The Nations Within Us

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“From the beginning of their existence, the 11 nations have been struggling with one another for advantage and influence, with the biggest prize being control of the federal government. Since 1877, the primary driving force in American politics hasn’t been class struggle or tension between agrarian and commercial interests, or even between partisan ideologies.”

Challenging the notion that we are divided along state lines, this essay series introduces us to the 11 regions or “nations” that have been whittled by “immigration patterns, original shared values and the gradual drifting together of people with similar values and complementary commercial interests.” Excerpted from Colin Woodard’s American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, the five-part series breaks down each “nation,” as well as the key inter-nation coalitions and corresponding political struggles, bringing us all the way up to today’s cultural wars.


Lisa Dusenbery is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. More from this author →