Reid Wilson, in a piece in the Washington Post, described the 11 “nations” that exist in the United States, according to Colin Woodard.
Woodard explained, in Tufts Magazine,
The original North American colonies were settled by people from distinct regions of the British Isles—and from France, the Netherlands, and Spain—each with its own religious, political, and ethnographic traits. For generations, these Euro-American cultures developed in isolation from one another, consolidating their cherished religious and political principles and fundamental values, and expanding across the eastern half of the continent in nearly exclusive settlement bands. Throughout the colonial period and the Early Republic, they saw themselves as competitors—for land, capital, and other settlers—and even as enemies, taking opposing sides in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.
There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation.
The 11 nations, roughly from left to right on a map:
- The Left Coast, the Pacific beachfront
- The Far West, a great chunk of the nation from California to Alaska
- El Norte, the old Spanish colonies
- The Deep South, states and parts of states built by slavery
- Greater Appalachia, a freedom-loving area colonized by immigrants from Northern Britain
- Tidewater, the Southern states settled by aristocrats
- The Midlands, the great swing states of the Northeast
- New Netherlands, a small and sophisticated nation on the Hudson
- Yankeedom, New England
- First Nation, a Canadian section representing what’s left of Native America
- New France, divided between Canada and New Orleans
The borders began with the people who first settled the states and territories, and they’ve become fluid as people and ideas moved west, but now, Woodard argues, they are 11 distinct regions that vary in their beliefs and behavior.
Puerto Rico is not included in this analysis of America’s people. The tip of Florida is labeled “Part of the Spanish Caribbean,” and Puerto Rico might fall into that section of Woodard’s map, or adding 3.5 million U.S. citizens to those at Florida’s outskirts might create a 12th “nation.”
Note in the comments below that the author clarifies the place of Puerto Rico in his analysis of American nations. Our thanks to Mr. Woodard.
The interesting thing about this analysis, from the point of view of Puerto Rico’s status, is that the anti-statehood arguments that say that Puerto Rico is too special, too unique, too foreign to become a State are not considering how different people in different regions of the United States already are.