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Old 08-31-2016, 10:59 AM
 
69 posts, read 51,622 times
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Admittedly I spend far to much time on this reading all the debates over what the Midwest is, and who wants/doesn't want to be associated with it. As I've spent most the vast majority of my live living within the Great Lakes basin, I would like to weigh and this subject, in attempt to more definitively define the Midwest and bulwark it from overgeneralized stereotypes and criticisms from the coasties.


To begin, the Midwest (or Middle West if you will) classically is the states formed after the original thirteen and before the Civil War which belonged the Union side of the affair. Prior to the formation of the current embodiment of the United States, the United States under the Articles of Confederation designated a large portion of the area as the Northwest Territory, as indeed it was the northwest of the nascent country. I can only assume, because I'd need to start rummaging though libraries to find a decent source, that after the purchase of Louisiana territory, the area known as the Northwest Territory became known as the Middle West, as the country had grown to the Rockies and the territory was now in the middle. The Midwest at the time of the purchase was mostly French founded settlements/forts (Detroit, Sault St. Marie, Mackinac Island, Chicago, Green Bay, Peoria, St. Louis ... Pittsburgh and Niagara Falls are also part of this list too, but their relations to the Midwest are more debatable) inhabited by disgruntled Natives, disgruntled British subjects, and French trappers. Multiple swappings of Detroit, the burning of Toronto, and the burning of Washington DC around 1812 resolved the issue of who was the Sovereign of the land, and allowed less impeded settlement.


Some additional towns were founded French trappers/Jesuits (Grand Rapids, St. Paul, Dubuque, Milwaukee) after 1812, Northeasters (Lansing, Cleveland, Duluth) and Midatlantics (Cincinnati) speculated on the land both before and after the British-American conflict, and native Midwesterners (Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City) platted the territory prior to the Civil War to form the remainder of the Midwest's urban cores. The region was solidified to into its borders with statehoods of the Dakotas, Kansas, and Nebraska.


That's pretty much it for a formal Midwest. The Northwest Ordinance and its free 200 acres of lands for new settlers gave the region it perceived agrarian nature. The Erie Canal pulled land hungry Northeasters and Europeans into the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions. Access to the Ohio River pulled the Appalachians out of the hills and into the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi. The US Census Department defines the region as certain states, the Federal Reserve as others, and the US District Courts again as others. People argue what is and is not the Midwest, and I'm arguing that what it is, is a name given to a geopolitical region given during a geopolitical situation which happened in the middle of the North American continent from 1776-1861. What I'd like to continue arguing is that the Midwest is comprised of three distinct geocultural regions, which in themselves form an area greater than the formalized Midwest.


The oldest of the Midwestern geocultural regions is the Great Lakes region. The natural conduit for transport and industry for the Midwest, the Great Lakes region is bi-national, encompassing the catchment area of the Great Lakes from Duluth to Montreal. The region's easy access to fertile soil, timber, iron, and Appalachian coal gave it a distinct advantage during the industrialization of the United States, which it still holds today due to the low transportation costs. The cities of this region (Duluth, Green Bay, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Sault St. Marie, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, Hamilton, Toronto, Rochester, Kingston, Montreal) all share the a significant amount of culture, from food, to architecture, to ethnic heritage. I direct anyone who is questioning the links between these cities to Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Daily News where any locality mentioned in these write-ups is associated with the Great Lakes region.


The second oldest geocultural region to from in the Midwest is the Midlands. Too often are only the Great Lakes and Great Plain discussed in these threads, and leaving people scratching their heads about Columbus, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Kansas City, as they don't belong to either. The Midlands (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midland_American_English) has the agrarian precedent of the Northwest Ordinance, heavy initial German and Appalachian immigration, and historical cultural and economic exchanges with the Upland South and Lower Mississippi Valley. To many Northerners their accent will sound southern, but Southerners will recognize that they're from the North.


The last geocultural region of the Midwest to be settled was the Great Plains region. The cities of this region (Minneapolis, Omaha, Kansas City) were founded by American frontiersmen and settled by Europeans looking for land beyond Chicago. Grain production and exchange has always been paramount to the region's economic well being, driven by transport on the Upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and rail routes. This region peters at the Western edges of the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, where the Western mythology of Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hitchcock take hold. Because of the trade through Chicago and Duluth, and shared European immigration patterns, the Great Plains region and the Great Lakes region of the Midwest share cultural connections.


