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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: Lost States

Posted by on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 3:33 PM

I'm totally a sucker for this kind of thing: Michael J. Trinklein's Lost States is a book about the dozens of proposals for statehood that didn't make it to reality. (Click on the cover to the left to enlarge, and you'll see some of the proposed states, including Acadia, Jefferson, Yazoo, Trans-Oconee, and Transylvania.)

Some of the what-if possibilities here are pretty astounding (did you know that parts of northern California and southern Oregon probably would have become the state of Jefferson if it weren't for the bombing of Pearl Harbor?) and Trinklein is an amiable-enough host, providing basic information in a clear voice about each of the potential states in alphabetical order.

The biggest problem I have with Lost States is that each almost-state gets a single page. In some cases, it's too little. In other cases, it's way too much. Just because a Senator suggests that England should become a state doesn't mean that it should get as much copy devoted to it as Jacinto, which has almost become a state on several occasions. I kind of wish that Trinklein hadn't decided on a photo-book format, with large illustrations of each almost-state on the page facing its description. I'd rather read a text-heavy, serious history book than this gloss over possibilities. Almost every state (including Washington) has had serious debate over splitting into two, and an exploration of this phenomena would make for some interesting reading that could maybe teach us something about wealth and demographic disparity in the U.S.

But as it is, Lost States is a quick little jaunt into the possibilities of what might have been had things gone in a slightly different direction. It's informative and fun, and if you're a history nerd, you should totally check it out.


Comments (9) RSS

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Fnarf 1
When I was a youth we proposed that western WA and OR make themselves into the new US state of Jackson, whose flag would be a giant $20 bill.
Posted by Fnarf on March 16, 2010 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 2
if you go down by Mt. Shasta, you'll see that the dream of Jefferson State is not dead.
Posted by Max Solomon on March 16, 2010 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3
To solve this country's problems, we need WA to become 3 states (Seattle, Cascadia, and Lincoln), OR to become 2 states, and CA to become 5 states.

Then we'd be right as rain.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 16, 2010 at 4:16 PM · Report this
so the 7 million people in Wash. state can then have six senators, while the people in DC still get none?
I guess folks don't really care about DC residents much, here's a discussion of statehood and getting senators and DC folks are left out and not even mentioned.

It's harder being for equal rights...for other people....isn't it?

So good luck with that getting six senators for washington state residents, then all six of them can make laws over the dc residents who have not one senator.

we see the commitment to equality is fairly selfish.
Posted by 600000 people with no senator at all. on March 16, 2010 at 4:43 PM · Report this
the next biggest lost state is puerto rico with 4 million people. they are a colony, too, without representation. amazing how many liberals are fine with this. you realize there are many puerto ricans who protest this whole being subjugated thing? why do we support it? if these people and dc had senators that'd be four new senators, most likely, liberal ones. i guess liberals nationwide are just fine with people not being represented and constantly losing votes in the senate by a 1 or 4 vote margin. it's like the liberals don't even try to win, really.
Posted by 4 millones mas con ciudania de la segunda clase on March 16, 2010 at 4:53 PM · Report this
mylesleo 6

Uh, Puerto Rico has voted multiple times in referenda not to apply for statehood.
Posted by mylesleo on March 16, 2010 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Etherite 7
@4 - It appears your grasp of reality is a bit non-existant. Aside from a common name, WA and DC have virtually no connection. And there's not a single state in the Union that has 6 senators. If you meant that WA has 6 representatives, you're still wrong. We have 9.
Posted by Etherite on March 16, 2010 at 5:37 PM · Report this
Beaut post, Paul.

So is it true what my prof said, that Texas still has the right to split into multiple substates with two senators each? According to their agreement when they joined the union.
Posted by Amelia on March 16, 2010 at 10:17 PM · Report this
Rather than split up states like Washington and California, how about we combine some of the big empty squares in the middle of the country like say Montana and the Dakotas, that combined have a population only a little over 2 million, or Idaho and Wyoming, also about 2 million combined, yet still get 2 senators each (invariably republican). The combined population of the "BIG SQUARES" in the middle of the country represents about half the U.S. land mass but only about 15% of the total U.S. population and are dominated by fundamentalist christians and big corporate interests like mining and agriculture. This effectively hands the republican party a third of the senate, which they've been holding hostage for decades.
Posted by Insolitus Votum on April 12, 2010 at 12:38 PM · Report this

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