Midwest History: States that Could've Been...

Madonna could have been from Bay City, Cherronesus. Iggy Pop from Detroit "Rock City" Metropotamia. Yeezus could have been the paparazzi-shoving tough from Assenisipia. And state borders could have been absurdly straight if only Thomas Jefferson's 1784 proposal for how to divide the Northwest Territory had come to fruition.

Instead, this proposal was passed over in favor of one that assured the Midwest's subjugation to Northeastern political interests. 

And it's been 228 years of oppression ever since! 

Jefferson sketched out this map after the Revolution had ended and before the Louisiana Purchase, when leaders discussed the how the 13 colonies would expand into the newly acquired Northwest Territory. 

So many questions: Would there be states there? How many? How would territories become states? Would the residents be citizens of the United States? How popular would REO Speedwagon be?

For Jefferson, he at first kicked around the idea of this territory becoming its own country. He wrote that if this new region, "sees their interest in separation, why should we take a side with our Atlantic rather than our Mississippi descendants?" But then Jefferson probably figured that if they became part of the US, their taxes could cover his wine bills and burgeoning family of illegitimate children.

So in his 1784 proposal, "Report of a Plan of Government for the Western Territory," proviso number 1 was that "(The states created) shall for ever remain a part of the United States of America." Other provisos banned slavery, set population levels for statehood applications at 20,000 residents (well, white landowners, duh!), and divided the territory into 10 states -- Sylvania, Michigania, Cherronesus, Assenisipia, Metropotamia, Illinoia, Saratoga, Polypotamia, Pelisipia, and Washington.

When this red-hot "Report" dropped back East, the powers-that-be were probably like, "Slow your roll, TJ. This region will not only eventually give us chiseled studs like Brad Pitt and Jon Hamm, it will also totally run the federal government with your numbers."

10 new states from this region?

Back then, the Northeast didn't have Maine or Vermont, meaning there were only 7 states above Maryland, and only 6 states from Maryland down. A Midwest with 10 eastern-sized states would form the biggest regional block in the Senate. Rhode Island wouldn't stand for that shit. 

So when Jefferson's report morphed into the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, some critical changes had been made. 10 states were reduced to 5 states (max! with a possibility of only 3), a statehood population requirement of 20,000 was raised to 60,000, and all territories were put under the control of Eastern appointed governors until statehood levels were reached.  

Before 1787, there had been haphazard settlement, and the Northwest was a mix of Natives, Tories, frontiersmen, British, and French. In many settlements, the largest population block was mixed race (children of Natives and settlers) called by the French name, Metis

After 1787, Eastern colonization began, with a more systematic settlement executed by territorial governors and companies like The Ohio Company that was charged with the organization of Eastern Ohio. 

"Vee vill vhip them into shape, yah." 

In 1788, The Ohio Company's first director, Revered Doctor Manasseh Cutler of Massachusetts wrote to General Henry Knox -- the Secretary of War -- to let him know that the region's new settlers were getting with program. "I am happy," he said, "in being able to assure you that the anti-federalism is daily becoming more unpopular in this part of the Commonwealth." 

Settlement of Ohio was critical to regional subjugation, so Ohio's statehood was rushed forward, official in 1803. Once Ohio capitulated, the rest of the Midwest fell in line. No William Wallace for us -- frreeeeeeedom!!!! No Revolution. Just productive, really good looking members of society for centuries to come. 

Ah, what could have been. We'll never be able to root for the Saratoga State University Buckeyes, or the Cincinnati, Pelisipia Reds

*Source: much of the the above comes from "An American Colony: Regionalism and the Roots of Midwestern Culture" by Edward Watts. This may be in our upcoming 3rd Edition of "The Midwest: God's Gift to Planet Earth," the 2nd Edition is already the perfect gift for everyone.