Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cherronesus, Metropotamia, Pelisipia, and more!

In Bound for Canaan, his book on the underground railroad, Fergus Bordewich describes a plan worked on by Thomas Jefferson in 1784, while Jefferson was a member of the Continental Congress. The arrangement would have restricted the extent of slavery in the growing nation:

[N]ewly opened lands between the Appalachians and the Mississippi … were destined to fill with settlers. [Jefferson’s plan] would have prohibited slavery in all the western territories … south as well as north. Had [the] plan been adopted slavery would never have been extended to the present states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, or presumably to those west of the Mississippi. Congress failed to approve the plan by a single vote.

That’s one of those points in history you can point to and say, but for one vote things would have been different. 

Besides the dispensation concerning slavery, Thomas Jefferson’s report on the Western Territory also included suggested borders for new states and names for those states. Some of the names are little different from what came to be. Some are rather different. Here they are:


source: Bound for Canaan: the underground railroad and the war for the soul of America by Fergus M. Bordewich


David Lee Ingersoll said...

Screw those alternate histories where the South won the Civil War - I want to read a story set in a USA that got the vote right.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Those great state names beg for a alternative history just so they can be used.

In Jefferson's time everybody thought slavery would gradually die out. A cowardly and cruel excuse for not abolishing it! But among the white elites it was even socially acceptable to declare yourself an abolitionist and join abolition societies -- so long as the actual abolition was not quite imminent. But slavery really did seem to be dwindling away. If painfully slowly.

Then came the cotton gin, which made cotton cheap to farm, and slavery became a booming business again.

So I learned from Bound for Canaan.