Saturday, November 9, 2013

11 American nations, how many of them predominantly or culturally rural?

Reid Wilson reported yesterday for the Washington Post on map recently produced by Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books.  Woodward opines that "North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government."   See the map here.  Woodward writes in the Fall 2013 issue of the Tufts Alumni Magazine:
The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history.  Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.
Woodard's piece for the Tufts Magazine is based on his new book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.
Of particular interest to ruralists like me are the descriptions of these regions, some of which might be thought to be dominated by a certain rural culture:
  • The Midlands: Stretching from Quaker territory west through Iowa and into more populated areas of the Midwest, the Midlands are “pluralistic and organized around the middle class.” Government intrusion is unwelcome, and ethnic and ideological purity isn’t a priority.
  • Tidewater: The coastal regions in the English colonies of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware tend to respect authority and value tradition. Once the most powerful American nation, it began to decline during Westward expansion.
  • Greater Appalachia: Extending from West Virginia through the Great Smoky Mountains and into Northwest Texas, the descendants of Irish, English and Scottish settlers value individual liberty. Residents are “intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers.”
  • Deep South: Dixie still traces its roots to the caste system established by masters who tried to duplicate West Indies-style slave society, Woodard writes. The Old South values states’ rights and local control and fights the expansion of federal powers.
  • El Norte: Southwest Texas and the border region is the oldest, and most linguistically different, nation in the Americas. Hard work and self-sufficiency are prized values.
  • The Far West: The Great Plains and the Mountain West were built by industry, made necessary by harsh, sometimes inhospitable climates. Far Westerners are intensely libertarian and deeply distrustful of big institutions, whether they are railroads and monopolies or the federal government.
Other regions include the Left Coast, New France, New Netherland, and Yankeedom.  Oh and don't forget the 300,000 folks left in what Woodard calls "First Nation." 

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