There are some Midwest regions which do not fit into these geocultural constructions, the driftless area, the Missouri boot heel, the Allegheny Plateau of Ohio, but for the most part these regions can be seen as a hybrid of the three geocultural regions argued, along with their neighboring the geocultural region outside of Midwest, i.e. the Ozarks, Appalachia, etc.


In summery, the Midwest is a historic geopolitical construction from which three distinctive geocultural regions have emerged. These three regions share much, but are distinguished through historic economic and immigration patterns, and should be treated as separate cultures when one comments on the Midwest.

Last edited by michikawa; 08-31-2016 at 12:08 PM..
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Old 08-31-2016, 11:11 AM
 
100 posts, read 70,777 times
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Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.

It is known.
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Old 08-31-2016, 11:53 AM
 
2,200 posts, read 2,318,579 times
Reputation: 1941
Quote:
Originally Posted by michikawa View Post
I can only assume, because I'd need to start rummaging though libraries to find a decent source, that after the purchase of Louisiana territory, the area know as the Northwest Territory became known as the Middle West, as the country had grown to the Rockies and the territory was now in the middle
The rest of your discussion notwithstanding, this assumption is a little off. It's a common assumption, but an erroneous one. The Northwest Territory did not come to be known as (part of) the Midwest until well after the term appeared in the common parlance. Originally the term referred to Kansas and Nebraska (territory), as they were the middle belt of The West, as distinct from the Southwest and the aforementioned Northwest. After Kansas and Nebraska, the term was applied to the entire middle belt of states west of the Appalachian mountains; adding West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri to the mix of states considered 'middle western'. The first recorded usage of the term actually occurs about this time.

The region known as the Northwest came to be included in the umbrella term "Midwest" by association, sometimes, as in the case of Michigan, by intentional co-opting the term as a marketing device meant to invoke the pastoral, agrarian associations to the term "Midwest" that were often held by easterners and immigrants. Others, we're sort of gradually swept into the definition of the Midwest by proximity, the new understanding of the term "northwest" brought about by westward expansion, broad cultural similarities, and linguistic laziness. The upper southern states came to be considered southern, as opposed to Midwestern, almost exclusively as a result of the events of the War on Treasonous Cracker Terror.
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Old 08-31-2016, 01:40 PM
 
69 posts, read 51,622 times
Reputation: 190
Thank you for the enlightenment. While I was fact checking I pulled this (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/turner/chapter4.html) longer piece on the Middle West written in 1921, which is full of interesting Midwesterner factoids of that era. According to some academic articles by Shortbridge, the areas of the Old Northwest weren't really referred to the Midwest until the 1900s, and this 1921 work of Turner here embraces the boundaries of the contemporary Midwest.

Last edited by michikawa; 08-31-2016 at 01:52 PM..
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Naples Island
1,012 posts, read 639,839 times
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IMO, the Midwest is the most archetypal American region, similar to how White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture is the archetypal American culture.

The hate that you see on the Midwest is from people in major coastal cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, who believe hogwash that the US is a "nation of immigrants" and whose local/regional culture is such a radical departure from standard American culture, that these people are simply unable to relate to the average Midwesterner.

In modern times, a plurality to a majority of residents in those large coastal metropolitan areas with lots of first- and second-generation immigrants don't identify as American or believe that America is the best country in the world, so how on earth could they relate to a region such as the Midwest where an overwhelming majority of Americans are white, Christian and very patriotic mutli-generational Americans?

When you couple that with a severe climate and general lack of coastal access (the Great Lakes states not included), it doesn't make for very popular region in the national psyche, which is overwhelmingly centered on New York and LA due to those cities tremendous influence in the media and pop culture.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis, MN
6,060 posts, read 3,381,283 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bert_from_back_East View Post
IMO, the Midwest is the most archetypal American region, similar to how White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture is the archetypal American culture.

The hate that you see on the Midwest is from people in major coastal cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, who believe hogwash that the US is a "nation of immigrants" and whose local/regional culture is such a radical departure from standard American culture, that these people are simply unable to relate to the average Midwesterner.

In modern times, a plurality to a majority of residents in those large coastal metropolitan areas with lots of first- and second-generation immigrants don't identify as American or believe that America is the best country in the world, so how on earth could they relate to a region such as the Midwest where an overwhelming majority of Americans are white, Christian and very patriotic mutli-generational Americans?

When you couple that with a severe climate and general lack of coastal access (the Great Lakes states not included), it doesn't make for very popular region in the national psyche, which is overwhelmingly centered on New York and LA due to those cities tremendous influence in the media and pop culture.
How is the US not a nation of immigrants? The only people who aren't descended from immigrants are the Indians who have been here for thousands of years or the blacks whose ancestors were brought against their will.

