American States

The Sectionalism And Regionalism In America’s 50 States

An interesting part of American history and contemporary America is the reality of sectionalism and regionalism in many American states.

One classic example was the case of West Virginia, a breakaway from Virginia of areas of the state that were anti slavery, occurring during the Civil War in 1863. Therefore, the site of John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, which had been part of Virginia, became probably the most famous site in the new state of West Virginia, and remains a fascinating historic site today, which the author has visited.

But also, there have been desires in many states to have secessionist movements and the creation of new states.

So when observers look at the 50 states, they realize that in many of them, there are real rivalries and divisions, and a different state of mind about politics and the economy.

It is well known that upstate New York has little in common with New York City and Long Island and the counties just north of New York City.

Also, downstate Illinois is totally different in mentality than Chicago.

Central and North Florida are totally alienated from South Florida, and particularly, Miami.

Upper and Western Michigan are a different world than Detroit.

Central and Western Pennsylvania are a world apart from Philadelphia.

Central and Southern New Jersey are vastly different than Northern New Jersey, just across the George Washington Bridge from New York City.

Central and Southern Virginia are another planet from Northern Virginia, which is the Washington DC suburbs.

Central and Southern Ohio are totally different than northeastern Ohio, around Cleveland.

Central and Southern Missouri are a different world than Eastern Missouri, the area of St. Louis.

Texas and California are the best examples of sectionalism and regionalism, particularly with being the second and third largest states in area.

So Texas has the “Panhandle” centered around Lubbock; the area around Dallas and Fort Worth; the capital of Austin in the center of the state; the largest metropolitan area around Houston; and the area around San Antonio and further south to the Mexican border. It could easily be five or more states.

California has the traditional split between north and south, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But now it is recognized that California also has a gap between East and West, between the coastal areas and the interior areas, with the interior being very different economically, and very much conservative and Republican, as compared to the rest of the state. There has even been a movement to separate interior areas in the south from the rest of the state, creating a 51st state, but the chances of its success are seen as highly unlikely.

The point is that there tends to be stereotyping of our 50 states, labeling them as having a particular economic and political structure, but the reality is much more complicated, and could, some day, lead to the breaking up of a few states, creating a few new additions to the Union!