Missouri and other places

Once in awhile people write to me to ask why I put Missouri on the Southern States list rather than the Midwestern States list. They have a point: Missouri is smack almost dab in the middle of the country, right in line with Kansas and Nebraska, which are listed as midwestern. Looking back, I think it was a mistake to place it where it was, but after seven years, if I change its location I’ll have a bunch of people writing to me to ask where Missouri’s listing went. I shall stick to well-established precedent, no matter how nonsensical it is.

Anyway, the reason why Missouri listed as a southern state is the fact that when I started this site, I was a freshman at a college in Arkansas. Many students came from Missouri. (In fact, I think the majority of the student population was from Arkansas, Texas or Missouri. Though they came from all over — there were one or two that I know of that were from Hawaii, my roommate Vanessa came from Connecticut, and the girls in the room across the hall were from California and Minnesota.) Most of the Missouri students came from the southern part of the state and considered themselves southerners rather than midwesterners. I suppose it was a cultural thing rather than a geographic thing.

This is hardly unique: Minnesota and Maine, for instance, are both as far north as Washington state or Montana, but I’ve never heard anyone call either of them a “northern state.” (In fact, a northern states listing doesn’t exist on Charley.) The Dakotas are in line with Minnesota but I listed them as western — though south Dakota kind of straddles the line in my opinion. I suppose a western state is defined as “both very far north and has lots of mountains.”

If my ex-friend Molly had had her way, Oklahoma would have been listed as a western state, in spite of its position right below the midwestern state of Kansas. She’s from Arkansas herself and claimed that any state that did not secede from the Union during the Civil War was not, technically, a southern state, no matter what its’ geographical location was. This would have knocked Kentucky off the list, and as far as I know most Kentuckyans consider themselves southerners. I’m glad I didn’t listen to her. Meanwhile, my still-a-friend Brad said states like Ohio, Michigan etc., and probably Kentucky too, were not from the Midwest, but rather from the “Old Northwest.” I’m glad I didn’t listen to him either. I doubt many Charley Project readers are all that familiar with, or care about, American geography in the 1700s and early 1800s.

I didn’t place territories in their own section because there aren’t very many of them, the are situated far apart from each other, and all of them (unless I’m mistaken) are situated south of the Mason-Dixon line. Of course, Alaska and Hawaii are in a class by themselves, really, but they are both very far west and not at all close to each other. I mean, we’e got Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands, and then the Northern Mariana Islands, which are about as far apart as you can get.

Anyway, that’s the answer to the Missouri question, if any of you are dying to know.

7 thoughts on “Missouri and other places

  1. Princess Shantae November 13, 2011 / 5:20 pm

    Well, Oklahoma couldn’t secede from the union even if it wanted to, b/c it was not a state till 1889. You can’t secede from the union if you aren’t part of the union to start with. Oklahoma was Indian Territory then.

  2. Kat November 13, 2011 / 9:40 pm

    I’ve got one for ya. I didn’t check to see where you have listed MD, but I’ll tell you something. I went to college on the Eastern Shore in the mid 90s. Four years. I was like some kind of exhibit. There was only one other person from the “North” in my freshman class. He was from Buffalo and didn’t last the year. I’m from eastern MA. My accent, everything, was a source of interest. I actually had a guy ask me “So, what do ya’ll DO up there in New England?”. I really, really wanted to say we sacrificed small children and howled at the moon, but I didn’t. I just told him the same things he did….went to movies, listened to music, etc. Anyway, the long winded point is, at that time, the Eastern Shore was so southern, I don’t have words. They thought they won that war. I wrote my thesis on (more or less, to sum up) how the eastern MD/VA smuggling worked. Honest to God, it was a whole nother world. And as soon as you hit the bridge, it was northern all the way. I know it is different now, when I went to school it was largely unincoroporated, and now it is much more developed, which leads to a certain amount of blending cultures. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

  3. LB November 13, 2011 / 11:16 pm

    I’ve actually heard Missourians describe themselves as both Southern and Midwestern, and would assume that both perceptions tend to be generally correct, in as far as location. It’s always been a ‘border’ state, with widely varying social and political attitudes. Rather similar to Chicago and the northern part of illinois and the middle and southern part of the state.

    The funny thing about Kentucky is, that while being Southern, the amount of people who believe their counties supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, when in reality many of the counties strongly aligned themselves with the Union cause.

  4. Jaime November 13, 2011 / 11:17 pm

    Oklahoma became a state in 1907. So many states can be classified as one or another depending on who you talk to.

  5. amy November 14, 2011 / 1:16 am

    Pass these people who have nothing better to do a bottle of vino and tell them to drink up. (obviously I’m in a “not suffering fools gladly” mood)

  6. Princess Shantae November 14, 2011 / 10:10 am

    Oops, I got that wrong! OK was opened to white settlers in 1889 but didn’t get to be a state till 1907. My bad.

  7. Diane November 15, 2011 / 11:22 pm

    Heck, I wish you could put Texas in the “Western” states along with New Mexico and Arizona since so much of it lies within the southwestern region of the U.S. and a lot of us (me included) consider ourselves southwesterners more than anything, but Texas is so strange because Houston aligns itself more with the Louisiana-ish bayou region, Dallas/Ft. Worth is more with the stereotypical Deep South/Bible Belt area (with Arkansas, etc.), the Panhandle’s more like Oklahoma (and both get a ton of snow during the winter), and the rest of the state is pure southwestern. Though I’ve heard it argued pretty convincingly that we could potentially be considered “midwestern”, and I suppose I have by default a flat, midwestern accent. Though if I get really tired, a little Texan drawl comes out. And my grandparents were all from Mexico!

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