How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines

How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines

by Mark Stein


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Was Roger Williams too pure for the Puritans, and what does that have to do with Rhode Island?  Why did Augustine Herman take ten years to complete the map that established Delaware?  How did Rocky Mountain rogues help create the state of Colorado?  All this and more is explained in Mark Stein's new book.

How the States Got Their Shapes Too follows How the States Got Their Shapes looks at American history through the lens of its borders, but, while How The States Got Their Shapes told us why, this book tells us who.  This personal element in the boundary stories reveals how we today are like those who came before us, and how we differ, and most significantly: how their collective stories reveal not only an historical arc but, as importantly, the often overlooked human dimension in that arc that leads to the nation we are today.
The people featured in How the States Got Their Shapes Too lived from the colonial era right up to the present.  They include African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, women, and of course, white men.  Some are famous, such as Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster.  Some are not, such as Bernard Berry, Clarina Nichols, and Robert Steele.   And some are names many of us know but don't really know exactly what they did, such as Ethan Allen (who never made furniture, though he burned a good deal of it).
In addition, How the States Got Their Shapes Too tells of individuals involved in the Almost States of America, places we sought to include but ultimately did not: Canada, the rest of Mexico (we did get half), Cuba, and, still an issue, Puerto Rico. 
Each chapter is largely driven by voices from the time, in the form of excerpts from congressional debates, newspapers, magazines, personal letters, and diaries. 
Told in Mark Stein's humorous voice, How the States Got Their Shapes Too is a historical journey unlike any other you've taken.  The strangers you meet here had more on their minds than simple state lines, and this book makes for a great new way of seeing and understanding the United States.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588343505
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication date: 05/29/2012
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 340,812
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

MARK STEIN is a playwright and screenwriter.  His plays have been performed off-Broadway and at theaters throughout the country.  His films include Housesitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn.  Stein has also taught writing and drama at American University and Catholic University.  His previous book, How the States Got Their Shapes, a New York Times bestseller, was the basis for The History Channel's documentary of the same name.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Acknowledgments x

The Boundary of Religion Roger Williams 1

Why We Have Delaware Augustine Herman 7

Fifteen Minutes of Fame Robert Jenkins's Ear 13

Winning New Hampshire Robert Tufton Mason 17

What You Know or Who You Know? Lord Fairfax 25

America's Most Famous (and Misunderstood) Line Mason Dixon 30

Connecticut's Lost Cause Zebulon Butler 37

Vermont: The Fourteenth Colony Ethan Allen 43

Lines on the Map in Invisible Ink Thomas Jefferson 50

The U.S. Line from Spanish Canada John Meares 59

To Be Brilliant and Black in the New Nation Benjamin Banneker 66

The Erie Canal and the Gush of Redrawn Lines Jesse Hawley 72

The Man History Tried to Erase James Brittain 79

From Zero To Hero? Reuben Kemper 85

The 49th Parallel: A New Line of Americans Richard Rush 92

Illinois's Most Boring Border Nathaniel Pope 100

Putting the Boot Heel on Missouri John Hardeman Walker 107

The Massachusetts Texan John Quincy Adams 112

The Cherokee Line Sequoyah 117

The Toledo War Stevens T. Mason 125

Ohio Boundary Champ Takes on Missouri and Minnesota Robert Lucas 133

Maine's Border: The Devil in Daniel Webster Daniel Webster 142

Fifty-Four Forty or Fight! James K. Polk 151

Cutting Washington Down to Size Robert M. T. Hunter 160

The Man Who Lassoed Texas Sam Houston 168

The Boundary of Religion Revisited Brigham Young 180

California: Boundless Opportunity John A. Sutter 187

Government Aid to Big Business James Gadsden 195

The Line on Slavery: Erasing and Redrawing Stephen A. Douglas 201

Annexing Cuba: Liberty, Security, Slavery John A. Quitman 211

Using Boundaries to Break Boundaries Clarina Nichols 219

The British-American Pig War Lyman Cutler's Neighbor's Pig 224

Rocky Mountain Rogue? Robert W. Steele 230

The Battle Line That Became a State Line Francis H. Pierpont 234

Two Sides of the Coin of the Realm Francisco Perea John S. Watts 244

Good as Gold Sidney Edgerton James Ashley 251

Why Buy Alaska? William H. Seward 256

The Legal Boundary of Humanity Standing Bear v. Crook 261

Bordering on Empire Lili'uokalani Sanford Dole 272

Oklahoma's Racial Boundaries Alfalfa Bill Murray Edward P. McCabe Chief Green McCurtain 280

New Jersey Invades Ellis Island Bernard J. Berry 288

Puerto Rico: The Fifty-First State? Luis Ferré 293

When the Grass Is Greener on the Other Side David Shafer 299

Taxation without Representation Eleanor Holmes Norton 304

Notes 313

Index 331

Photography Credits 348

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