Btw I am an immigrant (I mean I came over at 2 years old so it's not the same but yea) and I LOVE the Midwest, its my favourite region and where I hope to live, so you're right, I can totally relate to the average Midwesterner.

Also the Midwest is very diverse. You think Chicago is all lily-white Christians? Detroit? Milwaukee? Cleveland? Minneapolis? St. Louis? No.

The reason people from New York or California look down on the Midwest is coastal elitism and ignorance, not for the toilet paper reasons you gave.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:52 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,572 posts, read 17,544,804 times
Reputation: 27640
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bert_from_back_East View Post
IMO, the Midwest is the most archetypal American region, similar to how White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture is the archetypal American culture.

The hate that you see on the Midwest is from people in major coastal cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, who believe hogwash that the US is a "nation of immigrants" and whose local/regional culture is such a radical departure from standard American culture, that these people are simply unable to relate to the average Midwesterner.

In modern times, a plurality to a majority of residents in those large coastal metropolitan areas with lots of first- and second-generation immigrants don't identify as American or believe that America is the best country in the world, so how on earth could they relate to a region such as the Midwest where an overwhelming majority of Americans are white, Christian and very patriotic mutli-generational Americans?

When you couple that with a severe climate and general lack of coastal access (the Great Lakes states not included), it doesn't make for very popular region in the national psyche, which is overwhelmingly centered on New York and LA due to those cities tremendous influence in the media and pop culture.
Completely agree.

I'm 30 and have lived in six different states since 2010 (two Midwest, three South, Massachusetts) and I would say the Midwest is the most quintessentially "generic American." That doesn't mean it's the best or the most enjoyable, but it's the most generic. I'm from a place with a strong regional identity. I saw the same in Boston. In Indianapolis and Des Moines, there is much less of a regional flavor.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:54 PM
 
Location: Naples Island
1,012 posts, read 639,839 times
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Originally Posted by BadgerFilms View Post
How is the US not a nation of immigrants? The only people who aren't descended from immigrants are the Indians who have been here for thousands of years or the blacks whose ancestors were brought against their will.
Please, spare me.

The United States is, by no means, a "nation of immigrants," and it never has been, either. Like I stated in my previous post, that hogwash has been sold to the American people by Democrats and the liberal news media for decades now, and the American people have fallen hook, line and sinker for it.

At no point since the inception of the United States as we know it today (i.e., the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776) has the population of the country been comprised of a foreign-born majority.

As of 2010, at least half of the US population is able to trace their ancestry back to the white and black residents (both slaves and freed man) who were living in the US in 1790.

Prior to 1776, new arrivals in America weren't considered immigrants; they were colonists or settlers, whichever term you prefer. You can't immigrate to a country that doesn't formally exist - LOL.

I'm a sixth-generation American on one side of my family tree and a fourth-generation American on the other side. My father's grandparents, all of whom were all born in Italy, had died before I was born. None of my grandparents or their siblings were born in another country.

Not one person I went to primary school with was born in a different country, and all but three classmates of mine had one parent, respectively, who was born in a different country. All three of those classmates in particular had foreign-born mothers and American fathers. In high school, I'm willing to be 95-98% of my classmates were American-born.

Believe it or not, in 2016, that's still pretty still standard in most suburban and rural areas of the US outside of California.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:56 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,572 posts, read 17,544,804 times
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Probably not in the major urban clusters that are increasingly getting a greater and greater share of today's "winner take all" economy.
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:01 AM
 
7,906 posts, read 4,868,890 times
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Originally Posted by michikawa View Post
Multiple swappings of Detroit, the burning of Toronto, and the burning of Washington DC around 1812 resolved the issue of who was the Sovereign of the land, and allowed less impeded settlement.
One of the war goals of the British in the War of 1812 was to turn much of the Great Lakes region into an Indian territory supported by the British, as a buffer against American westward expansion and to protect Canada.

The decisive battle that secured the Northwest Territory, and indeed much of the Midwest, for the Americans was the Battle of Lake Erie, one of the most important naval battles in American history.

The American naval victory cut British supply lines and made the British/Indian position in Detroit untenable, and led to their abandonment of the fort.

The victory is celebrated by a monument that is the most massive Doric column in the world, with an observation deck higher than the Statue of Liberty.

The Importance of the Battle of Lake Erie Victory | Military History of the Upper Great Lakes

https://www.nps.gov/pevi/learn/histo...rie_detail.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry%...Peace_Memorial

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lake_Erie
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