(Roughly) Daily

Redistricting on the grandest scale…

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Dr. Andrew Shears is a geographer by both vocation and avocation.  Fascinated by American history, and by what might have been, he created the map above…

I discovered a list that really intrigued me like none other: the List of U.S. State Partition Proposals. For a geographer/cartographer who’s a U.S.-specialist and who’s interested in alternate history, this was Kryptonite for my productivity. From this list, I stumbled onto listings for U.S. Territories that Failed to Become States and the listing for the hypothetical 51st State. I even came across a nice little book called Lost States, a humorous account from Michael Trinklein that briefly explores a number of random states that never quite happened.

After reading all of these things, and all of the linked pages connected — that’s where Wikipedia really sucks you in — I, of course, allowed my own mind to wander and I came up with the beginnings of a historical geography narrative for the United States of my own, drawing on each of these sources. How could I spell this out? Well, I’m no novelist, because I just really don’t have the imagination or skills necessary to put together a story in that format. However, I can make maps here and there, and I firmly believe that maps can do a pretty good job telling a story.

What did I end up with? My own alternate history U.S. map of 124 states…

As one watches the U.S. government congeal into an unappetizing mess– as representatives, “serving” districts and states shaped though decades and decades of gerrymandering, vote narrow interests in search of advantage in elections-to-come– we might ponder Dr. Shear’s reminder of how differently it might all have looked…  if only for the reminder that it didn’t have to be– nor does it have in the future to be– this way.

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As we wonder what in the world became of Mr. Smith, we might recall that it was on this date in 1861 that President James Buchanan signed into law the Congressional Act creating the “organized incorporated Territory of Colorado.”  The land had come to the U.S. in 1848 as part of the  spoils of the Mexican-American War.  Then populated virtually exclusively by Native Americans, white settlers flooded in with the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush in 1858.  Pressure from those new arrivals, along with a different kind of pressure felt by Washington as Southern states were seceding in the run-up to the Civil War (this was the period immediately before Lincoln’s inauguration), spurred the action– which expanded the Union and gave it access to the gold and other minerals in the Southern Rockies.

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Written by LW

February 28, 2013 at 1:01 am

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