was an interesting addition.

3 thoughts on “The 11 Nations That Comprise the United States”

  1. This is interesting, but I wonder how well the boundaries can hold as mass media and social networking let us communicate ideas more easily without regard for geographic boundaries. What do you think?

  2. I think that social media actually might tend to support rather than mitigate the general trend towards homogenization. After all, if you’re a lone Yankee deep in Greater Appalachia, the availability of all of your other Yankee Facebook friends is probably more likely to tempt you to migrate to a Yankee hub rather than to be content with your strictly-digital human relationships. I suspect that the trend of creating sort of ideological ghettos in cyberspace will actually end up increasing real-world divides over time.

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