The Dark Matter of American History

Gene Expression
By Razib Khan
Dec 2, 2009 3:49 AMNov 5, 2019 9:43 AM


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In the comments below, vanya states:

But razib, upstate New York is not New England. I've never heard of "Greater New England." As a kid in New Hampshire I always understood that New England was superior to New York state, which was mostly a nest of Dutchmen and Tories in 1776 anyway.

I never heard of "Greater New England" explicitly until I read this article by Michael Lind. I say explicitly because implicitly the region is obvious. You even know this from the biographies of prominent New Englanders, the perigrinations of Joseph Smith and John Brown follow the arc of Greater New England, from New England proper into upstate New York, to northern Ohio, and finally New England settled enclaves in the West.

This map of the 1856 election shows the outlines of Greater New England. In this election the Republican party had not broken out of its association with "Yankees," which excludes the Patroons of New York and much of Pennsylvania, which remained aligned with the Democrats. In fact, even today the outlines of Greater New England remain politically, here is my estimate of the white vote for Obama. The areas which voted for the Republicans in 1856 are exactly those where more than 50% of whites voted for Obama (blue). Two books which I would highly recommend on this topic are Albion's Seed and The Cousins' Wars. In regards to the teaching of American history the focus is on major political and military events, the various wars, and a few cultural-structural shifts. In particular, immigration, race and the frontier. But another aspect which I think is just as important are the spatial configurations of British cultures which settled North America before the Revolution. Also, see Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War. It documents how Greater New England arose on the backs of the canal building of the early 19th century, which shifted the economic focus of the Old Norwest/Midwets from the Mississippi and South to the east, as well as opening up an easy route for New Englanders to sweep across the northern fringe of the country. Here's an interesting event, the Pennamite-Yankee War:

The Pennamite-Yankee War (or Wars) is the name given to fighting which occurred between 1769 and 1799 between settlers from Connecticut who claimed the land along the North Branch of the Susquehanna River in the present Wyoming Valley, and settlers from Pennsylvania who laid claim to the same territory. Because the combatants were from Connecticut and Pennsylvania, the wars are also known as the Yankee-Pennamite Wars.

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