Is The U.S. One Nation, Or Eleven, Four, or Maybe Just Two?

Author and journalist Colin Woodard contends that the U.S. is really 11 different nations.

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Alternatively, you could see the U.S. as four distinct nations. In the seminal work by historian David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed, Fischer examines four British “folkways” that defined early America and evolved into what we know today as “American culture.” By folkways he means “the normative structure of values, customs and meanings that exist in any culture.” These customs include speech, architecture, gender roles, child-rearing, religion, recreation, and much more. The four major folkways identified by Fischer correspond to four regions of settlement: Massachusetts Bay, tidewater Virginia, the Delaware Valley, and the Appalachian Highlands.

These four areas are the “‘seedbeds’ from which four different populations overspread the nation.” As the colonists migrated westward, they took their folkways with them. Fischer reviews these folkways in detail for each group, and it is fascinating to learn about the origins of many of the practices we retain today.

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With the 2016 election, many believe the nation is now mostly split into two separate entities, commonly thought of as “red” or “blue.” Nate Cohn suggests an “educational split” has replaced the culture war.

Summary of results of the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections

Summary of results of the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections

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